The Amazon region is huge and critical to our planet’s health. Yet 20 per cent of its forest has already been destroyed.
As the climate crisis affects Amazonian people’s lives in increasing ways, indigenous community leaders such as Delio, 29, are responding to the urgency of the situation.
Delio’s hopes for 2020
Do you think that 2020 will be an important year for your work? Why?
Yes, this year is when Amazonian communities must know about what happened at the Bishops’ meeting in Rome when Pope Francis put the Amazon at the heart of the Church.
Pope Francis invites the world not to see the Amazon strategically but to regard it with respect. It is the time to declare to the world that the Amazon is inhabited by many people who suffer. Pope Francis tells us it is time to hear the cry of the earth, the Amazon and the excluded – the poor.
What are your hopes for the work you will do in 2020?
My hopes are to be closer to the Amazonian communities and their young people. I hope to understand their needs, even the smallest of details.
I hope to bring the voice of Pope Francis and the Church’s word of hope to Amazonian communities that believe and those who do not believe. I hope to share concerns about the great problems the Amazon faces today.
Are you inspired after the Synod of the Amazon? Why?
Yes, I am very inspired after the Amazon Synod because the Synod was a new dawn, hope, and birth at the heart of the Church.
Now I see a Church which is more committed to the problems that the Amazon, its peoples and forests face each day. Amazonian communities and young people are becoming aware of what is happening in the territories where they live.
What are the activities and actions you would like to promote with your students in 2020?
I would like to promote activities not only with students but also with Amazonian communities.
For example, visiting communities in the Amazon while talking about the visit, actions and support of Pope Francis, and also giving talks to encourage a change of consciousness as Pope Francis invites us in his encyclical Laudato Si’. People are not aware of caring for our common home.
Finally, encouraging personal initiatives to care for our environment and explain why this is so important for Amazonian communities and for the world.
Is there a particular issue you would like the Catholic community in England and Wales to pray about?
We need to reach more indigenous communities that live in this part of the Amazon. We know that prayer is very important because it connects us and brings us closer to God in our personal and collective life plans.
What we really want to do is something important – our communities and young people are very far away, and we must reach those in need of words of hope.
Ask the government to lead the way on the climate crisis
Towards the end of the year, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for the UN global climate talks. As the host, the eyes of the world will be on the UK.
But we won’t be credible leaders unless we get our own house in order first.
This year we are asking the UK government to make sure that people and planet are at the heart of all the decisions they make.