Pope Francis-Indigenous People

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis insisted Wednesday that

indigenous groups must give prior consent to any

economic activity affecting their ancestral lands,

a view that conflicts with the Trump administration,

which is pushing to build a $3.8 billion oil pipeline

over opposition from American Indians.

Francis met with representatives of indigenous peoples

attending a U.N. agricultural meeting and said the key

issue facing them is how to reconcile the right to

economic development with protecting their cultures and

territories.

JUDGE REJECTS TRIBES' REQUEST TO TEMPORARILY HALT

CONSTRUCTION OF DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE

"In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent

should always prevail," he said. "Only then is it possible

to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities

and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict."

The Cheyenne River and the Standing Rock Sioux tribes have sued

to stop construction on the final stretch of the Dakota Access

pipeline, which would bring oil from North Dakota's rich Bakken

fields across four states to a shipping point in Illinois.

The tribes say the pipeline threatens their drinking water,

cultural sites and ability to practice their religion, which

depends on pure water. The last piece of the pipeline is to pass

under a reservoir on the Missouri River, which marks the eastern

border of both tribes' reservations.

The company building the pipeline, Texas-based Energy Transfer

Partners, has insisted the water supply will be safe.

JUDGE TO HEAR ARGUMENTS ON DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE WORK.

JUDGE REJECTED THE NATIVE AMERICANS ARGUMENT. FOX NEWS

PROHIBITED THE RE-PRINTING OF HIS DECISION!

Francis didn't cite the Dakota pipeline dispute by name

and the Vatican press office said he was not making a

direct reference to it.

But history's first Latin American pope has been a

consistent backer of indigenous rights and has frequently

spoken out about the plight of Indians in resisting economic

development that threatens their lands. "For governments,

this means recognizing that indigenous communities are a part

of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose

full participation should be promoted at the local and national

level," Francis told the indigenous leaders Wednesday.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, amid protests

over construction that led to some 700 arrests, federal agencies

that have authority over the reservoir said they would not give

permission for pipe to be laid until an environmental study

was done. U.S. President Donald Trump reversed course and last

month instructed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed

with building the pipeline.

Francis' reference to prior consent is enshrined in the U.N.

Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which was

adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007 over the

opposition of the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Francis' strong backing for indigenous groups and refugees,

his climate change concerns and criticism of the global

economy's profit-at-all-cost mentality highlight the policy

differences with the Trump administration that may come out

if the U.S. president meets with Francis while in Italy for a

G-7 summit in May. There has been no confirmation of any

meeting to date, however.