Catholic Synod To Safeguard Nature and Human Rights in the Amazon Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, announced the Vatican’s plans to hold a Special General Assembly devoted to the environmental problems of the Amazon. Photo courtesy of Greenaccord.org

Catholic Synod To Safeguard Nature and Human Rights in the Amazon

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, announced the Vatican’s plans to hold a special assembly devoted to the environmental problems of the Amazon.  Bishops, priests and one nun from nine countries in which the Amazon rainforest spread, as well as civil society groups will participate in the event, scheduled for October 6 – 22, 2019.

Pope Francis called for global action to safeguard the environment in his 2015 Laudato Si, encyclical. Image: Laudatosi,com

The event aims to increase global awareness of the environmental crisis of the Amazon, Baldisseri told a Greenaccord conference of international journalists in San Miniato, Italy.  The purpose of the Amazon synod is to defend not only nature, but populations of indigenous people and local communities, he explained. It is in line with Pope Francis’ vision of integral ecology – one, that encompasses all human beings and nature on Earth, Baldisseri explained for BlueLink.

The Vatican’s commitment to protecting nature and human rights in the Amazon region received a powerful boost in 2007 when a visionary resolution was passed by the Fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, thanks to the efforts of then Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who was elected as Pope Francis in 2013. His visionary leadership of the catholic church as a guardian of the World’s nature was pronounced in his landmark 2015 encyclical  Laudato SiCaring for Our Common House.  The pope’s encyclical reviewed the global environmental problems, exposed the responsibility of contemporary “throwaway economy” and political inaction to resolve them, and demanded global stewardship of “our common home”.

General Augusto Heleno, head of the Internal Security Cabinet and Bolsonaro’s National Security Adviser called the Amazon Synod “worrying” and wants “neutralize it”, Mongabay.com reported. Photo: Agência Brasil

But the Vatican’s green commitments face backslash from conservative circles in Latin America and around the world. In formal response to the Amazon Synod plans Jair Bolsonaro’s government has accused the catholic church in political leftism and interfering with Brazil’s internal affairs.  Cardinal Baldisseri confirmed for BlueLink the Vatican’s commitment to global human development, part of which is care and stewardship for nature.

The Vatican’s environmental efforts build upon a previous initiative by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who pioneered interreligious dialogue and commitment to nature as part of God’s creation through a series of water-borne symposia during 1999 – 2009. Baldisseri praised the Ecumenical Patriarch’s role in focusing the attention of the global religious community on the destiny or waters. “Unless we urgently intervene on the issue of water, we are facing a Third World War”, the cardinal said.

The Greenaccord’s fifteenth international media forum, where Cardinal Baldisseri spoke, was held on March 7 – 9, 2019 under the title: “The Breath of Earth: The Forests”. Over 100 international journalists, scientists and forest defenders attended the event in the Italian city of San Miniati. On the evening of the International Women’s Day March 8 cardinal Baldisseri performed classical and modem piano pieces for the participants at the San Miniati’s cathedral.

Catholic nun Dorothy Stang was murdered in 2005 because of her advocacy for the land rights of poor and indigenous communities in Brazil. Photo courtesy of desvelades.org.