Bishop Grech nominated by Pope Francis to synodal document committee

Pope Francis arrives at Blaj, Romania, June 2, 2019. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS

Pope Francis on Tuesday nominated Bishop Mario Grech to the committee which will draft the final document of the Amazon Synod. The personal nomination extended to four other members of the committee who will sit alongside the vote members of the committee. Pope Francis has nominated Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria; Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; missionary Archbishop Edmundo Ponciano Valenzuela of Asuncion, Paraguay; and Italian Salesian Fr. Rossano Sala.

The nominations were announced by the Vatican communications chief Paolo Ruffini during a press conference on the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, an Oct. 6-27 meeting on the Church’s life and ministry in the region.

The drafting committee will meet over the next two weeks to assemble into a document the recommendations of the small groups — called circoli minori — from their discussions during the Amazon synod.

The final document of the synod will then be voted on by synod members, called synod fathers, on the second-to-last day of the gathering. Per synod norms, it must pass with a 2/3 majority. The document of synod recommendations will then be given to Pope Francis for him to use or not use as he desires in the writing of a post-synodal exhortation.

Speaking in the press conference Oct. 15, Bishop Eugenio Coter, apostolic vicar of Pando, Bolivia, said that in response to calls for greater accompaniment of Catholics in the Amazon, there has been during the synod the suggestion of creating not only a Church structure, but “a permanent episcopal organism.”

On the idea of creating an “Amazon rite,” Coter clarified that the synod is asking for an inculturated liturgy, not a new liturgical rite.

On giving the liturgy an “Amazonian face,” Coter proposed the creation of Church commissions to explore the topic directly.

Proposals for the inculturation of the Mass have included the translation of the Mass into the local language of the various ethnic groups, of which there are around 300.

Bishop Rafael Alfonso Escudero López-Brea of the prelature of Moyobamba, Peru, also suggested the introduction of some “symbols” or “rituals” which are ornamental and do not impact what is essential about the celebration of the Eucharist.

Escudero said his proposal to the synod was one of “profound evangelization of an explicit proclamation of Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior, through preaching, teaching, and charity, so that the peoples and cultures are imbued with salvation, which comes from Jesus Christ.”

An evangelized culture, he said, is one which will naturally produce vocations to the ordained ministries of priesthood and the diaconate, and non-ordained ministries and services. He thanked God for the many active lay men and women who are involved in serving the Church in the Amazon.

“That is a reason for hope and thanksgiving to God,” he said.