CRL Statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

Catholic Rural Life, among many other faith groups, are closely watching the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Cannon Ball, ND. We join with those praying for peaceful resolution while faithfully discerning how to achieve social and environmental justice for members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

The conflict over the oil pipeline construction is complicated by many interests and voices. CNN reported on the conflicting voices in a Nov. 4 online report, pointing that many protestors have come from far outside the immediate area. Unfortunately, they are going to extremes to disrupt the initial protests of the Standing Rock Sioux who are resisting corporate greed and the environmental threat to their sacred land.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas have been present at the protest site. The two members of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas joined more than 500 ministers and religious leaders Nov. 4 for a day of prayer and conversation in south central North Dakota to confront what they contend is an ecological disaster waiting to happen.

Many other faith groups are joining their voices with those call upon authorities, including the U.S. Administration, to further consider the threat the pipeline poses to water, land and sacred sites. As people of faith, we are called to act in harmony and interdependence with all of creation. (Click here to see how other faith communities are responding to the situation.)

Catholic Rural Life members do not want to see anyone get hurt: construction workers, Native Americans, protectors, and law enforcement officers. In our prayers and public appeals, we ask that outside interests respect the property and peace of local residents and landowners.

Understanding “Integral Ecology”

Once operational, the pipeline will send as much as 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day through several states, traversing the tribe’s ancestral lands and the Missouri River, the source of water for the tribe and several Midwest states. Catholic Rural Life considers this is an opportunity to embrace the call of Pope Francis to protect “our common home.” In his encyclical Laudato Si’, the Holy Father wrote in earnest about embracing an “integral ecology” as a new paradigm of justice: an ecology “which respects our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings.” (LS,15)

This passage from Laudato Si’ on “cultural ecology” (143) is worth highlighting: “Ecology, then, also involves protecting the cultural treasures of humanity in the broadest sense. More specifically, it calls for greater attention to local cultures when studying environmental problems, favoring a dialogue between scientific-technical language and the language of the people. Culture is more than what we have inherited from the past; it is also, and above all, a living, dynamic and participatory present reality, which cannot be excluded as we rethink the relationship between human beings and the environment.”

The Franciscan Action Network offers this prayer in spiritual solidarity with the Native People affected by the Dakota Access Pipeline.