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Pope Francis: “Financial institutions should promote sustainable development”. Youth and indigenous peoples at the centre of the environmental challenge

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

In the protection and care of the planet, “financial institutions have an important role to play, as part both of the problem and its solution. A financial paradigm shift is needed, for the sake of promoting integral human development”. This is the wish expressed by Pope Francis today, as he spoke to the participants in the International Conference “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth”, on the third anniversary of the Encyclical “Laudato si’”. Referring in particular to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the Pope suggested the promotion of “effective reforms for more inclusive and sustainable development”. “It is to be hoped – he said – that finance ‘will go back to being an instrument directed towards improved wealth creation and development’, as well as towards care for the environment”. In this “change of hearts”, he recalled, “religions, and the Christian Churches in particular, have a key role to play”. The Pope recommended paying particular attention “to two groups of people at the forefront of efforts to foster an integral ecology. Both will be at the centre of the next two Synods of the Catholic Church: young people and indigenous peoples, especially those from the Amazon region”. Young people, for they “will have to face the consequences of the current environmental and climate crisis”. And indigenous communities, for they “see their lands expropriated and their cultures trampled on by predatory schemes and by new forms of colonialism, fuelled by the culture of waste and consumerism”. For indigenous people, he explained, “land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values. How much we can learn from them!”. Pope Francis acknowledged that the protection of creation “might seem too arduous a task, since ‘there are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected’. Yet human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start”. Hence the invitation to work for “radical change”: “Injustice is not invincible”.

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