On Sunday, October 27th, the Synod on the Amazon ended.
Over the course of nearly two years, 45 territorial meetings were held in the Amazon in order to give an opportunity for the whole church in the region to come together with their bishops and to voice their suffering, their concerns, what they are living day-to-day as victims of the extractive industries that are exploiting their environment to the detriment of their health, their lands, their rivers.
Their concerns, their fears, and their feelings came across loud and clear during this process.
But what does the Synod mean for people of faith who don't live in the Amazon?
The Amazon Synod is an invitation for faith communities within other biomes to engage in a process of listening and discernment. In this regard, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (or, REPAM) is a model for others.
REPAM is a Latin American Catholic Church network connecting faith communities, indigenous communities, and NGOs in order to respond to the challenges facing the people of the Amazon and their natural environment. REPAM was one of the organizers of the Amazon Synod process. Sister networks are being created in other biomes across the world, including the Congo Basin, the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, and the tropical forests of the Asia Pacific region.
In the United States, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia has done similar work, exemplified by its bishops’ pastorals This Land Is Home to Me (1975) and At Home in the Web of Life (1995). Other biomes within the United States would benefit from REPAM’s model and the Amazon Synod’s process, for example, the desert biome in the Southwest US or the Grassland biome in the Central and Midwest US.
How can your faith community initiate or get involved in this kind of listening and discernment? Send us your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.