The Synod for the Amazon one year later: New paths for the Church and for an integral ecology

By Myron Rogal, Catholic Saskatoon News

On Oct. 23, 2020 some 115 participants gathered virtually for a Zoom presentation to look at the impact of the Amazon Synod one year later.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon worked alongside Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Centre Oblat, Queens House and St. Thomas More College to present part one of a planned three-part series.

Keynote speakers included Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen, Deacon Harry Lafond of Muskeg Lake and Kelly Di Domenico, who is the Communications Director for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada.  Joe Gunn of Centre Oblat moderated the event.

The content of the discussion was rooted in the Amazon Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation compiled by Pope Francis. Each speaker presented on the specific “dreams” that the document highlights for Amazonia. Kelly focused on the social and the ecological, while Deacon Lafond reflected on the cultural dream, with Archbishop Bolen presenting on the ecclesial dream.

Archbishop Bolen focused in part on the ongoing harms of colonization,noting that both the people and the land of Amazonia continue to be seen as “empty” needing to be filled with western economic goals, education and materialism. Bolen went on to comment how the physical environment and culture are interconnected, and that when we destroy one, we destroy the other.

While reflecting on the cultural dream, Deacon Lafond called the audience to connect international struggles to those in their own communities; inviting participants to open their eyes to the suffering in their midst.  He reminded participants not to be reactionary. In a Q + A following the event, he said that we should not wait for violence to occur before beginning reconciliation.

Kelly Di Domenico offered a rich and dynamic presentation speaking about the Amazon as a “sacrifice zone” as Naomi Klein has named such places that are sacrificed for the financial benefit and comfort of those in more well to do communities.

Di Domenico further opened the imagination of participants by speaking to the importance of dreams by reminding the audience that those without dreams can be easily exploited and that the colonial model was designed to crush the dreams of the poor. Pope Francis extends an invitation to dream with the people of the Amazon, and calls the Church to help articulate these dreams when certain economic models see people as an obstacle to progress.

The second webinar in the series will take place on Feb 16 from 6:30-8pm entitled: How does the Church in Latin America perceive the Synod on the Amazon, over one year later?

Presenters at the next event will be Mauricio Lopez Oropeza, participant in Rome in the Synod in 2019, Sr. Mariangel Marco Teja, from Spain who is the acting Program Coordinator for the Star of the North Retreat Centre and who played an active role in the Amazon Synod as well as Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-LePas.

Registration for the second event and further information on the third event to be held on June 18 will be made available in early 2021.

Archive of “Synod for the Amazon one year later” – Part 1 of series: