PRESS RELEASE: Franciscans Support Synod for Pan-Amazon Region

Immediate Release: October 2, 2019
Media Contact:
Janine Walsh | 203-685-1856 | walsh@franciscanaction.org

Franciscans Support Synod for Pan-Amazon Region
Hold hope that reconciliation can be achieved with the indigenous people

Washington, DC - Imagine if you will, armies of bulldozers, backhoes, and trenchers charging boldly down your street to wreak havoc on the neighborhood. Gouging the earth, pulling up trees, digging for hours and days, only to leave the area decimated once they’ve gotten what they came for. This is exactly what is happening in the Amazon region.

The Amazon region is home to nearly three million indigenous people from 390 ethnic groups who speak 240 languages. These people have dealt with the exploitation of their lands for petroleum, gas, wood, gold, and various forms of industrial agriculture for years. The Amazon is one of the most powerful “carbon sinks” on the planet, removing carbon from the atmosphere and mitigating the effects of climate change. Yet it is being deforested at an alarming rate.

That is why a Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region will meet in Rome this month to discuss the theme, “The Amazon: New paths for the Church and for integral ecology.”

Pope Francis announced the Synod in October 2017 and, after a visit to the region where he met with indigenous leaders, expressed his sorrow for the destruction of the lands. He has called the Amazon one of the “richly biodiverse lungs of our planet” (Laudato Si’, #38) and calls for a display of "...respect, recognition and dialogue with the native peoples, acknowledging and recovering their native cultures, languages, traditions, rights and spirituality.”

St. Francis is the Patron Saint of Ecology and Franciscans hold a deep relational understanding of creation, seeing all creatures as brothers and sisters. We are steadfast in our work to care for our sister Mother Earth, acknowledging all creation as emanating from the goodness of God and existing as a “footprint” of God. The Franciscan Action Network is at the forefront of mobilizing the entire Franciscan family in the United States to action, to care for our common home: both in the halls of Congress and together with those marching in the streets.

Franciscans are also heralds of peace and reconciliation, called to build peace in their personal lives and in society through an attitude of active non-violence. The Preparatory Document for the Synod for the Amazon states,"Listening to indigenous peoples and to all the communities living in the Amazonia – as the first interlocutors of this Synod – is of vital importance for the universal Church." As Franciscans, we identify with this intentional posture of first listening as a basis for building relationships while respecting the dignity of those who call the Amazon home. With these values in mind, the Franciscan Action Network fully supports the Synod of the Amazon and holds on to hope that reconciliation can be achieved with the indigenous people so we can together nurse our injured Mother Earth back to prime health.

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