AP

Pope, urging prayers, says Amazon forest vital for our Earth

Aug 25, 2019, 12:10 PM
Fire consumes an area near Jaci Parana, state of Rondonia, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. Brazil ...
Fire consumes an area near Jaci Parana, state of Rondonia, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. Brazil says military aircraft and 44,000 troops will be available to fight fires sweeping through parts of the Amazon region. The defense and environment ministers have outlined plans to battle the blazes that have prompted an international outcry as well as demonstrations in Brazil against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the environmental crisis. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis said Sunday that the Amazon forest is vital for our Earth and is urging prayers that fires there are quickly controlled even as Brazil sent tens of thousands of soldiers out to confront the crisis.

Francis added his voice to the chorus of international concern that the blazes in Brazil will have grave repercussions on the world’s environmental health.

The pontiff, who is from the South American nation of Argentina that borders Brazil, told the public in St. Peter’s Square that “we’re all worried” about the vast Amazon fires. He warned that that green “lung of forest is vital for our planet.”

Francis said “let us pray so that, with the efforts of all, they are controlled as quickly as possible.”

Brazilian government satellite monitors have recorded more than 41,000 fires in the Amazon region so far this year — with more than half of those coming this month alone. Experts say most of the fires are set by farmers or ranchers clearing existing farmland. But the same monitoring agency has reported a sharp increase in deforestation this year as well.

The blazes have sparked anti-government protests in Brazil and became a pressing issue for leaders at the Group of Seven summit in France.

Backed by military aircraft, tens of thousands of Brazilian troops on Saturday deployed in the Amazon to fight the fires.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also tried to temper global concern, saying that previously deforested areas had burned and that intact rainforest was spared.

Even so, the fires were an issue of top concern at the G-7 summit in France.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that leaders of major democracies are nearing an agreement on how to help fight the fires and repair the damage. He said agreement would involve both technical and financial mechanisms “so that we can help them in the most effective way possible.”

It’s not clear, however, whether Brazil would welcome the help.
Bolsonaro, who has often urged more development in the Amazon, has feuded with Macron, whose office said on

Friday that the Brazilian leader “had lied to him” about environmental commitments.

Asked if he would speak with Macron, Bolsonaro said Saturday, “If he calls me, I will answer. I am being extremely well-mannered with him even though he called me ‘a liar.'”

The Brazilian military operations followed widespread criticism of Bolsonaro’s handling of the crisis. On Friday, the president authorized the armed forces to put out fires, saying he is committed to protecting the Amazon region.

About 44,000 troops will be available for “unprecedented” operations to put out the fires, and forces are heading to six Brazilian states that asked for federal help, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo said. The states are Roraima, Rondonia, Tocantins, Para, Acre and Mato Grosso.

France’s president thrust the Amazon fires to the top of the agenda of the G-7 summit after declaring it a global emergency and threatening to torpedo a European Union trade deal with Brazil and other South American countries.

France claims a small part of the Amazon in its overseas department of French Guiana.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also at the summit, came down against blocking the EU-Mercosur trade accord, but said she was in favor of treating the Amazon fires as an urgent threat.

Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday he would welcome aid in fighting his own country’s wildfires, which have scorched more than 2,900 square miles (744,000 hectares) of land in the Chiquitanía region over the past two weeks.

He told a news conference that he had accepted offers of assistance from the leaders of Spain, Chile and Paraguay.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
1 day ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
2 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
2 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
4 days ago
Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting ...
COLLEEN SLEVIN, THOMAS PEIPERT, JESSE BEDAYN and BRITTANY PETERSON

Colorado gay club shooting suspect held without bail

The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was ordered held without bail in an initial court appearance Wednesday.
4 days ago
Four Dead University of Idaho...
NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press

Coroner: Idaho students were stabbed to death in their beds

Four University of Idaho students who were found dead in a rental house Sunday were stabbed to death in their beds and likely were asleep.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Pope, urging prayers, says Amazon forest vital for our Earth