'Pact of the Catacombs' renewed, with differences

Cardinal Claudio Hummes says Mass in the Catacombs of Domitilla yesterday (Crux/Ines San Martin)

Some 40 bishops participating in the Amazon Synod gathered in the Catacombs of St Domitilla in Rome yesterday to renew a Vatican II pact signed by 42 prelates in 1965 calling for a poor Church. Source: Crux.

Though both “Pacts of the Catacombs” were inspired by a commitment to building a poor Church for the poor, there are striking differences between the 1965 original and the one signed this time, including length.

The new pact is rooted in the Amazon, and some elements may be harder to embrace by the universal Church, as the original declaration was intended to be.

Titled “Pact of the Catacombs for the Common Home, for a Church with an Amazonian face, Poor and Servant, Prophetic and Samaritan,” the declaration among other points calls for recognition of the “real diakonia of a great number of women who today direct communities in the Amazon”.

Another difference is that this one was signed by lay people, including women. As one woman went up to sign, she referred to herself as a “synod mother,” a parallel to bishops participating in the October 6-27 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon who are called “synod fathers”.

Also expected to sign were a Lutheran pastor and a pastor of the Assemblies of God who attended a Mass celebrated by Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the relator, or chairman, of the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.

The new pact contains 14 points, the first of which is a call to defend the Amazon rainforest in the face of global warming and depletion of natural resources. The first three, in fact, concern care for God’s creation and a reminder that man is not the owner of “Mother Earth, but rather the sons and daughters,” called to be caregivers.

The 42 bishops who signed the 1965 pact pledged to “try to live according to the ordinary manner of our people in all that concerns housing, food, [and] means of transport ... We renounce forever the appearance and the substance of wealth, especially in clothing … and symbols made of precious metals.”

In the Amazon version, it’s not until the fourth point that signatories affirm their “preferential option for the poor,” underlining native peoples in particular, making them protagonists in society and in the Church, helping them “preserve their lands, cultures, languages, stories, identities and spiritualities.”

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Amazon bishops pledge poverty, spurning plastics and taking the bus(Crux

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