Paraguay Archbishop emeritus promotes evangelization in the Amazon

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15/11/2022
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Edmundo Valenzuela is the Archbishop emeritus of Asunción, Paraguay's only archdiocese. In 2015, he coordinated Pope Francis' visit to the country and even rode alongside him in the popemobile.

Archbishop Valenzuela says the secret of making the Pope feel at home was welcoming him with images of the Jesuit saint, Roque González de Santa Cruz, and the Virgin of Caacupé. Pope Francis became fond of the tradition of displaying these two figures when he was archbishop of the Paraguayan community of Buenos Aires.

ABP. EDMUNDO VALENZUELA
Archbishop Emeritus, Asunción, Paraguay

I saw the Pope change from being very tired—coming from Bolivia and Ecuador—to being a smiling, attentive and kind person, blessing our people.

The Archbishop emeritus was chosen by the Pope as one of the writers for the final document of the Amazon Synod. He believes that new vocations are so few in the Amazon region because it has not yet been evangelized. The two-day commute between villages only makes it more difficult.

ABP. EDMUNDO VALENZUELA
Archbishop Emeritus, Asunción Paraguay

The priestly vocation typically comes from a family that has already been evangelized and appreciates prayer. They appreciate the Church, the sacraments, the voluntary and gratuitous service to God. That is why vocations can be difficult and why they come from outside the region.

Archbishop Valenzuela points to Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia as the main sources of vocations in the Amazon. In his opinion, the missionaries of these countries 'have laid the seed' for local priests in the future. He hopes that the communities that are underserved today will one day be able to receive the sacraments.

ABP. EDMUNDO VALENZUELA
Archbishop Emeritus, Asunción Paraguay

If the Eucharist is the life of a community, then it cannot be that these villages in the Amazon have a priest visit only once a year.

In addition to fostering indigenous culture and evangelizing locals, Archbishop Valenzuela explains that the Amazon Synod has another objective: to be an example. If preservation in the Amazon is successful, the boreal forest in Canada or the rainforest in the Congo could also be protected.

ABP. EDMUNDO VALENZUELA
Archbishop Emeritus, Asunción Paraguay

May the entire Amazon area be preserved as a model for places such as the Chaco area and the Guarani Aquifer in Paraguay, as well as regions in Africa and India. Then, the population of the world can respect our ecology.

The Archbishop emeritus clarifies that the goal of the Amazon Synod is not to create a new ideology regarding the indigenous people but to attend to them pastorally.

Archbishop Valenzuela says that although there are cultural differences between Europe and the Amazon, the Church loves and works for both of them.

RM
TR: MG

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