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In Chiapas, Pope condemns exploitation of indigenous peoples

February 15, 2016

Pope Francis denounced the exploitation and oppression of indigenous peoples in Mexico, during a Mass celebrated in Chiapas on February 15.

Chiapas, a state in southern Mexico is heavily populated by different Indian tribes, who have often fought with outsiders over development of the region's rich natural resources. The state was the site of the Zapatista rebellion in the 1990s, which was partially successful in curbing destruction of the natural habitat.

During a Mass at which prayers were said in several different native languages, Pope Francis observed that indigenous peoples had been excluded from power "in a systematic and organized way" for generations. Some developers, he added, "intoxicated by power, money, and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them."

The Pope told the congregation at a soccer stadium in San Cristobal de las Casas that we are facing "one of the greatest environmental crises in world history." The Western world, in response to this crisis, should recognize the wisdom of indigenous cultures that revere the earth. "In this regard, you have much to teach us." 

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  • Posted by: unum - Feb. 16, 2016 9:51 AM ET USA

    Pope Francis is beginning to sound more like a political environmentalist than a preacher of the Gospel. Laudatio Si' calls us to an appreciation of our world as a gift from God and to use our God-given talents to care for that gift. Many of us have not been given the gift of political action!