The Pope’s Exhortation “Querida Amazonia” recalls the messages of Laudato Si’, inviting us to save the Amazon and the whole planet in solidarity and collaboration with all its inhabitants, undertaking a deep conversion.
CIDSE welcomes the Pope’s Exhortation, a poetic call to undertake radical changes to preserve the Amazon as a source of life for the whole world and listen to the wisdom and respect the rights of its traditional and Indigenous peoples.
This document, in which he reminds us of the importance of the Synod of the Amazon, underpins our work in the region for decades, listening to the voice and demands of local communities.
From their testimony we witnessed the exploitation of the Amazon’s lands and resources, causing degradation and irreversible damage, fostering “ecocide”, climate change worldwide and social conflicts affecting mainly the local populations, including “the criminalization of social movements and the murder of their leaders” [cit. Synod Document, Chapter III, b].
As Pope Francis stated, ecology and social justice are intrinsically linked and the Amazonian region is a clear example of how fragile such a balance can be.
But it is also true beyond the Pan-Amazonian region: it’s an entire world system that allows multinational corporations to exploit land and resources without paying enough attention to the consequences on the people and on the environment.
CIDSE joins the Pope’s call for a new global system where people and planet are put first.
The Synod on the Amazon was also a reminder that daily actions have repercussions at global level and that we are interconnected as humans through our lifestyle and economic choices.
We need a different system and better choices available around us, but ultimately it’s up to us to make more courageous choices on what kind of products to use and which lifestyle to adopt, taking into account the impact they will have on the people and the planet.
We all need to undertake an integral conversion “to a simple and modest style of life” [cit. Synod document, Chapter I].
Quoting Laudato Si’ extensively, the Pope reminds us that by avoiding our responsibility to act we seek to justify our current lifestyle of overconsumption “things do not look that serious, and the planet could continue as it is for some time. Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption. This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen”.
We are also inspired by the Church that is portrayed by the Exhortation and that the Synod has outlined: a humble Church that stands up against injustice, defends the most vulnerable and respects the culture of the indigenous peoples while rejecting a colonialist approach.
The extensive consultative process that preceded the Synod, listening to communities’ concerns, consulting thousands of women and men living in the area, backed the Synod process with real life input and made it so persuasive and relatable for our partners from the region.
As an organization committed to gender equality, we also welcomed that many women were listened to in the synodal consultations, and that 40 of them were present and actively involved during the Synod in Rome, including our Secretary General Josianne Gauthier.
She said: “The way we treat each other is intertwined with the way we treat the planet. Recognizing the equality and dignity of women, whether in society at large or in the Church is about choosing to defend justice for all. This is not optional.”
The Exhortation recognizes the invaluable contribution of women in the life of the Church, especially in the Amazon.
In addition, Pope Francis also highlights that this will require changes in future decision-making: bishops and the whole Church in Amazonia and beyond are called to make concrete proposals to create space and new roles for women.
This Exhortation is an invitation to reacquaint ourselves with the fundamental messages of Laudato Si’ and to relive the Synod process where a great wealth of powerful testimonies from grassroots communities were collected.
This is most welcomed in a year where crucial decisions will have to be taken at a global level to eradicate poverty and stop climate change.
The Exhortation gives us the direction needed to achieve the profound transformation required, starting from the Amazon and projecting that change in the rest of the world.
The Synodal process will continue and guide us as we work to transform its principles into political actions and calls.
Quotes from Synod Participant Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE Secretary General
“The Exhortation is the continuation of a process and a reflection, which began with the communities, especially the Indigenous people of the Amazon. It invites to listen to their voices again and again, their cries and also their wisdom in the face of the urgent ecological and cultural crisis we are all facing. This is not just about the Amazon, it is about all of us, our way of life, our responsibilities, our colonial mindsets, and how we justify ourselves instead of questioning our own consumerist behaviour.”
“The Exhortation takes us into a more spiritual, contemplative, and poetic framing of what are critical political issues: overexploitation of natural resources, violation of human rights, an economic model which has grave impacts on the survival of species and cultures. This is an invitation to keep listening to a diversity of voices as we work together to fight for justice.”
“At the heart of the post Synodal Exhortation we find once again the resounding messages of Laudato Si’, in all their political strength. We hear once again a call to listen to the voices and wisdom of traditional cultures, to question our model of development and our idea of progress and measure it against the destruction of nature and the violence against those who defend it.”