The synod for the Amazon ended its work today, October 26, with a point-by-point vote on the concluding document. But this document has no normative effect whatsoever. It was simply handed over to Pope Francis so that he may decide what is to be done, and write it in a post-synodal exhortation expected in the early months of the coming year.
But as a guide for interpreting them it is advisable to take a look first at the appraisal of this synod published yesterday in multiple languages – including Chinese – by “Asia News,” the agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
Its author is a Uruguayan missionary invited to the synod by Pope Francis, Martín Lasarte Topolanski, whom the readers of Settimo Cielo already know and appreciate from a previous commentary of his.
He lists, for this synod, the six things that he liked and the nine that he disliked.
The complete text of this dual “vote” is on “Asia News.” While here is reproduced only an abbreviated summary of his votes against.
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THE NINE THINGS ABOUT THIS SYNOD THAT I DIDN’T LIKE
1. Too much energy was dedicated to internal Church problems, especially the viri probati and female deaconate. The issues of the “viri probati” and female deaconate, which did not generate any broad agreement, used up a lot of time to the detriment of other topics over which there was agreement.
2. Regional self-centredness. Synodality with those who think like me; autonomy and pluralism with those who think differently, as in the case of the sister Churches of Asia, Europe and Africa. I think more should have been said about the synodality of the universal Church with respect to the ordained ministries.
3. There was no deeper self-criticism by the Church. I am referring here to the poor pastoral outreach of the last 50 years among the various Amazonian ecclesial communities. What are the causes of such pastoral poverty and barrenness? In my opinion, the issues of the social ideologisation, and the lack of a credible, coherent and resplendent testimony to the sanctity of ministers (which explain religious and priestly dropouts and equivocal lives) were not adequately addressed.
4. New patches for old clothes. In my opinion, the main issues associated with evangelisation were not discussed. What are the new ways proposed by the Synod? Only new structures and the ordination of “viri probati.” It seems to me that this new thing is extremely thin. In my view, the new garment that we must don with new fervour is a problem of “faith”, i.e. how to wear Christ.
5. There was talk of an “Amazonian rite” for the liturgy. There is a risk of falling into theoretical experimentation in a pastoral lab. Undoubtedly, the inculturation of the Gospel in the liturgy and the life of Amazonian Christian communities is indispensable, but this must be done in real life, little by little, with reasonable adaptation and acclimatisation of what is truly authentic in the culture to truly convey the Christian mystery with original symbols and expressions, avoiding superficial and generic “folklorisation”.
6. Clericalisation of the laity. We could have solved the problem of would-be priestly ordinations for married men through the usual ways that already exist within the Church. Unfortunately, the “topic” of the Synod was the ordination of married men, whilst other topics remained in the shadows.
7. The secular vision of ministries, particularly that of women as “ordained deaconesses” was another topic, which came up all the time, with very civil motivations, under the strong pressure of the dominant culture. I think I saw a certain parliamentary sagacity: “We are representatives of the Amazonian peoples and we must carry forward the proposals put forward by them”.
8. The Church is in danger of becoming an NGO. The Church’s mystery, life and action would be reduced to various advocacy and social service activities. Such reductionism seems to me to be strongly present in the sensitivity of a number of Synod participants.
9. The atmosphere of the Synod was fairly serene, fraternal and respectful, even though at the end some participants presented things rather dialectically. On the one hand, the Pharisee club was tied to the doctrine, frightened by the new, thus closed to the Holy Spirit; on the other hand, those who listen to the people (“sensus fidei”), without fear, are open to what is new and so are docile to the Holy Spirit… We must admire a Holy Spirit that came so well prepared and organised.
Source: Settimo Cielo
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