Pope Francis celebrates an opening Mass for the Amazon synod, in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Massimo Valicchia / NurPhoto / Getty Images by Justin Catanoso Pope Francis , in an effort to reignite his influence as a global environmental leader, released an impassioned document Feb. 12 entitled Dear Amazon — a response to the historic Vatican meeting last autumn regarding the fate of the Amazon biome and its indigenous people. In a 94-page ” exhortation ,” Francis argued for the ecological importance of Amazonia — the world’s largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest — describing the ecosystem services the biome provides, the region’s greatly beneficial weather, and the climate change mitigation the forest offers via carbon storage. The pope stressed that those best suited to protect the Amazon are the indigenous people who have lived there since time immemorial. The document comes as the Amazon faces ” deforestation at breakneck rates ,” driven by illegal logging, mining, ranching and agribusiness in Peru , Bolivia , Colombia and Brazil , a nation that has also seen a sharp spike in killings of indigenous activists. Dear Amazon isn’t only addressed to Catholics, but “to all […]

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