“We should approach Amazonian peoples on tiptoe, respecting their history, their culture, their style of ‘buen vivir’, in the etymological sense of the word, not in the social sense”. Pope Francis said this as he opened the First General Congregation of the Synod for the Amazon that is taking place in the Vatican’s Synod Hall. His remarks were delivered off-the-cuff in Spanish and lasted about twenty minutes. “Every people has its own identity, its own self awareness, which gives rise to a way of feeling, of seeing the truth, a history, a hermeneutic”, pope Francis stressed, warning once again against “ideological colonization that is so common” and “destroys the history of a people”. The Pope called for the Synod to begin not with “pre-packaged programmes” meant to “control and domesticate” the Amazonian people: “A homogenizing centralism destroys the authentic culture of a people”. “Ideologies are reductive”, the pontiff remarked, condemning the “claim to understand intellectually, but without accepting” and the claim to “reduce reality to categories” by creating “isms” in the name of an alleged “civilisation which annihilates peoples”. The Holy Father began his speech with a few words in Italian, thanking everyone for the “preparatory work” to the Synod, “from Puerto Maldonado until today”. Then he continued in Spanish, explaining that “the Synod for the Amazon has four dimensions: pastoral, cultural, social and ecological. The first dimension is essential, it encompasses everything”. “There is no aseptic hermeneutics”, Pope Francis explained, calling on the 184 Synod Fathers to experience “the Amazonian reality with the eyes of missionaries and disciples. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no proclamation of Jesus Christ, which should not be confused with proselytism”.