By Christopher Wells
At the press briefing following the morning session of the Amazon Synod, Dr Paolo Ruffini stressed some of the highlights of the interventions, including profound ecological conversion, the need for the Church to be present to the people of Amazonia, and the importance of making changes to our way of life. He emphasized the requirement for Christianity to develop an ecological morality.
Father Giacomo Costa, S.J., the Secretary for the Commission for Information, elaborated on the discussions about ministries that can be entrusted to laity, and about encouraging women in the ecclesial work they are already undertaking. He also discussed the importance and meaning of dialogue, and the significance of the Synod as a “sounding board”, which can help the Church undertake a different manner of living in and with creation.
Carlos Alfonso Nobre
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr Carlos Alfonzo Nobre, a climate scientist from Brazil, spoke about the contribution of science to discussions on the Amazon. In particular, he said that science can help identify risks and propose solutions. Modern scientific advancements, he said, can offer solutions that maintain the health of Amazonia, while providing a greater quality of life for the people of the region.
Ima Célia Guimarães Vieira
Another Brazilian, Dr Ima Célia Guimarães Vieira, a member of the Commissione Nazionale per il Medioambiente conama, emphasized the great diversity, even within Amazonia. She lamented the loss of bio-diversity in the Amazon. Guimarães Vieira also focused on the situation of isolated indigenous peoples, native tribes which have limited contact with the rest of the world. She expressed her happiness that the Synod has taken up the theme integral ecology, an especially important theme for her native country.
An Amazonian Bishop was also present for the briefing: Bishop Erwin Kräutler, C.PP.S., is prelate emeritus of Xingu, in Brazil. He denounced hydroelectric power, with particular reference to the power station in Bellemonte, saying that solar power can provide sufficient energy. He said the promises made to the local people have remained unfulfilled. Bishop Kräutler also spoke out about the problems afflicting the cities, including drug trafficking and unemployment.
Defending Indigenous people
In response to questions from journalists after the main presentations, Bishop Kräutler spoke about how the Church can help defend the indigenous populations by drawing attention to what is happening in Amazonia today.
New forms of ministry
He also took a question about the issue of ordaining married men to the priesthood, arguing that with regard to the “viri probati”, the Church has no other option today. He said that indigenous peoples do not understand celibacy. The Bishop also spoke about the importance of enhancing the role of women, saying we need concrete solutions, such as opening up the diaconate to women.
Pastoral care in the cities
One question asked if questions of pastoral care for city-dwellers was being neglected at the Synod. Bishop Kräutler acknowledged that a large majority of Amazonians – 80% – lived in cities, and said the Church must provide pastoral care for all people, whether urban or rural. The problem for Bishops, he continued, was how to reach people; and he insisted that the Church must be present at all times, not just occasionally.
Climate change "negationism"
Finally, answering a question about those who deny global warming, Dr Nobre said that climate change “negationism” does not represent the majority of the population. In fact, he said, most people respect the scientific consensus. Dr Nobre said that the Synod, precisely because it accepts the results of scientific research, enjoys a certain credibility.