After the Catholic Church started the preparation for its Amazon Synod, Christian Aid’s Latin America and the Caribbean division worked with faith-based organisations across the region. Together they created a declaration to support the Synod and to ask that all decisions be made taking into account the peoples of the Amazon forest. This declaration, called We are the Amazon, highlights the commitments made by churches and faith-based organisations to protect the forest and its peoples and to propose a different economical model to replace the destructive model being applied at present in the Amazon region. The declaration was described in a previous article on LAB.
The declaration was endorsed by more than 130 organisations in all parts of the world, which we contacted directly or by email.
The commitments made in the declaration supported the Amazon Synod, but also made connections to the ecumenical and inter-religious movement. We understood that We are the Amazon could be used to generate more solidarity for the Amazon. Alongside the declaration, we created, with Christian Aid’s Global Theology Advisor and faith leaders from the Amazon, the We are the Amazon Liturgy.
Leonardo Godoy, from Christian Aid’s LAC office in São Paulo, describes the declaration and the liturgy.
The Catholic Church’s Amazon Synod came to a close on 27 October. The final document of the event recognises the importance of the Amazon rainforest for the environmental balance of the world and the need for ecumenical dialogue as a concrete gesture of faith to protect the forest and its peoples. Most of all, the Synod highlighted the need to keep our minds and hearts alongside those struggling to protect the Amazon forest and, therefore, our Common Home.
We Are the Amazon Liturgy – Belem
As part of an ecumenical initiative for the Amazon rainforest and its peoples, Christian Aid has led the ‘We are the Amazon’ initiative – a declaration endorsed by more than 130 churches and faith-based organisations (FBOs) in different parts of the world. Since 17 October Ecumenical Celebrations have been taking place as part of the initiative.
The Ecumenical Celebrations are part of process of reflection and a spur to act for the Amazon and its peoples, proposing ways for churches and FBOs to show solidarity and pray for justice. For this, a common liturgy was developed, with faith leaders from all over the Amazon region, designed to capture the voices and cultures of the Amazon in an ecumenical approach to religious celebration.
We Are the Amazon Liturgy – São Paulo
The first Ecumenical Celebration took place in São Paulo, in the Holy Trinity Parish of the Anglican Church. A beautifully conducted liturgy in the city centre of one the major cities of Latin America, invited people to plant a seed symbolically and share their commitment to the Amazon. This was followed by celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, with representatives from religions of African origin and indigenous faith-leaders, and Belem, in the Amazon, where people carried candles in procession along the banks of the Guamá river and sang together cultural songs from the region. The celebrations were inter-religious events, with representatives from distinct faiths, and a demonstration of how social movements can connect up with churches and FBOs for the Amazon.
We Are the Amazon Liturgy – Rio de Janeiro
The Celebrations in Brazil have been a symbol of the strength of the ecumenical movement when it connects to those on the ground, fighting and struggling against an unfair economic system that corrodes the Amazon rainforest and murders those who protect the Common Home. ‘We are the Amazon’ shows us a path in which ecumenical dialogue is a tool to join forces with the peoples of the Amazon, using faith as an element of connection to justify conscious actions for justice.
The defence of the Amazon is enriched by the ecumenical perspective when faith raises awareness of the challenges faced in the region. Furthermore, the element of faith alongside demands for social justice can help in the process of effecting relevant changes in the lives of those who live in the Amazon. It is an attempt to create commitment among churches and FBOs to pressure states, to defend human rights and nature defenders, to support the promotion of sustainable economic alternatives to confront the current destructive economic system.
There is still a long way to follow in the ‘We are the Amazon’ initiative, sharing this religious action with people in different parts of the world. There are celebrations scheduled for Porto Alegre, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Bogotá and London. The declaration is still open for new endorsements and any Church and FBO is welcome to use the ‘We are the Amazon’ liturgy in their celebrations.
If you are interested in using the liturgy, please write a message to SomosLaAmazonia@gmail.com so you can receive support to adapt the document to meet your needs! You can read the declaration here and the liturgy here.
An extract from the We are the Amazon liturgy
Reader 1: There are three basic principles that organize the climate on Earth and maintain the web of climate:
- the solar heating of the planet is balanced out by the loss of energy in space;
- of the atmosphere, oceans, land and ice to global warming, which has decreased or increased changes in temperature of the planet;
- regional environmental systems that have a climatic variability produced by their unique physical-chemical-biological conditions.
Reader 2: these types of climate are like artists on a tightrope, each one in its own beauty, as it moves along it shakes the cord and interferes in the movement of other artists;
Reader 3: a single cord extended between us and the universe: each movement is unique but each movement is necessary for dialogue and balance;
Reader 4: no-one dances alone, no-one can balance on their own without realizing and feeling that they interfere, modify and demand answers from other parts of the world.
Reader 5: the Amazon is part of this climate web and is important for its wealth of biodiversity, in the guarantee of cycles of rain, in the absorption of CO² … Defending the Amazon is defending the climate of the planet. The climate web is us!