How can you still not understand "that the defense of land has no purpose other than the defense of life?". With these words in Madre de Dios, Peru, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, Pope Francis wanted to begin on January 19, 2019, more than a year in advance, the Synod on the Amazon that since October 6, for three weeks, sees the bishops of the universal Church gathered in the See of Peter.
The Pope chose a strategic place: the sources of the great river, the Amazon, the artery of water that with its tributaries flows like veins of the flora and fauna of the territory, as the source of its innumerable peoples and of its millenary cultures flourishing in close connection with the environment, and gives life not to an entire continent, but to the world. This is a decisive place, of planetary importance, like the entire Pan-Amazonian region that extends for almost 8 million kilometers and contributes in a decisive way to life on earth.
Every fifth glass of water and every fifth breath of every person comes from the Amazon basin. Without the Amazon, therefore, the world cannot hope for life. The future of the planet and of humanity is at stake here. But it is precisely in this great region, of such vital importance to all, that a serious environmental and social crisis has been unleashed, caused by prolonged human interference in which a throwaway culture and an extractivist mentality predominate.
The root cause of the crisis is closely linked to the development model adopted, which the company has Laudato si' indicates as "globalization of the technocratic paradigm".. A model that induces to consider mother earth as if it were a commodity. It can be exploited, degraded and depredated without scruples and without accountability for accumulating money. Thus, the great rainforest is today the victim of the greatest artificial destruction of all times, because it is at the center of the dispute for the monopolization of natural resources: gas, oil, wood, gold, monocultures. And new forms of predatory colonialism continue to devour it incessantly, devastating life with the environmental pollution caused by illegal extraction and its consequences: human trafficking, slave labor, sexual abuse, illicit trades.
This is a global emergency situation. It is "The heart of our common home, it is the extraordinary work of God wounded by human greed and by consumption as an end in itself that today invites us to turn our gaze".Francisco also affirmed. "We cannot continue to ignore these scourges. With the richness of its biodiversity, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious, the Amazon is a mirror of all humanity which, in defense of life, demands structural and personal changes from all human beings, from the States and from the Church.". The Amazon is not another world, distant and exotic. It is the mirror of our own. And it is a matter of life and death that affects us all. Because the game of the present and the future of human development is being played there. Because what is happening in the Amazon is the paradigm of the prevailing culture of consumption and discarding, which transforms the earth into a great rubbish dump. Because it is the paradigm of the crisis of a development obsessed only with the idols of money and power, idols that impose "new fierce ideological colonialism masked in the myth of progress".The company's operations, which destroy the environment, the cultural identities of the people and their coexistence, are also a threat to the environment and the cultural identities of the people.
Listening to the "cry of slavery" of nature and its threatened peoples that rises from this immense depredated and violated region cannot but affect the mission of the universal Church, which is urgently called to question itself and to embark on new paths of evangelization, because concern for creation and for humanity's relationship with itself is an instance of biblical faith. And, finally, to promote, in the furrow of the Church's social doctrine, an ecology that calls for an integral approach to combat poverty, to restore dignity to the excluded and, at the same time, to care for nature.
Hence a Synod that "is a 'child' of the Laudato si''. Whoever has not read it will never understand the Synod on the Amazon. Laudato si' is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical, which is based on a 'green' reality, the stewardship of creation", Pope Francis himself has clearly affirmed. Moreover, guarding the whole of creation is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called upon to perform and "the Catholic Church is aware of the responsibility we all have towards this world of ours, towards the whole of creation, which we must love and guard"..
Hence, therefore, the reasons for a Synod that "revolves around life, the life of the Amazonian territory and its peoples, the life of the Church, the life of the planet."as indicated in the working document on which the Synod Fathers will work. A kairos for the Church and for the world. This is, in substantial synthesis, what we want from the next synodal assembly on Amazonia. A gift for the Amazon and for the world, where the words of the Lord to Moses can still resound: "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are, and the place where you are, is the place where you are.more is land sacred". n
Vice President of the John Paul I Vatican Foundation