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“The eyes of the world are watching”: 60 Brazilian Bishops call on Senate to reject harmful environmental bill

7 May 2021

7 May 2021 

Bishops from across Brazil’s Amazon region have come together to call on the Brazilian Senate to urgently halt a proposal, which they say threatens to cause great damage to public forests and traditional populations. 

The ‘landholding regularisation’ bill, currently in Brazil’s senate, looks set to change the rules allowing illegally deforested federal lands to become private holdings. 

This would have a devastating impact on already threatened areas of the Amazon, the Bishops warned. 

The approval of this bill, “besides being a promoter of violence […] would benefit large land invaders and speculators - encouraging illegal occupation,” said the statement. 

“Approving it means agreeing to our natural heritage being object of irregular occupation for subsequent deforestation and titling, which is an affront to all of society.

“Any change in policy must support forest conservation and guarantee the rights of the populations that protect it, and not generate benefits for those who have been destroying the Amazon.”

Recalling the US Climate Summit, that took place just a fortnight ago, the Bishops condemned this latest move: 

“The eyes of the world are watching Brazil's environmental policy”, said the statement, “we run the risk of approving yet another law that goes against the projects for environmental care and safeguarding.” 

“All this comes just days after the Federal Government declared its intentions to preserve the Amazon at the International Climate Summit convened by the US Government, attended by dozens of world leaders.” 

This latest development is following an announcement earlier this week that UK supermarkets have threatened a boycott over Amazon rainforest destruction. 

Cecilia Iorio, Brazil country representative for the Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, CAFOD, said: 

“It’s hard to imagine that the change in the current legislation won’t be seen as a stimulus to more deforestation and land grabbing - despite the deforestation in the Amazon region already being at critical levels.

“In the past two years, under Bolsonaro’s leadership, deforestation has reached the highest levels for 12 years. We know that we can’t delay tackling the current climate crisis. This is a moment for all governments, public and private sectors to demonstrate commitment to the Paris Agreement.”

The Bishops’ statement concluded by calling on the Brazilian government to heed their words: 

“The Catholic Church in the Amazon and the Bishops of the Dioceses in the Amazon are guided by the principles of the Gospel and inspired by the Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’. 

“From the perspective of integral ecology, we seek a dialogue with the government, parliamentarians and the society in defence of the interests of the poorest, of social justice and of the preservation of the environment.”

Notes to Editors

For further information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Elouise Hobbs, ehobbs@cafod.org.uk, Mobile: +44 (0)7954 077426, Or, CAFOD’s 24-hour media hotline on +44 (0)7919 301 429 

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