Pope Francis said he was "worried" Sunday, after the traditional Angelus prayer, for the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest, "this vital lung for our planet". "We are concerned for the vast fires that have developed in the Amazon, this forest lung is vital for our planet," said the Argentine pontiff, in front of a crowd of faithful massed in St. Peter's Square.
François met Raoni
The South American Pope, who will hold a major world conference on the Amazon in the autumn, called on the 1.3 billion Catholics around the world to "pray that, thanks to the commitment of all, these fires be turned off as soon as possible ".
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Pope Francis, elected in March 2013, met in May with the indigenous leader Raoni, who came to warn Europe about the deforestation of the Amazon. The leader of the nomadic Kayapo people also sought to raise a million euros to protect the Xingu Reserve in Brazil. In his encyclical "Laudato si" (May 2015), a text with a very social tone on ecology, the pope denounced the exploitation of the Amazon rainforest by "enormous international economic interests".
The next synod on forests
In January 2018, the 82-year-old Argentine pontiff had visited Puerto Maldonado, a village in south-eastern Peru surrounded by the Amazon jungle, where thousands of Peruvian, Brazilian and Bolivian natives had converged. He lambasted "the strong pressure of major economic interests that covet oil, gas, timber, gold, agro-industrial monocultures".
For the Pope, this first trip to the Amazon was the kick-off of preparations for the World Bishops' Assembly (synod) next October, dedicated to this forest that occupies 43% of the area of South America and where live nearly three million natives.