Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has lauded Pope Francis for making another pitch for environmental protection during his five-day visit to the Philippines, calling it an “important signal of encouragement” for all to take action on climate change.


“Even Pope Francis recognizes the problems of climate change and understands the need to address them. He surely adds a strong voice to global efforts to combat climate change,” Paje said.


Paje also noted the statement of the Pontiff recognizing the Philippines as among the countries extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.


Braving strong winds and driving rain, Pope Francis on Saturday made a dramatic visit to Tacloban City, ground zero of Supertyphoon Yolanda, which killed at least 6,000 people, left a million homeless and displaced four million when it struck in November 2013.


In his written speech, the pope reminded the faithful on the “need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between natural environment and the dignity of the human person.”


Francis, during his visit to the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday, said in a prepared text that man was destroying nature and betraying God’s calling to be stewards of creation.


“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling,” the Pope said in the text.


Paje expressed hope the papal visit would inspire more Filipinos to take an active role in protecting the country’s environment and natural resources.


“The decision of Pope Francis to speak for environmental conservation and awareness is an absolutely inspiring act that makes him an influential protector of the planet,” the environment chief said.


Francis, who took his name from the saint regarded as the patron of the animals and the environment, has brought environmental issues to the forefront since he was elected as leader of the Catholic Church nearly two years ago.


At his inauguration in March 2013, the Pope immediately called all people “to respect God’s gift of creation and to exercise wise stewardship of its resources for the benefit of the whole human family.”


Paje said Filipinos should heed the call of the Pope to “act with respect towards nature.”


“We must learn to nurture and safeguard, and not exploit nature. As Pope Francis said, never destroy God’s creation because if we do, it will destroy us in the end,” he pointed out.


According to reports, the Pope’s long-awaited encyclical on the environment was almost finished and that he hoped it would be published in June, ahead of a United Nations meeting on climate change in Paris, France, in November.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy


Author: tuklasinnatin

A Journalist and served government for 20 years. A community organizer who rose from a clan of artists and novelists.

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