The Synod for the Amazon: from faith to politics, all is connected
Tudo está interligado, all is connected, some members of the Synod for the Amazon sang in the aula, who sometimes used the poetry of their people to express themselves. At the halfway point, living it from inside, I am able to highlight some aspects of this great ecclesial event. And I do so having experienced on January 19, 2018 Francis’ extraordinary encounter with 20 indigenous peoples at Puerto Maldonado (Peru), where he urged all of them to «form a Church with a face of the Amazon and a Church with an indigenous face».
The Amazon, which covers nine nations (Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru), is speaking from Rome. The periphery speaks form the center with the awareness that its experience is heard as a prophetic voice for the whole Church. And, precisely for this, it is judged by some as disturbing.
This is the point: today the Church has an extraordinary need for prophecy in the face of the great challenges of the present, and to discern what future we want to build.
The Church seeks prophecy by dislocating the center of gravity from the Euro-Atlantic area and pointing straight toward a land where gigantic contradictions of a political, economic and ecological character are concentrated. Here the Church experiences a people that does not coincide with a national state, a group of people, persecuted and threatened by many forms of violence. And they are peoples who are carriers of an enormous wealth of languages, cultures, rites, ancestral traditions.
The interventions in the aula and in the groups are painting a large fresco in which everything is interconnected: faith and history, hope and geography, charity and politics.
This is why the preemptive attacks aimed at the Synod, dressed up as a fundamentalist religiosity that does not disdain racist tones, come from groups that protect political-economic interests. The theological themes in the Synod aula are closely intertwined with the life of the people, geopolitical tensions, and care of the «common home».
The ecological themes are experienced in a perspective of faith, as part of the social doctrine of the Church and in their close connections with the desire for justice. But they are framed in a perspective that goes well beyond the Amazon: the concern for salvation — the salus animarum — is deeply connected to that of the fate of planet Earth and all of humanity. From this mature experience it will be possible to point out «new paths» for the universal Church.
Beyond the possible solutions on which there is discussion, there is expressed, for example, the awareness of the difficulty for communities to regularly celebrate the Eucharist due to a lack of priests. There was clear talk of the right of the faithful to not remain in a fast from the Eucharist and of the obligation of the pastors to provide bread. But also was expressed a broader and more mature vision of the Church, finally alienated from clericalism, aware of the need to imagine new ecclesial ministries, also for women. It is a clear from the testimonies how much the Church of the Pan-Amazon region owes its life to women. It is also understood how the laity already actually have the task of teaching and supporting the ecclesial communities.
Finally, the Synod aula reveals a soul deeply hybrid.
The very concept of inculturation appears obsolete. The Amazon Church is made up of indigenous pastors and missionaries. The Spanish and Portuguese spoken also resonates with Italian, Polish and German accents and the indigenous don’t forget the use of their native languages. Also, the legacy of the conquerors of the past has entered into the blood that flows in life and devotion.