Picking up from Laudato Si’s suggestion to dialogue with indigenous peoples in line with its urgent call to address the current ecological crisis, this paper interrogates the Catholic Church’s complicity in undermining the cultures of indigenous peoples in the Philippines. It argues that the matter has to be revisited and acted upon accordingly, as this remains a challenge to the relations between the indigenous communities and the Church, including their common advocacy for environmental care. As a case for discussion, the paper presents an autoethnographic analysis of the Church’s proselytization of the indigenous Kankanaeys of the Cordillera region, focusing on how this process undercut and transformed the people’s worldview and religion, and eroded their traditional relations with nature. From the autoethnographic case, the paper proposes several lines of action that can be considered in dialogue by the Church and the indigenous Christian communities: a Church-wide formal apology and rectification of wrongs, radical inculturation, integration of indigenous deities and spirits, and shaping up an indigenous-Christian ecological ethos. These measures, aside from mitigating the lingering impact of Christian conversion on indigenous cultures, could pave the way towards better partnership between the two parties in today’s environmental politics in the country.

About the Author

Assistant Vice President for Research and Development Faculty, School of Teacher Education and Liberal Arts Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines