Vatican City, 17 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, to be communicated to the representatives of communities affected by mining activities participating in the meeting “United with God, we hear a cry”, organised by the same dicastery in collaboration with the Latin American “Churches and Mining” network.
“You come from difficult situations and in various ways you experience the repercussions of mining activities, whether they be conducted by large industrial companies, small enterprises or informal operators. You have chosen to gather in Rome on this day of reflection that recalls a passage from the Apostolic Exhortation 'Evangelii gaudium', to echo the cry of the many people, families and communities who suffer directly and indirectly as a result of the consequences, too often negative, of mining activities. A cry for lost land; a cry for the extraction of wealth from land that paradoxically does not produce wealth for the local populations who remain poor; a cry of pain in reaction to violence, threats and corruption; a cry of indignation and for help for the violations of human rights, blatantly or discreetly trampled with regard to the health of populations, working conditions, and at times the slavery and human trafficking that feeds the tragic phenomenon of prostitution; a cry of sadness and impotence for the contamination of the water, the air and the land; a cry of incomprehension for the absence for inclusive processes or support from the civil, local and national authorities, which have the fundamental duty to promote the common good.
“Minerals and, in general the wealth of the earth, of the soil and underground, constitute a precious gift from God that humanity has used for thousands of years. Indeed, minerals are fundamental to many sectors of human life and activity. In the Encyclical 'Laudati si'' I wished to make an urgent appeal for collaboration in the care of our common home, countering the dramatic consequences of environmental degradation in the life of the poorest and the excluded, advancing towards an integral, inclusive and sustainable development. The entire mining sector is undoubtedly required to effect a radical paradigm change to improve the situation in many countries. A contribution can be made by the governments of the countries of origin of multinational companies and those in which they operate, businesses and investors, the local authorities who supervise mining operations, workers and their representatives, the international supply chains with their various intermediaries and those who work in the markets of these materials, and the consumers of goods for whose production the minerals are required. All these people are called upon to adopt behaviour inspired by the fact that we constitute a single human family, “that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.
“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 may contribute to a greater awareness of and responsibility towards these themes: and that, based on human dignity, the culture necessary for facing the current crisis may be created. I pray to the Lord that your work in these days be fruitful, and that these fruits can be shared with all those in need. I ask you, please, to pray for me and with affection I bless you, your communities and your families”.