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Gabriella Lira – from Cenarium

MANAUS – Pope Francis appointed, this week, the forest engineer and PhD in Biology from Harvard University, Virgilio Viana, as member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Currently general superintendent of the Sustainable Amazon Foundation (FAS), Viana has lived for over 20 years in Manaus and is responsible for projects that aim to transform the lives of riverside dwellers and indigenous people with sustainable development actions in the deep Amazon. 

The position has the objective of promoting the study and progress of social, economic, political and juridical sciences, offering the Catholic Church elements to be used in the study and development of social doctrine. A native of Belo Horizonte, Virgilio has been at the head of FAS for 13 years and is also president of the Paulista Association of Forest Engineers (Apaef) and a member of The Lanced Covid-19 Commission. 

“I feel on one hand honored and on the other very challenged by the magnitude of the responsibility and the task that lies ahead of us. I hope, with this new opportunity, to also contribute so that the activities led by Pope Francis on behalf of humanity can awaken a watchful eye on the Amazon”, Viana told CENARIUM about the honor awarded.

The nomination was disclosed in an official note by the Vatican. The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is one of the ten pontifical academies of the Vatican, in Rome, and was created by Pope John Paul II in 1994, with an interdisciplinary scientific structure.

Pope Francis greets Virgilio Viana (Gabriel Marino)

New mission

Plenary sessions of the Pontifical take place once every two years, between April and May. Academics are also expected to contribute by participating in scientific meetings organized by the academy, suggesting topics that are relevant to their area of study.

According to the statute of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, ordinary members leave this task at the age of 80. After that, if he receives a proposal from the Academy’s Council, he can be appointed as an honorary member.

“The dynamics of the academy involve annual virtual and in-person meetings, as long as the pandemic allows, and then events that may occur at a frequency to be defined. It involves a survey and data analysis. Overall, I will continue residing in Manaus”, says Virgilio.