There are 185 synod fathers participating in the Amazon synod. A synod father is the name given to the bishops, or in some cases, priests and religious brothers, who make up the voting members of a synod assembly. More than 145 of the members of the 2019 synod come from, or serve in, places in South and Central America.
Women are also participating in the synod in the capacity of auditors or experts. Baldisseri said last week that the 34 women is a record number to participate in a synod. Of the 34 women, 20 are members of religious orders.
50, 438,373, 134,435, 10,000, Zero
Baldisseri has proposed to make a "symbolic gesture" of commitment to ecological friendliness by buying bonds that would reforest 50 hectares (nearly 124 acres) of land in the Amazon basin.
This purchase would be, he said, to offset the CO2 emissions caused by the synod, of which it is calculated that 438,373kg is caused by the air travel of participants in the assembly, and 134,435kg by other emission-causing activities, such as the use of energy, water, and transportation in Rome.
The cost of the 50 hectares is "very low," Baldisseri said – just 10,000 euros.
This and other initiatives, including the use of glass and metal water bottles, along with biodegradable cups instead of plastic, are intended to make it a "synod at 'Impact Zero,'" Baldisseri said.
2,400,000, 34,000,000, 79+26+3
The Amazon River basin, most of which is covered by the Amazon rainforest, encompasses 2.4 million square miles, mostly in Brazil, but also in the countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname.
According to statistics provided by the Vatican, due to large migration from forest villages, now an estimated 70 to 80% of the Pan-Amazonian population, around 34 million people, live in cities. Because of this, many cities in the Amazon face urban crowding and lack of infrastructure and resources, making urban poverty one of the major issues facing the region, and one of the many topics to be addressed over the next three weeks.
There are 79 Catholic dioceses, 26 apostolic vicariates, and three prelatures in the Amazon basin. The apostolic vicariates and prelatures are supported financially by the Pontifical Mission Societies, which is under the jurisdiction of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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As with any major international event, the synod takes a sum of money to prepare for and to conduct. Expenses include international and domestic transportation, lodging, food, personnel, and interpreters, among many others. Information about how much money has been spent has not been made public. Both the Vatican press office and the office of the Synod of Bishops declined to provide that information to CNA.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.