Stating that Goans have been witnessing widespread ecological degradation of their land, caused, not by the forces of nature, but by the unscrupulous manipulation of a few individuals, for reasons of power and personal gain, leaving the well being of the common man grossly unattended,
the Archbishop Patriarch Felipe Neri Ferrão, on Thursday, said that the current mining crisis is indeed a wake-up call for the government to revisit all its economic policies for their sustainability and adherence to human rights.
The Archbishop Patriarch was delivering his annual address during the annual civic reception held at the Archbishop’s Palace, commemorating the festival of Christmas.
A number of dignitaries including Governor, Mr B V Wanchoo, Ms Nalini Wanchoo, Archbishop Emeritus Raul Gonsalves, the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Francis D’Souza and the Member of Parliament, Mr Francisco Sardinha were present on the occasion.
“We have all seen the disposition of the people at large, which was reflected in the last electoral verdict,” the Archbishop Patriarch said, observing that we have now a new government, which has yet to prove itself in its resolve to eradicate corruption and give to the people of Goa a clean and responsible administration.
Speaking further the Archbishop Patriarch said that we cannot but express our deep concern about the whole issue of mining in our state.
“The government has been grappling with this dilemma, which has pitted business and environment against each other, leading to a temporary collapse of an entire and important industry,” he stated, adding that while the Church cannot but condemn any illegalities in mining and the plunder of the land – which stand in direct conflict with what we (the Church) termed earlier as the covenant between humanity and creation – her heart reaches out to the many people who have lost their livelihood as a result of the ban on the mining industry.
“We understand that the government is looking to alleviate the problems of these people by rehabilitating them in other industries,” the Archbishop Patriarch said, maintaining, “We sincerely hope that they will not have to suffer much longer.”
“We pray that a satisfactory solution will be found soon, ideally as the result of a joint and sincere effort of the state government and of all the stakeholders,” he pointed out.
Touching upon the issue of education, the Archbishop Patriarch said that education, which is the soul of our society, should be pursued and promoted by all the stakeholders with the devotion and the disinterestedness that it deserves.
“This soul of our society should be freed from undue political interference and communal bias,” he opined, lamenting that it is a matter of concern that the Church in Goa, being the largest education service provider in the private sector and having a voluminous body of qualified resource personnel, does not receive the desired recognition in this field nor is it given an adequate representation in the decision making echelons.
“While we acknowledge, with appreciation, that some outstanding (educational) issues have been resolved by the present administration, others are waiting to reach their logical conclusion and many more are still to be addressed,” the Archbishop Patriarch said, mentioning, “We hope that our educational institutions will have a certain freedom to streamline the excellence in the quality of education that they impart, for which the necessary funds and facilities should be made available, without unnecessary delays, thus ensuring the right direction to integral development and progress in our state.”
Speaking about tourism, the Archbishop Patriarch said that development cannot be reduced to purely economic parameters, and the Church would like to see this (tourism) development accompanied by ethical guidelines, which inspire respect for the dignity of persons and people; a development which in this state, for example, would take into consideration the interests and the well being of the local people, particularly those who were adversely affected by the tourism industry and who had to adjust to their new circumstances by setting up small businesses along the coast in order to compensate for their displacement from traditional occupations.
“To attain such an objective, it would be imperative for the government to take into confidence the very people who are affected by this situation,” the Archbishop Patriarch said, adding “In fact, our Centre for Responsible Tourism, working under the aegis of Caritas-Goa and the Council for Social Justice and Peace, has been working with such people and with various other stakeholders, for the promotion of ethical and holistic tourism initiatives in the state.”
“Our people seem to be systematically dispossessed by the powerful and the rich, who see their own profits as being of higher value than the people of the land,” he bemoaned. Wishing everyone a happy New Year 2013, the Archbishop Patriarch said that Christmas is a season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who is believed to be the source of all that is good and beautiful. “We believe that the birth of Christ, foretold since times immemorial, came to fulfil the aspirations of humanity and to challenge us to see this earth as good and beautiful and to make it a better place to live on,” he added.
The event also had presentation of dance and music dedicated to Jesus Christ. A choir sang Christmas Carols on the occasion. [NT]