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The future is in our hands

27 October 2019
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Photo by Mary Jo McConahay (National Catholic Reporter)

I have never understood Latin Americanist who ignore the largest transnational actor in the region… the Roman Catholic Church. We tend to regard the Church as a holdover from the colonial era, a reactionary force holding back adoption of “western” values (like same-sex marriage, or liberal abortion laws), all of which is true — to some extent — and only paying attention to it when it comes out against this or that “reform”. Or, we look to the Liberation Theologians for allies, although usually it’s just a quote from some local priest when a “social justice worker” is murdered.

But even for those of us who see the Church as the enemy of reform, there is value in “opposition research”… not to mention unless we pay attention, we too often assume a change will or will not occur when he fail to pay attention to what is coming from the Bishops and the clergy.

And, the faithful.

Mary Jo McConahay, who has been writing about, and from, Latin America for the last thirty years, reported from the back of the beyond of the Colombia Amazon about the “other” expectation for the Amazonian Synod. I say, “other” given that any press given the recent meeting of Bishops, clerics, experts, indigenous people, men and women from the Amazon and elsewhere, held in Rome the last few weeks, was — if reported at all — focused on the narrow issue of ordaining married men as priests, and considering the possibility of ordaining women deacons.

While these two changes were approved by the Synod (and go to the Pope for his approval, or amending), and they are of interest to the outside world (in reality, does one really fret over who stands in the pulpit of a Church somewhere up the Amazon River?), and although I suppose they signal a in major change in the face of the Catholic Church, they are of little impact to the rest of the world, the six billion of so non.Cathics, and probably 750 million of so not in the pews every week Catholics. For those 250 million or so (and maybe for the other three-quarters of a billion people) For them, more access to the services (in both the ritual and material sense of the word) is more than welcome (John Donaghy’s wonderful blog, Hermano Juanicito, writes of the joys, sorrows, and frustrations of a rural deacon in Honduras).

For the rest of us, though, for whom married priests, or women deacons are an esoteric concern, maybe worth a comment in a news site at most, the Amazonian Synod will have an impact on our lives. The Synod’s officially entitled “The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology”… and as much attention as paid to the ecology of the region (and the planet) as to expanding access to the clergy and to the sacraments of the Church. In Chapter Four of the submitted 33 page final report (approved paragraph by paragraph by the 185 voting members of the Synod), we read:

Faced with the pressing situation of the planet and the Amazon, integral ecology is not a path that the Church can choose for the future in this territory, it is the only possible way, because there is no other viable path to save the region…

Specifically calling for divestment of all Church funds in the Amazonian region from the extractive industries, and fossil fuel industries, we are not talking about a few pesos or reales or soles or bolivars finding their way to “green industries” but world-wide. The Synod explicitly calls for the rest of the world to join their divestment campaign, and promote active participation with such campaigns. It’s not a question, in the war to save the planet, of how many divisions the Pope has, but how many dividends … the Pope, the Archdiocese of New York, of Hamburg, the Vatican Bank, the Catholic universities and their endowment funds… have. So far, about 150 Catholic institutions have already divested.

And… while we are all sinners… defining “ecological sin” … our actions, or inactions, in protecting our community and environment… in or out of the pews, to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle in this world, not counting on the next.

 

Additional sources:

Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology

Synod for the Amazon (several articles, various authors), National Catholic Reporter

The usual misreporting by Fox News, Lifesitenews, etc.

 

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