Amazon Synod: The Church committed to be an ally with Amazonia

Five chapters, plus an introduction and a brief conclusion: the Final Document of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region was released on the evening of 26 October, by the express will of the Pope. The document deals with a wide variety of topics, including mission, inculturation, integral ecology, defence of the indigenous peoples, an Amazonian rite, the role of women, and new ministries, especially in areas where access to the Eucharist is lacking.

By Vatican News

Conversion: this is the common thread running through the final document of the Pan-Amazon Synod. Conversion is expressed with different accents: integral, pastoral, cultural, ecological, and synodal. The text is the result of the “open, free, and respectful” exchange undertaken in the three weeks of the work of the Synod, to tell the story of the challenges and the potentialities of Amazonia, the “biological heart” of the world, spread over nine countries and inhabited by over 33 million people, including about 2.5 million indigenous persons. Yet this region, by area the most vulnerable in the world on account of climate change caused by human beings, is on “a rampant race to death”. And thus the Document reiterates that a new direction is necessary in order to save it, to avoid a catastrophic impact on the entire planet.

Chapter I – Integral conversion

From the beginning, the document exhorts us to a “true integral conversion”, with a simple and sober life, in the manner of St Francis of Assisi, to be committed to relating harmoniously with the “common home”, the creative work of God. Such conversion will lead the Church to be a Church “on the move”, in order to enter the hearts of all the Amazonian peoples. Amazonia’s voice is a message of life expressed through a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural reality, represented by the varied faces that dwell therein. “Good living”, and “doing good” is the lifestyle of the Amazonian people. This means living in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the supreme being, in a single intercommunication between the whole cosmos, in order to forge a project of full life for all.

The suffering of Amazonia: the cry of the land and the cry of the poor

Nevertheless, the text does not ignore the many sorrows and the great violence that today wound and deform Amazonia, threatening its life: the privatization of natural goods; predatory models of production; deforestation which has affected 17% of the whole region; pollution from the extractive industries; climate change; drug trafficking; alcoholism; trafficking; the criminalization of leaders and defenders of the territory; illegal armed groups. On a broader basis there is the bitter story of migration in the Amazon on various levels: the traditional mobility of indigenous groups in their territories; forced displacement of indigenous populations; international migration and refugees. All these groups need cross-border pastoral care, including the right to free movement. The problem of migration, we read, ought to be confronted in a coordinated way by the Churches on the borders. A work of permanent pastoral care must, in addition, be considered for migrant who become victims of trafficking. The synodal Document invites us to be attentive also to the forced displacement of indigenous families in urban centres, emphasising that this phenomenon demands a “joint pastoral response” in the peripheries. Hence, the exhortation to create missionary teams which, in coordination with the parishes, would be able to deal with this aspect, offering inculturated liturgies and favouring the integration of these communities in the cities.

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