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Save the “lung of the world,” urge Latin American bishops as Amazon fires rage

AMAZONIA
HO | AFP
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Catholic churchmen call on international community to help save the Amazon rainforest

As wildfires continue on their path of destruction through the Amazon rainforest, Catholic bishops from Latin America have called on the international community to take measures to save the “lung of the world.”

In a letter titled “We raise our Voice for the Amazon,” leaders of CELAM , the coordinating body of Latin American bishops’ conferences, emphasized that the fires should be of concern to the entire world. 

The appeal emphasized “the seriousness of this tragedy, whose impact is not merely local, or even regional, but planetary in scale.” According to a Tablet report, the bishops wrote:

“Amazonia is a region rich in biodiversity, it is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious, a mirror of humanity which, to defend life, calls for structural and personal changes from all human beings, states, and the Church. This situation goes beyond the sphere of the Church in the Amazon because it addresses the universal Church and the future of the whole planet…What happens in the Amazon is not a local matter, but has global reach. If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers.”

According to a CNN report, environmental organizations and researchers are attributing the environmental disaster to the actions of rangers and loggers who intentionally lit fires to clear the land.

“The vast majority of these fires are human-lit,” said Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch, reported CNN.

The consequences could have an irrevocable effect on the planet, according to environmental activists. The Amazon rainforest is said to produce 20% of the world’s oxygen, and its loss would increase carbon production and contribute to climate change. 

The bishops’ appeal was signed by by CELAM President Miguel Cabral, Archbishop of Trujillo, Peru, and the two vice-presidents, Cardinal Odilo Scherer, archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil, and Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua.

The disaster comes months before Pope Francis’ planned October Amazon Synod, as the bishops note in their letter:

“The hopes raised by the Amazon synod called by Pope Francis are now dimmed by the pain of this natural tragedy. To our brothers and sisters of the indigenous peoples who live in this beloved territory we express our closeness and unite our voices with theirs to cry out to the world for solidarity and prompt attention to halt this devastation.

 

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