The world must work together to extinguish the fires ravaging Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, Pope Francis said in his weekly address to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.
Francis said: “Let us pray that they may be tamed as soon as possible with the efforts of all.
“These forest lungs are vital for our planet.”
Swathes of the Amazon are burning at a rapid rate, sparking fears about the potential impact it could have on the battle against climate change.
As global condemnation over its response grew, the Brazilian government said on Saturday that it was deploying tens of thousands of troops to help fight the wildfires.
Several countries have also offered assistance.
The backlash has been especially strong from the European Union, which suggested that it could scrap a huge trade deal with Brazil and three other South American countries unless more action was taken against the thousands of fires currently burning.
The blazes followed moves by the government to open more of the rainforest to mining and agriculture, with satellite data indicating that the pace of deforestation was increasing rapidly.
Environmental groups and researchers say the fires have been intentionally lit by farmers to clear land.