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Oblates at International Conference on Mining and the Church in Latin America

June 22nd, 2011

 

Oblates from Bolivia, Peru and the United States have participated in an international conference on Extractive Industries focused on “the problem of natural resources in Latin America and the mission of the church”. The conference was organized and sponsored by the Justice and Solidarity Department of CELAM (Bishops Conference of Latin America) and MISEREOR at a retreat center in Chaclacayo – Lima – Peru, June 14 – 16 2011.

Roberto Carrasco Rojas OMI, Edgar Nolasco OMI from the Oblate mission of St Clothilde, Peru, Gilberto Pauwels OMI from Oruro in Bolivia and Séamus Finn OMI from the USP JPIC office in Washington DC joined more than 70 participants from the diocese and communities situated on the front lines of the extraordinary expansion of the extractive industries in Latin America.

Extractive industries, including mining and petroleum, are under new pressure to respond to the increasing global demand for minerals and energy. The skyrocketing price of basic commodities like gold is also an important driver in the increased demand for precious and rare metals. The development of new technologies and processes for exploration and extraction has made it possible for mining and oil companies to penetrate deeper into previously inaccessible areas. This penetration has brought them into contact and conflict with communities and areas previously untouched by their activities, especially those of indigenous peoples.

People from all levels of regions and communities, including bishops, priests, religious, indigenous, and campesinos shared their experiences during the opening days of the conference. These included the great suffering, destruction of livelihood and conflicts that have become a part of their daily lives as a result of this increased incursion of extractive industries. Affected countries include Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala and Colombia. Next steps will include analysis of the input from the opening session to be followed by proposals and recommendations for actions.

The seminar was organized to search for a way to position the challenges of the extractives industry in the mission of the church, the people of God, with the full knowledge of the actual state of this type of industry in its global dimensions and the social, political, ecological and economic character of its consequences; beginning from a doctrinal theological reflection that will guide the design of certain lines of pastoral action.

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