“We have many things in common with the Church: the defense of life, protection of nature, protection of ecology, the defense of the dignity of all peoples”

April 2, 2016

“For many years in the Peruvian Amazon, we, the indigenous Cocama, were not regarded as human beings but we were treated like animals, made ​​for exploitation and for work in the rubber, timber harvesting in oil exploration. Cocama affirmed the leader Alfonso Lopez Tejada,” in his speech at the meeting of the Ecclesial Pan – Amazonian Network, REPAM.

“We recognize that the Catholic Church was the first to write our history, accompany us in our struggle for life. Because we are fighting, but do not demand much, only we demand respect. The Cocama peoples have knowledge have culture, we have dignity. Ku-Kama means “the man who lives (at the breast) of the earth’.”

“Currently, one of the big problems we suffer is the pollution caused by oil companies. For 45 years, several oil companies have extracted thousands of barrels of oil.  Forty-five years in which we are suffering the pollution of our rivers and land; 45 years in which oil companies have left only poverty, have depleted our forests have depleted our rivers and lakes. “Cocoama leader

“The fish we consume today,” said Alfonso Lopez, “are contaminated with heavy metals and harmful chemicals.  The oil has also polluted the air we breathe and plant products we consume. Our future generations will suffer genetic deformities. What future awaits our people, he asked?”

In Western culture, said the Alfonso Lopez, development equals destruction. “We are not with that development. For the Cocama Indians, life is full and we have managed to live in harmony with nature. With Mother Earth we have one material relationship with it is also a spiritual relationship. Cocamas come because water and earth, because the earth are the bones of our ancestors and because there will we also rest our bodies. ”

“We have rights and those rights are not for sale or trade. We require our governments to seek a responsible social and environmental policy. And to advance that effort, we need the Catholic Church to accompany and support us in this journey.We have many things in common with the Church: the defense of life, protection of nature, protection of ecology, the defense of the dignity of all peoples.”

Happily, he said the Amazonian leader, Pope Francisco is helping us and encourages us to defend Mother Earth, to defend the Amazon, to defend life, to defend the peoples of the Pan-Amazon.

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A few months later, the Brasilian National Committee of the expanded the Pan Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM) met at the headquarters of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), Brasilia (DF), on 17 and 18 February to discuss and organize the actions of the Network over the next few years.  Representatives of organizations and institutions working in ecclesial and social contexts in the Amazon region shared and discussed, including the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), the Caritas Brazil, the Brazilian Commission for Justice and Peace (CBJP), the Conference of Religious of Brazil (CRB), the Pontifical Mission Societies (POM), among others. In the first part of the meeting, the possible contributions of each entity in the network were articulated..

“From the National Committee, we have created the enlarged Committee with various institutions that relate to the Amazon to help us in this joint endeavor. The main objective is to join those forces that exist in the region so that we can strengthen the process of REPAM, “said the advisor of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon CNBB, Sister Maria Irene Lopes dos Santos.

The action of REPAM seeks to establish a platform for exchange and collaboration to support and link missionary efforts, congregations, dioceses, and other secular organizations working in defense of life, the forest and the local people and the common good throughout the Amazon basin .

“We are working with already established organizations and they are being invited to be part of this ecclesial network”, explains Izalene Tiene, articulator of the National REPAM Committee. Izalene said there will be an involvement of these organizations in the training on the encyclical of Pope Francisco  Laudato Si ‘ , promoted by the Network.  We will be in 9 states, are 63 dioceses and work to achieve all that Amazon reality, adds the articulator.

Father Dario Bossi, Network  Iglesias y Mineria , praised the initiative of the expanded committee REPAM in organizing this meeting. “Here are representatives from various sources entities in Brazil, with very different performances, to join forces and together take care of the Amazon and this planet,” Bossi said. The priest explained that currently the ore is a financial as well, which is benefiting very few companies and is not extracted to the interests of the people but for capital accumulation, and this is not what the Amazon needs. “REPAM can contribute to raise the visibility of the mining problem in Brazil, associated with a popular reading of the encyclical  Laudato Si  and also the Solidarity Campaign this year, which deals with the issue of our Common Home.  We believe that we can take advantage of this opportune time, this kairos, for the people and the Catholic Church, along with other churches Brazil — in fact help people to take the ethical and human commitment to take care of this planet for the sake of our children and grandchildren, “said Dario Bossi.

The Network A Cry for Life integrates REPAM as part of the expanded committee and taking action in partnership. “The big challenge is to insert the topic of human trafficking and abuse of sexual exploitation, which are very latent issues in the Amazon, in the awareness of the general population,” said Sister Rose Bertoldo, Network A Cry for Life.  She added that “it is impossible to think of our common home without thinking about these issues.  REPAM is a partner in working on these issues. ”

At this meeting, REPAM reinforces the proposal to recover the prophetic dimension in the proclamation of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and embrace the small struggles and hopes of indigenous peoples, riverine, African descent, urban dwellers, women, youth, children and all impoverished people and excluded the vast Amazon region.