In the Amazon, in the service of man
At 90, the Consolata Missionary Silvano Sabatini, who spent 40 years with the indigenous people of the Brazilian Amazon, has much to tell: about his “‘rebellious’ life on the edge,” about his brave, stimulating, destabilizing “being with the Other,” about the meaning of Mission, with all its tensions, contradictions, and complexities (in a moment in which the rethinking of the missionary activity of the Church seems very urgent and current).
All that is in the book-testimony “The Anthropologist Priest. Amidst the indigenous people of the Amazon” (Ediesse, Roma 2011), written in collaboration with anthropologist Silvia Zaccaria, dedicated for several years to her field research with the indigenous people of the Brazilian Amazon.
It is a project with a radical view of the evangelization that expresses itself in a unique way: “We do not baptize any Yanomani - Sabatini says - because we are convinced that it would make no sense to baptize a person outside the community, and that it is the culture that should be evangelized: man has the right to have his culture, and he must find in it the way to express himself christianly. Baptizing outside the community would have meant establishing a double personality in Baptism.” Which is why, Zaccaria says, "Sabatini responded thus that monsignor anxious to know how many Yanomami he had baptized: ‘not a single one, thanks to the Good God.’ "