10/11/2019, 20.27
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Synod for the Amazon: Church urges confessing environmental sins

The lack of priests is driving some people towards false promises, other churches. For Sister Weiler, the Church needs “more women in leadership positions, not to exert power, but to share our gifts, talents and charisms.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Today’s press briefing at the Synod for the Amazon saw Mgr Pedro Brito Guimarâes, archbishop of Palmas (Brazil) focus on the “sins against the Creator". For the prelate, “respect for creation is part of our Creed", but "the concept of environmental sins” is “something new, even for the Church”. Still, “we should begin to confess”.

On the day when the 184 Synod Fathers set to work in small groups (circuli minores) in camera, Vatican Radio interviewed Fr Bernardo Estrada, expert and aide to the special secretary of the Synod as well as professor of New Testament studies at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

Per se, "None of us has the right to the Eucharist,” he said when asked, among other things, about the ordination of married men, the viri probati as a way to deal with the shortage of priests, especially in the Amazon where people in some communities can receive the Eucharist only once a year.

“No doubt the sacrament of union is a gift of love because it is a gift from Jesus Christ. We do not deserve it, and for this reason, the Church helps us and invites us to prepare ourselves properly to receive it.”

“At the Synod, some bishops said that we must give the Eucharist, but we cannot give it to people who are unprepared. Hence, we can't think of it as right. Today we talk a lot about rights that cannot be properly defined as such. People expect to get things that are not included in our ‘list of rights’."

On the same topic, Mgr Joaquín Pertíñez Fernández, bishop of Rio Branco (Brazil), said that in the Amazon, "due to the lack of priests, we do not have the conditions to be present everywhere. We Catholics cannot occupy the empty religious space that others come to occupy.”

“Due to a lack of culture, people believe in false promises, perhaps health-related. Thanks to proselytising, they end up joining [other groups], and then it is difficult for them to move away. They go from one church to another looking for a more physical than spiritual solution" to their problems.

For Sister Birgit Weiler, a member of the Congregation of Medical Missionary Sisters who works for the Pastoral Care of Creation in the Commission for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Peru, the Synod's Instrumentum Laboris "suggests seeking new, pastoral, cultural, social and environmental paths, going from pastoral visits to pastoral care of the presence."

The Church, she said, "needs more women in leadership positions, not to exert power, but to share our gifts, talents and charisms". In fact, "There are areas in which there is no need to be ordained. There are things that women already do, and the Instrumentum Laboris acknowledges this."

For this reason, "we would like to see greater inclusion, the possibility of teaching theology at an academic level [for example]. We women can contribute a lot to theology. We must work together and enrich each other."  

Sister Weiler also spoke about women voting at the synod, an issue that is also being addressed in her small group. "I am very grateful to Pope Francis for all the steps that have led to the presence of 35 women at the Synod. This is already a great step forward,” she explained.

“We hope and wish that we might reach the point where our Superiors can vote, like male Superiors. We have clearly expressed this desire. There is no reason why this should not possible. Already the last Synod established that ordination to priesthood is not necessary to vote. If one participates in the entire synodal process, one also assumes the responsibility for the decisions undertaken.”

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