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An ‘environmental’ call to Trudeau

/ 12:04 AM November 01, 2016

Last June, our Holy Father issued an encyclical letter titled “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.” It received wide attention for the unequivocal stance he made on climate change.

But “Laudato Si” was more than just a position on climate change. At its core it was about justice based on integral ecology or the interrelatedness (#120, #137), interconnectedness (#16, #138), interdependence between God, neighbor and the whole of creation. It says, “[H]uman life is grounded on three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with neighbor and with the earth itself” (#66).

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Pope Francis says these intertwined relationships are “relationship(s) of mutual responsibility,” shared responsibility (#229), exercised in terms of “intelligent respect and recognition of inherent value of the other human beings” (#69); “the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world” (#68); (with the utmost) duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness (not just for today but) for coming generations” (#14, #67).

The link between “Laudato Si” and the Canadian garbage that then Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to leave in the Philippines is abundantly clear. In that act or policy, there was neither intelligence, respect, mutuality, nor responsibility for a common good, nor a recognition of our common future. Harper’s indifference to the issue of dumping for whatever reason or reasons he may extract from human rationality is an insult to these “fundamental relationships” that Pope Francis elaborates on, and to any relationship founded on good will.

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“Laudato Si” states: “Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain proper relationship with my neighbor, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with own self, with others, with God and with the earth” (#70).

“What is at stake is our own dignity” (#160/#43/#65). Thus, the issue of dumping is not just for Canadians or Filipinos, but for all persons wanting a dignified life and living; “the whole human family together” (seeking) “a sustainable and integral human development” (#12).

We turn to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who brings with him “sunny ways,” the promise of change and the restoration of Canada’s role as a global leader. As the current prime minister of Canada, we call on him to reflect on the change he seeks to bring, and the leadership he aspires to regain for Canada, that it be true to justice as envisioned in “Laudato Si.”

For at the end of this long saga, it is not merely a question of diplomatic relationships, legality or economic costs. This is a question of basic human dignity—the basic human dignity of all Filipinos and Canadians. The Holy Father calls everyone to get involved, to enter into a dialogue (#14) with “urgency” (#15) and to find answers to the many and deeper questions besetting us regarding the environment and the dignity of the human person.

Prime Minister Trudeau, help make things right. Restore the dignity Canada lost when it refused to honor its international obligations. Affirm the dignity of Filipinos by taking back the waste. Let our two nations move forward from this experience with intelligent respect and recognition of human dignity, the laws of nature and the duty to protect our common home against environmental degradation from chemicals and wastes for coming generations.

BONG CUNANAN and RICHARD GUTIERREZ, BAN Toxics!

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TAGS: environment, garbage, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, Pope Francis, Trash, Trudeau
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