Erwin Krutler says he expects next months papal synod to denounce destruction of rainforest
The fires in the Amazon are a true apocalypse, according to a Brazilian archbishop who expects next months papal synod at the Vatican to strongly denounce the destruction of the rainforest.
The comments by Erwin Krutler will put fresh pressure on Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, following criticism from G7 leaders last month over the surge of deforestation in the worlds biggest terrestrial carbon sink.
The archbishops words also highlight a widening division between the Catholic church and the Pentecostal movement. Pope Francis has championed a more harmonious relationship with the natural world for the sake of future generations, in contrast to the fast-growing new-world Pentecostalists who form the support base for the ramped-up resource exploitation advocated by Bolsonaro and Donald Trump.
The gathering of bishops would condemn all forms of Amazon destruction and advocate a new view of ecology based on Christian faith in God as the creator of a common home, Krutler one of 18 members of the preparatory council appointed by Pope Francis ahead of next months papal synod on the Amazon said in an email exchange with the Guardian.
Following the meeting, Francis is expected to reinforce this message with an apostolic exhortation. It is likely to build on his influential 180-page encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si, published four years ago, which called for concrete steps to tackle the environmental crisis.
Preparations for an Amazon synod have been under way since 2016, but the issue has become more urgent in recent months due to fires, threats and a hostile government, Krutler said.
There have always been fires in the Amazon. When they are smaller, nature rebuilds itself within a few years. But what you are seeing now is a true apocalypse, said the archbishop, who has spent 54 years in the region.
The fires this year surpass anything you can imagine. Undoubtedly, it is the consequence of comments by [Bolsonaro] about the opening of the Amazon to national and multinational companies. He understands opening the Amazon as a licence to clear a rainforest and gain space for cattle to graze and plant monocultures such as soybeans and sugar cane.
Earlier this week, Catholic clergy in the Amazon released an open letter condemning violence and intimidation they say they are experiencing as a result of efforts to protect the forest, indigenous people and poor communities from miners and farmers.
We are deeply disappointed that today, instead of being supported and encouraged, our leaders are criminalised as enemies of the fatherland, they wrote.
Together with Pope Francis, we are uncompromisingly defending the Amazon and demanding urgent measures from governments in the face of violent and irrational aggression against nature and the destruction of the forest that kills ancient flora and fauna with criminal fires.