VATICAN CITY — Koinonia News
Pope Francis delivered another blow to conservatives outraged over the sins of idolatry and paganism on display at the Vatican. The Pope asked forgiveness Friday from Amazonian bishops and tribal leaders after a pair of conservative activists removed several pagan idols from a Vatican-area church and tossed them into the Tiber River, in a show of contempt for overt paganism on display at the Vatican’s Amazon Synod.
Pope Francis is often quite contemptuous of conservative Catholics, their traditional beliefs and practices. He has condemned pro-life Catholics as participating in an “ecumenism of hate,” and recently called evangelical efforts of speaking the gospel to unbelieving friends, to be a “sin.”
Even though Francis insisted that the carved wooden images of naked pregnant women were in fact “Pachamama,” the Amazonian iteration of their goddess, Mother Earth, he proclaimed they were displayed “without any intention of idolatry. This claim was made despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
“The antics that have been going on during this synod are textbook examples of idolatry,” stated one American archbishop, who requested to remain anonymous. In response to our observations regarding ceremonies processing with, bowing down to and incensing the image, the prelate responded, “I’ve always been told, that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.”
Francis relayed that the police had found the so-called Pachamama statues unharmed in the Tiber, and would consider letting the Vatican display them during a final Mass on Sunday wrapping up the Amazon meeting, but that no decision had been made.
“Above all, this happened in Rome” the pope stated, “and as the bishop of this diocese I ask forgiveness of the people who were offended by this gesture,” Francis told attendees gathered in the synod hall.
Francis’ apology came as the three-week Amazon synod wraps up Saturday when more than 180 bishops and cardinals from nine regional countries vote on a final document synthesizing proposals to better protect the Amazon rainforest and minister to its indigenous peoples.
The most controversial proposals include whether married men can be ordained priests to address the acute shortage of clergy in the Amazon region, where isolated communities can go months without having a proper Mass.
Also debated were whether women — who already carry out the lion’s share of the church’s work — could be ordained deacons in a new Amazonian rite that takes into account the unique spirituality of Amazonian faithful and their relationship with nature. “What we have here is a poorly veiled attempt at syncretism, blending pagan cult practices with Catholicism,” stated Father Jose Zambada, who was attending the synod from Columbia.
According to a video of the theft, which was widely circulated on social media, at least two men entered the church before dawn, took the statues from the altar of a side chapel and threw them unceremoniously from a bridge into the Tiber.
According to Archbishop Michael Callahan of the International Catholic Confederation, “Our angst over what’s going on at the Vatican has absolutely nothing to do with racism, bigotry, or hating individual people. No. Faithful Catholics are concerned about the truth, and saddened for people following Pope Francis’s lies.”
Callahan went on to say that “Catholic bishops of other jurisdictions have traditionally respected the Bishop of Rome and the office he holds, referring to him as the “Primus Inter Pares” or first among equals.” “However,” Callahan continued, “that “respect” is never extended to teachings contrary to the historic deposit of faith.”
According to Callahan, the pagan pageantry on display at the Amazon synod is just another attempt from Pope Francis to embrace heterodoxy — false teachings. “Bowing down before cult images has always been considered sinful, Francis’s attempt to pass this off as anything other than idolatry is disingenuous at best. In my opinion, this is simply another one of his attempts to rewrite Catholic teachings. From his communing with Lutherans and embracing Islam as worthy of respect, to now bringing pagan images into his cathedral, it seems he truly believes that “all paths are of equal value,” when it comes to approaching God. God, however, tells us something quite different.“
The theft was applauded by conservative Catholics who considered the statues to be pagan idols that had no business being placed at the altar of a Catholic Church, much less being paraded and venerated in official Vatican ceremonies.
The statues had initially sparked outrage at the start of the synod when one was featured at an indigenous tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican gardens attended by Francis. Religious, ordained, and laity alike bowed down before a collection of idols, including Pachamama. In another instance, Pope Francis is actually pictured blessing an image of Pachamama.
Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the conservative German, and former doctrine chief at the Vatican said the “great mistake” was to bring the “idols” in the church in the first place. He cited the biblical First Commandment prohibiting idolatry or worshipping false gods.
“To throw it out can be against human law” stated Muller, “but to bring the idols into the church was a grave sin, a crime against divine law,” he told a reporter for EWTN.
Vatican representatives have insisted that the [pagan] statues were symbols of “life, fertility, and Mother Earth,” and denounced the theft as a hate-filled, “violent and intolerant gesture.” “In the name of tradition and doctrine, they contemptuously threw away a symbol of maternity and sacredness of life,” the Vatican’s editorial director Andrea Tornielli wrote in Vatican media. The theft has dominated debate in Catholic media and Catholic Twittersphere, with conservatives cheering the destruction of what they consider symbols of pagan worship and progressives accusing the culprits and their supporters of racism.
“We do not use the term ‘racists’ lightly, but what else is it?” asked the National Catholic Reporter, a progressive Catholic magazine, in an editorial this week. Hmm, could it simply be righteous indignation over the blatant sin of defying the first commandment? In playing the Race Card, The National Catholic Reporter is displaying that they are aligning themselves more closely with political correctness than the tenets of Catholicism.
“Can you imagine the conservative outcry if someone tossed the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa into the Tiber?” it said, referring to the “Black Madonna” icon that was particularly dear to St. John Paul II, a hero to many conservatives.
“Pope Francis and Vatican representatives seem to be suffering from cognitive dissonance,” complained Fr. Franco Cortez, of Mexico City. “There is a huge difference between venerating cultural images of our Blessed Virgin, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and pagan idols representing indigenous cult deities,” he said. ”since the beginning of biblical times, God has made it abundantly clear, in no uncertain terms, we are not to have or bow down to other gods,” Cortez continued.
Conservative Catholics have accused pope Francis of heresy for his confusing teachings, which many In the magisterium are presenting as permission for divorced and civilly remarried, as well as unrepentant, and active homosexuals to receive the sacraments. Now, the added controversy surrounding Pachamama is simply adding fuel to the flames of dissent and discontent.
Many otherwise faithful Catholics, conservative and liberal alike are asking themselves, why Francis apologizes to the Synod attendees and refuses to clarify the confusion that continues to flow in his wake?