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With the Amazon rainforest in flames, Pope Francis called for prayer and action to save the “forest vital to our planet.”

The Holy Father’s comments came in his Sunday Angelus address to the Faithful in Saint Peter’s Square:

“We are all worried about the vast fires that have developed in the Amazon. Let us pray that, with everyone’s commitment, they may be tamed as soon as possible. That ‘lung’ of forest is vital to our planet.”

Ahead of the October Synod on the Amazon, the Bishops of the Latin American Episcopal Council – better known as CELAM – released a statement also expressing their concern over the tragedy of “planetary proportions.”

“The hope by the nearby of the Synod for the Amazon, called by Pope Francis,
is turned into deep sorrow because of this tremendous natural tragedy. To our
brother indigenous people living in that beloved rainforest, we express our
closeness and unite our voices to yours to shout to the world for solidarity and
prompt attention to this devastation.”

They called for “serious measures” to “save the lungs of the world” because
“if the Amazon suffers, the world suffers.”

“We urge the governments of the Amazon countries, especially Brazil and
Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious
measures to save the lungs of the world. What happens to the Amazon is not just
a local issue but of global reach. If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers.”

The Spanish Catholic NGO Manos Unidas reported that in Brazil alone, wildfires have increased 82% for a total of nearly 72,000 of which 54% are in the Amazon.

“For years we have denounced the risks and assaults the Amazon is suffering, which bring with them an accelerated deforestation, toward the increasingly closer point of ‘no return,’ at which time the disappearance of this ‘green lung’ of humanity will already be irreversible.”

You can read Pope Francis’ full address here, and the full statement from CELAM here.

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