A dancing house. This is how many survivors of Typhoon Haiyan describe the substandard relocation houses that have been built. “If you shake them, they will move,” said one survivor. Four years after the disaster, building infrastructure that is able to withstand extreme weather conditions better remains a challenge in the Philippines.
“If you think climate change is bad, you’re not prepared to live in this world at all,” said Fr Pedro Walpole SJ in an interview recently, pointing out that climate change is but one of nine factors that can push the earth out of circulation. The other eight are ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, land-system change, biogeochemical flows, stratospheric ozone depletion, freshwater use, atmospheric aerosol loading and chemical pollution.
“You name it – we have it. Jade, gold, gas, rivers, teak … But this nation is like a blind beggar begging with a golden plate.” With these words, Charles Cardinal Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, set the stage for the four-day Social Apostolate meeting of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific.
The picture drawn by Cardinal Bo in his keynote address was eye-opening for many of the 38 delegates and it made clear the need for reconciliation and justice in natural resource management, the theme of the meeting.
The Jesuit mission in Cambodia has designed a new mass stole to mark the second anniversary of the proclamation of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’ on June 18. Intended for use by priests during Ordinary Time, the green stole is meant to integrate the spirit and teachings of Laudato si’ into the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
Australian Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ has committed the Australian Jesuits to divesting from fossil fuels.
“In the light of our commitment to reconciliation with creation, we believe that divestment is an ethical, impactful and valuable opportunity to consider not only for the Australian Province but for all Australian companies,” said Fr McCoy in a statement released for World Environment Day on June 5.
Across the world from Rome, a mini-forest is growing to help offset the carbon footprint of the 36th General Congregation (GC 36). As the 215 delegates from 62 countries met in the aula of GC 36 last October, members of Jesuit Service Cambodia and Banteay Prieb, a Jesuit vocational school for persons with disabilities, planted 400 seedlings of native hardwood trees, including several locally endangered species, on one-hectare of land owned by the Jesuits near the school.
Environmental research and ecological action across the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) takes many forms, as Jesuit works are only beginning to engage these concerns and still have much to learn. Jesuits and their collaborators are moving towards greater environmental awareness and have recognised the urgent need to communicate and work with others strategically and more broadly for the sake of greater ecological accountability and sustainability.
Ateneo de Davao University is building a new campus for its senior high school that is being touted as the first environmentally responsible school in the Philippines. The campus has been designed to create a contemporary, sustainable and transformative learning environment following Pope Francis’ environmental directives in his encyclical, Laudato si’. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on February 15 and the school is expected to be completed in May 2019.
The Irish Jesuit Province has signed up to participate in Flights for Forests, the carbon-offset programme developed by the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. This is one of the results of the Jesuit Provincialate’s decision to commit to reflecting critically on its use of air-travel in response to Pope Francis’ invitation to us all to acknowledge our environmental responsibility.
Drought and flooding are the two most significant ecological challenges in Asia Pacific, according to participants in the first Reconciling with Creation Reflection Workshop. According to the workshop report released in October, drought was foremost in the minds of the participants, named by 11 people from eight countries. Flooding was a close second, named by 10 participants from six countries. But these are just two of the host of ecological challeng