Focus on Creation
From the World Day for the Care of Creation to the Synod on the Pan Amazon Region
On this day of September 1st, when the Church invites us to pray for the safeguarding of creation, in communion with Christians throughout the world and of all denominations, we can reread together some excerpts from the presentation of the preparatory document of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region offered to us a few months ago by Sr Lucia, an Argentine missionary in Peru.
The synod is at the gates (October 6 - 27, 2019) and, if we were not already persuaded, the fires that have destroyed immense expanses of the Amazon forest in recent weeks have reminded us how vital this region is to the whole world.
“Nine countries are part of the Pan-Amazon region: Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. Three million people live there, belonging to 390 indigenous peoples and 137 isolated populations, with all the wealth of their ancestral cultures. We speak 250 spoken languages that can be grouped into 49 language families. [...]
The Amazon calls us to recognize it much closer than we have seen it so far!
New paths for the Church and for an integral ecology
The preparatory document for the Synod: "Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology", presented on 8 June 2018, starts from two premises:
- The Amazon forest is of vital importance for the planet; for this reason "the reflections of the Special Synod go beyond the strictly ecclesial ambit of the Amazon, reaching out towards the universal Church and also towards the future of the whole planet".
- The new paths must be designed for and with the People of God who live in this region. Indigenous peoples must be "the first interlocutors of this Synod".
For the works we will use the method See - Judge (Discerning) - Act, starting from the identity and the "cries" of the Amazon, discerning the necessary pastoral and ecological conversion for a Church with an Amazonian face.
Identity and "cries" of the Panamazzonica region:
Amazon is important for the world. We are talking about challenges that do not only affect the inhabitants of the region and not even just their countries. If we realize that 30 to 50% of the world's flora and fauna are found there, as well as 20% of the non-frozen freshwater of the entire planet, and a third of the Earth's primary forests, we must admit that the Amazon supports our life in any corner of the world.
It is evident that the richness of the Amazonian forest and rivers is threatened due to large economic interests that cause indiscriminate logging and contamination of rivers due to the abusive use of toxic substances in agriculture, oil spills and exploitation legal and illegal mining and derivatives of drug production.
Indigenous peoples are driven from their land or find themselves without the possibility of subsistence; they then migrate to the cities (currently between 70 and 80% of the Amazon population reside in the cities) in conditions of great vulnerability.
The document emphasizes the wisdom and spirituality of the Amazonian peoples, of their conception of "good life" which consists in being in communion with other people, with the world, with beings around and with the Creator. "They are a living testimony of the mission that God has entrusted to all of us: taking care of the common home" (Pope Francis in Puerto Maldonado, Peru)
How to announce the Gospel of Jesus in the Amazonia?
The commitment to the care of the Common House and the love for the peoples who live in the Amazon sink their roots in our faith: it speaks of the goodness of creation and of the Providence of the Father who "reach their peak in the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, who comes near and embraces all human situations, but above all those of the poorest".
For this reason, the mission of evangelization always has "an inescapably social content". "Evangelization implies a commitment on behalf of our brothers and sisters, to improve community life and thus make the Kingdom of God present in the world," promoting "a true integral development, that is, for all people and for all the person".
"This social dimension - and ultimately cosmic - of the evangelizing mission is particularly relevant in the Amazon territory, in which the interconnection between human life, ecosystems and spiritual life has been and continues to be clear to most of its inhabitants."
"Today the cry that the Amazon raises to the Creator is similar to the cry of the People of God in Egypt (cf. Ex 3,7). It is a cry of slavery and abandonment, which demands the freedom and attention of God" (Allow me to clarify that here the subject is clearly the Amazon in its entirety and not only the indigenous peoples).
Therefore, "the process of evangelization of the Church in the Amazon cannot be separated from the promotion and care of the territory (nature) and its peoples (cultures)." For this an integral ecology is necessary which is much more than the mere connection between the social and environmental dimensions: it includes “the need to promote a personal, social and ecological harmony, for which we need a personal, social conversion and ecological”. Because "only when we are aware of how our lifestyle and the way we produce, trade, consume and discard influence the life of our environment and our societies, then we can initiate a change of integral course" that will not only concern habits personal, but must be translated into "social behavior, laws and coherent economic programs". [...]
This Synod and its preparation are being revealed as a time of grace for the Church and for the world. For many, perhaps even for us, this event may pass unnoticed or seem far away. Pope Francis wanted to bring the forgotten periphery to the center of research and to the heart of a Church that wishes to be faithful to Jesus. The Spirit helps us to let ourselves be touched by this "cry" and to convert ourselves to embrace life in community solidarity".
Sr. Lucía Duacastella op (Paramonga, Peru)
September 1, 2019
Find the article by Sr Lucia in its entirety (Spanish): ¿Qué tan cerca está la Amazonia?