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A way of life worth defending: fishing in Tururukare, in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo by Marcella Haddad / Caritas

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

Working Translation by Zenit

Here is the Zenit translation of the synod “small circle” report from the Italian-speaking group B. 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. Filippo SANTORO

Moderator: His Most Rev. Eminence Card. Luis F. LADARIA FERRER, S.J.

The Italian Minor Circle B sees in this Synod a precious gift of the Spirit for Amazonia and for the whole Church, be it under the ecclesial aspect, be for the inescapable task of the Care of the Common Home. In the ecclesial aspect, taking up again Vatican II’s path of implementation, which was developed by the Conferences of the Latin American Episcopate up to Evangelii Gaudium, on the Care of the Common Home and following the development of the social teaching of the Church up to Laudato Si’. In this sense, we propose three steps before the synthetic presentation of the reflection of the Italian Circle B.

  1. First of all, the new pathways are possible from a renewed experience of the Church that, listening to the peoples of Amazonia and their culture, offers the testimony of a lively faith that renews the prophecy, develops a new synodal path and communicate an ardent missionary passion.
  2.  The wounded and deformed beauty of Amazonia is a cry of the whole planet so that a true cultural conversion is implemented promoted by the “integral ecology” of Pope Francis up to creating eco and socio-sustainable projects and “new lifestyles.” This is even more urgent in order not to betray the hope and future of our young people.
  3. Advanced in the third place is the proposal to undertake the way of a proper “Amazonian Rite,” which makes it possible to develop under the spiritual, theological, liturgical and disciplinary aspect the singular richness of the Catholic Church in Amazonia.

Moving to the reflection of the group, the importance was stressed by Pope Francis’ initial intervention in the Synod, when he affirmed: “The pastoral dimension is the essential one, the one that includes everything. We address it with a Christian heart and we look at the reality of Amazonia with the eyes of a disciple.”

In this perspective, the Circle reflected further on the first part ”The Voice of Amazonia,” listening to the direct experience of the Synodal Fathers and auditors, Bishops and priests, missionaries in Amazonia and present in the group. A richness emerged that embraces several natural aspects, among them water, which is the source of life and of relations between peoples in their cultural and spiritual expressions. It was underscored that this life is menaced by environmental destruction and exploitation, by genocide, by ecocide, and by bio-piracy. This happens when the goods of the territory, for example, the medicinal herbs, are taken to the world after having robbed the patent of the lands and of the indigenous peoples. In this situation, the most wounded are the young people, particularly the girls, in prostitution and in trafficking, in sexual exploitation but also the indigenous young people who go to the cities and are seduced by technology and globalization: attracted to a lifestyle that seeks to destroy their origins.

Together with these highlights it was noted that if one is to pass from analyses to proposals it is necessary that Amazonian “good living” encounter the experience of the Beatitudes: only by the encounter with the Word of God, does “good living” attain its realization, thus valuing the “seed verbs” present in the various cultures. The direction in which such valuation is carried out is found in Laudato Si’, where a “Theology of Creation” as well as a “Theology of Redemption” is presented.

This leads to the construction of a lifestyle in which a positive and non-predatory relationship can be re-established between man and nature. The Amazonian cosmo-vision has so much to teach the Western world, dominated by technology, very often at the service of the “idolatry of money.” On the other hand, the proclamation of the Gospel and the originality of Christ’s victory over death, in respect of the culture of peoples, is also an essential element also for the Amazonian cosmo-vision.

The explicit proclamation of Christ’s Resurrection, after appropriate times of closeness and sharing of life, without any form of proselytism, is a great richness for the peoples of Amazonia.

It was also noted that Amazonia is living a Kairos, a time of grace, which has a particular relief in this Synod. The Amazonian peoples teach a lot because for thousands of years they have taken care of their land, of the water, of the forest and they have succeeded in preserving them up to today. In this challenge, we must value the significance of the memory, which in the indigenous peoples has a great value in the personal, social experience and in the transmission of the culture and the faith. This is possible through inter-cultural and inter-generational dialogue, making possible the encounter between an “I” and a “you.” The dialogue is possible from the inexhaustibility of the Mystery which is communicated in the life of these peoples and which constitutes a method founded on respect for the freedom of the other, valuing the “seed verbs” present in the various cultures.

That has not always happened; it is demonstrated by the violence caused by agricultural, rain and human <extractive activity> in general. In this area international traffickers and destroyers of the Amazonian diversity dominate with impunity, having solely in view the maximization of profit. Stemming from what has been said is the “ecological debt” (LS 51), rampant in the world and which in Amazonia has brutal effects. One of these is linked to the phenomenon of migrations, which happens in the search for a roof, for land, for a job. In general, the promises are not realized and families are destabilized. Our border dioceses carry out a very positive and important action among migrants, which, however, must be increasingly articulated and developed.

We described urbanization, which seems sociologically and economically an irreversible worldwide phenomenon, as “human extractive activity.” Therefore, it is necessary to develop an urban pastoral that picks up the challenges of globalization and the technological culture. Not to be forgotten, at the same time, is a rural pastoral, so that there are no class B Christians.

It is surprising that the IL doesn’t speak of “favelas” and of “peripheries,” which constitute a characteristic in the medium and large cities of Amazonia as in the whole of Latin America, of an active presence in “favelas” and in the entire society.

On the subject of education, the Church has carried out a role of promotion in the cultures she has encountered and, in face of them, it is necessary to listen as disciples before being teachers. Reflected also in this context was the formation in Seminaries of Amazonia, in which indigenous seminarians are unable to follow the academic rhythm, not because of a lack of intelligence, but because of a different way of thinking.

The action of the Church is first of all educational; it is geared to forming a mentality in which the economy is developed attempting to <keep> present environmental and social sustainability. It is not possible to create economic value through the destruction of nature and of raw materials. It is necessary to educate, not in an abstract way but in view of a change in lifestyles. So people’s satisfaction will not be in consumption but in a realization, in a harmony that is proposed for the contemplative look of Laudato Si’.

 And then a reflection seems opportune of the Church in Amazonia, first on the causes of the drastic diminution of Catholics, because of the action of Neo-Pentecostal and Evangelical Movements. These grow because they respond to the need for healing, for proximity and for Salvation beyond their very questionable economic and political interests. In addition to expressing our concern for the growth of these new religious denominations we are induced to pass from the still too institutional image of the Church to a Church going forth that listens, and that creates communities that enjoy and celebrate the beauty of the Gospel. It is necessary as Church to develop knowledge of the Bible, multiplying translations in the local languages. This will make possible an inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue.

Moreover, some expressed perplexity about the lack of reflection on the causes that have led to the proposal to surmount in some way priestly celibacy as expressed by Vatican Council II (PO 16) and the subsequent magisterium.

In this context, the subject of inculturation has all its value, which was amply developed in our Circle. In fact, stemming from this subject was the proposal presented of an “Amazonian Rite.”

There are about 23 different Rites in the Catholic Church, evident sign of a tradition that, since the first centuries, has sought to inculturate the contents of the faith and their celebration through a language that was as coherent as possible with the mystery to express. All these traditions had their origin in keeping with the mission of the Church (cfr CCC 120001206). Amazonia, with its different cultures and traditions, has already opened itself to the faith and is living a significant process intended to safeguard the expressions of identity and belonging that are proper to it.

It is necessary that the Church recognize this peculiar historical moment, and, in her tireless work of evangelization, do her utmost so that the process of inculturation of the faith is expressed in the most coherent ways, to be celebrated and lived also according to the languages proper of the Amazonian populations.

Requested, therefore, is that the Synod make its own the instance according to which the peoples of Amazonia can undertake the new way of their own “Amazonian Rite” with which to express the liturgical, theological, disciplinary and spiritual patrimony that belongs to them, with particular reference to what Lumen Gentium affirms for the Oriental Churches (cfr LG 23). This enriches the work of evangelization expressing the faith according to the peculiarities of one’s culture.

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

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