There are truly blessed voices here at the synod. And when they enter the press room, I rejoice.
Two voices set my heart to singing today and gave me more joy than all the other speakers combined since the synod began.
Professor Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri, a member of the Ashaninca people and a professor who is an expert on Amazonian ethnicity and Sr. Mariluce Dos Santos Mesquita, FMA, and a member of the Barassana people in Brazil spoke with a vibrancy and clarity that is often missing here.
What happens daily is one woman or one indigenous woman or man is paraded on the press panel. I am so glad that they are here, but given the configuration of leaders and ministers in the Amazon, it smacks of tokenism and the clericalism that still plays out loudly here is Rome.
And most of the questions are directed at the prelates.
Today, someone asked Cardinal Beniamino Stella what he thought about the proposal for an Amazonian rite.
His response acknowledged that the topic "didn't surprise him" and that the rite would "highlight the spirituality" of the Amazonian people while admitting he didn't know what would be in the final document.
Fr. Eleazar López Hernández, a theologian and expert in indigenous theology added, that the churches in Latin America "need to be able to express our faith according to our traditions", while admitting that he does not know how it will be achieved.
But then Sr. Mariluce and Prof. Delio spoke with great authority and clarity.
Sr. Mariluce stated:
I am here and other indigenous are here. We have our own spirituality. We already celebrate these rites. We live within our culture and our celebrations are the result of our evangelization. In our celebrations we bring our sacred symbols and what Jesus brought to us. This is something we already experience.
Pope Francis has been listening.
So why is it proposed that it should be recognized?
Professor Delio continued:
From here I don’t think you know what the Amazon needs. We have our own world view. This brings us closer to God. Nature brings us closer to God. As indigenous people, we experience harmony with all living beings.
Do not harden your hearts.
We must walk together and believe in a single God.
We have our rites. We have our rituals.
There is nothing more to discuss.
My eyes filled with tears of joy and recognition of the holy, of the sacred, of authority that can only come from God.
The indigenous people of the Amazon are not asking permission of anyone in Rome for their way of worship.
If we are wise, we will listen and follow.