Amazon Synod bishop: The Gospel brings new concepts to cultures, like forgiveness

Amazon Synod bishop: The Gospel brings new concepts to cultures, like forgiveness

José Ángel Divassón Cilveti speaks at an Amazon synod press conference at the Vatican Oct. 14, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
José Ángel Divassón Cilveti speaks at an Amazon synod press conference at the Vatican Oct. 14, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

.- While the Vatican’s Synod of Bishop on the Amazon discusses the idea of “inculturating” the Gospel’s proclamation with local culture, one bishop shared that the Gospel called one tribe in southern Venezuela to a difficult cultural concept: forgiveness.

“The Gospel helps cultures maintain all the good they have and at the same time brings new things that helps them grow,” José Ángel Divassón Cilveti, former head of the apostolic vicariate of Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela, said at a Vatican press conference Oct. 14.

Cilventi, a Salesian who served as apostolic vicar of Puerto Ayacucho from 1996-2015, explained how his religious order has carried out missionary work among the Yanomami people in the Amazon rainforest along the Venezuelan-Brazilian border for more than 60 years.

He said that in the past there was much violence among the Yanomami people. “In the past, if you killed others, you were killed,” he said. “And then started the continuous fights and struggles that made their lives difficult.”

The bishop explained that Salesian missionaries who taught newly converted Yanomami Catholics “Jesus said you have to forgive,” spurred a broad cultural change within their community, while “not taking away from being Yanomami at all.”

“In that culture, forgiveness was difficult, and yet these people as they were learning this ability … realized that having the ability to forgive solved so many problems,” Cilventi said.

Another synod participant, Bishop Carlo Verzeletti of Castanhal, Brazil, spoke of the need for change at the press conference.

In particular, Verzeletti called for is a change in the church’s discipline of priestly celibacy.

“In the synod I support and continue to support the importance of being able to ordain married men for the priesthood, so the Eucharist may become a reality that is closer to people and communities, so that these married men can, in fact, accompany the lives of the peoples, the lives of their communities” Verzeletti said Oct. 14.

“I would already know who I would choose to ordain as priests,” the Bishop of Castanhal added.

The Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is an Oct. 6-27 meeting on the Church’s life and ministry in the Pan-Amazonian region.

The working document for the synod proposed the possibility of ordaining elder married men -- viri probati -- in response to a shortage of priestly vocations in the Amazon region of South America.

Verzeletti, an Italian who served the Brazilian state of Para since 1996, said that because of colonization, the region suffered 400 years in which the values of native people were “destroyed,” and now suffers from the negative aspects of globalization.

He noted that in recent years the region’s Pentecostal churches have grown much more rapidly than the Catholic Church, saying that there are 750 Pentecostal churches and only 50 Catholic churches in his city.

179 synod fathers attended the morning assembly in the Synod Hall Oct. 14 in which the discussion included: protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, environmental protection, how to inculturate the liturgy, and how to respond better to the needs and cultures of the people, according to Fr Giacomo Costa, Secretary of the Information Commission

Tags: Forgiveness, Venezuela, Inculturation, Pan-Amazonian Synod, Amazon Synod 2019, Viri probati