Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Bearing Witness to Environmental and Human Rights Concerns

October 2, 2013

  Tongxin (Lucy) Lu

Columban priest meeting with community member opposing the Midsalip mine

I attended my first extractive industries working group recently. It took place at the Sisters of Mercy office in Silver Spring. First, everyone introduced their names and affiliations, and I got to know about other faith-based organizations that were working on the same issue. The Columbans were one of the original conveners of the group. The Columbans recognized the need for a group given the many cases of human rights violations near extractive industries projects where Columbans serve such as in the Philippines and Peru. Columbans saw the connections between what they witnessed and what other missionaries witnessed in other parts of the world.

Since our concerns were about the negative effects of extractive industries on Creation including both the human and natural world, our topics included environmental concerns about fracking, a report from our recent meeting with the State Department on our issues, and a discussion on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. I felt the highlight of the meeting was that a Salvadoran woman came to speak with us about the environmental and health problems caused by the mining industries in her region.

I am glad that I can be part of this working group that promotes human rights and environmental justice. Advocacy is a great way to affirm in public the integrity of creation and the dignity of every human person. I hope this group will continue to bear witness to God’s love of the world.