- Jun 23, 2021
Pope Francis and members of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon repeatedly vowed to support, defend and accompany the region’s indigenous people.
Proposals for Amazonian development made by well-known observers at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon could conflict with the expectations of indigenous people unless they are included in decision-making, some synod participants said.
Anitalia Pijachi, an indigenous woman from the Amazonian town of Leticia, Colombia, came to the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon bringing a message from the elders of her people to Pope Francis, an elder of the Catholic Church.
As the Pan-Amazonian synod approaches, women from several orders and organizations have banded together to demand that they be given voting rights over influential documents drafted during the meeting – a right typically awarded only to ordained men.
The suggestion of a need to identify the “type of official ministry that can be conferred on women” included in the working document of the upcoming Synod for the Pan-Amazon region has been controversial, but Bishop Adriano Ciocca Vasino of the Territorial Prelature of São Félix in Brazil thinks the document is “timid” about the role of the women in the region, which he says “in many communities is already diaconal.”
As the Synod for the Amazon approaches, Church leaders in the region want to speak about the growing influence of Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations among indigenous peoples.
A year ago, during a visit to Peru, Pope Francis asked an audience of native people of the Amazon basin to help bishops and religious to understand their relationship with the natural world. Since then, church leaders have held more than 40 meetings in the nine Amazonian countries to listen to local people, in preparation for the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon to be held at the Vatican in October.
With the Synod of Bishops on youth now in the rearview mirror, attention is being turned toward next year’s special synod on the Amazon, which one prelate says is a reflection of the pope’s deep commitment to developing an integral ecology.