ROME (CNS) — It only takes an accurate, unbiased reading of the working document for the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon to see its aim to find new ways to evangelize the region does not stray from Church tradition or the teachings of previous popes, said a Brazilian theologian.
“The preparatory document to the synod reflects a clear and unblemished expression of the faith and Christian doctrine, theologically grounded in sacred Scripture and the magisterium of the popes,” wrote Jesuit Father Adelson Araujo dos Santos.
Calling for a special synod to look at new paths for evangelization and for an integral ecology is also “consistent with the position that the Church has historically taken in favor of the Amazon, its native peoples, creation and life, and intercultural dialogue,” he wrote in a theological analysis first published in Spanish on Vaticannews.va Sept. 25. Fr. dos Santos sent Catholic News Service the full text in Spanish Sept. 27.
The Jesuit priest, who is from the Amazon region in Brazil, is one of the 25 experts Pope Francis appointed to assist the synod members. He is a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Institute of Spirituality in Rome, and he works at its center for teaching formators to the priesthood and religious life. He also served as Jesuit regional superior of the Brazil-Amazon region.
The essay, titled “A synod that bothers a few and bolsters many,” seeks to respond to the “few voices” that have raised doubts about the Oct. 6-27 synod, claiming it would be “full of theological errors and heresies,” he wrote.
For example, some have claimed the synod document advocates the divinization of nature or a pantheistic adoration of the Earth.
Fr. dos Santos said it would be “a total distortion of the facts” to make such a claim, and anyone who did so would be in “complete disobedience to the whole doctrine and magisterium of the Church.”
The document states that the planet and its inhabitants are living expressions of God’s creative work and his love for all of creation, and it calls for the care of God’s creation, which includes not just all human life, but the Earth, which is necessary to sustain that life.
This message is in “full harmony” with Pope Benedict XVI, who said in 2009, “The Church is not only committed to promoting the protection of land, water and air as gifts of the creator destined to everyone but above all [the Church] invites others and works herself to protect mankind from self-destruction.”
The pope makes the connection by saying “when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.”