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The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Amazon Region published at the beginning of 2020 traces new paths of evangelization and care for the environment and the poor.

An ecological dream: to unify caring for the environment and caring for people

The third chapter proposes “an ecological dream” andis the chapter that is most directly connected with the Encyclical Laudato si’. In the introduction (41-42), the fact that there exists a close relationship between the human being and nature in the Amazon is underlined. Pope Francis emphasizes that taking care of our brothers and sisters as the Lord takes care of us is “the first ecology that we need”. Caring for the environment and caring for the poor are “inseparable”. Pope Francis then directs his attention to “the dream made of water” (43-46). He cites Pablo Neruda and other local poets regarding the power and beauty of the Amazonas. Through their poetry, the Pope writes, they “help free us from the technocratic and consumerist paradigm that destroys nature”.

An ecological dream: sustainable development in the Amazon region

According to the Pope, it is urgent that “the cry of the Amazon region” be listened to. He recalls that the health of the planet depends on its health. There are, he writes, powerful interests which are not only local interests, but are even international. The solution is not, therefore, “internationa- lizing” the Amazon region; what needs to grow is “responsibility on the part of national governments”. Sustainable development, he continues, requires that the people living there be always informed about projects that concern them. In this regard, he hopes that “a legal framework” with “clear boundaries” will be created.

He thus invites us to “the prophecy of contemplation” (53-57). By listening to the indigenous peoples, he underlines, we can love the Amazon region and “not simply use it”; we can find in it “a theological locus, a space where God himself reveals himself and summons his sons and daughters”. The last part of Chapter Three is centered on “ecological education and habits” (58-60). The Pope points out that ecology is not a technical theme, but that it includes an “educational dimension”.

By Alessandro Gisotti, Vatican News