A synod for the Amazon

Two years ago, Pope Francis announced he would convene a special Synod of Bishops in 2019 to focus on the Amazon region of South America. This monthlong gathering takes place in October at the Vatican. 

By Joe Towalski

Why a special meeting focused on this area of the world? The Amazon region encompasses more than 3 million square miles and touches nine countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. It’s an area rich in natural resources, including the world’s largest rainforest, and holds a significant percentage of the planet’s fresh water. 

It’s also an area of the world that faces a host of challenges: environmental exploitation, corruption, human rights violations and a Church seeking to evangelize and be prophetic in the midst of these trials. Living the faith under these circumstances comes with an extra set of challenges, including a lack of priests, which makes it difficult to celebrate the Eucharist in many areas, and the need to better recognize the gifts of women so they can take on more ministry roles. 

Young members of an indigenous group from the Amazon region listen during a meeting with Pope Francis during a Jan. 19 meeting at Madre de Dios stadium in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Preparations for the synod have not been without controversy. The preparatory document for the synod has suggested the possibility of having married priests serving the remotest indigenous communities, although Pope Francis has voiced his opposition in the past to the idea of optional celibacy for the priesthood. 

The discussions and decisions at the synod promise to ripple beyond the Amazon to the rest of the Church. This is why it’s important to understand and follow news about the gathering. You can read an overview about the meeting on pages 18-20 and receive the latest updates on our website: www.TheCentralMinnesotaCatholic.org. 



Are you a parish staff member, volunteer or schoolteacher in need of some spiritual refreshment? Would you like to learn practical skills to help you in your ministry? How about having an opportunity to share your ministry experiences with others from around the diocese? 

You can do all of the above at this year’s Diocesan Ministry Day on Sept. 30 at St. John’s University. Keynoter Laura Kelly Fanucci, director of the Communities of Calling Initiative at the Collegeville Institute, will present “Serve, Speak, Lead: Our Baptismal Call to Be Priest, Prophet, and King.” More than 30 workshops and lunchtime conversations will touch on a wide array of ministry topics. Bishop Donald Kettler will kick off the day with Mass. 

To get started on the right foot, all are welcome to attend a pre-DMD evening retreat at St. John’s focused on our baptismal call, followed by a “Beer, Brats & Bishop” social with Bishop Kettler at Brother Willie’s Pub. 

You can read more about Diocesan Ministry Day on page 6 and register for all the events at: www.stcdio.org/dmd2019. I hope to see you there! 

Author: Joe Towalski

Joe Towalski is the editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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