Ethical Commitment to Care for Creation

By Br. Carlos Ferrada Montero, SVD

As part of the celebration of the Time of Creation, the three Religious Congregations founded by St. Arnold Janssen participated in a webinar, in which they listened to the cries of women and men who ask for action and coherence to stop the devastation of the Earth, the suffering of communities and families and climate change. In addition, the Religious joined the Mining Divestment Campaign to promote concrete alternatives from the Church.

“Hearing the Cry of the Earth and the Peoples: Economies for an Ecological Conversion” was the title of the webinar. The Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission (JPIC) of the SVD Missionaries, the Churches and Mining Network through the Mining Divestment Campaign, VIVAT International, and Steyler Ethical Bank organized the webinar on September 4, as part of the program of celebrating the Season of Creation. Representatives of the three Religious Congregations founded by St. Arnold Janssen participated in the webinar: Congregations of the Divine Word Missionaries, the Missionary Servants of the Holy Spirit, and the Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration.

Mining Divestment campaign

On the eve of another anniversary of its founding, the Divine Word Missionaries and the family of St. Arnold Janssen present in the five continents joined this initiative.  The cries of women and men were heard asking for action and coherence on how the Church can respond to the current crises, to generate an alliance for concrete efforts to stop the devastation of the Earth, the suffering of communities and families, and climate change. “Mining Divestment is a tool that seeks ways to advocate and make the life and claims of peoples and nature heard. Dario Bossi – commented Father Dario Bossi – is an act of ethical coherence within the Church, which allows us to go together, on behalf of and alongside many communities that suffer the impacts of extractivism.”

Br. Carlos Ferrada, SVD, Coordinator of JPIC of the Congregation, confirmed the adhesion to the Mining Divestment Campaign. He recognizes that the member Congregations of the family of St. Arnold Janssen are very committed to the seven objectives of the Laudato Si platform. It seeks possible and responsible transformations with the situations of injustice experienced by climate change.  “We will make our action plans based on four pillars – said the Religious – prayer, lobbying activities in the political arena, education and concrete actions.” In this sense, the SVD missionary underlines an ethical and ecological duty to manage resources. “In what types of companies and economic sectors – he specified – we invest our resources so that they do not contribute to a greater violation of people’s rights and the destruction of Sister Mother Earth.”

Extraction brings new slavery

Anitalia Pijachi, an indigenous woman from the Ocaina-Murui community of the Colombian Amazon, also took part in the webinar. She was emphatic in her denunciation of how extractivism and mining undermine the reciprocal relationships woven between all beings that inhabit the forest and the world, human and non-human. She also pointed out the violation of spiritual and sacred relationships. “We do not eat gold; we eat food, and we share food with everyone,” said the Amazon leader. “That is why God put gold in the heart of the Earth. Gold is not for everyone; it is not taken out because it is something hot and generates pain. That is the word of advice from our elders”. For Anitalia Pijachi and her culture, extracting minerals is an ancient form of the colony, bringing new slavery.

Likewise, Monsignor Vicente Ferreira, Bishop who accompanies the population of Brumadinho, terribly affected by the toxic mud spill, spoke about the lack of protection and injustice. “The government makes agreements over the pain of the communities to serve the interests of criminal multinationals. It is a disaster. All laws against mining are flouted. What sustains us in the prophecy and the struggle are the communities and networking.”

Spirituality of care as a permanent living experience

A contribution to the spirituality of care was given by Sister Christina Hoar, of the Congregation Servants of the Holy Spirit. She shared her experience accompanying the community of the valley of Tránsito, Chile, threatened by the mining company Barrick Gold. “We did not know how to face this situation. We had no previous experience and did not understand what we were facing – pointed out the Indonesian Sister. Our pastoral work was the formation, information, from parish to parish, accompanying the communities on the mining issue and its negative effects. It was a fight between David and Goliath, but our work focused on the defense of life. The peasants spoke fearlessly about the way the government and the mining company operate.”

In the webinar, we heard different realities, and we are united in common with the wounds of injustice, inequality, indifference, and violation of rights. “What sustains our strength in prophecy are the wounded bodies of our brothers and sisters,” said Dom Vicente Ferreira. We feel wounded with them. If we believe that the Holy Spirit gives them strength from below, we cannot leave it alone; we cannot deny our presence. We are a wounded body, but a body of prophecy”.