Mongabay: Vatican calls landmark meeting to conserve Amazon, protect indigenous peoples

In January 2018, Pope Francis visited Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian Amazon, a city and region I know well. There, he saw firsthand the destructive nature of deforestation from illegal gold mining and the oppression of indigenous peoples who live in the jungles.
Photo by Luis Fernandez, CINCIA

For the fourth time in his papacy, Pope Francis has convened bishops in Rome for a synod, or special meeting. The one he called for Oct. 6-27, 2019, is the first one ever to focus on an ecological region — Amazonia. As my story for Mongabay details, Francis appears eager to reclaim the mantle of environmental leadership he staked out for himself in 2015 with the historic teaching document Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.

This story in some ways connects to my last story — can religious leaders use their moral authority, and the strength of billions of followers, to pressure governments in places critical to the health of the planet to more urgently and forcefully protect the environment? So far, little has moved the leaders of the industrialized world to rise to the existential threat to human existence posed by the global warming already causing such damage with just 1.8 degrees F of warming. What happens when we get to the predicted 5 or 6 degrees F in the next 50 years?