ROME — Continuing the Vatican’s full-court environmental press, Pope Francis on Friday called for radical change in the mining industry, demanding greater respect both for nature and for the human rights of workers.

The mining industry, he said, is “called upon to adopt a behavior inspired by the fact that we constitute a single human family.”

Community leaders, laborers, and families involved in mining are in Rome to participate in a July 17-19 conference called “United to God, We Hear a Cry,” that’s focused on ethical issues involving the industry.

Pope Francis sent a message to the meeting, thanking participants for echoing the concerns of those who suffer directly or indirectly because of the “negative consequences of mining.”

The meeting, Francis said, represents “a cry for the land lost,” for the “extraction of wealth that brings no wealth to the local population,” and “a cry of pain in response to the violence, threats, and corruption.”

The pontiff also called the event “a cry of outrage for the human rights violations and the working conditions that border on slavery and the industry of human trafficking that feeds prostitution,” as well as “a cry of helplessness about the pollution of natural resources and the lack of interest from the civil authorities.”

The pope said governments in areas where mining occurs, as well as business leaders and investors, should insist on socially responsible behavior from multinational mining companies.

The gathering was organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the same department that prepared an early draft of Francis’ teaching document on the environment, Laudato Si’.

It takes place amid alleged threats and intimidation directed at some of the 30 representatives from Africa, Asia and Latin America in attendance.

“I must emphasize that some people participating in the meeting were pressured and intimidated in recent days, for example, after requesting a passport,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson when discussing the closed-door meeting with the news media Friday.

In 2013, a similar day of reflection took place at the Vatican. On a local level, the Catholic Church also sponsors the Ecclesiastical Pan Amazonia network in Latin America and the Department of Justice and Peace of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in East Africa, both of which tackle abuses associated with mining.

Quoting a 2014 letter from a US bishop, Turkson said some multinational mining operations produce “calamitous public health and environmental consequences.”

“The goal of this encounter is to take the discussion to the next level,” Turkson said, “giving these representatives the opportunity to return home with a message that has the Vatican’s support.”

Also present at Monday’s press conference were five representatives of the mining sector, including Héritier Wembo Nyama, who lives in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Wembo said that during a protest against a mining company, he was set on fire by the local police, arrested, bound, and tortured, requiring two weeks in the hospital to recuperate.

He said that while he was in Kigali, waiting to leave for Rome, he was tracked down and threatened.

“They said they’d kill me if I came,” he said.

Other participants from Chile, Brazil, and India shared stories of activists of popular movements who’ve been killed for opposing mining activities in their communities, and of water pollution, environmental degradation, and other harmful effects of mining.