Led by Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, bishops from the Pan-Amazon Synod gathered on Sunday to adopt a new “Pact of the Catacombs for the Common Home”.
Modelled on the original Pact of the Catacombs for a Poor and Servant Church, the signatories of the new pact commit themselves to defend the Amazon jungle in the face of global warming and the depletion of natural resources.
They recognise that they “are not the owners of Mother Earth but rather the sons and daughters formed from the dust of the ground” as the biblical text of Genesis implies. They call for a renewal of God’s covenant with all of creation.
They also call for a renewal of the Church’s preferential option for the poor, especially for native peoples. In particular, they call for the abandonment of a “colonist mentality” and denounce aggression against indigenous communities.
The bishops insist on welcoming “the other”, namely those who are different and call on Catholics “to walk ecumenically with other Christian communities in the inculturation and liberating proclamation of the Gospel.”
Within the Church, the bishops call for “a synodal lifestyle where representatives of original peoples, missionaries, lay people, because of their baptism and in communion with their pastors, have voice and vote in the diocesan assemblies, in pastoral and parish councils and, ultimately, everything that concerns the governance of the communities.” And they call for urgent recognition of ” the ecclesial ministries that already exist in the communities, exercised by pastoral agents, indigenous catechists, ministers of the Word.”
The bishops also call for recognition of ” the services and real diakonia of a great number of women who today direct communities in the Amazon and seek to consolidate them with an adequate ministry of women leaders of the community.”
The bishops also call for “new paths of pastoral action in the cities where we operate, with the prominence of the laity, with attention to the peripheries and migrants, workers and the unemployed, students, educators, researchers and the world of culture and communication.”
In the face of a consumeristic society, they also call for ” a happily sober lifestyle, simple and in solidarity with those who have little or nothing; to reduce the production of garbage and the use of plastics, favoring the production and commercialization of agro-ecological products, and using public transport whenever possible.”
Finally, the Amazon bishops insist on placing themselves on the side of those who are persecuted for their prophetic service of d”enouncing and repaying injustices, of defending the earth and the rights of the poor, of welcoming and supporting migrants and refugees.”
In this context, it is worth remembering the original Pact of the Catacombs proposed by Archbishop Helder Camara at the end of Vatican II. This was in turn inspired by Cardijn’s own 1903 consecration of his life to the working class on the deathbed of his father.
A group of Synod Fathers renews the “Pact of the Catacombs” (Vatican News)
Pact of the Catacombs for the Common Home (English text)
Cardijn, Camara and the Pact of the Catacombs (Cardijn Research)
The jocist bishops who signed the Pact of the Catacombs (Cardijn Research)