Cardinal Barreto supports divestment campaign promoted by Churches and Mining network

The president of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon sees in the Pope’s trip to Canada an opportunity to advance another attitude on the part of the Catholic Church towards indigenous peoples
The Peruvian cardinal supports the disinvestment campaign promoted by the Churches and Mining network, to deny support to companies that threaten the Common Home.
Barreto expresses solidarity with the Colombian diocese of Mocoa-Sibundoy, in its rejection of donations from the Libero Cobre mining company within parish communities. “That money is from the devil,” he says.

Within the framework of the most recent extraordinary assembly of CELAM, held at the institution’s new headquarters, a newly built building in the north of Bogotá, the president of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon, Pedro Barreto , responded to this medium of communication a miscellany of questions. Assaulted in a corridor, the topics of the conversation were very diverse, namely: the penitential attitude of the Church in dealing with indigenous peoples, the prevention of sexual violence in ecclesial environments, the divestment campaign of the Iglesias network and Mining, the refusal to accept donations by mining companies in areas of socio-environmental conflicts and female ordination. Straight to the point. Here the interview.

In the Catholic Church there are those who conceive so many good deeds in favor of the defense of the Amazon biome and the peoples of this region as a very positive expression of reparation against what other forms of ecclesial treatment of the communities of these regions have been in history. regions. The Pope in Canada is expected to make a penitential pronouncement in the name of the Church and to show solidarity with what has been done in terms of recognition of the abuses against indigenous people, to advance in another form of relationship, in the way that is trying to do in the Amazon. Let’s talk about that penitential attitude.

Cardinal Barreto
Cardinal Barreto


It is not only a question of repairing the irrationally mistreated nature, but it is also necessary to recover the dignity of the people who have been mistreated and raped by Church personnel. Therefore, the repair has to be comprehensive. We have to be very aware that we are clearly determined not to look back, regretting something that we cannot change; but we are very determined not to return to the serious mistakes that we have in our conscience as the Church in the Amazon and in the universal Church. This recognition drives us to have, with greater force, a renewal of all our pastoral work, from REPAM, which is in the territory, and from CEAMA, which will mark pastoral work in the coming years.

How does CEAMA promote the prevention of sexual violence in ecclesial environments in the Amazon?

Prevention against sexual and psychological abuse is already part of the identity of a church. Sometimes a little was left aside to solve the bishop and sometimes in the wrong way, without facing the root of the problem. CEAMA, which is the ecclesial conference of the Amazon, is very aware of prevention, in a transversal way in all the pastoral areas that we have. In this sense, thank God, the people are already alert to any sign that may be from the territory itself. There are no closed areas, but a moral area of ​​openness to be able to effectively ensure this care for life, for children, throughout the Amazon.

What prevention actions are they taking?

In the universal Church there is already a guide for the bishops of the world and it has been applied in each diocese. It is a manual of functions for prevention, with the wide experience that the Church has. In this sense, the CEAMA is not outside the Church; therefore, everything that means the prevention of sexual abuse is within our work and, in addition to having a specialized commission for that, we are very aware that in a transversal way in any area that pastoral care is carried out, we must have that attitude of anticipation of these difficulties.


The Churches and mining network promotes a divestment campaign by sectors of the Church from mining or hydrocarbon exploitation companies. This in view of the ethical commitment of the Church with these efforts for the care of our common home. How does CEAMA participate or can it participate in these strategies to gain moral authority by ceasing to support companies that exploit the Amazon biomes? What place does this type of reflection have in your pastoral agenda?

There are two aspects that must be distinguished. The first thing is that mining is necessary for humanity, for technological development. Second, any mining pollutes and destroys nature. But here you have to have an ethical balance of not damaging nature more and more constantly, because that also affects the life of the person. So the Church is not against mining, but it is in favor of responsible, transparent mining that not only seeks economic profitability, but also how to give back to the populations that are mostly poor where it is exploited. In the case of the Amazon, it is evident how to return not only the economic wealth, but also the cultural and social wealth that these original peoples have. In this sense, The Catholic Church in the Amazon is especially supporting this disinvestment proposal, because there are areas where investment should not be made and we have to be very aware. Believers and non-believers, scientists or non-scientists, say: In this area there can be no investment; and there you have to have a lot of unity to defend this position. This investment can be made in other places, as long as the extremely high environmental standards that must be demanded are strictly complied with.

I tell you a story. In the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Mocoa, the Libero Cobre company has already approached the community a couple of times to offer repairs to small neighborhood chapels, with donations; in the middle of a process to exploit copper. The local bishop rejects this type of irruption on the stage of parish life, telling Catholics not to accept such donations, as it is a company strategy to win over the community. The prelate invites to protect the Amazonian territory and to avoid this exploitation. He himself opposes her. What do you think of this type of actions by companies to enter the communities with donations, in exchange for their approval for eventual exploitation and using ecclesial symbols?


The first thing is to support the bishop’s decision. I have experienced it in my own experience. I have had to confront Doe Run Peru, a corrupt North American company that did the same thing; not only with the population but with the Government itself, extending a proposal for environmental remediation, buying with money. That money is from the devil, it is from lies, it is from corruption; And that is why these mining companies that do this type of thing must be rejected, because with money you cannot buy people’s consciences and lives. That is why I am very happy that the bishop had this courage. In my own flesh, they attempted against my life, because they said this and that. Unfortunately there are some alleged Catholics who supported the company against the bishop and the Church.

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga says that he is sorry that sectors of the Church demand female ordination or optional celibacy, maintaining that this is part of the reform of the Church, being, according to him, something very superficial. However, these issues involved a very serious debate on the eve of the Amazon Synod. Do you also feel sorry that sectors of the Church, based on greater pastoral care in areas such as the Amazon, demand either female ordination or “viri probati”?

The issue is not about saying yes or no to female priesthood. The problem is that the role of women in the Church right now is very important for the evangelizing process, for reform. I have spoken with various groups of women and they are not interested in being priestesses, but rather that they be taken into account, that their opinion be valued. Therefore, I believe that there will always be sectors that want to dilute the fundamental demands of every Christian and consecrated person. I am convinced that priestly celibacy with all its limitations is a richness and a gift for the Church. Myself, in my own experience, almost at the end of my life, I thank God that celibacy has enhanced my ability to love everyone and not to stay in a family and a small group. That is my vocation, the call that God has given me. So,

Pope and Amazon