VATICAN CITY — An indigenous Peruvian who is participating in the Amazon synod said Thursday that if Catholics in the region are to have their own rite, then, without question, Christ must be at its center.

“The center that unites us now in this synod is Jesus Christ, defending natural life. There is nothing else,” Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri said Oct. 24. “We have our rites, if we have our rites, but what must be incorporated into the center is Jesus Christ — there is nothing else to discuss on this subject.”

Siticonatzi, who is a member of the Ashaninka people and teaches at a university for indigenous in Peru, was responding to questions about a proposal made during the synod of creating an “Amazonian rite.”

Speaking during a news conference on the Amazon synod, which ends Sunday, he said he could see some people looking worried, or doubtful, about the idea that the indigenous seek answers “as indigenous.”

“From here I see [those] who do not understand what the Amazon really needs [are] a little restless,” he said, asking people to not harden their hearts, as Christ invites them.

“We wish as indigenous that we live together, that we believe in one God, that at the end of everything we will be united,” he said.

Siticonatzi, a synod auditor, explained that the indigenous communities have their own worldview and their own way of looking at the world, which brings them closer to God. They see the face of God in nature, in their culture and in their experience, because “we as indigenous people live in harmony with all the beings that are there.”

Mexican priest Eleazar López Hernández, an expert in Indian theology, also spoke Oct. 24, saying that the Amazon synod has been an expression of the Church’s desire, as an institution, to have a new relationship with indigenous peoples; a relationship based on being brothers and sisters, not colonialists.

The Church has changed, he said, stating that, in the past 50 years, missionaries have left the boats of the colonists to walk with the indigenous. Though the final report of the synod will not be released until Oct. 26, he said the consensus reached makes them look to the future with hope for protecting life and the Earth.

Siticonatzi also noted that he and other indigenous people have hope in the synod, and they want the media to help them to live “our faith intensely in this path of struggle of the synod.”

“You are sitting, listening,” he continued. “Do you not have faith in us, or are those hopes over?”

He said both in the process of walking together and in the maternity of the Virgin Mary, “we live intensely a faith in Jesus Christ and our brothers.”