Pope Francis urges Brazilian Catholics to protect God's creation in the Amazon
July 30, 2013:
During his visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, 2013, Pope Francis took the opportunity to speak out about the environmental issues facing the Amazon region. At a meeting with thousands of representatives of Brazil's political, business and cultural elite the pontiff made a point of shaking hands with aboriginal people from Bahia whose tribal lands are threatened by encroaching ranchers and farmers.
According to a report in the Toronto Star newspaper from Associated Press reporter Bradley Brooks His Holiness also addressed an assembly of bishops, calling for the “respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it be indiscriminately exploited but rather made into a garden.”
He drew attention to a Catholic document about the issue that he had himself drafted as one of a group of Latin American and Caribbean bishops in 2007 which stated that “The traditional communities have been practically excluded from decisions on the wealth of biodiversity and nature. Nature has been, and continues to be, assaulted,”
Pointing out the Catholic Church's long involvement in the region Pope Francis said" “The church’s work needs to be further encouraged and launched afresh” and he urged an “Amazonian face” for the church.
ARC welcomes these powerful comments from Pope Francis which come after a historic joint letter from WWF International, WWF Brazil and ARC that urged His Holiness to consider making the Amazonian environmental struggle a Catholic issue. The letter, sent on May 28, 2013, appealed to the Pontiff "to include a special Message in your teaching during the Rio World Youth Day calling for young Catholics to help turn the tide of destruction in the Amazon, erosion of the ecology, and poverty which is the main result for the poor and indigenous peoples of the Amazon."
Read the full text of Bradley Brooks' report here.
Download a copy of the joint WWF/ARC letter here.