VATICAN CITY — Through “four great dreams” for a better ecological, social, cultural and ecclesial future, Pope Francis says he wishes his new post-synodal apostolic exhortation will “awaken” the world’s “affection and concern” for the Amazon region — and help other areas of the world to confront their own challenges.
Entitled Querida Amazonia (The Beloved Amazon), his 16,000-word summary document is divided into four chapters, each dedicated to a “great dream.”
Drawing heavily on Francis’ magisterium and documents of bishops’ conferences in the region, it follows last year’s Synod of Bishops on the theme of The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology.
The Amazonian region, the papal exhortation states, is a “great biome” shared by nine countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela and the territory of French Guiana.
The most eagerly awaited aspect of the document — the ordination of married permanent deacons to make up for a shortage of priests in the region — is not explicitly endorsed, despite the majority of synod fathers voting for such a proposal.
The Pope does not mention the words “married priests,” “priestly celibacy” or “viri probati.” He does say a “way must be found” to ensure priests can bring the Eucharist to remote areas, but places more emphasis on giving laity a greater role while underlining the importance of the priesthood.
Also, despite the synod fathers discussing at length the possibilities of a female diaconate, he does not mention the topic, and rejects the push for holy orders for women, saying such a move would “clericalize women” and diminish their “indispensable contribution.”
He also makes no explicit mention of an Amazonian rite of the Mass, also a subject widely debated at the Synod, but he does call for greater efforts to be made to respect native “rituals, gestures and symbols” and to “inculturate the liturgy among indigenous peoples.”
‘A Social Dream’
Francis begins his summary document by describing it as a “brief framework for reflection” and weighing it against the synod’s final document, which he says he does not intend to replace or duplicate. “I would like to officially present the final document,” he says, adding that that text sets forth the synod’s conclusions better than he can, and urging “everyone to read it in full.”
The Pope’s first chapter, entitled “A Social Dream,” focuses on raising the quality of life for the people of the Amazon, with a special emphasis on helping the poor and combating “injustice and crime.” He criticizes the damage caused by “economic actors” importing “alien” models of resource exploitation into the territories, the migration of indigenous peoples to cities, and the rise of xenophobia, sexual exploitation and drug trafficking.
“We need to feel outrage, as Moses did, as Jesus did, as God does in the face of injustice,” the Pope writes, adding that the extent of injustice and exploitation perpetrated on the Amazon region in the last century “ought to provoke profound abhorrence.”
He notes that some missionaries “did not always take the side of the oppressed,” and he humbly asks for forgiveness, while stressing it is possible to “overcome the various colonizing mentalities” and urging education for the poor. The Pope also notes that just as members of the Church have been guilty of corruption, so have the Amazonian peoples, who then became the primary victims.
The Holy Father ends the chapter by calling for dialogue, firstly with the poor, respecting them as “having a leading role to play,” and raising a “prophetic voice” on their behalf.
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