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Pope’s encyclical on environment not limited to science, says CBCP chief

/ 08:09 PM June 17, 2015

A day before the scheduled release of Pope Francis’ first major teaching letter on the environment, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference on the Philippines said the papal encyclical would not be a teaching on science.

Citing “Gaudium et Spes” of the Second Vatican Council, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said imbalances in the modern world were “rooted in the heart of man.”

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“[S]ome thought he (Francis) was venturing into a field best left to scientists,” Villegas said in a pastoral letter on Wednesday. “To search for scientific explanations to phenomena—that is the province and the competence of science and of scientists, and while the Church takes keen interest in scientific discoveries and studies it is not a teacher of science.”

Amid technological innovation and a surplus of information, Villegas said the upcoming encyclical has promised to address factors affecting climate change that scientists could not explain.

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“But the roots of our indifference to environmental and ecological concerns and the sinful dispositions in all of us that make us contributors to the depredation of a world entrusted to our stewardship, these are what scientists cannot teach us,” he said.

The CBCP chief added the Pope’s encyclical should excite everyone as this would open up new solutions on how to address pressing environmental issues.

“If, as scientists seem to allege, we are to blame to a large extent for ruining that delicate balance of our ecology, then how do we make up?” Villegas said. “But the Pope’s letter will remain nothing more than ink on paper until we all allow ourselves to be won over by St. Francis’ exaltation of all of created reality.”

A draft copy of the much awaited encyclical was leaked to Italian newsweekly L’Espresso on Monday, but Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said it was not the final version to be released on Thursday.

READ: Pope’s stance leaks; calls for urgent action on environment | Pope eyes worldwide audience for environment encyclical

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TAGS: Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, CBCP, encyclical, environment, Pope Francis, Socrates Villegas, Vatican
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