Story by Renée Smith
There’s been universal concern about Amazon fires for years as the majority of them are a result of deforestation caused by humans, but an outbreak of unceasing infernos on August 15 sent the world into outrage.
It seemed as though individuals and particularly those who sought to destroy the region were far from understanding the importance of the so called ‘lung of the planet’. According to scientific measurements, the Amazon produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen.
Many are asking why more immediate action is not being done by relevant authorities and world leaders to stop the fires.
On social media, comparisons are being made to other world events which appeared to receive quicker attention than the world’s most important ecosystem.
One example of a social media post where someone argues the Amazon should get the same aid and attention as the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral (top photo).
The hashtag #PrayForTheAmazon or #PrayForAmazonia has been trending on various social media platforms emphasising this global emergency, one which requires perseverance in prayer and a worldwide commitment.
Some are not convinced that committing to prayer is the answer in light of the tragedy as a Twitter user exclaimed, “Pray for the Amazon????? Does that actually make sense to you?????” while another blogger shared, “The Amazon doesn’t need our prayers, it needs accountability”
The Amazon needs the accountability by all and this is where prayer becomes vital. Ora et Labora– a Latin phrase meaning Prayer and Work, reminds us prayer and action always go hand in hand.
Prayer is not meant to be said in isolation but rather in tandem with action. In this case, action to extinguish the fires and working towards having a greater consciousness for all creation.
This is consistent with Pope Francis’ appeal to preserve the Amazon. He has since joined the [Amazon] region’s bishops in praying for action to extinguish the massive fires burning there.
Leaders of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Latin American bishops’ conference (known by the Spanish abbreviation CELAM) also urged international action to save the Amazon rainforest from the fires.
They noted that the upcoming Synod of Bishops for the Amazon in October will discuss the plight of the indigenous living in the area as well as the deforestation of the region.
“Hope for the proximity of the Amazon synod, convened by Pope Francis, is stained by the pain of this natural tragedy,” the bishops said. “To the brethren indigenous peoples who inhabit this beloved territory, we express all our closeness and join our voices with yours to shout to the world for solidarity and pay attention to end this devastation.”
May we continue to pray to be responsible guardians for creation.
We join Pope Francis in prayer for the environment.
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
Taken from Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’