Synod on the Amazon

Pope Francis has called a Synod of Bishops on the Amazon to challenge the world to share the pain and heal the wounds of this critical region of God’s creation. The Catholic Register’s Michael Swan went to the Amazon to capture the pulse of a land and people struggling to preserve this vast natural environment and the way of life it sustains.
MANAUS, Brazil -- On the third finger of his left hand Oblate Fr. Robert Valicourt wears a black, wooden ring made from the pit of a tacumã palm tree, a plant native to the Amazon. 
MANAUS, Brazil -- For Enock Barroso Tenente, what’s at stake at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is life as he knows it.
MANAUS, Brazil -- As a caçique or chief of the Apurinã people, Xytara Apurinã has a pretty clear-eyed view of her people’s position in the Amazonian metropolis of Manaus. 
BOA VISTA, Brazil -- Driving up the BR401, it’s hard not to be startled by the sight of a giant soy farm stretching out on both sides of the highway — the empty land is parched and denuded in mid-summer, after the crop is in. 
RAPOSA, Brazil -- Summer evenings in the community of Raposa are golden and gentle. Half-wild horses wander in from the fields to feed on mangos that have fallen from huge trees in front of St. Isidore’s Catholic Church. A few young Makushi grab rakes to push the mangos into piles out of harm’s way. The setting sun seems so close, a giant ball of fire slipping…
Bishop Dom Mário Antonio da Silva knows the Amazon is in trouble, but he doesn’t want its crises — political, ecological and cultural — to define the synod he will attend in Rome Oct. 6-27.

Violence, disease, death are constant companions

BOA VISTA, Brazil -- Consolata Br. Carlo Zacquini was ministering among the Yanomami people in a remote area of Brazil, near the border with Venezuela, when gold miners invaded their lands.

Synod tackles issue of married priests

QUITO, Ecuador -- One of the challenges for bishops at the Amazon synod will be finding ways to meet the spiritual needs of the region’s people.