Belem (Agenzia Fides) - Fraternity and the Amazon Region is the theme of the 2007 Lenten Fraternity Campaigned promoted and launched today Ash Wednesday 21 February by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Brazil. This year instead of Brasilia the campaign will be launched from Belem, the largest city of Brazil’s Amazon region (the mouth of the Amazon lies just to the north of the city). The campaign wishes to draw attention to the tragic situation of the peoples in the region and the necessity to preserve the peoples and the forests in which they live. With the slogan “life and mission in this land” ("Vita e missão neste chão") the campaign calls for effective polices and interventions in the region to assist the people and preserve nature, as opposed to simply economic interests.
Bishops’ Conference secretary general Mgr Odilo Pedro recalled that the issue is of the utmost importance for Brazil and for the whole world, because the Amazon region, generally idealised as a tropical paradise, is subject to disastrous changes due largely to the effects of globalisation. The world’s last major tropical forest reserve attracts the attention of numerous economic initiatives but with serious consequences and threats for the local communities and their traditions, roots, culture, livelihood and identity. In an increasing movement of urbanisation thousands flock to the large cities which cannot provide the necessary services, homes or jobs. As a result the people live in shanty towns where drug peddling, prostitution and violence are rampant. The Fraternity Campaign 2007 intends to encourage all Brazilians to assume responsible attitudes and behaviour and to help those in need and promote respect for nature which is a treasure to preserve. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 20/2/2007; righe 21, parole 298)