Pope Francis is urging bishops taking part in the Amazon synod not to chase the Holy Spirit away from their discussions, as he launched the first full working day of a summit designed to bolster the Church’s evangelising presence in the region.
Speaking to the 268 participants in the Paul VI Hall this morning, the Pope warned against a “homogenising centralism” in the Church, driven by ideology and which fails to respect local cultures.
Francis told the 185 synod fathers he was “saddened” to hear a “sarcastic” remark about an indigenous man who had brought up the offertory gifts at the Mass in St Peter’s Basilica yesterday wearing a feathered headdress.
“What difference is having feathers on your head and the three cornered hat worn by some officials of our dicasteries?” the pope said to applause, referring to a priest’s biretta.
Before getting to work, the synod participants gathered in St Peter’s Basilica gathered in a circle around to sing prayers in Spanish and native languages.
The Pope then joined them, the choir sang the Veni Creator Spiritus–Come Holy Spirit–and Francis, bishops and barefooted indigenous representatives processed from the basilica to the synod hall. The crowd carried an indigenous image of Mary in a canoe, a multi-coloured fishing net and held up placards with images of missionaries killed in the Amazon and St Oscar Romero.