Eighteen members of the Synodal Council and thirteen experts on the Amazon met on the morning of 12 April. Pope Francis participated in and presided over this meeting.
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, defined the Amazon as a garden containing immense wealth and natural resources--the mother land of the indigenous peoples--with their own history and unmistakable features. That land is threatened by the boundless ambitions and impatience to dominate on the part of the powerful.
Father Justine Rezende, from the Tuiuca tribe, was the only Amazonian present.
In his introduction addressed to Pope Francis and to the other members of the Pre-Synod meeting, he spoke of his joy of being one of the participants, of being before the Pope for the first time, and of the presence of the Church in the midst of his people.
"I thank Pope Francis, Cardinal Baldisser, the bishops, priests, and councilors of the Synodal Council. I am speaking here on behalf of the Amazonian peoples, especially on behalf of the indigenous peoples. I am the only indigenous person present. I grateful say that the Church is looking at us with its heart and its mind directed toward us. It is giving to us, the people of the Amazon, the hope of receiving important contributions so that the Church might become more and more universal. We indigenous persons, who were evangelized, are today's evangelizers. We too contribute toward enriching our Church."