On the second day of the synod, the Amazonian Church overthrows the Vatican

Fed by common concerns and using language without euphemism, the South Americans participating in the synod on the Amazon are determined to get real openings.

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Pope Francis says a prayer during the opening of the Synod dedicated to the Amazon, the Vatican, on October 8th. Andrew Medichini / AP

The photo is unpublished: sitting quietly in the Vatican amphitheater, the 250 cardinals and bishops are simply dressed in black costumes with, for any distinctive sign, a Roman collar. Threaded soutanes and red or purple caps were put on Tuesday October 8, the second day of the synod (delegates of the episcopates gathered by the pope to discuss a given subject) of the Catholic Church on the Amazon, with the express authorization of the secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.

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Anecdotal in itself, this change of dress reflects the reality of the Amazon storm blowing in Rome since Sunday, the day of the opening Mass of the synod. The participants, who come mostly from Amazonian dioceses, are not represented. They intend to achieve real openings that allow them to adapt their practices to the characteristics of this huge territory and the crisis situation that face its inhabitants.

"Tell me, what is the difference between wearing feathers on the head and the tricorn hat that some officials use? Pope Francis

Bishops, religious and experts from South America have a great community of references, experiences and common concerns. Born of a precise geographical and political context, fed by Latin American theology, shaped by the habit of sharing experience, they express themselves in a way that upsets the usual Roman register, made of caution, euphemism and aversion to change. For now, the word is for the supporters of the movement.

François, in his own way, made it clear to the non-Amazonian prelates that to look down on the native peoples was to have understood nothing of his approach. "Some people talk about second-class civilizations, he said in his opening speech on Monday. And then there is contempt. " He reported to the bishops hearing from them "A mocking comment" on the Amerindian who, that very morning, during a ceremony at Saint-Pierre, had given him offerings, wearing a feather headdress. "Tell me, what is the difference between wearing feathers on the head and the tricorne used by some officials" of the Roman curia, he threw them, scathing.

The role of women

According to a witness familiar with the synods, the tone of the debates (which are held behind closed doors) is also new. "The atmosphere is different. They speak as men on the ground, who master the subject thoroughly, as activists. They are very concrete, less in doctrine, in theory. " It is true that at the synod on the family (2014-2015) or the one on youth (2018), the prelates from all countries came from contexts so different that they made common solutions difficult. This time, the geographic unit brings together diagnoses and proposals.


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