AMAZONIA: THE POPE OPENS THE SYNOD, ASKING FOR FIDELITY TO
THE SPIRIT'S INNOVATIONS
In order to be able to "walk together" to find new ways of evangelization in this very threatened region of the planet, the Pope wishes, above all, that the synodal fathers, 184 bishops, 113 of whom come from the Pan-Amazonian region, be aware that they are called to the Vatican to serve: "Our joy will be in service, for we have been served by God, who has made himself our servant".
Servants and not civil servants
They did not sign a "contract of employment" but received a gift from God, the laying on of hands, to be in turn "raised hands that intercede with the Lord and hands stretched out to our brothers," the Pope explained. However, he continued, a donation is not exchanged or sold, it is received and offered.
Francis warns those who would be tempted to appropriate this gift received, or not to put it at the centre of their action, they would then become civil servants who would make the gift, a function. It would be the end of free access. They would end up serving themselves and the Church.
"Our life, on the contrary, because of the gift received, is to serve (...) we do not act to obtain a profit, a personal gain, but because we have received gratuitously and give gratuitously".
Reviving the donation received
To be faithful to this call, it is important to "revive" the gift received, the apostle Paul to Timothy in today's second reading. This gift is indeed "a fire, it is a burning love towards God and towards our brothers", François stressed.
But a fire does not sustain itself. "He dies if he is not kept alive; he dies if he is covered with ashes.
The Pope rejects immobility, ‘we have always done it like that'. "The gift then disappears, suffocated by the ashes of fears and by the concern to defend the status quo. Following Benedict XVI, he denounced a Church that would be limited to "a pastoral care of the conversation in favour of those who already know the Gospel" and pleaded for a missionary impulse, "a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community" (Verbum Domini, n. 95)". "Jesus did not come to bring the evening breeze but a fire on the earth."
Exercise bold caution
The Holy Spirit is the fire that revives the gift, the Pope explained. A spirit of strength, love and balance, says Saint Paul to Timothy. He is not shy, undecided, or defensive but prudent, "a virtue that provides the practical reason to discern our true good in all circumstances and to choose the right means to accomplish it" (Catechism, n. 1806).
For the Pope, prudence is the virtue of the Pastor who wants to serve with wisdom. "Bold caution" that does not let things go without action.
The Pastor is also called to pray to receive the grace of being "sensitive" and "faithful" to the "newness of the Spirit"; "that he renews the ways for the Church in the Amazon so that the fire of the mission does not die out".
No to "new colonialisms"
The Special Synod on Amazonia presented in the Press Room
The Pope distinguishes the fire of God that "burns but does not consume", "a fire of love that enlightens, warms and gives life", from the fire of the world "that sets fire to and devours", annihilating "without love and without respect" peoples and cultures.
It refers to the fire "ignited by interests" responsible for the recent destruction of part of the Amazon. "It is not the one of the Gospel" that "attracts and gathers in unity"; it is "nourished by sharing and not by profit".
Nevertheless, the Pope knows that "so many times", God's gift instead of being offered has been imposed. "May God preserve us from the greed of the new colonialisms," he shouts this Sunday.
At the opening of this Synod, the Pope also emphasizes, "The devastating fire ignites when one only wants to defend personal ideas, to form one's own group, to burn diversities in order to unify everything and everyone".
Testify to the end
The Gospel is the "principal criterion for the life of the Church". Based on Paul's last exhortation to Timothy, the Pope asks the bishops to bear witness to the Gospel, without shame. "To proclaim the Gospel is to live the offering, to bear witness to the end, to do everything to everyone, to love to the point of martyrdom," explains the apostle. The Pope who thanks God because within the College of Cardinals there are some martyred cardinal brothers.
Finally, the Pope points out that it is appropriate to serve the Gospel not with the power of the world, but with the sole strength of God, "always remaining in humble love, believing that the only way to possess life is to lose it out of love".
The Pope invites us to look towards the pierced heart of Jesus Crucified, where the gift arose, from where the Spirit springs. In the Amazon, many missionaries gave their lives, says Francis. This Sunday he invites the Synod Fathers to walk alongside those who have given and continue to give their lives in the Amazon to offer the Gospel to those who await its liberating consolation.