Pope asks young people to be happy and protagonists of their future | WWF

Pope asks young people to be happy and protagonists of their future

Posted on 29 July 2013    
WYD Pilgramage in the Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
© Claudio Maretti / WWF Living Amazon Initiative
In Brazil, Pope Francis called for the defence of the Amazon, and displays appreciation for diversity and the rights of indigenous peoples. WWF’s environmental messages were shown to over 3 million people on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro, 29th July 2013 - After a week-long visit to Brazil that culminated with a mass for 3 million people on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis left the country, bringing the 28th World Youth Day and the first international trip of his papacy to a close.

In his meetings and speeches, the Pope focused on young people, protagonists of this meeting, as well as the needier and poorer, leaving behind encouraging messages. He made an appeal to young people to not let themselves be manipulated and to be protagonists of the changes they would like to see take place. To society and the governing powers he asked for a culture of togetherness, dialogue and ethical values to be fostered.

He sent a challenging message to bishops about the renewal of the Church, respect for diversity, as well as asking them to get closer to people. In a private meeting, he talked to them about the Amazon being a decisive test for the Church and Brazilian society. “I would like to invite everyone to reflect on what Aparecida’s text says about the Amazon Basin, calling for the respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, which should not be indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden,” published the Vatican news agency.

Indigenous peoples
His gesture of receiving representatives of indigenous groups on the stage of Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Theatre, during the meeting with civil society on Saturday (27 July), showed his favour of those also treated unfairly on this matter. Pope Francis received gifts, but also letters with warnings about the situation of several Brazilian indigenous groups, who are threatened and pressured by attempts to weaken the legislation that protects their rights.

On behalf of the recognised Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, but also the groups on voluntary isolation that still inhabit the forests, young indigenous people of the state of Tocantins submitted a letter on the current situation in the country. In the letter, they asked the Pope to step in on their behalf with the Brazilian government, so that the attacks and violence Indigenous Peoples have been suffering at the hand of governments and private enterprises may cease.

The document delivered by Adriano Carajás, representative of his people and other Brazilian indigenous communities, mentions the Guarani Kaiowá ethnic group, from the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, "who are suffering after being driven out of their land, which is currently controlled by farmers,” and the Munduruku, from the state of Pará, who are seeing the integrity of their territory being threatened by the building of water power plants.

“All conflicts are the result of the right to the land. And this conflict is being provoked and fostered by the Brazilian government, through its indigenous policy that prioritises the exploitation and stealing of our territories, turning them into goods. Therefore, our lands are coveted by big enterprises that want to mercilessly exploit the wealth of our forests. Our Land is sacred, it is a gift from God, who gave it to our ancestors, and we are not going to allow any government or enterprise to take from us what is rightly ours: the Land”, they state.

To read the document in full, in Portuguese, download it in the link on this page.

In order to watch the statement made by indigenous leader Adriano Carajás, go to this link.

The Amazon and the future of youth

WWF, through its Living Amazon Initiative, WWF Brazil and the Sacred Earth Program, made efforts to take a message of sustainability and the intrinsic relationship between faith and the conservation of nature.

In partnership with the organisers of World Youth Day, videos on environmental issues were shown on WYD channels and a special one about the Amazon was played at least 10 times to young people during activities. Indeed, the program was played before and after the mass held on Copacabana beach that brought together 3.5 million people.

To watch the Amazon video click on the link

WWF also took the discussion about faith and the conservation of nature, as well as the importance of the Amazon at the local, regional and global levels to different groups.

Firstly, on the 22nd, during the conference “The Sustainable Future we want for humanity," event organised by the Rio de Janeiro Catholic University, together with the Vatican Council, the Foundazione Giovanni Paollo II per la Gioventú and Italy's Ministry of the Environment, Claudio Maretti, leader of WWF's Living Amazon Initiative – while explaining the role played by the Amazon in regulating climate and as a provider of ecological services – highlighted the right of young people to a healthy environment, which will also determine the choices they will be able to make in the future.

“The future we will have depends on the Amazon that we want today. What Amazon do we want? An Amazon devastated by cattle, emitting carbon and as a consequence, generating more disadvantage for the poorest? Or do we want a living, ecologically healthy Amazon, providing several services and helping to maintain climate stability?”, he questioned

Claudio Maretti concluded by inviting PUC-Rio to join the discussion on what type of future we want for the Amazon in UN processes aimed at drafting sustainable development objectives. “It is our responsibility to give young people the option of choosing a more sustainable world", he concluded.

To watch the statement, click on the following link

Faith and the conservation of nature
In the Living Youth Social Forum, a World Youth Day official event, Dekila Chungyalpa, director of the Sacred Earth Program, reminded young people from the community of Manguinhos and representatives of the Rio de Janeiro state government that over 80% of the world population has a spiritual faith. “At the collective level, religions make up the foundation, run or participate in some other way in half of the schools in the world. Religious leaders guide and direct the way we think, act and live our lives. Encouraging youth to lead conservation efforts is critical,” she said.

The forum also had the participation of the director of the Fiocruz Foundation Health and Biodiversity Program Marcia Charme, who pointed out that "natural areas, with forest cover, are very important for the control of pests and disease vectors”.

What can we do for the Amazon
All young people may answer to the Pope’s calling to demonstrate and strive to establish dialogue and solutions, in a brave and happy manner.

Read about the five main reasons to care for the Amazon and five interventions proposed by the Living Amazon Initiative.

WYD Pilgramage in the Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
© Claudio Maretti / WWF Living Amazon Initiative Enlarge
Indigenous Peoples representatives with the ticket to enter the theatre and to meet Pope Francis, during a World Youth Day (WYD) activity.
© Denise Oliveira / WWF Living Amazon Initiative Enlarge
Claudio Maretti, Living Amazon Initiative leader, explaining the importance of the Amazon during the event The Sustainable Future we want for humanity, during World Youth Day 2013.
© Denise Oliveira / WWF Living Amazon Initiative Enlarge
WWF Panelist at World Youth Day, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 2013
© WWF LAI / Denise Oliveira Enlarge

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.

Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions
Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions