Amazon Synod: Proposals for a female lay ministry
By Vatican News
The integral health of the Amazon was one of the concerns raised this morning in the Synod hall. The model of development espoused by a capitalism that devours; the fires that are destroying the region; corruption; deforestation; and illegal farming – all these threaten the health of the people, the territory, and the whole planet.
Protecting voluntarily isolated populations
Indigenous populations that choose to remain isolated are particularly vulnerable and exposed to genocide. It is important to maintain awareness about this issue. In order to keep attention focused on this issue, there is a felt need to institute an international ecclesial institution for the defence of the human rights and for the needs of these communities.
More dialogue: the Church engages local populations
At times the Church has been slow to respond to the needs of the people. Sometimes, in fact, she is far from the local people, and this void is filled by the neo-Pentecostal communities.
Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue remains urgent and indispensable. Respectful and fruitful, it is a fundamental dimension for a Church “going forth” into the multicultural context of the Pan-Amazon region. Interculturality is more than a challenge: It must not be not be an imposition from on high of one’s own culture, but must involve the acceptance of the other and of a healthy decentralization in a synodal perspective. The hope was expressed that the Church, without hiding the difficulties involved, might be missionary, that she might have indigenous face, and that a logic might be favoured in which the periphery becomes the centre, and the centre becomes a periphery in a rich movement of mutual transformation.
Ministries that respond to the needs of the Amazonian people
There was an appeal for a greater involvement of the laity through the creation of new ministries that respond to the needs of the Amazonian people. This is also part of the synodal approach: the Church can be creative in proposing a multi-faceted ministry among the native Indian peoples and the peoples of the forest. Since the Second Vatican Council, there has been a request for greater efforts at inculturating the liturgy, with celebrations that respect both the traditions and languages of the local peoples, and the integral message of the Gospel. Careful discernment on the part of the Bishops is necessary, with no possible solution being excluded a priori, including the ordination of married men. There were also requests from many seminarians for an affective formation aimed at healing the wounds caused by the sexual revolution. Today, many wish to rediscover and better understand the value of celibacy and chastity. The Church cannot remain silent about this treasure, which is a teaching that transforms hearts.
A female lay ministry
Widespread violence against women must be confronted. Some proposed establishing a female lay ministry for evangelization. It is necessary to promote a greater active participation of women in the life of the Church, in a “Samaritan” perspective.
Unity in diversity
Unity in diversity should be pursued, in accordance with the image of the polyhedron, an analogy often used by Pope Francis. In the school of Jesus, we are called to move from a kind of pastoral ministry rooted in occasional visits, to a pastoral ministry of presence and listening – proclaiming the divine tenderness and promoting care for our common home not only among friends, but also among those who are far away, and who think differently. The values of universal fraternity, integral ecology, and lifestyles inspired by “good living” (buen vivir), as a response to the many selfish projects of our time, must be rooted in Jesus.
In the face of the climate tragedy denounced on a global level, the Synod is a moment of grace and great opportunity for the Church to promote and ecological conversion and an integral education.
Migration and urban pastoral ministry
The Synod Fathers also turned their attention to the question of migration, and its causes, including socio-political, climatic, and economic conditions, as well as ethnic persecution. The various causes demand specific pastoral approaches. The imposition of a western, extractivist model affects families and forces young people to move to cities. The Church must promote urban pastoral care.
Indigenous theology and local traditions
Inside the Synod hall, there was discussion of the value of indigenous theology, with reference to Pope Francis’ appeal to shape a Church with an indigenous face, a Church with the ability to reread essential elements of Catholicism in an indigenous key. Some speakers also emphasized the value of traditional medicine as a valid alternative to western medicine. The creation of greater natural reserves to preserve both bio-diversity and the plurality of Amazonian cultures was also proposed.
At the opening of Wednesday morning’s Congregation, which began as usual with the recitation of Mid-morning prayer, a special prayer was offered for a resolution to the difficult situation in Ecuador.