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Amazon Synod: Instrumentum laboris, “create new ministries” for the laity and women, consider possible “ordination of elderly respected by the community”

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

The Church “must become incarnate in the Amazonian cultures which have a great sense of community, equality and solidarity; for this reason, clericalism in its various forms is not accepted”. This recommendation is contained in chapter four of the Instrumentum laboris for the Amazon Synod, devoted to the organization of the ecclesial community. “Indigenous peoples have a rich tradition of social organization where authority is exercised in turn and with a profound sense of service”, the text reads: “Starting from this experience of organisation, it would be appropriate to reconsider the idea that the exercise of jurisdiction (power of government) must be linked in all areas (sacramental, judicial, administrative) and permanently to the Sacrament of Orders”. “In addition to the plurality of cultures within the Amazon region, distances give rise to a serious pastoral problem which cannot be solved only by mechanical and technological means”, the document explains: “Geographical distances are also an expression of cultural and pastoral distances, which, therefore, require the passage from a ‘pastoral visit’ to a ‘pastoral presence’ with a view to rethinking the local Church in all its expressions: ministries, liturgy, sacraments, theology and social services”. Hence the need to create “appropriate ministries”, that is, “new ministries to respond effectively to the needs of the Amazonian peoples”. The Instrumentum laboris suggests promoting “indigenous vocations of men and women in response to the pastoral and sacramental needs”: “their key contribution lies in promoting a genuine indigenous evangelization, in accordance with their customs and traditions”. “These are indigenous people who preach to indigenous people with a deep knowledge of their culture and language, capable of communicating the message of the Gospel with the strength and effectiveness of those who have their cultural background” – these are the distinctive traits of the new lay ministers, who will help the Church to move “from a ‘Church which visits’ to a ‘Church which remains’, accompanies and is present thanks to the ministers who come from” its local inhabitants. “While stressing that celibacy is a gift for the Church”, the document suggests that “for the more remote areas of the region, the possibility of priestly ordination of elders, preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by their community, should be considered, even though they may have an established and stable family, in order to ensure the sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life”. Another suggestion is to “identify the type of official ministry that can be entrusted to women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian Church today”. “Indigenous communities are engaged and have a strong sense of co-responsibility”, the Instrumentum laboris points out, while also insisting on the need to “enhance the leading role of Christian lay men and women” and to “recognize their place as missionaries in an outgoing Church”. “In the ecclesial field, the presence of women in the communities is not always valued”, the text laments, calling for “the recognition of women and their charisms and talents” and “to guarantee women their leadership, as well as wider and more relevant spaces in the field of education: theology, catechesis, liturgy and schools of faith and politics”, so that “even the voices of women are heard”, and that women “are consulted and participate in decision-making processes, and can thus contribute with their sensitivity to ecclesial synodality”. “May the Church be ever more feminine in the way she acts and understands the events”, the hope expressed in the document.

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