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Indian Tribalism: The Communist-Missionary Ideal for Brazil in the Twenty-First Century (XIV)

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PART III “Aggiornate” Missionary Voices

Section VI

New Catechesis

22. The Indian Cannot Be Considered as Having Undesirable Psychic and Cultural Characteristics.

From the “Diretório Indígena” [Indian Directory] developed by the Mission Anchieta, of Mato Grosso, as approved by the CNBB (according to a summary by Jornal do Brasil):

The acculturation of the natives… ought to be done without haste and even traits we claim to be offensive to human nature, such as infanticide or polygamy, should be eradicated only when and in the measure in which the Indian can understand what is negative about these traits …

The Mission Anchieta emphasizes that the Indians cannot be considered as primitive beings, having undesirable biological, psychic, and cultural characteristics (Doc. 19).

Commentary

The second paragraph of the text takes the thought still dim in the first paragraph to its ultimate consequences: the Indians do not have any “undesirable biological, psychic, and cultural characteristics.” What about infanticide? Polygamy? These questions leap into one’s mouth: are they not the result of “undesirable psychic and cultural characteristics?”

The text insinuates that they are not when, referring to those aberrations, it qualifies them as “traits we claim are offensive to human nature.” “We claim” leads to a doubt: are they really offensive to human nature?

23. A Surprising “Scientific” Catechesis

Report of O Globo on the Mission Anchieta working in the Prelacy of Diamantino under the guidance of Bishop Henrique Froelich, S.J.:

At this time, communions, doctrinal instruction, and the collective Masses, had already ceased among the tribes. All religious instruction was set aside and the Indians were treated scientifically.

We discovered [one of the mission fathers speaks] that the religious principles of the Indians themselves were natural and that what is natural is from God. Therefore, in their way, with their ideas, their ceremonies, they loved God and thus there was no reason for us to change everything in their heads merely so that they might love God according to our way (Doc. 20).

Commentary

The “scientific” catechesis has surprises in store for anyone used to traditional catechesis!

24. Catechesis, What for?

From another report of O Globo on the Mission Anchieta in the Prelacy of Diamantino.

The Mission Anchieta became known for its avant-garde position on relations with the Indians. In 1969, after many studies and debates, its priests decided to abandon the catechization of the Indians, allowing them to keep their own culture.

We discovered that the Indians had a religion based on what is natural, spontaneous, and what is natural comes from God. It profited nothing to give them a civilized form of loving God if theirs was purer. (Doc 21)

Commentary

In the Catholic Church, baptized souls receive the supernatural life of grace and participate in the Mystical Body of Christ.

According to the text, all these treasures “profit nothing” since they constitute a “civilized form of loving God.” The religion of the Indians “which is natural” is also “purer.”

And this is all they need. Belittling thus the supernatural in relation to the natural, and the religion of Jesus Christ in relation to Indian paganism, evidently amounts to heresy and blasphemy.

25. Almost Hopeless Catechesis

Thomaz Aquino LisbôaLecture of Fr. Thomaz de Aquino Lisboa, Vice President of CIMI in the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, according to the Bulletin of CIMI:

Fr. Thomaz was heavily besieged by inquiries and questionings about his work of pure and simple living experience with a recently contacted tribe, and about his religious experience in the mythical world of the Indians. He said that his attitude bad been one of respect and observation without any intention in the near or intermediate future, of any catechesis:

“Perhaps one day, many years from now, the moment may come to reveal Christ to them. In truth, I don’t know if I will ever see this day.

“The Mass is good for us. For the Indians, the expression of this same religious impulse is manifested with a maraca painted with urucum.”

And he revealed that he himself had participated in this Munku liturgy. (Doc. 22, p. 11)

Commentary

Because of the foregoing, catechesis develops with almost hopeless delays; delays that did not exist with the resplendent actions of so many great missionaries.

The Catholic Church teaches that the Sacrifice of the Mass is the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary. The above text’s last paragraph appears to reduce it to the “expression” of a “religious impulse.” In this sense, “it is good for us.” That is, it expresses our impulses. But it can be perfectly substituted among the Indians by other ceremonies, since the “same religious impulse” that we express in the Mass, they express “dancing with a maraca painted with urucum.”

One could hardly be more offensive to the Holy Mass. Furthermore, if the “Munku liturgy” is equivalent to the Mass, what is the religious purpose of a Catholic mission?

26. “Without Any Intention of Catechizing”

Interview with Msgr, Tomás Balduíno, Bishop of Goiás and President of CIMI:

As we in CIMI see it, the Indian should be the author of his own future, and protagonist of his own struggle. It is not a question of doing for them but with them. And not as they want to do: to create programs geared for the Indian, in which he is the last to know. Or better: to manipulate the Indian as if he were a thing.

The strength of this ministry is that it comes from the roots. It is not science developed in the laboratories of paternalistic theologians, sociologists, and anthropologists, but it is being born from simple and unpretentious experience of some priests who opted for a different kind of life. Like the Little Sisters of Jesus who have lived twenty years with the Tapirapé Indians without any intention of catechizing, without wanting to build anything or set up a relief program. They want merely to live with the Indians on their level with the same agriculture, the same habitation, the same social life. Result: this is one of the few groups that acquired self-confidence, maintaining a perfect tribal relationship, recovering values lost through the influence of an entangling society, and now have a good relationship with the backwoodsmen of the neighborhood. This shows that if the Indian is respected by our laws and rules, he will know how to respect everyone … and be able to contribute solutions for our problems. (Doc. 18, p. 17)

Commentary

This text deals with the precise application of the thesis that the Indian is the bearer, just as Catholics – and more than many Catholics – of authentically Christian values. The Little Sisters of Jesus, living many years in tribal promiscuity, strove for nothing other than to make the Indians be themselves, and to follow their own pagan paths without any help from Revelation and grace.

27. Errors of the Missionaries: Teaching Shame For Nudity, the Use of Clothes, and the Rejection of Collective Life in the Village

Fray Betto Frei BettoSharing the views of neomissiology, Fray Betto, the Dominican sadly known for his part in the Marighela [Carlos Marighela, a former communist Congressman in Brazil, was considered by some to be the “father of international terrorism.” (“Subversion to the South Threatening the U.S.,” Crusade for a Christian Civilization, no. 3, 1980, pp. 13-14)] case and later sentenced to two years in prison by the Federal Supreme Court, wrote in his book Cartas da Prisão (Letters from Prison):

If within a few years there are no more Indians in Brazil, the Church will have to recognize Her guilt in this. In the past, our missionaries entered the jungles without preparation and contaminated the Indians with their European culture medium. They believed that to civilize was to teach the Indian to be ashamed of nudity and to use clothes, to reject the collective life of the village, to learn our languages, and to acquire our customs. Many missionaries opened the way for hawkers who exploited the Indian, buying his crafts and his woman with a bottle of liquor.

Under the pretext of spreading the Gospel, we contributed to the extermination of the race. We took death where there was life.

Rare are the missionaries who respected the culture of the Indian and did everything to preserve it. Rare are those who became Indians with the Indians. But fortunately they exist. (Doc. 23, p. 118)

Commentary

The pro-communist tendencies of neomissiology have already been shown. It is now necessary to list here the tendencies of the subversive friar supporting neomissiology.

A significant reciprocity…

Hostility for the missionaries of the past is flagrant in Fray Betto’s text.

28. The Traditional and Progressivist Catechist Faced With the Abominations and Crimes of the Savage

Fr. Eduardo HoornaertFrom a book published under the guidance of Fr. Eduardo Hoornaert, professor of the Recife Theological Institute:

What did this catechesis really mean? What was its true sense?

There is an interesting fact that happened in the village of Espírito Santo, in Recôncavo Baiano, in 1650, which sheds some light on the matter. In that year, Fr. Luiz da Gra convoked a meeting of the native chiefs and made them swear to four Christian pledges:

To have only one wife.

To remain sober.

Not to listen to witchdoctors.

Not to kill or eat human flesh.

In these four “commandments,” we see exactly, the process of subjecting “another” (the native) to oneself (the European colonizer), that characterizes colonial culture. Catechesis was an uninterrupted series of discourses whose object was to integrate the natives into colonial Christian society. The words dealt with God, salvation, heaven, sanctity, etc., but the meaning of the words dealt with integration. (Doc. 24, p. 336)

The most serious consequence of the identification of catechesis with indoctrination consists in the fact that catechesis is conceived as an active movement going from the colonizers towards the colonized. The colonizers do not discuss where they begin to catechize others, catechesis is not seen as a movement towards “another” [who is] completely different – and for this very reason mysterious and revealing of God, but as an integrating movement that encircles and subjects. This is the source of the repetitive, mechanical, passive and routine character that catechesis has had until our times, at least in the areas of religious subjugation, subjecting the “other” to “oneself.”

This type of catechesis does not establish a real communication, rather it impedes it. In 1555, Anchieta writes:

“Something we all here desire and beseech Our Lord is that this land become extensively populated with Christians to hold it subject, because these people are so indomitable and intent upon eating human flesh and so unwilling to accept superiors that whatever is planted will hold firm only with difficulty without this remedy, which the fathers and brothers here continually pray for.”

How can one establish human communication having these prejudices in mind? (Doc. 24, pp. 119-120)

Commentary

A radical difference between the methods of catechesis used in Brazil until, the eruption of progressivism and the methods that progressivism is introducing today, can be noted in both these evaluations of the book published under the guidance of Fr. Hoornaert.[1]

According to what has been done in the Church since apostolic times, the missionary must teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles: “Going, therefore, teach ye all nations … teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28, 18-19)

The zealous missionary must adapt the form of this instruction as much as possible to the psychology of the one being catechized and to the various peculiarities of the environment in which he lives. But the substance of the teaching is immutable. It was given by Jesus Christ, and no one will be able to alter it even until the end of time.

Doubtless, the reactions of those being catechized can vary from instant, profound, and heroic conversion all the way to aggression and even assassination of the catechist. Nevertheless, the substance of the teaching cannot be altered, and alteration means not only the introduction of elements foreign to it but the omission of aspects essential to the doctrine as well.

Concerning this point, the catechist serving as a spokesman for Jesus Christ, officially or not, is immovable together with the Divine Master, and he works to attract those catechized to Him. Such a task might seem impossible, and really would be without the help of grace. But the grace is never lacking. It is up to man to accept it or reject it.

The catechetical methods of Anchieta and Fr. Luis da Gra are the conversion of these principles into act. Confronted with the abominations and aberrations of the unfortunate savages, they did not conceal what is contrary to Catholic morality, and they formally asked the Indians to abandon their vices.

It is clear that such coherence and firmness of principles cannot coexist with the progressivist mentality. Thus it is not surprising that Fr. Hoornaert and his crew made the objections cited above.

 

[1] The unjust position taken by Fr. Hoornaert against the traditional missionaries was also censured by Fr. Sellitti. (Cf. O Lutador, Belo Horizonte, 9/4/1977).

29. The Church: Accomplice of Colonialism Until John XXIII

Statements of Msgr. Tomás Balduíno Bishop of Goiás and President of CIMI:

We must beat our breasts in mea culpa because for a long time, at [least] until John XXIII, the Church mostly served colonialism, ignoring the principles that She now defends. But those missions were substitutes of their time. Today we are taking a new course, from ethnocentrism to respect. (Doc. 25)

Commentary

The Bishop of Goiás Velho affirms his incomprehension of the missionary tradition of the Church with some hostility: for four hundred years, that is “at [least] until John XXIII, the Church mostly served colonialism,” obviously tarnishing Her mission.

From the outset, Bishop Balduíno’s criticism is limited to the action of the Church in Brazil, from the discovery “at [least] until John XXIII.” But he cannot ignore the fact that the Church used the same missionary methods throughout the world. His criticism cannot fail to wound the Catholic Church deeply, the Church which it is incumbent upon him to defend.

It is difficult to comprehend how such criticism does not touch upon the doctrinal authority and sanctity of the Church seen as a whole.

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