Puerto Maldonado, Peru, Jan 19, 2018 / 10:34 am
Pope Francis visited one of Peru's most biodiverse regions Friday, telling its inhabitants that while remote, their land is not forgotten and must be cared for.
He also stressed the importance of fighting such scourges as corruption and human trafficking.
“'We are not a no man’s land.' It is something that needs to be emphasized. You are not a no man’s land. This land has names. It has faces. It has you,” the Pope said Jan. 19 to the people of Puerto Maldonado, the capital of the Madre de Dios Region in the Amazon basin.
He was responding to comment made by a local couple, Margarita Martínez Núñez Valer and her husband Arturo, who while sharing their testimony said their land is one “that is mostly forgotten, wounded and marginalized...but we are not a no man’s land.”
Pope Francis noted that Mary also came from Nazareth, a remote and isolated village that many also considered “a no man’s land.”
Mary, he said, is not only an example but a mother, and when we have a mother, “we don’t have that terrible feeling of belonging to no one, that takes hold when our sense of belonging to a family, to a people, to a land, to our God, begins to fade.”
The Madre de Dios Region, then, “is not a land of orphans, but a land that has a Mother! And if it has a mother, it has sons and daughters, a family, a community.” While the problems might not disappear, when there is a mother, a family and a community “we certainly find the strength to confront them differently.”
He visited Puerto Maldonado on the first full day of his Jan. 18-21 visit to Peru, after spending three days in Chile. The Amazonian region is of special interest to the Pope, considering his 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, Laudato si', and his decision to hold a Pan-Amazonian synod in 2019 to discuss the challenges the area faces.