A letter to Brazil

A forthcoming Church-backed letter to Brazilian leaders signals growing ecclesial pressure to protect the Amazon

Catholic institutions the world over have an opportunity to unite in demanding that the Brazilian government abandon existing policies that are destroying the life-giving Amazon rainforest.

A unique coalition led by the Episcopal Commission for Integral Ecology and Mining of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and Bank für Kirche und Caritas, a German-based Catholic financial institution, has drafted and will send a somewhat scathing letter to Brazilian government officials, including President Bolsonaro and the nation’s vice president.

“[T]he Amazon is not only our ‘common lung’ of humanity, but also, in very concrete terms, home to a large number of indigenous people,” the letter states. “The unchecked growth of legal or illegal, but tolerated, deforestation and occupation of indigenous lands by the extractive industries, cattle breeders, soybean and other agricultural producers and loggers leaves behind not only a trail of environmental destruction, but also deprivation of rights, displacement and quite often murder of the indigenous people.”

Signatories are currently being sought among Catholic eco-organizations, and then the letter will be made public when it is formally submitted on the Monday of Holy Week. When released, individual Catholic eco-advocates will have the opportunity to share news of what will certainly be a major eco-engagement between Church and State.

The Church-backed open letter is one of a growing number of local, regional, and global campaigns against the Brazilian government. In what many see as a last-ditch effort to save the Amazon, secular and faith-based efforts are rousing as the world begins recovering form the COVID-19 pandemic. The worry, of course, is that an inevitable economic surge, fueled by long-dormant consumer activity, will put immense pressures on places like the Amazon, threatening life-giving eco-systems and the indigenous peoples that call them home.

There will certainly be push back. Those with economic and political interests in what the Amazon has to offer—its land, water, and resources—have been at odds for some time with Church-led efforts to protect the rainforest and its indigenous peoples.

Just sixteen years ago last month, Sister Dorothy Stang paid the price of her life for her work doing just that.

Supported by such long-standing, on-the-ground efforts of clergy, religious orders, and the laity, the mounting efforts of the bishops of Brazil can only help aim a rather bright light—the light of truth—on the tragedies unfolding throughout the Amazon.

Stay tuned for more news on Catholic efforts to protect this great share of creation—efforts that we can all support though our awareness, advocacy, eco-minded consumption, and, of course, by the profound power of our prayer.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.