We continue our examination of the Holy Father’s most recent post-synodal exhortation. Deep into Chapter Three, let’s look at “the cry of the Amazon region.” We’ve looked at some poetry and prose commentary the past few days. There’s more:
47. Poetry helps give voice to a painful sensation shared by many of us today. The inescapable truth is that, as things stand, this way of treating the Amazon territory spells the end for so much life, for so much beauty, even though people would like to keep thinking that nothing is happening:
“Those who thought that the river was only a piece of rope,
a plaything, were mistaken.
The river is a thin vein on the face of the earth…
The river is a cord enclosing animals and trees.
If pulled too tight, the river could burst.
It could burst and spatter our faces with water and blood”.[Juan Carlos Galeano, “Los que creyeron”, in Amazonia y otros poemas, ed. Universidad externado de Colombia, Bogotá, 2011, 44]
Pope Francis, perhaps thanks to his training in the natural sciences, recognizes a few facts about ecology: the importance of tropical forests to the planet’s atmosphere, the poverty of the forest soil and the ease in which it could be turned into a desert, the importance of all species, not just those endangered by possible extinction, and the increase in water and air pollution. (QA 49-50)
Economic development on the international scale will not help the region [Aparecida 86] but Pope Francis thinks of national governments as the answer. Maybe I’m a skeptic on that. Ideally, that would be true. But the level of corruption is high, perhaps too high for the optimal control to be local.
51. To protect the Amazon region, it is good to combine ancestral wisdom with contemporary technical knowledge, always working for a sustainable management of the land while also preserving the lifestyle and value systems of those who live there.[Laudato Si’ 144, 187]
Concluding this section, here’s what the pope has to say:
52. The powerful are never satisfied with the profits they make, and the resources of economic power greatly increase as a result of scientific and technological advances. For this reason, all of us should insist on the urgent need to establish “a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems… otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics, but also freedom and justice”.[Ibid., 53] If God calls us to listen both to the cry of the poor and that of the earth,[Ibid., 49] then for us, “the cry of the Amazon region to the Creator is similar to the cry of God’s people in Egypt (cf. Ex 3:7). It is a cry of slavery and abandonment pleading for freedom”.[Preparatory Document for the Synod on the Pan Amazon Region, 8.]
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