“Listening” and “joy” were two of the keynotes struck at the first press briefing for the Synod on the Amazon held at the Vatican Press Office on Monday afternoon..
This media event was opened by the Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, Paolo Ruffini, who emphasized how his team would provide transparency and openness during the Synod, while ensuring that the gathering itself would remain a “protected space” for dialogue and discernment.
The first of the day’s main speakers was Bishop David Martínez De Aguirre Guinea, a member of the Dominican Order and one of the Special Secretaries for the Synod. Bishop Martínez said the Synod has already raised awareness about the Amazon region: “Amazonia exists, and it is important.”
He emphasized the importance of listening to the people of Amazonia, saying they must be protagonists of the Synod. “The indigenous people must become the subject and not the object,” he said. Bishop Martez also addressed the significance of the Synod being held in Rome, showing that Amazonia must be in the heart of the Church.
Sister Alba Teresa Cediel Castillo, the second speaker, is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and St Catherine of Siena. She spoke of the “great joy” in her heart at being present at the Synod to represent indigenous women and women in religious life.
Her Congregation was founded in Colombia, and works with indigenous people, especially women. Sister Teresa spoke of the challenges facing women in Amazonia, but expressed confidence that the Synod would offer a response to those challenges.
Finally, Bishop Emmanuel Lafont, of Cayenne in French Guyana, said many people in Amazonia – notably Amerindians and descendants of slaves – feel abandoned. He also noted that indigenous culture is being lost.
Nonetheless, he echoed Sr Teresa, speaking about his great joy at being present in the Synod, and especially for the opportunity to meet with so many brothers and sisters. At the same time, Bishop Lafont spoke about the great expectations for the Synod, insisting that the Church must find ways to acknowledge and support the people of Amazonia.
A similar press conference, with different panel members representing the various voices present at the gathering, is expected to take place each working day of the Synod. The Holy See Press Office will also provide summaries of the discussions at the afternoon General Congregations.