Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Peru: Church Defends Environmental Activism in Amazonia

And now some hierarchs who are standing with the people and for justice...

By Nieves San Martín (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Zenit.org
7/22/2010

The president of the Peruvian bishops issued a message on the presence of the Church in the Amazon and its environmental activities, and requested "due process" for a British missionary in that region, expelled for his defense of the environment.

The Peruvian Catholic Church on Friday called for "due process" for Paul McAuley, the British religious brother who this month received a deportation order in Peru, and, as such, defended the work of bishops and missionaries who protect the environment as part of its social doctrine.

The judiciary of the city of Iquitos, the largest in the Peruvian Amazon, has put a government decree of virtual expulsion for the British religious brother on hold.

The president of the Peruvian Bishops Conference (CEP), Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte OFM, remarked at a press conference that "the defense of a dignified life and the protection of the environment are values in the social doctrine of the Church and also are covered by existing international standards." "Defending the environment is not only the protection of nature but the space where human beings develop," added the archbishop of Trujillo.

McAuley, a Christian Brother of La Salle and director of the Asociación Red Ambiental Loretana (Loretana Environmental Network) in the Amazonian city of Iquitos since 2006, filed formal complaints with the Constitutional Tribunal against the logging concessions and oil pollution complaints against companies like Argentina's Pluspetrol.

The CEP president stressed that the arguments put in evidence must be reviewed "in an objective and impartial manner by an independent judicial authority."

Last Friday, the president of the Peruvian bishops issued a message on the presence of the Church in Amazonia, with the wish "to emphasize significant points that summarize various events that have happened in recent days in our country and that have to do with our pastoral action."

He recalled in his message that "Vatican Council II, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, states that "The political community exists, (...) for the sake of the common good, in which it finds its full justification and significance ( ... but) where citizens are oppressed by a public authority overstepping its competence, they should not protest against those things which are objectively required for the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and the rights of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority, while keeping within those limits drawn by the natural law and the Gospels." (No. 74)

He adds that "Pope Paul VI states that 'between evangelization and human advancement there are profound links (and therefore) it is impossible to accept "that in evangelization one could or should ignore the importance of the problems so much discussed today, concerning justice, liberation, development and peace in the world.' (EN Nº 31)"

He recalls that "the Latin American bishops state that 'the essential task of evangelization includes the preferential option for the poor, integral human promotion, and authentic Christian liberation.'"(DA No. 146)

He also notes that "the Church is in the world to build peace, protecting Creation, as Benedict XVI has said: 'Pope John Paul II drew attention to the relationship that we, as creatures of God, have with the universe around us. 'In our time,' he wrote, 'there is a constantly growing conviction that world peace is threatened, [...] also by the lack of due respect for nature,' adding that environmental awareness 'should not be obstructed, but rather favored, so as to develop and mature, finding suitable expression in specific programs and initiatives.'"

Likewise, he states that "the call of John Paul II in 1990 is even more pressing today amid growing signs of a crisis, which it would be irresponsible not to take into serious consideration. 'How can we remain indifferent towards... the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity? (...) How can we not react to today's conflicts, and to other potential ones related to access to natural resources? All these are issues that have deep repercussions on the exercise of human rights, for example, the right to life, food, health and development.'"

Monsignor Cabrejos stresses that the Church has been faithful to the mission of Jesus: "This awareness of the universal (global) mission of the Church has mobilized throughout history many missionaries (priests, religious and laity) who, leaving their own countries and families, have come to us to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our country. There are many reasons to give thanks for the support they have given and still do in the various fields of the evangelizing action of the Church, especially in the field of protection of life and the environment."

"The presence of the Church in the Amazon is not new," the bishop recalls. It has been accompanying the lives of people for five centuries, a presence that has been made possible by the missionaries who mostly came from neighboring countries. The Apostolic Vicariates of the jungle were created to continue the evangelization of peoples, to promote their culture, improve their health and education, to care for nature, the work of the Creator. As Aparecida says: 'Hence, as prophets of life we want to insist that the interests of economic groups that irrationally demolish sources of life are not to prevail in dealing with natural resources, at the cost of whole nations and of humankind itself. The generations that succeed us are entitled to receive an inhabitable world, not a planet with polluted air.' (DA 471)"

We must also state, he adds, that the Peruvian Bishops Conference has played and plays an important role in the dialogue process between the state and indigenous communities, as was the case with the invitation of the State to participate as observers in the Grupo Nacional de Coordinación para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Amazónicos (National Coordination Group for the Development of Amazonian Peoples) (RS 117-2009 PCM). In this context it is important to reopen the dialogue roundtables as the bishops of the Amazon asked the President of the Republic, Dr. Alan Garcia Perez, on March 5th of this year, to do."

Likewise, he says, "it is necessary to highlight the active participation of the apostolic vicariate bishops of our Amazonian region with the support of professionals in the same ecclesiastical jurisdictions, of the Comisión Episcopal de Acción Social (Bishops Commission for Social Action - CEAS) and the Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Acción Práctica (Amazon Center of Anthropology and Practical Actions - CAAP), in the search for peaceful resolution of socio-environmental conflicts."

And he concludes by reiterating that "the Church, from its evangelizing mission, promotes peace and full human development. We want to be credible witnesses of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who says of Himself "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

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