In the same interview given last week to La Stampa where he condemned “sovreignism” and populism, Pope Francis spoke also about the problems facing our planet and explained that the choice of Amazonia for a Synod is because the region is a representative and decisive place and together with the oceans, it contributes decisively to the survival of the planet.
The Pope insisted that much of the oxygen we breathe comes from there. That’s why deforestation means killing humanity.” The region of Amazonia involves as many as nine states and is the lung of the planet.
Urgency of the Amazon Synod
Asked about the Synod on the Amazon in October in the Vatican, the Pope says “it is the ‘child’ of the ‘Laudato si’”. He clarifies that “Laudato si” “is not a green encyclical but a social encyclical based on the “green” reality of the custody of creation.
“It will be our synod of urgency”, the Pope says, expressing shock that on Earth Overshoot Day, 29 July, man has already exhausted all the regenerative resources for the current year. This, together with the melting of the glaciers, the risk of rising ocean levels, the increase in plastic waste in the sea, deforestation and other critical situations, he says, makes the planet live in “a situation of world emergency”.
The Synod, however, the Pope points out, is not a meeting of scientists, politicians or a parliament. “It was convened by the Church and will have an evangelizing mission and dimension. It will be a work of communion guided by the Holy Spirit.”
The important themes of the event are those concerning “the ministries of evangelization and the different ways of evangelizing”.
Asked about politics, the Pope says that “the threat to the lives of the populations and the territory derives from the economic and political interests of the dominant sectors of society”. Thus politics must “eliminate its connivances and corruptions”. “It must take concrete responsibility, for example on the subject of open-cast mines, which poison water and cause so many diseases”.
Hope in young people
The Holy Father expresses confidence in young people and their movements for a new attitude towards the care of Creation, like the Swedish teenage activist, Greta Thunberg, who is leading a worldwide protest against climate change. The Pope says he was moved to see a placard of hers that read: “We are the future”. It means promoting attention to the little everyday things that “affect” the culture “because they are concrete actions”, the Pope says.
Primacy of right to life
On the issue of immigration, Pope Francis stresses the four principles of welcoming, accompanying, promoting and integrating.
The most important criteria in this, he says, is the right to life, which is linked to conditions of war and hunger that people flee from, especially from the Middle East and Africa. Governments and those authorities are required to think about how many migrants they can take.
The Holy Father also calls for creative solutions, such as filling up labour shortage in the agricultural sector. Some countries have semi-empty towns because of the demographic decline. Migrant communities could help revitalize the economy of these areas.