- Pope Francis called on 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide to pray for the Amazon wildfires to be extinguished.
- The Amazon, which is considered the world’s largest tropical rainforest, was described as a “vital” lung for the planet.
- The Pope is set to convene bishops for a conference on the Amazon in October.
Pope Francis on Sunday has called for global efforts to contain the fires in the Amazon region, noting that the “forest lung is vital for our planet.”
“We are concerned about the vast fires that have developed in the Amazon,” the Argentine Pope told the crowd at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican for the traditional Sunday prayer.
He urged the 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide to pray for the fires to be extinguished as soon as possible.
Last January, Pope Francis visited the tribesmen in the village of Puerto Maldonado in southeastern Peru, which is surrounded by the Amazon forest.
The Amazon extends to nine of the 12 countries in South America, from Brazil to Bolivia and Peru.
It reportedly contains 20 percent of Earth’s freshwater, 34 percent of the primeval forests, and between 30 and 50 percent of the world’s flora and fauna.
Pope Francis is set to convene bishops for a conference on the Amazon in October.
In 2013, he met Brazilian Amazon rainforest chief Raoni Metuktire who was in Europe to raise awareness on the threats to the Amazon.
In a 2015 encyclical, the Pope denounced the exploitation of the Amazon by “huge international economic interests.”
Authorities reported nearly 77,000 wildfires across the country in 2019, an increase of 85 percent over the same period in 2018. More than half of those have occurred in the Amazon region at an alarming rate.
Some conservationists have blamed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for the forest fires, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land.