can they be seen as martyrs?
Did they die for us too?
On the Feast of St Francis 2019, at a powerfully symbolic event held in the Vatican Gardens, Pope Francis planted a tree alongside Amazonian leaders from Brazil and dedicated the upcoming Synod on the Amazon to St. Francis of Assisi. The tree that was planted is a Holm Oak, the tree reputed to have been at the centre of one of St. Francis’ famous conversations with nature. Read more....
The working document of the Amazon Synod Instrumentum Laboris, (IL) states that the goal is “to listen to the voice of the Amazon and to respond as a prophetic and Samaritan Church.” IL states at §145: “To question power in the defence of territory and human rights is to risk one’s life, to step onto the path of cross and martyrdom. The number of martyrs in the Amazon is alarming … The Church cannot be indifferent; …, it must help to protect the men and women who defend human rights and remember their martyrs … .”
The most famous assassinated defender in recent years was the outspoken environmental activist Berta Caceres, a Lenca indigenous leader, who attracted international attention for opposition to a hydroelectric dam in Honduras. Although a court order banned her from the area and she endured death threats, she successfully led protests that thwarted the project.
Berta, awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize – considered the Nobel for ecological actions - was assassinated at home 2 March 2016, sparking outrage and offering another example of the impunity and violence in the Central American country.
As Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si’: “it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed. For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God” (146).
Berta was hailed as a martyr of Laudato Si'. Read more...
The Amazon has its share of environmental and human rights assassinated defenders. IL §145 indicates over 1,000 between 2003 and 2017. Brazil's land and environmental activists have long been a target for the mining and logging industry.
According to the environmental watchdog Global Witness, Brazil was the deadliest country in 2017, with a record 57 such activists killed, of 201 deaths worldwide.
Dilma Ferreira Silva, a regional coordinator of Development & Peace’s Brazilian partner organization, the Movement of Dam-Affected Peoples (MAB) was killed March 22  in the Amazonian state of Pará. Dilma was a prominent activist and recognized leader who, for more than three decades, fought for the rights of the people affected by the Tucuruí mega-hydroelectric dam project on the Tocantins River of the Brazilian Amazon. The dam caused the displacement of an estimated 32,000 people, as well as serious environmental damage.
A Season of Creation 2019 Prayer of the Faithful:
In this Season of Creation we thank God for the inspiration of those who heard the cry of the earth and cry of the poor and lost their lives by assassination because of their defence of the Amazon Rainforest and its indigenous peoples. They included Fr. Ezechiele Ramin in 1985, Sr. Dorothy Stang, in 2005, and to name just two in 2019: Dilma Ferreira Silva, on 22 March and Maxciel Pereira dos Santos on 6 Sept for whom we ask the Creator God’s blessing and we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Synod of Bishops soon to discern a course of action for “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology.”
321 human and/or environmental rights defenders
were killed in 2018
The world is deadlier than ever for land and environmental defenders,
with agribusiness the industry most linked to killings
Please sign on-line the D&P solidarity letter to two groups in the Amazon: the seringueiros in the Machadinho d’Oeste municipality, Rondônia State and the Mura people of Manaus, Amazonas State. The seringueiros are traditional artisanal rubber tappers. By state-recognized right, a group of them practice sustainable hunting, gathering, fishing and rubber tapping on 16 reserves. Here is the solidarity letter:
A future for Amazon, a future for all
A mine of misery
The seringueiros are traditional artisanal rubber tappers
Laudato Si': "reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most." (169)
To fulfill the Paris Agreement a recent study has estimated 75% of the effort required must come from government action
and 25% from individual initiatives. That is why we must keep up the pressure on Governments as Laudato Si’ (179) advised us! Read More...
See & Listen what Greta Thunberg said to the UN: Video (4 mins 56 secs)
Did you demonstrate with youth on 20 &/or 27 Sept?
20 & 27 Sept 2019 Victoria, BC Climate protest OFS sign on the right.
Canada Election 2019
Canada’s Jesuits suggest issues for reflection and questions to ask candidates.
They include: 1. Climate Crisis; 2. Canadian Ombudsperson for the Global Extractives Industries; 3. Justice and Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples; & 4. Refugees & Migrants. Check their valuable tool for reflection
Here is some further background on Justice and Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples regarding water and compensation for treatment of Indigenous children and youths.
When asked if he was just writing a "blank cheque" for problems faced by Indigenous communities, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh asked if the same question would be raised if Toronto or Vancouver had a clean drinking water problem.
Compensation for children and youths challenged by Liberal Government "It's always about money," Indigenous activist and academic Pam Palmater told CTV Question Period. "But more than that, it's about devaluing the lives of First Nations kids
because I guarantee you that if this was about some students in Quebec in a French school and they were dying because of discriminatory underfunding, we wouldn't even be having this conversation." Read more/see more about both issues.
In his homily Pope Francis denounced the world's indifference in the face of the migration and refugee crisis. “When we become 'spiritually lukewarm', we become half-Christian without substance." He warned against a “globalization of indifference” in which migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking become emblems of exclusion. The Church’s mission is to all those living in the existential peripheries, who need to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated. Earlier (26 Sept) he said: “Lukewarm faith, leads so many to find excuses in uncertainty and fuels the tendency to procrastinate.” Timothy Schmalz, of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, the artist creator of Angels Unawares says it was inspired by Hebrews 13:2.
You may be familiar with Timothy Schmalz’s famous Homeless Jesus first exhibited at Regis College, University of Toronto in 2013 then in Rome where it was blessed by the Pope. It is now reproduced and exhibited in over a 100 places including outside the Papal Charities Building, in Vatican City.
“The Amazon Synod is a conscious ecclesial effort to implement Laudato Si’ in this fundamental human and natural environment.” (Cardinal Designate Michael Czerny, SJ & Bishop David Martínez de Aguirre, OP)
Given the criticisms arising regarding the working document [of the Amazon Synod] (Instrumentum Laboris), Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, stated this morning [3 Oct 2019]: “The Instrumentum Laboris isn’t a papal document, it’s a compilation of the questions and petitions of the Amazonian peoples, who have expressed their anxieties. The expressions have been compiled, not with one assembly, but with a total of 170 assemblies and other forums. So that the Bishops can listen.” [I ask: If the detractors of the Synod miss that essential point of the Synod – listening – are they an example of ecclesial clericalism?] Read more....
“What really bothers the detractors of Pope Francis is that his theology stems from reality: from the reality of injustice, poverty and the destruction of nature, and from the reality of ecclesial clericalism.” [And I believe we can say Pope Francis’ theology proceeds using Cardinal Cardijn’s method See, Judge, Act long used by the Church and based on reality not theory & seeking to unite not divide.] Read more...
I leave you with this prayer from the Global Catholic Climate Movement:
We give thanks for the witness of Pope Francis and the loving presence of our Creator.
We ask forgiveness for all the times we have not acted as brothers and sisters with creation.
We ask that the Creator unite us now and throughout the year to live our vocation to care for our common home. Amen.
I hope you had lovely celebrations of the Transitus and Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi and were able to eat some of his favourite almond biscotti (thanks to Brother Jacoba)!
I wish all: Peace, joy and all good!