"Let us preserve the complete ecology," says the bishop of Labrea, Amazonas (3/3)
What expectations is this synod generating in the Amazonian parishes and their pastoral actions?
Many. Maybe too many. People probably expect immediate solutions while we know that the Synod will suggest lines of actionfor the pastoral work that will be done in the parishes. Applying these lines of action will be done according to each area’s needs. That's why I say that expectations can be too high.
It is convenient to speak clearly about what a Synod is and avoid confusion. The concrete problems have to be solved accordingly to what is determined collegially. We have to have a general vision of Church in the Amazon and avoid approaching the synod looking for a solution to my community’s concrete problem such as lack of ministers, lack of training, social threats, policies, economical problems, lack of inculturation, abuse... We must wait for guidelines that will help us act accordingly. This is being reminded repeatedly to our faithful.
How many bishops of the Brazilian Amazon will be present at the synod in Rome? Will lay people also participate as experts and with the right to vote over matters?
All the Bishops of the Brazilian Amazon are expected to be there. At first only some bishops were called to go but then it was opened to all, and the Pope even invited other bishops of the Brazilian Bishops Conference not in the Amazons. He also invited lay people as advisors and others to give witness of their community’s reality. And even others will go just to listen and with the right to participate with any comment they wish to share. Concerning the voting, I think only the bishops will be asked to vote considering the reality lived and shared by the lay experts and participants.
Is the current Brazilian government in favor of the synod or does it look at it with certain suspicion?
The current Brazilian government looks askance at the Synod, starting with the president himself. The Government looks at the Amazon from their political and economic interests, and precisely what is not of its main interest is what the synod will consider as important and that is the social, human and ecological aspects. The government cannot deny a conflict of interests with the Church having this synod. The government has asked for permission to have their own political representatives in the Synod. Even though they have been informed of what a synod is, they still cannot trust what will come out of the synod. In fact, the government has started a campaign against the synod, and started working on certain laws to defend itself from accepting any suggestion from the Church. These new laws that the government is preparing leave the indigenous people unprotected. Miners, farmers, cattlemen and retired workers will also be negatively affected. And at the end, the domino effect will end up harming the poor. Church-State dialogue is not easy, but the Church expressed its openness in the last message of the last CNBB assembly.
Do you think the synod will encourage the people of the Amazon to defend their "habitat" generating ecological consciousness with eco in the Church and the rest of the world? Is it possible be hopeful in seeing the Amazon free of lethal attacks against its ecology?
That is the intention of the Synod: to awaken an ecological consciousness in our people and the whole world. I can say that the CNBB listens to all the problems the bishops have and that is where all the bishop's problems are experienced collegially. Roraima has the situation with the Venezuelan emigrants, the bishop of Minas Gerais is concerned with the rupture of the Brumadinho damn. The people know and testify that, if it wasn´t for the Church, they would have never received permanent and true help. You can understand where envy can appear in politicians. The Brazilian Church does not want to compete with anyone; we will always want to help, especially with the guidance of our Mother the Church who calls us to Rome to listen to our needs. The Church wants to support and accompany the Church that walks in the Amazons: It also wants to warn us of the problems that lie ahead, inviting us to confront the problems we have without fear and willingness to work together just as Christ asked the Father for unity in his priestly prayer. We will be encouraged to walk united as God´s people; free and guided by the natural ecological paths, just as He wished Adam would’ve have walked in the paradise. Let's go back and rescue that integral ecology, starting with this synod for the Amazons that is just around the corner.
Thank you, Monsignor Santiago, for sharing your opinions concerning the synod with all who read this page www.agustinosrecoletos.org.