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Ramiro Pellitero Iglesias, Professor of Theology, University of Navarra, Spain School
The pastoral diagnosis of the Synod on Amazonia
Regarding the Synod for the Amazon, Pope Francis said, at the close of the Synod's work, that the most important thing is the "diagnoses" made. These diagnoses in the Final Document are presented as new ways to advance in the "conversions" that head the respective chapters: integral, pastoral, cultural, ecological and synodal conversion. He also said that the main one is the pastoral (or evangelizing) diagnosis, which includes everything else.
The pastoral diagnosis is presented in the second chapter: "new ways of pastoral conversion". The degree scroll refers to the proposal that Francis has been making to all Christians in the Church: the "pastoral conversion", that is, the conversion of the evangelizers and the conversion of the whole Church.
But doesn't mission statement consist in converting non-Christians? Yes, it does, but for that, it is necessary that Christians, each one of us, be converted before and continuously. That is to say, that we become aware of what we are: Christians, which means disciples of Christ, starting from baptism. And Christ means the Anointed One for a mission statement. Like Him and united to Him, we have to turn our life into "good news" (= gospel) for others.
Conversion to joy
We can only do this if the message of Jesus is really good news for us, for each one of us: if it fills our life, if it renews and energizes it for the material and spiritual needs of others. Only then do we understand "the joy of evangelizing" others.
This is the starting point: our conversion to this joy, which leads us to be co-responsible in the mission statement of the Church, our call to be evangelizing Christians or "missionary disciples", as the text of Aparecida explains: "We are inserted by baptism in the dynamic of love for the meeting with Jesus that gives a new horizon to life" (n. 12), represented in the figure of the Good Samaritan, who stops to take care of the wounded man lying by the side of the road; of the Magdalene, who, because she feels loved and reconciled, announces that she has been reconciled with Jesus. 12), represented in the figure of the Good Samaritan, who stops to care for the badly wounded man lying by the side of the road; of the Magdalene, who, feeling loved and reconciled, announces the Risen Christ with joy and conviction; and above all of Mary, "who generates children to the faith and educates them with affection and patience, learning also from the riches of the people" (n. 22). This is, in a way, the most important thing that the document wants to express.
Because of the characteristics of this region, which includes nine South American countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname), the history, culture and religions of its inhabitants (many of them Christians of various confessions), it is well understood that "ecumenical, interreligious and intercultural dialogue must be assumed as an indispensable path of evangelization in the Amazon" (n. 24).
It should be noted that indigenous religions and Afro-descendant cults are closely related to forests and the care of nature as a "common home", so it is an important field for accompaniment staff and dialogue with these cultures.
Urbanization, the needs of the rural world, the forced migrations of indigenous families, young people trying to make their way in a society that is rapidly changing its values, the problems affecting human rights such as health and Education, etc., lead to the formulation of three urgencies: "promote new forms of evangelization through the social media (Francis, Christus Vivit, 86); help the indigenous youth to achieve a healthy interculturality; help them to face the crisis of anti-values that destroys their self-esteem and makes them lose their identity" (n. 33).
As can be seen, evangelization is necessarily linked to human promotion (Christian humanism) together with the ethical and ecological Education , as well as with questions that affect communication. All of them are not resolved - logically - only in a pragmatic perspective, but also involve fundamental contents, many of them in relation to the Social Doctrine of the Church, and therefore also theological.
A synod is a meeting to pray, study and dialogue on certain questions from the perspective of faith and with a view to improving evangelization. From there, a document of work -which is not a magisterium of the Church-, where some proposals are gathered. In them, it is possible that a wide range of topics -corresponding to the breadth and complexity of the issues addressed- is shown, which must then be further developed and specified by those concerned.
Therefore, the synodal process continues, at least until the Pope - if he sees fit - writes a post-synodal exhortation, to communicate some operative decisions and to orient Christians in certain tasks. To carry out these tasks, be they of subject intellectual or of subject cultural or social, corresponds to the members of the Church according to their own vocation, gifts and charisms (laity, sacred ministers, religious and members of the consecrated life, etc.).
Inculturation, Discernment, Synodality
All this is connected with the fact that the message of the Gospel must permeate cultures, at the same time that inculturation enriches the expressions of the Gospel. This is what John Paul II said, pointing out that "a faith that does not become culture is a faith that is not fully accepted, not fully thought out, not faithfully lived" (1982).
For this reason, evangelization strives to present faith as a response to the meaning of life and human relationships, as can be seen at sample in other chapters of this document.
The need to bring the sources of Christian life (faith and sacraments) closer to so many who live in vast and difficult to access territories, leads to the formulation of proposals for new tasks, pastoral assignments and ecclesial services or responsibilities, which will have to be organized within the coordinates of Christian doctrine and tradition.
Christian tradition is not simply a series of doctrines, rites and norms, but a living tradition. For this reason, on the one hand, those who forget that it is only possible to progress in evangelization based on fidelity and gratitude for the gift received ( report ) are mistaken. On the other hand, those who would like to reduce tradition to ashes -a static deposit-, instead of seeing it as a safeguard for the future, because in it the living fire of the Holy Spirit is kept alive, are also mistaken.
As the Pope said in his Letter to German Catholics (29-VI-2019), the framework of the living tradition is ensured by the reference letter to holiness that we all have to foster and the motherhood of Mary; by fraternity within the Church and trust in the guide of the Holy Spirit; by the need to prioritize a broad vision of the whole, but without losing attention for the small and close.
Along with the needs of evangelization, the synod considered the evolution of today's world and the presence of multiple cultural, political and economic interests in the concrete scenarios. It is understood that it is necessary to proceed with discernment (neither pessimism, nor naive optimism, nor relativism) of the various realities at stake. And that, together with the desire that Christ be proclaimed and known by many people, there are those who express fears more or less founded in their understanding and experience of Christianity.
high school According to the Catholic faith, the Pope and the episcopal attendance have the Holy Spirit to help reconcile the unchanging substance of the deposit of faith (in doctrine, worship and Christian life) with its varying expressions in different times and places. And thus guide the evangelizing mission statement and coordinate the participation of all in it.
We said that, in the synodal process as a whole, this text is only a document of work that will allow us to make concrete decisions and formulate guidelines to improve evangelization.
In the meantime, it is the responsibility of all Christians to ask with prayer and penance - keeping their arms raised high like Moses during the battle against the Amalekites (cf. Ex 17:11-13)-that attendance of the Holy Spirit to those who must make decisions and formulate orientations; aware that these decisions have no small influence on the Church's universal mission statement , which is opposed today by individualism and secularism (living as if God did not exist), consumerism and relativism, fostered by much of our ambient culture.
Today, participation in evangelization - as a manifestation of being Church of all Christians - is called synodality, which means to walk together, to assume co-responsibility for the salvific mission statement . Not as a theoretical principle, but as a lived reality based on faith and the Christian spirit. A spirit in itself open to so many elements of truth, good and beauty sown by the Holy Spirit in cultures and religions, as preparations of the Gospel. These elements must be discerned - also in the life of each one of us - together with other aspects that need to be healed and purified.
"What was the Synod?" Francis asked at the Angelus on the Sunday in which the Synod of Amazonia was closing. And he answered before God, the Church and the world: "It has been, as the word says, a journey together, comforted by the courage and consolations that come from the Lord. We have walked looking each other in the eye and listening to each other, with sincerity, without hiding the difficulties, experiencing the beauty of moving forward together, at the service of others".