It’s been a whole year since Pope Francis wrote that he dreams of a church that fights for the rights of the poor and Indigenous peoples, a church that safeguards the ecosystems on which those people — and all of us — depend, and a church that takes on the face of the places where it is rooted. That is the dream he described in Querida Amazonia, or “Beloved Amazonia,” the papal exhortation published a year ago today as a follow-up to the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which brought religious, clergy and lay people together at the Vatican in October 2019.
So writes Barbara Fraser (National Catholic Reporter- Climate Editor) in her article for EarthBeat Weekly entitled “A year after ‘Querida Amazonia,’ some lessons for the U.S. church” see HERE
However, it is easy to forget or at the very least overlook the wider message for each of us that is to be found in “Beloved Amazonia”. A wider message of interconnection of people and ecosystems around the world, according to Medical Mission Sr. Birgit Weiler, a German theologian who lives in Peru and who participated in the synod as an expert. She told me that Francis has given the church clear guideposts for its response.
Amazonia and us
Weiler says first, the church must be:
“open to exploring new ways, reading the signs of the times today, which call us to question and to discern,” That means “being a church that is able to listen — before it speaks or preaches, [it must] listen.”
In listening, the church must “allow itself to be transformed by the people” and become “a prophetic church … that dares to be increasingly inculturated in diverse and complex cultural contexts and … to live and to cultivate intercultural relationships,” she added.
At the synod, Indigenous people asked the church to help them defend their territories against efforts to extract minerals, timber and other goods of creation from their forests and rivers without their consent. That is a message for the church in the U.S., Canada, Australia and other countries, as well as the Amazon Basin, Weiler told me.
There is also much to be learned from Indigenous peoples and their relationship with the earth, About not seeing the natural world as a source of commodities, but instead “entering into a relationship in which creation can speak to me and I place myself within creation, seeing see it as a gift from God, entrusted to me.”
Lessons to be learned
There are also lessons to be learned from the process that led to the Amazon synod, which drew on reflections from hundreds of listening sessions and some 65 regional assemblies throughout the nine Amazonian countries. A similar series of gatherings — though virtual, this time — will lead up to the next general assembly of bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, to be held in November.
That is a step toward greater inclusiveness and participation that can inspire the church in the U.S. and other parts of the world, Weiler said. The question, she added, is:
“how do we grow as a church that is increasingly synodal and less and less clerical – a church that is always learning?”
This Beloved Universe belongs to each of us!
The content of this article is extracted from the NCR EarthBeat article by Barbara Fraser Read in full HERE
See Full Text of the Apostolic Exhortation “Querida Amazonia” (“Beloved Amazonia”) HERE
See Apostolic Exhortation at the Pan-Amazonian Summit and also a piece by Catherine Codd, PBVM on ‘Your people will be my people – the implications of the Amazonian Summit’