Pope Francis on April 12, 2018, joined preparation for the October 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon when he met with 18 members of the council for the Synod and thirteen experts on the Amazon.
The theme of the synod meeting is “Amazonia: new pathways for the Church and for an integral ecology.”
The theme is closely aligned with sentiments expressed by the Holy Father during his recent apostolic journey to Chile and Peru. On January 19, 2018, he told some 4,000 indigenous peoples in the Amazon region of Peru that he wanted to be with them to share their challenges and reaffirm them with “a wholehearted option for the defense of life, the defense of the earth and the defense of cultures.”
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, defined the Amazon as a garden containing immense wealth and natural resources–the motherland of the indigenous peoples–with their own history and unmistakable features, according to Vatican News.
The Holy Father’s Opening Comments at the April 12 meeting:
“I thank Pope Francis, Cardinal Baldisser, the bishops, priests, and councilors of the Synodal Council. I am speaking here on behalf of the Amazonian peoples, especially on behalf of the indigenous peoples. I am the only indigenous person present. I gratefully say that the Church is looking at us with its heart and its mind directed toward us. It is giving to us, the people of the Amazon, the hope of receiving important contributions so that the Church might become more and more universal. We indigenous persons, who were evangelized, are today’s evangelizers. We too contribute toward enriching our Church.”