Synod is a time to listen, discern

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Synod of Bishops for the Amazon is a time of reflection, dialogue and listening to the needs and sufferings of indigenous people, Pope Francis said.

"The Holy Spirit is the primary actor in the synod. Please, do not kick him out of the room," the pope said, opening the gathering's first working session Oct. 7.

The first full day of the synod began with a prayer service in front of the altar of St. Peter's Basilica with members of indigenous communities standing arm-in-arm with cardinals and bishops singing as they waited for Pope Francis.

When the pope arrived, he led the invocation of the Holy Spirit's assistance with the chanting of "Veni, Creator Spiritus" ("Come, Holy Spirit") before processing with the large group from the basilica to the synod hall.

In his speech, the pope said it was important that the church stand with the people of the Amazon and steer clear of ideologies and "ready-made programs that attempt to 'discipline' the Amazonian peoples, discipline their history and their culture."

The pope also encouraged synod participants to reflect, to listen with humility and to speak with courage, "even if you are embarrassed."