Pope Francis speaks out for rights of indigenous people


Pope Francis met with representatives of indigenous peoples who were in Rome for the Third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum. The Forum was organised by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its foundation this year. The aim of the forum was to identify ways of giving greater economic empowerment to indigenous peoples.

 “I believe the essential problem is how to reconcile the right to development, including social and cultural development, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,” said Pope Francis, stressing that “this is evident especially when economic activities are structured that can interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relation with the earth.”

In this context the Pope said the right to previous and informed consensus should prevail, as provided in Article 32 of the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ”Only thus, is it possible to ensure a peaceful collaboration between the government authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”

A second aspect Francis mentioned was the development of guidelines and plans “which take into account the indigenous identity, with special attention to young people and women.” He stressed that this meant “not only considering them, but including them!”

The Pope urged Governments to “recognize that indigenous communities are a component of the population that should be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level.”

In this way, Francis said, IFAD can contribute effectively with its funding and expertise while bearing in mind that “a technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress” (Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 194).

ACN Malta