3.2.4 The Philippine Catholic Bishops, ‘Our Beautiful Land’

Back to 3.2.3

Unit 3 Contents

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Before we move on to look at the rise of consciousness of global ecological problems, especially ‘climate change’, there is a reading which brings out in a vivid and powerful way some of the issues we have touched on so far.  In 1988, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines published a short document called ‘What is Happening to our Beautiful Land’.  This was one of the earliest statements made officially on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church that was exclusively and directly about ecological issues.  To give a flavour before you start reading, here is a quotation from it.

Look around and see where our [Philippine] forests have gone. Out of the original 30 million hectares there is now only 1 million hectares of primary forest left. Where are some of the most beautiful creatures who used to dwell in our forests? These are God’s masterpieces, through which he displays his power, ingenuity and love for his creation. Humans have forgotten to live peacefully with other creatures. They have destroyed their habitat and hunted them relentlessly. Even now many species are already extinct and destruction of species is expected to increase dramatically during the next decade as the few remaining strands of forest are wiped out by loggers and kaingineros [slash and burn farmers].

(From paragraph headed ‘Our forests laid waste’)

You will notice also, as you near the end of the document, the striking statement that the ecological challenge is “the ultimate pro-life issue”.  Not long after this, Pope John Paul II made a similar connection, in Centesimus Annus of 1991: the destruction of both natural ecology and ‘human ecology’ leads away from a ‘culture of life’ (##37-39).  (You will study this encyclical in Unit 8.)

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Reading (16pp)

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, ‘What Is Happening to our Beautiful Land: A Pastoral Letter on Ecology’

Note

The official title of the document as posted on the Philippine Catholic Bishops’ website has no question mark after ‘Land’.  Presented in this way, the document is more a warning than as a question.

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Reflection

After you finish the reading, skim through the document again.  (This is always useful to do after reading an article or chapter, as it can help the reader to retain information.)

What are the three or four things in it you find most striking?  Why?

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End of 3.2.4

Go to 3.2.5 The 1980s: ecological problems on a global scale

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