In response to Pope Francis’ Amazon-themed speech to Brazilian bishops, WWF’s Dekila Chungyalpa, director of WWF’s Sacred Earth program, issued the following statement:
“We’re grateful that Pope Francis is adding his influential voice to the growing number of faith leaders around the world who are recognising the importance of protecting our planet from environmental harm. And we’re especially thankful he’s urging young people to be problem solvers on behalf of the entire planet and all of God’s creations.
“Pope Francis’ compassionate speech today asking bishops to respect the environment in which we live and to continue to protect the Amazon will reach millions and carry historic importance.
“WWF applauds Pope Francis’ uplifting World Youth Day message calling for ‘respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden.’
“We and the Earth depend on a healthy Amazon. Together, with the pontiff’s help and other church leaders, we can protect this amazing place that’s home to one in ten known plant and animals species on the planet. Together we can protect nature for all humanity.
“The 33 million people who live in the Amazon are threatened by climate change, pollution and deforestation. The Amazon rainforest traps carbon, a necessity to regulate the clean air we breathe, and helps stabilize global climates for its people and the world. Pope Francis’ remarks today reaffirming that the Church’s work ‘is still present and critical to the area’s future’ is promising.
“In anticipation of the Pope’s World Youth Day remarks, WWF and The Alliance of Religions and Conservation sent a letter to his Holiness, requesting that he include a special message in his teachings, ‘calling for young Catholics to help turn the tide of destruction in the Amazon, erosion of the ecology and poverty.’
“Faith leaders are vital, local champions of the environment. In a world where 80% of the population embraces a faith, they’re a compelling voice and have the power to move mountains in their communities. The Pope is one of the most significant leaders to speak on behalf of nature and the majestic wildlife and wild places under threat.”