By deliberation of its Board of Directors, the Associação PanAmazônia (PanAmazonian Association) has addressed an open letter to Pope Francis expressing concern about the orientation of the Synod of bishops on the Amazon. It invites the Supreme Pontiff to take advantage of this coming meeting to reassess the Church’s vision of the real problems of the Amazon with special attention paid to economic inertia, which condemns millions of Amazonians to a life of dire poverty. It also asks the Pope not to allow the Church to be used for promoting interests contrary to the Amazonian populations’ genuine aspirations for a life of prosperity and hope with a minimum of dignity.
Here is the letter:
Manaus, July 11, 2019.
Most Holy Father:
Your world leadership is uncontested. It could do much to help the peoples of the Amazon. The 40 million people living in the continental region, sprawled in the national territories of nine countries, face terrible obstacles to achieve a minimally dignified life. In the immensity of the forest and on the banks of thousands of rivers, they live a life of suffering and hopelessness.
Economic inertia is the main reason for the socio-environmental tragedy to which Amazonians are subjected. In the Amazon, with more than eight million square kilometers (three million square miles), there is almost no economic activity, and consequently there is no employment or income for families. In Amazonian cities, poverty, violence and disease prevail. In isolated communities in the forest, people are entirely abandoned to their fate — a hopeless life from which there seems to be no way out.
This economic apathy, which destroys the lives of millions of people and denies them any hope, is partly due to environmental ideology and pressure from non-governmental organizations and governments in developed countries. In the last three decades, they imposed their agendas and spurious interests on us, contaminated the national legislations of Amazonian countries, and promoted disinformation in public opinion. This process leaves Amazon populations with their hands tied. What a terrible cowardice.
The Church must not join these forces. On the contrary, it should use its influence to support the socioeconomic development of the Amazon and alleviate the suffering of its peoples.
In this sense, the Synod on the Amazon can be an opportunity for the Church to adjust its vision on issues that are truly important for the Amazonian populations, including the imperative need to promote economic prosperity, which is also indispensable to solve the environmental degradation of the region’s biomes. Without prosperity, there is no hope for man or forest.
The Church deserves our recognition for the courageous work it has always done in support of the unassisted populations of the Amazon. In addition to assistance to those in need, the Amazon needs freedom and investment. I respectfully take the liberty to suggest that Catholics from around the world be asked to invest in the Amazon, to visit the Amazon.
Your Holiness: With your leadership, help to activate the region’s economy, and do not allow the Church’s vision to be clouded by environmental movements, economic interests of developed countries, and political ideologies. Do not allow the Amazon Synod to become another weapon in the hands of the tormentors of Amazonians, humble men and women who only long for the hope of offering their children a better life.
I beg you not to see this letter as a premature criticism of an event yet to be held but as a sincere request to evaluate the preparation and orientation of the coming Synod.
With the expression of my deepest respect and highest esteem, I remain
Executive Director, Associação PanAmazônia
For a Free, United and Strong Amazon!
Parque das Laranjeiras, Manaus – AM – Brasil
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