Here is the Zenit translation of the synod “small circle” report from the Spanish-Speaking group A. On October 17, 2019, during the course of 13th General Congregation on the Amazon, the Reports of the 12 Minor Circles were presented. These ‘Minor Circles’ met in the recent General Congregations. Translations of all circles will be provided as soon as possible:
Rapporteur: His Most Revd, Excellency Mons. Jose L. AZUAJE AYALA
Moderator: His Most Revd, Eminence Card. Carlos AGUIAR RETES
The Report of the Hispanicus Circle “A,” moderated by His Eminence Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, considered the following subjects:
1. Integral Ecology and Ecological Conversion
As Christians, we should be concerned for creation, because according to the Genesis account, creation was an act willed by God; the different accounts of the Scriptures ratify it and the Apostle Paul says that creation continues to suffer birth pangs until the glorious manifestation of Christ comes. This consideration of the Apostle speaks of the inter-connection that exists, as in Amazonia, where a great harmony is perceived between the water, the earth, the flora, the air, the sun, the fauna, human beings, which is being distorted and menaced by man’s ambition, who puts capital above the greatest value of creation.
Witnessed once again is that we are in an emergency, given the ecological crisis, which in turn is the fruit of the anthropological crisis; the human being disorders creation, causing the crisis that involves the whole of creation.
The proposal is for an integral ecological conversion that attends to the human being and to nature, which is able to distinguish between the use and abuse of things. This conversion goes through two moments: 1. To have assumed personal conversion, which begins from the encounter with Jesus Christ, and which encompasses the personal, social and ecclesial structure; and, 2. Pastoral conversion in the light of Jesus the Good Shepherd who gives His life for all and invites us to take on new attitudes in this world, assuming our responsibility and commitment, because every action has repercussions for the good or in detriment of one’s life, of that of others, of the whole of creation, given that everything is connected.
Ecological conversion leads the Church to assume her prophetic role, denouncing the violation of the human rights of the indigenous communities and the destruction of the Amazonian territory by extractive activities and other bad practices, which harm the rights of people and nature.
It is proposed that the nine countries of Pan-Amazonia seek effective links to be more connected and that the Synod propose the holding of a WEEK OF CREATION, to create true consciousness of ecological conversion in all.
2. Formation of the Community of Disciples
The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, cf. Mt 28:16-20. In Amazonia, a Church of disciples must be built with an Amazonian face, with formation that stems from the principles and values of the peoples and cultures present there. One cannot arrive with ready-made plans, their values must be assumed, such as community, the family, spirituality, the communion of goods, and respect of the Common Home. The formation of the family cannot be separated; it is the place where the value of life, of the common good is formed; the family is the place for the ecological conversion.
There must be a formation in the Amazonian ambit that begins from its reality; any plan of formation of missionary disciples must begin from the cultural anthropology of Amazonia, to then enter deeply in the biblical and pastoral pedagogical ambit. One cannot go with an attitude of conquest in formation, but with a synodal perspective, of dialogue and listening, of discernment and decision-taking.
The family and young people must be priority ambits for the formative processes, respecting their community organization, given that many public policies affect the family and collective identity. Formation must also generate areas of interaction with the wisdom of the indigenous peoples, riverine peoples and quilombos that live in the cities, so that they do not lose their identity and achieve their integration and areas of life.
An integral formation is proposed for all agents of the pastoral that serve in Amazonia; and for priestly vocations the creation is proposed of Indian Seminaries, which are not boarding schools, but houses open to the culture and cosmo-vision of the region; <also> proposed is that ministerial formation be done in the territory itself, stimulating tasks and works from the local perspective with missionary sense.
The implementation of the Ratio Fundamentalis, must deepen further the missionary sense; during the pastoral year, the Seminarians of the region must be able to enter into direct contact with the peoples of Amazonia, to achieve a missionary awareness in the candidates, because formation must not be for the past but for what is coming to us.
3. The Role of Women in the Life of the Church
The Church proclaims the dignity and equality between man and woman. Nevertheless, discrimination is still witnessed against the feminine world, reflected in the areas of decision-making and in their representativeness inside the Church. In the indigenous world, woman is the one that works in multiple ways; she is the one that transmits the faith. The participation of women in the Church in Amazonia is very efficient; it is a testimonial and responsible presence in human promotion.
In a Synodal Church it is necessary that women assume pastoral and directional responsibilities; there must be recognition of woman in the Church through the ministerial <dimension>; it is proposed, therefore, that a Synod be held dedicated to the identity and service of women in the Church where they have a voice and a vote.
4. Young People
A special concern of the Synod is young people, especially the Indians that, making use of the digital world, find attractive possibilities that uproot them from their territories. The digital world connects them with the known and the unknown. It is a new challenge for the Church in Amazonia. The Amazonian peoples themselves are suffering the loss of identity of their young people, who seek a better future beyond their culture.
Another ecclesial challenge is to help to keep the cultural identity, especially of those young people that go to the large cities, either for study or for work. It is necessary to accompany processes of transmission and acceptance of the cultural and linguistic heritage in families, to surmount the difficulties of inter-generational communication. Thinking of the wellbeing of young people, work must be done in their accompaniment. The Church must be present in the digital world, but without giving up personal accompaniment.
5. Consecrated Life
There must be recognition of the great missionary task carried out by consecrated life in Amazonia; their mission has certainly been great. Today, because of the vocational crisis, the presence of consecrated life has diminished, but those that are there carry out a very intense ecclesial mission, with the option for the poorest. Today, in face of the decrease in vocations, many Congregations have left Amazonia and have concentrated themselves in the cities, which leads to witnessing not only a numerical diminution of consecrated life but also of the meaning and missionary action and prophetic role that has always marked consecrated life.
An appeal is made for a renewal of religious life, that, from CLAR, a new ardour is stimulated, with new ways, presences and appreciating the existing ones, especially contemplative life.
6. Apostolic Vicariates
The majority of Apostolic Vicariates were entrusted to several Religious Orders and Congregations so that they could be sustained with personnel and economic support. The reality has changed, the diminution of vocations in religious life has changed the scenery and the presence in Vicariates is little. It is suggested that the ius comissionis is revised, and that they be adopted or assumed by some Diocese. The Episcopal Conferences can assume it as a missionary task of the Church.
Another proposal is to revise the boundaries of the jurisdictions, to reduce their territories and make the pastoral care in communities more effective.
7. Defense of Rights
Because of her prophetic dimension, the Church is called to announce and denounce the realities of Amazonia, in regard to peoples’ rights and those of nature. The voice of the church is important, given the great threats that the territory and the peoples suffer. She must speak collegially, not personally, so that she has force and echo before governmental organisms.
The formation is proposed of a Pan-Amazonian ecclesial organism and an Observatory in defense of human rights, so that the Church, which has influence in some forums of the world, is able to take the voice of Amazonia in defense of <its> territories and peoples. The Church has the task to accompany and protect the life of the defenders of human rights, who are often criminalized by the public powers.
It is proposed to continue with the processes of Beatification of the martyrs of Amazonia.
8. Dialogue with the Culture
In Evangelii Nuntiandi 19, Vatican Council II states that culture is in the heart both of the person as well as of the peoples, values of judgment, determinant values, lines of thought, inspiring sources and models of life. The different expressions of peoples must manifest their identity; today the risk is run of folklorizing culture. The rites, music, dance are expressions of the people, who cannot be separated from their identity, because they are expression of their feelings and spirituality. Today with globalization and the influence of the media, it is felt that the cultural identity, especially in the generation of young people, is threatened; hence the call to create a Church with an Amazonian face, namely, with its own identity, from the cultural realities of the peoples.
Manifested in the Liturgy and popular religiosity is the cultural expression of the people that illumine life and the faith of cultures. There must be care and discernment to purify what goes against the Gospel and the values of the community itself. Religiosity in the indigenous world must favor those expressions that are a manifestation of the mystery of God and demonstrate good living and good doing in the communities and peoples.
9. The Environments of Amazonia
The Educational-Formative Environment
In some realities, the State does not help the educational processes carried out by the Church in Amazonia, rather, it hinders it; however, the Church cannot renounce her mission as educator of the peoples. The Church has been present in Amazonia in education from the beginning, because it is the fundamental basis for the people not to lose their identity. Education is the answer to the sustaining of the culture and identity of the peoples and it also generates formation for an integral ecology.
Proposed is the creation of a network of educational Institutions of Amazonia, which will help to find new pathways geared to an integral ecology, taking advantage of the resources they have in each place and seeking joint actions that promote the care of our Common Home.
Bilingual education, engaged in by the inhabitants themselves of the communities will aid their growth, through an integral and quality education that is a generator of work opportunities.
An appeal is made to Universities to head educational processes that help to implement programs that stimulate new pathways for education in an integral ecology.
The Realm of Health
Peoples must be able to share ancestral knowledge of alternative medicine and generate an exchange of knowledge between the native peoples to grow in good living. To make known the value of the medicinal plants of the Amazonian territories, with the aid of education to take care of and to promote knowledge of alternative medicine and that is not be exploited or patented by malicious persons.
Peoples in Voluntary Isolation
They are peoples that have decided to take this life option; they need the defense of their territories because they are increasingly displaced, pressured by the Civil Authorities, which limit them and take their territories. It is a great injustice, which must be communicated to generate respect for these peoples.
What is important in political formation is to give depth to the formation and to the accompaniment carried out by the Church in the communities, seeking to form not only a leader but a working group in which <the members> help one another, accompany each other, defend themselves and don’t fall into the evils of politics, such as corruption. The school of leaders must promote generational alternation, so that there is continuity in the projects that seek the common good.
10. Communicate Amazonian Faces
It must be discerned if there is only one Amazon face in Amazonia or change the expression of faces of Amazonia, through which the identity of the populations is expressed of those that live in a concrete territory. This face-faces is inculturated and missionary, accompanied by the Church that evangelizes and opens paths for the evangelical life processes of the peoples. It is a face with a renewed sense of mission, prophetic and Samaritan, open to inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.
The Amazonian Church, with her own identity, goes out to encounter the other peoples and cultures and asks to be respected and acknowledged.[Original text: Spanish] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]