This week, we commemorate the death of Sr. Dorothy Stang, “Martyr of the Amazon.”Sr. Dorothy was born in the United States, and a Sister of Notre Dame De Namer. She moved to live with the poor in rural Brazil. There, she witnessed first-hand ranchers and loggers exploiting farmers and indigenous people, stealing land, cutting down forests, and murdering those who spoke up.
Sr. Dorothy courageously spoke up herself. Over several decades, she pushed for protection of Brazil’s rural poor, especially those in the Amazon. Because of her work for justice, she was named to a death list, and eventually murdered.
Here is how her sisters tell the story: “on February 12, 2005, on a dirt road at the Boa Esperanca settlement in a rural area in Para, two hired gunmen fired six shots and killed Sister Dorothy . . . As the gunmen approached Sister Dorothy, she took her Bible from her bag and began to read the Beatitudes: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice.”
In October, bishops from around the world will gather in the Vatican for a month-long conversation on protecting the Amazon and its people. We at Global Catholic Climate Movement will bring care for the Amazon into our programs throughout the year. Please mark your calendars for important moments in the coming weeks:
- For Lent, we invite you to add plant-based meals to your diet. It’s a surprising truth that cattle farming is the single largest reason for deforestation in Brazil, and that the average serving of meat has 60 times the greenhouse gas emissions of a serving of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Eating plant-based meals is a way to honor our Lenten tradition of simplicity and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. Watch for Lenten resources next week.
- For Earth Day, we invite you to plant a tree in your church community to symbolize your commitment to protecting the Amazon and its people. Begin planning today! An overview of our Earth Day celebration is available here. A full planning guide for Earth Day will be shared soon.
Sr. Dorothy Stang said, “we are only here on the land a few decades. Use every day to bring joy and not greed to our tired land so full of anguish.”
Our actions and choices matter. We pray with gratitude for Sr. Dorothy’s witness, and we pray that her spirit of justice will illuminate the path for us this year.