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Prelate to public servants: “Be a responsible Earth stewards”

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

ALBAY’S Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon, in his pastoral letter for the 2023 “Season of Creation” titled “An Agrangay kan Kapalibotan asin an Agrangay kan mga Dukha” (The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor), has strongly called upon the people of Albay, particularly public officials, to assume the role of responsible earth stewards.

Baylon’s letter addresses pressing issues such as irresponsible quarrying, deforestation, mountain devastation, the proposed shipyard establishment, and the expansion of fish pens on Cagraray Island in Bacacay town.

As we embark on the “Season of Creation,” observed from September 1 (World Day of Prayer for the care of creation) to October 4 (Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi), Baylon reminds us of our sacred duty to safeguard the earth and all its inhabitants.

He draws inspiration from the prophet Amos, emphasizing the importance of justice and righteousness, particularly in the context of ecological justice and the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss on vulnerable communities.

Baylon echoes Pope Francis’s message from the encyclical letter “Laudato Si” (May 24, 2015), stressing the need to heed the cry of the earth and highlighting the interconnectedness of environmental degradation and the plight of the poor.

He calls for an “ecological conversion” through sustainable practices, emphasizing the avoidance of the prevalent “throwaway culture.”

The bishop encourages actions like reducing single-use plastics, practicing the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra, conserving electricity, water, and gas, and participating in tree planting and mangrove conservation efforts.

He urges parishes, schools, religious communities, church groups, and Christian families to lead by example.

In closing, Baylon invites the community to unite in protesting environmental destruction, seek assistance from the Social Action Center, and emphasize long-term benefits over short-term gains.

He reminds those in positions of power to consider the lasting repercussions of their decisions on communities and ecosystems, urging them to prioritize the common good for current and future generations.

Baylon seeks guidance from the Heavenly patroness of Albay, the mother of Salvacion, in becoming responsible stewards of creation and compassionate neighbors to those in need.


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