Pope Francis is coming to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, an event that is expected to draw 800 attendees. Event organizers, in preparing for the event, had 334 trees taken down along the edge of the Serra da Tiririca National Park. Authorities in Brazil are furious, as they claim no one from the Church was granted permission to clear the land.
Axel Grael, vice mayor of the city of Niteroi, told Brazil’s O Globo magazine, “The incident is lamentable. An event for youth should be educational and demonstrate a commitment to the environment and the future. This removal is a criminal act.”
Organizers with the diocese of Sao Sebastiao de Itaipu claimed it was necessary to clear the land to make room for the hundreds of pilgrims they expect to attend the Pope’s mass. Andre Ilha, of Rio de Janeiro’s state environment institute, says there’s no way this destruction would have ever been allowed: “What was razed was the buffer zone of the Tiririca park. We would never have authorized that. It is a fragment of the endangered Atlantic rainforest. We will charge them with a crime.”
The diocese has reportedly offered to plant trees in the area after the event, but does that really make up for what they’ve done?
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