"Catholic church's opposition to mining "a myth""

Wednesday, 26 February, 2014

A follow-up piece to that ‘religion and mining’ round up we did just before Christmas : we’ve picked up a piece from Mineweb about how the Catholic church’s supposed opposition to mining “is a myth.”

The Catholic University of Peru’s Professor Mario Cedron gave a talk to the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration in Salt Lake City pointing out that while “some members of the clergy may express personal positions that are opposed to mining… no popes in modern memory have expressed anti-mining sentiments.” He even points out the oft-forgotten fact that Pope John Paul II was a former coal miner.

In the context of John Paul II Cedron also makes the point that the late Pope condemned the Liberation Theology political movement, which (in the article’s words) “interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to liberation from unjust economic, political or social conditions. Cedron observed, “Many people call it Christianized Marxism.””

However, strictly speaking (moving from reporting into discussion territory) John Paul II’s opposition to the movement - while clear - was qualified. He was no fan of "the ever increasing wealth of the rich at the expense of the ever increasing poverty of the poor", and preached that the principle of private property "must lead to a more just and equitable distribution of goods...and, if the common good demands it, there is no need to hesitate at expropriation, itself, done in the right way”. not quite so clear cut.

Cedron’s support of his own argument is less... nuanced: as quoted in the article, he says:

“Once, in Peru, a bishop member of Liberation Theology told me: ‘Why (do) you miners want to bring out the peasant from poverty? Don’t you know that Jesus Christ was poor and the doors of heaven are opened for the poor?’”

He also points out that of 50 active bishops in Peru “only two share a position of opposition to mining. In other countries like in Central America they are stronger.”

Other highlights of the piece - a nice change from the usual fare - include the following:

- A precis of the outcome of last September’s “Day of Reflection.” This was a meeting between mining companies belonging to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) - including senior execs from African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Areva, BHP Billiton, MMG and Rio Tinto - and the head of the Pontifical Counsel for Justice and Peace, to study ethical problems rising from mining. The ICMM report on the meeting is available here.

- Cedron’s theories on the genesis of the widely-held notion that the Catholic Church opposes mining in Peru.


http://www.csr21.org/news/citizenship/religion-and-mining-news]: we’ve picked up a piece from Mineweb [http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/content/en/mineweb-political-economy?oid=...