As the date for the Pan-Amazon Synod called by Pope Francis for next October draws nearer, concern among the Catholic faithful is increasing..
For example, the government of President Jair Bolsonaro has manifested concern over what it deems an unwelcome interference by the Church in Brazil’s internal affairs. “We are worried and will try to clarify things,” said Gen. Augusto Heleno, minister in charge of institutional security. He fears that the extreme left will use the Synod to promote the indigenist agenda, which opposes any development in the Amazon region. He also fears the weakening of Brazilian sovereignty over the Amazon region.
In fact, for many years now a movement has been working to take away the sovereignty of individual countries over the region on the pretext of turning the Amazon into a natural reserve, a ‘heritage of humanity’. Although it would be officially run by the United Nations, in reality it would be controlled by non-governmental organizations (NGO) usually identified with the extreme left. “Our national sovereignty is at stake,” Heleno said, “We cannot allow foreign NGOs to decide our policy in the Amazon. Brazil does not interfere in the management of the Ardennes nor of the Sahara or the Alaskan glaciers. Each country is sovereign in managing its own territory.”
The idea of declaring the Amazon a “supranational territory” seems to have at least a tacit support from the Vatican.
Indeed, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, received the ecologist leader Martin von Hildebrand at the Vatican. Hildebrand is the architect of the “Anaconda Corridor” or “AAA Corridor” project, which would create a huge corridor along the Amazon River basin from the Atlantic to the Andes, prying it away from the sovereignty of the local countries and placing it under UN control. In this immense territory, political and administrative power would be given to local indigenous communities, which in turn are controlled by Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica), an organization of the indigenous left.
Still more worrying are the potential theological and ecclesiological implications of the Pan-Amazon Synod.
In fact, the so-called “indigenous current,” which seeks to overthrow the work of evangelization carried out by the Church over the centuries, is growing more and more dominant. “Before we brought a message to the Indians to become like us,” Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto explains. “Now we have realized that it is we who have to learn from them. They are not the ones to be converted, but us. We must learn from indigenous communities to live in harmony with everyone, we must learn from them to live in harmony with the transcendental.” Cardinal Barreto is vice president of REPAM (Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network).
It is not surprising, therefore, that the liberation theology movement, always searching for potentially revolutionary opportunities, has come out en masse in favor of the Pan-Amazon Synod. Many recent writings about on “indigenous theology of liberation” cast the Amazon Indians as the new proletarians who must overthrow the established order.
Authoritative scientists (real ecologists, not those who transform ecology into ideology) are also concerned about this movement.
Dr. Evaristo Miranda, head of Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), probably the greatest expert on the Amazon region, is very clear: “Environmentalists have not understood the concept of sustainable development. They have a dangerous tendency to deal with the problem in apocalyptic tones. They only foresee environmental catastrophes without caring for the data coming from scientific research.” Miranda is particularly worried about the so-called Anaconda Corridor, which would practically freeze development in the Amazon region of Brazil.
The Pan-Amazon Synod also risks upsetting ecclesiastical discipline. On the pretext of a lack of priests, progressives are raising the possibility of ordaining married men, which in practice would nullify priestly celibacy. After a timid “no” to this idea, Pope Francis now says “maybe”. Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a former prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy and now in charge of the Brazilian Amazon Synod, admits that it will discuss the canceling the obligation of celibacy for the Amazon clergy. On the pretext of supplying the chronic lack of clergy, Cardinal Hummes has also left open the possibility of women deacons, admitting however that it is “still is a remote possibility.”
This whole panorama is taking the contours of a real revolution that will entail serious ecclesial, theological, cultural, social and political consequences.