Here is a translation of the Message sent by Pope Francis to the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, on the occasion of the opening of the Meeting “A Day of Reflection – United to God We Heed a Cry,” promoted and organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with representatives of communities, damaged by extractive activities, from countries of Africa, Asia and America. The meeting is being held at the Salesium in Rome from July 17-19, 2015.
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To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
I am happy to express my greeting and my encouragement to the participants in the meeting of representatives of communities concerned with mining activities, organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in collaboration with the Latin American Churches and the Mining network on the theme “United to God We Heed a Cry.”
You come from different situations and you experience in diverse ways the repercussions of mining activities, whether they are carried out by large industrial companies, by artisans or by informal operators.
You wished to meet in Rome, on this day of reflection that is linked to a passage of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (cf. nn. 187-190), to echo the cry of numerous people, families and communities that suffer directly or indirectly from the too often negative consequences of mining activity. A cry because of lost lands; a cry because of the extraction of riches of the soil that, paradoxically, has not produced wealth for the local populations which have remained poor; a cry of pain in reaction to the violence, threats and corruption; a cry of anger and help because of the violations of human rights, blatantly or discreetly trampled with regards to the health of the populations, the conditions of work, at times the slavery and traffic of persons that fuels the tragic phenomenon of prostitution; a cry of sadness and of impotence for the pollution of the waters, of the air and of the soil; a cry of incomprehension because of the absence of inclusive and supporting processes on the part of those civil, local and national authorities, which have the fundamental duty to promote the common good.
Minerals, and more generally the riches of the soil and subsoil are a precious gift of God, of which humanity has made us for a millennium (cf. Job 28:1-10). Minerals, in fact, are fundamental for numerous sectors of life and of human activity. In the Encyclical Laudato Si’ I wished to address an urgent appeal to collaborate in taking care of our common home, opposing the tragic consequences of environmental degradation in the life of the poorest and excluded, and advancing towards an integral, inclusive and sustainable development (cf. n. 13). The entire mining sector is undoubtedly called to carry out a radical paradigm change to improve the situation in many countries. The Governments of countries of origin of the multinational societies and of those in which they operate, entrepreneurs and investors, the local authorities that supervise the development of mining operations, the workers and their representatives, the providers of international supplies with the various intermediaries and those that work in the markets of these materials, the consumers of merchandise for whose realization use has been made of minerals, can make their contribution. All these people are called to adopt behavior inspired by the fact that we constitute one human family, “that everything is in relation, and that the genuine care of our life itself and of our relations with nature is inseparable from fraternity, from justice and from fidelity in our dealings with others” (Ibid., 70).
I encourage the communities represented in this meeting to reflect on how they can interact constructively with all the other actors involved, in a sincere and respectful dialogue. I hope that this occasion will contribute to greater awareness and responsibility on these subjects: it is beginning from human dignity that the necessary culture is created to address the present crisis.
I pray to the Lord that your work these days may be rich in fruits, and that those fruits may be shared with all those that are in need of them. I ask you, please, to pray for me and I affectionately bless you, the communities to which you belong and your families.
From the Vatican, July 17, 2015