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Pan-Amazonian Synod: preparatory document, “protect indigenous peoples”. Planet is not a “giant landfill” No to “new ideological colonialisms”

“Protecting indigenous peoples and their lands represents a fundamental ethical imperative and a basic commitment to human rights. Moreover, it is a moral imperative for the Church, consistent with the approach to integral ecology called for by Laudato si’”. This imperative is at the center of the preparatory document for the Pan-Amazonian Synod, which refers several times to the Papal visit to Puerto Maldonado, in which the Pontiff called for “a change in the historical paradigm, as a result of which States view the Amazonia as a storage room filled with natural resources, with little regard for the lives of indigenous peoples or for the destruction of nature”. “The harmonious relationship between God the Creator, human beings, and nature is broken by the harmful effects of neo-extractivism; by the pressure being exerted by strong business interests that want to lay hands on its petroleum, gas, wood, and gold; by construction related to infrastructure projects”, the document points out, mentioning, by way of example, “hydroelectric megaprojects and road construction, such as thoroughfares between the oceans” and agro-industrial mono-cultivation. “The dominant culture of consumerism and waste turns the planet into one giant landfill” – this is the key argument: “The Pope denounces this model of development as faceless, suffocating, and motherless, and as obsessed only with material goods and the idols of money and power”. Hence the need to say NO to “new ideological colonialisms hidden under the myth of progress” which destroy “specific cultural identities”, and YES to the “defense of cultures” and to the “ancestral wisdom” that advocates “a harmonious relationship between nature and the Creator, and articulates the belief that defense of the earth has no other purpose than the defense of life”. For Pope Francis, the threat against the Amazonian territories also comes from the “distortion of certain policies aimed at the ‘conservation’ of nature” that do not take into account “the men and women” who inhabit them. It is therefore necessary to “reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories”. “The question of indigenous peoples’ territorial rights in the Pan-Amazonian region revolves around the consistent lack of land regularization and a refusal to recognize their ancestral and collective ownership”, the document laments, before praising the “good life” of the wise elders of the Amazon, which is seen as “a project of harmony between God, peoples, and nature”. Finally, the document also decries the activity of “some groups that, motivated by interests unconnected to the territory, do not always favor an integral ecology”.

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