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Ecclesial Opposition to Mining on Mindanao: Neoliberalism Encounters the Church of the Poor in the Land of Promise

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

In the developing world, environmental issues are often livelihood issues as the poor try to protect resources necessary for their subsistence. This paper examines the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church, on the Island of Mindanao, to neoliberal policies designed by the Philippine government to encourage nonferrous metals mining by multinational corporations. Mining is an activity with substantial potential for environmental degradation that can deprive the poor of their livelihood. The Church, demonstrating the influence of liberation theology and its preferential option for the poor, has taken a stance opposing mining as an activity that may harm the poor by degrading the environment upon which they depend for their livelihood and further impoverish them. The paper examines the Church's efforts to provide alternative development programs for the poor and discusses the potential for more conflict between neoliberalism, and its "top down" methods of implementing policies, and liberation theology with its "bottom up" perspective on achieving development.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography/Program of Environmental Science, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4, ;, Email:; 2: Department of Geography/Program of Environmental Science, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4, Email:


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