Yeb Saño, the Filipino environmentalist, is one of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics who on 18 June, will read Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment.
As a spiritual ambassador for OurVoices, a faith-based climate activist group that targets to “bring faith to the climate talks”. Saño, who is in Sydney, predicts the papal letter to be “strong on stewardship, on economic justice, and the moral responsibility for all of us to be a part of caring for creation”.
Saño catapulted to international fame in 2012, when his passionate plea to the UN climate talk video went viral. He was the Philippines’ delegation leader at the time, while the country was stil reeling from the devastating effects of typhoon Haiyan. Halfway through his speech, Saño broke down in tears.
He says religion assists in bringing a substantial moral aspect to “the biggest problem we face as a human family”, which has “been missing” for more than twenty years.
The 2014 March visit of the pope to Tacloban, a Philippine coastal city shattered by Haiyan, has determined the topic of this encyclical. A week prior to its release, evangelist Christian leaders and conservative US experts criticized the pope for involving himself in what they consider a “political issue”.
The pope should “back off”, said a conservative Cornwall alliance for the stewardship of creation spokesman, Calvin Beisner, in an interview with the Guardian in December.
“The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles, but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect.” Before ending, “Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”