During the UN’s Indigenous Peoples Forum this week, Pope Francis said that the final say in the use of native lands should be left to indigenous people, a direct attack against both the US government and the Dakota Access company who insist that placing a dangerous oil pipeline through the lands of the indigenous Dakota Sioux tribes is the best idea. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.

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This past Wednesday in Rome the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum was held, sponsored by the UN, during which Pope Francis addressed those gathered. He said that anywhere in the world, when you have an issue that involves the use of land, occupied, owned, or as the sole territory of indigenous people, that those indigenous people should have the final say in anything that happens on that land. While he did not specifically mention the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s pretty clear, given what’s happening around the globe right now, that that is what he was referring to.

The indigenous people in this case are the Sioux tribes of the Dakotas trying to protect their sacred land, their sacred waters, their sacred burial sites from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is a completely unnecessary and poorly executed oil pipeline. This is not something that’s going to create energy independence for the United States. It’s not something that’s going to lower our gas prices. It’s not something that’s going to provide low-cost fuel for American citizens. It’s something that’s going to enrich the Dakota Access LLC company and Energy Transfer Partners, the co-owner of this, a group that Donald Trump at least at one point owned stock in.

But the administration is hell-bent on taking away this land from the indigenous Sioux tribes in the Unites States, and that is exactly what Pope Francis was referring to when he spoke at this Indigenous Peoples’ Forum in Rome this week. He also went on to say, according to EcoWatch, that destruction of the environment is a sin. That’s an argument that I have tried to make a couple times over the years just strictly in biblical terms to try to make appeals to the religious right, who seems to have no problem destroying the environment, doesn’t think that the environment’s important.

If you go through the Christian Bible, there are numerous passages in there that talk about protecting the Earth. The Earth is God’s domain, according to the Bible. Any destruction that we do upon it is an affront to God. I ask you this, so-called Christians: Why, if you believe that there is a divine spirit that created this planet, that did it in seven days 6,000 years ago or however old you think it is, why destroy it? Why exploit all the natural resources here and destroy the planet, kill the animals, kill the people that God created, according to you? Why?

When we have a sitting Pope coming out and attacking, well, not necessarily attacking, but discussing the disgustingness of United States income inequality, United States environmental destruction, the complete disregard for indigenous people, maybe we need to listen to him on these couple issues. Is the Catholic Church perfect? Oh, God, no. They’ve done some horrible things in their past, and probably still doing some horrible things today. But on these issues, maybe we could listen, because we do have an ally over there in the Vatican. He is standing up for people. He’s trying to clean up the mess of hundreds of years of Church abuse, but it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not going to happen in the next decade. It’s going to take a very long time, but at least they’re starting to get on the right track here. We probably need to listen, because at the end of the day, if it comes down to Donald Trump’s word versus Pope Francis, I’m probably going to side with the Pope on these.