Synod Symphony: Part 1
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
A Synod of Bishops is a special moment for the life of the Church. It is a time when the voices of the faithful reach the Bishop of Rome, through the Bishops and other invited participants. This symphony of voices crescendos in order to “provide for the good of the universal Church” as Pope Paul VI wrote when he established the Synod of Bishops in 1965.
Thousands of people across the Pan-Amazon region participated in events organized so as to give voice to the reality and challenges present there. A two-year listening process involving a chorus of an approximate 80,000 voices contributed to the Instrumentum Laboris. The strains of both Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’ can be heard in the background, as well as the passionate cry of the Lord: “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).
These voices contributed to the prelude and set the tone: that of a people who are suffering from predatory commercial enterprises, from ecological disasters causing illness and death, and from the lack of political support who look to the Church to defend them; and that of a Church who suffers from the lack of personnel and the resources necessary to respond to the cry of a people, “troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36).
After a brief interlude, the first movement began. 221 distinct voices contributed to the mix in the Synod Hall in one intervention after another, while other Synod participants settled into an attitude of profound listening . The voices came from different sections: Synodal Fathers, Auditors, Invited Guests, and Fraternal Delegates. Each picked up a different part of the melody: young people; integral ecology, education; inculturation and interculturality; migration; liturgy; climate change; ordained and non-ordained ministries; moving from a sporadic to a permanent pastoral ministry; the suffering sustained by the earth, by the inhabitants of the Amazon region, and of those persecuted for defending the indigenous populations and their rights; base ecclesial communities; the lack of ordained men and the presence of lay and religious women; the Word of God and the Eucharist; catechesis; lay movements and new charisms, of the dream of a Church with an “Amazon face”.
Strains of melodies played in the past also filled the air – citations from Christus Dominus, Lumen Gentium, Presbyterorum Ordinis, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Ad gentes, Dei Verbum, Ministeria Quaedum, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, Evangelii nuntiandi, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Code of Canon Law, Confessions of St Augustine, Catechesi Tradendae, Christifideles Laici, Redemptoris hominis, Centesimus annus, Caritas in veritatis, Veritatis Gaudium, Christus vivit and from the meetings held by CELAM in Medellin, Puebla, Santo Domingo, Aparecida, as well as specific citations from Pope Francis, Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
Some strains recalled the memory of those who have given their lives at the service of their brothers and sisters. A poignant chord was struck with the memory of Hermana Inés Arango and Bishop Alejandro Labaka who, when faced with the possibility of dying for the Tagaeri people 32 years ago said: “If we don’t go, they will kill them”. Through their incarnation of “greater love than this…”, the Tagaeri people live on to this day.
Vox humana, vox Spiritus Sanctus
Moving fluidly in and out of the vox humana was the vox Spiritus Sanctus bridging millennia and millions. From his cry regarding the affliction of “my people in Egypt”, to the voices from the four evangelists, to Peter and Paul – speaking to the Churches at Corinth, Rome and to his beloved Timothy regarding the discipline of those called to Christian ministry – to the Book of Revelation prophesying a new heaven and a new earth.
The concern on the part of the pastors for the integral spiritual, pastoral, sacramental, and physical care of their flock was expressed in passionate tones. Melodies diverged – at times octaves apart – depending on the proposals regarding how the Church can best care for the needs brought to the fore. This movement can be summarized in the words of one Synod participant: “The Amazonian people and communities…have for quite some time been presenting a clamorous cry for HELP to the Church or the Bishops”.
After having listened to the First Movement, similar voices then united in groups to fine-tune their parts. At the end of this first process, their 12 contributions provided the foundation of the first draft of the Second Movement. With draft in hand, the smaller groups met once again to see how it resonated and to offer adjustments all in the spirit of creating a masterpiece together.
On Friday afternoon, the corrected score will be distributed. Those participating as Members of the Synod will vote on this score on Saturday afternoon.
 158 provided interventions, representing: 1 Angola, 4 Argentina, 1 Austria, 13 Bolivia, 59 Brazsil, 1 Canada, 16 Colombia, 2 Congo, 13 the Roman Curia, 1 Dominica, 6 Ecuador, 1 Germany, 1 Guyana, 1 French Guyana, 1 Honduras, 1 India, 9 Italy, 1 Luxembourg, 1 Mexico, 1 Papua New Guinea, 1 Paraguay, 16 Peru, 1 Suriname, 2 USA, 2 Venezuela.
 47 provided interventions, representing: 2 Bolivia, 25 Brazil, 8 Colombia, 5 Ecuador, 2 Guyana, 1 French Guyana, 4 Peru.
 10 provided interventions, representing: 2 Brazil 3 Germany, Italy, Venezuela, Argentina, Canada, Philippines, USA.
 6 provided interventions, representing: 4 Brazil, 1 Colombia, 1 Peru.
 For example, Pope Francis’ discourse given at Puerto Maldonado in Peru was cited several times.
 For example, his discourses to the indigenous given in Manaus (July 1980) and in Cuiabá were cited in which he explicitly speaks about their rights and the vocation of the Church to defend them.
 For example, his discourse on the inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean regarding the Church’s evangelization: “The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by “attraction”.
 1 English/French, 2 Italian, 5 Spanish, 4 Portuguese.