22 September, 2017

Papal encyclical gives hope to indigenous people

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Pope Francis' Earth-friendly message embraces our values and way of life

On Thursday, Pope Francis will issue a highly anticipated encyclical on man, religion and the environment, a text that is expected to influence the outcome of the Paris climate talks in December.

We know already what side he is on.

During a January visit to typhoon-ravaged villages in the Philippines — my home country — he called on humanity to protect the earth, which he called “a beautiful garden for the human family.” And he captured headlines last year when he called the destruction of South America’s rainforests a “sin.”

To the world’s 370 million indigenous people, many of whom live in overlooked and remote corners of the world, the Pope’s words offer hope — regardless of whether they share his spiritual beliefs. As some of the first victims of climate change by virtue of their dependence on the world’s natural resources, these communities are finding themselves on the front lines of the environmental crisis. They are playing David against governments and developers eager to destroy their pristine forests, fields and streams to build mines, dams and agricultural plantations, all in the name of what the Pope calls a “throw-away” economic system. 

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Above photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales) / foter.com