By Fr. Matthew Carnes, SJ
In preparation for the upcoming Synod on the Amazon region, to be held in the Vatican in October 2019, Georgetown University hosted a three-day symposium entitled, “Integral Ecology: A Synodal Response for the Care of Our Common Home.”
The event was coordinated by REPAM (Red Ecclesial Pan-Amazonica, or Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network), a four-year-old initiative of the Catholic Church in all the countries that are stewards of the Amazon basin. Drawing upon the Church’s ties to indigenous communities and deeply aware of the impact of climate change on the life of the poor, REPAM has rapidly grown to play a central role in helping the Church prepare for the synod. In preparing the conference, it reached out to include representatives to other regions of critical importance to the environment, including the Congo basin, South Asia, and the Philippines, and it featured the participation of representatives of the United Nations and other international organizations.
Front row: Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo,
Back row: Fr. Matthew Carnes, S.J., Bishop Emmanuel Marie Philippe Louis Lafont, Cardinal John Ribat, Cardinal Pedro Barreto, S.J., Bishop Jean Claude Hollerich, S.J., Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez, Monsignor Etienne Brocard
The symposium was co-sponsored by Georgetown University, the Conference of Jesuit Provincials of the United States and Canada, the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, Caritas Internationalis, the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and the OAS, and the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
REPAM is headed by its President, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paulo, and its Vice-President, Cardinal Pedro Barreto, Bishop of Huancayo, Peru. Both attended the full symposium, and they were accompanied by eight other cardinals (Peter Turkson, Lorenzo Baldisseri, Luis Antonio Tagle, Reinhard Marx, Philippe Ouedraogo, Charles Maung Bo, Oswald Gracias, John Ribat), six of whom stayed as guests in the Wolfington Hall Jesuit Residence. It is believed that this is the largest number of cardinals to ever participate in an event at Georgetown University. Numerous bishops also attended.
The presence of the Society of Jesus was particularly important to the symposium and to REPAM’s ongoing work in the Amazon and with its indigenous peoples. Roughly twenty Jesuits participated in the full conference, and a special moment of community was shared on the final evening when the group joined the Georgetown Jesuit Community for a discussion and dinner in Wolfington Hall.
Seated: Cardinal Pedro Barreto, Bishop Jean Claude Hollerich, Ron Anton
Standing: Tom Buckley, Fernando Ponce, Brian McDermott, Rigobert Minani, Pedro Walpole, Charles Chilufya, Ted Penton, Alfredo Ferro, Bishop Donat Bafuidinsoni, Roberto Jaramillo, Jerry McGlone, Xavier Jerayaj, David Hollenbach, Matt Carnes, Sam Okwuidegbe, Bishop Alfredo Vizcarra, Tom Gaunt, Pablo Mora, Paulus Wiryono, Otto Hentz