This October the bishops of the Amazon region will hold an extraordinary synod to reflect on the challenges of evangelization and mission. Already, in their Working Document, which I urge you to read, they have addressed the unique importance of the Amazon to the life of its inhabitants and to the entire world, as well as the threats it faces from climate change and deliberate policies of deforestation—which, as of this writing, include fires deliberately set in one of the most important eco-systems on the planet.
In some ways the Working Document serves as a guide for the church in the twenty-first century. It calls on all the People of God to heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor—a call reflected in the term “ecological conversion.” In many ways, this planned synod is a response to the challenges set forth in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home and summarized in Care for Creation: A Call for Ecological Conversion. The fires in the Amazon, like the melting of glaciers in the Arctic, are sirens warning of grave danger. Will we hear them and “choose life?”