Addressing concerns about a proposed Amazonian rite in the Catholic Church, an indigenous participant at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon called on Catholics to soften their hearts and understand the needs of Catholics in the region.
At a Synod briefing on Oct. 24, Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri, a member of the Ashaninka people and a professor from Peru, said that fears about the proposal are unwarranted because indigenous people seek unity and not division.
“Do we (want to) have our own rites? Yes, we do! But those rites must be incorporated with what is central, which is Jesus Christ. There is nothing else to argue about on this issue! The centre that is uniting us in this Synod is Jesus Christ,” he said.
Throughout the Synod, members discussed the possibility of incorporating local traditions and cultural elements in the liturgy. While there are nearly two dozen different rites in the Catholic Church, those critical of the proposal fear that it would introduce so-called pagan elements into the liturgy.
Speaking to journalists at the briefing, Siticonatzi said that he noticed those present seemed “a bit uncomfortable” and did not “understand what the Amazon truly needs” when it comes to establishing a new rite. “We have our own world view, our way of looking at the world that surrounds us. And nature brings God closer to us. Our culture brings the face of God closer to us, in our life,” he said. Nevertheless, he added, there are many who are “doubtful of this reality that we are looking for as indigenous people.”
“Do not harden your hearts! Soften your hearts; that is what Jesus invites us to do,” he said. “We live together. We all believe in one God! At the end of it all, we are going to be united.”