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If a Latin American cardinal is appointed pope, things may get even rockier for multinational and foreign mining and exploration companies.Dorothy Kosich
RENO--(Mineweb.com) Chances are very strong that the successor of the late John Paul II may be a theological conservative from Latin America.
The bad news for mining, however, is that a Latin American Pope may be strongly opposed to multinational corporate mining, including foreign junior explorationists.
"Neoliberalism" is pretty much a swear word among advocates for the poor in Latin America. The brainchild of Milton Friedman, F. Von Hayec and the Chicago School of Economics, "new" liberalism asserts that the economic crises of the 1970s resulted from excessive government intervention in the economic affairs of society. The economic fate of society is left in the hands of the private sector, which is allegedly free of stringent laws to protect the environment, consumer health and safety standards, or to assure job security.
Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, 62, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was prominently featured in the latest issue of People magazine as one of papal contenders to succeed John Paul II. The theologically-conservative archbishop is multilingual and articulate. A past president of CELAM, the federation of Latin American bishops conference, Rodriguez has declared in the past that "neoliberal capitalism carries injustice and inequity in its genetic code."
As a young man, he studied mathematics, physics and natural sciences, and earned degrees in theology and clinical psychology. Although he comes from a small nation, Rodriguez Maradiaga's presidency of CELAM could improve his papal prospects.
Rodriguez Maradiaga has also espoused environmental causes, including leading anti-mining protest marches since 2002. Last month, he publicly criticized mining concessions which cover almost one-third of Honduras. "The indiscriminate exploitation of our mines and forests with no ethical commitment is placing at risk the very purpose of creation--human life and future generations," he declared.
Bishops like Rodriguez Maradiaga espouse the "theology of the excluded," which views the Catholic Church's role as overcoming the alleged marginalization of Latin America's poor by the economic policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. A passionate advocate of debt relief, Rodriguez Maradiaga has been a strong opponent of Glamis Gold and its operations in Honduras. Interestingly, Glamis has been lauded by the IMF for its socially-progressive programs in Honduras.
Another prominent Latin American candidate is Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, 70, a conservative on church doctrine and a social progressive. He earned degrees in philosophy and taught philosophy at seminaries and a Catholic university.
Hummes is considered a friend of the labor movement and believes the globalized market economy is responsible for the "misery and poverty affecting millions around the world." He asserted that the market economy has "reinvented poverty in many countries."
Brazil is the world's most-populous Roman Catholic nation. The Brazilian Catholic Church has been historically involved in mining issues including opposing the privatization of CVRD. The church also helped organize NGO campaigns against bauxite mining and the production of aluminum by multinational corporations in the 1990s.
Other names being mentioned as possible candidates for Pope include Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglia, 68, archbishop of Buenos Aires. The Catholic Church has formed Equipo Nacional de Pastoral Aborigen, which is fighting for aboriginal peoples to obtain title on the lands on which they lived for centuries. Some of these peoples have formed opposition groups to fight proposed gold mining projects in the area.
Columbian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyes, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, is another possible candidate along with Cardinal Norberto Rivera, 63, of Mexico City.
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