Vatican News

Respect rights of indigenous people, culture, pope tells mining industry

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Adriano Machado, Reute

An indigenous woman from the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae tribe looks over the Paraopeba River in Brazil Jan. 28, 2019, after a tailings dam owned by Brazilian mining company Vale SA collapsed. (CNS photo/Adriano Machado, Reuters) See POPE-MINING May 3, 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A "fallacious" economic model that exploits the earth's resources while disregarding the rights and cultures of indigenous people has left the planet in a precarious condition and requires a change of heart that places the common good before financial gain, Pope Francis said.

Addressing participants of a two-day conference at the Vatican May 3, the pope said that like all economic activities, mining "should be at the service of the entire human community," especially indigenous people who are often pressured "to abandon their homelands to make room for mining projects which are undertaken without regard for the degradation of nature and culture."

"They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed," he said. "I urge everyone to respect the fundamental human rights and voice of the persons in these beautiful yet fragile communities."

The May 2-3 conference, titled "Mining for the Common Good," was sponsored by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and included representatives of the mining industry in Canada, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Members of the Anglican and Methodist churches, the International Union of Superiors General, and Catholic social justice and development organizations also attended the event.

Also present were members of communities affected by the mining industry, including representatives of the town of Brumadinho, Brazil. In late January, the Brumadinho dam, which is owned by the Vale mining company, collapsed.

The dam failure resulted in a catastrophic mudflow that killed over 200 people and caused vast amounts of toxic material from mined iron ore to seep into the soil. Experts believe that the toxic waste will eventually reach the Sao Francisco River, the longest river that runs entirely in Brazil.

In his speech, the pope said that leaders of the mining industry must ensure that their activities lead "to the integral human development of each and every person" and "should be at the service of the human person and not vice versa."

"Attention for the safety and well-being of the people involved in mining operations as well as the respect for fundamental human rights of the members of local communities and those who champion their causes are indeed non-negotiable principles. Mere corporate social responsibility is not sufficient," he said.

Citing his encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," Pope Francis urged conference participants to "move away from the throwaway culture" and to continue to encourage industrial systems to adopt a "circular model of production capable of preserving resources and "maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them."

He also thanked the mining industry leaders as well as community and church representatives for attending the conference, which will aid them in safeguarding the planet while challenging them "to think and act as members of one common home."

"We need to act together to heal and rebuild our common home," the pope said. "All of us are called to cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents."

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Pope sends condolences to Sri Lanka's Christians in wake of bombings

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Danish Siddiqui, Reuters

A member of Zion Church, which was bombed on Easter Sunday, cries as she prays at a community hall in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, May 5, 2019. In the wake of deadly Easter terrorist attacks on Sri Lanka churches and other sites, Pope Francis condemned the brutal killings and called on all Sri Lankans to strengthen efforts to foster peace and justice. (CNS photo/Danish Siddiqui, Reuters) See POPE-LETTER-SRI-LANKA May 6, 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the wake of deadly Easter terrorist attacks on Sri Lanka churches and other sites, Pope Francis condemned the brutal killings and called on all Sri Lankans to strengthen efforts to foster peace and justice.

More than 300 people were killed and more than 500 injured in Easter attacks on three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka in the latest in a string of bombings by extremists.

The pope sent his condolences and prayers in a letter that was read May 5 at the end of a televised Mass celebrated by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo. The cardinal had asked that all public Masses and services be suspended until there was a better assessment of the security situation.

Vatican News published the letter the same day.

"In the wake of the brutal attacks on Christian communities," the pope wrote, "I feel moved to assure you once more of my profound solidarity and my continued prayers for all those affected by these contemptible crimes."

"With the followers of all religions, and men and women of goodwill everywhere, we express horror at this unspeakable offence against the holy name of God and I pray that hearts hardened by hatred may yield to his will for peace and reconciliation among all his children," he said.

The pope said he was praying for all those affected, asking that there be healing for the injured and consolation for all those who lost a loved one.

"Conscious of the wound inflicted on the entire nation, I likewise pray that all Sri Lankans will be affirmed in their resolve to foster social harmony, justice and peace," he said.


Mexico celebrates beatification of first laywoman

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the sounds of music and applause echoed throughout the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the Catholic Church in Mexico celebrated the first beatification of a laywoman in the country.

The beatification Mass of Blessed Maria Concepcion Cabrera was celebrated May 4 by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, at the famed basilica.

The life of Blessed Cabrera, affectionately known as "Conchita," gave witness to living Christian life as "a wife, mother, widow, and an inspiration for religious institutes and apostolic initiatives," Cardinal Becciu said.

"The beauty and strength of her witness consists in having chosen, from her adolescence, to consecrate herself to the absolute love: God," he continued.

Thousands packed the basilica that houses St. Juan Diego's tilma, which bears the image of Mary, who appeared to the indigenous saint in 1531. To the left of the historic image hung a portrait of Blessed Cabrera.

The portrait of the newly beatified laywoman was unveiled as her granddaughter, Sister Consuela Armida, and Jorge Guillermo Trevino, the man miraculously healed of multiple sclerosis through her intercession, carried a relic of Blessed Cabrera to the main altar.

Born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Blessed Cabrera married Francisco Armida in 1884 and had nine children. Before her husband's death in 1901, she had already founded and received pontifical approval for the Apostolate of the Cross.

Through her writings and way of life, she inspired the founding of several religious congregations for men and women before her death March 3, 1937.

Throughout her life, Cardinal Becciu said in his homily, Blessed Cabrera "spoke about God in a convincing and natural way, which proved her ardent love for him." That same love, he added, was also visible in her love for others, especially the poor.

"Her concern for the poor was unceasing, she wanted to be poor among the poor, adapting herself to them externally in order to share in the difficulties of their lives and help them better," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Becciu said that Blessed Cabrera stands out as an example for all Christians, especially women, "as a model of apostolic life" who kept her eyes fixed on heaven while caring for the sufferings of those most in need.

"Through her intercession, may we listen to the supplicant voices of those who experience spiritual or material poverty and respond to that voice with the charity that distinguishes the faithful disciples of the Gospel," the cardinal said.

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Pope invites Ukrainian Catholic Church leaders to Vatican

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service


Pope Francis embraces Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, during a meeting with the Ukrainian Catholic community at the Basilica of Santa Sophia in Rome Jan. 28, 2018. Pope Francis has invited bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to the Vatican in July in order to find ways the church can best serve their people, peace and the Gospel. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters) See UKRAINE-VATICAN-POPE May 6, 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has invited bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to the Vatican in July to find ways the church can best serve their people, peace and the Gospel.

The pope's desire for the meeting, set for July 5-6, is "a sign of his closeness to the Ukrainian Catholic Church" in Ukraine and other parts of the world, the Vatican press office said in a communique May 4.

Given the "delicate and complex situation" in Ukraine, Pope Francis decided to invite the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, its metropolitan archbishops and members of its permanent synod, the press office said.

Top officials of pertinent Vatican dicasteries would also attend the meeting, which would represent another occasion for a deeper analysis of "the life and needs of Ukraine," it said.

The aim of the meeting is to pinpoint ways the Catholic Church, especially the Ukrainian Catholic Church, "can dedicate itself ever more effectively to preaching the Gospel, contribute to the support of those who suffer and promote peace, in conjunction, as much as possible, with the Latin-rite Catholic Church and with the other Christian churches and communities," it said.

Archbishop Shevchuk praised the top-level meeting as a way their church could take part in fleshing out "the vision and strategy of the Holy See in regard to the Ukraine nation and the worldwide Ukrainian community."

In a written press release published May 4, the archbishop said three critical points of that strategy would be: "listening, in order to understand how the pope may intervene to help a church in a difficult situation; strengthening the local church; and the need to guarantee an organic development of the local church."

The pope's invitation is "an important signal of support of our church and the beginning of some very serious work to assure an adequate development of the church" both organizationally and in its pastoral activities in Ukraine and abroad, he said.

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