Cardinal Peter Turkson has said that the Church is dedicated to giving a voice to the communities adversely affected by mining operations.
The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace expressed this during a press conference held this morning in the Holy See Press Office on “A Day of Reflection – United to God, We Hear a Cry,” an initiative organized by his dicastery in collaboration with the Latin American Churches and the Mining Network. The conference, which began today and ends Sunday, is taking place at the Salesianum in Rome.
Along with the Ghanaian Cardinal’s remarks, there was an address given by Father Dario Bossi and three testimonies of Prassant Kumar Paikray of India; Juan Guillermo Peñaloza Sierra of Chile; Patricia Generoso Thomas of Brazil.
This meeting, Cardinal Turkson explained, brings together about 30 representatives of communities affected by mining activities, especially from Africa, Asia and America, and aims to examine the situation of these communities.
The Cardinal recalled that in 2013 his dicastery organized a day of reflection, titled “Mining for the Common Good”, upon the request from directors of various mining companies. It aimed at evaluating the human, economic and environmental implications of this activity. After it, a report of the event was distributed to the episcopal conferences of the nations involved.
The prelate went on to inform the press that another day of reflection, titled “Creating a New future, Reimaging the Future of Mining,” will take place in September, which further explains how this weekend’s initiative, intended to give a voice to communities affected by the mining industry, aims to be a kind of preparation for the next meeting.
Cardinal Turkson urged those present to realize how many reasons the dicastery decided to take on this subject.
“With the Encyclical ‘Laudato si’,'” the Vatican official said, “the Holy Father urges us to ‘hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’. We cannot remain indifferent to this cry, as the need to her it is ‘born of the liberating action of grace within each of us, and thus it is not a mission reserved only to a few: the Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might.’”
“Many of us are aware of this harrowing cry from those areas where mineral extraction is carried out,” he said, before citing examples, such as the “’Africa Progress Report’ by the former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, the OECD directives on the issue, the numerous reports on the rights of indigenous populations, the ‘Publish what you pay’ initiative, legislation on the traceability of minerals currently being developed by the European Parliament, in cinema with films such as ‘Blood Diamonds’ or ‘Avatar’, and so on.”
The Church–for many years and on various occasions–has closely followed mining activities, he underscored, noting how it does at a regional, national, and transnational level.
“All these voices follow the same direction: faced with these situations, we cannot allow indifference, cynicism and impunity to continue to prevail. A radical paradigm change is needed in the interests of the common good, justice, sustainability and human dignity,” he said.
Exploited and poor countries, the Cardinal pointed out, need honest governments, educated people and investors who understand what is just and what is the common good.
“It is morally unacceptable, politically dangerous, environmentally unsustainable and economically unjustifiable for developing countries to continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future,’” he said.
Shortly after, the Holy See published a message by Pope Francis to those communities affected by mining activities in which he acknowledged their struggles, encouraged respectful dialogue, and imparted his blessing. It can be read by clicking the link below.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Message of Pope Francis: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-message-for-a-day-of-reflection-united-to-god-we-hear-a-cry