Pope Francis convened nearly 200 bishops, climate experts and indigenous people from the Amazon on Sunday for an unprecedented meeting in Rome to discuss the fate of the Amazonian rainforests and the world’s moral obligation to protect them.
The meeting, or Synod, is the first of its kind to address an ecosystem, rather than a particular region or theme. It comes as fires continue to consume the Amazon rainforest, destroying a critical tool for stabilizing the climate, threatening the homes and health of indigenous people and drawing global concern.
“When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect, it is not God’s fire but that of the world,” Pope Francis said in his opening Mass for the Synod.
God’s fire “is fed by sharing, not by profits,” he said.
The three-week Synod presents an opportunity for the pope to listen to representatives of the nine countries in the Amazon region who will inform his thinking and church teaching, and it has drawn the ire of the Brazilian government, which has essentially told the Vatican and worried countries to stay out of its affairs.
Critics have blamed the spike in fires this year and deforestation on the easing of environmental rules by Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, who openly criticized plans for the Synod and the Vatican.
Brazil has the largest population of Catholics in the world, and Brazilian media have reported that the Bolsonaro administration is concerned about the Vatican’s “leftist agenda” and is monitoring Synod documents. [Continue reading…]