10/25/2019, 19.03
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Synod for the Amazon: Amazonian rite not 'explicit' in the final document

For Sister Inés Azucena Zambrano Jara, the female deaconate "would reconfirm our identity". Interviewed by Vatican news, Card Stella stressed the value of celibacy, "a gift which the Lord brings with the calling to the priesthood”. In Africa, the missionaries “bet on human nature and God's grace. Today we have an African clergy that lives celibately”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The female deaconate and celibacy continue to be central at the Synod for the Amazon. Sister Inés Azucena Zambrano Jara, of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate and St Catherine of Siena, spoke about the first issue, which “would reconfirm our identity” and “our baptismal nature”. Celibacy was the focus of a long interview with Card Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the clergy, synodal Father, for whom it "must be kept, nurtured and above all protected with great spirituality, a life of prayer and union with the Lord”. Finally, for Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for the communication of the Holy See, the final document should not be about an "Amazonian rite”.

The Colombian nun, who spoke of the synod’s family-like ambiance, noted that 35 women are involved in the process. The Synod’s “environment of synodality” saw “everyone, women and women, were heard”. She explained that “As a congregation, we are empowering indigenous women, farming women,” having “always worked alongside and with indigenous peoples. It was a great challenge to put aside our self-centredness.”

Interviewed by Vatican News, Card Stella insisted on the value of celibacy, "a gift which the Lord brings with the calling to the priesthood" and which, in his opinion, should also be proposed in the Amazon, as it was Africa and in other mission lands.

Nowadays, “we live in a culture that does not inspire [going] in that direction,” he noted. “Vocations in the Latin Church suggest a celibate commitment. Hence, I think there should be a dispassionate vetting of personal traits, of everyone’s personal history so that this gift, which the Lord brings with the calling to the priesthood, is objectively examined so as to understand if there are the conditions for balance, discipline, maturity, especially emotional maturity, i.e. the inner capacity to know how to make the right choices even in moments of temptation.”

To promote celibacy in the Amazon “we must first believe in it. In Africa, the first missionaries thought that Africans would not be able to live the celibate choice, a gift from God. Instead, they bet on human nature and God's grace. Today we have an African clergy that lives celibately; we have a beautiful episcopal family. Obviously, I don't want to be idealistic. Sometimes there are dark areas, weaknesses, betrayals. However, I do not understand why this cannot be proposed for the Amazon.”

With respect to the idea of an Amazonian rite, he explained that “indigenous peoples have their languages, their histories, their culture, their worldviews. I believe all this can be accepted in the liturgical expression. Yet, we must keep in mind that a rite represents a history of centuries, a spirituality, a culture, a tradition. There is still a long way to go. In this area, I would be personally careful, prudent, also because there is great diversity in the Amazon. There are dozens of languages, hundreds of ethnic groups. Ultimately, what would be the Amazonian rite?”

For Ruffini, “There will be no explanation” in the final document about the Amazonian rite; at best “a step in that direction”. For now, “We are waiting for the final document”. The latter will be voted on tomorrow afternoon, noted Father Giacomo Costa, secretary of the Synod Information Commission.

“Even if there were a proposal, it certainly would require some in-depth work," the latter said. “If it were a rite within its own right it could also include the ordination of married men, as in other rites. But these are just conjectures. The final answer lies with the Holy Father.”

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