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"Pastoral Declaration of the Anglican Bishops of the Province of South America, September 2019

"Pastoral Declaration of the Anglican Bishops of the Province of South America, September 2019.

September 27, 2019

Given the serious current context of fires in the Amazon, and especially in Brazil and Bolivia, caused in large part by the progress of deforestation; moved and worried about the immense negative impact they will have on biodiversity and indigenous communities, as well as us; the bishops of the Anglican Province of South America, we would like to share the following statements as pastoral issues:

We regret that these fires are evidence of human pride and disobedience against God's command to be stewards of his creation. Instead of taking care of the land, we have built towers of Babel as if we were their owners. No one is free from the collective sin that is destroying the planet's ecology: greed, neglect, carelessness, ignorance, indifference and selfishness.

The region we represent has the largest indigenous membership in Latin America. For many groups of them to see their house catch fire, and the destruction of biodiversity they ask that this make us aware of our sin and in turn call us to repent before the King of Kings, the judge of all creation. We believe that without genuine regret from all of us, we will continue to pay the great price with worse disasters than those we have seen lately in our countries. The image of the fires is a daily memory of a biblical text (2 Peter 3: 3-12) that describes an apocalyptic fire that will cover the world. It represents the judgment of God as a consequence of man's sins and speaks at the same time of the patience of God and his desire to see the salvation of humanity and the creation of a holy people. It may refer to an ecological disaster or other type of phenomenon, but we are aware of the call to leave our sinful lives to seek the Lord again.

We evoke and claim our Declaration on Climate Change and the role of the Church built in Lima in May 2018. We recommend as reference points the statements made by the bishops in Brazil, by the Pope (Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI), by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), as well as organizations such as Greenpeace, the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), the IV Continental General Assembly of the "Churches and Mining" Network, the Evangelical Coalition for Climate Justice, the Brazilian Evangelical Christian Alliance and the United Missions Board (JUM).

We stand in solidarity with the great youth movement of climate strikes [1], stating that it is neither acceptable that the economic interests of a country can cause the destruction of the environment, nor that local policies are more important than the future of the planet. On the other hand, our region has three of the countries that have suffered the most deforestation in the last 10 years. This human activity is also affecting the Gran Chaco region, which is the second forest ecosystem in South America, after the Amazon. There live 3,400 species of plants, 500 species of birds, 150 mammals, 120 reptiles, 100 amphibians and more than 4 million people, of which about 8% are indigenous, who depend on the forest to obtain food, water, wood and medications [2] .

In preparation for COP25 in Chile, we want to encourage local and international governments to seriously implement a Zero Deforestation policy through the enactment and enforcement of effective laws and programs for the protection, action and restoration of damaged and threatened ecosystems. In addition, we urge companies and producers to reflect on their strategies for exploitation and extraction of natural resources and seek alternatives of greater sustainability. Finally, we urge each of the Earth's inhabitants to adopt habits, customs and routines that reduce their carbon footprints and are less harmful to our planet. We consider these measures as essential to continue combating climate change,

We urge the faithful to return to the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, owner of their land, with repentant hearts. Let us ask forgiveness from the Lord for trying to usurp the place of Christ, instead of living as stewards of creation, respecting ecological laws and natural laws. (Romans 1 and 8) We commit ourselves again to the care of Creation, and the protection of both biodiversity and the well-being of family and marriage.

Sign: Revmo. Gregorio Venables, Primate of the Province of South America, Diocesan Bishop of Argentina

Revmo. Nicholas Drayson, Diocesan Bishop, Northern Argentina

Revmo. Mateo Alto, Auxiliary Bishop, Northern Argentina

Revmo. Crisanto Rojas, Auxiliary Bishop, Northern Argentina

Revmo. Raphael Samuel, Diocesan Bishop, Bolivia

Revmo. Peter Bartlett, Diocesan Bishop, Paraguay

Revmo. Jorge Aguilar, Diocesan Bishop, Peru

Revmo. Daniel Genovesi, Acting Bishop, Uruguay

[1] https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/

[2] The Sacrifice of the Forests of the Gran Chaco: http://greenpeace.org.ar/pdf/2019/07/INFORME%20El%20sacrificio%20de%20los%20bosques%20del%20Gran%20Chaco%20FINAL.pdf

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