Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 65 – February 2010

Vatican Appeals for Indigenous People

The Vatican urged the United Nations to confront human rights violations in indigenous populations by teaching the people of their inherent dignity.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, affirmed this at the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly. This issue, he said, is "more than an intellectual exercise, for it comes from its long-standing commitment to addressing the social, personal and spiritual needs of the world's more than 370 million indigenous people.

"Understanding and respecting their cultural traditions, religious consciousness and their long-standing ability to decide and control their development programs foster better interaction and cooperation between peoples and governments," and this "should be achieved through intercultural dialogue not by domination or subjugation", he said. "Indigenous communities are deeply rooted in cultures, traditions and practices of respect for Earth, creation and human life", which have "long been at the centre of the indigenous people's spirituality". "If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away human rights violations continue" among indigenous peoples. "We have to work harder", he said, "to make indigenous peoples aware of their own human dignity and empower their communities to shape their life according to their own traditions."

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