Synod can protect rights and stop destruction of Amazon

UN Commissioner for rights of indigenous people

“I believe the results of this Synod on the Amazon can help to protect the rights of the indigenous people and stop the destruction of the Amazon.”

This was expressed by the UN’s Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Indigenous People, Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, from the Philippines, who was among the Synod participants speaking at a briefing in the Holy See Press Office on Wednesday.

Also speaking at the press briefing was Cardinal Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru, and Vice President of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network; Moema Maria Marques de Miranda , Franciscan Laywoman, Councilor of REPAM and of “Churches and Mining,” Brazil; Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications; and Father Giacomo Costa, Secretary of the Information Commission. The briefing was moderated by the Deputy Director of the Holy See Press Office, Cristiane Murray.

Denouncing Human Rights Violations

The UN representative told ZENIT’s Senior Vatican Correspondent that in the Document Instrumentum Laboris, contains some ‘calls. “One of the calls is a call to the Church to fearlessly and concretely adapt the ‘preferential option for the poor’ in this project of the indigenous people to shape the character of the Church in the Amazon.”

“They also call for the creation of networks of collaboration, and regional, global and international advocacy, so that the people can denounce the human rights violations, happening to them,” she applauded.

“Therefore, I take this to mean,” the Filipino woman said, “that the Church will help in creating networks that will speak out strongly when human rights violations of indigenous or other people is happening in the Amazon, are happening.”

“But not only for these human rights violations,” she noted, but “also when the destruction of the Amazon is happening…”

Recalling the Church’s “powerful network,” Tauli-Corpuz acknowledged: “It has a very strong voice, especially in public opinion on national levels.”

Personal Hopes

“I would like to see the Church really speak out, and that it provide protection to some degree to indigenous people who are criminalized.”

She told ZENIT that sometimes these people do not even know where to go, as their communities often are displaced or are being threatened. “They then need to have the sanctuary, protection and prevention mechanisms to be put in place, so that they do not all disappear.”

“I really feel very strongly that any design or any goal to protect the Amazon has to be directly linked with the protection of the rights of the indigenous peoples,” she said, concluding: “For it is they, who nurture and protect the Amazon.”