October 2019 may seem like a long way away, but Church leaders are well into preparations for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region.
Pope Francis on September 25, 2017, encouraged the Bishops of Ecuador — on the occasion of their “ad Limina Apostolorum visit in the Vatican – to hold a Synod on the Church in the Amazon.
At a June 8, 2018, Vatican press conference featuring Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Bishop Fabio Fabene, respectively secretary general and under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, the preparatory document for the synod was released: more than 10,000 words divided into three sections corresponding to a process of seeing, then discerning, then acting.
Part 1: Seeing – Identity and Cries of the Pan-Amazonia. This will involve looking at the diversity of peoples, ecology, and history.
Part 2: Discerning – Towards a Pastoral and Ecological Conversion. This will be looking at how to proclaim the gospel in light of the social systems of the region.
Part 3: Acting – New Paths for a Church with an Amazonian Face. This will be the place to determine the ministries and approaches to be promoted in the region.
The preamble to the documents describes the importance of the synod and the need to deal with the human, ecological, and spiritual needs of Amazonia:
“In the Amazon rainforest, which is of vital importance for the planet, a deep crisis has been triggered by prolonged human intervention, in which a “culture of waste” (LS 16) and an extractivist mentality prevail. The Amazon is a region with rich biodiversity; it is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious; it is a mirror of all humanity which, in defense of life, requires structural and personal changes by all human beings, by nations, and by the Church.”