Pope Erects Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia

Amazonia’s Ecclesial Conference

Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia
The Pope at the opening of the Synod on the Amazon © Vatican Media

Pope Francis erected canonically the Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia (CEAMA) as an ecclesiastical juridical public person, so communicated Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, in a letter dated October 11, 2021, to Cardinal Claudio Hummes, CEAMA’s President, responding to a letter of the latter, sent on September 30. The approval took place last October 9 during an audience with the Holy Father.

According to a note of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), what is lacking after the canonical erection is the approval of the modified text of the Statutes, which the Pope will examine personally, and the writing of the corresponding Decree of Erection, which will be transmitted as soon as possible to CEAMA’s President.

The Ecclesial Conference was created after its foundational Assembly, held from June 26-29, 2020, when the procedures began with the different Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, a process that was prolonged until May 4, 2021. Together with it, within the process of renewal and restructuring of CELAM, analyzed also were the Statutes of the Latin American Episcopal Council to which CEAMA is linked.

New Nature

 According to Cardinal Ouellet, “the two Statutes “ have been compared “to coordinate their respective institutional activities, defining their mutual relations.” With it, an attempt is made to “avoid any danger of confusion or overlapping of competencies, in order to guarantee the good functioning of the activities and the mission of each organism.”

The definitive approval depends on “the necessary comparative study being completed and that changes of the text have been proposed and implemented,” said the President of the Congregation for Bishops. We cannot forget, as mentioned in the letter, the new nature of the organism, as we are before an Ecclesial and not just an  Episcopal Conference.

New Paths of Synodality

 In this connection, Father Alfredo Ferro, CEAMA’s Executive Secretary, said that “for the Latin American Church and, particularly, for the Church of Amazonia, what the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops expressed in the letter to CEAMA’s President, is a very great joy, in which letter the canonical erection is communicated of the Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia by the Holy Father.

According to the Colombian Jesuit, as CEAMA, “we feel not only immensely joyful but recognized by this affectionate gesture of the Pope, giving recognition to what is the desire and was the commitment of the Synod’s Final Document, where the need was expressed to create this Conference.” For Father Ferro, “this canonical recognition is done in the framework of an appeal the Pope made to us to live synodality.”

In the words of CEAMA’s Executive Secretary, in this framework “we have clearly a context and a favorable juncture expressed also in the letter, in the restructuring and renewal of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), the preparation and celebration of the next Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the beginning of the process of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality.”

Father Ferro said “we feel new winds blowing of the Spirit in this Church,” something for which to be grateful to the Lord and to Cardinal Pedro Barreto, mentioned in the letter, who “expressed explicitly to Cardinal Ouellet and to the Holy Father the need of this canonical recognition so that CEAMA can now develop in a more official way, with this juridical personality, its activities and its purposes in its broad mission to delineate a Joint Pastoral Plan for the Church in Amazonia.”

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester