Here is the Zenit translation of the synod “small circle” report from the Spanish-Speaking group C. 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: Rev. Fr. Roberto JARAMILLO, S.J.
Moderator: His Most Revd. Excellency Mons. Jonny E. REYES SEQUERA, S.D.B.
- ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The experience of being a creature refers us back, necessarily, to the Creator as source and summit of all gifts. Made of earth (humus – homo / Adamah – Adam) we are interconnected in it with all the other creatures; responsible for the care of this garden (Genesis) we discover that sin installs itself precisely when that relationship is perverted, becoming self-referential and anthropocentric.
The degradation of our Common Home is evident in Amazonia and it threatens all forms of life. The problems of the destruction of the environment are not only the product of international greed but also of the action of governments and leaders that, guided by strong economic interest, despoil the Amazonian territories, ignoring the rights of its original and traditional inhabitants. This corruption reaches — on occasions — even the regional and local communities, whether urban, peasant or indigenous, under the expectation of abundant, easy and rapid benefits.
The immense wealth of Amazonia makes shriller the growing misery of the impoverished. If the Church doesn’t raise her voice, she will be remiss in face of this sin (ecocide). Perhaps we cannot now defeat the reigning development model, but we do have the necessity to hold and to make clear: Where do we situate ourselves? Whose side are we on? What point of view do we assume?
We are not specialists in technologies or scientific analyses, but we are and must be increasingly greater specialists in humanity because we feel, know and share the problems and challenges of the poor, and we collaborate in the search for alternatives. We are not scientists but Pastors and prophets. And it is also our role to denounce what is not working.
2. DEFENSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND OF PEOPLES: TERRITORY <AND> CULTURE
The interest in the promotion and respect of human rights for all is not optional in our faith. The human being, being part of creation, is the most finished work of the Creator and, in him the whole of creation (the economy, social forms, no less than art, religion, etc.) finds its meaning and direction.
In all the Amazonian countries, there are laws that recognize the rights of the indigenous peoples; however, in practice, these laws are not complied with. The violations of human rights are closely linked to the dynamic of the forms of violence and exploitation that the peoples suffer, particularly the indigenous peoples, quilombolas and the poor. Not a few brothers and sisters, many of them members of our churches, have given their lives as martyrs in their defense.
When we speak of rights we are linking human rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights, and territorial rights. Therefore, we want to affirm — in the context of this Synod — and recognizing the cultural diversity and the peoples’ traditions, the inviolable right to life of all human beings from their conception to their natural death, passing through other generally unknown rights, such as: that of women, young people, children, workers, the sick, the disabled, minority groups without distinction of creed, colour, culture, sexual orientation, politics, or social <standing>, among others.
3. MIGRATIONS AND PASTORAL RESPONSES
There are different types of mobility in the Amazonian territory: the traditional mobility of the original peoples (according to territories, alliances, seasons, etc.) and another that responds to exogenous conditions, generally linked to violence of origin that motivate displacement.
Forced migration, given its present increase and volume, is an unheard-of political, social and ecclesial challenge. There are positive elements, given the inter-cultural contact and contribution of the migrants in societies of hospitality, and by the generosity with which many ecclesial communities and other organizations have received these migrant brothers and populations. However, at the same time, there are heart-rending stories of sin, exclusion, abuse, suffering, humiliation, and death.
Highlighted especially in this reality at present is the Venezuelan exodus and the reality of young people driven to migrate, attracted by the “deceitful enchantment” of urbanization and their means of propaganda. Many of them are trapped by drug-trafficking and organized crime, and they see their human rights systematically disrespected. The indigenous populations, the women and children suffer the worst and most heart-rending experiences of abuse.
It is very important to have a pedagogy of prevention for isolated indigenous communities, which in practice is transformed into a policy of defense of their territories and original rights; they are the most vulnerable and their territories are the favourite objects of the greed of the market and of the powerful (mining and oil companies, international laboratories, loggers, etc.).
4. INCULTURATED EVANGELIZATION: AMAZONIAN FACE AND HEART
The Church in Amazonia has a history of lights and shadows. We are grateful for the work of many men and women missionaries who have given their life (so many times silently), sharing the conditions and concerns of the indigenous peoples and of the poor of the region.
We recognize also that on other occasions the Church’s action has not been at the measure of the challenge of the dialogue that generates a true inculturation of the Good News, and that this challenge is harder for us today because it questions directly our way of proceeding ordinarily in the pastoral and organizational traditions that give us security.
It is also necessary to recognize that today there are peoples in Amazonia that have been evangelized by other Churches, and others that have not been evangelized and/or that remain in legitimate voluntary isolation. All of them, without distinction of creed, claim from our Catholic Church the ability to walk with them, to be able to be a “Church going forth,” as a “field hospital” that cures its wounds and that, as the Good Samaritan, is first of all a testimonial Church: “we didn’t ask you to come; you never asked us for permission to come in. However, we receive you as brothers and invite you to be our allies” (Anitalia Pijachi).
The Grassroots Ecclesial Communities continue being an important reference in the evangelizing and inculturated march of the Church. They were and continue to be the great theological pastoral intuition of Latin America. With ease and frequency — because of bad experiences of excessive politization, bad communication and lack of accompaniment — their presence and contribution has been clouded and forgotten.
One of the principal instruments of the history of evangelization in the Church was the work in schools. Educational actions are also being questioned today, because of the necessity to be inculturated and they are challenged to seek appropriate methodologies and contents for the peoples with whom the ministry of teaching is to be exercised. The first step for this <to happen> is profound and cordial knowledge of their languages, their beliefs, and their aspirations, their needs, and urgencies. And what is said for educational action is true also for all the work of the Church, particularly that of liturgy and catechesis.
5. ECCLESIAL NEEDS AND NEW MINISTRIES
Our ecclesial communities are abundantly blessed by the multiform action of the Holy Spirit, who raises in them women and men that offer themselves generously in the service of the sick, common prayer, the instruction of children and care of the poor, care of health, the explicit proclamation of the Word of God, among many other ministries. Lay ministry must be recognized as a gift of the Spirit, received through the discernment of the person him/herself and of the community, and confirmed and accompanied by the leaders of the community.
A prophetic Church starts from the recognition of the fundamental equality of rights, conditions, and duties in regard to all human beings. It is important that the services assigned to women do not keep them far from instances where decisions are taken in the Church, as it is there that what we preach becomes reality. Given the tradition of the Church, it is possible to give women access to the instituted ministries of Readers and Acolytes as well as of Permanent Deacons.
We also see that many of the ecclesial communities of the Amazon territory have enormous difficulties in accessing the Eucharist. However, the Holy Spirit continues acting in the heart of those communities and distributing gifts and charisms, in such a way that married, responsible men of good reputation are also found there, examples of citizen virtues and good community leaders, who feel the call to serve the People of God, as instruments of the sanctification of the People of God. It will be important to discern, through consultation of the People of God and the discernment of the Ordinary of the place, the suitability for those persons to be adequately prepared and subsequently chosen for the presbyterial service. It is not about a 3rd or 4th-degree priesthood, or of a simple functional recourse for the celebration of the Eucharist, but of true vocations (called) priestly.
Finally, from the reality of the Amazonian churches, we address an urgent call to all the churches worldwide, and very especially the churches of the countries that make up the Amazon River Basin, to turn their eyes and hearts to Amazonia, and to be in solidarity with the urgencies of this region. Their solidarity must be manifested primarily with the missionary action of the laity, priests, men, and women religious willing to be inculturated and to serve the Amazonian churches, but also willing to share material or other resources that come to reinforce the capacities of service of the Vicariates and Dioceses that we serve.[Original text: Spanish] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester