Gulf Pine Catholic

Volume 37 No. 4 October 18, 2019 Catholic God in all things: Synod looks at indigenous ‘theology of creation ʼ BY BARBARA J. FRASER Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- By demanding respect for the cultures of indigenous peoples, Pope Francis was not promoting pantheism, but -- tapping into his Jesuit roots -- urging respect for a worldview that sees God in all things. The pope Oct. 9 told the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon that he was disappointed to see a newspaper evoke the Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro to describe the synod’s Oct. 7 opening prayer service with its Amazonian symbols and song. Many of the synod members, most of whom minister in the Amazon region, agreed with the pope. The Vatican News summary of the synod discussion Oct. 9 said, “the view of the synod hall enlarged to include the theology of creation, where the Word of God resides.” That understanding is shared by many Amazonian indigenous peoples, who consider the natural world sacred because God is present in all of creation. That is very different from pantheism, or the belief that elements of nature themselves are gods, experts said. “Our Christian faith and the church teach us to seek and to find God in all things, as St. Ignatius says in the Spiritual Exercises. There is no pantheism in this,” Jesuit Father Adelson Araujo dos Santos, a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Institute of Spirituality in Rome, told Catholic News Service. “Pantheism means to believe that a tree is a god, the sun is a god,” said Moema Maria Marques de Miranda, a lay Franciscan who is an observer at the synod. The theology of creation being discussed at the synod instead reflects what St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan, called “panentheism,” the “recog- nition that all of creation is an expression of the love of God,” she told CNS. When St. Francis renounced a life of luxury and went barefoot into the countryside, the reawakening of his senses to the natural world “made him realize that all things, human and nonhuman, have one and the same Father,” Miranda said. “There is a profound connection, because the love of God is present in every being created by God, just as the love of parents is present in each of their children.” When Europeans arrived in South America four cen- turies after St. Francis had his revelation and 300 years after St. Bonaventure wrote about panentheism, they misinterpreted the Amazonian indigenous people’s rela- tionship with the natural world, she said. “The Amazonian people relate to the cosmos as part of it, and that makes them part of the earth,” Archbishop Roque Paloschi of Porto Velho, Brazil, told CNS . “The earth, the water, the air, the forests are part of them and make them part of the whole. Everything is sacred, and therein (lies) the manifestation of the sacred.” While St. Bonaventure wrote about panentheism as a theological concept, the Munduruku people of Brazil live it, said Franciscan Father Joao Messias Sousa, who works with the Munduruku in Brazil. SEE VATICAN LETTER CREATION, PAGE 23 Left, Celestina Fernandes da Silva, a Catholic activist, waters flowers in front of her home in the Wapishana indigenous village of Tabalascada, Brazil, April 3. Franciscan Father Joao Messias Sousa, who works among indigenous in the Amazon, said the people believe “God is in all things, but those things are not gods.” CNS Photo/Paul Jeffrey Dedication of the Bishops’ Memorial Prayer Garden and Cemetery On Saturday, November 2, the Commemoration of All Souls, Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III will dedicate the Bishops’ Memorial Prayer Garden and Cemetery, located behind Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in Biloxi, 870 Howard Avenue. The dedication will take place at the 4 p.m. Saturday Vigil Mass. The cemetery is where Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze, first bishop of Biloxi, is buried. Bishop Howze died on January 9, 2019, at the age of 95. Bishop Howze In this issue, Respect for Life Supplement, pages 6-19