Bishop David Martínez de Aguirre Guinea works in Peru’s Amazon and is one of the two Secretaries attending the Amazon Synod. As the Synod takes place, Bishop David tells us about the importance of bringing the Amazon and its peoples into the heart of the Church.
I love the Amazon and I want to defend this Earth. From the beginning, indigenous people of the Amazon have been the priority for the Church.
There is always a preferential option for indigenous communities, which is made concrete by our presence. We try to be present with indigenous communities, living with them day by day.
A Church committed to the Amazon
One of the things that we want to promote now is the participation of indigenous communities in the Church’s own mission.
The Synod is a wake-up call. Traditionally, the missionary here felt a little bit in the jungle, lost and disconnected from the rest of the Church. But then Pope Francis came to Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s Amazon.
It still makes our hair stand on end because his visit was a very moving moment. When the Pope came here and saw these communities he said:
“We will bring the Amazon into the heart of the Church, we are going to put you, who have been the periphery, we want to bring you to the heart of the Church, not just for you to rethink and feel important within the Church but also we want as a Church to let ourselves be touched by the indigenous peoples.”
It is a message to say to the world that we believe that indigenous people have something to offer the world. We want the work in the Amazon and the vision of indigenous communities in the Amazon to have a repercussion on the universal Church.
What we would like is a more dynamic Church, a Church committed to the Amazon, to the environment, to our common home and to indigenous communities.
A wake-up call
We hope that the Synod will be a time for ecumenism among all churches in the Amazon. Let us walk together along the same path to look after the forests and indigenous communities. The Amazon is also the lung of the planet although it is not the only green lung. The Amazon helps to oxygenate the world.
We believe that the Synod will help to awaken the Church. We want to revitalise the Church and encourage a Church with an open spirit. We want a Church that is welcoming and kind to the environment. I dream of that beautiful phrase by Pope Francis of “a Church with an Amazonian face”.
I dream of autonomous indigenous communities, living in their environment, maintaining dialogue between cultures, living in peace. The peace that nature and the river give them, but also fulfilling their basic needs in terms of health, education, relationships with other communities, where people can grow and live their own dreams.
I dream of a Church standing alongside the poorest, the weakest. A Church able to transform our world and which symbolises hope. I dream of a Church that is committed to places where the most wounded are found, a Church which is not afraid to act.
These are my dreams
I dream of a world that is touched by this Amazon. But I mean really touched – it’s not worth dreaming of an Amazon where the rhythm of life of the richest countries continues as normal.
It’s about asking ourselves, why can’t we live more simply? Why can’t we live in a more fraternal and just way and feel the pain of others? Let’s calm down a little, reduce our consumerism so that others can enjoy the environment and so future generations can also enjoy this heritage. These are my dreams.
As Pope Francis said, “the world needs the Amazon and the Amazon needs the world. Everything is interconnected, everything is interrelated.”
We all need to be conscious of how important it is to preserve this corner of the world. We are risking the lives of everyone, the lives of the most vulnerable who are the indigenous communities.
A need for change
We need the world to become aware so that the Amazon can reach the hearts of many and make a radical change in our lives. Our lives, our ways of living, our consumerism, have a repercussion – a repercussion where we live and in these places.
It is everyone’s responsibility – the Amazon is for all indigenous communities. They tell us: “We are the guardians, but we are not the owners. We are the guardians of the Amazon to enjoy it so that the whole world enjoys it. Love this Amazon and let yourself be touched by it. We can all enjoy this common home that was given to us as a gift and we can also offer it to future generations.”