MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/3 August) – Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan has urged priests in Bukidnon and neighboring Cagayan de Oro City to “go green” in their work with their flock during the Vianney Day celebration at the Diocesan Formation Center here.
“To attain wholeness, peace, we must also look at the sickly environment, not just the people,” he added in his homily Monday, the first day of the two-day gathering of priests named after St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.
The theme of the celebration focused on “The Church’s option for total human and ecological liberation.”
Cabantan encouraged the priests to be instruments of reconciliation not only among conflicts between man and God, between man and man, between man and woman, but also between man and the rest of God’s creations.
He cited the presentation of Fr. Rey Raluto earlier in the afternoon that “everything is interconnected.”
Raluto told MindaNews as example of how the Church could go green was when it helped bring down the logging concessionaires in San Fernando town in the late 1980s.
“It was a good local example but it was not continued,” he said. Raluto presented a video presentation of Bukidnon’s renowned martyr priest Neri Lito Satur.
On Oct. 14, 1991, Fr. Satur and his female aide were ambushed on their way back to Valencia City, then a municipality, after celebrating a mass in Barangay Guinoyoran.
He was shot pointblank with a shotgun after falling from his motorcycle. His head was smashed with a rifle butt. He was 29.
Satur, a forest protection officer deputized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was killed a few years after the imposition of a logging moratorium in Bukidnon.
In 1988, then environment secretary Fulgencio Factoran Jr. declared a logging moratorium in Bukidnon in the wake of anti-logging protests initiated by the people of San Fernando town which culminated in a hunger strike in Manila.
Raluto said that to “go green,” what the Church did with the people of San Fernando should be continued.
Raluto, who recently finished theology in Leuven University in Belgium, presented excerpts of his dissertation to his colleagues as the keynote presentation of the gathering.
He has proposed that the Catholic Church in the Philippines will not only build church and human communities, “but also impels us to form ecological communities grounded in the principle of interdependence and inter-relationship of all creatures.”
He identified three types of poverty confronting Filipinos – the socio-economically poor, the socio-culturally poor, and the ecologically poor.
He cited that poverty incidence in the Philippines is estimated at 26.5 percent in 2009, mostly from the rural areas, where “even after some years of implementing the agrarian reform, landlessness and poverty continue to dominate.”
Raluto cited the socio-culturally poor, too, as among the oppressed sectors to include the indigenous peoples and the women. He said the IPs are suffering economically and racially. He cited that the women, worse in indigenous tribes, were treated as second class citizens lacking opportunities for education.
But Raluto pointed out that often excluded is the poverty brought by the environmental destruction.
He cited Forest Management Bureau data that the Philippines’s remaining forest cover has gone down to only 24 percent. He said colonization did not only change the people, but also the landscape through colonization’s deforestation, a practice carried over up to this day.
“Let us not only listen to the cry of the human beings but also of the groaning of the Earth,” he added.
He said, arguably, the problems of poverty and the ecological crisis are inseparable.
“The bad effects of the ecological crisis have immediate harmful social consequences,” he said.
Raluto, who served as station director of the church-run DXDB radio station prior to his study abroad, has proposed change in three levels: in the academe, in the Basic Ecclesial Communities, and in the bishops’ pastoral letters.
He added that the church’s notion of the “preferential option for the poor” has to be expanded to include not only the socio-economically poor and the socio-culturally poor but also the ecologically poor. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)