Pope Francis declares the Amazon as the heart of the Church.
Francis arrived in Lima on Thursday afternoon after finishing a trip to Chile for a four-day trip. He traveled deep into the sweltering Amazon jungle where he met with indigenous communities, who were hoping he would call on the state to grant them formal land rights and encourage the government to support the cleanup of rivers and land spoiled by illegal mining and deforestation.
He attended a meeting with representatives of these indigenous communities of the Amazon basin from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia, in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, on Friday. More than 50 ethnic groups reside in the Peruvian Amazon, which in recent years has been plagued by illegal mining that damages the delicate ecosystem.
Francis said he understood the local challenges. He deplored, on one hand, “the pressure being exerted by great business interests that want to lay hands on its petroleum, gas, lumber, gold and forms of agro-industrial monocultivation” and, on the other hand, threats from policies that ostensibly aim to conserve land “without taking into account” its inhabitants. He also criticized those who call indigenous rights a “hindrance” to economic development. “The fact is, your lives cry out against a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost,” he said.
During Pope Francis’ visit he gave a stirring defense of the region’s indigenous people, whose lands and way of life are threatened by industry and government, leaving almost no institutions to protect them and made a great plea for environmental preservation. He claimed that its Indigenous peoples as the primary custodians to determine the future of “our common home.” Pope Francis declared the Amazon the “heart of the church” and called for a threefold defense of its life, land and cultures.
Warning that Indigenous peoples are now more threatened than ever before, Pope Francis said it was “essential” for governments and other institutions to consider tribes as legitimate partners when negotiating development and conservation projects and that their rights, cultures, languages and traditions must be respected and recovered.
Pope Francis declared the Amazon the “heart of the church” and called for a threefold defense of its life, land and cultures.