Vatican News staff

THE VATICAN — “The Spirit continues to overflow from the Amazon two years after Querida Amazonia”. Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops made the remark in a statement on Saturday, marking the 2nd anniversary of Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

Deacon Shainkiam Yampik Wananch leads a liturgy with
indigenous Achuar people at a chapel in Wijint, a village in the
Peruvian Amazon, Aug. 20, 2019.
CNS photo/Maria Cervantes, Reuters.

          Querida Amazonia (‘Beloved Amazonia’ in Spanish), was released on 2 February, 2020.  It followed the 6 to 27 October 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region in the Vatican on the theme, "Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology.”

          “On this second anniversary of Querida Amazonia,” Cardinal Grech said, “this breath of God’s Spirit continues to generate new life for the good of the church.”  He pointed out that the many responses received from both church and civil circles point to two most essential elements of this document: “the lives of the peoples that are embodied therein and the promise made as a church to respect and honour their voices in search of a genuine conversion.”

          He noted that taking steps in this direction takes time. “Some seeds are still in the process of germination, others have not borne fruit, but many have grown, are flourishing, and will continue to give life for generations to come.”  However, Querida Amazonia remains as relevant now as it was then. “It continues to be a love letter written for and with the People of God who are on pilgrimage in this beautiful and threatened territory.” 

          Cardinal Grech underscored the urgency of the social, cultural, ecological and ecclesial dreams evoked by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Exhortation saying they cannot be put off. These dreams embody a revival of Vatican Council II’s most profound invitations, making Querida Amazonia a means by which the church might be led to an integral synodal conversion to which the upcoming Synod 2021-2023 is inviting everyone.

          Since the publication of the document, the cardinal says, God continues to manifest himself in the lives of peoples of the Amazonia and in the testimony of an incarnate church, which is both holy and sinful.

          The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops noted that during the preparation for Synod on the Amazon, Pope Francis said: “the periphery is the centre". This can be understood as a fundamental Gospel element that might shed light on the two years that have passed since the publication of Querida Amazonia. Hence, what “used to be discarded or secondary in this territory has become a cornerstone, healing a broken world and creating new possibilities for the Church”.

Pilgrims travel in boats as they accompany the statue of Our
Lady of Nazareth during an annual river procession and
pilgrimage along the Apeu River to a chapel in Macapazinho,
Brazil, Aug. 3, 2014.         CNS photo/Ney Marcondes, Reuters

          “This ‘way’, where the marginalized become a source of life, is proper to the very way of Jesus.” The voices of the people from the Amazonia are changing the pastoral model for their church, and are becoming a source of renewed life for the church and the world.

          By listening to the Amazonia people and effectively incorporating their voices in deciding ecclesial projects, Cardinal Grech said, the church has been strengthened, making the disciples of Christ the true subjects of their own history.

          Recalling the theme of the 2023 synod — communion, participation and mission — he said, “we cannot speak of synodality without the effective participation of the holy faithful People of God”.

          Cardinal Grech also pointed out that the Holy Father is planning to establish the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon (CEAMA) on an experimental basis, a fruit of the Synod on the Amazon and Querida Amazonia

          CEAMA would articulate the regional bodies of the Church such as the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Council (CELAM), the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious men and women (CLAR), CARITAS of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM).

          Currently, several commissions and working groups, which include the direct participation of local people, are taking on some of the most urgent tasks proposed by Querida Amazonia for the church’s mission. 

Editor's note: Follow this link to an article about the expanding role of catechists in the Amazon region.