[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] A group of 15 Brazilian bishops representing the Anglican church in Brazil have called on their government to take action to stop the spread of fires in the Amazon rainforest.
A pastoral letter from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil stated they were facing the worst wave of fires in Brazil for seven years. They wrote: “For more than two weeks the Amazon Forest has been on fire, burnt by greed and hatred… Those fires in the Amazon are not the result of drought, nor the result of natural hazards. Those are actions orchestrated by people representing agribusiness, land grabbers and prospectors encouraged by the president's irresponsible speeches and statements.”
According to the bishops the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, has argued that Ibama (the National Institute for the Environment) was a tax industry and that his government would not regulate any more natural or indigenous reserves. The church leaders are critical of the President’s stance on the environment which he claimed was delaying Brazil’s progress.
The strongly worded pastoral letter said: “As Anglican Christians, we cannot be silent. We must reclaim the Anglican Marks of Mission we affirm though our Baptismal Covenant and commit to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, transform the unjust structures of society and challenge violence of every kind, respecting the dignity of every human being and seeking peace and reconciliation.”
The bishops urged their people to pray for the Amazon, “to bear witness to their faith and denounce all disrespectful actions towards the environment and society. We must affirm life by promoting human dignity, justice, peace, social and environmental preservation as signs and fruits of Christ’s commandment to love God and one another.”
The letter stated that the burning in the Amazon was the result of a government policy that seeks to scrap and dismantle Socio-Environmental policies and Environmental protection agencies.
They wrote: “As a result of this scenario, we have watched flames consume part of the forest that contains the greatest biological and cultural diversity of the planet. Flames have reached the triple border between Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, consuming thousands of hectares of vegetation, carbonizing fauna and flora, and violating rights of indigenous peoples, caboclos and quilombola communities.”
They criticised the President for his silence and his attempt to hold environmental protection NGOs responsible. They said his strategy was resulting in a huge catastrophe and the unprecedented devastation of part of the Amazon biological community.
The Brazilian government has sent in the army to fight the fires but has rejected international aid assistance for the job. Environmentalists say the fire season has just begun and there are fears that the situation could get worse.
- Click here to view a copy of the pastoral letter.