Which issues will Amazon synod address?

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Pope Francis has called for a synod on the Pan-Amazon region in October 2019, a meeting much more relevant than it may seem at first glance.

For weeks, bishops from that area will debate the challenges they find there, issues which affect everyone. It involves the socio-environmental crisis the pope announced in his social encyclical Laudato si', and it ranges from climate change to a lack of vocations.

Executive Secretary, Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network
“They will address all signals of death, of nonsense, of hopelessness among these people who are being affected. At the same time, they are signals of life because they are a huge wealth for the whole planet. On the other hand, there is also the perspective of the earth's future.”

Mauricio López is one of the main world experts on the Amazon. He is the secretary general of the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network, which coordinates the Catholic Church's work in the area. 

According to statistics, the future of the planet depends heavily on the Amazon basin. For example, 20 percent of the earth's potable water supply and 20 percent of its oxygen are produced there. Therefore, many of our decisions have grave consequences on the region.

Executive Secretary, Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network
“The future of all human beings also depends on whether or not we take care of these living spaces, of these forests, of these waters, but above all, the richness and the knowledge of their populations.”

The Pan-Amazon is a territory that encompasses parts of nine countries and is being deeply affected by natural gas and oil mining, illegal logging and the rapid expansion of cattle ranching and agriculture. 

The one million indigenous people who live there are those affected most. The region is composed of some 400 populations, each with its own language, culture and territory. 

Mauricio López believes the synod will help people appreciate these indigenous populations' cultural richness and identity, and to think about how the Church will face this reality. 

The synod's other challenge is the lack of missionaries in the region. There is a need for people willing to devote their lives to the service of those who live there. 

Although the synod will begin in October 2019, it will have an important prologue next January, with Pope Francis' visit to Puerto Maldonado, Perú, in the Amazon basin. 

Executive Secretary, Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network
“It's like an opening of this synod. We believe it will give clear indications. The fact that the pope will find himself among the ancient, indigenous and rural communities, that is already giving us an idea of where this long-awaited synod could take things.”

The synod will be an opportunity to learn about the Amazon's challenges. It won't be a synod about ecology, but rather one about the Church's role in a territory. Attendees will have different perspectives, but will hopefully produce more than a fragmented response. 

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