In the Letter to the Order for the Feast of Saint Francis our Minister General, Michael Perry OFM, and his “team” speak of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops. 

Pope Francis recently looked at the Church in the international Amazon and convened the Amazon Synod with the theme: “The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for Integral Ecology”.

In the preparatory document of the Synod we read that “The Amazon is a region with rich biodiversity; it is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious; it is a mirror of all humanity which, in defence of life, requires structural and personal changes by all human beings, by nations, and by the Church.” We must also remember here that there are about 32 million inhabitants in the Pan-Amazonian region (in the 9 countries that have Amazonian forests) and among them, there are approximately 3 million indigenous people who form about 390 different peoples and nationalities. These indigenous people were born and raised in harmony with the forest and have maintained this balance for thousands of years. “But life in the Amazon is threatened by environmental destruction and exploitation and by the systematic violation of the basic human rights of the Amazon population” (Instrumentum Laboris, 14)…

We Franciscans are called to accompany this Synod with great attention which asks us to hear the cry that goes forth from the Amazon   We are called together with the Church to enter into a process of personal and community ecological conversion, requested by Pope Francis in the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (LS 216-221), “allowing the power and the light of the grace we have received also be evident in our relationship to other creatures and to the world around us. In this way, we will help nurture that sublime fraternity with all creation which Saint Francis of Assisi so radiantly embodied.” (LS 221)…

We know that the Catholic Church has been present in some parts of the Amazon, since the arrival of the European colonizers. The Church is still a prophetic voice in the Amazon.

We want to send a special thanks to the brothers of our Order who currently live and work in the Amazon region of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. At the same time, we ask all the brothers of the Order to be sensitive to the cry of the Amazon, defending the life, dignity and rights of the Amazon peoples. We also ask them to be an ever more present Church, and with the Amazonian missionary face, a Prophetic Church that faces the challenges of today (see Instrumentum Laboris, Part III).