Ecology, human rights and the Church’s way of being at the centre of the Synod for the Amazon

Pope Francis mentioned the victims of the synagogue attack in Halle, Germany, in his prayer yesterday afternoon. Today work in the smaller groups began. Discussions also focused on the tragedy of drug trafficking and its consequences.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The environment, respect for human rights and the Church’s way of being in the Amazon were the main topics discussed during the first meetings of the Synod.

Paolo Ruffini, president of the Commission for information, summarised the work of the first General Congregations to journalists present at the daily briefing at the Holy See Press Office.

"The whole discussion in the General Congregations revolved around three major themes: the environmental question, with the risk that the Amazon and the planet could become the victims of predatory non-sustainable development; the need for a paradigm shift to respect human rights, the link between humans and creation and the rejection of all forms of violence; the Church’s way of being in the Amazon."

The above also comes with the need to address issues such as "inculturation and interculturality, the shortage of priests, the possibility of new ordained ministries and the role of the laity in non-ordained ministries; the role of women; the importance of the sacraments for the community; lay education and responsibility; the role of priests."

At the beginning of the Question and Answers period, Ruffini said that yesterday afternoon the Pope spoke about the work done so far, focusing on what struck him the most. Francis, who had opened the works by praying for our Jewish brothers and sisters on the day of Yom Kippur, mentioned, at the end of his prayer, the victims of the synagogue attack in Halle, Germany.

Drug trafficking and its consequences were also discussed. In some regions, coca cultivation rose from 12,000 to 23,000 hectares, with devastating consequences, such as more crime and the disruption of the territory’s natural balance, with greater desertification.

Hydroelectric development, which entails deforestation in large, highly biodiverse reserves, as well as authorised fires that destroy millions of hectares of land, have a very strong impact on the environment in some regions, altering the local ecosystem. For this reason, it is necessary to highlight the need for ecological conversion. ​

For participants, the Church must project her prophetic voice, stressing the need for integral ecology to be added on the agenda of international organisations. Some spoke about the balance between inculturation and evangelisation, focusing on the difficulty of priestly and religious vocations and on the viri probati.

One of the speakers said that the latter. If they are accepted, they might hold back priests from moving one continent to another, or from one diocese to another. Priests do not belong to "the community" but "to the Church" and, as such, can be "for any community".

Another speaker pointed out that what is needed are not so much sacred ministries, but deacons of the faith. Training better presbyters was also stressed, as was increasing the responsibilities of the laity, an option that goes against clericalism.

Today, the 184 synod fathers split up in smaller groups (circoli minores) whose work will continue until tomorrow. The General Congregations will resume their work on Saturday until Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday of next week, the fathers will meet again in the smaller groups and next Thursday, their final report will be presented.

The final week will be dedicated to drafting the final document, which will be voted on 26 October and handed over to Pope Francis, who will lead the closing Mass on Sunday, 27 October.

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