Philippines Catholic Church Mandates Prayer as 18th Typhoon Nears

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines published a prayer for deliverance from calamites in a national broadsheet Tuesday as the country's 18th typhoon approached.

With Typhoon Lupit expected to strengthen to a Category 3 storm before making landfall over the northern part of the Philippines late Thursday evening, the church body has mandated the prayer to be read at Mass in hopes that the people of the nation "and our hard earned possessions be spared from the threat of calamities, natural and man-made."

And, as the Philippines government and some other groups have done, the Catholic Church has attributed the recent outbreak of natural disasters to the effects of climate change.

"We acknowledge our sins against You (God) and the rest of creation," the prayer states. "We have not been good stewards of nature. We have confused Your command to subdue the earth. The environment is made to suffer our wrongdoing, and now we reap the harvest of our abuse and indifference."

Though about 20 typhoons or storms lash the Philippines annually, some say climate change is behind the increasing number and intensity of natural calamities in the country.

Tropical storm Ketsana, which devastated the Philippines last month, "is clearly a manifestation of the consequences of global inaction in addressing the immediate impacts of creeping climate change," said Philippines Presidential Adviser on Climate Change Heherson Alvarez during climate talks last month in Bangkok.

Rich countries must act "to moderate these storms and spare the whole world from the impoverishing and devastating impacts of climate change, especially to low-lying archipelagic island-nations like the Philippines," he added, according to Agence France Presse.

Since Sept. 26, the Philippines has been reeling from two devastating typhoons - Ketsana, which drenched the Philippines with its heaviest rainfall in 40 years and flooded 80 percent of Manila, and Parma, which left over 430 people dead and some 55,000 homes destroyed.

 To date, the death toll from two devastating storms is over 850 and still climbing.

Officials of international relief organization World Vision, which has been trying to assist as many of the Philippines' six million affected people as it can, expressed their hope and prayer Tuesday that the incoming typhoon will not hit them or that the impact will be minimal.

"So many people have already been devastated by the two consecutive storms that hit our country. Another storm at this point would really be disastrous," said Filomena Portales, Advocacy and Communications director of World Vision in the Philippines.

"If Lupit batters the communities who have yet to recover from the previous wreckage, it would be harder for us to reach those in need," Portales added.

While holding to hope, the Christian relief group is "doing our best to prepare for the worst."

According to Weather Underground, strong storms with intense downpours over most of the Philippines are expected as Typhoon Lupit makes landfall.

Packed with maximum winds of 195 kph (121 mph) and gusts of up to 230 kph (143 mph), Lupit is believed to be more powerful than the last typhoon, Parma.

In Tuesday's published prayer, the Philippines' predominantly Catholic population was encouraged to turn to God and "beg forgiveness for our sins."

"We beseech You (God) to inspire us all to grow into responsible stewards of Your creation, and generous neighbors to those in need," the prayer concludes.

Lupit, known locally as Ramil, is the Filipino word for "cruel."