In a message to Colombia's bishops, Pope Benedict said government leaders should not manipulate or exploit indigenous people in the country but rather protect the communities and their land.
The Pope sent his message on the occasion of the National Meeting of Indigenous Priests, Religious and Catechists that took place last week in Colombia.
“I implore the Almighty that above all the sacred nature of their lives be protected,” the Pope wrote. “That their existence never be limited, for God does not desire the death of anyone and orders us to fraternally love one another.”
The meeting in Colombia coincided with the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical “Lacrimabili statu indorum.”
“The present-day situation is providential so that, with purity of intention and configured to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life for all mankind, the desire among pastors and the faithful to safeguard the dignity and the rights of indigenous peoples will increase, and these latter will in turn be more willing to carry out their duties, in harmony with the ancestral traditions,” Pope Benedict added.
He also noted that St. Pius X's encyclical “pointed to the need to more diligently work for the evangelization of indigenous peoples and for the constant promotion of their dignity and progress.”