The Church evangelizes by civilizing and civilizes by evangelizing.
In the Church’s two-thousand-year existence, the divine commandment “go ye and teach all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19) has always borne fruit also in the temporal sphere. While spreading the Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church gradually gave rise to the true civilization: Christian Civilization. The spiritual action of the Church was also eminently civilizing wherever it made itself felt.
At the very moment when Christianity conquered Germany through Saint Boniface by bringing the Light of Christ, it also penetrated the virgin forests in the German territories of the Greco-Roman civilization. What Saint Boniface did in Germany, countless missionaries did in all Western nations. In the early centuries of the Middle Ages, they traveled through every corner of Europe as humble heralds of Truth.
This epic spread to other parts of the earth, especially to Latin America, the evangelization of which Pope Pius XII defined as “the greatest epic of the Faith after the foundation of the Church.” The missionary work of Spain and Portugal in the New World brought millions of souls and an entire continent to the fold of Christ, producing fruits of marked sanctity and giving life to a splendid civilization, a daughter of the European one.
Heaven sealed, so to speak, this epic apostolate with the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in 1531. Presenting herself as a mestizo woman adorned with indigenous features, the Mother of God blessed the religious-cultural work of the missionaries in the New World.
Nevertheless, the promoters of the Pan Amazon Synod, to be held in Rome this October under the aegis of Pope Francis, deny both of these elements of the pastoral care of the Church. According to them, the Church must neither catechize nor civilize the Amazon Indians. Instead, she must learn from them the true Faith and “good living.”
According to the promoters of the Synod, the Indians, instead of dogmatic definitions and established rituals, have kept the living memory of a primitive Revelation inherent in nature and accessible through “communion with nature and with the various spiritual forces,”. Moreover, the Indians are the ones supposed to teach us the “good living” that should replace our industrial and consumerist civilization. They call this an “ecological conversion.”
The promoters of the Synod are, therefore, upending two thousand years of the pastoral work of the Church and dumping the Magisterium of so many Popes who supported and blessed the evangelizing work in the Americas. They are also despising the work of numerous saints who spent their lives and sometimes even shed their blood to bring the Light of Christ to the most remote places. For them, there is no “mercy,” but only the terrible accusation of “cultural imperialism.”
This extremism, however, ended up by causing strong reactions from the faithful, and especially from the Amazon populations. The Brazilian bishops have had to denounce a “witch hunt” that seeks to “demonize” the promoters of the Synod. No “hunting” is taking place here, but simply the voice of the faithful, which they obstinately refuse to listen.
Recently, young men from the Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute in Brazil, and Tradición y Acción of Peru have gone on an “Amazon caravan” collecting signatures on a petition to the promoters of the Synod. Their success has gone beyond the best expectations.
Will the Synod’s promoters listen to the true voice of the Amazon people this time? Or will they continue trying to impose ideological schemes of dubious origin and harmful consequences?