The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have agreed to divest from “dirty energy” sources such as coal-fired power plants, according to CBCP News.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is the world’s most recent church institution to declare it will divest from fossil fuel.
The decision was reached over the weekend of July 6-7, 2019, as the bishops gathered for their plenary assembly in Manila.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, said the dioceses would instead place its money in renewable sources of energy.
“A milestone for the Church ecology advocacy!” Gariguez said.
According to him, the divestment is part of their 10 action points for Laudato Si’ campaign that the CBCP adopted.
Before the decision, he said that the Vatican has asked about what the Philippine church has been doing in response to the landmark encyclical.
Fr. Gariguez was among the speakers on the environment during the bishops’ meeting on July 7.
“I told the bishops that we need to come up with a pastoral letter but it should be accompanied by action points because we need to walk the talk,” he said.
“I challenged the body, we need to really find ways on how to live the Laudato Si’ as a Church,” Fr. Gariguez added.
He, however, said that divestment will take some time to accomplish because of the legal procedures that must be observed.
While only a few dioceses have investments in coal, climate justice advocates see the need for a “collective action” among bishops to address the problem.
At least four bishops whose dioceses have investments in coal have already vowed to divest their funds immediately, according to Catholic lay-led Living Laudato Sí Philippines, which has been engaging with dioceses in the campaign.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said that church finances must not be invested at the expense of the environment.
And with the “climate emergency,” he stressed the need to respond with utmost urgency.
He also revealed that the bishops’ conference would soon release a pastoral letter on ecology with “concrete action points”.
The CBCP is the most recent to announce plans to divest, joining the bishops of Belgium, Ireland and Australia in a worldwide campaign.
In recent months, over 120 Catholic institutions have already stopped on investing in companies that produce destructive energy sources.