Synod will find the truth about the Amazon

Bishop Gilberto Alfredo Vizcarra Mori of Jaén (Peru) and President of the Amazonian Centre for Anthropology and Practical Application (CAAAP), actively participated in preparing for the Synod of Bishops’ special assembly for the Amazon (Oct 6-27).

Oct 13, 2019

By Claire Lesegretain
Bishop Gilberto Alfredo Vizcarra Mori of Jaén (Peru) and President of the Amazonian Centre for Anthropology and Practical Application (CAAAP), actively participated in preparing for the Synod of Bishops’ special assembly for the Amazon (Oct 6-27).

He expects the Church to play an important role as the forces in the region learn to live more humanelyfind the truth about the Amazon.

La Croix: How did you prepare the Synod of Bishops' special assembly for the Amazon?
All bishops and pastoral workers helped prepare with the working document. This preparation began in January 2018, when the Pope launched the assembly in Puerto Maldonado.

Our first meeting of bishops took place there, after the Pope's departure. From that moment on, a first draft of the important topics for the assembly was made and a working commission was proposed, which was then ratified by the Pope and the Synod Secretariat.

At least 85,000 people throughout the Amazon were involved in the preparation of the Synod, many of whom do not necessarily belong to the Church.

In particular, there was an important meeting in March at Georgetown University in Washington with indigenous leaders, scientists, cardinals and UN representatives.

I went to several communities in the heart of the rainforest, to very isolated places where I had never been before and where the people had never seen a bishop before!

Do we find the same ecclesial realities in the nine countries concerned by the Amazon?
Yes, the situation is almost the same everywhere.

There are about 300 ethnic groups and therefore 300 similar ways of living in the forest. There are also migrants who must learn to preserve the forest and rivers.

The Church in the Amazon is trying to listen to everyone. One of its characteristics has been to work with community animators, men and women, who accompany the communities, prepare for the sacraments and celebrate the Sunday liturgy when the priest cannot come.

Are there differences of opinion among the Amazonian bishops?
No, I think we are all very aware of the urgent need for a deeper work of inculturation and interculturality.
Indeed, modernity is now present everywhere, even in the middle of the forest, and the indigenous people are seeking a connection with this modernity in order to be able to transmit their own knowledge.

Have any Amazonian bishops refused to enter into the dynamics of the Synod?
I don’t think so.

We all see this Synod as a step in the process of renewal and reform of the Church. As the word “Synod” means — “to walk together” — we want to listen to the people, with the Lord leading us all. It is to a conversion that we are invited to learn to live more humanely.

In your opinion, what is the main challenge of this Synod?
The life of the forest and the indigenous people is threatened by invasions [mining and oil companies etc] which do not take into account nature and Amazonian cultures.

As the Pope said in Puerto Maldonado: “The peoples of the Amazon have never been so threatened as they are today.” The Church wants to say in a loud voice what is happening here.

The main challenge is therefore integral ecology, listening to the people who can teach us precisely what a harmonious relationship between man and nature — and man and God — consists of.

What changes does the Church need in the Amazon?
One of its problems is the decrease in the number of missionaries: laity, priests and religious. Until 30 years ago, Western or local missionaries went there for long-term pastoral work.

Today, the work of pastoral agents and community leaders must be strengthened and to do so, we must analyse what kinds of ministries can be promoted.

What do you personally expect from this Synod?
This is the first time I have participated in a Synod of Bishops' special assembly.

I have gone to live an experience of listening to the Holy Spirit, through the voice of the gathered bishops and through all that has been gathered in our communities.

I hope that this experience of conversion will give me more enthusiasm to be a missionary.-- LCI (https://international.la-croix.com)

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