Pope Francis criticised "offensive words" directed at the Amazon's indigenous people on Monday October 7th, pointing out that a feather headdress is no more ridiculous than hats worn at the Vatican.
A number of conservatives had expressed their disapproval of a tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican on Thursday, where people from the Amazon used native practices such as blessing the earth.
"Tell me, what's the difference between having feathers on your head and the three-peaked hat worn by certain officials in our dicasters (Vatican ministries)?" the pope said to loud applause at the opening of a synod focused on the Amazon’s poverty-stricken and isolated indigenous communities.
Francis also denounced past and present forms of colonialism and said some of the fires that devastated forests in Brazil in recent months were started by special interest groups.
He urged conservatives not to be restricted by the status quo and to be open to discussing the future of the Roman Catholic Church in the Amazon, including the possibility of introducing married priests.
"If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that 'this is the way things have always been done', then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo," he said.
The three-week synod will discuss a lot of issues such as the faith in the region, indigenous people and their right to keep their land and traditions, a greater role for women, deforestation, environmental protection, and climate change.