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Audiencia del Papa a los participantes en la 6ª Reunión Mundial del Foro de los Pueblos Indígenas. Foto: VaticanNews

Pope calls on states to recognize the world’s Indigenous Peoples

13 February, 2023 | Ricardo Changala

“Ignoring the original communities in the safeguarding of the land is a serious mistake, it is extractivist functionalism, not to say a great injustice. Instead, valuing their cultural heritage and their ancestral techniques will help to embark on paths for better environmental management,” Pope Francis said.

This statement was made on February 10 in the framework of a meeting he held with indigenous leaders from various parts of the world present in Rome on the occasion of the 6th Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum, promoted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The Supreme Pontiff also expressed that: “We should listen more to indigenous peoples and learn from their way of life to properly understand that we cannot continue to greedily devour natural resources, because ‘the earth has been entrusted to us so that it can be for us mother, mother earth, capable of giving what is necessary to each one to live’. Therefore, the contribution of indigenous peoples is fundamental in the fight against climate change. And this is scientifically proven””

These affirmations of the Pope are consistent with the conceptual construction developed in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti of the year 2020 where, among other relevant messages, it is stated that: “In this world that races ahead, yet lacks a shared roadmap, we increasingly sense that ‘the gap between concern for one’s personal well-being and the prosperity of the larger human family seems to be stretching to the point of complete division between individuals and human community… It is one thing to feel forced to live together, but something entirely different to value the richness and beauty of those seeds of common life that need to be sought out and cultivated’”[1].

In this construction of a different world, the Pope clearly states that Indigenous Peoples have a leading role, and for this reason he expressed that: “… I ask Governments to recognize the Indigenous Peoples of the whole world, with their cultures, languages, traditions and spiritualities, and that their dignity and rights be respected with the awareness that the richness of our great human family consists precisely in its diversity.”

The official note of the Vatican reports that, before concluding his speech, the Holy Father spontaneously addressed a few words to the indigenous leaders present and spoke to them about the “good living” which, is not the “dolce fare niente”, the “doce vita” of the distilled bourgeoisie.

“Knowing how to move in harmony, that is what gives the wisdom that we call living well. The harmony between a person and his community, the harmony between a person and the environment, the harmony between a person and all creation.”

For their part, the indigenous people present shared a message with the Pope in which they invite him to walk together denouncing injustices, fighting for peace and promoting more just social relations, respectful of the diverse cultures that exist on the common planet.


[1] Encyclical letter Fratelli Ttutti of the Holy Father Francis on fraternity and social friendship. https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html