Pope Francis called a synod- a meeting of Bishops- to discuss the Amazon rainforest. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the Amazon rainforest and it’s importance to the planet. It’s the first synod ever to discuss an ecosystem, instead of a region or theme.

The meeting in Rome will talk about the moral obligation to protect the Amazon and the current situation of deforestation and fires. Fires continue to ravage the area, harming the trees and the entire ecosystems.

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In the Preparatory document for the Synod, the preamble calls the Amazon rainforest, “of vital importance for the planet, a deep crisis has been triggered by prolonged human intervention, in which a “culture of waste” (LS 16) and an extractivist mentality prevail. The Amazon is a region with rich biodiversity; it is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious.”

The Pope’s statement is at odds with President Jair Bolsonaro, who has spoken in favor of business over climate change. The President has also criticized the Vatican’s attempts to discuss the Amazon. Brazil has the largest population of Catholics in the world. Two powerful entities for the Brazilian people are calling for opposite options for the Amazon.

Pope Francis has made multiple pleas and comments on climate change over his tenure. He published a 2015 encyclical-an authoritative papal document- on the environment. Timed to the Paris Climate negotiations, it addressed the climate and environment and how preventing destruction is a moral and religious obligation.

When the Pope speaks, people listen. “The pope is speaking from an informed perspective on climate change, and he relates that to a Biblical responsibility toward God and toward creation,” says Fred Van Dyke, executive director of the Au Sable Institute, a non-profit that shares environmental education with Christian colleges. Another religious leader called the Pope’s message “groundbreaking, very significant and impactful around the world.”

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The Pope’s statement is another form of climate activism. Read about other activists in One Green Planet.

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