WASHINGTON — Two Native American tribes are fighting the Dakota Access oil pipeline in a federal court, and on Wednesday they appeared to get support from Pope Francis.
The pope, a longtime defender of indigenous rights, said development should be reconciled with those rights, ‘‘especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,’’ according to a report by Reuters.
Although he did not mention the Dakota Access pipeline by name, the Vatican City news media suggested that Francis appeared to have that project in mind. ‘‘Do not allow those which destroy the earth, which destroy the environment and the ecological balance, and which end up destroying the wisdom of peoples,’’ the pope said.
This was not the first time the pope has commented on US issues. Earlier he criticized Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexico border. ‘‘In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls, but to build bridges,’’ Francis said, according to The Associated Press. ‘‘To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness. A Christian would never say ‘you will pay for that.’ Never.’’
The tribes have appealed on religious grounds, saying the pipeline interferes with the exercise of their beliefs.