A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines called on the faithful to pray for political leaders who decided to lift the ban on open-pit mining in the province of South Cotabato.
“As a family, let us storm heavens with our prayers, begging God to intervene and pour wisdom to the decision-makers,” said Bishop Cerilo Casicas of Marbel in a pastoral letter on May 25.
The prelate urged the faithful to pray for the enlightenment of local leaders who voted to lift the ban and join in the novena to the Holy Spirit from May 27 to June 4.
He also directed parishes to pray the “Prayer to Reawaken Our Love for Creation” in every celebration of the Holy Mass and to use the prayer “to start and end your daily activities.”
Bishop Casicas said he is “dismayed and utterly disappointed by the cowardly action of our local leaders” who earlier amended the province’s environmental code.
The lifting of the 12-year-old ban on open-pit mining removed the only obstacle to the long-delayed Tampakan copper and gold mining projects in the area.
The copper-gold minefield in Tampakan town is dubbed the largest undeveloped copper-gold resource in the South-East Asia Western-Pacific region.
“The decision is deeply lamentable,” said Bishop Casicas. “We balk and fight for the welfare of our common home – the Earth!” he wrote.
The prelate encouraged priests to spend an hour every day before the Blessed Sacrament to pray “for the enlightenment of our government officials, especially in the province of South Cotabato.”
The Tampakan mining project is reportedly expected to yield an average of 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold annually.
Anti-mining activists claimed that the mining project will displace more than 1,000 tribal families in four provinces in Mindanao.
At least 32 percent of agricultural lands and 75 percent of forested areas in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and Davao del Sur will reportedly be affected by the project.
The mining project is mostly located in ancestral territories of the B’laan tribe and other Indigenous communities.
PRAYER TO REAWAKEN OUR LOVE FOR CREATION
God our Creator,
You have called us to be in loving relations with all the Earth, living with respect in creation, choosing love, and seeking justice at all times.
Instead, humankind has acted in horrible ways, exploiting natural resources, choosing power, and seeking wealth in the present over future abundance. We need your help to fight for a better future!
Help us to reawaken our love for Creation that is so magnificent that we, with all our creativity and knowledge, could never articulate it.
Enlighten the minds of our lawmakers and government officials that they will embody the call of the Gospel to preserve life and culture at all costs.
Give wisdom to our leaders so that together, we can create a sustainable and faithful response to the imminent climate crisis.
For the sake of your majestic creation, and For the love of all our relations. Help us to fight for a better future.
This we ask in the name of Your Begotten Son in unity with the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.