Pope meets with indigenous people, opens Amazonia art exhibition

21 October 2019
Pope meets with group of indigenous people at the Amazon Synod. Image: AFP or licensors/Vatican News.


On the afternoon of Thursday 17 October, Pope Francis met with about 40 indigenous people, some of them participants at the Synod for the Amazon, others engaged in parallel cultural activities currently underway in Rome. The group was accompanied by Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, and Archbishop Roque Paloschi of Porto Velho, Brazil.

According to a statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, the meeting opened with two brief speeches, read by a woman and a man, representing the indigenous people. “They expressed their gratitude to the Holy Father for convoking the Synod, and asked for help in implementing their desire to ensure a peaceful and happy life for their peoples, caring for their land, and protecting its waters, for their descendants to enjoy.”

Pope Francis then addressed a few words to those present, underlining how the Gospel is like a seed, which falls onto the soil it finds, and grows with the characteristics of that soil. With reference to the Amazon Region, continues the Vatican Press Office statement, “the Holy Father pointed out the dangers of new forms of colonisation.”

Finally, referring to the origins of Christianity, which was born in the Jewish world, developed in the Greek-Latin world, and then reached other lands, Slavic, Eastern, and American, Pope Francis reiterated the need to inculturate the Gospel so that “people can receive the announcement of Jesus with their own culture.”

On Friday, 18 October, Pope Francis inaugurated the “Anima Mundi” Ethnological Museum and the Amazonia Exhibition at the Vatican Museums.

“Beauty unites us. It invites us to live human brotherhood, countering the culture of resentment, racism and nationalism which is always lurking.” Pope Francis made the point Friday evening while inaugurating the “Anima Mundi” Ethnological Museum and the Amazonia Exhibition at the Vatican Museums.

“May this Ethnological Museum preserve its specific identity over time and remind everyone of the value of harmony and peace between peoples and nations,” he wished, hoping that its art collection will “make the voice of God resound in those who visit this collection.”

The inauguration of the museum and the exhibition were timed for the October 6-27 Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region, currently taking place in the Vatican.

Commenting on the words “Anima Mundi,” the Latin for “The Soul of the World,” the Pope said the Vatican Museums are called to be a living “house”, with doors open to the peoples of the whole world, where everyone feels represented and where the gaze of the Church leaves no one out.

The Pope said that those who enter the “Anima Mundi” Ethnological Museum should feel there is room for them, their people, tradition and culture. The European, the Indian, the Chinese, the native of the Amazonian or Congolese forest, of Alaska, of the Australian deserts or of the islands of the Pacific, he said, are all represented in the shadow of the dome of St Peter’s, close to the heart of the Church and the Pope. This is because art is not something uprooted but is born from the heart of peoples. It is a message from the heart of peoples to the heart of peoples.

The Pope said that at the Ethological Museum, a person’s art is accorded the same passion and care as the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the Greek or Roman art which attract millions of people every year. Here, there is a special space for dialogue, for openness to the other and for encounter.

The Pope underscored transparency as an important value, especially in ecclesial institutions. Since works of art are the expression of the spirit of the people, he said, we must always look to each culture, to the other, with an openness of spirit and benevolence.

Through arts, the Pope said, initiatives can be carried out, and barriers and distances can be overcome.


Vatican News – Synod for the Amazon: Pope meets with group of indigenous people

Vatican News and Robin Gomes – Pope: beauty and art foster brotherhood, openness


With thanks to Vatican News.


The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region will be held in the Vatican from 6 to 27 October. For more information, click here.


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