Pope to Church leaders: Be open to change

Cheryl Sanders
October 9, 2019

Celebrating the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon Oct. 6, the pope said, "Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth".

"Fires that are motivated by destructive interests, like the one that recently devastated the Amazon, are not in line with the gospel", he said.

In his sermon, Francis said some Church leaders risked becoming "bureaucrats, not shepherds", and urged them to have the courage of rekindling what he called the fire of God's gift by being open to change. God's fire "is fed by sharing, not by profits", he added. "The fireplace that destroys, on the other hand, blazes up when people want to encourage only their individual ideas, kind their very own group, wipe out discrepancies in the endeavor to make anyone and everything uniform".

"Identify the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role they play today in the Church in the Amazon".

The summit is seen as a challenge to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who stands on a platform of religious conservatism but combines it with a push to open the Amazon to mining and logging interests - legislating to remove rights from its indigenous inhabitants. "If we refuse to surrender our territories for cattle ranchers and soybean farms - two of the main drivers of deforestation in the Amazon - we are often labeled criminals, illegals or terrorists", she said.

The synod, which operates right until October 27, will also mirror on generating official roles for females, who now play a central part in the Amazonian Church.

But he said he was skeptical about the proposal to ordain married men, noting that the region doesn't even have enough catechists to teach lay people about their faith, much less train indigenous deacons or priests.

"When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect, it is not God's fire but that of the world", he insisted for those who found the Synod's working document's call to take into account the cultures and spirituality of the Amazonian peoples an unbearable "pantheism". "For them, and with them, let us journey together".

The right-wing nationalist-leaning President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, whose policies on the Amazon experts believe are responsible for fuelling the recent fires, is also anxious about the synod.

The pope in his homily also voiced regret that the Church had in the past promoted "colonisation rather than evangelisation", but warned against "the greed of new forms of colonialism".

Pope Francis is hosting a three-week meeting of bishops from nine countries of the Amazon region region to vote on new measures on topics ranging from environmental protection to ordaining married men.

Other reports by iNewsToday