All articles from November 5, 2019


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Lisa Correnti

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Senate leader pulls funding bill that promotes abortion, homosexuality

Lisa Correnti
By Lisa Correnti

PETITION: Call on Senate and Trump to REJECT Democrats' $60M abortion budget bill language Sign the petition here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2019 (C-Fam) — Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) withdrew the overseas funding bill from a package of appropriation bills last week because of pro-life concerns.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) had made a last-minute amendment to the State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) bill in the appropriations subcommittee last month increasing funding to groups that promote abortions overseas. Her amendment also directed funding to the pro-abortion UN population agency.

Pro-life leaders saw the amendment as an attempt to undermine and evade the administration's signature international pro-life policy, Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (colloquially known as Mexico City Policy). They charge the amendment also violated a budget deal reached in August. Republicans and the White House had agreed to raise the debt ceiling provided the Democrats refrained from adding "poison pill" amendments during the appropriation process.

Though not specific to abortion the agreement stated, "There will be no poison pills, additional new riders ... that allow for higher spending levels, or any non-appropriations measures unless agreed to on a bipartisan basis by the four leaders with the approval of the President."

Following Shaheen's amendment, 45 pro-life organizations and the Senate pro-life caucus chaired by Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) asked Leader McConnell to amend the bill before it advanced.

"It's our duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society," Daines said. "I am deeply concerned about how this amendment undermines pro-life policies abroad and I will continue to work to defeat it."

Shaheen, a longtime member of the subcommittee tasked with funding overseas diplomacy, development and humanitarian assistance, annually proposes an amendment that undermines U.S. funding restrictions on abortion and abortion-related activities and increases funding to family planning groups abroad that are known to promote abortion.

The Shaheen amendment routinely passes due to support from two Republican senators who promote abortion — Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

This year, due to the budget agreement, the Shaheen amendment did not directly attack the administration's Mexico City Policy, but the amendment still increased bilateral family planning funds from $575M to $632M and appropriated $32.5M to the UN Population Fund. The funds would likely be diverted to domestic organizations that already receive $74.6M in international family planning funding, and that are not affected by the President's international pro-life policy.

More concerning to pro-life leaders, and new this year, Shaheen's amendment incorporated a non-discrimination policy established during the twilight hours of the Obama administration that prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The non-discrimination regulation prohibits U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) "contractors from discriminating on the basis of, inter alia, "age" or "sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy)" such as "by withholding, adversely impacting, or denying equitable access to" USAID-funded supplies and services."

The non-discrimination clause would create a chilling effect for USAID to partner with pro-life, pro-family, or faith-based contractors. It will directly undermine USAID's New Partnerships Initiative (NPI), that helps in-country community and faith-based organizations to partner with USAID. Pro-life organizations could be found in violation of discrimination on the basis of "pregnancy" for not providing abortion.

Also problematic in the foreign operations bill was a scheme to funnel funding to abortion groups by integrating health into women economic empowerment programs despite it being outside what a new women's economic empowerment law requires. The proposed pilot program circumventing legislative approval made its way into the report language through Sen. Lindsey Graham's office.

Published with permission from C-Fam.

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Trump at the September 2016 Values Voter Summit. Andrew Parish / LifeSiteNews
Susan Yoshihara

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Trump admin torpedoes abortion language for second year at UN Security Council

Susan Yoshihara
By Susan Yoshihara

NEW YORK, November 5, 2019 (C-Fam) — For the second year in a row, the U.S. kept abortion-related language out of a UN Security Council resolution on women in crisis and conflict. It is a victory for the Trump administration, which has been pushing to eliminate the phrase "sexual and reproductive health" from UN documents. It is a blow to Europeans who insist that abortion be funded as humanitarian aid.

The U.S. had wanted to go further and eliminate from the resolution any reference to other documents that mention the term. U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Kelly Craft said after the unanimous vote to adopt the resolution, "We cannot accept references to 'sexual and reproductive health,' nor any references to 'safe termination of pregnancy' or language that would promote abortion or suggest a right to abortion."

Under the Obama administration, references to "sexual and reproductive health" appeared in two versions of the recurring resolution on Women Peace and Security, promoted by France and other European nations and supported by UN Women and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. This week, the Trump administration was willing to break with the typical practice of reaffirming all previous iterations of the resolution in order to avoid reference to them.

This is the second time in recent months that the Europeans were defeated in attempts to include abortion in the Women Peace and Security agenda. They were stopped in April when the U.S. threatened to veto the last iteration of the resolution.

The US position has changed abortion politics at the UN. The term "sexual and reproductive health" was allowed to proliferate as long as it could be kept ambiguous: pro-life, mostly developing, countries could claim it did not include abortion while still accepting reproductive health funding from donor nations.

The diplomatic bargain of deliberate ambiguity, worked out in the halls of UN negotiating rooms, is not enforced on the ground. Donors, mostly Europeans, who define the term as including abortion, include it in foreign aid. UN agencies and implementing partners use the ambiguity to include abortion even where it is restricted, and to advocate for further liberalization as a matter of rights, though it is not in any UN agency's official mandate or any UN human rights treaty.

Reflective of this tactic, a spokesperson for the abortion litigation firm, Center for Reproductive Rights, told reporters this week that the term is about premature labor, low birthweight, and sexually transmitted diseases, and called the U.S. position of debating the term "arcane." The U.S. State Department removed the term from its annual human rights report citing such double speak.

The Security Council debate shows the US is willing to push back at the accusations of its allies. European nations, including America's close allies, Britain and France, accuse the U.S. of violating the Geneva Conventions. They referred to the Helms Amendment to U.S. foreign aid law, which forbids funding abortion. In fact, there is no such provision in the laws of war, and it does not control application of domestic law.

Published with permission from C-Fam.

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Jude and James Younger Save James / Facebook
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7-year-old whose mom tried to ‘transition’ him chooses to attend school as a boy

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PETITION: Support Dad and Texas Governor's bid to save 7-year-old boy from being turned into girl #ProtectJamesYounger Sign the petition here.

DALLAS, Texas, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Seven-year-old James Younger, whose mother enrolled him in kindergarten as a “girl,” has finally been able to attend school as a boy for the first time.  

James’ parents’ fight over whether he should be subjected to a gender “transition” garnered national attention after LifeSiteNews and The Texan reported on the trial. 

Mr. Jeffrey Younger was fighting to prevent his ex-wife Dr. Anne Georgulas from “transitioning” James into “Luna.” The custody battle over James and his twin, Jude, sparked public outcry. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation into the situation, as did other conservative leaders.

On October 24, Judge Kim Cooks awarded Dr. Georgulas and Mr. Younger joint managing conservatorship and joint decision making of James and Jude. The new ruling increased Mr. Younger’s time with his boys and allowed him to have his boys on school nights. Dr. Georgulas will not be able to subject James to medical “transitioning” without Mr. Younger’s consent, although a court-appointed individual will be able to make decisions if the parents cannot come to an agreement.

In the ruling, one of the court findings highlighted a statement from Dr. Albritton, the custody evaluator, that Dr. Georgulas was “over and above affirming.” The court also found that “the Mother has exceeded the scope of the exclusive rights and duties provided in the prior order.” 

According to a Facebook post from the Save James page – which is now run by friends of the family, as Mr. Younger is under a gag order – James chose to wear boy clothes to school while he was staying with his father. Mr. Younger argued in court that James does not want to be a girl, citing James’ choice to wear boy clothes and use his legal name, James, when with Mr. Younger. Mr. Younger also testified to an incident when James threw away the dresses James had at Mr. Younger’s home in the middle of the night. 

Prior to the judge’s ruling, James had always been with his mother, who calls him “Luna,” when attending school. 

Moving forward, James will be allowed to pick what name he wants to be called at school. 

Prior to Judge Cooks’ newest ruling, Dr. Georgulas had complete authority over psychological and psychiatric care for the boys. The previous ruling granting Dr. Georgulas complete psychiatric and psychological care was also made by Judge Cooks. 

In addition to granting conservatorship, Judge Cooks placed a gag order on Mr. Younger and Dr. Georgulas preventing them from speaking about the case until James and Jude turn 18. Judge Cooks also ordered that SaveJames.com, a website created by friends of Mr. Younger and at the time of the trial run by Mr. Younger, be taken down. 

SaveJames supporters have since created a new website in James’ honor to fight to save thousands of children from chemical castration via puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. This was displayed prominently on the old site before it was removed. 

The new site is now sjsavethousands.com

SaveJames supporters see the fight as far from over and are focusing their efforts on legislation to protect children from gender “transitioning.”

Alan Echols, a SaveJames supporter from early on who now helps with the SaveJames Facebook page, told LifeSiteNews, “We determined to get louder and now have thousands who will hold those Senators and Representatives accountable during the next election. We the people are fed up with the attacks on children by the transgender agenda.” 

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Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

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‘Girls are not real’: Mom sues Ottawa teacher, school for traumatizing their daughter

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OTTAWA, November 5, 2019 (Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms) — The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (www.jccf.ca) is representing a young girl ("NB") and her mother in an application before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the child's former teacher and the principal of the school. The family brought the claim for discrimination on the basis of gender identity, for teaching NB and her class there are no such things as girls or boys. NB identifies strongly as a girl.

The amended application includes a claim for discrimination on the basis of sex, and notes the child's rights to security of the person and equality under sections 7 and 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have also been infringed.

This case has attracted considerable attention in the media, notably in columns by Barbara Kay (here and here), and by University of Toronto Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson.

In the early part of 2018, NB was a 6-year-old student in a grade one class taught by "JB". The teacher showed the class a YouTube video entitled, "He, She, and They?!? — Gender: Queer Kid Stuff #2". The video contained a number of statements about gender identity, and asserted that "some people aren't boys or girls" and that those who do not feel like a 'she' or a 'he' might not have a gender. In order to determine who is a girl or a boy — or neither, the video says, all you have to do is ask someone their pronouns.

On another occasion, JB drew a gender spectrum on the board and asked each student to identify where they fit on the spectrum. NB indicated that she was on the furthest end of the spectrum marked "girl." JB then told the class that "girls are not real, and boys are not real." This was extremely upsetting to NB.

NB went home and told her parents, repeatedly asking why her identity as a girl was "not real."  She stated that she was not sure if she wanted to be a mommy when she grew up, and asked if she could "go to the doctor" about this issue. NB also expressed feeling that she "had to do something" about the fact that she is a girl. This followed a lesson by JB on the concepts of gender spectrum and sex changes.

Neither the school nor JB obtained parental consent to teach this young child that her sense of self as a girl was a fiction. JB's conduct undermined their daughter's foundational concept of identity, and also contradicted biological reality, the application alleges.

Despite the family's expression of concern, school officials refused to take any steps to correct the impact of these lessons on NB. Ultimately the family opted to move her to a different school, which made NB happy that she would no longer have a teacher who said that "girls are not real." Even after moving to the new school, NB continued to be upset by her experience in JB's class, and grappled with the concept that her own identity was not something real. "This table is real, and this fan is real, and even if the fan was made out of cardboard, it's still real," she expressed to her mother, who was concerned enough to seek guidance from a psychologist on how to assist her daughter, according to the application.

"If everyone has a gender identity, and gender identities are protected under the Code, then NB's gender identity as a girl should be protected," said Justice Centre staff lawyer Lisa Bildy. "If the School Board can accommodate the inclusion of trans and other gender identities into the classroom setting, then surely they can accommodate the inclusion of children who experience no discord between their biology and their sense of self."

Some gender theorists and activists now argue not only that "gender identity" is on a spectrum, but that sex is also on a spectrum, meaning that there are no longer distinct categories of male and female. Among other things, the family is asking the Tribunal to award a remedy that the school board stop "teaching gender theory in any manner which suggests that sex categories of male and female do not exist, or are fluid, or exist on a spectrum."

"To teach otherwise cannot be anything but discrimination on the basis of sex, which is a protected ground," said Ms. Bildy. "If we cannot describe the physical reality of biological sex, then women can no longer defend their human rights as women."

Published with permission from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

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Katherine Ragsdale, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation YouTube screenshot
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Lesbian Episcopal ‘priest’ named new head of National Abortion Federation

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By Claire Chretien

November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The National Abortion Federation (NAF) has announced that its new president and CEO is Katherine Ragsdale, a lesbian Episcopal “priest” and longtime abortion activist.

“Abortion providers are some of my personal heroes and modern-day saints,” Ragsdale said when the news was announced. She had been NAF’s interim president and CEO since September 2018.

In 2011, she “married” another female Episcopal “priest,” Mally Lloyd. It is unclear if they are still together; Ragsdale’s bio on NAF’s website makes no mention of Lloyd.

“For decades, Katherine Ragsdale, a false prophet, has been trying to put religious vestments on child-killing,” Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, told LifeSiteNews. “She led the ‘Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights’ (now the ‘Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’), which actually provides rites of blessing for parents about to kill their children, and for the facilities in which the blood is shed.” 

That group also provides “Scripture studies that attempt to say exactly the opposite of what Scripture says about what God thinks of the shedding of innocent blood,” explained Pavone.

Fr. Pavone said it’s not surprising that NAF chose Ragsdale to lead it. 

“It actually reveals one of the greatest weaknesses of the abortion industry: science is not on their side, logic is not on their side, and history is not on their side,” he explained. “They ran out of arguments a long time ago to try to justify abortion. So now, all they have left is to disguise it in ‘spirituality.’”

“They try in vain to take the stigma out of abortion — but that effort continues, and that is what this new development represents,” he said.

In an April 2019 speech at a Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund fundraiser, Ragsdale claimed that the Bible says nothing about abortion and that it’s dishonest and manipulative to call the human in the womb a “baby.” 

“‘One inch from life,’ they say while showing a picture of a Gerber baby,” Ragsdale said of pro-life advocates who oppose partial-birth abortion. The audience laughed. 

“Apart from ‘one inch from life’ being a lie, the Gerber baby image is a lie,” she continued. “And actually, using the word ‘baby’ is a manipulative lie.” 

However, comments made by abortionists affiliated with NAF paint a different picture. Undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) taken at a NAF conference shows abortionists saying the work they do is “killing,” complaining about how “difficult” it is to tear apart a fetus, and lamenting that they’re not given a place to discuss the “heads that get stuck that we can’t get out.”

Late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart, meanwhile, told a BBC reporter this year, “I think that it is a baby, and I use [the word] with patients.” 

“And you don’t have a problem...with...killing a baby?” the reporter hesitantly asked.

“I have no problem if it’s in the mother’s uterus,” Carhart responded without flinching.

Planned Parenthood is suing CMP over the videos showing its participation in the trafficking of baby body parts. The state of California is also prosecuting the pro-life journalists of CMP while those they exposed walk free. NAF has also brought a lawsuit against CMP; it is suspended pending the outcome of other litigation.

Fr. Pavone has for decades helped former abortionists and their staff “deal with the wounds abortion inflicts on them.”  

“A big part of their healing is to dig themselves out of the many layers of lies that they told themselves to justify the killing they carried out,” he said. “Those lies take many forms: rationalization; intellectualization; and here, in the example of False Prophet Ragsdale’s leadership, ‘spiritualization.’ And the lies by which spiritual and biblical language attempt to justify murder are among the most damaging to those who fall captive to them.”

NAF’s previous CEO and president, Vicki Saporta, brought in a salary of $392,018 in 2017, according to the organization’s publicly available tax records.

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PA State Representative Wendy Ullman while commenting on early miscarriage, Oct. 29, 2019.
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Pennsylvania Dem’s ‘apology’ fails to quell outrage over callous miscarriage remarks

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By Calvin Freiburger

November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Democrat state lawmaker who came under fire last week for referring to miscarried babies as “just some mess on a napkin” has issued an apology for her “poorly chosen” language, but many women are deeming it insufficient to account for her original comments.

During a hearing on proposed legislation to provide for humane burial of miscarried or aborted babies, Pennsylvania state Rep. Wendy Ullman said the following while objecting to the bill: “It refers specifically to the product of conception after fertilization which covers an awful lot of territory. I think we all understand the concept of the loss of a fetus, but we’re also talking about a woman who comes into a facility and is having cramps and — not to be, not to be, concrete — an early miscarriage is just some mess on a napkin.”

Tom Shaheen, vice president of the Policy for Pennsylvania Family Institute, which publicized video of the incident, summarized the pro-life objection to Ullman’s remarks by declaring “a miscarriage, no matter how early, does not result in a ‘mess on a napkin’ but the loss of a child. Each human life deserves respect, even when lost at an early stage in development.”

On November 1, Ullman explained that she had “struggled for words” while “relaying a story of my family friend,” and the result was that her “words were poorly chosen, and I apologize. I remain steadfast that every single step of a medical process, including the handling of remains, should be decided by a patient and her doctor”:

 

On Monday, The Daily Wire compiled reactions from numerous readers who did not accept Ullman’s explanation:

Most other readers of the lawmaker’s thread found her “apology” insufficient:

Many of the responses came from women who’ve suffered miscarriage and others who have been affected by miscarriage.

The bill, HB 1890, cleared the Health Committee 15-10, with every Democrat member voting against it. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar provision of Indiana’s law. Motivated by horror stories about abortion facilities destroying the babies they kill with methods such as “big ovens,” such bills are meant to prevent the bodies of aborted children from being treated like medical waste, both out of respect for their dignity and to underscore their humanity.

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Teacher suspended, investigated for allegedly segregating students based on religious values

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By Calvin Freiburger

FOUR OAKS, North Carolina, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A first-year Spanish teacher in North Carolina is currently under investigation by education officials for allegedly making her high-school students line up based on their religious beliefs before asking for their views on abortion and LGBT issues.

Parents and students say that on Friday, Julia Lopp of Johnston High School had her students line up based on whether they believed in God and whether they had mental health issues or panic attacks, according to the Johnston County Report. She then allegedly asked whether they supported or opposed abortion, “LGBT rights,” and warned that if word of the exercise ever left the classroom, she would not give the leaking students job or college recommendations.

News of the incident did leak out, however, leading school officials to suspend Lopp with pay while turning the matter over to human resources for investigation.

“This is an unfortunate incident and one I wish had not happened,” Superintendent Dr. Jim Causby said. “It is never appropriate for a teacher to segregate students based on religious,  political or personal beliefs.  In fact, it is not appropriate for a teacher to even ask a student what their beliefs are. Our school system takes very seriously the rights of students in these areas and students should never be instructed to not share classroom activities with their parents.”

"I don't mind prayer in school and things like that because you pray to your own religion," concerned mother Natasha Chancey told local ABC affiliate WTVD. "But for instance to be asking about God because there are so many different religions and everyone has their own beliefs, that might be saying one is better than the other.”

"It's pretty crazy," said Ethan Johnson, a student who wasn’t in Lopp’s class but has friends who were. "I wouldn't expect nothing like that; it's just weird. I don't even know if teachers are allowed to talk about religion at school because no one at South does."

A petition supporting Lopp has collected more than 370 signatures, with several claiming the incident was some sort of “diversity” exercise that had been blown out of proportion, but without a clear explanation of what she was supposedly trying to do, and no defense of the teacher’s warning not to tell parents or other school officials.

Lopp herself says she has been asked not to publicly comment while the investigation is pending, WRAL reported.

“When the investigation is completed, I will review the findings and determine what final decisions need to be made,” Causby said.

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin
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Abortion, religious freedom at stake in today’s elections for governors of Kentucky and Mississippi

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By Calvin Freiburger

November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Abortion and LGBT policy hang in the balance with today’s elections for the governorships of Kentucky and Mississippi, with the election for the next governor of Louisiana following soon afterward.

In Kentucky, Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin has made abortion a central issue of his campaign against Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear. Bevin has accused Beshear of accepting “blood money” from Louisville abortion center owner Ernest Marshall and of failing to defend pro-life laws in court. 

Additionally, the American Principles Project released an ad in September painting Beshear as a pro-transgender extremist, accusing him of supporting the so-called Equality Act, which the ad says “would destroy girls’ sports,” and of failing to support legislation that would protect parents’ right to refuse “medical” treatment such as hormone therapy for children.

In Mississippi, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is running against Democrat Attorney General Jim Hood to succeed outgoing Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who was term-limited from running again. Reeves calls himself “100% pro-life,” declares abortion “the greatest evil of our time,” and has supported legislation to protect religious liberty.

Hood, meanwhile, calls himself a pro-life Democrat and says he would have signed Mississippi’s fetal heartbeat bill, but has expressed reluctance about defending it in court. He has represented pro-life cases in the past, but has also downplayed abortion as a “divisive social issue.” He also declined to participate in a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom mandate, and opposed defending a state law protecting religious objections to same-sex “marriage.”

On November 16, Louisiana voters will choose between incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican businessman Eddie Rispone. While Edwards is a rare pro-life Democrat governor who went so far as to sign the state’s heartbeat law in May, he has a much more liberal record on LGBT issues, such as rescinding religious liberty protections and trying to mandate that state discrimination laws recognize sexual orientation and “gender identity.”

Rispone, who defeated Republican state Rep. Ralph Abraham (an outspoken social conservative) in last month’s open primary, also supports the heartbeat law. He has framed himself as a “conservative outsider who stands with our president,” and given conservative answers on religious liberty, LGBT “discrimination,” parental rights, and sex education.

Recent polls show all three races to be extremely close. Bevin and Beshear are tied in Kentucky with 46% apiece, Reeves is just three points ahead of Hood in Mississippi, and Edwards is just two points ahead of Rispone in Louisiana. Voter turnout is likely to be a major factor in the ultimate winners of all three races.

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11,000 scientists demand population control because of ‘climate emergency’

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By Claire Chretien
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November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – 11,000 scientists have signed onto an article declaring that “the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced,” because a “climate emergency” threatens “the fate of humanity.”

Written by the Alliance of World Scientists and full of alarmist, apocalyptic language, the article was published today in BioScience

“Still increasing by roughly 80 million people per year, or more than 200,000 per day...the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity,” the authors wrote. 

“There are proven and effective policies that strengthen human rights while lowering fertility rates and lessening the impacts of population growth on GHG emissions and biodiversity loss. These policies make family-planning services available to all people, remove barriers to their access and achieve full gender equity, including primary and secondary education as a global norm for all, especially girls and young women,” they continued, citing a study from John Bongaarts, a population control activist who spoke at the Vatican in 2017.

Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk, however, has gone on record stating that the “biggest problem” facing the world is not population explosion, but “population collapse” because of plummeting birth rates. 

“Most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually this is an outdated view,” said Musk in an August 19 live-streamed debate with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. chairman Jack Ma at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.

Demographers have for years already been warning Western countries with below replacement-level birth rates about what some call the “demographic winter” as a result of the decline. In such a collapse, the old outnumber the young, creating severe imbalances. Economies suffer. Some could even crash. The result could negatively impact, and could prove detrimental, to some of the main infrastructures — such as financial systems and healthcare — that contribute to living in a western democracy.

The Alliance of World Scientists also called for a “carbon-free economy” and less meat-eating. 

“The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle,” they wrote, not mentioning the private jets and sizable carbon footprints of many of the most elite, outspoken climate alarmists.

“The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions... In the present article, we show general patterns, mostly at the global scale, because there are many climate efforts that involve individual regions and countries. Our vital signs are designed to be useful to the public, policymakers, the business community, and those working to implement the Paris climate agreement, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.”

Pro-life activists have long criticized the UN Sustainable Development Goals for being pro-abortion and pro-contraception, and warned that population control efforts undermine human rights and the family. Some population control advocates, such as Jeffrey Sachs (who was also invited to speak at the Vatican during the Francis pontificate), have openly called for forced abortion and sterilization.

Mainstream media promoted the pro-population control article, of which the Drudge Report also took note.

The BioScience article has been released on the heels of the Synod on the Pan-Amazonian Region, a meeting of Catholic bishops and religious ostensibly to discuss issues facing the Amazon. Many Catholics were concerned that the Amazon Synod would be used to advance a progressive, anti-Catholic, globalist agenda while also pushing for changes to unchangeable Catholic teaching. 

Some of the demands of the BioScience article seem to be in the same vein as the Amazon Synod’s final document (which LifeSiteNews just translated from Spanish to English for the benefit of English-speaking Catholics): concerns about the extraction of materials, the insistence that governments do more to combat man-made “climate change,” a call to consume less meat.  

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‘A hero’: Vatican whistleblower Viganò praises man who threw Pachamama in Tiber

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean
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Alexander Tschugguel in a Nov. 5, 2019 video.
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‘Pachamamas’ headed for a plunge into the Tiber River

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

ROME, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has praised the young man who took pagan statuettes out of a Catholic church in Rome last month during the Amazon Synod and threw them in the Tiber.

The archbishop, who made headlines in August 2018, when he accused Pope Francis of having relaxed sanctions on a cardinal he knew to have been a sexual predator, spoke to American journalist and scholar Dr. Robert Moynihan about Alexander Tschugguel. 

“Like many others, including Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Prof. Roberto de Mattei, I think that this young man is a hero,” Viganò told Moynihan. 

He added, “This young man acted out of his Catholic conscience.” 

The archbishop revisited the background details of the story: that Tschugguel had come to Rome, visited the Church of St. Mary in Traspontina, and seen the images, now identified as Pachamama, an Aztec fertility goddess.  

“He was deeply concerned. But he did not act immediately,” Viganò related. 

“He went back to his home in Vienna and prayed and reflected for several days. Then he decided it was his duty to act. And now he has had the courage to reveal his name and to give interviews,” the archbishop continued.  

“I praise the great faith of this young man.”

Alexander Tschugguel was one of two young men who threw the images, called “Pachamamas” by Pope Francis, into the Tiber early on the morning of October 21. The act was filmed by a colleague and the video was released online a few hours later. The adventure galvanized Catholics rendered despondent by reports emerging from the Pan-Amazonian Synod. The then-unknown Tschugguel was praised by such faithful prelates as Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Bishop José Luis Azcona Hermoso, Bishop Marian Eleganti, and, as Archbishop Viganò indicated, Bishop Athanasius Schneider. 

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the two remaining dubia cardinals and a respected Church historian – praised the young men as “courageous … prophets of today.” 

Bishop Athanasius Schneider was even more effusive in his praise, saying that the "gestures of these Christian men will be recorded in the annals of Church history as a heroic act which brought glory to the Christian name, while the acts of high-ranking churchmen, on the contrary, who defiled the Christian name in Rome, will go down in history as cowardly and treacherous acts of ambiguity and syncretism." 

Viganò, who now lives in hiding, told Moynihan that Tschugguel’s deed can be “a beacon” to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. Schönborn is the archbishop of the young man’s diocese, Vienna, and a close confident of Pope Francis. 

“It can be a witness to the cardinal, to profit the Church in Austria, because the cardinal seems to have changed markedly in his doctrinal and pastoral positions in recent years, so that we can hardly recognize him anymore,” Viganò said. 

“I was present eight years ago, in April 2011, at the huge villa of the Order of Malta on the Aventine Hill in Rome, when Cardinal Schönborn presented the YouCat, the young people’s version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” he continued. 

I was amazed and in fact edified at the solid doctrine that Cardinal Schönborn presented. What happened since that time?”

Schönborn was a participant in last month’s Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region as one of Pope Francis’ personal choices. The Cardinal Archbishop has indicated that he supports the innovation of women’s ordination to the diaconate. He has also given official permission to over 30 women to preside over funerals in the Vienna archdiocese.  

Schönborn has also presided over a homosexuality-themed prayer service and said that he is “moved” when people with same-sex attractions wish to marry each other. A prominent Austrian LGBT activist has stated that the cardinal blessed his same-sex partnership. 

Regarding his loyalty to Pope Francis, whose theology differs in many respects from that of the previous popes Schönborn served, the cardinal told journalists during the Synod that his “basic simple attitude” is “[Francis] is the pope.” 

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Alexander Tschugguel in a Nov. 5, 2019 video.
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Man who tossed Pachamama in Tiber explains why it was ‘right decision’ in new video

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean
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‘Pachamamas’ headed for a plunge into the Tiber River

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

VIENNA, Austria, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― The man who threw the Pachamama statuettes into the Tiber during the Amazonian Synod last month is back with a new video to answer Catholics’ questions. 

Alexander Tschugguel, 26, released a second video today in which he explained why he and a friend disposed of the statuettes in the Tiber, what his St. Boniface Institute is, and how Catholics can work for Christ. 

First, however, he noted the importance of the event for Catholics worldwide. 

“What we saw yesterday is that the action of throwing [the statuettes] into the river was an opening for everybody around the world, for Catholics, who are now to talk about what happens in the world, what happens in their own dioceses,” Tschugguel said. 

Many people have contacted the young married convert to tell him that their bishops are attending pagan rites and instead of evangelizing have become political activists. 

The first question Tschugguel addressed was whether throwing the Pachamama statuettes in the Tiber on Oct. 21 was the “right decision.” Some believe that merely removing the statuettes from the Church of St. Maria in Traspontina would have been enough. 

Tschugguel argued, however, that it was necessary to throw the Pachamamas in the river to prevent them from being used again, put back into the church or even used in other Catholic liturgies.

“The idols were not used for the last Mass of the Amazonian Synod, so it was a great success,” he said. 

The young Austrian mentioned also that if he and his colleague had simply taken the idols and hidden them, this would have justified accusations that the young men were thieves. 

“So this was the best possibility to show people what it was all about without being too brutal or harming someone, but getting the complete goal.” 

The second question was concerning the foundation of the St. Boniface Institute. Tschugguel explained that it was a response to many thousands of people who wanted to support his deed financially and with actions of their own. He wanted to make sure that Catholics’ actions, not he himself, were the object of the support. 

“It always has to be about … our goals. Our goals are to keep the Catholic faith clean and pure, so that people can follow it again and come to Christ. The only goal we have is helping people go to heaven.” 

The St. Boniface Institute was set up to better achieve this goal with viewers’ support, and Tschugguel and his colleagues are working on a homepage and a newsletter. 

The final question dealt with self-promotion. Critics of their actions have suggested that the young men who threw the Pachamamas in the Tiber did so to win notoriety. Tschugguel denies the accusation. 

“I think if we wanted to promote ourselves, we would have gone into the church in broad daylight and waited for them to catch us,” he said. 

However, that was not their goal.

“We wanted the focus to stay on what we did,” he continued. 

“That’s the reason we came [forward] two weeks later and not on the same day or the day afterward: to keep all the people discussing what exactly happens at the Synod and what happens with the Pachamama idols.”

Tschugguel and the St. Boniface Institute have now come forward to continue the conversation about problems still existing in the Church. The young man says a lot of work has to be done, and quoted St. Benedict of Nursia, who told his monks “Ora et labora” (Pray and work).

He has a message for people who are inspired by his battling for Catholic orthodoxy: don’t think of fellow Christians as your enemies and don’t spread hatred. 

“Do not try to fight against your own people. Do not try to spread hate against people. This is not what our Catholic faith tells us to do, and this is not what Christ told us to do,” he said. 

Tschugguel believes that “the most important thing” Catholics can do right now is to stay “really Catholic.”

“Know your faith,” he said. 

He recommended that Catholics read many books that explain the faith, to plumb the depths of prayers, to understand Holy Mass, to go to Confession, and to pray the Rosary daily. 

“It’s very, very important that we as Catholics use everything that God gave us,” Tschugguel said.

“You know a gift … is only a gift if we accept it. The gift exists, and now we have to accept it.”

He suggested joining the pro-life movement and joining in processions, among other activities, as ways of living the Catholic faith publicly. The young convert also suggested talking to family, friends, and colleagues about their faith to help them understand what God wants them to do. 

Tschugguel called tradition the first “backbone of the Church” and said it shows us how we used to understand the Word of God. He also encouraged viewers to understand what their home cultures, their artistic and folk heritage, are about and find God’s plan behind them. 

“God wants us to be different ...  but united in one Church,’ he said.

“Every country has a different culture, and the cultures are good as long as they ... obey the commandments of God,” he continued.

“So try to re-establish your old traditions, and try to work for the Catholic faith. Try to work for Christ.” 

Tschugguel acknowledged LifeSiteNews and other media supporters yesterday, tweeting “Thank You for all Your prayers and support. @LifeSite @jhwesten @TaylorRMarshall @Church_Militant @KatholikenNet.” 

Tschugguel told LifeSite co-founder John-Henry Westen in a video interview published yesterday that he was motivated to throw out the statuettes because he wanted to “bring pagan things out of a Catholic Church.”

“For me, it was really bad, because I saw in those statues and in those idols...a break of the First Commandment,” he said.

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Jim Hale / LifeSiteNews

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EXCLUSIVE: LifeSiteNews translates Final Document of the Synod on the Amazon into English

By Martin Barillas

VATICAN CITY, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― LifeSiteNews has translated the Final Document of the Amazon Synod into English for the benefit of English-speaking Catholics, as the document has been officially released by the Vatican only in Spanish, although an “unofficial” working translation has been given to the press — one that omits certain controversial passages in the document. The full translation is found below, and also here in PDF format.

LifeSite’s Spanish-speaking reporters, Martin Barillas and Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, prepared this English translation so that Catholics who do not speak Spanish will have access to a document that may have wide-reaching effects on the universal Church. 

As readers will see, the Final Document was largely a toned-down version of many of the same elements that led cardinals and bishops to denounce the synod preparatory documents for undermining the Catholic faith. Essential matters of Christianity, such as supernatural grace, the truths of divine revelation, freedom from idolatry and superstition, the importance of traditional family values and sexual morality, salvation from sin, and eternal life with God, are mentioned only briefly and in passing, or entirely omitted. They are largely replaced with an agenda that conforms closely to eco-socialist and cultural diversity ideologies, displacing distinctly Christian values with an alternative set of concerns.

The words “Trinity,” “heaven,” and “hell” never appear, and “sin” only a handful of times, never with specificity except to mention “ecological sin” in paragraph 82. “Salvation” is mentioned four times but never with regard to sin. The name “Christ” appears frequently though, a total of 24 times.

The document repeatedly exalts indigenous cultures and traditions, characterizing them in almost entirely positive terms without mentioning that they are largely inspired by paganism and a pantheistic worship of nature. The Synod Fathers mention the deep moral collapse of the region without any reference to causes within indigenous and local cultures. Instead, the document blames the existence of vices in the area on capitalist economic development and urbanization [10]. It also encourages the creation of new religious rites inspired by the ritual practices and worldview of local cultures [for example 52, 116-119], largely ignoring their pagan foundation, and only briefly mentioning that such traditions need to be “purified” [52].  No mention is made of pedophilia, incest, and burying deformed children alive, practices that traditionally have been widespread among indingeous groups, nor the rampant forms of superstition and idolatry that characterize their traditional cultures.

Perhaps most alarming for defenders of life and family is the synod’s neutral-sounding description of “new family structures” that have emerged in the region, explicitly mentioning an increase in divorce, the loss of institutional marriage, and the rise of single-parent families with no expression of concern, or disapproval: “Thus, we find new family structures: single-parent families under the responsibility of women, an increase in separated families, consensual unions and reunited families, a decrease in institutional marriages. The city is an explosion of life because ‘God lives in the city’ (DAp 514)” [34].

An almost absolute cultural relativism is promoted with the condemnation of any attempt to “impose” one way of life or even one kind of religion over another, and claims that Amazonian cultures are “equal” to others: “We are all invited to approach Amazonian peoples as an equal to an equal … Colonialism is the imposition of certain ways of living of some peoples over others, economically, culturally, or religiously. We reject an evangelization of a colonialist style” [55].

Nature itself is treated as a person, the subject of rights [74, 84], although man is seen as the “center” of the economy [73], and repeated mention is made of “mother earth” [10, 25, 101]. The expression is taken from a highly metaphorical canticle of praise to God by St. Francis of Assisi, but also dovetails with pagan conceptions of the earth as a mother goddess, a notion to which the Synod Fathers make an oblique reference [101]. The Virgin Mary is only mentioned in an invocation at the end of the document, but is called “Mother of the Amazon” [120]. 

The document mentions Pentecostal and Evangelical Protestant sects in the region and even offers a brief criticism of them as emotionalistic and “closed off,” but fails to note that they have replaced Catholicism as the majority religion in the Amazon, and encourages dialogue and even cooperation with such groups [24]. “Evangelization” is mentioned many times, but with little specificity regarding is meaning, and in the context of a multiculturalist agenda: “The evangelization that we propose today for [the] Amazon is the inculturated proclamation that generates processes of interculturality: processes that promote the life of the Church with an identity and an Amazonian face” [55].

The document almost entirely attributes the region’s vices to modern economic development, which is characterized in mostly negative terms, contrasted with the virtuous pre-civilized lifestyles of the indigenous. It characterizes economic activities like logging and mining as “extractivism” [27, 67], and claims that the region is endangered by anthropocentric climate change. Such activities are to be opposed with the alternative of nature-friendly primitivism in the region. The document asks that governments cease to consider the Amazon as their “inexhaustible pantry” and adopt more ecologically friendly economic policies [71].

The right to life “from conception to death” is mentioned once, but never abortion, euthanasia, and other traditional attacks on the right to life, which is instead explained as the right of the indigenous “to have their own and tranquil life, respecting the values ​​of their traditions …” [80].

As expected, the Final Document seems to open the way to a married priesthood, women in clerical “orders,” and a general assault on the patriarchal structure of the Church, encouraging women to take leadership positions. In a long section following the subtitle “New paths for ecclesial ministry” [93-133], readers will find proposals for new lay ministries [93-96], official ministries for women [102], encouragement for the work of the “Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate” [103], a “broader understanding” of the permanent diaconate [104], and the admittance to the priesthood of married men already deacons [111]. Regarding this last proposal, the author of the document wrote: “With regard to this, some wished that the topic be addressed in a universal way,” apparently referring to ordination of married men outside of the Amazon region.

The document admits the need for “missionaries,” to the region but tends to confine their activities to matters of social justice. Every congregation of professed religious is invited to begin a missionary endeavor in one of the Amazonian countries [40]. It also encourages indigenous missionaries, writing, “Amazonia must also be evangelized by Amazonians” [26], and even states a “preferential option for indigenous peoples” [27]. 

The Synod Fathers place great emphasis on Pope Francis’ agenda of a decentralized “synodal” Church that allows each region to make its own rules and even doctrine. The words “synodal” and “synodality” occur a whopping 41 times. There are also proposals for a “synodal structure” for the Amazon [112-115], which would allow it to develop its own regional form of Catholicism and incorporate its native traditions into its religious practices.

A definition of “ecological sins” as “an action or omission against God... others, the community and the environment” is proposed, as are ecological ministries at the parish level [82]. A global fund to repair the world’s “ecological debt” to the Amazon is proposed, as are “responsible habits that respect and value the peoples of Amazonia, their traditions and wisdom, protecting the land and changing our culture of excessive consumption, the production of solid waste, stimulating reuse and recycling” as well as reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, plastics, meat, and fish. 

The synod makes reference to a large number of other social and economic issues in the region, including migration, youth unemployment and suicide rates, drug addiction, and human trafficking. These concerns were added to the more timid and subdued expression of the themes promoted by the “liberation theologians” who created the preparatory documents, to produce a document that may be used in the future to open the way to more novelty and innovation in the Catholic Church, while retaining a superficial expression of some of the Church’s more traditional forms of doctrine. 

SYNOD OF BISHOPS
SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE PAN-AMAZONIAN REGION

AMAZONIA: NEW WAYS FOR THE CHURCH AND FOR A HOLISTIC ECOLOGY
FINAL DOCUMENT 

English translation from the original Spanish by Martin Barillas and Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, for LifeSiteNews 

Note: The Spanish original can be found here. The final vote tally on each paragraph can be found here.

INTRODUCTION

1. “And he who sat on the throne said: “Look, I make all things new” And he said: “Write: these words are faithful and true!” (Rev. 21.5)

After a long synodal path of listening to the People of God in the Church of the Amazon, which Pope Francis inaugurated during his visit to the Amazon, January 19, 2018, the Synod was held in Rome in a 21-day fraternal meeting in October 2019. The climate was an open, free, and respectful exchange on the part of the pastoral bishops of the Amazon region, male and female missionaries, laymen and laywomen, and representatives of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. We were witnesses participating in an ecclesial event marked by the urgency of the issue that claims to open new paths for the Church in the region. Serious work was shared in an environment marked by the conviction of hearing the voice of the Spirit present.

The Synod was held in a fraternal and prayerful environment. Several times the interventions were accompanied by applause, singing, and all with deep contemplative silences. Outside the synodal hall, there was a notable presence of people coming from the Amazonian world who organized acts of support with different activities, processions, such as the opening with songs and dances accompanying the Holy Father from Peter's tomb to the synodal classroom. It impacted the Via Crucis of the martyrs of the Amazon, in addition to the massive presence of the international media.

2. All participants have expressed an acute awareness of the dramatic situation of destruction affecting the Amazon. This means the disappearance of the region and its inhabitants, especially indigenous peoples. The Amazon rainforest is a "biological heart" for the increasingly threatened land. It is in an unbridled race to death. It requires radical changes with great urgency, a new direction that can save it. It is scientifically proven that the disappearance of the Amazonian biome will have a catastrophic impact for the whole planet!

3. The synodal process of the People of God in the preparatory stage involved the whole Church in the region: the Bishops, missionaries and missionaries, members of Churches of other Christian confessions, lay men and women, and many representatives of the indigenous peoples, regarding the consultation document that inspired the Instrumentum Laboris. It stresses the importance of listening to the voice of the Amazon, moved by the greater breath of the Holy Spirit in the cry of the wounded land and its inhabitants. The active participation of more than 87,000 people, which came from different cities and cultures, as well as numerous groups from other ecclesial sectors, was registered, as well as the contributions of academics and civil society organizations in specific core issues.

4. The celebration of the Synod highlighted the integration of the voice of Amazon with the voice and opinion of the participating pastors. It was a new listening experience to discern the voice of the Spirit that leads the Church to new paths of presence, evangelization and intercultural dialogue in Amazonia. The call for the Church to be an ally of the Amazon region, raised in the preparatory process, was strongly affirmed. The celebration ends with great joy and the hope of embracing and practicing the new paradigm of integral ecology, the care of the "common home," and the defense of the Amazon.

CHAPTER I

THE AMAZON: FROM LISTENING TO INTEGRAL CONVERSION

“Then he showed me a river of water of life, shining like crystal, that comes out of the throne of God and the Lamb ”(Rev. 22:1).

5. "Christ points to the Amazon" (Paul VI, attributed). He frees everyone from sin and grants the dignity of the Sons of God. Listening to the Amazon, in the spirit of the disciple and in the light of the Word of God and Tradition, impels us to a profound conversion of our schemes and structures to Christ and his Gospel. 

The voice and song of the Amazon as a message of life

6. In the Amazon, life is inserted, linked, and integrated to the region that, as a vital and nourishing physical space, is the possibility, sustenance and limit of life. The Amazon, also called the Pan-Amazon region [Panamazonía], is an extensive territory with an estimated population of 33,600,000 inhabitants, of which between 2 and 2.5 million are indigenous. This space, made up of the Amazon River basin and all its tributaries, covers 9 countries: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. The Amazonian region is essential for the distribution of rainfall in the regions of South America and contributes to large air movements around the planet. At present, it is the second most vulnerable area in the world in relation to climate change due to the direct action of man.

7. The water and land of this region nourish and sustain nature, life and cultures of hundreds of indigenous communities, peasants, people of African descent, mestizos, settlers, river dwellers, and inhabitants of urban areas. Water, the source of life, has a rich symbolic meaning. In the Amazonian region, the water cycle is the connecting axis. It connects ecosystems, cultures and regional development.

8. In the Amazon region, there is a multiethnic and multicultural reality. The different peoples knew how to adapt to the region. Within each culture, they have built and rebuilt their worldview, their signs and their meanings, and the vision of their future. In indigenous cultures and peoples, ancient practices and mythical explanations coexist with modern technologies and challenges. The faces that inhabit Amazonia are quite varied. In addition to the original peoples, there is a great racial blending born of encounter and disagreements among the different peoples.

9. The search of Amazonian indigenous peoples for life in abundance is materialized in what they call "good living" [buen vivir], and which is fully realized in the Beatitudes. It is about living in harmony with oneself, with nature, with human beings, and with the Supreme Being, since there is an intercommunion throughout the entire cosmos, where there is nothing that excludes or is excluded, and where we can establish a plan of a full life for everyone. Such an understanding of life is characterized by the connectivity and harmony of relationships between water, territory and nature, community life and culture, God and the various spiritual forces. For them, "good living" [buen vivir] is to understand the centrality of the transcendent relational character of human beings and of creation, and requires “good doing.” This integral way is expressed in its own way of organizing on the part of the family and the community, embracing a responsible use of all the goods of creation. Indigenous peoples aspire to achieve better living conditions, especially in health and education, to enjoy sustainable development led and determined by themselves, one that maintains harmony with their traditional ways of life, dialoguing between the wisdom and technology of their ancestors and that which they have newly acquired.

The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor

10. But the Amazon today is a wounded and deformed beauty, a place of pain and violence. The attacks on nature have negative consequences for the life of peoples. This unique socio-environmental crisis was reflected in the pre-synodal hearings that pointed out the following threats to life: appropriation and privatization of natural assets, such as water itself; legal logging concessions and the entry of illegal loggers; predatory hunting and fishing; non-sustainable mega-projects (hydroelectric, forest concessions, massive logging, single-crop farming, roads, waterways, railways, and mining and oil projects); pollution caused by the extractive industry and city dumps and, above all, climate change. They are real threats that have serious social consequences associated with them: diseases derived from pollution, drug trafficking, illegal armed groups, alcoholism, violence against women, sexual exploitation, trafficking and trafficking in persons, the sale of organs, sex tourism, the loss of the original culture and identity (language, spiritual practices, and customs), the criminalization and murder of leaders and defenders of the territory. Behind all this are the economic and political interests of the dominant sectors, with the complicity of some rulers and some indigenous authorities. The victims are the most vulnerable sectors: children, youth, women and sister mother earth.

11. The scientific community, for its part, warns of the risks of deforestation, which to date is close to almost 17% of the total Amazon forest, and that threatens the survival of the entire ecosystem, endangering biodiversity and changing the life cycle of water for the survival of the tropical forest. In addition, the Amazon also plays a critical role as a buffer against climate change and provides invaluable and fundamental life support systems related to air, water, soils, forests, and biomass. At the same time, experts remember that, using advanced science and technologies for an innovative bio-economy of standing forests and flowing rivers, it is possible to help save the tropical forest, protect Amazonian ecosystems and indigenous and traditional peoples, and at the same time provide sustainable economic activities.

12. One phenomenon to address is migration. In the Amazonian region, three simultaneous migration processes are occurring. First, the cases of mobility of indigenous groups in territories in which they traditionally circulate, separated by national and international borders. Secondly, the forced displacement of indigenous, peasant and river-dwelling peoples expelled from their territories, and whose final destination is usually the poorest and worst urbanized areas of the cities. Third, interregional forced migration and the phenomenon of refugees, who are forced to leave their countries (among others, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba) and must cross Amazonia as a migratory corridor.

13. The displacement of indigenous groups expelled from their territories or attracted by the false sheen of urban culture, represents a unique set of migratory movements in Amazonia. The cases in which the mobility of these groups occurs in territories of traditional indigenous circulation, separated by national and international borders, requires cross-border pastoral care capable of understanding the right to free movement of these peoples. Human mobility in the Amazon reveals the face of Jesus Christ impoverished and hungry (cf. Mt. 25:,35), expelled and homeless (cf. Lk. 3:1-3), and also in the feminization of migration that makes thousands of women vulnerable to human trafficking, one of the worst forms of violence against women and one of the most perverse violations of human rights. Trafficking in people linked to migration requires permanent pastoral work in networks.

14. The life of Amazonian communities not yet affected by the influence of Western civilization is reflected in the beliefs and rituals about the actions of the spirits of divinity, named in innumerable ways, with and in the territory, with and in relationship with nature (LS 16, 91, 117, 138, 240). Let us recognize that for thousands of years they have taken care of their land, their water and their forests, and have managed to preserve them until today so that humanity can benefit from the enjoyment of the free gifts of God's creation. The new paths of evangelization must be constructed in dialogue with this fundamental knowledge in which they manifest seeds of the Word.

The Church in the Amazon Region

15. The Church, in its process of listening to the cry of the region and the cry of the people, has to remember its past. Evangelization in Latin America was a gift of Providence that calls everyone to salvation in Christ. Despite the military, political and cultural colonization, and beyond the greed and ambition of the colonizers, there were many missionaries who gave their lives to transmit the Gospel. The missionary sense not only inspired the formation of Christian communities, but also legislation such as the Laws of the Indies, which protected the dignity of the indigenous people against the abuses of their peoples and territories. Such abuses caused injuries in the communities and overshadowed the message of the Good News. Frequently the announcement of Christ was made in collusion with the powers that exploited the resources and oppressed the peoples. At the present time, the Church has the historic opportunity to differentiate itself from the new colonizing powers by listening to the Amazonian peoples to be able to exercise their prophetic activity with transparency. In addition, the socio-environmental crisis opens up new opportunities to present Christ in all his liberating and humanizing potential.

16. One of the most glorious pages of the Amazon has been written by the martyrs. The participation of the followers of Jesus in his passion, death, and glorious resurrection has accompanied the life of the Church to this day, especially in the moments and places in which she, because of the Gospel of Jesus, lives in the midst of a sharp contradiction, as happens today with those who fight courageously in favor of an integral ecology in the Amazon. This Synod recognizes with admiration those who fight, with great risk of their own lives, to defend the existence of this territory.

Calls for a comprehensive conversion

17. Listening to the clamor of the land and the cry of the poor and the people of the Amazon with whom we walk calls us to a true integral conversion, with a simple and sober life, all fueled by a mystical spirituality in the style of Saint Francis of Assisi, an example of integral conversion lived with Christian happiness and joy (cf. LS 20-12). A prayerful reading of the Word of God will help us understand more deeply and discover the groans of the Spirit, and will encourage us in the commitment to care for the "common home."

18. As a Church of missionary disciples, we beg the grace of that conversion which “implies letting out all the consequences of the encounter with Jesus Christ in relations with the world around them” (LS 217); a personal and community conversion that commits us to harmoniously relate to the creative work of God, which is the "common home"; a conversion that promotes the creation of structures in harmony with the care of creation; a pastoral conversion based on synodality, which recognizes the interaction of all of creation; a conversion that leads us to be an outgoing Church that enters the heart of all Amazonian peoples.

19. Thus, it will be possible to carry out the only conversion to the living Gospel, which is Jesus Christ, in interconnected dimensions to promote an outreach to the existential, social and geographical peripheries of the Amazon. These dimensions are: pastoral, cultural, ecological, and synodal, which are developed in the next four chapters.

CHAPTER II

NEW PATHS TO INTEGRAL CONVERSION

“..unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5)

 20. An outgoing missionary Church calls us to a pastoral conversion. For the Amazon region this movement means also “navigating” our rivers, our lakes, and among our people. Water unites and separates us in Amazonia. Our pastoral conversion will be Samarian, in dialogue, and accompanying people with real faces of indigenous, peasants, descendants of Africans, migrants, young people, and city residents. All of this will require a spirituality of listening and proclamation. This is how we will proceed and navigate in this chapter.

The outgoing missionary Church

21. The Church is missionary by its nature and has its origin the “fount of God’s love.” The missionary dynamism that springs from God’s love radiates, expands, overflows, and is diffused throughout the Universe. “We are inserted by baptism into the dynamic of love by the encounter with Jesus that gives a new horizon to life” (DAp 12). This overflow impels the Church towards a pastoral conversion and transforms us into living communities that work as teams and networks in the service of evangelization. Understood this way, mission is not something optional, a Church activity among others, but its very nature. The Church is mission! “Missionary action is the paradigm of all work in the Church” (EG 15). Being a missionary disciple is something more than completing tasks and making things. It is found in the order of being. “Jesus tells us, His disciples, that our mission in the world must not be static, but is itinerant. A Christian is itinerant.” (Francis, Angelus, 30/06/2019).

a. A Samaritan, merciful, supportive Church

22. We want to be an Amazonian, Samaritan Church, embodied in the way in which the Son of God became incarnate: "He took our infirmities, and bore our diseases” (Mt 8,17b). He who became poor to enrich us with his poverty (2 Cor 8.9), through his Spirit, exhorts the missionary disciples of today to reach out to everyone, especially the original peoples, the poor, those excluded from the society, and others. We also want a Magdalene Church, which feels loved and reconciled, that announces with joy and conviction Christ crucified and risen. A Marian Church that brings forth children in the faith and educates them with love and patience, while also learning from the wealth of the people. We want to be a servant Church: kerygmatic, educating, inculturated in the midst of the towns we serve.

b. The Church in ecumenical, interreligious, and cultural dialogue

23.  The multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious reality of Amazonia demands an attitude of open dialogue, recognizing the multiplicity of interlocutors: indigenous, river-dwellers, peasants and afro-descendants, other Christian churches and religious denominations, organizations in civil society, popular social movements, government: in sum, all people of good will who seek to defend life, the integrity of creation, peace, and common good.

24. In the Amazon, “relations between Catholics and pentecostals, charismatics, and evangelicals are not easy. The sudden appearance of new communities, linked to the personality of certain preachers, contrasts strongly with the principles and ecclesiastical principles of historic Churches and may hide the danger of being dragged along by emotional waves of the moment or of closing off the experience of the faith in protected and tranquil environments. The fact that not a few Catholics feel attracted by these communities is a cause of friction, but can become on our part a reason for self-examination and pastoral renewal” (Pope Francis, 28.9.2019). Ecumenical, interreligious, and intercultural dialogues must be taken up as an irrevocable way towards evangelization in the Amazon (cf. DAp 227). The Amazon is an amalgam of creeds, the majority of which are Christian. In view of this reality, effective means of communication open up to us: “Expressing good sentiments is not enough. Effective gestures that penetrate spirits and shake up consciences are necessary, pushing each person towards internal conversion, which is the basis of all progress on the road of ecumenism” (Benedict XVI, Message to the cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, 20/04/2005). The centrality of the Word of God in the life of our communities is a factor for union and dialogue. In the context of the Word, there are many actions that can be taken in common: translations of the Bible to local languages, joint editions, dissemination and distribution of the Bible, meetings of theologians, and meetings between male and female Catholic theologians and theologians of other confessions.

25. In Amazonia, interreligious dialogue takes place especially with indigenous religions and religions of Afro-descendants. These traditions deserve to be known, understood in their own expressions and in their relationship with the forest and mother earth. Together with them, Christians, based on their faith in the Word of God, engage in dialogue, sharing their lives, their worries, their struggles, their experiences of God, to deepen each other's faith and act together in defense of the “common home.” Therefore, the churches of Amazonia should develop initiatives of encounter, study, and dialogue with the followers of these religions. Sincere and respectful dialogue is the bridge towards the construction of "good living" [buen vivir]. In the exchange of gifts, the Spirit leads more and more towards truth and good (cf. EG 250).

A missionary Church that serves and accompanies the Amazonian peoples

26. This Synod wants to be a strong call to all the baptized of Amazonia to be missionary disciples. The sending of the mission is inherent in baptism and is for all the baptized. Through it, we all receive the same dignity of being sons and daughters of God, and none can be excluded from the mission of Jesus to his disciples. "Go all over the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Mk 16,15). Hence, we believe it is necessary to give a greater missionary stress to native vocations; Amazonia must also be evangelized by Amazonians.

a. A Church with an indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant face

27. It is urgent to give indigenous pastoral care its specific place in the Church. We start from diverse realities and diverse cultures to define, elaborate and adopt pastoral actions, which allow us to develop an evangelizing proposal among the indigenous communities, placing ourselves within the framework of an indigenous pastoral care and land. The pastoral care of indigenous peoples has its own characteristics. Colonizations motivated by extractivism throughout history, with the different migratory currents, put them in a situation of high vulnerability. In this context, as a Church, it is still necessary to create or maintain a preferential option for indigenous peoples, by virtue of which diocesan indigenous pastoral organizations must be established and consolidated with a renewed missionary action that listens, dialogues, is embodied and has a permanent presence. The preferential option for indigenous peoples, with their cultures, identities and stories, requires us to aspire to an indigenous Church with our own priests and ministers always united and in total communion with the Catholic Church.

28. In recognizing the importance of the attention that the Church is called to give in the Amazon to the phenomenon of urbanization and the problems and perspectives related to it, a reference to the rural world as a whole and to rural pastoral care in particular is necessary. From the pastoral point of view, the Church must respond to the phenomenon of the depopulation of the countryside, with all the consequences that result from it (loss of identity, prevailing secularism, exploitation of rural work, family disintegration, etc.).

b. A Church with a migrant face

29. Given its increase and volume, the phenomenon of migration has now become an unprecedented political, social, and ecclesial challenge (cf. DA, 517, a). Given that, many ecclesial communities have received migrants with great generosity, remembering that: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt. 25:35). The forced displacement of indigenous, peasant, Afro-descendant, and riverine families, expelled from their territories due to pressure on them or asphyxiation in the absence of opportunities, requires pastoral work on the periphery of urban centers. For this, it will be necessary to create missionary teams for their accompaniment, coordinating the conditions of reception with the parishes and other ecclesial and extra-ecclesial institutions, offering inculturated liturgies and in the languages ​​of the migrants; promoting spaces of cultural exchanges, favoring the integration in the community and in the city and motivating them to activism in this work.

c. A Church with a young face

30. Among the various faces of Pan-Amazonian realities, that of young people present throughout the region stands out. They are young with faces and indigenous identities, Afro-descendants, river-dwellers, extractivists, migrants, refugees, among others. Young residents of rural and urban areas, who daily dream and seek better living conditions, with a deep desire to have a better life. Young students, workers and with an important presence and participation in various social and ecclesial spaces. Among the Amazonian youth, sad realities such as: poverty, violence, diseases, child prostitution, sexual exploitation, drug use and trafficking, early pregnancy, unemployment, depression, human-trafficking, new forms of slavery, organ trafficking, difficulties in accessing education, health and social assistance. Unfortunately, in recent years, there has been a significant increase in suicide among young people, as well as the growth of the young people in prison and crimes between and against young people, especially Afro-descendants and those on the margins. They, living in the huge region of the Amazon, have the same dreams and desires as other young people in this world: to be taken into consideration, respected, to have opportunities for study, work, for a future of hope. But they are experiencing an intense crisis of values, or a transition to other modes of conceiving reality, where ethical elements are changing, even for young indigenous people. The Church's job is to accompany them to deal with any situation that destroys their identity or damages their self-esteem.

31. Young people are also especially present in the migratory contexts of the region. Special attention is needed towards the reality of young people in urban centers. More and more cities are receiving all the ethnic groups, peoples, and problems of the Amazon. The rural Amazon is becoming depopulated. Cities face huge problems of juvenile delinquency, lack of work, ethnic struggles and social injustices. Here, in particular, the Church is called to be a prophetic presence among young people, offering them adequate accompaniment and appropriate education.

32. In communion with the reality for Amazonian youth, the Church proclaims the Good News of Jesus to young people, discernment, and vocational accompaniment, the place of appreciation for local culture and identity, youth leadership, the promotion of the rights of youth, the strengthening of creative, innovative and differentiated spaces of evangelization through a renewed and bold youth ministry. A pastoral care that is always in process, centered on Jesus Christ and his project, dialogical and integral, committed to all existing youth realities in the region. Indigenous young people have enormous potential and actively participate in their communities and organizations, contributing as leaders and activists in defense of rights, especially regarding territory, health, and education. On the other hand, they are the main victims of insecurity over indigenous lands and the absence of specific and quality public policies. The spread of alcohol and drugs often reaches indigenous communities, seriously damaging young people and preventing them from living in freedom to build their dreams and actively participate in the community.

33. The prominence of young people appears clearly in the documents of the Synod on Young People (160, 46) in the papal exhortation Christus Vivit (170) and in the Encyclical Laudato Si (209). Young people want to be protagonists and the Amazonian Church wants to recognize their space. She wants to be a listening partner recognizing young people as a theological place, as "prophets of hope," committed to dialogue, ecologically sensitive and attentive to the "common home." A Church that welcomes and walks with young people, especially in the peripheries. Faced with this, three emergencies arise: promoting new forms of evangelization through social media (Francis, Christus Vivit 86); helping the young indigenous to achieve a healthy interculturality; helping them to cope with the crisis of anti-values that destroys their self-esteem and makes them lose their identity.

d. A Church that travels down new paths in the urban pastorate

34. The strong tendency of humanity to concentrate in cities, migrating from the smallest to the largest, also occurs in the Amazon. The accelerated growth of the Amazonian metropolis is accompanied by the creation of urban peripheries. At the same time, lifestyles, forms of coexistence, languages ​​and values ​​configured by the metropolis are transmitted and are increasingly being implemented both in indigenous communities and in the rest of the rural world. The family in the city is a place of synthesis between traditional and modern culture. However, families often suffer from poverty, poor housing, lack of work, increased consumption of drugs and alcohol, discrimination and child suicide. In addition, in family life there is a lack of dialogue between generations: traditions and language are lost. Families also face new health problems, which require adequate education in maternity. The current rapid changes affect the Amazonian family. Thus, we find new family structures: single-parent families under the responsibility of women, an increase in separated families, consensual unions and reunited families, a decrease in institutional marriages. The city is an explosion of life because "God lives in the city" (DAp 514). In it there are anxieties and searches for the meaning of life, conflicts, but also solidarity, fraternity, desire for goodness, truth and justice"(cf. EG 71-75). Evangelizing the city or urban culture means “to achieve and, so to speak, modify, by force of the Gospel, criteria of judgment, values ​​that matter, centers of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of human life, which are presented in contrast to the Word of God and the plan of salvation "(EN 19).

35. The rights of all people in the city should be defended. The right to the city that is demanded can be defined as the equitable enjoyment of cities within the principles of sustainability, democracy, and social justice. However, it will also be necessary to influence public policies and promote initiatives that improve the quality of life in the rural world, thus preventing its uncontrolled displacement.

36. The grassroots ecclesial communities have been and are a gift from God to the local Churches of the Amazon. However, it is necessary to recognize that, over time, some ecclesial communities have settled, weakened, or even disappeared. But the vast majority continue to persevere and they are the pastoral foundation of many parishes. Today the great dangers of ecclesial communities come mainly from secularism, individualism, lack of social dimension, and lack of missionary activity. Therefore, it is necessary that pastors encourage in each and every one of the faithful a missionary discipleship. The ecclesial community must be present in the public policy participation spaces where actions are articulated to revitalize culture, coexistence, leisure and celebration. We must fight so that the “slums” [favelas] and “shanty towns” [villas miseria] have fundamental basic rights secured: water, energy, housing, and the promotion of integral ecological citizenship, and also that there be instituted a ministry of welcoming in the urban communities of the Amazon for fraternal solidarity with migrants, refugees, homeless people and people who have abandoned rural areas.

37. Special attention should be paid to the reality of indigenous people in urban centers because they are the most exposed to the enormous problems of juvenile delinquency, lack of work, ethnic struggles, and social injustices. It is one of the biggest challenges of today: more and more cities are the destinations for all ethnic groups and peoples of the Amazon. An indigenous pastoral ministry of the city that meets this specific reality will have to be articulated.

E.  A spirituality of listening and announcement

38. Pastoral action is based on a spirituality that is based on listening to the Word of God and the cry of His people, so as to then be able to announce the good news with a prophetic spirit. We recognize that the Church that hears the call of the Spirit in the cry of the Amazon can make its own the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of all, but especially of the poorest (cf. GS 1), who are favorite daughters and sons of God. We discover that the mighty waters of the Spirit, similar to those of the Amazon River, which periodically overflow, lead us to that overabundant life that God offers us to share in the proclamation [anuncio].

New paths for pastoral conversion

39. Traveling missionary teams in the Amazon are weaving and making community along the way, helping to strengthen ecclesial synodality. They can bring together several charisms, institutions and congregations, lay men and women, religious men and women, priests. Gather together to go where one cannot go alone. The travels of missionaries who leave their headquarters and spend time visiting one community at a time and celebrating sacraments give rise to what is called the “pastorate of visitation.” It is a type of pastoral method that responds to the current conditions and possibilities of our churches. Thanks to these methods, and by the action of the Holy Spirit, these communities have also developed a rich ministeriality that is a reason for thanksgiving.

40. We propose an itinerant network that would bring together the different efforts of the teams that accompany and energize the life and faith of the communities in the Amazon. The paths of political influence for the transformation of reality must be discerned by pastors and laity. With a view towards moving from pastoral visits to a more permanent presence, congregations and / or provinces of religious of the world, who are not yet involved in missions, are invited to establish at least one missionary front in any of the Amazonian countries.

CHAPTER III

NEW WAYS OF CULTURAL CONVERSION

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1,14)

41. Latin America has immense biodiversity and great cultural diversity. The Amazon is a land of forests and water within it, of moors and wetlands, savannas and mountain ranges, but above all a land of countless villages, many of them thousands of years old, ancestral inhabitants of the region, peoples of ancient perfume that continue to aromatize the continent against all despair. Our conversion must also be cultural, incline us towards the other, to learn from the other. Be present, respect and recognize their values, live and practice inculturation and interculturality in our proclamation of the Good News. Expressing and living the faith in the Amazon is always a challenge. It is embodied not only in pastoral care but in concrete actions for others: in health care, education, in solidarity and support for the most vulnerable. We would like to share all of this in this section.

The face of the Church in the peoples of the Amazon

42. In the territories of the Amazon there is a multicultural reality that requires a vision that is all inclusive and uses expressions that allow identifying and linking all groups and reflect identities that are recognized, respected and promoted both in the Church and society, which must find in the Amazonian peoples a valid interlocutor for dialogue and meeting. Puebla [Third General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate] speaks of the faces that inhabit Latin America and notes that, in the original peoples, there is a mixing [mestizaje] that has increased and continues to increase with the encounters and disagreements between the different cultures that are part of the continent. This face, which also belongs to the Amazonian Church, is a face embodied in its region, which evangelizes and opens paths for people to feel accompanied in different processes of evangelical life. Also, there is a renewed missionary sense on the part of the members of the same peoples in carrying out the prophetic and Samaritan mission of the Church that must be strengthened with openness to dialogue with other cultures. It is only a missionary Church that is inserted and inculturated that will raise up the particular indigenous churches, with Amazonian faces and hearts, rooted in the cultures and traditions of the people, united in the same faith in Christ and diverse in their way of living, expressing and celebrating it.

a. The cultural values ​​of the Amazonian peoples

43. In the people of the Amazon, we find teachings about life. The original peoples and those who came later and forged their identity in coexistence, provide cultural values ​​in which we discover the seeds of the Word. In the jungle, it is not only plants that are intertwined and link one species to another: people also interrelate with each other in a network of alliances that benefits everyone. The forest lives by means of inter-relationships and interdependencies that occur in all areas of life. Thanks to this, the fragile balance of the Amazon was maintained for centuries.

44. The thinking of indigenous peoples offers an integrated view of reality, which is capable of understanding the multiple connections between everything that is created. This contrasts with the dominant current of Western thought that tends to fragment in order to understand reality, but fails to re-articulate the set of relations between the various fields of knowledge. The traditional management of what nature offers them has been done in the way we call sustainable management today. We also find other values ​​in the native peoples such as reciprocity, solidarity, a sense of community, equality, family, social organization and a sense of service.

b. A Church that is present and allied with the peoples of the region

45. Greed for land is at the root of the conflicts that lead to ethnocide, as well as murder and criminalization of social movements and their leaders. The demarcation and protection of land is an obligation of the national states and their respective governments. However, many of the indigenous territories are devoid of protection, and those already demarcated are being invaded by extractive initiatives such as mining and forest extraction, by large infrastructure projects, by illicit crops and by large estates that promote monoculture and extensive livestock.

46. ​​In this way, the Church undertakes to be an ally of the Amazonian peoples to denounce the attacks on the life of indigenous communities, the projects that affect the environment, the lack of demarcation of their territories, as well as the economic model of predatory and ecocidal development. The presence of the Church among indigenous and traditional communities requires the awareness that the defense of the land has no other purpose than the defense of life.

47. The life of indigenous, mestizo, river dwellers, peasants, Afro-Brazilian [quilombola] and / or afro-descendants, and traditional communities, is threatened by destruction, environmental exploitation, and systematic violation of their territorial rights. It is necessary to defend their rights to self-determination, the demarcation of territories and prior, free and informed consultation. These peoples have “social, cultural and economic conditions that distinguish them from other sectors of the national community, and which are governed totally or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special legislation” (Conv. 169 ILO, art. 1, 1a). For the Church, the defense of life, community, land, and the rights of indigenous peoples is an evangelical principle, in defense of human dignity: "I have come so that men may have life and have it in abundance" (Jn. 10:10b).

48. The Church promotes the integral salvation of the human person, valuing the culture of indigenous peoples, speaking of their vital needs, accompanying movements in their struggles for their rights. Our pastoral service constitutes a service for the full life of the indigenous peoples, which moves us to announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God and to denounce the situations of sin, structures of death, violence and injustices, promoting intercultural, interreligious, and ecumenical dialogue (cf. DAp 95).

49. A specific chapter specifies Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation (PIAV) or Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI). In the Amazon there are about 130 towns or segments of villages, which do not maintain systematic or permanent contacts with the surrounding society. Abuses and systematic violations of the past caused their migration to more inaccessible places, seeking protection, seeking to preserve their autonomy and choosing to limit or avoid their relations with third parties. Today they continue to have their lives threatened by the invasion of their territories from various fronts and their diminished demographics, being exposed to ethnic cleansing and disappearance. In his meeting with the Indigenous Peoples of January 2018 in Puerto Maldonado, Pope Francis reminds us: “They are the most vulnerable among the vulnerable ... Continue to defend these most vulnerable brothers. Their presence reminds us that we cannot dispose of common goods at the rate of an avid consumption.”(Fr. PM). An option for the defense of the PIAV / PIACI does not exempt local Churches from pastoral responsibility over them.

50. This responsibility must be manifested in specific actions for the defense of their rights, rendered concrete in effective actions, so that governments will take up the defense of their rights through the legal and inviolable protection of the territories they occupy in a traditional manner, including adopting precautionary measures in regions where their presence is not officially confirmed due to insufficient evidence, and establishing mechanisms for bilateral cooperation between governments  when these groups occupy cross-border spaces. At all times, respect for their self-determination and their free decisions for the type of relationships they want to establish with other groups must be guaranteed. For this, it will be necessary that all of the people of God, and especially the neighboring populations of the PIAV / PIACI territories, be sensitized to respect these peoples and the importance of inviolability of their territories. As St. John Paul II said in Cuiabá, in 1991 “The Church, dear Indian brothers and sisters, has always been and will remain at your side to defend the dignity of human beings, their right to have a peaceful and proper life, respecting the values ​​of their traditions, customs and cultures”.

Paths for an inculturated Church

51. With the incarnation, Christ left behind his prerogative as God and became man in a particular culture to identify with all mankind. Inculturation is the incarnation of the Gospel in indigenous cultures (“what is not assumed is not redeemed” St. Irenaeus, cf. Puebla 400) and at the same time it is the introduction of these cultures into the life of the Church. In this process, the peoples are protagonists, accompanied by their agents and pastors.

a. The experience of faith expressed in popular piety and inculturated catechesis

52. Popular piety constitutes an important medium that links many peoples of the Amazon with their spiritual experiences, their cultural roots and their community integration. They are manifestations with which the people express their faith, through images, symbols, traditions, rites, and other sacramentals. Pilgrimages, processions, and festivities should be valued, accompanied, promoted, and sometimes purified, as they are privileged moments of evangelization that should lead to the encounter with Christ. Marian devotions are deeply rooted in Amazonia and throughout Latin America.

53. The non-clericalization of brotherhoods, confraternities, and groups linked to popular piety is characteristic. The laity assume a role that they hardly achieve in other ecclesial areas, with the participation of brothers and sisters who perform services and direct prayers, blessings, traditional sacred songs, encouraging novenas, organize processions, promote patron feasts, etc. It is necessary to “give an appropriate catechesis and accompany the faith already present in popular religiosity. A concrete way may be to offer a process of Christian initiation ... that leads us to become more and more like Jesus Christ, causing the progressive appropriation of their attitudes”(DAp 300).

b. The mystery of faith reflected in an inculturated theology

54. Indian theology, theology with an Amazonian face, and popular piety are already a wealth of the indigenous world, its culture, and spirituality. The missionary and pastoral agent, when he carries the word of the Gospel of Jesus, identifies with the culture and the encounter from which the testimony, the service, the announcement, and learning of the languages ​​takes place. The indigenous world with its myths, narrative, rites, songs, dance, and spiritual expressions enriches intercultural encounters. Puebla already recognizes that «cultures are not empty territories, lacking authentic values. The evangelization of the Church is not a process of destruction, but of consolidation and strengthening of these values; a contribution to the growth of the "seeds of the Word" »(DP 401, cf. GS 57) present in cultures.

Paths for an intercultural Church

a. Respect for cultures and the rights of peoples

55. We are all invited to approach Amazonian peoples as an equal to an equal, respecting their history, their cultures, their style of "good living" [buen vivir] (PF 06.10.19). Colonialism is the imposition of certain ways of living of some peoples over others, economically, culturally, or religiously. We reject an evangelization of a colonialist style. Announcing the Good News of Jesus implies recognizing the seeds of the Word already present in cultures. The evangelization that we propose today for Amazon is the inculturated proclamation that generates processes of interculturality: processes that promote the life of the Church with an identity and an Amazonian face.

b. The promotion of intercultural dialogue in a global world

56. In the evangelizing task of the Church, which should not be confused with proselytism, we must include clear processes of inculturation of our missionary methods and schemes. Specifically, it is proposed that the Church’s research and pastoral centers, allied with the indigenous peoples, should study, compile, and systematize the traditions of the Amazonian ethnic groups to favor an educational program based on their identity and culture to help in promoting and defending their rights, preserving and disseminating their value to the Latin American cultural scene.

57. Educational actions are today challenged by the need for inculturation. It is a challenge to look for methodologies and content appropriate to the people in which to exercise the ministry of teaching. For this, knowledge of their languages, beliefs and aspirations, needs and hopes is important; as well as the collective construction of educational processes that have both the form and the content, the cultural identity of the Amazonian communities, while insisting on the formation of integral ecology as a transversal axis.

c. The challenges for health, education and communication

58. The Church assumes as an important task the promotion of preventive health education and the offer of health care in places where government aid does not reach. It is necessary to favor integration initiatives that benefit the health of the Amazon. It is also important to promote the socialization of ancestral knowledge in the field of traditional medicine typical of each culture.

59. Among the complexities of the Amazonian region, we highlight the fragility of education, especially among indigenous peoples. Although education is a human right, educational quality is poor and school dropout is very frequent, especially among girls. Education evangelizes, promotes social transformation, and empowers people with a healthy sense of criticism. “A good school education at an early age plants seeds that can produce effects throughout life” (LS 213). It is our task to promote an education for solidarity, which springs from the awareness of a common origin and a future shared by all (cf. LS 202). Governments must be required to implement a public, intercultural and bilingual education.

60. The world, increasingly globalized and complex, has developed an unprecedented information network. However, such instantaneous information flow does not lead to better communication or connection between peoples. In the Amazon, we want to promote a communicative culture that favors dialogue, the culture of encounter, and the care of the “common home”. Motivated by an integral ecology, we wish to strengthen the communication spaces that already exist in the region, in order to urgently promote a comprehensive ecological conversion. For this, it is necessary to collaborate with the training of native agents of communication, especially indigenous ones. They are not only privileged interlocutors for evangelization and human development in the region, but also help us spread the culture of "good living" [buen vivir] and care for creation.

61. In order to develop the various connections within the entirety of Amazonia and improve its communications, the Church wants to create a Pan-Amazonian ecclesial communication network, which comprises the various means used by private churches and other ecclesial organizations. Its contribution may resonate and aid in the ecological conversion of the Church and the planet. REPAM may assist in advising and supporting the training processes, monitoring and strengthening of communications in the Pan-Amazonian region.

New ways for cultural conversion

62. In this sense, we propose the creation of a network for bilingual education for Amazon (similar to Fe y Alegría) that offers educational proposals that respond to the needs of the communities, respecting, valuing, and integrating cultural and linguistic identity among them.

63. We want to sustain, support and favor the educational experiences of intercultural bilingual education that already exist in the ecclesiastical jurisdictions of the Amazon, and involve Catholic universities so that they may work in and become committed to, networks.

64. We will look for new forms of conventional and non-conventional education, such as distance education, according to the needs of places, times and people.

CHAPTER IV

NEW PATHS OF ECOLOGICAL CONVERSION

"I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10.10)

65. Our planet is a gift from God, but we also know that we live in the urgency of acting in the face of an unprecedented socio-environmental crisis. We need an ecological conversion to respond appropriately. Therefore, as the Amazonian Church, in the face of the growing aggression against our biome threatened by its disappearance with tremendous consequences for our planet, we put ourselves on a path inspired by the proposal of integral ecology. We recognize the wounds caused by human beings in our region; we want to learn from our brothers and sisters of the original peoples, through a knowledgeable dialogue, the challenge of providing new answers in the search for models of fair and solidary development. We want to take care of our "common home" in Amazonia and propose new paths for it.

Towards an integral ecology from the encyclical Laudato si’

a. Threats against the Amazonian biome and its peoples

66. God has given us the earth as a gift and as a duty, to take care of it and to answer for it; We are not its owners. Integral ecology is based on the fact that "everything is closely related" (LS 16). That is why ecology and social justice are intrinsically linked (cf. LS 137). With integral ecology a new paradigm of justice emerges, because “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, which must integrate justice into discussions about the environment, to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”(LS 49). Integral ecology, therefore, connects the exercise of the care of nature with that of justice for the most impoverished and disadvantaged people on earth, which are God's preferred option in revealed history.

67. It is urgent to face the unlimited exploitation of the "common home" and its inhabitants. One of the main causes of destruction in Amazonia is predatory extractivism that stems from the logic of greed, typical of the dominant technocratic paradigm (LS 101). Faced with the pressing situation of the planet and Amazonia, integral ecology is not just one more way that the Church can choose for the future in this territory, it is the only possible way, because there is no other viable path to save the region. The depredation of the territory is accompanied by the shedding of innocent blood and the criminalization of the defenders of the Amazon.

68. The Church is part of an international solidarity that must favor and recognize the central role of the Amazonian biome for the balance of the planet's climate; encourages the international community to provide new economic resources for its protection and the promotion of a fair and supportive development model, with the prominence and direct participation of local communities and native peoples in all phases from the approach to the implementation, also strengthening the tools already developed by the framework convention on climate change.

69. It is scandalous that leaders and even communities are criminalized, simply for claiming their rights. In all Amazonian countries there are laws that recognize human rights, especially those of indigenous peoples. In recent years, the (Amazonian) region has undergone complex transformations, where the human rights of the communities have been impacted by norms, public policies and practices focused mainly on expanding the extractive frontiers of natural resources and on the development of megaprojects and of infrastructure, which exert pressure on indigenous ancestral territories. This is accompanied, according to the same report, of a serious situation of impunity in the region regarding human rights violations and barriers to obtaining justice (IACHR / OAS Report, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Panamazonía. 5 and 188. Sept . 2019).

70. For Christians, interest and concern for the promotion and respect of human rights, both individual and collective, is not optional. The human being is created in the image and likeness of the Creator God, and his dignity is inviolable. That is why the defense and promotion of human rights is not merely a political duty or a social task, but also and above all a requirement of faith. We may not be able to modify immediately the prevailing destructive and extractive development model, but we do have the need to know and make clear: where are we? On whose side are we? Next to whom are we? What perspective do we assume? How do we transmit the political and ethical dimension of our word of faith and life? For this reason: a) we denounce the violation of human rights and extractive destruction; b) we take up and support the divestment campaigns of extractive companies related to the socio-ecological damage of the Amazon, starting with the ecclesial institutions themselves and also in alliance with other churches; c) we call for a radical energy transition and the search for alternatives: “Civilization requires energy, but the use of energy should not destroy civilization!” (Pope Francis, Address to participants in the conference “Energy transition and care of the common home,” June 9, 2018). We propose to develop training programs on the care of the "common home", which should be designed for pastoral agents and other faithful, open to the whole community, in "an effort to raise awareness of the population" (LS 214).

b. The challenge of new fair, supportive and sustainable development models

71. We note that human intervention has lost its “friendly” character, to assume a voracious and predatory attitude that tends to squeeze reality until the exhaustion of all available natural resources. "The technocratic paradigm tends to exercise its dominance over the economy and politics" (LS 109). To counteract this, which seriously damages life, it is necessary to seek alternative economic models, more sustainable, friendly to nature, with a solid “spiritual basis.” Therefore, together with the Amazonian peoples, we request that governments stop considering the Amazon as an inexhaustible pantry (cf. Fr PM). We would like them to develop investment policies that have as a condition for any intervention, the fulfillment of high social and environmental standards and the fundamental principle of the preservation of Amazonia. For this, it is necessary that they have the participation of organized Indigenous Peoples, other Amazonian communities and the different scientific institutions that are already proposing models of exploitation of the standing forest. The new paradigm of sustainable development must be socially inclusive, combining scientific and traditional knowledge to empower traditional and indigenous communities, mostly women, and make these technologies serve the welfare and protection of forests.

72. It is then a question of discussing the real value that any economic or extractive activity possesses, that is, the value that it brings and returns to the land and society considering the wealth it extracts from them and their socio-ecological consequences. Many extractive activities, such as large-scale mining, particularly illegal mining, substantially diminish the value of Amazonian life. In effect, they take the lives of the peoples and the commons of the land, concentrating economic and political power in the hands of a few. Worse, many of these destructive projects are carried out in the name of progress, and are supported - or allowed - by local, national and foreign governments.

73. Together with the Amazonian peoples (cf. LS 183) and their horizon of 'good living' [buen vivir], call us to an individual and community ecological conversion that safeguards an integral ecology and a development model where commercial criteria are not above environmental and human rights. We want to sustain a culture of peace and respect - not violence and abuse - and an economy centered on the person who also takes care of nature. Therefore, we propose to generate alternatives of integral ecological development from the worldviews that are constructed with the communities, rescuing the ancestral wisdom. We support projects that propose a solidarity and sustainable economy, circular and ecological, both locally and internationally, at the level of research and in the field of action, in the formal and informal sectors. Along these lines, it would be useful to sustain and promote experiences of bio-production cooperatives, sustainable forest reserves, and consumption. The future of the Amazon is in the hands of all of us, but it depends mainly on the immediate abandonment of the current model that destroys the forest, does not bring well-being, and endangers this immense natural treasure and its guardians. 

The Church that takes care of the "common home" in the Amazon

a. The socio-environmental dimension of evangelization

74. It is up to all of us to be guardians of the work of God. The protagonists of the care, protection, and defense of the rights of peoples and the rights of nature in this region are the Amazonian communities themselves. They are the agents of their own destiny, of their own mission. In this scenario, the role of the Church is that of an ally. They have clearly expressed that they want the Church to accompany them, to walk alongside them, and not impose a particular way of being, a specific mode of development that has little to do with their cultures, traditions, and spiritualities. They know how to take care of Amazonia, how to love and protect it; what they need is for the Church to support them.

75. The function of the Church is to strengthen that capacity for support and participation. Thus we promote a formation that takes into account the quality of ethical and spiritual life of people from an integral vision. The Church must attend primarily to communities affected by socio-environmental damage. Continuing with the Latin American ecclesial tradition, where figures such as St. José de Anchieta, Bartolomé de las Casas, the Paraguayan martyrs killed in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) Roque González, St. Alfonso Rodríguez and St. Juan del Castillo, among others, taught us that the defense of the original peoples of this continent is intrinsically linked to the faith in Jesus Christ and his good news. Today we must form pastoral agents and ordained ministers with socio-environmental sensitivity. We want a Church that navigates inland and makes its way through Amazonia, promoting a lifestyle in harmony with the region, and at the same time with the "good living" [buen vivir] of those who live there.

76. The Church recognizes the wisdom of the Amazonian peoples about biodiversity, a traditional wisdom that is a living process and always underway. The theft of this knowledge is biopiracy, a form of violence against these populations. The Church must help preserve and maintain that knowledge and innovations and practices of the populations, respecting the sovereignty of the countries, and their laws that regulate access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. To the extent possible, it should help these populations to ensure the distribution of the benefits arising from the use of that knowledge, innovations, and practices in a model of sustainable and inclusive development.

77. The development of energy policies that drastically reduce the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases related to climate change is urgently needed. The new clean energies will help promote health. All companies must establish supply chain monitoring systems to ensure that the products they buy, create or sell is produced in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner. In addition, "access to safe and potable water is a basic, fundamental and universal human right, because it determines the survival of people, and therefore is a condition for the exercise of other human rights." (LS 30). Such a right is recognized by the United Nations (2010). We need to work together so that the fundamental right of access to clean water is respected in the territory.

78. The Church opts for the defense of life, of the land and of the original Amazonian cultures. This would imply, accompanying the Amazonian peoples in the registration, systematization and dissemination of data and information about their territories and their legal status. We wish to prioritize effectiveness and accompaniment to achieve the demarcation of land, especially that of the PIACI (Spanish-speaking America) or PIAV (Portuguese-speaking America). We encourage states to comply with their constitutional obligations on these matters, including the right of access to water.

79. The Social Doctrine of the Church, which has long dealt with the ecological issue, is today enriched with a more comprehensive look that encompasses the relationship between the Amazonian peoples and their territories, always in dialogue with their ancestral knowledge and wisdom. For example, recognizing the way in which indigenous peoples relate and protect their territories as an indispensable reference for our conversion to an integral ecology. In this light we want to create ministries for the care of the “common home” in Amazonia, whose function is to take care of the region and the waters together with the indigenous communities, and a welcoming [acogida] ministry for those who are displaced to the cities from their regions [of origin].

b. Poor church, with and for the poor at the vulnerable peripheries

80. We reaffirm our commitment to defend life in its entirety from conception to death, and the dignity of all people. The Church has been and is close to the indigenous communities to safeguard the right to have their own and tranquil life, respecting the values ​​of their traditions, customs and cultures, the preservation of rivers and forests, which are sacred spaces, source of Life and wisdom. We support the efforts of so many who bravely defend life in all its forms and stages. Our pastoral service constitutes a service to the full life of the indigenous peoples that forces us to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Kingdom of God, to curb the situations of sin, the structures of death, violence and internal injustices and external and promote intercultural, interreligious and ecumenical dialogue.

New paths for integral ecological promotion

a. Prophetic interpellation and message of hope to the whole Church and the whole world

81. The defense of the life of the Amazon and its peoples requires a deep personal, social, and structural conversion. The Church is included in this call to unlearn, learn and relearn, in order to overcome any tendency towards colonial models that have caused damage in the past. In that sense it is important that we be aware of the strength of neo-colonialism that is present in our daily decisions and the predominant development model that is expressed in the growing model of monoculture agriculture, our modes of transport and the imaginary well-being based on consumption that we live in society and that has direct and indirect implications in Amazonia. Given this, a global horizon, while still listening to the voices of sister churches, we want to embrace a spirituality of integral ecology in order to promote the care of creation. To achieve this we must be a community of missionary disciples who are much more participatory and inclusive.

82. We propose to define ecological sin as an action or omission against God, against others, the community and the environment. It is a sin against future generations and manifests itself in acts and habits of pollution and destruction of the harmony of the environment, transgressions against the principles of interdependence and the breaking of solidarity networks among creatures (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 340-344) and against the virtue of justice. We also propose to create special ministries for the care of the “common home” and the promotion of integral ecology at the parish level and in each ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which have as functions, among others, the care of the land and waters, as well as the promotion of the encyclical Laudato si'. to assume the pastoral, educational and advocacy program of the Encyclical Laudato si 'in its chapters V and VI at all levels and structures of the Church.

83. As a way to repair the ecological debt that countries have with Amazonia, we propose the creation of a global fund to cover part of the budgets of the communities present in Amazonia that promote their integral and self-sustainable development and thus also protect them from the predatory lust, on the part of national and multinational companies, of seeking to extract its natural resources.

84. We propose to adopt responsible habits that respect and value the peoples of Amazonia, their traditions and wisdom, protecting the land and changing our culture of excessive consumption, the production of solid waste, stimulating reuse and recycling. We must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the use of plastics, changing our eating habits (excess consumption of meat and fish / shellfish) with more sober lifestyles. We must actively engage in tree planting, seeking sustainable alternatives in agriculture, energy and mobility that respect the rights of nature and the people. We must promote education in integral ecology at all levels, and promote new economic models and initiatives that promote a sustainable quality of life.

b. An Amazonian Socio-Pastoral Observatory

85. We must create a pastoral socio-environmental observatory, strengthening the struggle in the defense of life, [and] to make a diagnosis of the territory and its socio-environmental conflicts in each local and regional Church, in order to take a position, make decisions and defend the rights of the most vulnerable. The Observatory would work in partnership with CELAM, CLAR, Caritas, REPAM, national Episcopates, local Churches, Catholic universities, IACHR, and other non-ecclesial actors on the continent and representatives of indigenous peoples. We also ask that an Amazon office be created in the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Service to be related to this Observatory and the other local Amazonian institutions.

CHAPTER V

NEW ROADS OF SYNODAL CONVERSION

“Me in them, and You in Me, so that they may be perfected in unity” (Jn 17:23)

 86. In order to walk together, the Church needs a Synodal conversion, a synodality of the People of God under the guidance of the Spirit in the Amazon. With this horizon of communion and participation we seek the new ecclesial paths, above all, in the ministeriality and sacramentality of the Church with an Amazonian face. Consecrated life, the laity and among them women, are the old and always new protagonists who call us to this conversion.

Missionary Synod in the Amazon Church

a. The missionary synodality of the entire People of God under the guidance of the Spirit

87. "Synod" is an ancient word revered by Tradition; it indicates the path that members of God's people travel together; He refers to the Lord Jesus, who presents Himself as “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), and the fact that Christians, His followers, were called “the disciples of the way” (Acts 9:2 ); to be synods is to follow together "the way of the Lord" (Acts 18.25). Synodality is the way of being of the early Church (cf. Acts 15) and must be ours. “The body parts are many, but the body is one; however many the parts are, they all form a single body. So also Christ”(1 Cor 12:12). Synodality also characterizes the Church of Vatican II, understood as the People of God, in equality and common dignity in the face of the diversity of ministries, charisms and services. It “indicates the specific way of living and acting (modus vivendi et operandi) of the Church of the People of God, which manifests and realizes in a concrete way her being ‘communion,’ in walking together, in meeting in assembly and in the active participation of all its members in its evangelizing action” (...), that is, in the “co-responsibility and participation of all the people of God in the life and mission of the Church” (CTI, Synodality ... n. 6-7).

88. To walk together, the Church today needs a conversion to the synodal experience. It is necessary to strengthen a culture of dialogue, reciprocal listening, spiritual discernment, consensus and communion to find spaces and modes of joint decision-making and respond to pastoral challenges. This will foster joint responsibility in the life of the Church in a spirit of service. It is urgent to walk, propose and assume the responsibilities to overcome clericalism and arbitrary impositions. Synodality is a constitutive dimension of the Church. It is not possible to be a Church without acknowledging an effective exercise of the sensus fidei of the entire People of God.

b. Spirituality of synodal communion under the guidance of the Spirit

89. The Church lives from communion with the Body of Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The so-called “Apostolic Council of Jerusalem” (cf. Acts 15; Gal 2:1-10) is a synodal event in which the Apostolic Church, at a decisive moment in its path, lives its vocation in the light of the presence of the Risen Lord in view of the mission. This event became the paradigmatic figure of the Synods of the Church and its synodal vocation. The decision taken by the Apostles, with the company of the entire community of Jerusalem, was the work of the Holy Spirit's action that guides the way of the Church assuring fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus: "We have decided, the Holy Spirit and us" (Acts 15:28). The entire assembly received the decision and made it its own (Acts 15:22); then the community of Antioch did the same (Acts 15:30-31). To be truly "synodal" is to advance in harmony under the impulse of the life-giving Spirit.

90. The Church in the Amazon is called to walk in the exercise of discernment, which is the center of the synod processes and events. It is about determining and traveling as a Church, through the theological interpretation of the signs of the times, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the way forward in the service of God's design. Community discernment allows us to discover a call that God makes heard in each particular historical situation. This Assembly is a moment of grace to exercise reciprocal listening, sincere dialogue and community discernment for the common good of the People of God in the Amazon Region, and then, at the stage of decision-making, to continue walking under the impulse of the Holy Spirit in small communities, parishes, dioceses, vicariates, "prelatures", and throughout the region.

c. Towards a synodal style of living and working in the Amazon region

91. With evangelical boldness, we want to implement new paths for the life of the Church and its service to an integral ecology in the Amazon. Synodality marks a style of living communion and participation in local churches that is characterized by respect for the dignity and equality of all baptized men and women, the complementarity of charisms and ministries, the pleasure of meeting in assemblies to discern together the voice of the Spirit. This Synod gives us the opportunity to reflect on how to structure the local churches in each region and country, and to advance in a synodal conversion that points out common paths in evangelization. The logic of the incarnation teaches that God, in Christ, is linked to human beings who live in the "cultures of the peoples" (AG 9) and that the Church, People of God inserted among the peoples, has the beauty of a pluriform face because it takes root in many diverse cultures (EG 116). This is done in the life and mission of the local churches based in each “great socio-cultural region” (AG 22).

92. A Church with an Amazonian face needs its communities to be impregnated with a synodal spirit, backed by organizational structures according to this dynamic, as authentic institutions of communion. The forms of the exercise of synodality are varied; they must be decentralized at their various levels (diocesan, regional, national, universal), and respectful and attentive to local processes, without weakening the link with the other sister Churches and with the universal Church. The forms of organization for the exercise of synodality can be varied; they establish a synchrony between communion and participation, between the co-responsibility and the ministeriality of all, paying special attention to the effective participation of the laity in discernment and taking of decisions, promoting the participation of women.

New paths for ecclesial ministry

a. Ministerial Church and New Ministries

93. The renewal of the Second Vatican Council places the laity within the People of God, in a Church that is entirely all ministerial, which in the sacrament of baptism is the basis of the identity and mission of every Christian. “The laity are faithful that by baptism were incorporated into Christ, constituted in the People of God and, in their own way, made participants in the priestly, prophetic and regal world of Christ, by which they exercise their role in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world ”(LG 31). From this triple relationship, with Christ, the Church and the world, is born the vocation and mission of the laity. The Church in Amazonia, in view of a just and supportive society in the care of the "common home", wants to make the laity privileged actors. Its action has been and is vital, whether in the coordination of ecclesial communities, in the exercise of ministries, as well as in its prophetic commitment in an inclusive world for all, who has in its martyrs a testimony that challenges us.

94. As an expression of the co-responsibility of all those baptized in the Church and of the exercise of the sensus fidei of the entire People of God, there arose assemblies and pastoral councils in all ecclesial fields, as well as the coordination teams of the different pastoral services and ministries entrusted to the laity. We recognize the need to strengthen and expand the spaces for the participation of the laity, whether in consultation or in decision making, in the life and mission of the Church.

95. Although the mission in the world is the task of every baptized person, the Second Vatican Council highlighted the mission of the laity: “the hope of a New Earth, far from attenuating, must first boost the request for the improvement of this land” (GS 39). It is urgent for the Amazonian Church to promote and confer ministries upon men and women in an equitable manner. The fabric of the local church, also in Amazonia, is guaranteed by the small missionary ecclesial communities that cultivate the faith, listen to the Word and celebrate together in proximity to the life of the people. It is the Church of baptized men and women that we must consolidate by promoting ministeriality and, above all, the awareness of baptismal dignity.

96. In addition, the Bishop may trust, for a specific period of time, in the absence of priests in the communities, the exercise of pastoral care of the same to a person not vested in the priestly character, who is a member of the community. Favoritism should be avoided and therefore it will be a rotating position. The Bishop may constitute this ministry on behalf of the Christian community with an official mandate through a ritual act so that the person responsible for the community is also recognized at the civil and local levels. The priest always remains, with the power and faculty of the pastor, as the responsible party for the community.

b. Consecrated life

97. The Gospel text - “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to announce to the poor the Good News” (Lk. 4:18) - expresses a conviction that animates the mission of consecrated life in Amazonia, sent to proclaim the Good News in close accompaniment of the indigenous peoples, of the most vulnerable and remote of them, by means of a dialogue and announcement that enable a deep knowledge of spirituality. A consecrated life with intercongregational and interinstitutional experiences can remain in communities, where nobody wants to be and with whom nobody wants to be, learning and respecting indigenous culture and languages ​​to reach the hearts of the people.

98. Missions, while contributing to building and consolidating the Church, strengthen and renew consecrated life and call upon it with more force to resume the purest of its original inspiration. In this way, their testimony will be prophetic and a source of new religious vocations. We propose betting on a consecrated life with an Amazonian identity, strengthening indigenous vocations. We support the insertion and movement of the consecrated among the most impoverished and excluded. Formative processes must include the approach from interculturality, inculturation and dialogues between Amazonian spiritualities and worldviews.

c. The presence and the time of women

99. The Church in the Amazon wants to “expand the spaces for a more incisive female presence in the Church” (EG 103). “Let us not reduce the commitment of women in the Church, but promote their active participation in the ecclesial community. If the Church loses women in its total and real dimension, the Church is exposed to sterility”(Pope Francis, Meeting with the Brazilian Episcopate, Rio de Janeiro, July 27, 2013).

100. The Magisterium of the Church since the Second Vatican Council has highlighted the leading place that women occupy within it: “The time is coming, the time has come for women's vocation to be fully fulfilled, the time when the woman acquires in the world an influence, a weight, a power was never reached until now. That is why, at this moment when humanity is passing through such a profound change, women full of the spirit of the Gospel can help so much to ensure that humanity does not decline” (Paul VI, 1965; AAS 58, 1966, 13-14).

101. The wisdom of ancestral peoples affirms that Mother Earth has a female face. In the indigenous and western world, the woman is the one who works in multiple facets, in teaching children, and in the transmission of faith and the Gospel. They are a witness and responsible presence in human development. Therefore, it is requested that women's voices be heard, that they be consulted and participate in decision-making and, thus, can contribute with their sensitivity to ecclesial synodality. We value “the role of women, recognizing their fundamental role in the formation and continuity of cultures, in spirituality, in communities and families. It is necessary that they more strongly assume their leadership within the Church, and that they recognize and promote it by strengthening their participation in the pastoral councils of parishes and dioceses, or even in areas of government.

102. Given the reality suffered by women as victims of physical, moral and religious violence, including femicide, the Church is positioned in defense of their rights and recognizes them as protagonists and guardians of creation and the "common home". We recognize the ministeriality that Jesus reserved for women. The formation of women must be promoted in studies of biblical theology, systematic theology, canon law, valuing their presence in organizations and leadership within and outside the ecclesial environment. We want to strengthen family ties, especially among migrant women. We assure their place in the leadership and training spaces. We ask for a review the Motu Propio de St. Pablo VI, Minister quedam, so that properly trained and prepared women may also receive the ministries of the Lectorate and the Acolyte, among others to be developed. In the new contexts of evangelization and pastoral work in the Amazon, where the majority of Catholic communities are led by women, we ask that there be instituted and recognized a ministry of “the woman leader of the community,” in the service of the changing demands of evangelization and care for communities.

103. In the various consultations carried out in the Amazon region, the fundamental role of religious and lay women and their communities in the Church of the Amazon region was recognized and emphasized, given the multiple services that they offer. For this reason the topic was also very present in the Synod. Already in 2016, Pope Francis had created a “Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate,” which, as a Commission, arrived at a partial conclusion regarding the nature of the diaconate of women in the first centuries of the Church and its implications for today. Therefore, we would like to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and wait for its results.

d. Permanent diaconate

104. For the Amazonian Church, the promotion, formation and support of permanent deacons is urgent, because of the importance of this ministry in the community, particularly for the ecclesial service that many communities require, especially indigenous peoples. The specific pastoral needs of the Amazonian Christian communities lead us to a broader understanding of the diaconate, a service that has existed since the beginning of the Church, and restored as an autonomous and permanent degree by the Second Vatican Council (LG 29, AG 16, OE 17). The diaconate today must also promote integral ecology, human development, social pastoral work, service to those in situations of vulnerability and poverty, configuring it to Christ the Servant, becoming a merciful, Samaritan, solidary and diaconal Church.

105. Priests must bear in mind that the deacon is at the service of the community by designation and under the authority of the bishop, and that they have the obligation to support permanent deacons and to act in communion with them. The maintaining of permanent deacons must be kept in mind. This includes the vocation process according to admission criteria. The motivations of the candidate must be directed to the service and mission of the permanent diaconate in the Church and in the world today. The formative process alternates between academic study and pastoral practice, accompanied by a formation team and the parish community, with contents and itineraries adapted to each local reality. It is desirable that the wife and children participate in the formation process.

106. The course of studies (curriculum) for the formation of the permanent diaconate, in addition to compulsory subjects, must include topics that favor ecumenical, interreligious and intercultural dialogue, the history of the Church in the Amazon, affection and sexuality, the indigenous worldview, integral ecology and other cross-sectional issues that are typical of diaconal ministry. The team of trainers will consist of ordained ministers and competent lay people who are in line with the approved permanent diaconate directory in each country. We want to encourage, support, and personally accompany, the vocational process and the formation of future permanent deacons in the riverside and indigenous communities, with the participation of parish priests, religious and religious. Finally, that there be a follow-up program for continuing formation (spirituality, theological formation, pastoral affairs, updates of church documents, etc.), under the guidance of the bishop.

e. Training courses for inculturation

107. "I will give you shepherds according to my heart" (Jer 3,15). This promise, being divine, is valid for all times and contexts. Therefore, it is also valid for the Amazon. Intended to configure the priest to Christ, the formation for the ordained ministry must be a community school of fraternity, experiential, spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal, in contact with the reality of the people, in harmony with the local culture and religiosity, close to the poor. We need to prepare good shepherds who live the Good News of the Kingdom, know the canonical laws, who are compassionate, as similar to Jesus as possible, whose practice is to do the will of the Father, fed by the Eucharist and Holy Scripture. That is, a more biblical formation in the sense of an assimilation to Jesus as shown in the Gospels: close to people, able to listen, heal, and comfort patiently, not seeking to request but to manifest the tenderness of their Father's heart.

108. In order to offer future presbyters of churches in the Amazon a formation with an Amazonian face, inserted and adapted to reality, contextualized and capable of responding to the numerous pastoral and missionary challenges, we propose an online training plan on the challenges of the local churches and the reality of the Amazon. It must include, in its academic contents, disciplines that address integral ecology, eco-theology, creation theology, Indian theologies, ecological spirituality, the history of the Church in Amazonia, Amazonian cultural anthropology, etc. The training centers for the presbyteral and consecrated life must be inserted, preferably, in the Amazonian reality, in order to favor contact with Amazonian young people in formation within their reality, while preparing them for their future mission, thus guaranteeing that the formation process does not distance itself from the vital content of people and their culture, as well as offering other non-Amazonian youth the opportunity to be part of their formation in the Amazon, thus promoting missionary vocations.

f. The Eucharist source and summit of synodal communion

109. According to the Second Vatican Council, participation in the Eucharist is the source and summit of all Christian life; it is a symbol of that unity with the Mystical Body. It is the center and culmination of the whole life of the Christian community. The Eucharist contains all the spiritual good of the Church; It is the source and culmination of all evangelization. Let us echo the phrase of St. John Paul II: "The Church lives from the Eucharist" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1). The Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship Redemptoris sacramentum (2004) insists that the faithful enjoy the right to have the Eucharistic celebration as established in the liturgical books and norms. But it seems strange to speak of the right to celebrate a Eucharist as prescribed, not to mention the most fundamental right of access to the Eucharist for all: “In the Eucharist the fullness has already been realized, and it is the vital center of the universe, the center full of love and inexhaustible life. Together with the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos thanks God. Indeed, the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love ”(LS 236).

110. The community has a right to celebration, which derives from the essence of the Eucharist and its place in the economy of salvation. The sacramental life is the integration of the various dimensions of human life in the Paschal Mystery, which strengthens us. That is why living communities truly cry out for the celebration of the Eucharist. It is undoubtedly the point of arrival (source and summit) of the community; but it is, at the same time, a starting point: of encounter, of reconciliation, of learning and catechesis, of community growth.

111. Many of the ecclesial communities of the Amazon territory have enormous difficulties in receiving the Eucharist. Sometimes not only months pass, but even several years before a priest can return to a community to celebrate the Eucharist, offer the sacrament of reconciliation or anoint the sick of the community. We appreciate the celibate person as a gift of God (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 1) insofar as this gift permits the missionary disciple, ordained to the priesthood, to dedicate himself completely to the service of the Holy People of God. It stimulates pastoral charity and we pray that there will be many vocations that live out the celibate priesthood. We know that this discipline “is not demanded by the nature itself of the priesthood ... although there are many reasons for which it is convenient for the same” (PO 16). In his encyclical on priestly celibacy Saint Paul VI maintained this law and gave the theological, spiritual, and pastoral reasons upon which it is based. In 1992, the post synodal exhortation of Saint John Paul II on priestly formation confirmed this tradition in the Latin Church (PDV 29). Considering that legitimate diversity does not damage the communion and unity of the Church, but that it rather makes it manifest and serves it (LG 13; OE 6), which gives testimony to the plurality of existing rites and disciplines, we propose to establish criteria and dispositions on the part of the competent authority, in the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain as priests men who are apt for it and who are recognized by the community, who are fruitful permanent deacons and who receive an adequate formation for the priesthood, even if they have a legitimately constituted and stable family, to sustain the life of the Christian community, through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote zones of the Amazon region. With regard to this, some wished that the topic be addressed in a universal way.

New paths for ecclesial synodality

a. Regional Synodal Structures in the Amazonian Church

112. The majority of the Dioceses, Prelatures and Vicariates of Amazonia have large territories, few ordained ministers and a shortage of financial resources, and going through difficulties in sustaining the mission. The "Amazonian cost" has a serious impact on evangelization. Given this reality, it is necessary that there be a rethinking of the way in which local churches are organized, to reconsider communion structures at provincial, regional, national levels and, with respect to the Pan-Amazon region. Therefore, the articulation of synodal spaces and creation of solidarity support networks is necessary. It is urgent to overcome the borders that geography imposes and construct bridges that unite. The Aparecida document already insisted that local Churches create forms of interdiocesan associations in each country or between countries of a region, and that fosters greater cooperation among the sister churches (cf. DAp 182). With a view towards a Church that is present, shows solidarity, and is Samaritan, we propose: to redraw the vast geographic areas of the dioceses, vicariates and “prelatures” [“prelazias”], to create an Amazonian fund to sustain evangelization, and to raise awareness and to encourage international Catholic cooperation agencies to provide support, beyond social projects, to activities of evangelization.

113. In 2015, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops by St. Paul VI, Pope Francis gave an invitation to renew the synodal communion at the different levels of the Church's life: local, regional and universal. The Church is developing a renewed understanding of synodality at the regional level. Supported by tradition, the International Theological Commission states: “The regional level in the exercise of synodality is that which occurs in regrouping of particular Churches present in the same region: a province - as was the case in the first centuries of the Church- or a country, a continent or part of it” (Document “Synodality in the life and mission of the Church”, Vatican, 2018, 85). The exercise of synodality at this level reinforces spiritual and institutional ties, favors the exchange of gifts and helps to project common pastoral criteria. The joint work in the social pastoral of the dioceses located along the borders of the countries must be strengthened to face common problems that overwhelm local dioceses, such as the exploitation of people and territory, drug trafficking, corruption, human trafficking, etc. The problem of migration needs to be tackled in a coordinated manner by the border churches.

b. Universities and new Amazonian synod structures

114. We propose that an Amazon Catholic University be established based on interdisciplinary research (including field studies), inculturation and intercultural dialogue; that inculturated theology includes joint formation for lay ministries and formation of priests, based primarily on Sacred Scripture. Research, education and extension activities should include environmental study programs (theoretical knowledge combined with the wisdom of the people living in the Amazonian region) and ethnic studies (description of the different languages, etc.). Teacher training, teaching and production of teaching material must respect the customs and traditions of indigenous peoples, developing inculturated teaching material and carrying out extension activities in different countries and regions. We ask Catholic universities in Latin America to help create the Amazon Catholic University and accompany its development.

c. Post-Synodal Regional Ecclesial Organization for the Amazon region

115. We propose to create an episcopal organism that promotes synodality among the churches of the region, that helps to delineate the Amazonian face of this Church and that continues the task of finding new paths for the evangelizing mission, especially incorporating the proposal of integral ecology, thus strengthening the physiognomy of the Amazon Church. It would be a permanent and representative episcopal organism that promotes synodality in the Amazon region, articulated with CELAM, with its own structure, in a simple organization and also articulated with REPAM. In this way it can be the effective channel to take up, from the territory of the Latin American and Caribbean Church, many of the proposals that emerged in this Synod. It would be the link that articulates ecclesial and socio-environmental networks and initiatives at the continental and international level.

d. A rite for native peoples

116. The Second Vatican Council opened spaces for liturgical pluralism "for legitimate variations and adaptations for various groups and peoples" (SC 38). In this sense, the liturgy must respond to culture so that it is the source and summit of the Christian life (cf. SC 10) and so that it feels bound to the sufferings and joys of the people. We must give a truly Catholic response to the request of the Amazonian communities to adapt the liturgy by valuing the worldview, traditions, symbols and original rites that include transcendent, community and ecological dimensions.

117. In the Catholic Church there are 23 different Rites, a clear sign of a tradition that since the first centuries has tried to inculturate the contents of the faith and its celebration through a language as coherent as possible with the mystery to be expressed. All these traditions have their origin based on the mission of the Church: "Churches of the same geographical and cultural field have come to celebrate the mystery of Christ with particular expressions, culturally characterized: in the tradition of the "deposit of faith," in liturgical symbolism, in the organization of fraternal communion, in the theological understanding of mysteries and in the various forms of holiness" (CCC 1202; see also CCC 1200-1206).

118. It is necessary that the Church, in its tireless evangelizing work, operate so that the process of inculturation of the faith, expressed in the most coherent ways, so that it can also be celebrated and lived according to the languages ​​of the Amazonian peoples. It is urgent to form translation and writing committees of biblical and liturgical texts in the languages ​​of the various regions, with the necessary resources, preserving the matter of the sacraments and adapting them to the form, without losing sight of what is essential. In this sense it is necessary to encourage music and singing, all of which is accepted and encouraged by the liturgy.

119. The new organism of the Church in Amazonia must establish a competent commission to study and discuss, according to usages and customs of the ancestral peoples, the elaboration of an Amazonian rite, which expresses the liturgical, theological, disciplinary and spiritual heritage of the Amazon, with special reference to what Lumen Gentium affirms for the Eastern Churches (cf. LG 23). This would add to the rites already present in the Church, enriching the work of evangelization, the ability to express faith in one's own culture and the sense of decentralization and collegiality that can be expressed by the Catholicity of the Church. There could also be study and proposals regarding how to enrich ecclesial rites with the way in which these peoples take care of their territory and relate to their waters.

CONCLUSION

120. We conclude under the protection of Mary, Mother of the Amazon, venerated with various advocations throughout the region. Through her intercession, we ask that this Synod be a concrete expression of synodality, so that the full life that Jesus came to bring to the world (cf. Jn 10:10) reaches all, especially the poor, and contributes to the care of the "common home." May Mary, Mother of the Amazon, accompany our walk. To Saint Joseph, faithful guardian of Mary and her son Jesus, we consecrate our ecclesial presence in the Amazon, a Church with an Amazonian face and a missionary outreach.

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Dr. Michelle Cretella, censored by YouTube. The Daily Signal / YouTube
Katrina Trinko

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YouTube censors medical doctor for discussing transgenderism. Why that’s outrageous

Katrina Trinko
By Katrina Trinko

November 5, 2019 (Daily Signal) — "See, if you want to cut off a leg or an arm, you're mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you're transgender."

Those are the words of Dr. Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician with many years' experience and the executive director of the American Academy of Pediatricians, in a Daily Signal video published in 2017.

It's a sentence YouTube will not allow the doctor to say about children and gender identity issues.

The Daily Signal recently learned that our video of Cretella had been removed from YouTube. In its place, YouTube displayed this message: "This video has been removed for violating YouTube's policy on hate speech."

Over the past few months, The Daily Signal worked with YouTube to try to reach a resolution. Ultimately, we were told the only way we could get the video back on YouTube was to delete the previously mentioned sentence.

In other words, we had two choices: censor the doctor's words or have no video on the world's biggest video platform.

This should horrify every YouTube user — and anyone who values the importance of a public square featuring a variety of perspectives.

Cretella's words are no doubt controversial. She is no stranger to criticism, and neither is The Daily Signal. We welcome debate.

But we don't want to be censored.

We agree with the spirit behind YouTube's hate speech policy, which states, "Hate speech is not allowed on YouTube. We remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on any of the following attributes," including "Gender Identity and Expression" and "Sex/Gender." We believe transgender individuals, and any individual struggling with gender identity issues, should be treated with love and respect.

But we also believe that on a topic where medical treatments have such serious ramifications, from infertility to permanent alteration of body parts, it is worth having a robust, fact-driven discussion.

Cretella is a doctor. She is making a point in that sentence that may not be popular but remains true: There is no society-wide push right now to allow patients suffering from Body Integrity Identity Disorder to amputate limbs.

Furthermore, just this May — 18 months since Cretella's video was published — the World Health Organization removed transgenderism from its list of "mental disorders," moving it to a section about sexual health.

But as of July, Cretella's sentence — which did not even state transgenderism was a result of mental illness, but simply pointed out that our culture sees amputation of body parts differently depending on the body parts in question — is apparently so outrageous YouTube can't fathom allowing it on its platform.

That is unbelievable.

We are especially disappointed with YouTube's decision because other social media platforms have allowed the video on their platforms. In fact, the video has more than 70 million views on Facebook. It might have even more if Facebook hadn't temporarily removed it in July 2018. After our appeal to Facebook, it was quickly restored and remains on The Daily Signal's page today.

Here at The Daily Signal, the multimedia news arm of The Heritage Foundation, we believe that private companies, including YouTube, should be allowed to set and enforce their own rules.

But we also believe consumers have a right to protest. And if you are upset that YouTube — the biggest video platform in the world — is refusing to let a doctor speak without censorship on gender identity and children, please reach out to YouTube and its parent company, Google.

Tweet at them: @YouTube and @google. Leave a message on Google's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Google/) or YouTube's (https://www.facebook.com/youtube/).

Make it clear that while we may often be silent, many, many people want to have a free debate on controversial topics.

Join us in calling on YouTube to reverse this decision and allow this doctor to speak her mind freely on this vital issue.

This is not about how you think children experiencing gender identity issues should be treated, but whether you think there should be an open conversation on this topic, so that parents can make informed decisions about what's best for their child.

Censoring a medical doctor doesn't put YouTube on the right side of history. It just shows that it's a big tech company prioritizing the preferences of the activist left over free speech for all.

Published with permission from The Daily Signal.

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German priest: Marian devotion is crucial to remaining in the true faith

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By Maike Hickson

November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In the midst of the many disturbances and confusions that are currently taking place in the Catholic Church, it is always good to remind ourselves of the beauty of our Catholic faith and the intimate role of the Blessed Mother in our lives.

LifeSite reached out to Father Frank Unterhalt, asking him for a comment on the role of Mary and also how he sees the fruits of Marian devotion in the life of the faith of his own parishioners in Germany, in the Archdiocese of Paderborn.

Father Unterhalt is the speaker of the priestly group Communio veritatis which is opposing some of the changes coming out of the Catholic Church in Rome, as well as in Germany, such as Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics and Communion for remarried divorcees. They have asked Cardinal Reinhard Marx to resign from his office as president of the German Bishops' Conference because he is trying to adapt the Church to the Zeitgeist in our times, thus abusing his office.

In his statement to LifeSite, Pastor Unterhalt says: “Many faithful are asking themselves today how one can withstand the current storm of the great test and remain in the true Faith. I would like to answer that with the famous words of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima: 'My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which leads you to God!'”

He goes on to show, with the help of many statements from saints, the beautiful role of the Blessed Mother in the history of salvation, starting with her Fiat at the moment of the Incarnation. The German priest points to Mary's motherly heart for mankind and insists that “the Immaculata, as Queen, is thus not far from us, but, rather, as Mother very close to us.” “The saints,” he adds, “give testimony to the ineffable motherly goodness of the most holy Virgin and her 'Supplicant Omnipotence' with God.”

Unterhalt also, based on his experience as a pastor, confirms the words of Pope John Paul II: “Holy Scripture and the experience of the faithful see in the Mother of God the one who is especially then close to the Church in the most difficult moments in her history when the attacks on the Church are the most threatening.”

Father Unterhalt encourages the consecration of the faithful to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and states that, in his experience, those faithful who have a strong Marian devotion seem to have an especially strong piety and closeness to the Sacraments. 

He writes: “Indeed, it shows itself always that those faithful who have consecrated themselves to the Mother of God receive the light and the strength to remain loyal to the Lord. They are the ones who, with ties to the Mother of the Church, live the true faith in the parishes. Those faithful who have a Marian devotion find – led by her – the mercy of God in the confessional, and they adore Him in the Most Holy Eucharist on their knees, receiving Communion on the tongue.”

***

Father Pastor Unterhalt’s full statement

The Significance of the Immaculata as the Mediatrix of all Graces

Many faithful are asking themselves today how one can withstand the current storm of the great test and remain in the true Faith.

I would like to answer that with the famous words of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which leads you to God!”

The Immaculata is [said St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe] the “most perfect and most sublime work of God. Saint Bonaventura says: 'God can create still a greater and more perfect world, but He cannot give a higher dignity to any creature than Mary.' [….] In the Immaculata, creation reaches the peak of its perfection. The Mother of God is the most God-like creature of all creatures” (St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, Jedem ist der Weg gewiesen [To Each is Shown the Way], p. 55).

The Most Blessed Virgin has a unique relationship with the Triune God. She is the radiant masterwork of the Father, the chosen Mother of the Son, and the sublime Bride of the Holy Ghost. Saint Anselm argues in favor or her extraordinary beauty and says “that the Virgin, to whom God decided to give His Only Son, radiated in such great purity in a way not thinkable except for God” (De Conc. V. c. 18). Since she was called from eternity to be the Mother of the Redeemer, the Creator has given her the fullness of Graces. “And since it was solely in accordance with the infinite purity of God to have a mother preserved from any guilt, He created Himself one” (St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Die Herrlichkeiten Mariens, Zweiter Teil, 1. Kap. [The Glories of Mary, Second Part, 1st Chapter]).

Mary's election and her extraordinary place in God's salvific plan appear already in the Protoevangelium, in which she is shown as the great woman who is to crush the head of Satan (see Gen 3:15). She is the “enemies' wound that cannot heal” (Ὕμνος Ἀκάθιστος). In the order of salvation, she is the dawn from which emerges Christ, the Sun of Justice. 

This truth becomes especially clear in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, that is to say the doctrine “that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first moment of her conception, by virtue of an exceptional privilege of Grace of the Omnipotent God, in light of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of Mankind, was preserved from any stain of Original Sin” (Bl. Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus).

The Perpetual Virgin is tota pulchra, and she has never known sin, and reflects in an absolute manner God's plan of love with man. “The serpent had no access to this paradise” (St. John of Damascus, In Dorm. Deip. or. 2).

As the Immaculata and Θεοτόκος [Bearer of God], she brings to the world Immanuel, the unique Redeemer and true Savior. No one could ever attain salvation without her.

Thus St. Irenaeus says that she “in her obedience became for herself and for the whole human race the cause of salvation” (Adv. Haer. II, 22,4).

After all, the Virgin Mary was not used by God in a passive manner – her Fiat came from the freedom of her person (see Vaticanum II, Lumen Gentium, 56). St. Bernhard of Clairvaux declares: “The prize of our salvation has been offered to you; we will be saved as soon as you give your consent. The Lord Himself, as much as He yearns for your beauty, as much he yearns for your consenting response, into which He has laid the salvation of the world” (De Laud. V. M. hom. 4). Her very humble Fiat to the message of the angel brings forth the all-decisive turn in history: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” As the new Eve, she brought to the world which was lying in the darkness of sin and of death, the light of everlasting life. The Immaculata has received from the Holy Ghost and has borne for us the Savior, Who has taken His Human Nature from her. “Thus the one and same Jesus is, in His essence, the Son of both God and Mary. [….] He who has the power to create everything out of nothing did not want to restore the wounded creation without Mary [....] Because God begot the Son, through Whom everything was created, Mary bore Him, through Whom everything was saved” (St. Anselm of Canterbury, Oratio 52, PL 158, 955 seq.).

This position as mediatrix of the Mediator is clearly to be seen in Holy Scripture. While the humble maid of the Lord carried the Source of all Graces in her womb, she led her relative Elizabeth to the encounter with her Divine Son (see Luke 1:40-41) – she brings Christ to the people. At the Marriage Feast at Cana He Himself works His first miracle after the petition and the mediation of His Mother (see John 2:1-11). With the address “woman” Jesus shows the parallel to the Protoevangelium (see Gen. 3:15) and reinforces the prominent position of Mary in the history of salvation. She is deeply linked with the Mission of the Son, as it was already prophesied at the Presentation in the Temple (see Luke 2:34-35).

In the mystery of the Passion of Christ this truth receives a universal import. The words of the Savior Who is dying at the Cross – addressed both to Mary and to His beloved disciple John – have an immense importance: “Woman, behold your son – [Son], behold your mother!” (see John 19:26-27). Here, the Immaculata is being installed, at the peak of the work of redemption, as the Mediatrix of all Graces: “She who was once merely known as Mary is now being established publicly by the Savior as the Woman, the Mother, and the Mediatrix of all Graces of Redemption” (Dr. M. Miravalle, Maria Miterlöserin. Mittlerin. Fürsprecherin [Mary Co-Redeemer, Mediatrix, Avocate], S. 35). 

This mystery shows itself especially on Pentecost (see Acts 1:14), because here we see the Apostles and disciples of the Lord with the Mother, praying together, and “Mary, with her prayers pleading for the gift of the Holy Ghost Who had overshadowed her already at the Annunciation” (Lumen Gentium, 59). The Most Blessed Virgin is the true Mother of the Church and mediates between her Son and men. “Wherefore she is our Mother in the order of grace. This maternity of Mary in the order of grace [...] lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect (Ibid., 61-62). Her bodily Assumption into heaven and her Coronation as Queen manifest this unique position in the history of salvation, in its universal dimension: “A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Apoc. 12:1).

Out of this flows the momentous significance of the Immaculata with regard to the salvation of man, as it shows itself clearly for our time in the message of Fatima: “God wishes to establish the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. To him who accepts it I promise salvation!” The saints have always been aware of this, and they have practiced this devotion heroically. “Nobody comes to heaven but through Mary,” said St. Klemens Maria Hofbauer (Prof. Dr. F. Holböck, Geführt von Maria [Led by Mary], S. 443. The practice of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the key to paradise whose gate she is (see Litany of Loreto). 

“For, the Almighty who exalts the lowly has ordained that heaven, earth, and the underworld – whether they wish it or not – have to bow under the scepter of the humble Virgin; and thus He lifted Mary up and made her the Queen of heaven and earth; the head of His heavenly hosts; the treasurer of His treasures; the dispenser of His Graces; the instrument of His Great Miracles; the Redemptrix of mankind; the Mediatrix of the chosen ones; the destroyer of God's enemies and the loyal companion of His Glory and of His Triumphs” (St. Louis Marie de Monfort, The Golden Book, First Part, Chapter 1). 

Therefore, the Almighty and Merciful God could not have raised the Immaculata to a higher place than the one He has chosen for her. He has given her the fullness of Graces so that they come to us through motherly ways. St. Alphonsus Maria of Liguori explains that it is “the Will of God that all Graces which come to mankind by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ since then and until the end of the world will be given to them through the hand and the mediation of Mary” (The Glories of Mary, First Part, Chapter 5).

The Immaculata, as Queen, is thus not far from us, but, rather, as Mother very close to us. The saints give testimony to the ineffable motherly goodness of the most holy Virgin and her “Supplicant Omnipotence“ with God. “The heart of May is so loving and tender with us that, taken the hearts of all the mothers together, would be nothing compared to hers [….] Everything that the Son asks the Father, is being granted to Him. Everything that the Mother asks the Son, is equally being granted to her” (J. Frossard, Ausgewählte Gedanken des heiligen Pfarrers von Ars [A Selection of Thoughts from the Holy Curé of Ars], p. 77). She deserves our great love and our firm trust. Both lead to the consecration to her Immaculate Heart, because Christianity always knew that a child of Mary never gets lost: “The heart of this good mother does not only consist of love and mercy. Her single wish is to see us happy. One only has to turn to her, in order to be heard” (Ibid., p. 48).

With this background, my personal experience corresponds completely to what St. Pope John Paul II said prophetically forty years ago, on October 6, 1979, in the Cathedral St. Matthew in Washington: “Holy Scripture and the experience of the faithful see in the Mother of God the one who is especially then close to the Church in the most difficult moments in her history when the attacks on the Church are the most threatening.”

Indeed, it shows itself always that those faithful who have consecrated themselves to the Mother of God receive the light and the strength to remain loyal to the Lord. They are the ones who, with ties to the Mother of the Church, live the true faith in the parishes. Those faithful who have a Marian devotion find – led by her – the mercy of God in the confessional, and they adore Him in the Most Holy Eucharist on their knees, receiving Communion on the tongue. The “totus tuus” strengthens them on their path of the Commandments, and the rosary gives them the efficacious help from above. The children of Mary will always let themselves be led by Holy Scripture and by the Catechism and thus remain in the revealed truth. On this path, through the mediation of the Mother of the Redeemer, they reach the longed-for salvation.

Translation by LifeSiteNews' Maike Hickson

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Indigenous woman raises hands in prayer to Pachamama during pagan rite in Vatican Gardens prior to opening of Amazon Synod, Oct. 4, 2019.
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How to properly use righteous anger about the Amazon Synod

Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter
By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A friend and former student of mine sent an email to me recently that will surely resonate with many who have been dismayed, scandalized, and horrified by the paganism, syncretism, and contempt for the Catholic religion on full display during last month’s Synod in Rome. With his permission, I share below the email and my reply.

Dear Dr. Kwasniewski:

I’m relieved. For some reason, I’m happy that the evil everyone has suspected all along and warned against is finally rearing its head — though it is far nastier than I thought it would be. To me, the disaster of the Amazon Synod has completely and forcefully established the failure of Vatican II, exposed the modernist influence preceding Vatican II, put a floodlight on the abuses of the current and more recent popes, and stripped bare the lukewarm, pathetic, bright-lipstick-wearing-and-hand-sanitizing-before-distributing-communion-in-the-hand kind of Catholicism that has been around since before I was born. Any compromises I was willing to make either with other people or even in myself are totally banished. Here is the polarizing point I’ve been longing for. Do you think it’s appropriate to feel relief along with great sadness?

A different kind of question: Why do you suppose a vague pantheism has gained so much appeal in our times, becoming the most common opponent of Christianity — more popular than atheism, agnosticism, or even downright satanism?

The big question: What do we do? Pray, obviously, and shuck any vestiges of non-traditional Catholicism in our lives. But I kind of want to fight. For some reason, I see this Pachamama demon as an antithesis of the Virgin Mary. Mother Earth vs. Mother Mary, or a generic cult of “fertility” vs. the veneration of the Theotokos. That makes me so angry. It makes me so angry that our pope, our bishops, and our cardinals are disrespecting our Mother so blatantly and viciously. It makes me so angry that I want to take the wooden idols and smash them to pieces before hurling them into the Tiber, this time for good. How can I turn that anger to constructive purposes?

Here was my reply.

You have expressed to perfection the way we are all feeling. It is a worldwide phenomenon, and we can indeed be thankful for the clarity with which the evil of modernism (with all of the other -isms that precede or follow it) is being exposed on the stage of the Vatican. My own “polarizing point” already occurred long ago, when I studied how the Novus Ordo came into existence and how much the tradition of the Church was despised during and after Vatican II. Everything that is happening now is an extrapolation of this fundamental sin against tradition. Once you reject your identity, you can become anything — or nothing.

The reason for pantheism’s appeal is not hard to see: it mingles enough truth in with the falsehood to appeal to the human mind, which has an instinctive apprehension of divinity. Atheism, in that sense, is always artificial and forced; it runs against the grain of our conscience and our experience. But Christian theism is much more radical and demanding than pantheism, because one has to profess one’s faith in a God utterly transcendent and at the same time fearfully intimate (since His immediate presence to all things is caused by His very transcendence). Pantheism lets a person be “cool” with “religious stuff” while keeping the true God at arm’s length. It adds a religious veneer to an essentially secular lifestyle.

Anger always has to be channeled into thoughtful and focused efforts; otherwise, it disperses itself wastefully and harmfully. I have spoken a little bit here about what laity can do, but it boils down to a few things.

1) Don’t give a red cent to any bishop or priest who does not publicly and expressly preach the orthodox Catholic faith and condemn the errors going on in the Church and at the Vatican. Their most basic job, after offering sacrifice, is to preach the truth, in season, out of season, reproving, rebuking, exhorting (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2). If a bishop or priest is not doing this, it’s like a parent who neglects or abuses his children and who therefore deserves to lose their affection, their support, and their collaboration — even if not their prayers for his conversion. If we have any extra money, we should give it to reliable traditional religious orders and apostolates, which are the hope of the future.

2) Pray and fast more seriously. We are doing battle with evil spirits: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Eph. 6:12), and about such demons, Our Lord says: “This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mk. 9:28). All of us — myself included! — tend to talk a lot and wring our hands, but when push comes to shove, how often do we sign up for holy hours, or skip meals, or abstain from meat or alcoholic beverages or TV or other creature comforts, or pray 15 decades of the rosary, or get up for an early morning Latin Mass? Like Jesus, of whom Scripture says, “He began to do and to teach” (cf. Acts 1:1), we have to begin with doing.

3) Keep studying the Faith, and know it very well. Only in this way can we marvel at it, give thanks for it, live it, discuss it with others and debate its opponents, and pass it on to the next generation. This is no small thing: there is so much ignorance, error, and wishful thinking out there that an accurate knowledge of the Faith, and especially of the liturgy, is rarely to be met with. Books like Fr. Jackson’s Nothing Superfluous and Mosebach’s Heresy of Formlessness and my Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness; books like the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, the Catechism of Trent, and Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma — and I would add Bishop Schneider’s new book, Christus Vincit — these ought to be in front of our eyes for some period of time each day. Extrapolating from this, one could think about starting a book group, or inviting people periodically to one’s home or apartment for readings and discussions. It is the age of the laity: we are the ones doing the heavy lifting at this point in terms of evangelization, catechesis, theology, and liturgical renewal.

4) We should pray about joining ourselves more closely to a traditional community, be it as an oblate of a Benedictine monastery, the Confraternity of St. Peter (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter), the Society of the Sacred Heart (Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest), or some other, in order to share in the spiritual riches of that community and have a more orderly rule of life to follow.

5) This may seem an odd bit of advice, but it is the advice of many saints: practice giving thanks. Thank God each day for making you a Christian and a Catholic. Thank Him for leading you away from ignorance, error, and sin. Thank Him for giving you a hunger for the truth, a desire for the good, eyes and ears for the beautiful. Thank Him for leading you to Catholic tradition, to a good education, and to good friends. Thank Him for exposing evils and stirring up resistance. Thank Him even for your feelings of anger, sadness, dismay, and perplexity, which keep us from being lukewarm and comfortable. The more we acknowledge and rejoice in His gifts to us, the more we are drawn through the hardships of this time to spiritual and eternal goods that will never fade.

I agree with Roberto de Mattei that we must have, or recover, a “militant conception” of Christian life: we are soldiers fighting for Christ the King, even if all we are doing at the moment is faithfully discharging a desk job. We will not be passive, indifferent, lazy, taking whatever nonsense the hierarchs of the Church decide to dump on us; we will resist, respectfully but firmly, and insist on the true Faith.

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