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Synod on Amazon Briefing, 3 Oct 2019 - Copyright: Zenit/Deborah Castellano Lubov

Synod on the Amazon: The Instrumentum Laboris Is Not a Papal Document

Statements of Cardinals Baldisseri and Hummes

Given the criticisms arising regarding the working document (Instrumentum Laboris), Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, stated this morning: “The Instrumentum Laboris isn’t a papal document, it’s a compilation of the questions and petitions of the Amazonian peoples, who have expressed their anxieties. The expressions have been compiled, not with one assembly, but with a total of 170 assemblies and other forums. So that the Bishops can listen.”

The Synod’s Secretary gave this answer to a journalist this morning, October 3, 2019, during the presentation of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region, on the theme “Amazonia: New Pathways for the Church and for An Integral Ecology, which will take place in the Synod’s New Hall in the Vatican, from October 6-27, 2019.

“Voice of the Local Church”

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paulo, Brazil, President of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), and General Relator of the Synod’s Special Assembly, added that the Instrumentum Laboris “isn’t a Synodal document; it’s the voice of the local Church, the voice of the Church of Amazonia, the Church of the people and of the Earth; it is also the voice of the Earth. The Church wishes to listen to them; she invited them to speak and they spoke. The Church didn’t do so to then ignore that voice; if she did it, it’s that she wants to hear the voice of those people. This is a Synodal journey.

The Assembly’s General Relator, from Brazil, specified that to do that, to elaborate the working document, they consulted 80,000 people. “Will those voices have value or not?” he asked.

In this connection, Cardinal Baldisseri said that he believes that “it’s the first time that the Bishops, namely, those directly responsible for the legislation, are listening to the people. We have to compile these contributions. The Instrumentum Laboris wasn’t a document written in a flash.

Positive Criticisms

Therefore, he continued, “if there is a Cardinal or a Bishop who doesn’t agree, who believes that there are contents that aren’t right, I think it’s necessary that we listen without judging, because it isn’t a document of the Magisterium, it’s a working document that will be given to the Synodal Fathers and that will be the basis to be able to work in the Synodal Assembly, to then construct the final document from zero.”

The Instrumentum Laboris is also knows as the ”martyr document,” said Cardinal Baldisseri. “It won’t be modified. It’s a guideline to begin our work. Then there will be criticisms, judgments, but I don’t think it’s opportune to judge a document that isn’t papal.”

The Final Document

Nevertheless, the Cardinal clarified that “each one has the right to express his opinion,” and the criticisms “can be positive because they can highlight certain elements on which perhaps further reflection” is necessary, “so I would invite them to assume this perspective, because the criticisms can really contribute to do a good job.”

“For the Church as well as the Assembly, the final document voted on in the Assembly has a consultative capacity. All the work we do is to help the Holy Father, at the end of this course, so that he then decides, opts for a Post-Synodal Instruction or an Apostolic Letter, as that will be the final document.”

 

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