14th Day – General Chapter of Diffinitors

General Chapter of Diffinitors
Fourteenth day
Tultenango, July 29, 2022

The Capitulars continued with the work in commissions.

In the afternoon, Friar David Martinez de Aguirre, OP, Bishop of Puerto Maldonado, presented the mission of the Order of Preachers in the Peruvian Amazon. Our brother began by raising a question that some friars may wonder why the Peruvian Amazon is the protagonist, and why are there not other places of mission? Indeed, the Order serves other mission lands in many corners of the world. However, the Amazon has a significant peculiarity: it is a mission entrusted to the Order by the universal Church.

Why a mission of the Order in the Amazon? Bishop Martinez answers: for yesterday, it is a commitment assumed by the Order before the universal Church since 1900; for today, because the special Synod for the Amazon asks us to do so; for tomorrow, because hope is gained for all humanity by accompanying the native peoples in their own journey in faith.

With regard to “yesterday”, let us remember that in 1900 the territorial prelature was created. As a consequence of the rubber boom that produced a brutal genocide (hidden by history) for the native peoples, a prelature was requested in Peru to respond to this brutality. After the Church entrusted the mission of the Amazon to the Order, since 1906 the Province of Spain, today Hispania, has taken charge, under the direct mandate of the Master of the Order, of financing the mission and sending more than 220 friars, among them 8 bishops.

Regarding “today”, the Synod of the Amazon in the exhortation “Dear Amazon” insists on four conversions, four dreams: social, an Amazon that fights for the rights of the poorest, of the original peoples; cultural, an Amazon that preserves its culture with all the richness that it entails, defending its heritage from those who seek to erase it; ecological, the conservation of the natural beauty of the jungle and its rivers, so threatened by various selfish interests; ecclesial, the Christian life of the communities.

In relation to “tomorrow, the native peoples allow us to think of humanity from yesterday, their stages are new for the West, taking other directions for humanity. It is important to include them in the debate tables, where the important things are decided. To recover family relationships, with nature, with culture, with spirituality. The native peoples provide us with the opportunity to give a new direction to humanity and to the Church. Thinking about the planet from the beauty of the Amazon is an opportunity for survival.

Having said this, Bishop Martinez took up our Dominican tradition, particularly that of our friars Pedro de Cordoba, OP, Anton de Montesinos, OP, and Bartolome de las Casas, OP, who, within their colonialist context, managed to reverse the imperialism of the time and evangelize the dominant culture. If they did it, why not us? asks the Dominican Bishop. The Order needs to get more involved in this mission in the Amazon, since the Province of Hispania, alone, is not capable of such a great task.

The mission of the Amazon needs more friars, why not assume this theological, anthropological, biological and ecclesiological “experiential universality” as an opportunity for the participation of all the Provinces? In addition to what the friars generously contribute to the mission (17 friars currently collaborate in the mission), those who decide to join this missionary effort will enter into a dynamic of their own, whose positive impact on the part of the native peoples contributes to the conversion that the Gospel asks of us so much.

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