Following last year’s Amazon synod, the Vatican is to set up an ‘ecclesial’ conference as a permanent body to oversee implementation of proposals emanating from the meeting in Rome. The body, agreed upon in a virtual meeting last week, will be presided over by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, the former archbishop of São Paulo and president of Repam (Panamerican Ecclesial Network), the body charged with organising the synod. Repam sees itself as an advocacy organisation for the rights and dignity of indigenous peoples across the Amazon basin. The vice-president will be the bishop of Puerto Maldonado from Peru.

Its remit will be to bring together church and lay organisations across the nine countries of the Amazon region to promote “synodality”. The conference is to be a functionally autonomous group connected to both the Latin American Bishops’ Conference (CELAM) together with Repam.

There will be an executive body in which three representatives of indigenous nations will take part. The idea appears to be that the organisation will have a “lay ecclesial” culture, hence the name. But many details will need to be worked out.