Pope Francis insisted on visiting the Madre de Dios region in Peru because “that is where one can hear the cry of the poor and of the earth most clearly”.
Asked in a KNA interview the indigenous peoples in Madre de Dios, one of the many scattered ethnic groups in the huge Peruvian Amazon region, were so close to the Pope’s heart that he had insisted on paying them a special visit, the regional Bishop replied: “That is because this is where one can particularly clearly hear both the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth."
On numerous occasions now, the Pope has emphasised that the indigenous peoples were “not just one more minority”, the Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado, David Martinez OP, recalled. “The Pope wants to draw attention to them and their problems as he knows how important this is.”
Thousands of indigenous peoples who merely wanted to survive were flocking to the region where illegal gold panning, which was destroying large parts of the Rain Forest, was flourishing, he pointed out. They were excluded from society and the state could “no longer cope”. “The people who come here find they are better off here than where they came from. The question therefore is how wretched must their lives have been before they came here to make them think that?”
Just by going there, Francis gave these people hope and showed them that they were not alone. He also drew attention to Madre de Dios internationally. “That will open up possibilities for totally new solutions,” said Martinez.
(Pic: Pope Francis looks while children perform an indigenous traditional dance at 'Hogar Principito' Children's home, in the Peruvian city of Puerto Maldonado, on January 19, 2018 where both the land and native peoples face threats from illegal logging, illicit mining and other activities. Photo by ABACAPRESS.COM/PA)