The 14th General Congregation of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region took place on the morning of Monday, 21 October, in the presence of Pope Francis. One hundred eighty-four Synod Fathers were in the Hall for the session. The Synod concludes on Sunday, 27 October.
Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the Relator General, presented the draft of the final document of the Synod for the Amazon to participants in the Synod Hall on Monday morning. The text, which gathers together the fruits of the interventions presented during the work, will now go to the small groups for discussion in a “collective manner.”
Amendments will be inserted into the final document by the Relator General and the Special Secretaries, with the help of experts. Then the text will be revised by the editorial committee; and on Friday afternoon, the document will be read in the Hall on Friday afternoon, in the course of the 15th General Congregation. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, at the 16th General Congregation, the Synod Fathers will vote on the document.
Monday’s session began as usual with Mid-Morning prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. The homily was delivered by Archbishop Héctor Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, Mexico, who also serves as President of CELAM (the Latin American Episcopal Council). He invited those present to look to the example of Saint Francis and his “Canticle of the Creatures.” “For St Francis,” Archbishop Trujillo said, “beauty is not a question of aesthetics, but of love, of fraternity at any cost, of grace at any cost.” The Saint of Assisi, he said, “embraces all creatures with a love and a devotion never seen, speaking to them of the Lord and exhorting them to praise Him. In this sense, Francis came to be the originator of the medieval sentiment for nature.”
Archbishop Trujillo said that three words – “to know, to recognise, to restore” – have marked “the rhythm” of the spiritual journey of the Poor Man of Assisi; that is, to know the Supreme Good, to recognise his benefits, and render praise to Him. If for Saint Francis, sin is an appropriation “only of the will but also of the good” that the Lord works in human beings; praise, on the contrary, means restitution. “Human beings,” Archbishop Cabrejos Vidarte said, “are unable to praise God as they should, because sin has wounded the filial relationship” with the Lord.
It is for creatures, then, as St Francis states in the “Canticle,” to carry out the work of mediation to bring praise to God. In fact, creatures can fill the void created by human beings, who are unable, on account of sin, to worthily offer praise. “Saint Francis discovers in God the place of Creation,” the Archbishop said, “and restores Creation to God, because he sees in Him not only the Father of all persons, but also the Father of all things”.
The morning session was closed by a special guest who focused on the theme of integral ecology, particularly in relation to climate change.
Prefect for Communication comments on theft of statues from Rome church
At the conclusion of a press briefing in the Vatican on Monday, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, says the theft of indigenous statues is a contradiction to the spirit of dialogue.
Early on Monday morning, unidentified individuals entered the Church of St. Mary in Traspontina, near the Vatican.
They removed a group of statuettes from a side chapel, and threw them in the Tiber River nearby, posting a video of the gesture on social media.
The statuettes, which depict pregnant indigenous women, were used in an October 4 ceremony in the Vatican at the beginning of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon Region.
Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, responded to a journalist’s question at the Monday press briefing for the Synod, in the Holy See Press Office.
“We have already repeated several times here that those statues represented life, fertility, mother earth. It was a gesture – I believe – that contradicts the spirit of dialogue that should always inspire us. I don’t know what else to say except that it was a theft, and perhaps that speaks for itself.”
With thanks to Vatican News.
The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region will be held in the Vatican from 6 to 27 October. For more information, click here.