The Amazon Synod is moving ahead quickly and safely in the direction set by its promoters and organizers. Although with different nuances, the Synod Fathers appear to agree substantially on the proposals to present in the final document.
Indeed, the reports by the Small Working Groups delivered to the General Secretary of the Synod, and published by the Holy See Press Office on October 18, are fully consistent with the statements of the Instrumentum Laboris.
When reading the texts, one sees that they mentioned the name of Jesus Christ only a very few times, and their wording and observations are more specific to an NGO than to the Catholic Church.
The Synod Fathers have a substantial unity of views on the need to preserve and protect the spirituality of indigenous peoples in the name of preserving their identity, which means minimizing or altogether eliminating the evangelizing task of the missionaries. Some reports go so far as to ask for legitimizing not only ancestral rituals but also the shamans and pajés, thereby leading to a real recognition of paganism.
These positions, unfortunately, are not surprising given the tribal ceremonies held in Saint Peter’s Basilica and in the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina. The gravity of what is happening in face of such general indifference and complicit silence of the ecclesiastical authorities is unprecedented. And the (weak) assurances of Dr. Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, are not enough to calm the consciences of the faithful. Ruffini said that we should not see evil where it does not exist: the statue of the pregnant woman venerated in those rituals is not Our Lady but, in his opinion, only a symbol of life, fertility, the earth. Well, we have also seen Catholic religious prostrate in front of this symbol. Are these the new paths for evangelization?
Several Circles propose an Amazonian liturgy. The Italian Circle B went so far as to ask for the introduction of an Amazonian Rite, “which makes it possible to develop under the spiritual, theological, liturgical and disciplinary aspect the singular richness of the Catholic Church in Amazonia.”
This singular richness must evidently provide for a particular role for women and overthrow the discipline of priestly celibacy. The vast majority of Synod Fathers are favorable or in any case not opposed to a greater appreciation of women in the Church. Some go as far as to support the need for a female diaconate. At the same time, there is a general consensus about the possibility of ordaining married indigenous men to the priesthood, the so-called viri probati.
Some reports speak of a Church that is still too institutionalized, hierarchical, and clerical, expressing the hope for establishing a new ecclesiology, obviously to the advantage of the laity. For example, praise is lavished on the Basic Christian Communities, considered “an important point of reference in the evangelizing and inculturated path of the Church. They have been and continue to be the great Latin American theological-pastoral intuition” regardless of the “bad experiences of excessive politicization, bad communication, and lack of support” (Spanish Circle C)
Among the Fathers, there is great unity about the position that the Church must assume in the face of the ecological question. Many reports dwell at length on scientific and environmental aspects, which in themselves should not belong to the sphere of competence of bishops.
In this regard, they introduce the term ‘ecocide’ and talk about nature and environment as the subjects of rights, hoping (Portuguese Circle B) to “include respect for the Common Home and ecological sins in Moral Theology, revising the manuals and rituals of the sacrament of Penance.” Does all this not open the gates to a creeping pantheism in which man is only one component of many in the ecosystem?
Moreover, always in the name of preserving indigenous culture and ultimately a primitivism they consider as optimal, the reports warn against the migration of original peoples to cities. For this reason, most reports see natives as leading an exemplary way of life, a “good living,” which is more authentic and harmonious with nature than the Western way of life.
Hence they make accusations against European colonialism, to which the Church supposedly associated herself for centuries, and propose a revision of Western lifestyles (such as reducing the consumption of red meat, as stated in the report by the Anglo-French Circle).
Beyond what actually comes out in the final document and is later issued by Pope Francis, one thing is certain. Mauricio López, executive secretary of the Pan Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), explained it well: Rather than obtaining immediate results, it is important to plant seeds in the certainty that future generations will enjoy its fruits. López declared that this synod is a moment of kairos, a time of grace appropriate to start processes: the mechanism has been set in motion, and nothing will be the same as before.
While the things advocated during the Synod are not new — anyone can see that its language and proposals have been heard for decades in parishes and dioceses around the world — it is undeniable that thanks to the official endorsement of Rome, they are taking a step forward toward the deconstruction of the Church and Christian civilization.