Some thoughts on the meeting, full of commentary in various fields, promoted in Rome on Saturday, October 5, by the Institute Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (founder of Tradition Family Property). Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller were also present.
Opened with a prayer to the Our Lady of Guadalupe led by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, and closed with the evening Angelus led by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a very significant conference has taken place in Rome for the whole day yesterday, Saturday October 5, on the topics proposed by the Instrumentum laboris of the Pan Amazon Synod, which opened today in the Vatican.
Promoted by the Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute / Tradition Family Property (TFP), the event saw a succession of speakers of various cultural backgrounds at the panel. In the morning, they shed light on the historical, missiological, identity, and climatic aspects of that Latin American region. In the afternoon, they focused on the content of the controversial Instrumentum laboris of the special assembly of bishops.
Presented with great pomp in the Vatican Press Room on June 17, at the same venue, on October 3, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri (general secretary of the Synod) de facto demoted the Instrumentum with insistent and non-accidental emphasis to a simple “non-papal working document, a guideline for work” and even “a basis for building the final document from scratch.” This tactical move was intended to mitigate the serious concerns of many (even several of his confreres)? Unfortunately, the Brazilian cardinal (and general synod rapporteur) Claudio Hummes was close to him and called the document, “voice of the Church, of the earth, of the people, of the history of the Amazon,” de facto evidently attributing to it a status that is certainly not that of wasted paper.
What a pity that the (packed) Verdi Hall of the Hotel Quirinale on Via Nazionale could not contain more than 200 people. The conference was (in the words of Pope Francis) “polyhedric,” its speakers competently addressing various themes on the Amazon, which are (again as Pope Francis says) “interconnected.” It certainly would not be bad to have the conference replicated in the Synod Hall for the benefit, knowledge, and reflection (not necessarily sharing) of the venerable participants. Ditto, for its part on the “climate” to be reiterated in the presence of Greta Thurnberg and her fans. After all, it is always a good idea to listen to other people’s reasons. In short, it was a highly worthwhile Saturday for those who were able to attend. And so substantial that anyone interested in reviewing and reflecting on those topics can ask the organizers for copies of the lectures.
We mentioned the variety of topics discussed during the day. The moderator was Julio Loredo (President of the Italian TFP), who highlighted how the association had been closely following evolution of those topics for over half a century (“It is not the arrow that meets the target, but the target that meets the arrow …”). Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza, heir to the Imperial throne of Brazil, spoke of the history of Catholicism in his country, the evangelization of the Amazon, and the negative turnaround with the rise of liberation theology.
Then, a leading exponent of the Macuxí ethnic group of Roraima, Jonas Marcolino Macuxí, spoke about the experiences of indigenous peoples. The climatologist Luiz Carlos Molion (graduated in physics, meteorology, forest hydrology) gave an extensive and detailed lecture about global climate trends and particularly the situation in the Amazon. He is known as one of the leaders of the skeptical front regarding the global warming theory (you can imagine how much flak he gets), and in 2010 was Brazil’s delegate at the World Meteorological Organization, a UN agency based in Geneva.
For his part, James Bascom (TFP Washington) focused on the links between Marxism and environmentalism. In the afternoon, Stefano Fontana (director of the Cardinal Van Thuăn Observatory on the Social Doctrine of the Church) wondered why the Church should give itself an “Amazonian face” rather than give the Amazon a “Catholic face.” The historian Roberto de Mattei (President of the Lepanto Foundation) highlighted the existential dangers the Church faces by adhering to the “new religion” of post-modern environmentalism.
Finally, José Antonio Ureta (see https://www.rossoporpora.org/rubriche/interviste-a-personalita/898-sinodo-amazzonia-jose-antonio-ureta-la-presa-del-potere.html), an intellectual and writer of the French TFP, analyzed Indigenous Theology particular as it emerges from the Instrumentum laboris, a prelude to neo-paganism. The attention and the remarkable participation with which the public followed the various lectures, with a crescendo that culminated in a final standing-ovation for those by de Mattei and Ureta.
Here are a few of the many special viewpoints offered by the Conference.
Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza: Brazil, founded on Catholicism, today is only 50% Catholic.
History. The first monument erected in Brazil was a cross, the first public act, a holy Mass. The Indians helped the Portuguese to raise Crosses. The Popes of the time defended the Indians with the Bull Sublimis Deus (Paul III) and the Brief Commissum Nobis (Urban VIII). One can say that the entire conquest of the Amazon is due to the missionaries beginning in the seventeenth century. All the main cities of the Amazon rose around chapels and missionary settlements. Catholicism was the cement of Brazil’s unity.
Modern Catholicism. In the last half-century, the number of Catholics in Brazil decreased from 95% to 50% (‘An apostolic nuncio in Brazil told me a few years ago that we are losing 1% of the faithful every year, and he is now organizing this Synod” — Editor’s Note: he is now Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri). Traditional masses were replaced by an “updated missiology” that radically changed the concept of the mission. According to Most Rev. José Luiz Azcona, bishop emeritus of the prelature of Marajò, in some Amazon areas, Pentecostal Protestants are 80%.
Amazon and Indians. We are not destroying the Amazon, which is intact. The myth of the burning Amazon has no foundation. According to a recent study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, the Indian population in Brazil is 897,000, of whom only 180,000 live in the Amazon. How do you justify holding a Synod given such a small number of people?
Jonas Marcolino Macuxi: The majority of the Indians want to make progress, not regression
Leader of the Macuxí ethnic group. I hunted and fished until the age of twelve, the son of illiterate parents. I studied mathematics and graduated in law. Today I am one of the directors of the United Indigenous of Northern Roraima Defense Society. The Macuxí in the Raposa Serra do Sol region number about 12,000. 70% oppose the demarcation of the reserve. We are integrated into society since 1988 and have electricity, cars, buses, and we live in productive villages. The absolute majority of the Indians in the Brazilian Amazon are asking for progress. The problem is, some would like us to go back to the Stone Age.
Liberation theology, ecologists, NGOs. The whole wise construction of centuries integrating Indians into society has been dismantled by Liberation Theology missionaries since the seventies, by some members of environmental movements, and by NGOs defending their interests or those of their financiers. Some missionaries brainwashed the Indians by showing for hours and hours videos with whites beating Indians.
Luiz Carlos Molion: Amazonia Is Not the Lung of the World
Global warming. There is no climate change or global warming produced by men. What exists is a natural variation of the climate. For example, there are concrete physical arguments that suggest that global warming between 1916 and 1945 was caused by solar activity (the largest in the last 400 years). Or that the heating period of 1976-2005, attributed to human activities, was caused instead by the reduction of cloud cover by 5% and by the great frequency of events like El Niño.
The coming years. For some years, there has been a cooling tendency in the Pacific Ocean (due to increased cloud cover), which is the most important factor for the global climate. In the coming years, Europe will have longer winters.
Is the Amazon region the green lung of the world? The Amazon is not essential for the distribution of rainfall in regions far from South America because the Amazon is not a source of humidity for the atmosphere. The forest consumes more oxygen than it produces. The forest does not produce water but only recycles water from earlier rains.
James Bascom: Red Has Turned Green
Communism and environmentalism. Contrary to appearances (see environmental disasters in communist countries), communism and environmentalism share many common principles in their development. They demand radical egalitarianism, reject the Christian message, hate Western civilization, reject private property in any form, and pursue utopia. The de facto modern ecologism can be considered as a more advanced form of quasi-religious socialism. Communism is not dead but lives in the form of environmentalism. Green is the new red. Ecologism is the perfect embodiment of Karl Marx’s egalitarian dream.
Communism and indigenous peoples in Latin America. At the sixth World Congress of the Communist International in Moscow, the communist parties of Latin America were asked to fight for the self-determination of indigenous tribes, produce propaganda in Indian languages, and recruit Indians for the communist cause. In the 1930s, Peruvian and Chilean communists began to advocate the creation of independent Indian republics in their countries. In 1950 in Mexico, the communists launched a slogan asking for Indian autonomy in regional and local administrations.
Communism, environmentalism, pre-Christian Indians. Pre-Christian Indians of the Americas serve as models for the two ideologies, just as happened in Latin America in the 1970s, particularly in Brazil, where this idea was adopted and fleshed out by the Catholic Left, for example, with Leonardo Boff.
Stefano Fontana: Three Erroneous Approaches to the Pan Amazon Synod
First erroneous approach: To consider the Synod, its themes, and the theological approach that emerges from the Instrumentum laboris as born of the needs of these times … like a mushroom is born in the woods overnight.
Second erroneous approach. To think that the theological perspective emerging from the Synod originated in the Amazon or Latin America. Instead, its theological perspective is entirely European, elaborated on university chairs of the Rhine, and in Central European universities.
Third erroneous approach: To marvel at the Synod and wonder how it was possible to write an Instrumentum laboris with so many unacceptable doctrines from the point of view of the Apostolic Faith. The layout of this Synod is perfectly consistent with the new theology developed in recent decades.
An Amazon with a Catholic face or a Church with an Amazonian face? If one wants to have an “Amazon with a Catholic face,” one must assume that the Church has its own message, which remains the same and does not depend on a reading of the Amazon situation. The culture and social and economic situation of Amazonian peoples are not co-authors of the Christian message. … Instead, if we want a “Church with an Amazonian face” it means that the announcement of Christ lacks original, founding, transcendent, absolute resonance but communicates itself through history. It would be like saying that knowledge of His message is always conditioned by one’s life situation, from which one always starts to interpret Christ. The Church must listen, learn, accompany, and no longer teach. The Instrumentum laboris is very clear on this approach.
Roberto de Mattei: The Prophet Elias Overthrew Idols
Amazon, a talisman word. Amazon is one of the talismanic words of our age. The international media launched it in 1992, during the fifth centenary of the discovery of America and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit — the first world conference of heads of state on the environment – and re-launched it in recent weeks. The same weeks in which the Swedish sixteen-year-old Greta Thurnberg brought the gospel of environmentalism to the United Nations, and in which Pope Francis devotes a synod of bishops to the Amazon region. Today, the Amazon is not considered as a physical-geographical territory but as a cultural paradigm and — according to the Instrumentum laboris of the Synod of Bishops — a “theological place” (nos. 18-19).
Is the Amazon a paradise? The first missionaries who entered the region in the sixteenth century found it not much different from the description of Emil Schulthess, a famous Swiss photographer who explored it in the twentieth century. In his famous book on the Amazon published in the 1960s, Schulthess explains how false the idyllic image that many convey really is. The Amazon is not a romantic Eden but an inaccessible forest home to legions of insects, ants and mosquitoes, myriads of spiders, and poisonous snakes. The waters running through it are infested with ferocious piranhas, alligators, and anacondas while jaguars and wild beasts lurk in the trees. It is a world where the sun never penetrates, without light and seasons, where cool nights are nonexistent, but only uncontrollable sultriness. A landscape where it always rains and rotting waters and humidity dominate. It is the realm of shadows. Schulthess says that it is not a paradise but rather a “green hell.”
Europe, forests, St. Benedict. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was almost completely covered with forests and thickets. The Benedictine monks cleared the forests, drained marshes, irrigated the countryside, worked the land to make it arable, and built the landscape of an entire continent. God allows the existence of forests to push man to not submit to nature but to dominate and transform it. To the forest, which is the realm of shadows and houses spirits of darkness, the monks opposed cultivated land, symbol of human culture, which is real progress on the path of truth. Thus, to the darkness of the forest inhabited by evil spirits the Middle Ages opposed the light of cathedrals. Deforestation is a symbol of civilization; the cult of the forest is a symbol of barbarism. The first great deforester in history was Saint Benedict of Norcia, the father of European civilization.
A worrying turnaround.Thus is the new religion being proposed to us: a religion with a tribal face which is actually an anti-religion, an idolatrous vision of nature that we must counter by asking Our Lord for the spirit with which the prophet Elias demolished idols and defeated the false prophets (1 Kings 18:20-40). Fearing the terrible prospect that idols will be welcomed in the Vatican, we must loudly repeat the words that the Apostles, immediately after the death of Christ, addressed to those asking them not to preach the Gospel: “Non possumus” – “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
Jose Antonio Ureta: ‘Integral Ecological Conversion’ Is Not for the Indians, But…
Indigenous Theology seeks to “recover the religious thought of indigenous peoples before their encounter with Christianity,” explains the Mexican indigenous priest Eleazar Lopez (who is among the Synod’s invitees), who calls himself the “obstetrician” of this theological school.
Intercultural dialogue and infanticide. Intercultural dialogue aims at having a “presence of witness and solidarity” with a people, “collaborating to strengthen their identity” and “accompanying them in the struggle.” So for example, for the Yanomami Indians and twenty other ethnic groups, abandoning infanticide would be anti-evangelical because it would represent “infidelity to one’s life projects.” It is not surprising that the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) of the Brazilian Bishops still keeps on its website the defense of infanticide presented by anthropologist Rita Segato at the Commission for Human Rights of the Brazilian House of Representatives.
Integral ecological conversion. The word “conversion” appears 34 times in the Instrumentum laboris, but not once does it refer to a possible conversion of the natives (as is known, there are bishops and missionary congregations who boast of not having baptized any Indian for several decades). It always encourages an “integral ecological conversion” of the civilized, who are predators of nature on behalf of their supposed superiority.
During the Conference, through a video, Most Rev. Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, forcefully illustrated the reasons for which the obligation priestly celibacy must be defended from a possible weakening and indeed enhanced. In the evening, Daniel Martins (coordinator of TFP youth) presented a video on the caravan of young volunteers who collected over twenty thousand signatures on a 20-day trip through the Amazon. The signatures were delivered to the Synod Secretariat on Friday.
Translated by the staff of Pan-Amazon Synod Watch
© Reproduction is authorized provided the source is acknowledged.
Positions and concepts emitted in signed articles are the sole responsibility of their authors.