10/28/2019, 12.35
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From the Synod, a River of Life for the Amazon

by Martìn Lasarte

In the final document there are good emphases on conversion to Christ, a commitment to the youth of Amazonia, the Church as a companion of Indian culture, capable of inculturating the Gospel. Local Churches across America must contribute personnel and financial resources to the "Amazon mission". The delicate themes of married priests and the female diaconate left to the Pope or, even better, to a universal synod.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Here is a comment by Fr. Martin Lasarte on the final document of the Synod on the Amazon. The final document (only in Spanish) is found here.

We have just emerged from the conclusion of the Synod. As a synod father used to say, after the Andean waterfalls and rapids, we arrive at the peaceful and serene Amazonian rivers that head towards the sea.

This is the feeling that accompanies reading the beautiful final document. After a rich and animated exchange of points of view, sharing sometimes very different experiences, we arrived at a serene Amazonian river, where the richness of its contents and balance are present, without taking anything away from the strength and transforming vitality of nature, society, the life of men and women.

The document is a vibrant, powerful and profound river that brings together many currents from different countries and from the experiences of the Amazon Churches. It offers its waters so that all may have life and Life in abundance. Certainly it still needs adjustments, but the greatest part has already been achieved.

One of the names that can be given to this river is "conversion". Conversion to Christ and his Gospel, which translates into a pastoral, cultural, ecological and synodal conversion.

The great majority of the ecological and pastoral problems raised at the Synod are present in the final document with a happy and serene synthesis. We must congratulate the editorial commission, which has collected the 831 modalities of the minor circles and, in an a titanic effort, has been able to integrate and harmonize them in a coherent way ... being obviously aware of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the daily life of their Church .

I would like to highlight some elements of the richness of the text.

My particular gratitude goes to the significant space dedicated to the Amazon with a young face: the concern for young indigenous, river, afro-descendants, migrants, settlers, rural and urban, to whom the document devotes particular attention. We need to be attentive to their vulnerability, to their dreams and difficulties. In the light of the previous Synod, several appeals arise: the need to accompany and educate them; to help their life project with a discernment and vocational accompaniment; propose creative spaces to form leaders with a pastoral care focused on Jesus Christ and his project, which is dialogical and integral. Young people are an enormous potential for their commitment in the Church, in society and for their sensitivity to the care of the common Home, being able to be "prophets of hope".

One of the characteristics of the Synod is the preferential option for indigenous peoples. Chapter III is very rich in attention to the theme of "cultures": cultural riches, interculturality, dialogue, the value of otherness, the inculturation of the Gospel. The Church is present as an allied sister of indigenous peoples in defending their dignity, their life and rights. The inculturated proclamation of the Gospel, Indian theology or the Amazonian face, popular piety are the ways to internalize and appropriate Jesus Christ and his attitudes. The importance of education is emphasized, which should be intercultural, bilingual and truly of quality, since it is a fundamental right.

Chapter IV presents the well-considered proposals in favor of integral ecology. Professionals and experts in the field were present in the preparation of these paragraphs. It is the theme that plunges us once again into "Laudato Si '", which challenges us to live our faith in the dimension of the care of Creation, not as an appendix, but as a constitutive aspect of Christian ethics that leads us to extend charity towards the generations to come. This translates into a less consumeristic and happily more austere life proposition.

The fifth chapter on synodal conversion is the one that has been built with more patience, handcrafted, in the search for consensus. The concept of synodality is deepened in the light of Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.

The final part is the result of synodality. It addresses the fundamental aspect of ecclesial ministry, to which all are called by virtue of baptism. A creative ministry, capable of giving new missionary responses.

The text speaks of openness to dialogue and to the study of the permanent deaconate and the female leadership, and the competent authority is required to establish criteria and provisions for ordaining suitable men recognized by the community as priests, who have a legitimately established and stable family, to take care of the most remote areas of the Amazon.

The formulation of the text is balanced and in the end, it opens up the possibility of developing the topic on a universal level (I am particularly in favor of this proposal). In fact, these two points were the least consensual. In any case, these issues remain in the hands of the Holy Father, so that, as universal Pastor, he guides us in the paths to follow.

A great theme proposed in this chapter is how to involve the local Churches of all America in the "Amazon mission", to contribute both in terms of personnel and with financial means. There is also a reflection on the rites for indigenous peoples, since good translations of the texts are necessary to celebrate the unique mystery of Christ with gestures and symbols that, without losing the essential, bring them closer to the life of peoples. But we must be aware that the Amazon is a group of different families of peoples with different cultural traditions, so we must be careful not to homologize this wealth and cultural diversity.

We thank God for the gift of this Amazon Synod. That from this event, from this source, life processes may be born in the Amazon and of Life (zoe), with a capital letter, vivifying with His grace, with His Word, with His saving and liberating presence, the 34 million of inhabitants, peoples and communities of this blessed land, a gift of God for all humanity.

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