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Meeting With Amazonian Indians In Peru © Vatican Media

Synod on the Amazon 2019: Italian Relatio Texts: Group A

Working Translation by Zenit

Here is the Zenit translation of the synod “small circle” report from the Italian-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:

Italian Circle “A”

Rapporteur: Revd. Fr. Dario BOSSI, M.C.C.J.

Moderator: His Most Revd. Excellency Mons. Flavio GIOVENALE, S.D.B.

The Church has the mission to proclaim Jesus Christ in Amazonia. To evangelize is to render present the Kingdom of God (EG 176) in the world. Therefore, it is the task of the Church to present the Good News of Jesus and of his Kingdom in Amazonia.

Christ sets His tent in Amazonia (cfr. Jn 1:14). The path of the Church begins from Christ and Baptism; it is founded on the Gospel to promote an integral ecology, celebrating, serving and protecting life, so that it is always full and abundant for all.

“The Eucharist is a cosmic act of love. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the small altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always celebrated, in a certain sense, on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It encompasses and pervades the whole of creation” (Saint John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia n. 8). “Therefore, the Eucharist is also source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, and it directs us to be custodians of the whole of creation” (LAS 236).

May the God of life be praised for our sister and mother Earth and for Amazonia, its beauty and fecundity! May He be praised for the gift of water, for the service of the regulation of the climate and the rains that this biome offers a good part of the South American Continent, immense retention of CO2 in its trees, its bio and socio-diversity.

Stop Violence in Amazonia!

 From Amazonia, however, a cry is raised to God that dismays us. The Church invokes: Stop the violence in Amazonia! She is committed, even more, thanks to this Synod, in support and communion with the victims, so that they do not feel alone. If the Church is on the side of the poor, she cannot make a mistake.

Many young people in the world are also lining up in defense of the Common Home: they challenge us and stimulate us to walk with them and for them.

Never as today are these indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, fishermen, migrants, and the other traditional communities in Amazonia menaced, sometimes also divided and weakened strategically by the seduction of money and power.

The Church, by their side, reaffirms their right to land, culture, language, history, identity, and spirituality. She defends their right to prior, free and informed consensus on projects in their territories; an effective integral reparation for the violations already suffered and the protection of leaders criminalized because of complaints or resistance.

The emergencies are various, in face of which we cannot remain uncertain: the deforestation of Amazonia, which is reaching the point of inflection, risking the “savannahization” of the forest; the attack on indigenous peoples, on the traditional communities and their territories; the climate crisis and the urgency to reduce drastically global warming.

Water is a fundamental human right, source of life for the whole natural cycle, element of integration of Pan-Amazonian peoples and communities. However, it is a limited and vulnerable resource; its privatization or contamination harms immediately the life of communities, especially of the poorest.

The predatory exploitation of the natural resources devours the Amazonian biome. Yet it is the priority model of today’s economic policies, controlled by financial groups that concentrate the great part of the world’s money, favoring ever more the earnings of the few to the detriment of the greater part of the people.

The violence inflicted on women and minors in Amazonia is worrying: they are the ones that suffer most because of the machista culture, authoritarian behaviors and also clericalism, abuses, and trafficking.  It is important to invest our pastoral commitment in defense and promotion of the family.

There are forms of alternative economy, which value the “standing” forest and its goods. It is necessary to support proposals of integral education, specific researches on the economic vocation of the different Amazonian regions, public policies of promotion of the solidary and cooperative economy, initiatives of local and self-managed production, the leadership of small communities, microcredit and local technical formation.

Many young people are leaving the villages and regions of the interior to integrate themselves in the urban world. This ethnic and cultural miscegenation enriches the society thanks to cultural pluralism and can develop positive changes. However, the uprooting of territorial and ancestral bonds can cause the loss of tradition, of ritualism and celebration. In particular, parishes should organize and develop a pastoral of urban indigenous peoples, frequently excluded and scorned.

The Church Common Home

 The Church herself is a true and proper common home, which can still grow in unity so that all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations find themselves in the presence of the Father (Rev 7:9).

The Synod of Amazonia proposes again the challenge of the catholicity of the Church and her constitutive plurality, in which “the individual parts contribute their gifts to the other parts and to the whole Church, and all grow by a universal mutual exchange and a common effort toward unity” (LG 13).

In this connection, the encounter between the Church sent to the Amazonian peoples and that born progressively among them, with her own face, is very fruitful. We must distinguish between the “indigenous” Church, which considers the Indians as passive recipients of the pastoral, and the “indigenous” Church, which understands them as protagonists of their own experience of faith. It is necessary to aim decidedly to an indigenous Church, according to the principle “Save Amazonia with Amazonia.” The Gospel of Christ renews continually life and culture; it purifies and elevates it, makes it fruitful from inside, strengthens, completes and restores in Christ the spiritual qualities and the talents of each people (cfr GS 58).

We acknowledge with gratitude that the men and women missionaries have inserted themselves in depth in the culture and cosmo-vision of the peoples and communities to which they have been sent. It continues to be a challenge today, which is more than ever necessary when all are living in an individualist culture that does not favor sobriety and sacrifice.

The local communities grow in the faith and celebrate the mystery of Christ in their cultural plurality (AG 22). Symbols and gestures of the local cultures can be valued in the liturgy of the Church in Amazonia, keeping the essential unity of the Roman rite, given that “the Church does not want to impose a rigid uniformity in what does not affect the faith or the good of the whole community, also in the liturgy” (SC 37).

In listening to and in respect of the voices of the synodal phase of consultation, we welcome with apostolic zeal their desire to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in a frequent and possibly stable way, as an inalienable right of the lay faithful (CIC 213). Many churches in Amazonia still live a faith-based only on Scripture and on popular piety. It is necessary to study the most effective pastoral way to respond to this insistent appeal.

Some Synodal Fathers ask that in Christian communities with a consolidated path of faith, mature, respected and recognized persons be ordained, celibates or with a constituted and stable family, in order to ensure the Sacraments that guarantee and sustain Christina life.

Canon Law permits requesting the Holy See to wave the impediment to the Sacrament of Holy Orders of a man legitimately and validly married (CCC 1047, paragraph 2,3).

The Permanent Diaconate, re-established by Vatican II, sows that it is possible to assume with efficacy a pastoral, sacramental and family commitment in the Church. The majority of Churches of the Oriental Rite, which are part of the Catholic Church, keep married clergy (PO 16). This proposal is founded on Sacred Scripture, in the Apostolic Letters (1 Tim 3:2-3, 12; Tt 1:5-6).

Other Synodal Fathers consider that the proposal, which concerns all the Continents, could reduce the value of celibacy, or lose the missionary impetus at the service of the more remote communities. They hold that, in virtue of the theological principle of synodality, the subject could be subjected to the opinion of the whole Church and, therefore, they suggest a universal Synod in this regard.

All recognize that celibacy in the Church is a gift and a treasure (PO 16, OT 10). It is part of the Christian novelty and is also proposed to the Amazonian populations.

It is necessary to keep alive the missionary impetus and zeal in vocational promotion, to cultivate a vocational culture, without resigning, with insistence and organization. In coherence with the call “Latin America, evangelize yourself!”, we appeal to the Episcopal Conferences of the Continent to reinforce projects of cooperation and communion between churches and send new missionaries to Amazonia, also among those that at present exercise the priestly service in the North of the world.

Formation to the ordained ministry, understood to configure the priest to Christ, must be a community school of fraternity, experiential, spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal, in contact with the reality of the people, in tune with the local culture and religiosity, close to the poor, founded on the perspective of an integral ecology and a synodal style of authority, which values and stimulates participation in community life.

The fabric of the local Church is guaranteed, also in Amazonia, by the small missionary ecclesial communities, which cultivate the faith, listen to the Word and celebrate together, close to the history of the people. It is the Church of baptized women and men, which we must consolidate by promoting ministeriality and especially the awareness of the baptismal dignity.

We propose that (a) the ministry of lectorship and accolyteship be conferred also on women, religious or lay, appropriately formed and prepared; (b) according to the Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI Ministeria Quaedam, the Episcopal Conferences of Amazonia can ask the Holy See to create a new instituted ministry of community women/men coordinators.

The local Bishop will be able to constitute these ministries in representation of the Christian community, possibly in a rotative service and organized in ministerial teams, to avoid personalism (CCC 517 paragraph 2). The responsible person of the community can also be recognized at the local civil level as representative of the Christian community.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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