Apostolic Exhortation on the Amazon, a preferred topic for World Environment Day

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After the Encyclical Laudato Si’ Week last May to celebrate its 5th anniversary and Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia (Dear Amazonia) issued in February 2020, the celebration of World Environment Day takes on another dimension this year. This is especially true in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the whole world.

On this occasion, it is interesting to reread some elements of this exhortation which focuses on the Amazon and that reminds us of the interdependencies and the need to preserve biodiversity, the theme of this World Day 2020.

Here are two excerpts and the link to read the full text.

41. In a cultural reality like the Amazon region, where there is such a close relationship between human beings and nature, daily existence is always cosmic. Setting others free from their forms of bondage surely involves caring for the environment and defending it,[46] but, even more, helping the human heart to be open with trust to the God who not only has created all that exists, but has also given us himself in Jesus Christ. The Lord, who is the first to care for us, teaches us to care for our brothers and sisters and the environment which he daily gives us. This is the first ecology that we need.

In the Amazon region, one better understands the words of Benedict XVI when he said that, “alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a ‘human’ ecology which in turn demands a ‘social’ ecology. All this means that humanity… must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology”.[47] This insistence that “everything is connected”[48] is particularly true of a territory like the Amazon region.

49. It is not enough to be concerned about preserving the most visible species in danger of extinction. There is a crucial need to realize that “the good functioning of ecosystems also requires fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles and an innumerable variety of microorganisms. Some less numerous species, although generally unseen, nonetheless play a critical role in maintaining the equilibrium of a particular place.”[61] This is easily overlooked when evaluating the environmental impact of economic projects of extraction, energy, timber and other industries that destroy and pollute. So too, the water that abounds in the Amazon region is an essential good for human survival, yet the sources of pollution are increasing.[62]