The Synod of the Pan-Amazon Region - 6-27 October 2019

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On October 15, 2017, Pope Francis convened a Special Synodal Assembly on the Pan-Amazon, indicating that the main objective is “to find new ways for the evangelization of that portion of the People of God, especially the indigenous, often forgotten and without a perspective of a good future, also for the cause of the crisis of the Amazonian forest, lung of fundamental importance for our planet”.

The Amazon Synod is a great ecclesial, civic and ecological project that seeks to overcome the confines and redefine the pastoral lines, adapting them to contemporary times. The Pan-Amazon is made up of nine countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, Guiana and French Guiana, it is a region that is an important source of oxygen for the whole earth, where more than one third of the world's primary forest reserves are found. It is one of the largest biodiversity reserves on the planet, containing 20% of the not frozen freshwater. (Photo: courtesy Vatican Media)

Why a Synod?

The population of this vast territory is about 34 million inhabitants, of which more than three million are indigenous, belonging to more than 390 ethnic groups. Peoples and cultures of all types such as Afro-descendants, farmers, settlers, who live in a vital relationship with the vegetation and the waters of the rivers. Although the theme refers to a specific region, such as the Pan-Amazon, the proposed reflections go beyond the geographical territory, since they cover the whole Church and refer to the future of the planet. 

Synod - Closing Mass

The Homily

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In questo Sinodo abbiamo avuto la grazia di ascoltare le voci dei poveri e di riflettere sulla precarietà delle loro vite, minacciate da modelli di sviluppo predatori. Eppure, proprio in questa situazione, molti ci hanno testimoniato che è possibile guardare la realtà in modo diverso, accogliendola a mani aperte come un dono, abitando il creato non come mezzo da sfruttare ma come casa da custodire, confidando in Dio. Egli è Padre e, dice ancora il Siracide, «ascolta la preghiera dell’oppresso» (v. 16). E quante volte, anche nella Chiesa, le voci dei poveri non sono ascoltate e magari vengono derise o messe a tacere perché scomode. Preghiamo per chiedere la grazia di saper ascoltare il grido dei poveri: è il grido di speranza della Chiesa. Il grido dei poveri è il grido di speranza della Chiesa. Facendo nostro il loro grido, anche la nostra preghiera, siamo sicuri, attraverserà le nubi.

Full text - Italian

The Final Document

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With the approval of the final document of the Synod for the Amazon, Pope Francis on October 26, 2019, closed the work of the gathering. The Synod must be seen in its four dimensions: cultural, ecological, social and pastoral, looking for new paths for a significative presence of the Church in the history and in the life of peoples.

Here the text. Spanish original.

Here the votations.

PRESS REVIEW October 25th

PRESS REVIEW October 24th

PRESS REVIEW October 23th

PRESS REVIEW October 22th

Reports of the Circuli Minori

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During the Thirteenth General Congregation of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the reports of the twelve Circuli minori that have met in recent days to reflect in the light of the contributions arising during the debate held in the previous General Congregations were presented in the Hall.

The following is the link to the Holy See Press Office Bulletin, where the reports can be consulted

 

PRESS REVIEW October 21th

PRESS REVIEW October 19th 20th

PRESS REVIEW October 18th

General Congregation - October 16th

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Pope Francis attended the 12th and final General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops on Tuesday afternoon. There were 173 Synod Fathers present. On Wednesday morning, Synod participants return to working in the small language groups. Their work will be presented to the assembly on Thursday afternoon, 17 October.

 Protecting the Amazon from man-made destruction is a responsibility that touches all of humanity. Thus arose the appeal for a global response to climate change through the creation of an entity that would coordinate scientists and academics on the international level with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The hope was also expressed that greater work be undertaken in the field of education to sensitize the public regarding the care of our Common Home. It was even proposed that a new Canon –an ecological canon – be added to the Code of Canon Law which would treat the duties of Christians regarding the environment.

The Church’s appeal is that of putting out into the deep, assuming the call for a profound ecological, synodal, and complete conversion to Christ and His Gospel. Walking together as a universal family is the invitation now being extended, within the conviction that the Amazon region does not belong to either the States or those who govern them. They are, rather, administrators and they must be accountability of what they are doing.

The invitation is to let go of the habit of imposing or of appropriating in order to embrace, what was termed, a “symmetry of relations”. Humility was named at the attitude necessary for such a dialogue, founded on the common conviction of being co-responsible in the care of the Common Home. What is not possible alone can be done together. This requires the urgent construction of an inclusive “we”, in which every person, although each is different, is necessary precisely because each is different. Thus the proposal for the creation of formative processes in intercultural dialogue in which theory can be tested by praxis.

PRESS REVIEW October 16th

PRESS REVIEW October 15th

Source: Vatican News  Photo: Courtesy by Vatican News

General Congregation October 14th-15th

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During the 10th General Congregation which took place on the afternoon of 14 October, the participants in the Special Amazon Synod continued their work. In addition to Pope Francis, there were 177 Synod Fathers present, as well as other auditors, experts and invited guests.

Rethinking ministry in the Church in the light of the parameters of synodality so that the Church might be more and more formed by the Word of God was defined as one of the challenges of the Church in the Amazon region. Several interventions given this afternoon in the Synod Hall highlighted this.

The 11th General Congregation of the Special Synod for the Amazon Region on the theme “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology” took place in the Vatican on Tuesday involving 180 Synod Fathers and in the presence of Pope Francis.

The need to urgently create a permanent and representative episcopal structure, coordinated by REPAM (Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network), to promote synodality in the Amazon: this was one of the suggestions that emerged from the morning congregation. Integrated with CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council), the proposed structure should help implement the face of the Amazon Church, aimed at a more effective, shared pastoral care - also giving concrete form to any indications that Pope Francis may wish to provide after the Synod - and working for the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, the integral formation of pastoral agents and the creation of Amazonian seminaries. This joint pastoral action, elaborated synodally by all the Pan-Amazonian dioceses would be useful to face common problems, such as the exploitation of the territory, crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution.

Source: Vatican News     Photo: courtesy by Vatican News

General Congregation October 12th-14th

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The first week of the three-week Special Synod for the Pan-Amazon region concluded on Saturday evening, 12 October. Along with the Pope, there were 166 Synod Fathers in the hall, along with others participating in the Synod. One of the themes put forward in the eighth General Congregation of the Special Synod for the Pan-Amazon region on Saturday afternoon was the centrality of Christ in the Church’s mission. "How many know the Gospel?", one of the Synod participants asked. In addition, it was affirmed that the Good News must be announced not only in the Amazon, but in the entire world. Since evangelization is never undertaken alone, the creation of a team was proposed. The hope is that this team would be able to both respond adequately to the multiple pastoral challenges facing the region and witness to the joy of evangelization.

The ninth General Congregation marked the beginning of the second of three weeks of the Special Synod for the Amazon Region, which will end on October 27th. This morning there were 179 Synod Fathers present. Together with the Pope, they prayed for Ecuador. The Synod is a Kairos, a time of grace: the Church listens with empathy, and walks alongside the land’s indigenous peoples: those who abide in the geographical and existential peripheries that have received the gift of contemplating the "Let there Be", the first word spoken by God, every day. Creation is a ‘green Bible’ that reveals the Creator, and in the celebration of the Sacraments, commitment towards the environment finds its deepest foundation.

The Amazon is a multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious world where many seeds of the Word have already taken root and are bearing fruit. It is desirable to create an ecosystem of pan-Amazonian ecclesial communication that reflects the interconnectivity of humanity. The idea is to weave not so much a network of cables as a network of human persons. The great difficulties of mobility in the boundless region in fact urgently demand greater effectiveness and widespread reach of the means of social communications. At the same time, it is necessary to help people have a critical reading of the information diffused in a superficial way by some media, unmasking all forms of manipulation, distortion or spectacularization.

PRESS REVIEW October 13th

PRESS REVIEW October 14th

Source: Vatican News  Photo: courtesy by Vatican News

General Congregation - October 12th

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The Special Assembly for the Pan-Amazon Synod of Bishops continues this morning, Saturday 12th October in the presence of the Holy Father for the 7th General Congregation. 175 Synod Father are Present in the Synod Hall.

Today the Church celebrates Our Lady of Aparecida in the Synod Hall with a hymn in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of Brazil, and thus we entrust the work of the Synod to her begin the 7th General Congregation of the Synod on the Pan-Amazon Region. Today affords the Synod space to hear again the interventions of the Synod Father as well as Auditors. The themes examined are: integral education, instruments of integration and the promotion of the Amazonian people, sustainable development that serves equal access to information through interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary methods, as well as, the movement away from a culture of waste to a culture of encounter. The work of educators is thus renewed by an evangelical perspective so that it is capable of this great challenge of education. From this reflection arises the urgency of an educational alliance, in an ecological perspective and an Amazonian hermeneutic so as to promote the ‘good life,’ ‘good cohabitation,’ and ‘good action.’

Source: Vatican News      Photo: courtesy by Vatican News

General Congregation - October 9th

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The sixth General Congregation of the Special Synod of Bishops for the Amazon region took place in the afternoon of the 9th of October in the presence of Pope Francis. The Synod for the Amazon is taking place in the Vatican ‪until October the 27th.‬ 180 Synod Fathers were present in the Synod Hall.

The tragedy of drug trafficking and its consequences: this was one of the interventions discussed on Wednesday afternoon in the Synod Hall. In some areas of the Amazon region, the cultivation of coca has increased from 12 thousand to 23 thousand hectares. This has had a devastating effect on the rise in crime and on the upheaval of the natural equilibrium of a territory facing increased desertification.

At the same time, millions of hectares of land are being destroyed by authorised fires and the construction of hydroelectric dams. This has had a very strong impact on the environment of some regions, altering ecosystems.

For this reason, a call to ecological conversion is necessary. It was said in the Synod Hall that the Church must speak with a prophetic voice in order for the issue of integral ecology to enter the agenda of international bodies.

Pope Francis spoke at the beginning of the open interventions by pointing out what had struck him most so far. The Pope, who had opened the works of the day by praying for our "Jewish brothers" on the day of Yom Kippur, ended the day by praying for the victims of the attack on the synagogue in Halle, Germany.

4th General Congregation

5th General Congregation

Source: Vatican News        Photo: courtesy by Vatican News

General Congregation - 7/8 October

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2nd General Congregation October 7th

3rd General Congregation October 8th

Some subjects: The struggle against predatory extractive models, Amazon, land of migration, The urgency of formation, New paths for ministry.

Synod for the Amazon: a series with news, features, stories:

First synod talks look at climate, priests, inculturation, Vatican says. Climate change, water resources, inculturation and indigenous practices were among the topics discussed during the first afternoon session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon. 

Indigenous from Brazil bring plea to Rome: 'We need more protection' ROME — Catholic clergy, scholars and indigenous leaders joined an Oct. 5 event where voices from the Amazon shared the experiences and concerns they hoped would influence the synod.

PRESS REVIEW

Synod opening session, October 7th

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Pope Francis, opening Session. Noting that just yesterday he’d heard a semi-joking complaint from someone about the feathered headdress one of the natives had worn inside the Vatican. “What’s the different between that and the birettas worn by some of the cardinals of our dicasteries?” the pope asked, drawing strong laughter from the synod hall. (Photo: courtesy Vatican Media)

Discorso del Santo Padre Francesco all'apertura del Sinodo dei Vescovi per l'Amazzonia [Spagnolo]

Relazione del Card. Lorenzo Baldisseri, Segretario Generale

Relazione introduttiva del Relatore Generale, Card. Cláudio Hummes

RASSEGNA STAMPA

Opening Mass: the Homily - Sunday October 6th

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(Photo: courtesy Vatican Media). Pope Francis' Homily: The Apostle Paul, the greatest missionary in the Church’s history, helps us to make this “synod”, this “journey together”. His words to Timothy seem addressed to us, as pastors in the service of God’s People.

Paul first tells Timothy: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim 1:6). We are bishops because we have received a gift of God. We did not sign an agreement; we were not handed an employment contract. Rather, hands were laid on our heads so that we in turn might be hands raised to intercede before the Father, helping hands extended to our brothers and sisters. We received a gift so that we might become a gift. Gifts are not bought, traded or sold; they are received and given away. If we hold on to them, if we make ourselves the centre and not the gift we have received, we become bureaucrats, not shepherds. We turn the gift into a job and its gratuitousness vanishes. We end up serving ourselves and using the Church.

Thanks to the gift we have received, our lives are directed to service. When the Gospel speaks of “useless servants” (Lk 17:10), it reminds us of this. The expression can also mean “unprofitable servants”. In other words, we do not serve for the sake of personal profit or gain, but because we received freely and want to give freely in return (cf. Mt 10:8). Our joy will be entirely in serving, since we were first served by God, who became the servant of us all. Dear brothers, let us feel called here for service; let us put God’s gift at the centre.

To be faithful to our calling, our mission, Saint Paul reminds us that our gift has to be rekindled. The verb he uses in the original text is fascinating: to rekindle, literally, which means stoking a fire (anazopyrein). The gift we have received is a fire, a burning love for God and for our brothers and sisters. A fire does not burn by itself; it has to be fed or else it dies; it turns into ashes. If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that “this is the way things have always been done”, then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo. Yet “in no way can the Church restrict her pastoral work to the ‘ordinary maintenance’ of those who already know the Gospel of Christ. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community” (BENEDICT XVI, Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 95). For the Church is always on the move, always going out and never withdrawn into itself. Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth.

The fire that rekindles the gift is the Holy Spirit, the giver of gifts. So Saint Paul goes on to say: “Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit” (2 Tim 1:14). And again: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and prudence” (v. 7). Not a spirit of timidity, but of prudence. Someone may think that prudence is a virtue of the “customs house”, that checks everything to ensure that there is no mistake. No, prudence is a Christian virtue; it is a virtue of life, and indeed the virtue of governance. And God has given us this spirit of prudence. Paul places prudence in opposition to timidity. What is this prudence of the Spirit? As the Catechism teaches, prudence “is not to be confused with timidity or fear”; rather, it is “the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it” (No. 1806).

Prudence is not indecision; it is not a defensive attitude. It is the virtue of the pastor who, in order to serve with wisdom, is able to discern, to be receptive to the newness of the Spirit. Rekindling our gift in the fire of the Spirit is the opposite of letting things take their course without doing anything. Fidelity to the newness of the Spirit is a grace that we must ask for in prayer. May the Spirit, who makes all things new, give us his own daring prudence; may he inspire our Synod to renew the paths of the Church in Amazonia, so that the fire of mission will continue to burn.

As we see from the story of the burning bush, God’s fire burns, yet does not consume (cf. Ex 3:2). It is the fire of love that illumines, warms and gives life, not a fire that blazes up and devours. When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect, it is not God’s fire but that of the world. Yet how many times has God’s gift been imposed, not offered; how many times has there been colonization rather than evangelization! May God preserve us from the greed of new forms of colonialism. The fire set by interests that destroy, like the fire that recently devastated Amazonia, is not the fire of the Gospel. The fire of God is warmth that attracts and gathers into unity. It is fed by sharing, not by profits. The fire that destroys, on the other hand, blazes up when people want to promote only their own ideas, form their own group, wipe out differences in the attempt to make everyone and everything uniform.

To rekindle the gift; to welcome the bold prudence of the Spirit; to be faithful to his newness. Saint Paul now moves on to a final exhortation: “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, but take your share of suffering for the Gospel in the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8). Paul asks Timothy to bear witness to the Gospel, to suffer for the Gospel, in a word, to live for the Gospel. The proclamation of the Gospel is the chief criterion of the Church’s life, it is her mission, her identity. A little later, Paul will write: “I am already on the point of being sacrificed” (4:6). To preach the Gospel is to live as an offering, to bear witness to the end, to become all things to all people (cf. 1 Cor 9:22), to love even to the point of martyrdom. I am grateful to God that in the College of Cardinals there are some brother Cardinals who are martyrs, because they have experienced in this life the cross of martyrdom. The Apostle makes it quite clear that the Gospel is not served by worldly power, but by the power of God alone: by persevering in humble love, by believing that the only real way to possess life is to lose it through love.

Dear brothers and sisters, together let us look to the crucified Jesus, to his heart pierced for our salvation. Let us begin there, the source of the gift that has given us birth. From that heart, the Spirit who renews has been poured forth (cf. Jn 19:30). Let each and every one of us, then, feel called to give life. So many of our brothers and sisters in Amazonia are bearing heavy crosses and awaiting the liberating consolation of the Gospel, the Church’s caress of love. So many of our brothers and sisters in Amazonia have given their lives. I would like to repeat here the words of our beloved Cardinal Hummes: when he arrives in those little towns of Amazonia, he goes to the cemetery to visit the tombs of missionaries. It is a gesture on the Church’s behalf for those who gave their lives in Amazonia. And then, with a little shrewdness, he says to the Pope: “May they not be forgotten. They deserved to be canonized”. For them and for all those who have given their lives and those who are still giving their lives, and with them, let us journey together.

[01589-EN.02] [Original text: Italian]

Pact of the Catacombs

During a Mass held early Sunday October 20th, a group of bishops taking part in the synod signed onto the “Pact of the Catacombs,” an agreement originally inked by 42 bishops who were members of Vatican II in 1965. The name refers to the fact that the signing took place after a Mass in the Catacombs of Domitilla about 5 miles to the south of St. Peter’s Square, in order to symbolize that the Church was at its finest when its was stripped of all earthly vanities.

The agreement amounted to a manifesto for a poor Church on the side of the poor. Here: page 1, page 2.