Bishop emeritus says Amazon synod will miss the mark

A long-serving missionary bishop of the Amazon River delta says the Instrumentum laboris for October’s synod on the Amazon misses the problems faced by the Church in the region.

“What is the Amazonian face? Can a synod next October of this magnitude be built with a presentation so far from reality, from identity, from respect for what is different, when pre-established schemes of interpretation of reality deform what is real?” he questioned.

Bishop emeritus José Luis Azcona, says the Instrumentum fails to address the Church’s most pressing challenges: a growing Pentacostal majority; child labour, abuse and trafficking; and a spiritual crisis.

The growing Pentecostal majority (in some parts eighty percent) is  important because “the Amazon, at least the Brazilian Amazon, is no longer Catholic,” Azcona says.

The Pentecostal church has moved into several indigenous ethnic groups, overrunning cultures, ethnic identities and indigenous peoples in the name of the Gospel. This is a serious phenomenon in today’s Amazon, Azcona says.

Another serious issue is child abuse – also overlooked in the Instrumentum.

“Unfortunately, the synod doesn’t know… the faces of anguished, re-victimized and denigrated children, [abused] by their own parents and relatives, subjected to a slavery that forms an essential part of the abandoned and destroyed face of Jesus …

“Where is the pastoral sensitivity, so evident and so firmly expressed by the Holy Father Pope Francis, expressed by those responsible for the Instrumentum laboris?” he asked.

Azcona is critical of the Instrumentum’s themes around the inculturation of the Gospel in the Amazon region.

These “are presented in a context of immanence, Neo-Pelagianism, leveling out the Gospel with Amazonian (indigenous) cultures, ecclesiologically devoid of theological and pastoral foundations, annulling the Gospel of salvation.”

“Forgetting this fundamental principle renders the synod useless and nullifies the specific and unique power of God in the Gospel, as well as all missionary dynamism …”.

Azcona says “the need for repentance for the forgiveness of sins is the fundamental challenge the Church has to face in the Amazon.

Turning to the ordination of “viri probati” to serve in the Amazon, Azcona says it will be useless because the Church everywhere needs repentance, conversion, the faith that saves.

“Why ordain viri probati within a priesthood in crisis?” he asked.

“… Let’s not entertain a discussion on the legitimacy of these questions. What is certain is an affirmative response would open up the risk of a division, of a real schism in the Church.”


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