Pope Francis graciously met with Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon on Thursday, the same day the Brazil Supreme Court is expected to issue a major decision regarding protections for Indigenous Peoples and their land.
The Pope took time to meet with Cacique Dadá Borari of the Amazon, as well as prestigious environmental scientist Greg Asner, who was the first to map the illegal deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, as well as other leaders from different regions.
The group was accompanied by Father Joshtrom Kureethadam of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Laudato Si’ Movement leaders Dr. Lorna Gold, Chair of the Laudato Si’ Movement Board of Directors, and Tomás Insua, Executive Director of the movement.
The Laudato Si’ Movement leaders were extremely grateful to take part in the special gathering.
After the 75-minute meeting, Cacique Dadá shared what this moment is like for Indigenous Peoples throughout Brazil.
“For us, it’s a moment of struggle, a moment of great determination, and asking for support from Pope Francis… Pope Francis assured us and will be giving all the support, and it will be possible for us to change this capitalist view of society that today wants to criminalize the social movement. So he is available, ready to help the Indigenous population of all regions, especially in the Amazon.”
WATCH: Cacique Dadá Borari shares Pope Francis’ message of hope for the Amazon
The Brazil Supreme Court is considering whether Brazil’s constitutional protection of Indigenous lands extends to those groups who were not present on the lands in 1988, when the constitution was adopted, according to published reports.
For decades, and especially during Brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964-1985, Indigenous People were forced off their lands, threatened, and murdered for defending their right to stay on such property.
Sadly, such violence continues today, and by some measures, is worse than ever. Earlier this year, the Pastoral Land Commission, a committee of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, reported that the number of documented land disputes (1,576) was its highest since the committee began tracking such incidents in 1985.
The lands of Indigenous families were especially threatened. Of the 81,225 families who had their lands invaded in 2020, almost 72 percent were Indigenous.
We join Indigenous Peoples and all who have concern for them, including Pope Francis, in praying for a just court ruling that recognizes their tortured history and rightfully places more of God’s creation in the hands of Indigenous Peoples.
As the Laudato Si’ Movement does every day in Brazil, through the work of its Laudato Si’ Animators, Member Organizations, and secretariat throughout the country, we stand in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon.
“For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values. When they remain on their land, they themselves care for it best” (LS 146).