The bishops in the Philippines sure ain’t afraid to stare down the enemies of their flock. Their opposition to the “Reproductive Health” bill is well documented. Now they’re taking on a huge mining company.
It’s not uncommon for multinationals to take advantage of poor countries by wrecking the environment to make a quick buck exploiting natural resources. The multinational mining giant Xstrata is currently looking to expand its operations in the Philippines in a manner that violates government environmental laws. Politicians are under pressure to amend the laws to allow the project to go through. However, local residents and the Catholic Church are opposed to the operation because of the environmental impact. The blowback is having a big impact.
With local polls due next year, South Cotabato legislators are reluctant to amend the law because they risk the ire of the Church, said Arthur Pingoy, the region’s governor. (Source)
Yeah, they’d better be afraid ’cause the priests are calling it like they see it:
“There are petitions and resolutions to amend the local law pending,” Pingoy said in an interview. “No one dares touch them because they fear a backlash from the Church, with priests campaigning against their re-election next year.”
The bishops ain’t mincing words words either:
“We will surely vote against those who favor this project,” said Dinualdo Gutierrez, a bishop who leads the Catholic Church in South Cotabato and Saranggani, two of the provinces that need to approve the mine.
Isn’t that refreshing? No pussy-footing or tip-toeing. No diplomatic subtleties to avoid making waves or to preserve tax-exempt status. Just in-your-face boldness, like the Apostles of old.
If the bishops were only taking a stand on environmental issues, we might be suspicious that they had become merely a branch of Greenpeace. We’ve seen that in some Western countries, but that’s clearly not the case in the Philippines. The Filipino bishops are robustly and publicly pro-life, willing to go to jail rather than see contraception and abortion expanded in their country. Their environmental concerns are well anchored within the Church’s teaching on proper stewardship of Creation.
It’s surely inspiring to see the clergy showing some teeth and defending their flock. That’s how it’s supposed to be: the bishops out in front, leading the charge, not hiding in the back and being dragged along kickin’ and screamin’.
God bless the Philippines.