[From the web] Bp. Sergio L. Utleg, DD Pastoral Letter On Mining – www.nordis.net

Pastoral Letter On Mining

By SERGIO L. UTLEG, D.D.
ARCHBISHOP OF TUGUEGARAO
THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF TUGUEGARAO

I have heard the cry of my people and seen how they are oppressed. (Ex. 3,7)

Beloved People of God in Cagayan:

File photo source: cbcponline

Last year, the clergy of our Archdiocese warned our people about the ill effects of irresponsible mining and called all those concerned to stop mining in Cagayan. Now, in view of the continuing and unabated mining activities that have adversely affected the lives of our people specially the poor, we deem it necessary to issue this pastoral letter to help our faithful to see, judge and act in order to stop mining in our beloved land. Let us act together to protect the integrity of creation in the context of faith. We must struggle to stop irresponsible mining because as Christians, we believe that we are stewards of God’s creation.

It is undeniable that there are mining companies operating in many towns of Cagayan extracting and exploiting the natural resources of Cagayan like black sand, iron ore, manganese, etc. Exploration for more minerals and more mining sites continues and this makes people believe that there might be more mining activities to come. Unfortunately, these mining activities are happening because the Provincial government and the local government units are allowing mining companies to operate in exchange for short term benefits. Many of our people are already suffering the disastrous effects of these mining activities. Some have experience displacement from their lands, others have lost their sources of livelihood and still others have been physically threatened and maltreated because of their opposition to mining in their localities.

According to the pastoral letter regarding our environment issued by the CBCP twenty years ago: Our country is in peril. All the living systems on land and in the seas are being ruthlessly exploited. The damage to date is extensive and sad to say, often irreversible. Now, our people especially the poor are crying out for help to stop irresponsible mining. In the CBCP pastoral letter in 2008 entitled, Upholding the Sanctity of Life, the bishops of the Philippines state: “The Philippine mining industry has a poor record of community accountability. Over the years, mining companies have systematically engaged in the rape of Mother Earth and left a legacy of impoverished communities and environmental despoliation…”

Reflecting from the words taken from the book of Exodus: I have heard the cry of our people and seen how they are oppressed (Ex. 3,7), the Church joins the collective struggle to stop the uncontrolled plunder of our natural resources that makes our people suffer. As disciples of Jesus, we cannot remain deaf to the cries of our people. The mission of the Church is to work for justice in the world and this includes the protection and conservation of our natural resources.

Having seen and judged the nature of mining and its ill effects, now is the time to act. We therefore urge our people especially those concerned to perform the following actions under the guidance or your pastor and lay leaders namely:

1. Organize “circles of discernment” in the different barangays in the parish to see the havoc that mining brings to the lives and livelihood of our people in our Archdiocese, to judge and then to act in alliance and solidarity with other groups to stop it. Pastors must encourage the parishioners to protect and preserve our natural environment in the context of living our Christian faith.

2. Dialogue and appeal to government agencies especially to LGU’s neither to allow nor to give permits to mining companies that plunder our natural resources.

3. Mobilize our people to manifest their opposition to mining through demonstrations, court actions, prayer rallies, etc. and to join other pro-environment groups in preserving the integrity of creation.

4. Motivate our people to be on guard not only against mining but also against all forms of destructive activities like logging, illegal fishing, and bad farming practices that destroy and endanger our natural environment.

Let us hope and pray that through our prayers, vigilance and mass actions, we will be able to put an end to the destruction of our natural resources brought about by irresponsible mining. Through the intercession our Our Lady of Piat, our Mother and Patroness, may God continue to shower us with His abundant blessings.

Given this seventh of October of, 2011, on the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. # nordis.net

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