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Pope announces Synod of Bishops focused on people in Amazon.

VATICAN CITY * Addressing the challenges of evangelization in one of the world's most remote areas and the connection between faith and the environment, Pope Francis announced Oct. 15 that he has decided to convene a gathering of the Synod of Bishops in October 2019 to focus on the Amazon region.

Speaking at the end of a Mass in St. Peter's Square, the pope said the synod would seek to identify new paths of evangelization, especially for indigenous people who are "often forgotten and left without the prospect of a peaceful future, including because of the crisis of the Amazon forest."

The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting indigenous populations in the area and reducing biodiversity.

The pope prayed that the synod would highlight the beauty of creation so that "all the people of the earth may praise God, the Lord of the universe, and, enlightened by him, may walk along paths of justice and peace."

Francis had spoken about a possible synod with a variety of bishops from South America, who have been making their ad limina visits to Rome this year. The groups included the bishops of Peru; about 60 percent of the country is in the Amazon.

In an interview published May 16 in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon of Ayacucho, president of the Peruvian bishops' conference, said one of the primary challenges of evangelization in the Amazon is physically reaching the native populations. For example, he said, in a single church province, one bishop is five hours away and another is 17 hours away. "It's easier to meet in Rome," he said.

The church, Piniero said, has been the only voice speaking out in defense of the indigenous people of the Amazon. In the early 1900s, St. Pius X strongly denounced the mistreatment of the native population in the rubber plantations of Peru, he said, adding that a synod would expand that message.

"It is difficult to evangelize the native population," Piniero said. "Recently, the seeds have begun to be sown. Some of my brother bishops who are in that area have learned to speak the native language in order to draw closer to the population."

--Catholic News Service

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Title Annotation:Pope Francis
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Nov 3, 2017
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