Vatican City, Feb 12, 2020 / 04:45 am
Pope Francis has highlighted the need for spiritual inculturation in the Amazon region, and praised indigenous expressions of religiosity, while pointing to the Eucharist as the central component of Christian spirituality.
In an apostolic exhortation released Feb. 12 as a follow-up to last year's Synod on the Amazon, the pope said the Church should adapt and adopt the identity of the Amazon region in an authentically Christian way.
In Querida Amazonia, released on Wednesday, the pope offered a sweeping view of the region and called for the Church to engage with and defend its peoples at the social, cultural, environmental, and spiritual levels.
"As she perseveres in the preaching of the kerygma, the Church also needs to grow in the Amazon region. In doing so, she constantly reshapes her identity through listening and dialogue with the people, the realities and the history of the lands in which she finds herself," Francis said.
The pope said that true inculturation is "a necessary process" that "rejects nothing of the goodness that already exists in Amazonian cultures, but brings it to fulfilment in the light of the Gospel."
Citing the teachings of St. John Paul II, Francis said that the Church never denies the "autonomy of culture."
"On the contrary, she has the greatest respect for it, since culture is not only an object of redemption and elevation but can also play a role of mediation and cooperation."
Francis also used the document to revisit and respond to the debate that took place at the 2019 synod on the role and suitability of adopting symbols of indigenous spirituality into the Church.
During the Synod on the Amazon, held on Oct. 6-27 last year, a particular point of controversy was the presence of carved images of a naked pregnant woman, often identified as the indigenous religious symbol "Pachamama."