Facing Climate Change – and other Pressing Issues

June 15, Nairobi – The fourth day of the PCO was extremely rich in the wonderful presentations made by the Council Members. So many themes emerged that choosing one to highlight is difficult! Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that one of the most important and urgent issues discussed by the friars is the reality of climate change.

“Asia is most vulnerable to climate change,” said Reu José Galoy, a friar from the Philippines. “For too long natural resources in Asia have been exploited and used for the development of first world countries, while it is Asians who now experience the severest effects of the changes in climate that have resulted from this activity.” The promotion of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si by the friars in their different settings was discussed, with William Ng (Hong Kong), remarking that simplicity of lifestyle is the key, and friars have a lot to contribute to the discussion.

We heard about other Asian realities — including the need for more trained formators in Vietnam (which has the largest number of OFM vocations in Asia); the ongoing peace negotiations in Korea; the rising number of drug related killings in the Philippines, and many other threats to peace and security.

The PCO then turned its attention to Latin America – three Conferences spoke; the Southern Cone, Bolivarian, and Guadalupe. These include all of the countries from Mexico to the Antarctic, apart from Brazil (from whom we will hear on Day 5). The Order has a long history in these countries over many centuries and the friars today are searching for new ways of engaging with contemporary societies very much affected by globalization, secularization, changed moral norms, migration, the drug trade, and other challenges. The Council Members spoke about a more agile pastoral strategy of itinerant preaching, engagement in media and communication, involvement in education at all levels, and adopting the teachings and proposals of Evangelii Gaudium.