Vatican denies that pope slammed US oil pipeline project

(Crux) Although Pope Francis defended a right of “informed consent” by indigenous peoples regarding “economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,” the Vatican has denied it was a specific reference to a controversial oil pipeline in the United States.

Construction of a $3.8 billion pipeline in North Dakota has been opposed by the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. They claim the pipeline, already being built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, 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 right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Pope Francis said Wednesday in a session with 40 representatives of the world’s 300 most numerous indigenous peoples. [More]