“To give them back their history” that is the purpose of Red Eclesial Panamazonica (REPAM) says Cardinal Hummes, delegate of the Brazilian Bishops Conference for the Amazonia, in the network meeting in Paris during COP21. The dioceses of the nine countries of the Amazon river basin have come together to work in support of the people and life of the Amazonia. “The history of the Indigenous People has been destroyed,” he says, their life has been consumed by the exploitation of the area and resources. “We need to give them back their history.”
REPAM is a network of solidarity and fraternity, not a juridical organization with projects. It seeks a fraternity that respects the integrity of all groups working in support of the people. The Latin American Church has worked much to overcome the poverty; people are poor because they have been abused by the system. The challenge for the Church too is its evangelization has to be inculturated. Pope Francis is asking what to do for and with the poor of the Amazonia; there are social, ethical and spiritual challenges. In meetings with the bishops of the Amazonia the question is what are their responsibilities in having a positive presence.
The region is the test for the Church in the nine countries of the Amazonia to work for the Indigenous People and “take risks and be a positive support.” The Department of Justice and Solidarity of the Brazilian Bishops Conference, the Episcopal Commission for the Amazonia, and the Latin America Conference of Religious and Caritas Latin America are involved and so many people who have been engaged. The Church has to be part of the region, reality is now being faced, Indigenous Peoples are the poorest and they need to form their future options.
Muricio Lopez, executive secretary of REPAM explained the regional focus of gathering and communicating amongst the nine countries. This is a challenge to have an organic structure for Pan-Amazonia pastoral assistance to the local population and to support their interests. It is part of the strategy for the planet, the area provides 20% of the water and air of planet and its integrity is basic to the functioning of the planet. This is not a forgotten area by the world, its water (and hydropower), minerals, forests (also as carbon sink) and land (expanding agriculture) are exploited, but it is the people, biodiversity (genetic richness) and globally sustaining ecosystems that are sidelined.
Building the agenda calls for tools to respond to what is happening, starting with human rights and investigation to document the causes and the need to work with the indigenous to define their rights in local situations. How to provide good living from the different cultural perspectives and stable climate and environment requires further capacity building. Then formation and training is needed from the cultural context for pastoral leadership. Then there is the broader area of collaboration in three areas: international networking, research and mapping of concerns; needs and actions; and the communication for social transformation.
REPAM is seeking a path of collaboration of support for the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazonia and in turn a quality of life for all.
The Ecojesuit Team