Slash and burn agriculture in the Amazon

Cardinal warns from Assisi: “Never before have the Amazon peoples and their territory been so seriously threatened”

A prominent cardinal has warned from Assisi – the symbolic birthplace of Francis, patron saint of ecology and animals – that “never as in our day have the Amazon peoples and their territory been so seriously threatened”.

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“The Immaculate Conception of Mary… brings a special message to today’s world, which claims to ignore the essence of sin and the damage it inflicts on all creation”, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes said in a powerful homily in the Basilica of St. Francis Sunday on the feast day.

“In creation everything is connected, says Pope Francis”, continued Hummes, the president of the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM) and a driving force behind October’s Amazon Synod in the Vatican.

“Therefore the sin of human beings, both individual and collective, also damages creation, as is demonstrated by the current serious and urgent climate and ecological crisis”, the cardinal deplored.

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Hummes denounced that today the Amazon is “damaged, plundered, degraded by irresponsible human interventions, neo-colonialists [and] predators”.

Since the Amazon is “irreplaceable” for the “health and balance” of the planet, he continued “its destruction will be an irreversible and irreparable damage to our ‘common home, Mother Earth”.

Why it matters

“The wounds of the Amazon and its people today cry out for help”, Hummes implored in his sermon.

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“A voracious neo-colonialism invades these lands and expels or decimates the people of the rainforests.

“If we go on like this, their future will have no future. And what’s more, the future of the ‘common home’ will be seriously at risk”, the cardinal warned.

For the record

Beyond his words Sunday in Assisi, Hummes was one of the signatories to a November appeal of world Church leaders to the UN COP25 summit on climate change taking place through December 13 in Madrid.

In that appeal, a group of eight cardinals and bishops denounced that “the suffering of people and Creation in the Amazon region are the consequences of an imperial way of life”.

“To the peoples from Amazonia, the science is real: Global warming and deforestation are mutually exacerbating phenomena”, the churchmen warned.

“If humankind fails to mitigate Climate Change, tipping points like the one in the Amazon may reach a point of no return, and potentially send the Earth into a spiral of runaway climate change modifying the face of our common home”, the prelates insisted.

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