(Brazil). On 5 March 2021, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), the Network of Bishops which coordinates the activities of Dioceses, Religious Congregations, Associations and Catholic NGOs in the Amazon region, announced the election of three representatives of the Amazon to the Presidency Council, including Sister Maria Carmelita de Lima Conceição, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, Provincial of the Our Lady of the Amazônia Province of Manaus (BRM), as Councilor.
The press release states:
The Pan-American Ecclesial Network (REPAM) assumes as a Church, the proposals of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon: “A Church with an Amazonian face needs its communities to be imbued with a synodal spirit, supported by organizational structures in accordance with this dynamic, as authentic organisms of communion… Paying particular attention to the effective participation of the laity in discernment and decision making, strengthening the participation of women. ” (DF 92)
In the Final Document of the Synod it is explicit: “that the voice of women be heard, that they be consulted and participate in decisions and, in this way, they can contribute with their sensitivity to ecclesial synodality” (DF 101). Furthermore, in the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonía, Pope Francis states: “In a synodal Church, women, who in fact play a central role in the Amazonian communities, should be able to access functions and also ecclesial services that do not require sacred Orders and allow them to better express their proper place.” (QA, 103)
On the basis of these solicitations and the discernment process, the President, Card. Pedro Barreto Jimeno, SJ; the Vice-President, Msgr. Rafael Cob García; and the Executive Secretary, Father João Gutemberg MC Sampaio, FMS, are joined by: Sister Maria Carmelita de Lima Conceição, FMA and Mrs. Yesica Patiachi Tayori, indigenous of the Harakbut people, as Councilors; and, as Assistant Secretary, Mr. Rodrigo Fadul Andrade.
Sr. Maria Carmelita in 2019 had been invited to participate as an auditor in the Pan-Amazon Synod as a representative of Religious Life. In an interview, she had expressed her commitment “to represent all consecrated women, mothers of families, and a large number of women who are present in the name of communities of faith who support the Church present in the most distant regions of the various countries of the Pan Amazon”. And she added: “I am happy to hear that as FMA we are taken into consideration in many proposals concerning the care of life, the protection of our common home, and the salvation of the planet.”
Close to International Women’s Day, these elections contribute to enhancing the presence and service of women in the processes of promoting and defending life, in synodality with the Church and with local organizations.
“Synodality marks a style of living communion and participation in the local Churches which is characterized by respect for the dignity and equality of all the baptized, the complementarity of charisms and ministries, the pleasure of meeting in assembly to discern the voice of the Spirit together”.
(Final Document of the Synod of the Amazon, 91)