No. 893 Diocese of Marbel, Philippines 15 September 2016
- PASTORAL EXHORTATION ON THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SUNDAY
Dearly beloved People in Marbel Diocese:
Peace and joy!
At the last judgment Jesus will judge us on what we have done or not done for the poor – “the least of these brothers of mine” (cf. Mt. 25: 34-41).
The indigenous peoples are the poorest of the poor. Neglected. Deprived. Oppressed. Exploited.
On 9 October 2016, we will celebrate the 39th Indigenous Peoples Sunday. This celebration was initiated by the CBCP in 1978 to highlight the Church’s preferential option for the poor.
Among these indigenous peoples are the estimated 5,000 Bla’ans in Bong Mal Territory.
Bong Mal straddles the municipalities of: Tampakan, South Cotabato; Kiblawan, Davao del Sur; Malungon, Sarangani; and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat. Forested. Rich in flora and fauna – some endemic to Bong Mal.
These Bla’ans are threatened by the proposed gold and copper mining project of Sagittarius Mines, Inc, as well as by armed groups.
These threats emboldened them to organize and fight.
They are determined to defend their ancestral land; preserve their rich cultural traditions; and assert their right to self-determination.
In the spirit of Jubilee Year of Mercy let us assist them by more corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In the spirit of the Year of the Family and the Eucharist let us welcome them into our families and be ready to sacrifice for their integral development and empowerment.
May these words of Pope Francis inspire us to action. “It is essential to show especial care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions…. They should be principal partners, especially when large projects affecting their lands are proposed. For them, 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 value. When they remain in their land they themselves care for it best.” (“Laudato Si’”, 146).
May Mary, Mother of Indigenous Peoples and Queen of all creation, intercede for us.
+Dinualdo D. Gutierrez, D.D.
Diocese of Marbel
14 September 2016
Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross