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Synod on the Amazon 2019: Relatio Texts: Portuguese Circle B

Working Translation by Zenit

Here is the Zenit translation of the synod “small circle” report from the Portuguese Circle 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. Evaristo P. SPENGLER . O.F.M.

Moderator: His Most Revd. Excellency Mons. Pedro BRITO GUIMARAES

Our group reflected further and presented a proposal on three dimensions: 1) Integral Ecology and Defense of our Common Home; 2) Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities; 3) Ecclesial.

  1. INTEGRAL ECOLOGY AND DEFENSE OF OUR COMMON HOME:

The Synod for Amazonia is being held at a moment of great climatic urgency and of a profound socio-environmental crisis. An ecological conversion is indispensable for a sober life, which implies changes of mentality, of lifestyle, of ways of production, practices of accumulation, consumption, and waste. We already know that “later will be too late”!

In the face of this, we propose initiatives ad intra and ad extra.

 Ad intra:

  1. To insert in the topic of Integral Ecology the directives of the Episcopal Conferences, pastoral plans of dioceses and Prelatures and parish programs.
  2. To include in Moral Theology respect for our Common Home and the ecological sins reviewing the manuals and rituals of the Sacrament of Penance.
  3. To develop a great “grassroots movement of ecological education and awareness forming agents of the pastoral at all levels.
  4. To institute the ministry of care of our Common Home in the communities of Amazonia.

Ad extra:

 The Church positions herself clearly in defense of the Amazonian biome against the colonialist and mercantilist vision and declares Amazonia an Intangible and Immemorial Shrine of our Common Home. This implies influencing:

  1. In the defense of the territories of the traditional Amazonian peoples, especially the Indians and Afro-decedents, as well as units and areas of conservation.
  2. To have applied in those territories a long moratorium on predatory extractive oil and mining activities, as well as extensive livestock farming and monoculture, which destroy forests and rivers;
  3. To ensure the right to free, prior and informed consultation for all activities proposed for those territories, as defined in Article 169 by ILO;
  4. In international relations, in national and local public policies to have governments opt for development based on a model of socio-environmental sustainability.

II. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES

 

We present our contribution in relation to Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities. We also talk about Inculturation and Inter-Culturality in the Church’s Mission in Pan-Amazonia.

II.1. Defense of the Rights of Territories

 In face of the “greed of large economic projects” (Pope Francis) for indigenous territories, which generate ecocides, genocides and ethnocides, as well as the murder and criminalization of social leaders, it is the Church’s mission to defend and fight for the demarcation and protection of Indian and of Afro-descendants’ lands, and for the rights of other traditional communities, as Saint John Paul II warned in Cuiaba (1991): “The Church, dear Indian brothers, has been and will always continue to be on your side to defend the dignity of human beings, their right to have a fitting and tranquil life, in respect of the values of their traditions, customs, and cultures.”

II.2. Inculturation and Inter-Culturality

 Amazonia is characterized by a multiplicity of peoples and cultures. God manifests Himself in all of them as well as in the whole of Creation. He was incarnate in Jesus Christ, assumed a specific culture and through His Spirit, continues to reveal Himself in the different peoples. The Church of disciples is placed at the service of this History of Salvation, encountering Indian theologies. She feels herself questioned in the challenge of inculturation and of interculturality. Therefore, we express the following indications:

The agents of the pastoral and missionaries must evangelize in dialogue and in respect of native spiritual expressions, through a continuous presence of apprenticeship of the indigenous languages, of valuing traditional knowledge having as result mutual enrichment.

In evangelization, starting from the cultures, to value Indian theologies and to commit to translating the Scriptures, to adapt the Christian rituals, to assume rituals of the peoples and to undertake processes of initiation to the Christian life and elaboration of their own liturgy.

III. ECCLESIAL

 We addressed several aspects in this dimension.

III. 1. Presbyterial Formation

 “I will give you shepherds” (Jr 3:15). We need presbyters in the image of the Good Shepherd, called to be men of mercy, compassion, close to their people, servants of all, particularly of those suffering great needs; that are fed by the Word of God, by the Eucharist and by prayer; missionary-presbyters, moved by pastoral charity (Cf. CELAM Doc.. Ap. 198, 199).

In view of the concretization of that horizon, we make the following proposals: to ensure a plan of presbyterial formation  (celibate and Viri Probati); to take care of solid human formation in the Seminaries; to guarantee alternation of academic and pastoral formation; to ensure a sober lifestyle in the formative environment; to promote the formation of inculturated formators (Cf. DPV, 66; SD 84); to open the seminaries for interaction with young people, in order that there are environments of intense youthful animation and vocational irradiation; to stimulate co-responsibility in formation; to promote in seminaries the culture of integral ecology and eco-theology.

III. 2. Mission and Formation of the Laity

 Unthinkable today is a Church of communion, participation, and mission that doesn’t include increasingly lay men and lay women — absolute majority of the People of God –, in decisions and in commitments to be assumed by all, valuing their prophetic and innovative role.

Lay formation must include: the person and practice of Jesus Christ; missionary engagement and the relationship Church-world-Kingdom; the Social Doctrine of the Church; the communal dimension; the option for the poor; education for justice and peace; the care of our Common Home, the faith and politics relationship, Christian anthropology, especially the human relationship, sexuality and affectivity.

Therefore, we propose:

1) To rescue lay spirituality, starting with the living of Baptism, which values conjugal and family love, work, entrepreneurship, honesty and professional competence;

2) To train for the exercise of charity; the role in public policies, in Social Movements and in the holding of political offices, inspired in the Gospel;

3) To educate for gratuitousness, volunteers in the service of the Church and of society, from initiation to the Christina life.

III. 3. Ministries

The Ordination of viri probati was considered necessary for Pan-Amazonia.  After a fruitful diaconate, married men candidates for Ordination must fulfill, among others, the following criteria: life of prayer and love of the Word of God and of the Church; Eucharistic life that is reflected in a life of donation and service; communal living; missionary spirit.

In the implementation of the Ordination of viri probati, we present two ways for the Pan-Amazonian region:

1) Delegate to the Episcopal Conferences present in Pan-Amazonia the establishment of that ministry;

2) Entrust to Bishops the realization of the experience.

III.4. Diaconate for Women

 Given the decisive presence of women in the History of Salvation, as Mary and women Saints in the Mission of the Church, Doctors and Counsellors of Popes; given that women’s presence is decisive in the life and mission of the Church in Amazonia and that Vatican Council II restored the Permanent Diaconate for men — because it is good and useful for the Church– we believe that this same argument is valid to create the Diaconate for women in the Church in Amazonia.

III.5. Sustainability and Reorganization of the Church in Amazonia

The majority of Dioceses and Prelatures of Amazonia have extensive territories, few ordained ministers and lack of financial resources, going through difficulties to sustain the mission. The “Amazonia cost” has serious repercussions in evangelization. In face of this reality, aiming at a present, solidary and Samaritan Church, we propose:

1) Re-dimensioning the extensive geographic areas of the Dioceses and Prelatures.

2) Creating an Amazonian Fund for the Sustainability of Evangelization.

3) Sensitizing and stimulating international agencies of Catholic cooperation to support further social projects <and> evangelization activities.

III.6. Missionary Cooperation

 The Local Churches in Pan-Amazonia feel the need to intensify and diversify the forms of missionary cooperation, with new ways of ecclesial exchange.

Therefore, we recommend:

  1. To augment the Project of Sister Churches where it already exists, and to create it in the Conferences in which it doesn’t exist, promoting sharing between the dioceses with more resources and the poorer ones.
  2. To confirm and encourage initiatives of missionary, itinerant and popular insertion of consecrated life in Amazonia and stimulate projects of “an alternative and prophetic, inter-congregational, inter-institutional consecrated life, with the sense of willingness to be where no one wants to be and with those that no one wants to be” (IL 129 d1);
  3. Christian mysticism promotes sharing and solidarity and knowing the wealth of experience of innumerable entities that encourage humanitarian service, to encourage the voluntary work of the laity and professionals in the Dioceses and Catholic entities.
  4. Given that Pan-Amazonia has become increasingly a territory traversed by global flows of internal and international migration, as well as human trafficking, drug trafficking and the circularity of indigenous peoples, it is proposed to reinforce the “joint pastoral action between the border Churches to address the common problems,” and to encourage the articulation of work in a network in the whole of the Pan-Amazonian territory and beyond its borders.

III.7. Challenges of the City and Urban Pastoral

 Today, 80% of the population of Amazonia is found in cities. The question of urbanization hardly includes the spatial displacement and the growth of cities, but also the transmission of a lifestyle configured by the metropolis. This model is extended to the rural world, changing habits, customs and traditional ways of living.

In Amazonia, the rivers were determinant factors for the formation of many cities, in as much as others are in agricultural borders, with specific neighborhoods of migrants. Some grow rapidly due to mega-projects and when those projects end, many migrate to other places or experience needs. There is a great mobility of Indian individuals and families in the direction of urban centers.

Therefore, we propose:

  1. To promote a specific pastoral of Indians that live in the city, in which they themselves are the protagonists.
  2. To institute a Ministry of Hospitality in the urban communities of Amazonia for fraternal solidarity with migrants, refugees, populations in a street situation or persons who have left rural areas for health treatment.
  3. To sensitize the community regarding social struggles, supporting the different Social Movements in the promotion of a citizenship and an ecological culture and in the defense of human rights.
  4. To promote meetings with ministers and theologians of Christian communities and theoreticians of human sciences to foster reflection and common actions.

CONCLUSION: Given what has been exposed and the work done up to now by the Synod, we perceive the need to tread this synodal path that we are living in the Church.

May that walk continue and be discerned and implemented by the whole Church in the light of the Spirit.

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

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