Witnessing to the Spirit of Transformation inspired by the Gospel

Cardinal Pedro Barreto is a Jesuit and Archbishop of Huancayo in Peru. He is a member of the General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality. He shares his experience with us after the first three weeks of the Assembly. Pedro Barreto played an important role in the Synod of Bishops on Amazonia in 2019. He is known for his stance in defence of human rights and the environment.

By Card. Pedro Barreto Jimeno, SJ

I am about to turn 80 years old, and I want to share with you an experience that has marked me for life. When I was fifteen, attending the school of the Immaculate Conception in Lima, I saw for the first time men and women coming from the rainforest with their faces painted. They were accompanied by Jesuits working in the Apostolic Vicariate of San Francisco Javier in northeastern Peru. On that occasion my desire to be a missionary was born, and I discovered the Lord’s call. I entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Lima at the age of seventeen.

I was initially formed by the Council of Trent, but as a priest and bishop, I was formed by Vatican II. My episcopal motto is “In all things, to love and serve” because my personal experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius set the course of my life in the service of Christ and the Church.

Now, in this assembly of the Synod, I am witnessing the same Spirit that transforms the mentalities and the structures necessary for any reform based on the Gospel. As a priest, and then as a bishop, I have had very complex experiences. As Archbishop of Huancayo (3,250 meters above sea level), I was able to observe, for example, the polluted water of the Mantaro River and the toxic air of a refinery that was damaging the lungs of the children of the area. Those were not easy years. I even received death threats because of the denunciations I made.


Card. Pedro Barreto Jimeno, SJ.

Then, little by little, the Lord kept leading me onward to the mission, and even to share the dreams, the sufferings and the worries of the Amazon. Today we are witnesses to the breath of the Spirit through the great interest in and the genuine care for this region of our mother earth, where communities of native peoples have joined the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network and the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon, of which I am the President.

I can say that, as at the wedding at Cana, the best wine comes at this advanced stage of my life (Jn 2:10); the words of the Virgin Mary, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5), rejuvenate my spirit.

I summarise my personal experience as a serene process of conversion to Christ, working from an episcopal reality toward an ecclesial reality, where each vocation, charism and ministry finds its place not to compete for influence, but to serve better in our mission.

The feeling that fills me is hope in this synodal process that we are experiencing with Pope Francis and in the process that is still to come. The indigenous peoples have helped me to believe that a synodal Church is possible.

Today, thanks to God’s gift, those anonymous indigenous people, whose painted faces I first encountered in my youth, now have names and stories as my brothers and sisters from the Amazonian native peoples: Laura Vicuña Manso (Brazil), Patricia Gualinga (Ecuador), Anitalia Pijachi (Colombia), Jessica Patiachi, Delio Siticonazi and Belinda Jima (Peru) among others...

Therefore, like old Simeon, I can say: “Now, Lord, as you have promised, you can let your servant go in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Lk 2, 29-30).

Synod 2021 - 2024

For a synodal Church:
communion, participation and mission.


Synodal-U Community

The Society of Jesus joins people from different corners of the world who want to walk together in their synodal formation.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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