Even before the bishops assembled in Rome in early October, it was unclear what the Amazon Synod was, really, about. If it was about evangelization in that region, you would want to focus sharply, indeed narrowly, on the practical means. Because if the Church hasn’t made much headway in the region after 500 years, including the past 50 years (since Vatican II) during which several of the Amazon bishops claim to have been carrying out a more sensitive ministry close to indigenous peoples, you wouldn’t want to head off onto yet another period of ineffective wishful thinking. 阅读更多.
With the staggering amount of fake news that makes its way around the Internet and social media these days, it’s difficult not to be sympathetic to critiques of journalists. Yet in the grand tradition of shooting the messenger, there have been some truly stunning efforts recently, by various figures in and around the Vatican, to make it appear that criticisms of Pope Francis and some of his dodgier moves during the current Amazon Synod are simply the scurrilous tactics of so-called “journalists without ethics.” 阅读更多.
So. . . . The greatest headline from yesterday: “Pachamama sleeps with the fishes.” A reference, for those who do not already know the history of the Mafia, or even of “The Godfather” films, to a common practice. In Sicily, when one branch of the mob rubs someone out, they put his body in the ocean, and send a fish wrapped in newspaper to the relevant mob members and family members. He, they announce, is dead, i.e., “sleeps” with the fishes. 阅读更多.
In any large organization, but especially a global and universal one like the Catholic Church, the chief executive has to take special care about two things. There will, of course, be different views, perspectives, emphases, ideas on various sides, and the boss must, first, make sure that they are all contributing to the central purposes of the body. And second, he must be extremely cautious that he himself does not undermine those purposes.
We begin today – the delightfully incoherent “Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in the United States – with several questions. Where has environmental harm to rivers, air, soil been most reversed? And where is it now most difficult for factories to pollute streams, for farms to allow fertilizer and pesticide runoff to poison local flora and fauna, and for both companies and individuals to put soot and other unhealthy particulates into the air? And where, too, are the strongest advocates for taking care of both the 7 billion people on the planet and the global ecosystem on which we all depend? 阅读更多.
Synods almost always move within predictable boundaries and the subjects they take on, the very language they use, is largely predictable. But a new term has popped up at the Amazon Synod in the last few days that may be significant. Various sources say that the synod participants have been talking about changing our mentality from thinking of ourselves as the lords and masters of nature to our true position – as “guests.” As with much else that happens in discussions of ecology, this has its positive and negative sides. The positive side, a very positive side, is that it repudiates a centuries-old view that corrupted the Scientific Revolution at the very start. Rene Descartes spoke of making ourselves “masters and possessors of nature.” Francis Bacon went even further advising we “put nature on the rack for the relief of man’s estate.” 阅读更多.
In the early days of a synod, it’s very difficult to assess what’s going on – especially because observers and journalists are not allowed into the hall. And that’s under the best of circumstances. In current circumstances, the communications office says that it has been taking special steps to ensure that as much clear information as possible is being released. A phrase has come up several times – even alluded to by the pope: they hope to keep what is really going on (“the synod of the room”) from being distorted in various outlets (“the synod of the journalists”).
When we turn to the Church, however, we expect something different both in terms of belief and action. We still contribute to the common good, to use the classical term, even though, in our societies, there is no common idea of what is good. We do so because we believe certain things are good for all human beings. Besides, if you have to live in the same cage as the other animals, mere prudence means you at least try to get along. 阅读更多.