by Chloe Noel,
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region is scheduled to take place in Rome from October 6-27 on the theme, “Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.” The following article was published in the July-August 2019 issues of NewsNotes.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis refers to the Amazon and Congo Basins as the “lungs of our planet.” According to the working document for the Synod for the Amazon, available on the Synod’s website at http://www.sinodoamazonico.va, the Amazon rainforest, covering much of northwestern Brazil and extending into Colombia, Peru and six other South American countries, provides 15 percent of freshwater globally and contributes to global wind currents.
Concerns for the environment in the world’s largest tropical rainforest, unmatched in its biodiversity and influence on the health of the entire planet, and concerns for the human dignity of vulnerable indigenous communities there – communities with deep cultural traditions and spiritual wisdom on living in peace and balance with all of creation – led Pope Francis to announce in 2017 that a Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region would work “to identify new paths for the evangelization of God’s people in that region.”
The working document indicates that key discussion points for the three-week meeting in Rome in October will be the threats to life in the Amazon region by environmental destruction and exploitation, by the systematic violation of the fundamental human rights of the Amazon population, in particular, by the violation of the rights and traditions of indigenous peoples, such as the right to land, to self-determination, to consultation and prior consent, and possible suggestions for greater access to the Eucharist in a region with few priests…