21-September-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Protecting The Dignity And Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

Vatican City, 21 September 2012 (VIS) - A national meeting of indigenous priests, religious and catechists of Colombia came to an end yesterday in Bogota, Colombia. During the event participants reflected on certain key themes affecting pastoral workers in indigenous communities. The meeting was organised by the Commission for Missionary Animation of the Colombian Episcopal Conference's Pastoral Centre for the Evangelisation of the Faith, and coincides with the centenary of St. Pius X's Encyclical "Lacrimabili statu".

For the occasion the Holy Father sent a message to Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, in which he notes that St. Pius X's Encyclical, "in continuity with Benedict XIV's Encyclical 'Inmensa pastorum', highlighted the need to work more diligently for the evangelisation of indigenous people, and for the constant promotion of their dignity and progress".

The Pope describes the current situation as "ripe so that - with right intention and configured to Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life for all humankind - pastors and faithful may experience a growing desire to protect the dignity and rights of indigenous peoples, while these, in their turn, may feel a greater desire to do their duty in accordance with their ancestral traditions. I pray to the Almighty that, first and foremost, the sacredness of their life may be protected. They must not for any reason be coerced because God wishes no one's death and orders us to love one another as brothers. May their lands by duly protected. May no one for any reason manipulate indigenous peoples, and may they not be attracted by harmful ideologies".

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