Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Conversion: of the Amazon, or of the Church?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 24, 2019

An article published last week in Civilta Cattolica— the journal edited by Father Antonio Spadaro, one the Pope’s closest associates— announces: “The Synod of the Amazon is called to be an occasion for ‘conversion.’” Read the whole essay carefully (if you can plow through the blizzard of ecclesiastical jargon), and you might have the impression that the goal is the conversion of the Catholic Church, not the people of the Amazon region.

The call to conversion comes from the peripheries, Civilta tells us, and “the Church is called to listen to its voice and to assume the commitment to conversion.” The Synod, we are told, can’t expect to change the people of the Amazon, because “the periphery can contribute to the transformation of the center to the extent that it does not lose its identity.”

So we are to transform the culture of the Church, but not of the Amazon? That is, to put is mildly, not the attitude of Catholic missionaries in previous generations. But then, one of the key figures in this Synod is a bishop who boasts that he has never baptized a member of the Amazon’s indigenous tribes.

And Civilta, too, takes a novel approach to missionary work, as becomes evident a few paragraphs later in the essay:

If God’s dream is the redemption of humanity,…

God’s dream?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: tamelynette6332 - Oct. 25, 2019 9:12 PM ET USA

    Thank you for recognizing the scandal we laity are feeling over this whole Amazon Synod, and fear that our Lord's Church is going to turn us into pagans at the first chance they get.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 24, 2019 12:59 PM ET USA

    God's "dream". Another projection that remakes God in our own image. But what about that other word: "if"?

  • Posted by: padre3536 - Oct. 24, 2019 10:24 AM ET USA

    Very prescient again. Conversion comes from the Lord and no where and no one else, peripheries and their peripherites, et al....blessings