Photo: Paul Jeffrey/WCC

Photo: Paul Jeffrey/WCC

Fires in the Amazon region must be addressed as a national and international crisis, states general secretary of the World Council of Churches Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

“It is a profound ecological, political and moral catastrophe if humanity cannot take care of these enormous assets for our common life on this planet”, said Tveit on 27 August.

“It is a matter of our accountability to God, our Creator, and therefore also a spiritual issue", he said. Tveit pointed out that situation in the Amazon rainforest is a concern of many churches and will be the topic of a Vatican synod in October.

Brazil's Amazon rainforest has seen a record number of fires this year. The National Institute for Space Research said its satellite data showed an 84% increase during the same period in 2018.

The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It is also home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairperson of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, expressed concern and sadness at the recent reports on the situation of the rainforest in Brazil.

Describing the fires as “a mirror of a policy change towards a decrease of protection of the forests due to the economic interests of some”, Bedford-Strohm underlined that churches understood that the increasing deforestation in various countries is not only nationally relevant but has global effects.

“I strongly appeal to those who carry political responsibility both in Brazil and globally to do everything in their power to stop the fires and to prevent new fires in the future”, he said. “Distribution of wealth and the care for the integrity of our earth are not competing goals but are both prerequisites for a fulfilled life. Christians should stand in the first row in the struggle for achieving both", added Bedford-Strohm.

On 22 August, ecumenical members of ACT Alliance in Brazil also expressed their concern with the Amazon, stating that part of the ecumenical commitment is “the protection of the socio-biodiversity of creation and the defense of civil society organizations and social movements that repudiate a political project of death", reads their message.

Church leaders of Brazil share concerns about country’s developments (WCC press release 27 August 2019)

WCC member churches in Latin America