AMERICA - Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network: For Mgr. Barreto the life of 30 million people is at stake

Vatican City - "The Church is not in the Amazon like someone with their bags packed ready to leave after exploiting it, said Pope Francis. She has been there since the beginning with missionaries, religious congregations, priests, laity and bishops, and her presence is decisive for the region". This was stated by the Archbishop of Huancayo , His Exc. Mgr. Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, SJ, who is President of the Department of Justice and Solidarity of CELAM, in an interview with Agenzia Fides, during the presentation of the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network , held in the Holy See Press Office.
Mgr. Barreto reminds Fides that "REPAM was established in 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil, during a meeting of bishops whose territories include Amazon regions, priests, missionaries of congregations who work in the Amazon jungle, national representatives of Caritas and laypeople belonging to various Church bodies" .
Illustrating the importance of REPAM, the Archbishop stresses: "The large number of Countries involved is due to the awareness that effective action to face challenges that cross the borders of a single State requires synergy between the living forces of all the nations involved. Moreover, REPAM as well as working transnationally, proposes the institution of harmonious collaboration between the various components of the Church: religious congregations, dioceses, Caritas, various Catholic associations and Foundations, and lay groups".
Mgr. Barreto Jimeno also highlights, that the "commitment to the defence of life is, for Cardinal Turkson, the third characteristic. REPAM was born in response to important challenges. It is engaged in defending the life of a number of communities who cumulatively comprise 30 million people". Regarding the current situation, he explains: "the Amazon is a territory that is devastated and threatened by the concessions made by States to transnational corporations. Large-scale mining projects, monoculture and climate change place its lands and natural environment at great risk, leading to the destruction of cultures, undermining the self-determination of peoples and above all affronting Christ incarnate in the people who live there. Today we are experiencing a high incidence of drought in the Amazon. The Amazon is a natural biome, that is to say, a living system that functions as a stabilizer of the regional and global climate for the production of one third of the rains that feed the earth, and yet it is threatened. Over 20% of its vegetation has been lost. However, Member States give priority to economic growth and social policies that encourage the exploitation of natural resources, as if it were a national emergency".
The Amazon territory is the largest tropical forest in the world. It covers six million square kilometres and includes the territories of Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana , Venezuela , Ecuador , Colombia , Bolivia , Peru and Brazil . It is home to 2,779,478 indigenous people, comprising 390 indigenous tribes and 137 isolated peoples with their valuable ancestral cultures, and 240 spoken languages belonging to 49 linguistic families.
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