Cardinal hits back at Pan-Amazon Synod critics

Cardinal Pedro Barreto (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

A cardinal serving in the Amazon has hit back at critics of the forthcoming Synod on the region, emphasising it will help the Church stand with exploited indigenous communities and become an effective evangelising presence. Source: The Tablet.

Cardinal Pedro Barreto, a Jesuit whose archdiocese of Huncayo covers the western Amazonian region of Peru, has challenged the assumption that the territory is a “backward space”, urging “non-Amazonian societies” to learn from local cultures and their ability to protect the environment.

His intervention, contained in an article for La Civilta Cattolica magazine, comes amid intense criticism from Rome-based cardinals, Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Cardinal Raymond Burke, and traditionalist groups of the Amazon Synod’s working document, published last month.

The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region has been called by Pope Francis and will take place from October 6-27 in the Vatican. It is the first Church gathering of its kind to focus on the needs of a vast area covering Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela and the overseas territory French Guyana.

Synod organisers say the aim is to build a prophetic, mission-centred Church in the Amazon, deeply rooted in the indigenous communities, and ecologically sensitive. Its working document includes whether to ordain married elders as priests given the scarcity of clergy, along with liturgies that take into account local customs, and rituals.

Cardinal Barreto said the working document is an “expression of the voice of the people of God”.

The process, he says, took into account the contributions of 87,000 people across nine countries in the Amazon basin who took part in consultations, debates, and assemblies.

“The document largely expresses the feelings and desires of multiple representatives of the Amazon people,” he explains in his article. “This is an unprecedented experience for a special Synod, and it is, therefore – without losing sight of the fact that it is an eminently ecclesial event – a good indicator of what is happening in this territory. We believe that the expression of this wealth can bring, beyond any suspicious position, elements for a better understanding of a reality that is crying out for attention.”

Born in Lima, Cardinal Barreto has spent the vast majority of his priestly ministry in Peru, working tirelessly to defend the Amazonian region from exploitation while speaking up for marginalised communities.


Cardinal hits back at critics of Pan-Amazon Synod (The Tablet)

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