The Church-Based Ecological Struggles and the Bishops' Pastoral Letters on Ecology in the Philippines: Are They Inspired by Vatican II?
Reynaldo D. Raluto
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Vatican II has significantly influenced the Philippine theological scene.It is because the “mainstream theology,” which has developed in the Philippine church since Vatican II, generally takes the magisterial documents as “source texts” (locus theologicus) and creatively applies them to the Philippine setting in the spirit of catholicity and contextualization. Without being anachronistic, it should be noted that today’s ecological awareness is almost absent in the Vatican II documents,which give more focus on human beings rather than on creation in its full reality. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the ecological concerns were not yet considered an urgent global problem in the 1960s. When Vatican II ended in 1965, ecological consciousness and other new perspectives have not stopped emerging. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the significant influence of Vatican II on the Church-based ecological struggles that emerged in Mindanao in the 1980s. We can discern in the Filipino Catholic bishops’ pastoral letters on ecology a consistent appropriation of Vatican II’s ecological teaching on stewardship.For many years the social justice agenda has tackled a range of issues in the Philippines. These have included advocacy of land reform, opposition to the growth of agri-business, the need to challenge militarization and expose exploitative practices at home and abroad. These have occupied the minds of ‘church activists’ to such an extent that they often downplayed or dismissed action to preserve the environment. It was easy to understand why this should be. Fighting poverty and militarization is such an all-consuming task that anything that might deflect attention was easily brushed aside. The ‘activist’ often insisted that environmental concerns could wait until the human structures were renewed first.

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