“Today the cry of the Amazonia to the Creator is similar to the cry of God’s people in Egypt. It is a cry of slavery and abandonment, which clamors for freedom and God’s care.”
– AMAZONIA: NEW PATHS FOR THE CHURCH
AND FOR AN INTEGRAL ECOLOGY
– Preparatory Document
Environment, ordaining married men, increasing the role of women, highlights of document for a meeting of Catholic bishops from the Amazon
A document for a meeting of Catholic bishops from the Amazon is expected to evaluate ordaining elderly married men as priests, conferring women in the region with some “type of official ministry” and dealing with indigenous people threatened by forced displacement and exploitation.
The Vatican released the preparatory document for the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for the Pan-Amazon Region on June 8.
The gathering in October 2019 will reflect on the theme “Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology.”
The document sought to identify solutions for a variety of pastoral challenges, particularly the region’s shortage of priests.
This 8 million square kilometer Amazonian territory is home to some 3 million people who don’t always have a place in society. It includes territories in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana and French Guiana.
The document highlights the connection between care for the environment and the pastoral care of the people in this region that is in “deep crisis” due to “prolonged human intervention in which a ‘culture of waste’ and an extractivist mentality prevail.”
“Protecting indigenous peoples and their lands represents a fundamental ethical imperative and a basic commitment to human rights,” it said. Moreover, “it is a moral imperative for the church, consistent with the approach to integral ecology called for by ‘Laudato Si’.”
The document’s section on promoting “pastoral and ecological conversion” highlighted the need to proclaim the Gospel and to “accompany and share the pain of the Amazonian people and to collaborate in healing their wounds.”
“Today the cry of the Amazonia to the Creator is similar to the cry of God’s people in Egypt,” the document said. “It is a cry of slavery and abandonment, which clamors for freedom and God’s care.”
The document emphasized “relaunching the work of the church… in order to transform the church’s precariously thin presence” through ministries that respond “to the objectives of a church with an Amazonian face and a church with a native face.”
This includes fostering “indigenous and local-born clergy” as well as ministerial roles for women in the church.
“Along these lines, it is necessary to identify the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role which women play today in the Amazonian church,” the document said.
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, told journalists June 8 that the synod offers a space to freely discuss other ministerial roles for women.
“We can listen to the pope who said that there must be space for women in the church at all levels,” he said, as reported by Catholic News Service.
The cardinal said that the preparatory document also leaves room for discussion on finding solutions to the lack of priests in the area.
“It isn’t that those that already exist are definite. The church can also have other ministries. Ministries is an ample word that ranges from the ministry of acolyte to the priesthood,” he said.
The full document can be read here.
La Croix International, 11 June 2018