Amazonia: New Pathways for the Church and for An Integral Ecology
CHAPTER I: AMAZONIA: FROM LISTENING TO INTEGRAL CONVERSION
CHAPTER II: NEW WAYS OF PASTORAL CONVERSION
CHAPTER III: NEW WAYS OF CULTURAL CONVERSION
CHAPTER IV: NEW WAYS OF ECOLOGICAL CONVERSION
CHAPTER V: NEW WAYS OF SYNODAL CONVERSION
- “And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new. And he said: ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true!’” (Rev 21:5)
After a long synodal path of listening of the People of God in the Church of Amazonia, which Pope Francis opened on his visit to Amazonia on January 19, 2018, the Synod was held in Rome in a fraternal meeting of 21 days in October 2019. The atmosphere was one of open, free and respectful exchange of the Bishops Pastors in Amazonia, men and women missionaries, laymen and laywomen, and representatives of the indigenous peoples of Amazonia. We were witnesses taking part in an ecclesial event marked by the urgency of the subject, which calls for opening new pathways for the Church in the territory. Serious work was shared in an atmosphere marked by the conviction of listening to the voice of the Spirit present.
The Synod was held in a fraternal and prayerful environment. The interventions were accompanied several times by applause, singing and all with profound contemplative silences. Outside the Synodal Hall, there was a notable presence of persons from the Amazonian world, who organized events of support in different activities, processions, such as the opening with songs and dances accompanying the Holy Father, from the tomb of Peter to the Synodal Hall. The Via Crucis of the martyrs of Amazonia was impressive, in addition to the massive presence of the international media.
2. All the participants expressed an acute awareness of the dramatic situation of destruction that affects Amazonia. This means the disappearance of the territory and its inhabitants, especially the indigenous peoples. The Amazonian forest is a “biological heart” for the earth, which is increasingly threatened. It finds itself in an unbridled race to death. It requires radical changes with utmost urgency, <a> new direction that will enable it to be saved. It is proved scientifically that the disappearance of the Amazonian biome will have a disastrous impact on the whole of the planet!
3. The synodal journey of the People of God in the preparatory stage involved the whole Church in the territory, the Bishops, men and women missionaries, members of the Churches of other Christian Confessions, laymen, and laywomen, and many representatives of the indigenous peoples around the consultation document that inspired the Instrumentum Laboris. It highlights the importance of listening to the voice of Amazonia, moved by the greater breath of the Holy Spirit in the cry of the wounded earth and its inhabitants. Noted was the active participation of over 87,000 persons, of different cities and cultures, in addition to numerous groups of other ecclesial sectors and the contributions of academics and organizations of the civil society on the main specific subjects.
4. The holding of the Synod was able to highlight the integration of the voice of Amazonia with the voice of the thinking of the participant Pastors. It was a new experience of listening to discern the voice of the Spirit that leads the Church to new ways of presence, evangelization and inter-cultural dialogue in Amazonia. The claim, which arose in the preparatory process, that the Church is allied to the Amazonian world, was forcefully affirmed. The celebration ended with great joy and the hope to embrace and practice the new paradigm of integral ecology, the care of the “common home” and the defense of Amazonia.
AMAZONIA: FROM LISTENING TO INTEGRAL CONVERSION
“Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1)
5. ”Christ points to Amazonia” (Paul VI, attrib.). He liberates all from sin and grants the dignity of the Children of God. The listening of Amazonia, in the spirit proper of the disciple and in the light of the Word of God and of Tradition, drives us to a profound conversion of our schemes and structures to Christ and to His Gospel.
The voice and song of Amazonia as message of life.
- In Amazonia, life is inserted, linked and integrated into the territory, which as a physical, vital and nutritional area, is possibility, sustenance, and limit of life. Amazonia, also called Pan-Amazonia, is an extensive territory with a population estimated at 33,600,000 inhabitants, of whom between 2 and 2.5 million are Indians. This area, made up of the Basin of the Amazon River and all its tributaries, is extended around nine countries: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Surinam, and French Guyana. The Amazonian region is essential for the distribution of rains in the regions of South America and it contributes to the great movements of air around the planet; at present, it is the second most vulnerable area of the world, by man’s action, in relation to climate change.
- This region’s water and earth nourish and sustain nature, life and the cultures of hundreds of indigenous communities, peasants, Afro-descendants, mestizos, settlers, riverine people and inhabitants of urban centers. Water, source of life, has a rich symbolic meaning. In the Amazonian region, the cycle of water is the connecting pivot; it connects ecosystems, cultures and the territory’s development.
- There is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural reality in the Amazonian region. The different peoples were able to adapt to the territory. They built and rebuilt within each culture their cosmo-vision, their signs and their meanings, and the vision of their future. In the indigenous cultures and peoples, ancient practices and mythical explanations coexist with modern technologies and challenges. The faces that dwell in Amazonia are very varied. In addition to the native peoples, there is great miscegenation born with the meeting and mix-up of different peoples.
- The search of the Amazonian indigenous peoples for life in abundance is made concrete in what they call “good living,” and it is fully realized in the Beatitudes. It’s about trying to live in harmony with oneself, with nature, with human beings, and with the Supreme Being, given that there is an inter-communication between the whole cosmos, where there are no excluding ones or excluded, and where we can forge a project of a full life for all. Such an understanding of life is characterized by the connectivity and harmony of relations between water, the territory and nature, communal life and culture, God and the different spiritual forces. For them, “good living” is to understand the centrality of the transcendent relational character of human beings and of Creation, and it implies “good living.” This integral way is expressed in their way of organizing themselves, which starts from the family and the community, and encompasses a responsible use of all the goods of creation. The indigenous peoples aspire to achieve better conditions of life, especially in health and education, to enjoy sustainable development led and discerned by themselves and that keeps the harmony in their traditional ways of life, dialoguing between the wisdom and technology of their forebears and the technologies acquired.
The Clamour of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor
10. However, Amazonia today is a wounded and deformed beauty, a place of pain and violence. The attacks against nature have negative consequences on peoples’ life This unique socio-environmental crisis was reflected in the pre-synodal listening sessions, which pointed out the following threats against life: appropriation and privatization of nature’s goods, such as water itself, legal logging concessions and the entry of illegal logging; predatory hunting and fishing; unsustainable mega-projects (hydroelectric projects, forest concessions, massive felling, monocultures, highways, waterways, trains and mining and oil projects; contamination caused by extractive industries and cities’ dumps and, above all, climate change. They are real threats that bring with them serious social consequences: sicknesses stemming from contamination, drug trafficking, illegal armed groups, alcoholism, violence against women, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, the sale of organs, sexual tourism, loss of the original culture and of identity (language, spiritual practices and customs), criminalization and murder of leaders and defenders of the territory. Behind all this are the economic and political interests of the dominant sectors, with the complicity of some rulers and some indigenous authorities. The victims are the most vulnerable sectors, children, young people, women and Sister Mother Earth.
11. For its part, the scientific community warns about the risks of deforestation, which to date is close to 17% of the total Amazonian forest, and which threatens the survival of the whole eco-system, putting in danger bio-diversity and changing the vital cycle of water for the survival of the tropical forest. In addition, Amazonia also has a critical role as a shock absorber against climate change; it offers invaluable and fundamental systems of vital support related to air, water, soils, forests, and the biomass. At the same time, experts remind that by using science and advanced technologies for an innovative bio-economy of standing forests and of flowing rivers, it is possible to help save the tropical forest, to protect Amazonia’s eco-systems and the indigenous and traditional peoples and, at the same time, to offer sustainable economic activities.
12. A phenomenon to address is migrations. In the Amazonian Regions, there are three simultaneous migratory processes. In the first place, the cases of the mobility of indigenous groups in territories of traditional circulation, separated by national and international borders. In the second place, the forced displacement of indigenous peoples, peasants and riverine people expelled from their territories, and whose final destiny is usually the poorest areas and worse urbanized <areas> of the cities. In the third place, the inter-regional forced migrations and the phenomenon of refugees who, obliged to leave their countries (among others, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba) must cross Amazonia as a migratory corridor.
13. The displacement of indigenous groups expelled from their territories and attracted by the false shine of the urban culture represents a unique specificity of the migratory movements in Amazonia. The cases in which the mobility of these groups takes place in territories of traditional indigenous circulation, separated by national and international borders, calls for trans-border pastoral care able to understand the right to the free circulation of these peoples. Human mobility in Amazonia reveals the impoverished and hungry face of Jesus Christ (Cf. Mt. 25:35), expelled and homeless (Cf. Lk 3:1-3), and also the feminization of migration that makes thousand of women vulnerable to human trafficking, one of the worst forms of violence against women and one of the most perverse violations of human rights. Human trafficking linked to migration requires permanent network pastoral work.
14. The life of Amazonian communities not yet affected by the influx of Western civilization, is reflected in the belief and rites about the action of the spirits of the divinity, called in innumerable ways, with and in the territory, with and in relation with nature (LS 16, 91, 117, 138, 240). Let us acknowledge that for thousands of years they have looked after the earth, its waters, and forests, and have succeeded in preserving them up to today so that humanity can benefit from the enjoyment of the free gifts of God’s Creation. The new pathways of evangelization must be built on dialogue with this fundamental knowledge, in which it is manifested as seeds of the Word.
The Church in the Amazonian Region
15. In her process of listening to the clamor of the territory and the cry of the peoples, the Church must recall her steps. Evangelization in Latin America was a gift of Providence that calls all to salvation in Christ. Despite the military, political and cultural colonization, and beyond the avarice and ambition of the colonizers, there were many missionaries who gave their life to transmit the Gospel. The missionary sense not only inspired the formation of Christian communities but also legislation such as the Laws of the Indies, which protected the dignity of the Indians against the trampling of their peoples and territories. Such abuses caused wounds in the communities and clouded the message of Good News. Frequently the proclamation of Christ was done in connivance with the powers that exploited the resources and oppressed the populations. At present, the Church has the historic opportunity to differentiate herself from the new colonizing powers, by listening to the Amazonian peoples to be able to exercise with transparency in her prophetic activity. Moreover, the socio-environmental crisis opens new opportunities to present Christ in all His liberating and humanizing potential.
16. The martyrs wrote one of the most glorious pages of Amazonia. The participation of the followers of Jesus in his Passion, Death and Glorious Resurrection, has accompanied the life of the Church up to today, especially in time and places in which she, because Jesus’ Gospel, lives in the midst of an accentuated contradiction, as happens today with those who fight courageously in favor of an integral ecology in Amazonia. This Synod acknowledges with admiration those that fight with great risk to their lives, to defend the existence of this territory.
Called to An Integral Conversion
17. The listening to the clamor of the earth and the cry of the poor and of the peoples of Amazonia with those that walk with us, calls us to a true integral conversion, with a simple and sober life, all nourished by a mystical spirituality in the style of Saint Francis of Assisi, example of integral conversion with joy and Christian enjoyment (Cf. LS 20-120. A prayerful reading of the Word of God will help us to reflect further and discover the groans of the Spirit and will encourage us in the commitment to look after the “common home.”
18. As Church, we, the missionary disciples, implore the grace of this conversion which “implies to let all the consequences blossom of the encounter with Jesus Christ in relations with the world that surrounds us” (LS 217); a personal and communal conversion which commits us to relate harmoniously with God’s creative work, which is the “common home,” a conversion that promotes the creation of structures in harmony with the care of Creation; a pastoral conversion based on synodality, which recognizes the interaction of the whole of Creation. A conversion that leads us to be a Church going forth that enters in the heart of all the Amazonian peoples.
19, So, the only conversion to the living Gospel, which is Jesus Christ, will be able to unfold in inter-connected dimensions to motivate going out to the existential, social and geographic peripheries of Amazonia. These dimensions are the pastoral, the cultural, the ecological and the synodal, which are developed in the following four chapters.
NEW WAYS OF PASTORAL CONVERSION
“Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5).
- A missionary Church going forth calls us to a pastoral conversion. For Amazonia, this journeying also implies “navigating,” by our rivers, our lakes, among our people. In Amazonia, water unites us; it doesn’t separate us. Our pastoral conversion will be Samaritan, in dialogue, accompanying people with concrete faces of Indians, of peasants, of Afro-descendants and migrants, of young people, of inhabitants of the cities. All of this will imply a spirituality of listening and of proclamation. It is thus that we will journey and navigate in this chapter.
The Church is missionary going forth
- By nature the Church is missionary and she has her origin in the “fontal love of God” (AG 2). The missionary dynamism that stems from the love of God radiates, expands, overflows and spreads throughout the universe. “By Baptism, we are inserted in the dynamic of love through the encounter with Jesus, who gives a new horizon to life” (DAp 12). This overflowing drives the Church to a pastoral conversion and transforms us into living communities that work in a team and in a network, at the service of evangelization. The mission understood thus isn’t something optative, an activity of the Church among others, but her very nature. The Church is mission! “Missionary action is the paradigm of the whole work of the Church” (EG 15). To be a missionary disciple is something more than fulfilling tasks or doing things. It is situated in the order of being. “Jesus points out to us, His disciples, that our mission in the world can’t be static, but is itinerant. A Christian is an itinerant” (Francis, Angelus, 30/06/2019).
a. Samaritan, merciful and solidary Church
- We want to be an Amazonian, Samaritan Church incarnate in the way in which the Son of God was incarnate: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases” (Mt 8:17b). He who made himself poor to enrich us with His poverty (2 Co 8:9) through His Spirit He exhorts today’s missionary disciples to go forth to encounter all, especially native peoples, the poor, the excluded from society and others. We also want a Magdalene Church, that feels loved and reconciled, that proclaims with joy and conviction Christ crucified and resurrected; a Marian Church that generates children to the faith and educates them with affection and patience, also on peoples’ riches. We want to be a serving, kerygmatic, educating, inculturated Church in the midst of the peoples we serve.
b. Church in ecumenical, inter-religious and cultural dialogue
- The multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious reality of Amazonia calls for an attitude of open dialogue, recognizing likewise the multiplicity of the interlocutors: the indigenous peoples, riverine people, peasants and Afro-descendants, the other Christian Churches and religious Denominations, organizations of the civil society, popular social movements, the State, in fine all persons of goodwill that seek the defense of life, the integrity of Creation, peace, and the common good. In Amazonia, “relations between Catholics and Pentecostals, Charismatics and Evangelical aren’t easy. The sudden appearance of new communities, linked to the personality of some preachers, contrasts strongly with the beginnings and ecclesiological experience of the historical Churches, and it can conceal the danger of being dragged by emotional waves of the moment or of closing the experience of faith in protected and tranquilizing environments. The fact that not a few Catholic faithful feel attracted to these communities is a motive of friction, but it can become, on our part, a motive for personal examination and pastoral renewal” (Pope Francis, 28.09.2018). The ecumenical, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue must be assumed as the indispensable path of evangelization in Amazonia (Cf. DAp 227). Amazonia is an amalgam of creeds, the majority Christian. In the face of this reality, real paths of communion are opened to us: “The manifestations of good sentiments aren’t enough. Concrete gestures are needed that penetrate the spirit and shake the consciences, driving each one to interior conversion, which is the foundation of all progress on the path of ecumenism” (Benedict XVI, Message to the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, 20/04/2005). The centrality of the Word of God in the life of our communities is a factor of union and dialogue. Many common actions can be taken around the Word of God: translations of the Bible into local languages, joint editions, diffusion and distribution of the Bible and meetings between Catholic men and women theologians and others of different Confessions.
- In Amazonia, the inter-religious dialogue is carried out especially with the indigenous religions and Afro-descendants cults. These traditions deserve to be known, understood in their expressions and in their relationship with the forest and Mother Earth. Together with them, Christians, based on their faith in the Word of God, engage in dialogue, sharing their lives, their concerns, their struggles, their experiences of God, to deepen mutually their faith and to act together in defense of the “common home.” In this connection, it is necessary that the churches of Amazonia develop initiatives of encounter, study and dialogue with the followers of these religions. Sincere and respectful dialogue is the bridge towards building “good living.” In the exchange of gifts, the Spirit leads increasingly to the truth and the good (Cf. EG 250).
Missionary Church that serves and accompanies the Amazonian peoples
- This Synod intends to be a strong call to all the baptized of Amazonia to be missionary disciples. The sending to the mission is inherent to Baptism and is for all the baptized. Through it we all receive the same dignity of being sons and daughters of God, and no one can be excluded from Jesus’ mission to His disciples. ”Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). Hence we believe it is necessary to generate a greater missionary impetus among the native vocations, as Amazonia must also be evangelized by Amazonians.
a. Church with an indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant face
- It is urgent to give the indigenous pastoral its specific place in the Church. We start from plural realities and different cultures, to define, elaborate and adopt pastoral actions, which enable us to develop an evangelizing proposal amid the indigenous communities, situating ourselves within the framework of an indigenous pastoral and of the earth. The pastoral of the indigenous peoples has its own specificity. The colonizations motivated by extractive zctivities throughout history, with the different migratory currents, put them in a situation of high vulnerability. In this context, as Church, it continues to be necessary to create and maintain a preferential option for the indigenous peoples, in virtue of which diocesan organisms of indigenous pastoral must establish and consolidate themselves with a renewed missionary action, which listens, dialogues, is incarnated and has a permanent presence. The preferential option for the indigenous peoples, with their cultures, identities, and histories, calls us to aspire to an indigenous Church with their own priests and ministers, always united and in total communion with the Catholic Church.
- Recognizing the importance of the attention that the Church is called to give in Amazonia to the phenomenon of urbanization and the problems and perspective related to it, a reference to the rural world as a whole is necessary and to the rural pastoral in particular. From the pastoral point of view, the Church must give answers to the phenomenon of the depopulation of the countryside, with all the consequences that derive from it (loss of identity, prevailing laicism, exploitation of rural work, family disintegration, etc.).
b. Church with a Migrant Face
- Given its increase and volume, at present, the phenomenon of migrations has become unheard of political, social and ecclesial challenge (Cf. DA, 517, a). In the face of this, many ecclesial communities have received migrants with great generosity, remembering that ”I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35). The forced displacements of indigenous, peasant, Afro-descendants and riverine families, expelled from their territories by the pressure on the same or by the asphyxiation given the lack of opportunities, calls for a joint pastoral in the periphery of the urban centers. In this connection, it will be necessary to create missionary teams for their accompaniment, coordinating with the parish and other ecclesial and extra-ecclesial conditions of hospitality, offering inculturated liturgies and in the languages of the migrants; promoting areas of cultural exchanges, fostering integration in the community and in the city and motivating them in this work of leadership.
c. Church with a Young Face
- Outstanding among the different faces of the Amazonian realities are those of the young people present in the whole territory. They are young people with indigenous faces and identities, Afro-descendants, riverine people, those in extractive activities, migrants, and refugees, among others. Young people residents in rural and urban areas, who dream daily, seeking better conditions of life, with the profound desire to have a full life; young students and workers, with a strong presence and participation in different social and ecclesial areas. Among Amazonian youth, there are sad realities, such as poverty, violence, illnesses, child prostitution, sexual exploitation, use and trafficking of drugs, early pregnancy, unemployment, depression, human trafficking, new forms of slavery, trafficking of organs, difficulties in accessing to education, health care, and social care. Lamentably, in the last years, there has been a significant increase in suicide among young people, as well as the growth of the imprisoned youth population and crimes between and against young people, especially Afro-descendants and those on the periphery. Living in the same great territory of Amazonia, they have the same dreams and yearning as other young people in this world: to be considered, respected, to have study and job opportunities and a future of hope. However, they are living an intense crisis of values, or a transition to other ways of conceiving the reality, where the ethical elements are changing, including for young Indians. The task of the Church is to accompany them to face all situations that destroy their identity or damage their self-esteem.
- Young people are also intensely present in the territory’s migrant contexts. The reality of young people in urban centers merits special attention. Increasingly, cities are recipients of all the ethnic groups, peoples and problems of Amazonia. Rural Amazonia is being depopulated; the cities are facing enormous problems of juvenile delinquency, lack of work, ethnic fights and social injustices. Here, in particular, the Church is called to be a prophetic presence among young people, giving them adequate accompaniment and appropriate education.
- In communion with the Amazonian youth reality, the Church proclaims the Good News of Jesus to young people, provides vocational discernment and accompaniment, the place of appreciation of the local culture and identity, youth leadership, the promotion of the rights of youth, the strengthening of creative, innovative and differentiated areas of evangelization through a renewed and daring youth ministry. A pastoral always in process, centered on Jesus Christ and his plan, dialogic and integral, committed in all the existing youth realities in the territory. The young Indians have enormous potential and take part actively in their communities and organizations, contributing as leaders and animators, in defense of their rights — especially in the territory –, health and education. On the other hand, they are the main victims of the insecurity of indigenous lands and the lack of specific and quality public policies. The spread of alcohol and drugs often reaches the indigenous communities, gravely harming young people and impeding them from living in freedom, to build their dreams and take part actively in the community.
- The leadership of young people appears clearly in the documents of the Synod on Young People (160, 46) in the Papal Exhortation Christus Vivit (170) and in the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (209). Young people want to be protagonists and the Amazonian Church wants to recognize their space. She wants to be a companion in listening, acknowledging to young people a teleological place, as “prophets of hope,” committed to dialogue, ecologically sensitive and attentive to the “common home”; a Church that welcomes and walks with young people, especially in the peripheries. In face of this, three urgencies arise: to promote new ways of evangelization through the social media (Francis, Chrisitus Vivit 86); to help an Indian youth achieve a healthy interculturality, to help them all to confront the crisis of anti-values that destroys their self-esteem, and makes them lose their identity.
d. Church that follows new ways in the urban pastoral
- Humanity’s strong tendency to concentrate in cities, migrating from the small to the larger, also happens in Amazonia. The accelerated growth of the Amazonian metropolises is accompanied by the generation of urban peripheries. At the same time, lifestyles, ways of living together, languages and values configured by the metropolises and transmitted, and are increasingly implanted both in indigenous communities as well as in the rest of the rural world. The family in the city is a place of synthesis between the traditional culture and the modern. However, families often suffer poverty, precarious housing, lack of work, increase in the consumption of drugs and alcohol, discrimination and child suicide. In addition, there is a lack of dialogue in family life, and the traditions and language are lost. The families are also faced with new health problems, which require adequate education, for instance, in the matter of maternity. The rapid present changes affect the Amazonian family. So we find new family formats: one-parent families under the responsibility of women, increase of separated families, consensual unions and gathered families, diminution in institutional marriages. The city is an explosion of life, because “God lives in the city” (DAg 514). In it, there are anxieties and searches for the meaning of life, conflicts but also solidarity, fraternity, desire for goodness, truth, and justice” (Cf. EG 71-75). To evangelize the city or the urban culture means “to achieve and, so to speak, modify by the force of the Gospel the criteria of judgment, the values that count, the centers of interest and the lines of thought, the sources of inspiration and humanity’s models of life, that appear in contrast to the Word of God and the plan of salvation” (EN 19).
- It is necessary to defend the right of all persons to the city. The claimed right to the city is defined as the equitable enjoyment of the cities within the principles of sustainability, democracy, and social justice. Nevertheless, it will also be necessary to influence public policies and to promote initiatives that improve the quality of life in the rural world, thus avoiding its uncontrolled displacement.
- The grassroots ecclesial communities have been and are a gift of God to the local Churches of Amazonia. However, it is necessary to acknowledge that, with the <passing> of time some ecclesial communities have settled, weakened or even disappeared, but the great majority continues to be persevering and is the pastoral foundation of many parishes. Today the great dangers of the ecclesial communities come primarily from secularism, from individualism from the lack of the social dimension and the absence of missionary activity. Therefore, it is necessary that Pastors encourage each and all of their faithful to missionary discipleship. The ecclesial community will have to be present in the areas of participation in public policies, where actions are articulated to revitalize the culture, coexistence, leisure, and celebration. We must fight so that the “favelas” and “villas miseria,” are assured of basic fundamental rights; water, energy, housing, and promote integral ecological citizenship. Institute the ministry of hospitality in urban communities of Amazonia for fraternal solidarity with migrants, refugees, homeless people and persons that have abandoned rural areas.
- Special care must be given to the reality of Indians in the urban centers, as they are the ones most exposed to the enormous problems of juvenile delinquency, lack of work, ethnic fights and social injustices. It is one of the greatest challenges of today: increasingly cities are the places of destiny of all the ethnic groups and peoples of Amazonia. An indigenous pastoral of the city must be articulated that attends to this specific reality.
e. A spirituality of listening and proclamation
- Pastoral action is sustained by a pastoral based on listening to the Word of God and the cry of the people, to then be able to proclaim the Good News with a prophetic spirit. We acknowledge that the Church that listens to the clamor of the Spirit in the cry of Amazonia can make her own the joys and hopes, sadness and anxieties of all, but especially of the poorest (Cf. GS 1), who are favorite daughters and sons of God. We discover that the plentiful waters of the Spirit, like those of the Amazon River, which overflow periodically, lead us to that super-abundant life that God offers us to share in the proclamation.
New Pathways for Pastoral Conversion
- The itinerant missionary teams in Amazonia are weaving and building community on the way, and they help to strengthen ecclesial synodality. They can add several charisms, institutions, and Congregations, laymen and laywomen, men and women religious, priests; to add themselves to reach together where one alone cannot. The tours of the missionaries that leave their headquarters and spend some time visiting, community after community, and celebrating the Sacraments, give standing to what is called the “pastoral of a visit.” It is a type of pastoral method that responds to the present conditions and possibilities of our churches. Thanks to those methods, and by the action of the Holy Spirit, those communities have also developed a rich ministeriality, which is a motive of thanksgiving.
- We propose an itinerant network that brings together the different efforts of the teams that accompany and dynamize the life and faith of the communities in Amazonia. The ways of political influence for the transformation of the reality must be discerned with the Pastors and laity, geared to pass from pastoral visits to a more permanent presence. The Congregations and/or Provinces of men and women religious of the world, that are not yet involved in missions, are invited to establish at least a missionary front in any of the Amazonian countries.
NEW PATHS OF CULTURAL CONVERSION
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14)
- Latin America has immense biodiversity and great cultural diversity. In it, Amazonia is a land of forests and water, wastelands and wetland, savannahs and mountain ranges, but above all, a land of innumerable peoples, many of them ancient, ancestral inhabitants of the territory, villages of ancient perfume that continue scenting the Continent against all despair. Our conversion must also be cultural; we must make ourselves the other, learn from the other. We must be present, respect and recognize their values, live and practice inculturation and interculturality in our proclamation of the Good News. To express and live the faith in Amazonia is an on-going challenge. It is incarnate not only in the pastoral but <also> in the concrete actions vis-a-vis the other, in the care of health, in education, in solidarity and support of the most vulnerable. In this section, we would like to share all this.
The face of the Church in the Amazonian peoples
- There is a multi-cultural reality in Amazonia’s territories, which calls for a look that includes all and that uses expressions that enable one to identify and connect all the groups, and reflect identities that are recognized, respected and promoted both in the Church as well as in society, which must see in the Amazonian peoples a valid interlocutor for dialogue and encounter. Puebla spoke of the faces that inhabit Latin America and verified that in the native peoples there is a miscegenation that has grown and continues to grow with encounter and misunderstandings between the different cultures that make up the Continent. This face, also of the Church in Amazonia, is a face that is incarnate in its territory, which evangelizes and opens paths so that peoples feel accompanied in different processes of evangelical life. Present also is a renewed missionary sense on the part of the inhabitants of the villages themselves, carrying out the prophetic and Samaritan mission of the Church, which must be strengthened with openness to dialogue with other cultures. Only an inserted and inculturated missionary Church will make native particular churches arise, with an Amazonian face and heart, rooted in the cultures and traditions proper of the peoples, united in the same faith in Christ and diverse in their way of living, expressing and celebrating it.
a. The cultural values of the Amazonian peoples
- We find teachings for life in the people of Amazonia. The native peoples and those that arrived subsequently, who forged their identity in co-existence, contributed cultural values in which we discover seeds of the Word. In the jungle not only the vegetation is intertwined, one species sustaining another, the peoples also inter-relate among themselves in a network of alliances that brings everyone gain. The jungle lives of inter-relations and inter-dependencies and this happens in all realms of life. Thanks to this, the fragile balance of Amazonia was maintained for centuries.
- The thought of the indigenous peoples offers an integrating vision of reality, which is able to understand the multiple existing connections between all that is created. This contrasts with the prevailing current of Western thought, which tends to fragment to understand reality, but is unable to articulate the whole of relations between the different fields of knowledge. The traditional management of what nature offers them has been done in a way that today we call sustainable management. In addition, we find other values of the native peoples, such as reciprocity, solidarity, community sense, equality, the family, its social organization and the sense of service.
b. The Church present and ally of the peoples in their territories
- Greed for land is at the root of the conflicts that lead to ethnocide, as is the murder and criminalization of social movements and their leaders. The demarcation and protection of the land is an obligation of the National States and of their respective governments. However, a good part of indigenous territories are without protection and those already demarked are being invaded by extractive fronts, such as mining, forest extraction, by great infrastructure projects, by illicit crops and by large estates that promote monoculture and extensive cattle raising.
- Therefore, the Church commits herself to be an ally to the Amazonian peoples, to denounce attempts against the life of indigenous communities, projects that affect the environment, the lack of demarcation of their territories, as well as the economic model of predatory and ecocide development. The presence of the Church, among the indigenous and traditional communities, needs this awareness that the defense of the land has no other end than the defense of life.
- The life of the indigenous, mestizo, riverine people, peasants, quilombolas and/or Afro-descendants and traditional communities is threatened by the destruction, the environmental exploitation and the systematic violation of their territorial rights. It is necessary to defend the rights to free determination, the demarcation of territories and previous, free and informed consultation. These peoples have “social, cultural and economic conditions that distinguish them from other sectors of the national community, and that are governed totally or partially by their own customs and traditions or by special legislation” (Conv. 169 ILO, art. 1, 1a). For the Church, the defense of life, the community, the earth and the rights of the indigenous peoples is an evangelical principle, in defense of human dignity: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10b).
- The Church promotes the integral salvation of the human person, valuing the culture of the indigenous peoples, talking about their vital needs, accompanying the movements in their struggles for their rights. Our pastoral service constitutes a service for the full life of the indigenous peoples, which moves us to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God and to denounce the situations of sin, structures of death, violence and injustices, promoting the inter-cultural, inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue (Cf. DAp 95).
- The Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation (PIAV) or Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI) need a specific chapter. There are in Amazonia about 130 peoples or segments of peoples, that don’t maintain systematic or permanent contacts with the enveloping society. Systematic abuses and violations of the past cause their migration to more inaccessible places, seeking protection, trying to keep their autonomy and opting to limit or avoid relations with third parties. Today their life continues to be threatened by the invasion of their territories from different fronts and by their low demography, remaining exposed to ethnic cleansing and their disappearance. From his meeting with Indigenous Peoples in Puerto Maldonado in January of 2018, Pope Francis reminded us that they “are the most vulnerable among the vulnerable (. . . ) Continue defending these more vulnerable brothers. Their presence reminds us that we cannot have common goods at the rhythm of the greed of consumption” (Fr. PM). An option for the defense of the PIAV/PIACI does not exempt the local Churches from pastoral responsibility over them.
- This responsibility must be manifested in specific actions for the defense of their rights, concretized in actions of influence so that States assume the defense of their rights through the legal and inviolable guarantee of the territories they occupy in a traditional way, including adopting precautionary measures in the regions where, there being only traces of their presence, the latter is not confirmed officially and establishing mechanisms of bilateral cooperation between States, when these groups occupy trans-border areas. Respect for their self-determination must be guaranteed at all times, as well as their free decision on the type of relationship they want to establish with other groups. Therefore, it will be necessary that all the People of God, and especially the neighboring towns to the territories of the PIAV/PIACI, be sensitized on respect for these people and the importance of the inviolability of their territories. As Saint John Paul II said in Cuiaba in 1991: “The Church, dear Indian brothers, and sisters, has been and will continue to be always by your side to defend the dignity of human beings, their right to have their own and peaceful life, respecting the values of their traditions, customs, and cultures.”
Paths for an inculturated Church
- With the Incarnation, Christ put aside His prerogative as God and became man in a concrete culture to identify Himself with the whole of humanity. Inculturation is the incarnation of the Gospel in the native cultures (what is not assumed isn’t redeemed,” Saint Irenaeus, Cf. Puebla 400) and, at the same time, the introduction of these cultures in the life of the Church. The peoples are the protagonists in this process, accompanied by their agents and Pastors.
a. The living of the faith expressed in popular piety and inculturated catechesis
- Popular piety is an important means that links many peoples of Amazonia with their spiritual experiences, their cultural roots and their community integration. They are manifestations with which the people express their faith, through images, symbols, traditions, rites and other sacramentals. The pilgrimages, processions and patronal feasts must be appreciated, accompanied, promoted and sometimes purified, given that they are privileged moments of evangelization, which must lead to the encounter with Christ. Marian devotions are very rooted in Amazonia and in the whole of Latin America.
- Non-clericalization is characteristic of Brotherhoods, Fraternities and groups linked to popular piety. The laity assumes a leadership that is hardly attained in other ecclesial realms, with the participation of brothers and sisters that carry out services and direct prayers, blessings, traditional sacred songs; lead novenas, organize processions, promote patronal feasts, etc. it is necessary to “give an appropriate catechesis and to accompany the faith already present in popular religiosity. A concrete way could be to offer a process of Christian initiation … that leads us to be increasingly like Jesus Christ, causing a progressive appropriation of His attitudes” (DAp 300).
b. The mystery of the faith reflected in an inculturated theology
- Indian theology, the theology of an Amazonian face and popular piety are already a richness of the indigenous world, of its culture and spirituality. When the missionary and pastoral agent takes the word of Jesus’ Gospel, he identifies with the culture and the encounter takes place form which witness, service, proclamation and apprenticeship of languages is born. The indigenous world, with its myths, narratives, rites, songs, dance and spiritual expressions enriches the inter-cultural encounter. Puebla already recognized that “the cultures are not empty terrains, lacking in genuine values. The Church’s evangelization is not a process of destruction, but of consolidation and strengthening of those values: a contribution to the growth of the ‘seeds of the Word’” (DP 401, cf. GS 57) present in the cultures.
Paths for an inter-cultural Church
a. Respect of cultures and rights of the peoples
- We are all invited to approach the Amazonian peoples as equals, respecting their history, their cultures, their ‘good living’ style (PF 06.10.19). Colonialism is the imposition of specific ways of living of some peoples over others, including economically, culturally and religiously. We reject an evangelization of colonialist style. To proclaim the Good News of Jesus implies to recognize the seeds of the Word already present in the cultures. The evangelization we propose today for Amazonia is the inculturated proclamation that generates processes of interculturality, processes that promote the life of the Church with an Amazonian identity and face.
b. The promotion of intercultural dialogue in a global world
56. In the Church’s evangelizing task, which must not be confused with proselytism, we must include clear processes of inculturation of our missionary methods and schemes. Proposed concretely to the centers of research and pastoral of the Church is that, in alliance with the indigenous peoples, they study, compile and systematize the traditions of the Amazonian ethnic groups to foster an educational endeavor that begins from their identity and culture, helps in the promotion and defense of their rights, keeps and spreads its value in the Latin American cultural setting
- Educational actions are interpellated today by the need for inculturation. It is a challenge to look for methodologies and contents that are appropriate for the peoples where the ministry of teaching is to be exercised. In this connection, knowledge of their languages, their beliefs, and aspirations, their needs and hopes is important, as well as the collective construction of educational processes that have, both in the form and in the contents, the cultural identity of the Amazonian communities, insisting on formation in integral ecology as transversal axis.
c. The challenges for health, education, and communication
- The Church assumes as an important task to promote education in preventive health and offer health care in places where the State’s care doesn’t reach. It requires favoring initiatives of integration that benefit the health of Amazonians. It is also important to promote the socialization of ancestral knowledge in the field of traditional medicine proper to each culture.
- Among the complexities of the Amazonian territory, we highlight the fragility of education, especially in the indigenous peoples. Although education is a human right, the educational quality is deficient and school desertion very frequent, especially by girls. Education evangelizes, promotes social transformation, empowering people with a healthy critical sense. “A good school education at an early age puts seeds that can produce effects throughout a life” (LS 213). It is our task to promote education for solidarity, which stems from the awareness of a common origin and of a future shared by all. (cf. LS 2202). It is necessary to exact from governments the implementation of a public, intercultural and bilingual education.
- The world, increasingly globalized and complex, has developed an unprecedented information network. However, such a flow of instantaneous information does not imply better communication or connection among peoples. We want to promote in Amazonia a communicative culture that fosters dialogue, the culture of encounter, and the care of the “common home.” Motivated by an integral ecology, we want to empower areas of communication already existing in the region, to thus promote urgently an integral ecological conversion. To do so, it is necessary to collaborate with the formation of native agents of communication, especially Indians. Not only are they privileged interlocutors for evangelization and human promotion in the territory, but, in addition, they help us to spread the culture of ‘good living’ and the care of creation.
- For the purpose of developing the different connections with the whole of the Amazon and of improving its communication, the Church wishes to create a Pan-Amazonian ecclesial communications network, which includes the different means used by the particular Churches and other ecclesial organisms. Their contribution can have resonance and help in the ecological conversion of the Church and the planet. REPAM can collaborate with advice and support of the formative processes, the follow-up, and strengthening of communication in the Pan-Amazonian region.
New paths for the cultural conversion
- In this connection, we propose the creation of a school network of bilingual education for Amazonia (similar to Faith and Joy), which articulates educational proposals that respond to the needs of the communities, respecting, valuing and integrating in them the cultural and linguistic identity
- We want to sustain, support and foster educational experiences of bilingual, intercultural education, which already exist in the ecclesiastical jurisdictions of Amazonia and involve the Catholic Universities so that they work and commit themselves to the network.
- We will look for new forms of conventional and non-conventional education, such as long-distance education, in keeping with the needs of the places, times and persons.
NEW WAYS OF ECOLOGICAL CONVERSION
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10)
- Our planet is a gift of God, but we also know that we are living the urgency to act in the face of an unprecedented socio-environmental crisis. To respond adequately we need an ecological conversion. Therefore, as Amazonian Church, faced with increasing aggression to our biome, threatened with its disappearance with tremendous consequences for our planet, we set off inspired by the proposal of an integral ecology. We acknowledge the wounds caused by the human being in our territory; we want to learn from our brothers and sisters of the native peoples, in a dialogue of knowledge, the challenge to give new answers, seeking models of just and solidary development. We want to look after our “common home” in Amazonia and we propose new ways to do so.
Towards an integral ecology from the encyclical Laudato Si’
a. Threats against the Amazonian biome and its peoples
66. God has given us the earth as gift and as task, to look after it and answer for it; we are not its owners. Integral ecology has its foundation in the fact that “everything is intimately related” (LS 16). Therefore, ecology and social justice are intrinsically united (cf. LDS 137). With integral ecology a new paradigm of justice emerges, given that “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, which must integrate justice in the discussions on the environment, to listen both to the cry of the earth as well as the cry of the poor” (LS 49). Thus integral ecology connects the exercise of the care of nature with that of justice for the most impoverished and underprivileged of the earth, that are God’s preferred option in revealed history.
- It is urgent that we confront the unlimited exploitation of the “common home” and of its inhabitants. One of the principal causes of destruction in Amazonia is the predatory extractive activity, which responds to the logic of avarice, proper of the prevailing technocratic paradigm (LS 101). In face of the urgent situation of the planet and of Amazonia, integral ecology is not one more way the Church can choose in face of the future in this territory; it is the only way possible, as there is no other viable path to save the region. The depredation of the territory is accompanied by the shedding of innocent blood and of the criminalization of the defenders of Amazonia.
- The Church is part of an international solidarity that must foster and recognize the central role of the Amazonian biome for the equilibrium of the planet’s climate; it encourages the international community to make new economic resources available for its protection and the promotion of a model of just and solidary development, with the leadership and direct participation of the local communities and the native peoples in all the phases, from the planning to the implementation, strengthening also the tools already developed by the March convention on climate change.
- It is scandalous that leaders and even communities are criminalized for the sole fact of claiming their own rights. In all the Amazonian countries there are laws that recognize human rights, especially those of the indigenous peoples. In the last years, the (Amazonian) region has lived complex transformations, where the communities’ human rights have been impacted by norms, public policies and practices focused primarily in the enlargement of the extractive frontiers of natural resources and in the development of mega infrastructure projects, which exert pressures on the indigenous ancestral territories. According to the same report, this is accompanied by a grave situation of impunity in the region in regard to violations of human rights and barriers to obtaining justice (CIDH/OAS Report, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of Pan-Amazonia. 5 and 188. Sept. 2019).
- For Christians, interest, and concern for the promotion and respect of human life, both individual as well as collective, isn’t optional. The human being is created in the image and likeness of God the Creator, and his dignity is inviolable. Therefore, the defense and promotion of human rights is not merely a political duty or social task, but also and above all an exigency of faith. Perhaps we won’t be able to modify immediately the prevailing model of destructive and extractive development; however, we do have the need to know and make clear, where we stand? Whose side are we on? What perspective do we assume? How do we transmit the political and ethical dimensions of our word of faith and life? For this reason: a) we denounce the violation of human rights and extractive destruction; b) we assume and support disinvestment campaigns of extractive companies related to Amazonia’s socio-ecological harm, beginning with our own ecclesial institutions and also in alliance with other Churches; c) we call for a radical energetic transition and a search for alternatives: “Civilization requires energy, but the use of energy must not destroy the civilization!” (Pope Francis, Address to the Participants in the Conference “Energetic Transition and Care of the Common Home,” June 9, 2018). We propose to develop training programs on the care of the “common home,” which must be designed for pastoral agents and the rest of the faithful, open to the whole community, in “an effort of awareness-raising of the population” (LS 214)
b. The challenge of new models of just, solidary and sustainable development.
71. We see that the human being’s intervention has lost its “friendly” character, to assume a voracious and predatory attitude that tends to squeeze the reality to the extenuation of all the available natural resources. “The technocratic paradigm tends to exert its control over the economy and politics” (LS 109). To counteract this, which gravely harms life, it’s necessary to seek alternative economic models, more sustainable, friendly to nature, with a solid “spiritual sustenance.” Therefore, together with the Amazonian people, we request that States cease considering Amazonia as an inexhaustible larder (cf. Fr PM). We would like them to develop investment policies that have as a condition for any intervention, the fulfillment of high social and environmental standards and the fundamental principle of the preservation of Amazonia. In this connection, it is necessary that they have the participation of organized Indigenous Peoples, of other Amazonian communities and of the different scientific institutions that are already proposing standing forest-harvesting models. The new paradigm of sustainable development must be socially inclusive, combining scientific and traditional knowledge to empower the traditional and indigenous communities, in their majority women, and to have those technologies serve the wellbeing and protection of the forests.
72. Therefore, it’s about discussing the real value that any economic or extractive activity has, that is, the value that it contributes and returns to the earth and to the society, considering the wealth that it extracts from them and their socio-ecological consequences. Many extractive activities, such as large-scale mining, particularly the illegal, diminish substantially the value of Amazonian life. In fact, they tear the life of the peoples and the common goods of the earth, concentrating economic and political power in the hands of a few. Worse yet, many of these destructive projects are carried out in the name of progress and are supported — or permitted — by local, national and foreign governments.
- Together with the Amazonian peoples (Cf. LS 183) and their horizon of “good living,” to call ourselves to an individual and communal ecological conversion and a development model in which commercial criteria are not above the environmental criteria and human rights. We wish to support a culture of peace and respect — not of violence and abuse — and an economy centered on the person, which also cares for nature. Therefore, we propose to generate alternatives of integral ecological development from the cosmo-visions that are designed in the communities, rescuing ancestral wisdom. We support projects that propose a solidary and sustainable, circular and ecological economy, both at the local and international levels, at the level of research and in the field of action, in formal and informal sectors. In this line, it would be appropriate to support and promote experiences of cooperatives of bio-production, of forest reserves and sustainable consumption. The future of Amazonia is in the hands of us all, but it depends primarily on our abandoning immediately the present model, which destroys the forest, does not bring wellbeing, and puts in danger this immense natural treasure and its guardians.
Church that looks after the “common home” in Amazonia
a. The socio-environmental dimension of evangelization
74. It is up to all of us to be guardians of God’s work. The protagonists of the care, protection, and defense of peoples’ rights and nature’s rights in this region are the Amazonian communities themselves. They are the agents of their own destiny, of their own mission. In this scenario, the role of the Church is that of all. They expressed clearly that they want the Church to accompany them, to walk with them, but that it not impose on them a particular way of being, a specific way of development that has little to do with their cultures, traditions, and spiritualities. They know how to look after Amazonia, how to love and protect it; what they need is for the Church to support them.
75. The Church’s function is to strengthen that capacity of support and participation. So we propose a formation that takes into account the quality of the ethical and spiritual life of people from an integral vision. The Church must attend primordially the communities affected by socio-environmental damages. Continuing with the Latin American ecclesial tradition, in which figures such as Saint Jose de Anchieta, Bartolome de las Casas, the Paraguayan martyrs that died in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) Roque Gonzalez, Saint Alfonso Rodriguez and Saint Juan del Castillo, among others, taught us that the defense of the native peoples of this Continent is intrinsically linked with faith in Jesus Christ and His Good News. Today we must form pastoral agents and ordained ministers with socio-environmental sensibility. We want a Church that sails inland and begins her journey through Amazonia, promoting a lifestyle in harmony with the territory, and at the same time with the “good living” of those that dwell there.
76. The Church acknowledges the wisdom of the Amazonian peoples about bio-diversity, a traditional wisdom that is a living process and always on the go. The theft of that knowledge is bio-piracy, a form of violence against those populations. The Church must help to preserve and maintain this knowledge and the innovations and practices of the populations, respecting the sovereignty of the countries and their laws, which regulate access to genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge. In so far as possible, she must help those populations to guarantee the distribution of the benefits from the use of that knowledge, of the innovations and practices in a sustainable and inclusive model of development.
77. Needed urgently are energy policies that succeed in reducing drastically the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases related to climate change. New clean energies will help to promote health. All companies must establish monitoring systems of the chain of supply to guarantee that the production they buy, create and sell, is produced in a social manner and environmentally sustainable. Moreover, “the access to potable and safe water is a basic, fundamental and universal human right, because it determines the survival of persons and, therefore, is the condition for the exercise of the rest of the human rights.” (LS 30). This right is recognized by the United Nations (2010). We need to work jointly so that the fundamental right of access to clean water is respected in the territory.
78. The Church opts for the defense of life, of the earth, of the native Amazonian cultures. This would imply accompanying the Amazonia people s in the registration, systematization, and diffusion of data and information on their territories and the juridical situation of the same. We want to prioritize the incidence and accompaniment to obtain the demarcation of lands, especially that of the PIACI (Hispanophone America) or PIAV (Lusophone America). We encourage States to comply with the Constitutional obligations on these subjects, including the right of access to water.
79. The Social Doctrine of the Church, which for a long time has addressed the ecological topic, is enriched today with a look more of the whole, which embraces the relationship between the Amazonian peoples and their territories, always in dialogue with their ancestral knowledge and wisdom. For example, recognizing the way that native peoples relate to one another and protect their territories, as an indispensable reference for our conversion to an integral ecology. In this light, we want to create ministries for the care of the “common home” in Amazonia that have, as their function, to look after the territory and the waters together with the indigenous communities, and a ministry of hospitality for those that are displaced from their territories to the cities.
b. A poor Church, with and for the poor from the vulnerable peripheries
- We reaffirm our commitment to defend life in its integrality from its conception to its decline and the dignity of all persons. The Church has been and is next to the indigenous communities to safeguard the right to have their own tranquil life, respecting the values of their traditions, customs, and cultures, the preservation of the rivers and forests, which are sacred areas, source of life and wisdom. We support the efforts of the many that defend life courageously in all its forms and stages. Our pastoral service constitutes a service to the full life of the indigenous peoples, which obliges us to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Kingdom of God, to put a stop to situations of sin, structures of death, violence and internal and external injustices and to promote inter-cultural, inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue.
New paths for the promotion of integral ecology
a. Prophetic challenge and message of hope to the whole Church and the whole world
81. The defense of Amazonia’s life and of its peoples requires a profound personal, social and structural conversion. The Church is included in this call to unlearn, to learn and to re-learn, to thus overcome any tendency to colonizing models that have caused damage in the past. In this connection, it’s important that we be aware of the strength of neo-colonialism, which is present in our daily decisions and the prevailing model of development, which is expressed in the growing model of monoculture agriculture, or forms of transport and the imaginary of wellbeing from the consumption we live in the society and which has direct and indirect implications in Amazonia. In the face of this — a global horizon –, listening also to the voices of Sister Churches, we want to embrace a spirituality of integral ecology, in order to promote the care of creation. To achieve this, we must be a much more participatory and inclusive community of missionary disciples.
82. We propose to define ecological sin as an action or omission against God, against our neighbor, the community and the environment. It is a sin against the future generations and is manifested in acts and habits of contamination and destruction of the harmony of the environment, a transgression of the principle of inter-dependence and rupture of the solidarity networks between creatures (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 340-344) and against the virtue of justice. We also propose to create ministries at the parish level and in each ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which have as their functions, among other things, the care of the territory and of the waters, as well as the promotion of the encyclical Laudato Si’. To assume the pastoral, educational program and the impact of the Encyclical Laudato Si’, in its chapters V and VI, at all levels and structures of the Church.
83. By way of repairing the ecological debt that countries have with Amazonia, we propose the creation of a global fund to cover part of the budgets of the communities present in Amazonia, which promote its integral and self-sustainable development and thus protect them also from the predatory anxiety of wanting to extract its natural resources on the part of national and multi-national companies.
84. Adopt responsible habits that respect and appreciate the peoples of the Amazon, their traditions and wisdom, protecting the earth and changing our culture of excessive consumption, the production of solid residues, stimulating re-use and recycling. We must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the use of plastics, changing our eating habits (excess of consumption of meat and fish/seafood, with more sober lifestyles. To be actively committed in the planting of trees seeking sustainable alternatives in agriculture, energy, and mobility, which respect the rights of nature and of the people. Promote education in integral ecology at all levels, promote new economic models and initiatives that promote a quality of sustainable life.
b. Amazonian Socio-Pastoral Observatory
- Create a pastoral socio-environmental Observatory, strengthening the fight in defense of life. Carry out a diagnosis of the territory and of its socio-environmental conflicts in each local and regional Church, to be able to assume a position, take decisions and defend the rights of the most vulnerable. The Observatory would work in alliance with CELAM, CLAR, Caritas, REPAM, the national Episcopates, the local Churches, the Catholic Universities, the CIDH, other non-ecclesial actors in the Continent and representatives of the indigenous peoples. Likewise, we ask that in the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, an Amazonian office is created that is in relationship with this Observatory and the rest of the local Amazonian institutions.
NEW PATHS OF CONVERSION
“I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one: (Jn 17:23)
- To walk together the Church needs a Synodal conversion, synodality of the People of God under the guidance of the Spirit in Amazonia. With this horizon of communion and participation we seek a new ecclesial path, especially in the ministeriality and sacramentality of the Church with an Amazonia face. Consecrated life, the laity and among them women, are the old and ever new protagonists that call us to this conversion.
Missionary synodality in the Amazonian Church
a. Missionary synodality of all the People of God under the guidance of the Spirit
87. “Synod” is an ancient word venerated by Tradition; it indicates the path followed together by the members of the People of God; it remits to the Lord Jesus, who presents Himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6), and to the fact that Christians, His followers, were called “the disciples of the Way” (Acts 9:2); to be synodal is to follow together “the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25). Synodaliy is the primitive Church’s way of being (cf. Acts 15) and it must be ours. “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Co 12:12). Synodality characterizes also the Church of Vatican II, understood as People of God, in equality and common dignity in face of the diversity of ministries, charisms, and services. She “indicates the specific way of living and acting (modus vivendi et operandi) of the Church of the People of God, which manifests and carries out concretely her being “communion,” in walking together, in coming together in assembly and in the active participation of all her members in her evangelizing action” (. . . ) that is, in the “co-responsibility and participation of all the People of God in the life and mission of the Church” (CTI, Synodality . . ., n. 6-7).
88. To walk together, the Church of today needs a conversion to the synodal experience. It is necessary to strengthen a culture of dialogue, of mutual listening, of spiritual discernment, of consensus and communion to find areas and ways of joint decision and to respond to the pastoral challenges. So co-responsibility will be fostered in the life of the Church with a spirit of service. It is urgent to walk, propose and assume responsibilities to overcome clericalism and arbitrary impositions. Synodality is a constitutive dimension of the Church. There cannot be Church without recognizing an effective exercise of the sensus fidei of all the People of God.
b. Spirituality of synodal communion under the guidance of the Spirit
- The Church lives of communion with the body of Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The so-called “Apostolic Council of Jerusalem” (cf. Acts 15; al 2:1-10) was a synodal event in which the Apostolic Church, in a decisive moment of her journey, lived her vocation in the light of the risen Lord’s presence in view of the mission. This event was constituted in the paradigmatic figure of the Synods of the Church and of her synodal vocation. The decision taken by the Apostles, with the company of all the community of Jerusalem, was work of the action of the Holy Spirit, who guides the path of the Church ensuring her fidelity to Jesus’ Gospel: “it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28). The whole assembly received the decision and made it its own (Acts 15:22); then the community of Antioch did the same (Acts 15:30-31). To be truly “synodal” is to advance in harmony under the impulse of the vivifying Spirit.
- The Church in Amazonia is called to walk in the exercise of discernment, which is the center of the synodal processes and events. It is about determining and following as Church — through the theological interpretation of the signs of the times, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit –, the path to follow in the service of God’s plan. Communal discernment enables one to discover a call that God makes heard in every specific historical situation. This Assembly is a moment of grace to exercise mutual listening, sincere dialogue and communal discernment for the common good of the People of God in the Amazonian Region and then, in the stage of implementation of the decisions, to continue walking under the impulse of the Holy Spirit in the small communities, the parishes, the Dioceses, the Vicariates, the “Prelacies,” and in the whole region.
c. Towards a synodal style of living and working in the Amazonian region
- We want to implement, with evangelical daring, new paths for the life of the Church and her service to an integral ecology in Amazonia. Synodality marks a style of living communion and participation in the local Churches, which is characterized by respect of the dignity and equality of all the baptized men and women, the complement of the charisms and ministries, the satisfaction of meeting in assemblies to discern together the voice of the Spirit. This Synod gives us the occasion to reflect on the way to structure the local Churches in each region and country, and to advance in a synodal conversion that points out common paths in evangelization. The logic of the Incarnation teaches that God, in Christ, binds Himself to human beings that live in the “cultures proper of the peoples: (AG 9) and that the Church, People of God inserted among the peoples, has the beauty of a multi-form face, because it is rooted in many different cultures (EG 116). This is carried out in the life and mission of the local Churches in each “great socio-cultural territory” (AG 22).
- A Church with an Amazonian face needs her communities to be permeated with a synodal spirit, backed by organizational structures consistent with this dynamic as genuine organisms of “communion.” The forms of the exercise of synodality are varied; they must be de-centralized in their various levels (diocesan, regional, national, universal) respectful and attentive to the local processes, without weakening the bond with the rest of the Sister Churches and with the universal Church. The organizational forms for the exercise of synodality can be varied; they establish a synchrony between communion and participation, between co-responsibility and the ministeriality of all, paying special attention to the effective participation of the laity in discernment and the taking of decisions, boosting women’s participation.
New paths for ecclesial ministeriality
a. Ministerial Church and new ministries
- The renewal of Vatican Council II puts the laity in the heart of the People of God, in a wholly ministerial Church, which has in the Sacrament of Baptism the basis of the identity and mission of every Christian. “The laity are faithful that through Baptism were incorporated in Christ, constituted People of God and, in this way, made participants of the priestly, prophetic and royal munus of Christ, so that they excercise their role in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (LD 31). Born of this triple relationship, with Christ, the Church and the world, is the vocation and mission of the laity. In view of a just and solidary society in the care of the “common home,” the Church in Amazonia wants to make of the laity privileged actors. Their performance, has been and is vital, both in the coordination of the ecclesial communities, in the exercise of ministries, as well as in their prophetic commitment in an inclusive world for all, which has in its martyrs a witness that challenges us.
- As expression of the co-responsibility of all the baptized in the Church and of the exercise of the sensus fidei of the whole People of God, pastoral assemblies and councils arose in all ecclesial ambits, as well as the coordination teams of the different pastoral services and ministries entrusted to the laity. We acknowledge the need to strengthen and enlarge the areas for the laity’s participation, be it in consultation as well as in the taking of decisions, in the life and mission of the Church.
- Although the mission in the world is the task of all the baptized, Vatican Council II highlighted the mission of the laity: “the hope of a New Earth, far from attenuating must before boost the concern for the perfecting of this earth” (GS 39). It is urgent for the Amazon Church that ministries for men and women are promoted and conferred in an equitable way. Small ecclesial missionary communities, which cultivate the faith, listen to the Word and celebrate together close to the life of the people, guarantee the fabric of the local Church, also in Amazonia. It is the Church of baptized men and women that we must consolidate, promoting ministeriality and especially the awareness of baptismal dignity.
- In addition, the Bishop must be able to entrust, by a mandate of a specific time <and> in the absence of priests in the communities, the exercise of the pastoral care of the same to a person not invested with the priestly character, who is a member of the community. Personalisms must be avoided; therefore, it will be a rotating post. The Bishop will be able to constitute this ministry in representation of the Christian community with an official mandate through a ritual act so that the person responsible for the community is also recognized at the civil and local level. The priest always remains with the power and faculty of the parish priest, as the one responsible for the community.
b. Consecrated life
- The evangelical text — ”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor” (Lk 4:18) — expresses a conviction that animates the mission of consecrated life in Amazonia, sent to proclaim the Good News in the close accompaniment of the indigenous peoples, to the most vulnerable and those farthest away, from a dialogue and proclamation that will make possible a profound knowledge of spirituality. A consecrated life with inter-congregational and inter-institutional experiences can remain in communities where no one wants to be and with whom no one wants to be, learning and respecting the indigenous culture and languages to reach peoples’ hearts.
- At the same time that the mission contributes to build and consolidate the Church, it also strengthens and renews consecrated life and calls it more forcefully to take up the most pure element of its original inspiration. So its witness will be prophetic and source of new religious vocations. We propose to bet on a consecrated life with Amazonian identity, strengthening the indigenous vocations. We support the insertion and itinerancy of the consecrated, next to the most impoverished and excluded. Formative processes must include a focus on interculturality, inculturation, and dialogue between Amazonian spiritualities and cosmo-visions.
c. Woman’s presence and hour
- The Church in Amazonia wants to enlarge areas for a more incisive feminine presence in the Church” (EG 103). “Let us not reduce the commitment of women in the Church, but let us promote their active participation in the ecclesial community. If the Church loses women in their total and real dimension, the Church exposes herself to sterility” (Pope Francis, Meeting with the Brazilian Episcopate, Rio de Janeiro, July 27, 2013).
- Since Vatican Council II, the Magisterium of the Church has highlighted the special place that woman has in her: “The hour is coming, the hour has come in which woman’s vocation is fulfilled in plenitude; the hour in which woman acquires an influence in the world, a weight, a power never attained until now. Therefore, at this moment in which humanity is undergoing such a profound change, women full of the spirit of the Gospel can help so much so that humanity does not fail” (Paul VI, 1965; AAS 58, 1966, 13-14).
- The wisdom of ancestral peoples affirms that Mother Earth has a feminine face. In the indigenous and Western world, woman is the one who works in multiple facets, in the teaching of children, in the transmission of the faith and of the Gospel, they are a testimonial and responsible presence in human promotion, so it is requested that women’s voice be heard, that they be consulted and take part in decision-taking and, in this way, be able to contribute with their sensibility to ecclesial synodality. We value “woman’s function, acknowledging her fundamental role in the formation and continuity of cultures, in spirituality, in communities and families. It is necessary that she assumes with greater strength her leadership in the heart of the Church, and that the latter recognizes and promotes her, reinforcing her participation in the pastoral councils of parishes and dioceses, and even in government departments.
- In face of the reality that women suffer, victims of physical, moral and religious violence, including femicide, the Church positions herself in defense of their rights and recognizes them as protagonists and guardians of creation and of the “common home.” We acknowledge the ministeriality that Jesus reserved for women. It is necessary to foment the formation of women in studies of Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Canon Law, valuing their presence in organizations and <their> leadership inside and outside the ecclesial realm. We want to strengthen family ties, especially for migrant women. We assure her place in areas of leadership and training. We request a revision of the Motu Proprio of Saint Paul VI, Ministeria Quedam, so that women <who are> adequately formed and prepared can receive the ministries of Readers and Acolytes, among others to be developed. In the new contexts of evangelization and pastoral en Amazonia, where the majority of Catholic communities are led by women, we ask that the instituted ministry be created of “the woman directress of the community” and to recognize this within the service of the changing needs of evangelization and care of the communities.
- In the many consultations carried out in the Amazonian area, the fundamental role of religious and laywomen was recognized in the Church of Amazonia and its communities, given the many services they carry out. In a high number of the said consultations, the Permanent Diaconate was requested for women. For this reason, the topic was also vey present in the Synod. Already in 2016, Pope Francis created a “Commission of Study on the Diaconate of Women: that, as Commission, came to a partial result on how the reality of women’s diaconate was in the first centuries of the Church and its implications today. Therefore, we would like to share our experiences and reflections with the commission and we await its results.
d. Permanent Diaconate
- Urgent, for the Amazonian Church is the promotion, formation, and support of the Permanent Deacons, given the importance of this ministry in the community. In a particular way, because of the ecclesial service that many communities require, especially the indigenous peoples. The specific pastoral needs of the Amazonian Christian communities lead us to a broader understanding of the diaconate, service that has existed since the beginning of the Church, and restored as an autonomous and permanent <position> by Vatican II (LG 29, AG 16, OE 17). Today the diaconate must also promote integral ecology, human development, social pastoral work, service of those that find themselves in a situation of vulnerability and poverty, configuring them to Christ the Servant, making her a merciful, Samaritan, solidary and diaconal Church.
- The presbyters must keep in mind that a deacon is at the service of the community, by designation and under the authority of the Bishop, and that they have the obligation to support the Permanent Deacons and to act in communion with them. The maintenance of Permanent Deacons must be kept present. This includes the processing of vocation according to the criteria of admission. The candidate’s motivations should point to the service and mission of the Permanent Diaconate in the Church and in the world of today. The formative project is alternated between academic study and pastoral practice, accompanied by a formative team and the parish community, with contents and itineraries adapted to each local reality. It is desirable that the wife and children <of a Deacon> take part in the process of formation.
- In addition to the compulsory subjects, the program of studies (curriculum) for the formation of the Permanent Diaconate must include subjects that foster ecumenical, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, the history of the Church in Amazonia, affection and sexuality, the indigenous cosmo-vision, integral ecology and other transversal subjects that are typical of the diaconal ministry. The team of formators will be made up of Ordained Ministers and competent laypersons that are in line with the directorate of the Permanent Diaconate approved in each country. We want to encourage, support and accompany personally the vocational process and formation of future Permanent Deacons in the riverine and indigenous communities, with the participation of parish priests and men and women religious. Finally, there must be a follow-up program for continual formation (spirituality, theological formation, pastoral subjects, updating of the Church’s documents, etc.). under the guidance of the Bishop.
e. Itineraries of inculturated formation
- “I will give you shepherds after my own heart” (Jer 3:15). This promise, being divine, is valid for all times and contexts; therefore, it is also valid for Amazonia. Destined to configure the presbyter to Christ, formation for the Ordained Ministry must be a communal school of fraternity, experiential, spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal, in contact with persons’ reality, in harmony with the local culture and religiosity, close to the poor. We need to prepare good Pastors that live the Good News of the Kingdom, know the Canonical Laws, are compassionate, as much like Jesus as possible, whose practice is to do the will of the Father, nourished by the Eucharist and Sacred Scripture, that is, a more biblical formation in the sense of assimilation to Jesus as He shows Himself in the Gospels: close to persons, capable of listening, healing, consoling, patiently, not seeking to request but to manifest the tenderness of His Father’s heart.
- In view of offering the future presbyters of the churches in Amazonia a formation with an Amazonian face, inserted in and adapted to the reality, contextualized and capable of responding to the numerous pastoral and missionary challenges, we propose a plan of formation in line with the challenges of the local Churches and the reality of Amazonia. It must include, in the academic contents, subjects that address integral ecology, eco-theology, the theology of creation, Indian theologies, ecological spirituality, the history of the Church in Amazonia, Amazonian cultural anthropology, etc. The centers of formation to presbyterial and consecrated life must be inserted, preferentially, in the Amazonian reality, in view of fostering the contact of the Amazonian youth in formation with his reality, while he prepares for his future mission, thus guaranteeing that the process of formation is not distanced from the vital content of persons and their culture, as well as offering to other non-Amazonian youths the opportunity to do part of their formation in Amazonia, thus fostering missionary vocations.
f. The Eucharist, Source, and Summit of Synodal Communion
- According to Vatican Council II, participation in the Eucharist is source and summit of the whole Christian life; it is the symbol of that unity of the Mystical Body; it is the center and summit of the whole life of the Christian community. The Eucharist contains the whole spiritual good of the Church; it is the source and summit of all evangelization. Let us echo Saint John Paul II’s phrase: “The Church lives of the Eucharist” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1). The Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship Redemptoris Sacramentum (2004) insists that the faithful enjoy the right to have the Celebration of the Eucharist as it is established in the Liturgical Books and Norms. However, it seems strange to speak of the right to celebrate a Eucharist according to what is prescribed, not to speak of the more fundamental right of access to the Eucharist for all: “In the Eucharist the plenitude has already been realized, and it is the vital center of the universe, the center full of love and inexhaustible life. United to the Incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos thanks God. In fact, the Eucharist is in itself an act of cosmic love: (LS 236).
- There is a right of the community to the celebration, which derives from the essence of the Eucharist and its place in the economy of salvation. The sacramental life is the integration of the different dimensions of human life in the Paschal Mystery, which strengthens us. Therefore, the living communities truly cry out for the celebration of the Eucharist. It is, without a doubt, point of arrival (summit and consummation) of the community, but it is, at the same time, point of departure: of encounter, of reconciliation, of apprenticeship and catechesis, of communal growth.
- Many of the ecclesial communities of the Amazonian territory have enormous difficulties in accessing the Eucharist. On occasions, months go by if not also years, before a priest can return to a community to celebrate the Eucharist, offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Anoint the Sick of the community. We appreciate celibacy as a gift of God (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 1) in the measure that this gift enables the missionary disciple, ordained to the presbyterate, to dedicate himself fully to the service of the Holy People of God. It stimulates pastoral charity and we pray that there will be many vocations that live the celibate priesthood. We know that this discipline “is not exacted by the nature itself of the priesthood . . . although it has many reasons of convenience with it” (PO 16). In his encyclical on priestly celibacy, Saint Paul VI kept this law and gave theological, spiritual and pastoral reasons that support it. In 1992, Saint John Paul II’s Post-Synodal Exhortation on priestly formation confirmed this tradition in the Latin Church (PDV 29). Considering that legitimate diversity does not harm the communion and unity of the Church, but manifests and serves it (LG 13; OE 6) which gives witness of the plurality of existing rites and disciplines, we propose to establish criteria and dispositions on the part of the competent authority, in the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain as priests suitable men recognized by the community, that have a fruitful Permanent Diaconate and receive appropriate formation for the presbyterate, being able to have a legitimately constituted and stable family, to sustain the life of the Christian community through preaching the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazonian region. In this connection, some were in favor of a universal treatment of this subject.
New paths for ecclesial synodality
a. Regional synodal structures in the Amazonian Church.
- The majority of the Dioceses, Prelatures, and Vicariates of Amazonia have extensive territories, few ordained ministers and a lack of financial resources, going through difficulties to sustain the mission. The “Amazonian cost” has serious repercussions on evangelization. In face of this reality, it is necessary to think again about the way to organize the local Churches, to rethink the structures of communion at the provincial, regional, national levels and also at the Pan-Amazonian <level>. Therefore, it is necessary to articulate synodal areas and generate networks of solidary support. It is urgent to surmount the borders that the geography imposes and to <build> bridges that unite. The Aparecida Document already insisted that the local Churches should generate ways of inter-diocesan association in each nation or between countries of a region, and to nourish greater cooperation between the Sister Churches (cf. DAp 182). In view of a present, solidary and Samaritan Church, we propose: to streamline the extensive geographical areas of the Dioceses, Vicariates and “Prelacies”; create a an Amazonian fund for the support of evangelization; sensitize and stimulate international agencies of Catholic cooperation to support, beyond social projects, the activities of evangelization.
- In 2015, on commemorating the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops by Saint Paul VI, Pope Francis invited to renew synodal communion in the different levels of the life of the Church: local, regional and universal. The Church is developing a new understanding of synodality at the regional level. Leaning on tradition, the International Theological Commission said: “The regional level in the exercise of synodality is the one that happens in re-groupings of particular Churches present in a same region: a province — as happened especially in the first centuries of the Church — or a country, a Continent or part of it: (Document “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church,” Vatican, 2018, 85). The exercise of synodality on this level reinforces the spiritual and institutional bonds, fosters the exchange of gifts and helps to plan common pastoral criteria. The joint work in the social pastoral of the dioceses located in countries’ borders must be strengthened to address common problems that surpass what is local, such as the exploitation of persons and of the territory, drug trafficking, corruption, human trafficking, etc. The migratory problem needs to be addressed in a coordinated way by the churches of the borders.
b. Universities and new Amazonian synodal structures
- We propose that an Amazonian Catholic University be established based on inter-disciplinary research (including field studies), in inculturation and in the inter-cultural dialogue; that inculturated theology includes joint formation for lay ministries and the formation of priests, based primarily on Sacred Scripture. Activities of research, education, and extension must include programs of environmental study (theoretical knowledge set with the wisdom of the peoples that live in the Amazonian region) and ethnic studies (description of the different languages, etc.). The formation of docents, the teaching and production of didactic material must respect the customs and traditions of the indigenous peoples, elaborating inculturated didactic material and carrying out extension activities in the different countries and regions. We ask the Catholic Universities of Latin America to help in the creation of the Amazonian Catholic University and to accompany its development.
c. Post-Synodal Regional Ecclesial Organism for the Amazonian Region
- We propose the creation of an episcopal organism that promotes synodality between the Churches of the region, that helps to delineate the Amazonian face of this Church and that continues the task of finding new paths for the evangelizing mission, especially <by> incorporating the proposal of an integral ecology, thus enhancing the physiognomy of the Amazonian Church. It would be a permanent and representative episcopal organism that promotes synodality in the Amazonian region, articulated with CELAM, with its own structure, in a simple organization and articulated also with REPAM. In this way, it can be the effective channel to assume, from the territory of the Latin American and Caribbean Church, many of the proposals raised in this Synod. It would be the nexus that articulates ecclesial and socio-environmental networks and initiatives at the Continental and International levels.
d. Rite for the native peoples
116. Vatican Council II opened spaces for liturgical pluralism, “for legitimate variations and adaptations for the different groups and peoples” (SC 38). In this connection, the liturgy must respond to the culture so that it is source and summit of the Christian life (Cf. SC 10) and for it to feel bound to the sufferings and joys of the people. We must give an authentically Catholic answer to the petition of Amazonian communities to adapt the liturgy, appreciating the native cosmo-vision, the traditions, the symbols and the rites that include transcendent, communal and ecological dimensions.
- There are 23 different Rites in the Catholic Church, clear sign of a tradition that, since the first centuries, has tried to inculturate the contents of the faith and its celebration through the most coherent language possible with the mystery that one wants to express. All these traditions have their origin in virtue of the mission of the Church: “The Churches of a same geographic and cultural ambit have come to celebrate the mystery of Christ with particular expressions, characterized culturally: in the tradition of the “deposit of faith,” in liturgical symbolism, in the organization of fraternal communion, in the theological understanding of the mysteries and in the different forms of sanctity: CCC 1202; cf. also CCC 1200-1206).
- It is necessary that the Church, in her tireless evangelizing endeavor, work so that the process of inculturation of the faith is expressed in more coherent ways so that it can also be celebrated and lived according to the languages proper to the Amazonian peoples. It is urgent to form committees of translations and redaction of the biblical and liturgical texts in the languages proper to the different places, with the necessary resources, preserving the matter of the Sacraments and adapting them to the form, without losing sight of the essential. In this connection, it is necessary to foment music and singing, all of which is accepted and fostered by the liturgy.
- The new organism of the Church in Amazonia must establish a competent commission to study and dialogue, according to uses and customs of the ancestral peoples, the elaboration of an Amazonian rite, which expresses the Amazonian liturgical, theological, disciplinary and spiritual patrimony, with special reference to what Lumen Gentium affirms for the Oriental Churches (cf. LG 23). This would be added to the rites already present in the Church, , enriching the work of evangelization, the capacity to express the faith in one’s own culture, and the sense of decentralization and collegiality that can express the catholicity of the Church. It could also study and propose how to enrich ecclesial rites with the way in which these peoples look after their territory and relate to its waters.
- We conclude under the protection of Mary, Mother of Amazonia, venerated with different names in the whole region. Through Her intercession, we ask that the Synod be a concrete expression of synodality, so that the full life that Jesus came to bring to the world (cf. Jn 10:10) reaches all, especially the poor, and contributes to the care of the “common home.” May Mary, Mother of Amazonia, accompany our walking; we consecrate to Saint Joseph, faithful custodian of Mary and of her Son Jesus, our ecclesial presence in Amazonia, Church with an Amazonian face and in a missionary going forth.
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