- Nov 26, 2020
Madre de Dios, the Kansas-sized region in the Amazon forest on the border with Brazil and Bolivia, has been described as “la periferia de las periferias” (the edge of the edge). Pope Francis’s decision to visit highlighted the plight of indigenous peoples and a valuable rainforest that spans nine countries; both will be discussed at a special Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2019.
After lengthy treks through the muddy Amazon, indigenous men, women and children will greet Pope Francis Friday in a visit to the world’s largest rainforest that native leaders hope will mark a turning point for the increasingly threatened ecosystem.
More than half of Peru lies within the Amazon biome, which spans nine countries and is home to one-tenth of the world’s species. In recent decades, the Amazon has undergone a dramatic transformation, with dams, expanded ranching and mining decimating nearly one-fifth of the total forest.
No social issue dominated Pope Francis’s agenda in 2017 like the pursuit of peace, from a campaign against nuclear weapons to engagement in the Korean conflict.
Pope Francis’s decision to convene a Synod of Bishops dedicated to the Amazon is a sign of his desire for the choice to be a voice for the voiceless living in the region, a Brazilian archbishop said.
Mauricio López, Executive Secretary of REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, said, “We must understand the synod as a call to conversion, change, which the pope is doing, but also look beyond.” He says, “it is not enough to thank the pope.” Instead he thinks the important thing is that from the fruits of the synod, “comes a deep commitment of fraternity, discernment and ecclesial articulation, involving also people of good will, so that what gives us so much hope today, is sustainable in time and becomes something that can last for a lifetime. If not, the synod will remain as an opportunity, a place for great ideas that never came to fruition.”