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Vatican at UN Forum: Indigenous Youth vital in cultural and environmental preservation

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, detailed the importance of Indigenous youth as both present and future stewards of their cultures at the 23rd Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

“They can actively engage in safeguarding and revitalizing their cultural practices and contribute to the preserving of their communities’ distinct ways of life, which are integral to their right to self-determination,” said Archbishop Caccia.

The session, which convened on April 16 in New York, centered on enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in alignment with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), with a special focus on the voices of Indigenous youth.

Archbishop Caccia highlighted the Holy See’s recognition of the contributions made by the forum in addressing Indigenous Peoples’ issues.

The prelate called on young indigenous people to combat exclusion and impoverishment as a means to foster a more equitable and humane world. 

He pointed out that these young individuals are vital in bridging gaps between generations, enhancing inter-generational dialogue, and fostering understanding and cooperation within their communities.

The Archbishop stressed the crucial role of indigenous youth in advocating for the protection of ancestral lands, natural resources, and ecosystems, which are essential components of their identity and rights. 

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He encouraged ongoing dialogue between states and indigenous peoples, suggesting that fostering a “culture of encounter” could prevent the isolation and stagnation of indigenous cultures.

“Dialogue and identity are not mutually exclusive,” Archbishop Caccia said, urging states to promote a culture that embraces integration and mutual respect.

“God, the Creator and Father of all peoples and of everything that exists, calls us today to live out and bear witness to our human call to universal fraternity, freedom, justice, dialogue, reciprocal encounter, love, and peace, and to avoid fueling hatred, resentment, division, violence, and war,” the prelate quoted Pope Francis. 

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