World Wildlife Fund Encourages Pope Francis to Include Amazon Conservation Message at World Youth Day

In a July celebration that will include Pope Francis teachings about poverty and peace, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) hopes the Pope will use the opportunity to incorporate a special message about the importance of safeguarding the environment to the thousands of young Catholics expected to gather in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, July 23rd – 28th.

WWF applauds Pope Francis for already adding his influential voice to the growing number of faith leaders around the world who are recognizing the need to live in harmony with nature.

“Pope Francis’ respect for nature and his strong call for sustainable development have been early hallmarks of his pontificate. As his namesake St. Francis of Assisi suggests, he has already given us great hope that he will be an invaluable global messenger for environmental protection around the world,” said Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of WWF’s Sacred Earth program. “Faith leaders are vital, local champions of the environment. In a world where 80% of the population embraces a faith, they’re a compelling messenger and have the power to move mountains in their communities. It’s significant that the Pope’s first international trip is to Brazil, home of the Amazon, the largest rainforest on earth and a crucial provider of economic and social benefits for its people and the world.”

Chungyalpa will be at World Youth Day and part of the panel discussing the connection between faith and conservation. This will be the only event specifically drawing attention to the nexus of religion and the environment. WWF-Brazil CEO Cica Brito and WWF’s Amazon expert Claudio Maretti will also be presenting.

“The Amazon is the largest area of tropical forest, critical to environmental services like water and timber and for regulation of global climate patterns. Countries, companies and citizens must see nature as an asset,” said Claudio Maretti, WWF’s Living Amazon leader. “We must take concrete actions to maintain the ecological balance of this biome and all other ecosystems.”

“I understand it is important for Catholics to care for nature as god’s creation. Therefore, we are calling on young Catholics around the world to care for nature by making conscious choices and to express their strong support for Amazon conservation, which all of us depend on,” added Maretti.

In partnership with World Youth Day organizers, WWF will also be showcasing several conservation-themed videos that will air prior to the Pope’s holy mass. Watch one of the videos here.

WWF is the only major U.S. conservation organization working directly with faith leaders and religious institutions around the world. Sacred Earth serves as a capacity-building platform for faith leaders to help them lead their communities in protecting wildlife, natural resources and ecosystems.