In his homily at the closing Mass for the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, Pope Francis highlighted the grave human rights violations affecting the Amazonian people. The Holy Father spoke powerfully against the exploitations of “creation, of people, of the inhabitants of the Amazon, of the trafficking of persons, the trade in human beings!” “We must be ready to listen to the cry of the poor. If we make their cry our own,” the Pope said, “our prayer too will reach to the clouds.”
Unfortunately, the cry of the poor has not echoed sufficiently into the ears of Western listeners. A cursory glance of news coverage this past week proves why. Headlines touting married clergy and women deacons occupied most of mainstream media, including the Catholic press. Where were the articles against the destruction of vital environmental resources, or news reports against the trafficking of women and children? The sole focus on the “hot-button” ecclesial issues, often without any reference to magisterial texts, misses the mark. Had anyone been listening to the cries of the poor?
The poor of the Amazon region need what everyone needs: peace, freedom, security, and, above all, Jesus Christ and the saving truth of His Gospel. As Pope Francis teaches in Evangelii Gaudium, “The worst discrimination which the poor suffer is a lack of spiritual care. They need God, and we must not fail to offer them His friendship” (EG 199).