By Lisa Zengarini
As COP26 continues in Glasgow, Church leaders in the Amazon region have joined pleas for “tangible results leading to a change of route once and for all.” The appeal is contained in a joint statement addressed to world leaders by the recently established Bishops’ Conference of the Amazon (CEAMA) and REPAM, the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network.
Sense of helplessness
The Latin American Church leaders express their “bewilderment” and “sense of helplessness” in the face of the “catastrophic impact” climate change is having on humanity and the environment, recalling that the Amazon, with its biodiversity and cultural richness, is facing the brunt of these changes.
Destruction of Amazon biodiversity
They point out that the South American rainforest region is threatened today by environmental policies enacted “by insensitive and uncompromising governments,” ruthless mining activities, deforestation, ever-growing fires, and pollution of rivers, at the expense of the poor who are the first to suffer the consequences.
Urgent need for a change of course
Hence the call for bold and swift action, as time is running out: "You have the opportunity to take extraordinary decisions to prevent the impending catastrophe, which in some cases is already there, caused by public and private policies and decisions,” CEAMA and REPAM tell world leaders. “We cannot wait any longer, we want to see tangible results leading to a change of course once and for all.”
Honesty, courage, and responsibility
According to the Amazon Church leaders, in the face of the present climate crisis, the world needs “honesty, courage, and responsibility, especially on the part of the most powerful and polluting countries,” as “putting the privileges of the few above the common good cannot be tolerated”.
The world's last chance
Concluding their statement, CEAMA and REPAM express hope that the plea of the Church and people of the Amazon, who “for centuries have been the guardians of the Earth” will be listened to: “We cannot lose hope that the decisions taken (in Glasgow) address the root cause of the problems in a bold and appropriate way, because as Nobel Prize Gabriel Garcia Marquez put it in his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, ‘Races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on Earth."
The statement is signed by Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes and Father Alfredo Ferro, respectively President and Executive Secretary of CEAMA; and by REPAM President and Secretary, Cardinal Pedro Barreto and Father João Gutemberg Sampaio.