The upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is an “urgent” gathering, not of scientists and politicians, but for the church whose main focus in discussions will be evangelization, Pope Francis said in a new interview.
However, the importance of the Amazon region’s biodiversity and current threats it faces also will be addressed because “together with the oceans, (the Amazon) contributes decisively to the survival of the planet. Much of the oxygen we breathe comes from there. That’s why deforestation means killing humanity,” he said.
The Pope also talked about the dangers of surging nationalism and isolationist sentiments, saying, “I am worried because you hear speeches that resemble those by Hitler in 1934. ‘Us first, We… We…’” Such thinking, he said, “is frightening.”
The Pope’s comments came in an interview posted on August 9 by “Vatican Insider,” the online news supplement to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Asked about the dangers of “sovereignism” or nationalism, the Pope said it represented an attitude of “isolation” and closure.
“A country must be sovereign, but not closed” inside itself, he said.
National sovereignty, he said, “must be defended, but relations with other countries, with the European community, must also be protected and promoted.”
“Sovereignism,” on the other hand, he continued, is something that goes “too far” and “always ends badly — it leads to war.”
When asked why he convened a Synod on the Amazon, Pope Francis said, “It is the ‘child’ of ‘Laudato si.’ Those who have not read it will never understand the Synod on the Amazon. ‘Laudato Si’ is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical, which is based on a ‘green’ reality, the safeguarding of creation.”
Among the environmental issues the Pope is concerned about, the one that “has shocked me the most,” he said, is the way resources are increasingly being consumed faster than they can be regenerated. Pope Francis was asked whether the possibility of ordaining older, married men to minister in remote areas would be one of the main topics of discussion. The Pope replied, “Absolutely not. It is simply one number” in the working document.