Pope Francis has announced a special gathering of the synod of bishops focusing on the Amazon region.
Speaking at the end of a Mass in St Peter’s Square, the Pope said the synod, in 2019, would seek to identify new paths of evangelisation, especially for indigenous people who are “often forgotten and left without the prospect of a peaceful future, including because of the crisis of the Amazon forest”.
The rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America. Significant deforestation in the region has hurt indigenous populations and reduced biodiversity.
The Pope prayed that the synod would highlight the beauty of creation so that “all the people of the Earth may praise God, the Lord of the universe, and, enlightened by him, may walk along paths of justice and peace.”
Rocco Palmo, writing on his blog Whispers in the Loggia, said the synod could be “the most charged moment of Francis’s push for an enhanced synodality”.
Centre stage, said Mr Palmo, would be the Pope’s friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes, 83-year-old head of the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network. The Amazon region, with its dearth of priests, has often spurred calls for married clergy, Mr Palmo said.
Cardinal Hummes, when appointed prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, said that “the majority of the Apostles were married” and that the Church “has to observe these things… [and] advance with history”. A “special” synod differs from an “ordinary” gathering in that it focuses on one particular area, with most of the synod members drawn from that area.
Ex-head of Vatican hospital found guilty of abuse of office
A Vatican court has found the former president of a Vatican-owned children’s hospital guilty of abuse of office for using donations from the hospital foundation to refurbish a flat used by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.
Originally charged with embezzlement, Giuseppe Profiti was sentenced to a year in jail and fined €5,000 (£4,450) on the reduced charge, but the sentence was suspended. The three-judge tribunal dismissed charges against Massimo Spina, the hospital’s former treasurer.
Mr Spina and Mr Profiti were originally accused of extracting €420,000 (£370,000) for non-institutional ends in 2013 and 2014, using foundation money to refurbish Vatican property to benefit a construction company, Castelli Re, which then went bankrupt.
Mr Profiti argued that the money was an investment, as the flat’s refurbished areas were to be used for fundraising events for the hospital.
Vatican prosecutor Roberto Zanotti said in closing arguments that the deal reflected “opacity, silence and poor management” in the way Vatican assets were handled.