Latin American religious groups call for a post-extractivist economy


March of churches and the mining network

Source: London mining network

More than 100 Catholic religious congregations and conferences from seven countries sign a manifesto in which they demand a post-extractivist development model that respects people and the environment.

In November, a face-to-face meeting of the Latin American Church Assembly was held, bringing together the Continental Conferences of the Latin American Catholic Church in a key synod. Concern for the poor and for the environment, both victims of the current economic system, is one of the challenges and axes of the Assembly’s proposals for pastoral change through conversion to “integral ecology”.

In a pre-event statement, which took place in hybrid form with an in-person meeting in Mexico City, more than 300 church organizations and grassroots movements joined Pope Francis’ appeal at the Fourth Meeting with the Popular Movements : it’s time to stop the locomotive that is dragging us into the abyss. In a manifesto titled “Instead of an economy of death, let’s build a Samaritan economy”, the organizations proposed to make “decisions that are consistent in their financial and consumer practices, in economic and investment policies, which promote human rights, social justice, climate and environmental justice, gender equality and the common good, in accordance with divine mandate to protect God’s creation (Genesis 2:15).

Among the organizations pushing the call for an economy “which acts as an instrument of the mission of the Church” were more than 100 religious congregations and the National Conferences of Religious Congregations. [Catholic religious communities] from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. “We made a prophetic commitment to help transform the economic model of inequality,” the document said.

Launched earlier at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), in collaboration with the Ecclesial Assembly for Latin America and the Caribbean and in line with the Laudato Si ‘action platform, the manifesto reflects on mining projects and other industries that destroy and pollute, echoing Pope Francis’ demand that “companies in the extractive mining, petroleum, forestry, construction and agrifood industries stop destroying forests, marshes and mountains, stop polluting rivers and seas, stop poisoning people and food ”. As a proposal for alternatives, the document mentions the Campaign for Mining Divestment, which promotes ecological restructuring from an economic point of view.

Led by the Network of Churches and Mines of Latin America, in collaboration with dozens of other organizations, including the Latin American Confederation of Religious (CLAR), the campaign seeks to respond to the commitment made in the document final of the Synod of the Amazon, held in Rome in October 2019. “We engage and support the divestment campaigns of extractive companies linked to the socio-ecological devastation of the Amazon, starting with [Catholic] ecclesial institutions themselves and also in alliance with other Churches “(70, Final Document, Amazon Synod). The manifesto asserts that mining divestment is an ethical act for Churches and their institutions.” This helps us not to to be complicit in the destruction of the environment and to align ourselves with the many communities that are suffering the impact of extractivism, ”say the more than 300 signatories.

There are many prophetic voices in Latin America. Among the resounding echoes are hundreds of people of faith who feel “hungry and thirsty for righteousness” (Matthew 5: 6) and who care to support communities affected by large mining operations. According to the Map of Mining Conflicts in Latin America (OCMAL), there are currently over 280 conflicts involving over 300 mining projects. The leaders are criminalized, there are territorial conflicts, violations of the rules of prior and informed consent for the installation of mining projects in the territories; 162 of them concerned access to water for communities. In Brazil, for example, according to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), mining is the main culprit in water-related conflicts, affecting 70,000 families in 2019.

Churches and the mining network as well as more than 20 allied organizations are committed to continue to jointly promote and facilitate reflection and monitoring of the impact of mining in communities. Through the Campaign for Mining Divestment, this group of organizations and communities persecuted by this economic model invite church institutions – congregations, dioceses, parishes and others – to reflect on their ethical investment decisions and their relationships with them. banks and the types of impact they cause.

Keywords: Mines, London Mining Network, Latin American Churches, Latin American Confederation of Religious, CLAR

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