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A Rio Branco fireman fights the fire in Brazil's Amazon A Rio Branco fireman fights the fire in Brazil's Amazon  (ANSA)

Bishops of Latin America: If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers

The Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) express their deep concern for destructive fires burning the world’s forests.

By Francesca Merlo

The “seriousness” of the fires currently raging in Alaska, Siberia, Greenland, the Canary Islands, and “in particular, the Amazon” is not only local, say the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is “of planetary proportions”.

The Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, has been burning for over two weeks.

Pope Francis, who has made the fight for the rights of indigenous peoples a focal point of his pontificate, has called for an October Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region.

From hope to sorrow

In a statement released on August 22, the Bishops write that the “tremendous natural tragedy” destroying the Amazon has turned what was previously a hopeful upcoming Synod, into one of “deep sorrow”.

“To our brother indigenous people living in that beloved rainforest, we express our closeness,” say the Bishops, adding that they join them in crying out to the world for “solidarity and prompt attention” to this devastating tragedy.

So rich, so vital

Referring to a Preparatory Document for the upcoming Synod, the Bishops write that the Amazon rainforest, so “rich” in biodiversity, is “of vital importance to the planet”.

The Church states that an area so “multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious…demands structural and personal changes of all human beings”.

This “deep crisis”, reads the Synod Document, was “triggered by a prolonged human intervention, where a ‘culture of waste’ predominates”.

Lungs of the world

Finally, the Bishops urge the governments of Amazon countries, the United Nations and the international community to help “save the lungs of the world”.

In quoting Pope Francis, they ask that all those who occupy positions of responsibility be “custodians of creation, of God’s design inscribed in nature, guardians of the other, of the environment” and to “not allow the signs of destruction and death accompany the path of this in our world”. Because, say the Bishops, “if the Amazon suffers, the world suffers”.

23 August 2019, 10:29