Yesterday morning, I checked out the headlines on Google news on my phone. One of the headlines appeared under the header “In case you missed it” with the footer “Vatican.va — 1 year ago.” It was a link to a document issued by the press room of the Holy See. The document is one many Catholics would have heard of but understandably one few would have read. Its title is “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology: Preparatory Document of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly of the Pan Amazon Region, 08.06.2018.” It is a dense document that does not invite interest from a regular person. Why it should appear on a Google news feed, I cannot say, but there it was, the bald document without commentary.
Well, this not so regular person began to scan the preamble. While some Catholic-sounding statements can be found (with effort), I quickly identified any number of outrageous statements that all screamed “cultural Marxism.” Given that the synod is due to kick off this October and thanks to the prompting of the press room of the Holy See, I decided to keep reading and produce a sifted list of statements from the document just to provide some sense of its overall tenor. I reasoned that this could inform the curious regular person of the content and nature of this document while removing the need to read the whole painful piece of trash that it most assuredly is. If text is emphasized, I did it. Sometimes the statements are “accompanied” with commentary, but many of the statements speak for themselves. On the other hand, many statements in this document are written in imprecise language, even to the point of being grammatically tortured. They appear to be written in esoteric terms, with, I am sure, clear meanings for the initiated.
Ironically, in the lesson for Ember Wednesday in September (today as I write) from the Book of Esdras, 8:1–10, Esdras and the Levites read to the people from the book of the law of Moses: “… and they read in the book of the law of God distinctly and plainly to be understood; and they [the people] understood when it was read.” If only.
This sampling from the document should leave the reader in no doubt as to the pantheistic, pagan, Marxist nature of the document and synod. There is little in the document that one could readily identify as specifically Catholic. In a nutshell, the document focuses — I would say exclusively — on our relationship with the earth and not with the triune God, our and the earth’s creator. It excoriates “extractive industries,” ”mercantilist vision,” and “colonizing mentalities” (i.e., Western influence), conflating legitimate activities with abuse of indigenous peoples and Mother Earth to produce a Marxist interpretation of the world. No amount of mercantile activity or development, it would seem, is acceptable.
It is posited that the only alternative to the synod’s proposed way ahead is industrial raping of the earth and subjugation and elimination of indigenous peoples. In short, the document identifies the culprit for all the earth’s woes as colonialism — that is, Western culture — focusing exclusively on the sins of the West.
This document is the proverbial pig wearing lipstick — red lipstick. The author’s limp attempts to dress it up as something remotely Catholic make the whole thing just that much more farcical but no less ominous.
Here we go.
- Listening to indigenous peoples … is of vital importance for the universal Church. For this we need greater closeness.
We can then ask these indigenous peoples:
- How can we work together toward the construction of a world which breaks with structures that take life and with colonizing mentalities, in order to build networks of solidarity and inter-culturality?
- At the end of the text there are questions that allow for dialogue and a progressive approach to the regional reality and the expectation of a “culture of encounter.” The new paths for evangelization and for shaping a Church with an Amazonian face grow out of this “culture of encounter” in daily life, “in a multifaceted harmony” and “happy sobriety,” as contributions for the building of the Kingdom. [Not the Kingdom of God — just the Kingdom.]
IDENTITY AND CRIES OF THE PAN-AMAZONIA
- The Territory
- We can identify many types of “Amazonias” within the Amazon Basin. In this context, it is water — through its gorges, rivers, and lakes — that becomes the region’s organizing and integrating element, with its main axis being the Amazon, the mother and father river of all.
- Socio-cultural Diversity
- Currently, between 70% and 80% of the Pan-Amazonian population resides in urban areas. Many of these indigenous people are undocumented or irregular, refugees and those hailing from riverside areas or belonging to other vulnerable categories of people. As a result, an attitude of xenophobia and criminalization of migrants and displaced persons is growing throughout the Amazon region. [I suspect that Europe and the USA were in the mind of the authors when writing this.]
- This, furthermore, leads to the exploitation of Amazonian populations, who become victims of the changing values of the global economy, for which profit has higher value than human dignity. [No distinction between legitimate and illegitimate activities.]
- Identity of indigenous peoples
- [I]ndigenous peoples have experienced severe external threats ever since the first contact with the colonizer. Against these threats, indigenous peoples and Amazonian communities have organized themselves and fought to defend their lives and cultures, territories and rights, and the life of the universe and of all creation. [Really?]
- In recent years, indigenous peoples have begun to write down their own history and to document more formally their own cultures, customs, traditions, and knowledge. [The indigenous people themselves or anthropologists?]
- [I]ndigenous organizations are emerging that seek to strengthen the history of their peoples, so as to guide their struggle for autonomy and self-determination[.]
- However, no initiative can ignore the fact that the relationship of belonging and participation, which Amazonian inhabitants establish with creation, is part of their identity and contrasts with a mercantilist vision of the riches of creation[.]
- Church’s historical memory
- Until the beginning of the 20th century, voices raised in defense of indigenous peoples were few and far between — although not absent (cf. Pius X, Encyclical Letter Lacrimabili Statu, 7.6.1912). [It is not the statement here, but the reference — Pius X, not Pope St. Pius X. In the same paragraph, we find reference to Pope St. John Paul II. Admittedly, John Paul II is referred to as such elsewhere in the document, but it is the proximity of the references that is striking. Maybe it was just sloppy work.]
- Today, unfortunately, traces still exist of the colonizing project … similar vicious cycles continue to hold sway over the territory and its inhabitants, who today are victims of a ferocious neocolonialism[.]
- It is likely that, as Pope Francis stated in Puerto Maldonado, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin have never been as threatened as they are at present. Today, due to the scandalous offenses of “new forms of colonialism[.]”
- Justice and the rights of peoples
- The harmonious relationship between God the Creator, human beings, and nature is broken by the harmful effects of neo-extractivism; by the pressure being exerted by strong business interests that want to lay hands on its petroleum, gas, wood, and gold; by construction related to infrastructure projects (for example, hydroelectric megaprojects and road construction, such as thoroughfares between the oceans); and by forms of agro-industrial mono-cultivation[.]
- The dominant culture of consumerism and waste turns the planet into one giant landfill.
- New ideological colonialisms hidden under the myth of progress are being imposed[.]
- [T]he territory has been stripped of a comprehensive interpretation based on the culture and worldview specific to each indigenous people or community. [I can’t comment here because I have no idea what they mean — can anybody help?]
- Spirituality and wisdom
- Their [indigenous people’s] diverse spiritualities and beliefs motivate them to live in communion with the soil, water, trees, animals, and with day and night. Wise elders — called interchangeably “payés, mestres, wayanga or chamanes”, [In times past, they called these people witch doctors. That is a pejorative now.] among others — promote the harmony of people among themselves and with the cosmos. Indigenous peoples “are a living memory of the mission that God has entrusted to us all: the protection of our common home”
TOWARDS A PASTORAL AND ECOLOGICAL CONVERSION
- Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus in the Amazonia:Biblical-theological dimension
- The bishops of Latin America acknowledge nature as a gratuitous inheritance; and, as prophets of life, they assume their commitment to protect our Common Home[.] [I understand there are some bishops (prophets of life?) of the region who are scandalized by this document and are not assuming their commitment to anything therein.]
- Throughout salvation history, God renews his intention to “make a covenant” between humanity and the earth, rehabilitating the beauty of creation through the gift of the Torah. [God renews his intention to “make a covenant” between humanity and the earth — what? A third covenant? Where do they get this stuff? And the Torah — why stick that in there? It is most commonly associated with the totality of Jewish teaching or the 24 books of the Tanakh (Jewish bible).]
- The death and resurrection of Jesus illuminated the destiny of all of creation, filling it with the power of the Holy Spirit[.] [Apparently it was only Jesus’s followers who had to wait until Pentecost to be “illuminated.”]
- Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus in the Amazonia:Social dimension
- Today the cry of the Amazonia to the Creator is similar to the cry of God’s People in Egypt. … It is a cry that yearns for the presence of God, especially when the Amazonian peoples, in order to defend their lands, stumble upon the criminalization of protest — both by the authorities and public opinion.
- Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus in the Amazonia: Ecological dimension
- The kingdom, already present and growing in our midst, engages us at every level of our being and reminds us that “everything in the world is connected” and that, therefore, the “principle of discernment” in evangelization is linked to a process of integral human development. This process is characterized, as Laudato si’ points out, by a relational paradigm called integral ecology, which articulates the fundamental links that make true development possible. [Integral ecology — everything is related. All the bad things happening in the world are related — I suppose this includes homosexuality and abuse within the clergy, disappearing millions from Vatican bank accounts, etc.]
- This cultural heritage, which is “part of the common identity” of the region, is as “threatened” as its environmental heritage. The threats come mainly from a “consumerist vision of human beings, encouraged by the mechanisms of today’s globalized economy, [which] has a leveling effect on cultures, diminishing the immense cultural variety which is the heritage of all humanity[.]” [It seems that the irony of the cultural destruction the Vatican is supporting in Europe and the West in general eludes them.]
- [The Church] needs to establish bridges to connect ancestral wisdom with contemporary knowledge, particularly those types related to the sustainable management of the territory and to development in accordance with the cultural value systems of the populations that inhabit this space, who must be recognized as its genuine custodians and even landowners.
- Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus in the Amazonia:Ecclesial-missionary dimension
- [A] missionary approach in the Amazonia requires, now more than ever, ecclesial magisterium exercised under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who guarantees unity and diversity. [Including diversity of religions?]
- The people of God is holy thanks to this anointing [baptism], which makes it infallible ‘in credendo’. This means that it does not err in faith… God furnishes the totality of the faithful with an instinct of faith — sensus fidei — which helps them to discern what is truly of God”. [I might understand this incorrectly, but does this infer that we are all infallible according to our own discernments?]
NEW PATHS FOR A CHURCH WITH AN AMAZONIAN FACE
- Church with an Amazonian face
- “Being Church means being God’s people”, incarnate “in the peoples of the earth” and in their cultures.
- The Church is called to deepen her identity in accordance with the realities of each territory and to grow in her spirituality by listening to the wisdom of her peoples. Therefore, the Special Assembly for the Pan-Amazonian Region is invited to find new ways of developing the Amazonian face of the Church and to respond to situations of injustice in the region, such as the neocolonialism of the extractive industries, infrastructure projects that damage its biodiversity, and the imposition of cultural and economic models which are alien to the lives of its peoples. [I hear Jesuits proclaiming liberation theology again.]
- During the preparation for the Synod, the aim will be to identify local pastoral experiences, both positive and negative, that can enlighten discernment for new action guidelines. [Local pastoral experiences to enlighten discernment?]
- Prophetic dimension
- Indigenous peoples “have much to teach us”. In their love for their land and their relationship with the ecosystem, they know the Creator God, the source of life. [Not necessarily the Triune God, it would appear.]
- In their concept of a social life in dialogue, they are moved by the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Pope Francis pointed out that “we need to let ourselves be evangelized by them” and by their cultures[.] (The pope encouraging Catholics to be evangelized by pantheists — if that don’t beat all!)
- … embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them [indigenous peoples] …
- Ministry with an Amazonian face
- An incarnated mission implies rethinking the Church’s limited presence in relation to the immensity of the territory and its cultural diversity.
- A Church with an Amazonian face must “seek a model of alternative, integral, and solidarity-based development, grounded on an ethical code that includes responsibility for an authentic, natural, and human ecology, which is the foundation for the gospel of justice, solidarity, and the universal destiny of earthly goods. It means going beyond a utilitarian and individualistic logic that refuses to submit economic and technological powers to ethical criteria”. Therefore, the entire People of God, who share in the mission of Christ — Priest, Prophet, and King, must be encouraged not to remain indifferent to the region’s injustices, in order to discover, in listening to the Spirit, the sought-after new paths.
- These new paths for pastoral care in the Amazonia call for “re-launching the work of the Church” in the territory and for delving deeper into the “process of inculturation”, which requires the Church in the Amazon region to make “courageous” proposals, that is, the “daring” and “fearless” attitudes that Pope Francis asks of us. The prophetic mission of the Church is today carried out through its inclusive ministerial action, which allows indigenous peoples and Amazonian communities to be its “principal interlocutors” regarding all the territory’s pastoral and socio-environmental matters.
- In order to transform the Church’s precariously-thin presence and make it broader and more incarnate, a hierarchical list of the Amazonia’s urgent needs should be established. The Aparecida document mentions the need for “Eucharistic integrity” for the Amazon region, that is, that there be not only the possibility for all the baptized to participate in the Sunday Mass, but also for a new heavens and a new earth to take root in the Amazon Basin in anticipation of the Kingdom of God.
- In this sense, Vatican II reminds us that all the People of God share in the priesthood of Christ, although it distinguishes between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood. [They can’t bring themselves to say sacrificial priesthood.] This gives way to an urgent need to evaluate and rethink the ministries that today are required to respond to the objectives of a Church with an Amazonian face and a Church with a native face. One priority is to specify the contents, methods, and attitudes necessary for an inculturated pastoral ministry capable of responding to the territory’s vast challenges. Another is to propose new ministries and services for the different pastoral agents, ones which correspond to activities and responsibilities within the community. Along these lines, it is necessary to identify the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role which women play today in the Amazonian Church. It is also necessary to foster indigenous and local-born clergy, affirming their own cultural identity and values. Finally, new ways should be considered for the People of God to have better and more frequent access to the Eucharist, the center of Christian life. [Do I hear viri probati ordination? I think so. And who knows what they have in mind for women?]
In a document of over 10,000 words, the word “Catholic” and its derivatives are mentioned just eight times. “Indigenous” rates 43 times. Like the documents of Vatican Council 2, this document is worded in such nebulous terms that the perpetrators of this synodal farce will be able to interpret the document however they wish to arrive at their predetermined outcomes. That, I am sure, is the point. These imposters are in the process of inverting (they think) the religious landscape of the world, doing away with Catholicism and replacing it with a pantheistic hybrid with the pope as its head. They are the spiritual children of those who attempted to build a tower to Heaven.
As then, so now, their efforts will be in vain, and their centuries of work will in the end come to nothing. In the meantime, we must hope and pray that Our Lady will inspire more faithful bishops to come out publicly against this monumental affront to Our Lord Jesus Christ and his one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Dear Mother of God, pray for us.