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Filipino priest backs call for ‘no meat Fridays’ for Catholics to help cut carbon emissions

“What is good for the planet is good for the body. What is good for the body is good for the planet,” said Father Anton Pascual of Caritas Manila

The head of the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila backed calls for “no meat Fridays” to help reduce global carbon emissions.

“What is good for the planet is good for the body. What is good for the body is good for the planet,” said Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila.

In a radio interview over Veritas 846 on Thursday, November 3, the priest reminded the Filipino faithful to care not only for their bodies but for the environment “to be able to serve better.”

A team at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom this week said Catholics can help reduce global carbon emissions by urging the faithful to return to not eating meat on Fridays.

The team has earlier looked at the impact of a call by bishops in England and Wales in 2011 to reinstate the practice.

They found that despite only about a quarter of Catholics changing their dietary habits, more than 55,000 tons of carbon were saved each year.

Father Pascual said the challenge is “timely,” adding that “no meat Fridays” has been a Catholic tradition. In 2016, the priest initiated a “No Meat Friday” campaign to address the impact of climate change.

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“This is a good advocacy that we should support with the help and inspiration of our Holy Father,” said Father Pascual.

The UK researchers earlier said that if meatless Fridays were reintroduced across the world, it could mitigate millions of tons of greenhouse gases annually.

Photo by Jeremy Keith / CC BY 2.0

Lead author Shaun Larcom, from Cambridge’s Department of Land Economy, said the Catholic Church was “very well placed” to help.

The pope, who leads some one billion followers around the world, has said that climate change is an “unprecedented threat” needing urgent action.

“Meat agriculture is one of the major drivers of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Larcom.

“If the pope was to reinstate the obligation for meatless Fridays to all Catholics globally, it could be a major source of low-cost emissions reductions.”

Even if only a fraction of Catholics went meat-free on Fridays, the reductions could be significant, he added.

The practice of not eating meat on Fridays is one of the oldest Christian traditions, with fish allowed as a protein substitute.

It has not been an obligation on Catholics since Vatican reforms in the 1960s except during the Lenten period before Easter, which commemorates Jesus’s death and resurrection.

The researchers pointed out that the practice was observed so strictly by US Catholics that it led to the invention of the Filet-o-Fish meal by the burger chain McDonald’s.

The study, published on the Social Science Research Network, was based on analysis of public health studies of dietary habits in England and Wales. – with a report from AFP

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