Both the Council and the early post-conciliar Church praised man, discoverer of the laws of history and nature, manipulator of material forces, master of time and conqueror of space, committed to achieving a humanization of nature that ensures peace and the progress of peoples. Instead, the new pastoral care laments man’s insertion in nature, denounces the ‘damage’ caused by scientific, technological and industrial advances, and hopes that humanity returns to a humble, simple and poor life, no longer to make nature more humane, but to make man more ‘natural’.
On recent admissions by Claudio Cardinal Hummes, general rapporteur of the upcoming Pan-Amazon Synod.
A program for the upcoming Amazon Synod
Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes is president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network and will be the general rapporteur in the upcoming Synod of Bishops for the Amazon. To prepare the faithful for this event, he has published a program in booklet form titled The Synod for the Amazon, also printed in Italian (Edizioni San Paolo, Cinisello Balm 2019).
The cardinal limits himself to summarizing and commenting on the texts of Pope Francis and the latest from the Latin American Bishops’ Conference on the ecological problem without referring to the controversial Instrumentum Laboris for the aforementioned Synod. However, his booklet does arouse interest because it shows the true form and scope of the next conference.
Antimodern recession or ultramodern qualitative leap?
If we keep in mind the social pastoral policy set in motion by some documents of the Second Vatican Council – accentuated by papal pronouncements such as the Encyclical Pacem in terris, of John XXIII and Populorum progressio, of Paul VI – Cardinal Hummes’ booklet confirms that this progressive approach is turning into a regressive approach.
Both the Council and the early post-conciliar Church praised man, discoverer of the laws of history and nature, manipulator of material forces, master of time and conqueror of space, committed to achieving a humanization of nature that ensures peace and the progress of peoples. Instead, the new pastoral care regrets man’s insertion in nature, denounces the ‘damage’ caused by scientific, technological and industrial advances, and hopes that humanity returns to a humble, simple and poor life, no longer to make nature more humane, but to make man more ‘natural’.
Cardinal Hummes apparently sets his speech in an anti-modern perspective. In fact, he criticizes the subjectivism and voluntarism of rationalist philosophy, makes it responsible for the relativism that levels differences, truths and values, accuses it of having spread an avid and overbearing conquest mentality, and denounces it for favouring the bourgeois and technocratic system with the consequent “colonial exploitation” of backward populations and uncultivated lands (Chapter XIX of the aforementioned booklet).
In reality, the cardinal’s perspective is not anti-modern but rather post-modern or ultramodern, similar to the one that opposed Müntzer to Luther, Rousseau to Voltaire, Schopenhauer to Kant, Marx to Hegel. These ultramodern authors complained that in their time, the revolutionary process (in the sense of the multi-secular process of de-Christianization explained in the essay Revolution and Counter-Revolution (by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Luci sull’Est, 1998) had slowed down and that subversive forces did not dare take it to its most extreme consequences. They hoped that the (destructive) action guided by the Revolution’s “left hand” would prevail over the (constructive) one guided by its “right hand”.
For example, in 1792, the Marquis of Sade appealed to the French to “make a last effort, if you really want to become Republicans” (i.e. revolutionary) by legalizing and even rewarding crime and perversion. Today, Cardinal Hummes likewise appeals to Catholics to make a final effort to become consistently revolutionary by engaging in the holy cause of militant environmentalism and by fostering the “ecological conversion of the Church” (chap. XII).
If over the last centuries revolutionary forces were committed to ‘insert nature’ in human society to free humanity from natural needs, today, on the contrary, these forces purportedly intend to insert human society in the natural environment in order to ‘free the cosmos’ from human domination. We are thus switching from anthropocentrism to cosmocentrism. In the revolutionary process, this is not a step backwards but forward; indeed, it is a “qualitative leap”.
The "environmental emergency" trick
Cardinal Hummes attempts to justify this program by resorting to two typically subversive propaganda tricks closely related to each other, which he applies to the question of the ecological crisis.
The first trick consists in sounding the alarm on a (supposedly) very serious and imminent danger, which would pose an extremely urgent problem. This danger would consist in the “environmental emergency”, the catastrophic consequences of which he predicts in apocalyptic tones — the same tones mocked by a substantial part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy when Christians use them to denounce the real and serious dangers of relativism, permissiveness, and secularism.
The second trick consists in accusing a social class or category as being responsible for plotting and causing the said danger to arouse public indignation and demand drastic measures against it. Now the accused class is made up of technogical scientists, manufacturers and traders, supposedly guilty of pushing society into a quagmire of “consumerism” that will soon exhaust the earth’s resources and cause environmental crises and the impoverishment of backward peoples.
These propaganda devices are well known to those who have studied and denounced the techniques used by the Revolution to seduce public opinion and influence governments (see, for example, Roger Mucchelli, La subversion, Club du Livre Civique, Paris 1976, pp. 78- 83).
In fact, the subversive forces are wont to launch catastrophic alarms on a distorted or exaggerated problem by denouncing a “state of emergency” that would require quickly imposing drastic solutions such as emergency laws suspending constitutional freedoms. This enables them to arouse a Manichaean feeling of indignation and revolt against an ideological category or ruling class, which they accuse of being responsible for the problem in order to isolate, punish or overthrow it and take its place.
From the eighteenth century to this day, historical examples are not lacking. It is enough to recall the revolutionary propaganda made from time to time by Jacobins, Socialists, Communists, Nazis, radicals or Christian Democrats on “dangers” such as “the aristocracy, thirsty for revenge,” “the bourgeoisie, which starves people,” “plutocratic imperialism,” “reactionaries in ambush,” “resurgent Fascism,” the “coup-prone military class,” etc. This whole alarmism is often aimed at imposing “states of emergency” on society that would allow subversive forces to conquer, recoup or maintain power, repressing the popular discontent caused by their oppressive and liberticidal policy.
In this way, to advance the revolutionary process the Revolution manages to impose “qualitative leaps” on people and breaking down obstacles that prevent subversive forces from seizing, keeping or recovering power.
History has repeatedly shown that, in the end, drastic emergency measures, applied quickly and without criteria, not only do not solve any real problem but harm the common good of an entire people, sometimes to the point of causing irreparable disasters.
The proposed ‘solution’: a return to tribal society
Cardinal Hummes predicts that the Synod on the Amazon will propose a drastic emergency solution to the ecological problem. In order to minimize the exploitation of natural resources (water, minerals, plants, animals, etc.) said to be exhausted, it would be necessary to minimize agriculture, cattle-raising and the production and trade of many natural assets.
The cardinal admits that this will oblige society to reduce the consumption of goods to a minimum, which will cause drastic reductions in living standards and in people’s daily habits, affecting not only their comfort but also nutrition, health care, and mobility. The currently declining society of abundance, comfort and security will have to make way to a society of scarcity, hardship and insecurity. Rather than live comfortably in an advanced society in conflict with nature, it is better to live with hardship in a regressive society harmoniously inserted in the natural environment.
Therefore, Hummes considers it necessary to effect an “ecological conversion” not only of the economy and politics, but also of the mentality and sensitivity of society, and even of the Church. This new version of “liberation theology” foresees a “pastoral revolution” which he proposes as an “ecological liberation”.
It is truly paradoxical that the ecclesiastical hierarchy, on the one hand, is committed to denying not only the superiority and rights but even the very identity of Western and Christian civilization, while on the other it is committed to defending the “cultural, environmental and social” identity of peoples opposed to the classical Christian civilization (chap. XII). This can only be explained if we admit that this double maneuver is aiming at replacing the rejected political model of Christianity with the idolized social model of the tribe.
The myth of the chosen and redemptive indigenous people
At this point they propose the tribal model of society as experienced by South American indigenous communities and especially those that have refused urban life and persist in living in the forests of the Amazon.
According to the cardinal, the indigenous communities are not only a rare and endangered species that must be defended from “neocolonialist” persecution, but also a sort of sacred people (or chosen race) whose merit is to bear witness to now forgotten truths, virtues and goods. In fact, by living immersed and integrated in nature, the Amazon tribes preserve the secrets of an ancient “traditional wisdom” that stirs in advanced peoples a nostalgia for a cosmocentric “civilization” as an alternative to the anthropocentric one, and for a pagan “religiosity” alternative to the institutional religions now subservient to technocratic globalism.
Still, according to the cardinal, the indigenous are a kind of sacred, elected, messianic people, that can play a revolutionary historical role. The salvation of the Amazon tribes and their paradoxical “uncivilized civilization” would be a decisive factor for saving the whole world and even for fulfilling the mission of the Catholic Church. Since the indigenous people are geopolitically situated at the lowest level of advanced civilizations, if freed from “neo-colonial” oppression they will contribute decisively to freeing all other marginalized, oppressed and persecuted peoples from the world’s technocratic powers.
Moreover, this new version of “liberation theology” claims — since the indigenous people are inseparable from the wild nature in which they live –that if they are freed by their revolutionary commitment the whole of nature will be freed with them and through them, completing the liberation of the entire cosmos from all forms of oppression.
It is worth noting the similarity of this liberating scheme with the one that revolutionary forces repeatedly applied in the past. Suffice it to think of the old Jacobin thesis according to which the whole civil society would be freed by liberating the productive classes from the oppression of the aristocracy; or, more recently, the communist thesis that the entire people would be freed by liberating the proletarian class from the oppression of thebougeoisie.
One may even notice a strange similarity between Hummes’ indigenous thesis and the racist thesis of the Nazis. In fact, according to the most radical Nazism, the “pure Aryan race” – marginalized and oppressed by the “Jewish and bourgeois plutocratic imperialism” – is supposed to have meritoriously preserved an ancient and hidden magical wisdom that entrusted it with the historical mission of “liberating telluric forces” in order to impose a neo-pagan social model based on a “return to nature”. In this way, by freeing itself from bourgeois enslavement, the “chosen Aryan people” could contribute to freeing all peoples and halting the degradation of modern civilization, putting an end to the exploitation of natural resources and saving the lives of animals, for example through Hitler’s vegetarian diet, which he planned to impose sooner or later on the whole Reich.
Conversion to tribalism and pantheism
On the face of it, the scope of the coming Synod seems to be geographically limited to the Amazon, its people, the real indians (that number only three million!) and to the dioceses of the region. In reality, however, the Synod is planning a revolution that will involve the whole Catholic Church and the entire humanity.
In fact, Cardinal Hummes expresses this wish: “Please Heaven that such a missionary and pastoral conversion is carried out by the Church throughout the world. In this perspective, the processes that the Synod for the Amazon is setting in motion will help the whole Church to move on and plunge into the reality of each people and the planet” (chap. XII).
According to Hummes, “the serious social and environmental crises that affects humanity today therefore require an ecological conversion of human societies and the individuals who live in them … First of all, it is humanity that needs to change. … This basic awareness would allow the development of new conditions, new attitudes and lifestyles. Thus a great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge emerges that will involve long regeneration processes” (chap. IX). “It is therefore a question of promoting a process that involves great changes, even of a structural nature.” (chap. IV).
Cardinal Hummes’ booklet mentions a model of Indian, mestizo, magic and tribal society of which the culture, symbolism, morality, spirituality and rituality will be proposed to international society and to Christian Churches as an example to create an “ecological localism” as an alternative to the “technocratic globalism” that exploits and oppresses peoples and nature. The Church too will have to “incarnate herself” in the indigenous peoples of the entire Earth and assimilate “their vision of the world, which makes of the globality of God, man and cosmos a unity that impregnates all human, spiritual and transcendent relations” (chap. VII). Thus, by denying her “theological integrism” and remedying her “political colonialism,” the future Church will be inspired by a pantheistic culture and shaped by a tribal society (see Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Indian Tribalism, the Communist-Missionary Ideal for Brazil in the Twenty-first Century, Editora Vera Cruz, 1977).
Apparently, the Third Testament advocated by environmental gurus, the Third Age of history, the Third Millennium Reich will give rise to a global tribal community that will not be turned to Heaven but march toward a new Promised Land, as first hoped by ancient millennial sects and later by Socialism and Nazism. The Synod apparently seeks to oppose technocratic globalism with the false alternative of ecological globalism.
A faithful Christian, on the contrary, must object that in order to recover the lost harmony between man and physical nature humanity must first recover its correct spiritual, political and social order, namely Christian civilization. The real solution lies not in drowning humanity in the cosmos and dissolving society in tribes, but in recovering the concrete traditional factors of civilization with which, for millennia, man has healed and spiritualized nature by subjecting and humanizing it, for example, with agriculture, gardening, cattle-raising, crafts and industry, all within the framework of a family-based rural and urban society (cf. J. Vidal, Ecologie et religion, in: Dictionnaire des religions, ed. card. P. Poupard, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1984, vol. II, pp- 672-674).