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Querida Amazonia: Antonio Spadaro SJ’s Commentary on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhoration

Let me say straightaway that Querida Amazonia is a unique text. I will try to highlight why.

This is the first time that a document of such magisterial importance explicitly presents itself as a text that “accompanies” another one, namely, the synod’s Final Document, The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology.

The pope immediately wishes to affirm a posture, that of listening and discernment. He writes that he listened to the interventions during the synod and read with interest the reports of the discussion groups. He states: “In this exhortation, I wish to give an echo of what this process of dialogue and discernment has caused within me. I will not go into all of the issues treated at length in the final document. Nor do I claim to replace that text or to duplicate it. I wish merely to propose a brief framework for reflection that can apply concretely to the life of the Amazon region a synthesis of some of the great concerns that I have expressed in earlier documents, and that can help guide us to a harmonious, creative and fruitful reception of the entire synodal process” (No. 2).

The exhortation therefore does not go beyond the Final Document, nor does it simply intend to give it its seal. Francis accepts it entirely and accompanies it, guiding its reception within the synodal journey, which is in progress and certainly cannot be said to be concluded. The pope has written this because he wants to give an impetus to the synodal process. Indeed, Francis decides this time not to quote the document at all because that would give the impression of a selection of contents. Instead, his aim is to invite a complete reading so that it may enrichchallenge and inspire the Church: these are the very three verbs used by the pontiff.

The Petrine ministry, with this exhortation, is clearly expressed as a ministry of accompaniment and of discernment. The synod affirms itself as a fundamental reality in the life of the Church. It has a time of preparation, a central event and a post-synodal process of implementation, of which the exhortation is part. Clearly, Francis wants to make a contribution to the reflection on the relationship between primacy and synodality, the need for which is increasingly felt.

The theme of listening is central. The exhortation expresses an awareness that the synod was a place where life stories were discussed as issues not in a theoretical way, but in the form of experiences shared. The synod, as has been said many times, is neither a conference nor a parliament. The pope writes that among the participants were “many people who know better than myself or the Roman Curia what the problems and issues of the Amazon are, since they live there, they experience its suffering and they love it passionately” (No. 3). The reverence proper to listening to those who have the wisdom of experience also seems clear.

Source: La Civiltà Cattololica

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