The Amazon Synod is causing irritation and perplexity in countless Catholics, as can be seen in the reaction to the initial working document (Instrumentum laboris), a sort of green proclamation tinged with clear sympathies for the (pagan) habits of Amazonian peoples.
The malaise increased with the publication of the list of Synod participants, which includes some of the most radical exponents of Liberation Theology, Indigenous Theology, and Ecotheology, all of which propose a new orientation in which the Church clearly abandons elements of her Tradition and Magisterium. Then we saw how, from the beginning of the Synod that resulted in holding pagan practices and making heterodox statements by event participants here and there, in briefings and conversations with journalists of the Vatican Press Office.
How was it possible for us to arrive at this situation? What is happening in certain sectors of the Catholic Church?
Hans Küng, the Starting Point
In his book Seven Popes (2015), theologian Hans Küng describes what he considers to be the fundamental evil of the Catholic Church: the establishment in the Vatican of an efficient apparatus under the pontificate of Innocent III (Pope from 1198 to 1216), that is, the Roman Curia. With different nuances, Catholic progressives almost unanimously claim that, at that time, the Church became a bureaucratic apparatus that stifled the spirit. Since then, they claim, sincere and pure faith was no longer at the center but was replaced by canon law, documents of the Magisterium, the Popes’ greed for power, and the ecclesiastical administration.
This caricature emerges only in the minds of those for whom the Church does not exist as an institution of a supernatural character whose life is permanently supported by divine grace. From there, they conclude that the real life of the Church could have been completely different, as if Divine Providence had not played a role in her history or had completely abandoned her on erroneous paths. Today’s progressivists despise the history of the Church as it was, advocating a change of direction.
There are two ways of looking at this claim: the European and the South American.
The European Vision of Cardinal Marx et alia
As we know, European progressives aspire to adapt the Church to the spirit of the times, to which they attributed a sort of “revealed” authority on how faith should be lived today. Thus, the barriers to the dominant theses today fall one after the next, and these theses become accepted and theologically justified: the Church must be democratized, sexual morality must adapt to the habits of ordinary people, feminism must be imposed on all levels in the Church, and ecology must be her main concern.
Tradition, Church history, the ecclesiastical Magisterium, dogmas, and popular piety are seen as a ballast doomed to be discarded sooner or later. The Church should continually reinvent herself in the theological, moral, and liturgical domains and her daily practice.
The Latin American "Liberationist" Vision of Cardinal Hummes et alia
In South America, progressivists have taken a different path, strongly influenced by Marxism: the so-called “Liberation Theology,” which adopts class struggle in society and the Church, following the classic paradigm of an “oppressed class” struggling against an “oppressive class.”
Since the Catholic faith knows no “classes,” the Holy See often censored Liberation Theology, and particularly in the 1984 Instruction Libertatis Nuntius, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But Liberation Theology survived in the minds of many theologians, and after 1989, it produced some amazing metastases: “feminist theology,” “ecological theology,” “Indigenous theology.” Always at the base of these “theologies” is the fundamental Marxist thesis that a ruling class oppresses and exploits a majority of people.
From the standpoint of the cultural revolution, “Indigenous Theology” is the most radical one. It posits that the Church’s civilizing and evangelizing action in Latin America was an act of oppression because it imposed a European vision of the world on the natives and because it changed their religious practices, now considered legitimate and good. So one could say that the Aboriginal peoples have been culturally and religiously oppressed for 500 years.
A European version of this thesis would say, as indeed happened in the case of the Nazi ideologue Rosenberg, that Christianity stripped Germanic peoples of their link with nature and the cult they professed to Mother Earth and other deities.
The link between Progressive Currents and the Silent Majority of the Episcopate
What is the link between these two paths of the progressive offensive? Apparently, these two positions are different. But looking more carefully, we see a profound relationship in the rejection of Tradition and the Magisterium, in the idea that the practice of faith needs neither the Roman Curia nor canon law, and not even hierarchy, since everyone in the Church should be equal. In this Synod, we could see the underlying harmony of the activities carried out by these two progressive currents, exactly like the modernists of old times. Their differences are more appearance than reality, as both converge into a single great movement of self-demolition of the Church, which they derogatorily call “Constantinian church.”
What do the majority of bishops think?
The currents mentioned above are radical, but do not represent a majority within the Church. Most bishops try to survive half-way between respect for Tradition and adaptation to modernity. However, due to the general crisis the Church is experiencing, with the flight of the faithful, the lack of priestly vocations, accusations of psychological and sexual abuse all over the world, with few exceptions that majority feels weak and dares not confront the radical minority of progressives, who feel powerful and with authority to dictate the rules of the game.
A New Element: Cohesion Is Broken
This situation is not very different from the one created at the time of the Second Vatican Council. Some want to change everything, others just a few things. The novelty today is that these two sectors seem to live on separate islands. In Germany, for example, the cohesion that was still visible at the time when the most prominent figure of the episcopate was Cardinal Lehman, today is out of sight. Now every sector is on its own.
One result of this situation is that the radicals, who care little about Tradition and Magisterium, are definitely raising the bar with their claims and acting increasingly in the open. An example of this is the veneration of Pachamama in the Vatican gardens, then carried in procession to a nearby temple and placed at the foot of an altar in a highly visible place where the faithful constantly come and go. This is blatant spiritual aggression to all those familiar with Andean idolatry of Pachamama (which, moreover, is not Amazonian!).
Thus, the consensus in the Church on what is and is not Catholic is disappearing. Union bonds are no more, and centrifugal forces seem to have been unleashed. Meanwhile, many voices, beginning with the Pope himself, are openly talking about possible schisms – something unthinkable a while ago.
The simple fact that some bishops already think aloud about female priesthood (like Most Rev. Peter Kohlgraf, Bishop of Mainz), says a lot about how critical the situation is. While this is happening in Germany, in Latin America, the ideological cousins of Bishop Kohlgraf claim, among other things, that the Church must apologize for evangelizing the Indians. They claim these were baptized by God much earlier and lived in heavenly bliss until the West arrived and destroyed their “good living.”
In other words, Christ is not the only Savior of mankind. As authoritative cardinals reported, we are facing something that is not only heretical but also apostate, a clear departure from Christianity.
To conclude, neo-modernist progressives turned the Amazon Synod into a make or break gamble: It is now or never, let us move full speed ahead. This maximalism is yet another link between Latin American and European progressives.
What to do?
The Church is moving toward anarchy at a fast pace. Faced with this picture, the Catholic faithful must make sure that their faith remains firm and robust in the storm, mainly through the great means of prayer, the sacraments, and delving deeper into Catholic truths. They must recite the Creed attentively, thoughtfully, and piously.
Then, with resolution and vigor, they must renew their fidelity to the Church by firmly adhering to the belief that “the gates of hell will not prevail against her,” as Our Lord Jesus Christ promised (cf. Matt 16:18).
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