Amazon, a Talismanic 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).
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.”
The Work of Missionaries
In the mid-sixteenth century, Portuguese missionaries went forward into this green hell with faith and courage. According to testimonies of the time, they advanced with a breviary under the left arm and a cross in the right hand, with no resources but those that Divine Providence provided along the way. They traveled accompanied by Christians whom they had converted and who served as interpreters and helped open up a path through the forest with axes in hand, advancing across rivers with water up to their belts. These enterprises exceeded human strength and would not have been possible without the support of a divine force.
What drove these missionaries? They were not looking for gold or precious stones. They were thirsty for souls, fulfilling the mandate of Our Lord to the Apostles: “Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16).
They did not impose the faith with weapons, but were protected by those of the conquistadors, who placed their swords at the service of the cross by defending missionaries from the attacks of natives and helping them build churches, schools, and villages. Note that a mission is not a generic work of apostolate to save individual souls but rather social work ad gentes to sanctify peoples and places through plantatio Ecclesiae, the social and institutional establishing of the Church. The Church has a civilizing mission because it has the duty to “re-establish all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10). Christ begins to be established in souls through Baptism. Now we read that the Most Rev. Erwin Kräutler, Bishop emeritus of Xingu, in Brazil, one of the architects of this Synod, has stated: “I have never baptized an Indian and will not do it in the future.” Nor does the Instrumentum laboris on the Amazon contains any reference to what John Paul II called a grandiose missionary epic.
Who Were These Natives?
The missionaries did not believe in the evolutionary fable that men came from apes and appeared simultaneously in different parts of the world thanks to an evolutionary process. They knew that men came from the same couple, Adam and Eve, who transmitted Original Sin and its consequences to all of their descendants. When did the natives arrive in these lands so faraway from Europe, and by what means?
These questions still have no certain answers. What is certain is that these peoples had been in America for many centuries. They came by crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans but made no progress over centuries, as if a curse weighed on them. The great Spanish thinker Juan Donoso Cortés writes: “All savage peoples currently wandering about the world were previously civilized, but the light of civilization darkened before their eyes because their spirit became enslaved to vile abominations. Their barbarism is not primitive but acquired.”
These populations had not known any progress during the thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire, whereas Europe saw the development of a civilization that Christianity had raised to the supernatural level. The natives did not know the wheel, the plow, or the alphabet. They practiced cannibalism, infanticide, and human sacrifices. The most advanced like the Mayans and Aztecs were also the most corrupt and worshiped the devil in the form of idols.
Friar Toribio de Benavente, who died in 1569 in Mexico City after baptizing 4,000,000 Indians, says “that the demons were served and honored … in all the temples of the idols.” The great historian of the Mexican Church, Father Mariano Cuevas, argues that, “the minimum number of human sacrifices made in the New Spain amounted to one hundred thousand innocents per year.” This picture is so terrifying as to lead an Argentine scholar, Prof. Alberto Caturelli, to speak of religions “of horror, blood and anthropophagy.”
The most primitive peoples of South America – Amazon tribes — lived in promiscuity without recognizing any religious or social authority. The Tupinambas, for example, one of the most important groups in Brazil, walked around naked, adorned with multicolored feathers, faces and bodies painted red and black. They practiced polygamy, continually fought and killed each other, and ate human flesh. Father Antonio Rodriguez, in a letter of May 31, 1555 to the Jesuits of Coimbra calls them “great eaters of men,” adding that they asked to eat human flesh as a form of consolation at the time of death.
The first concern of the missionaries in Brazil was precisely to fight cannibalism. In a letter from Pernambuco of August 11, 1551 to his father Simon Rodriguez in Lisbon, Father Manuel da Nobrega writes, “The gentiles who seemed to place their bliss in killing opponents, eating human flesh, and having many women are amending themselves greatly, and our whole work consists of separating them from those things.”
On September 1, 1554, Saint Joseph of Anchieta wrote from Brazil a long letter to Saint Ignatius Loyola in which, after describing the natives’ customs, the Jesuit missionary writes, “They are so barbarous and untamed that they seem closer in nature to beasts than to men” – “Sunt ita barbari et indomiti, ut ad ferarum magis quam ad hominun naturam accedere videantur.”
Father Anchieta began his apostolate with the indigenous Tamuyas, who refused to listen to his words and told him they had set a day to eat him during a solemn banquet. Anchieta told them his time had not yet come. Instead of running away, he remained in the tribe to prove to the Indians that not even death would prevent him from announcing his God. Although the Tamuyas were ferocious savages, his courage impressed them so much that they gave up their project and listened to his preaching.
Things did not turn out so well for the Augustinian Friar Diego Ortiz. In vain did the natives try with flattery and threats to convince him to worship the Sun. For three days, they put him through most cruel torments and then impaled him, as was their custom, with a pointed stick that crossed his whole body and came out of his skull, splitting it. His death took place between May and July 1571. He is the first martyr of Peru.
The Instrumentum laboris repeatedly states that we must listen to the pre-Christian, “ancestral wisdom” of Amazonian peoples because it is “a living reserve of indigenous spirituality and culture” (no. 26). One of its suggestions is to “Thank the native peoples for their care of the territory through time and recognize in this the ancestral wisdom that forms the basis for a good understanding of integral ecology” (no. 104).
Origins of Indigenism
In the same years of the evangelization of America, a growing rejection began to develop in Europe for the Christian civilization which the missionaries were taking to the savages along with the true faith.
From the end of the seventeenth century, which Paul Hazard described as the era of the “crisis of European consciousness,” was born the legend of the “noble savage,” supposedly better and happier than his civilized counterparts.
Rousseau’s thesis is well known: man is born good but society corrupts him. If man is good and society is bad, society must be eliminated to allow man to return to the primitive state of nature. In those same years, Étienne-Gabriel Morelly, in his Code de la Nature (1755) compares American savages who live in promiscuity and ignore the distinction between ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ to Western peoples, who disobeyed Nature by inventing individual property, the mother of all evils.
These ideas are proposed once again during the French Revolution by the ultra-Jacobin Gracchus Babeuf and Filippo Buonarroti, authors of The Conspiracy of Equals. They are the fathers of nineteenth-century socialists and anarchists who fought for an egalitarian society without God or masters, family or private property. Later, Marx and Lenin formulated the ‘scientific’ version of this egalitarian utopia. The “classless society” is none other than the abolition of all property and all law.
If in Europe, the main disciple of Marx and Lenin was Antonio Gramsci; in Latin America, it was José Carlos Mariátegui (deceased in 1930), “the first and greatest Marxist Latin America has created.” Mariátegui’s cultural formation took place in Europe and especially Italy, where he participated in the socialist congresses of Bologna (1919) and Livorno (1921), from which the Communist Party emerged. Just as Gramsci had tried to formulate an “Italian” and “European” way to communism, Mariatégui, back in Peru, sought to establish a “Peruvian” and “Indo-American” route for Latin America based on the “conscientization” of Indians by the “revolutionary vanguard.”
Revolutionary indigenism has belonged to the tradition of international Marxism ever since. The British scholar Walter Kolarz remembers how, since the 1920s, the world communist movement used Latin America’s “indigenous,” Negroes, mulattos, Indians and mestizos as “sociological and political raw material to promote the rise of Latin Communist parties to power.”
Vatican Council II
The Second Vatican Council and the subsequent 1968 Sorbonne Revolution marked a turning point in the revolutionary strategy to conquer the West. Communism found a valuable ally in that part of the Catholic Church that fought at the Council to prevent its condemnation. Without foreseeing its failure, churchmen fascinated by communism found its most effective expression in Latin American Liberation Theology, the leading exponents of which are Gustavo Gutiérrez and Leonardo Boff, still living. Gutiérrez defended all his positions at a conference on October 2 at the Jesuit Generalate. Boff boasted that he was one of Laudato Sì‘s consultants, and his influence in the Instrumentum laboris is evident.
Liberation theologians looked to the Soviet Union as a model. However, Soviet communism did not achieve a classless society but its opposite, the most oppressive political regime in history. With Gorbachev’s perestroika, a new project was established. The centralizing and bureaucratic regime applied in the USSR and its satellite countries was guilty of betraying “the cause of man’s liberation,” that is, the anarchic goal of socialism. Postmodern communism was supposedly freed from the Leninist dictatorship of the proletariat without renouncing its egalitarian dream.
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira predicted this metamorphosis. In the appendix to the 1977 Italian edition of Revolution and Counter-Revolution, he described the birth of a Fourth Revolution characterized by the dissolution of the State – the political form of society — parallel to the dissolution of reason, the sovereign faculty of the human soul. The Brazilian thinker called it a “tribal revolution.” On the one hand, it “will necessarily be the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a result of a new crisis. Pressured by this crisis, the hypertrophic state will be victim of its own hypertrophy.” On the other hand, it must also be the collapse of reason, “formerly hypertrophied by free interpretation of the Scriptures, Cartesianism, and other causes, divinized by the French Revolution, used to the point of the most unabashed abuse in every communist school of thought,” and now, finally, atrophied and replaced by the “savage thought” of structuralists.
Still in 1977, Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira published the book, Indigenous Tribalism, the Communist-Missionary Ideal for Brazil in the Twenty-First Century denouncing the new Latin American missiology, which renounced converting people and proclaimed, if possible, a return to the savage society of ancient Native American tribes. Neo-missionaries presented those tribes as models of “solidarity” and life integrated in nature; in a word, tribal collectivism.
In his 1974 book, La société contre l’état, Pierre Clastres, a disciple of Claude Levi-Strauss analyzes the nature of power in stateless societies of the Amazon. He writes that primitive peoples such as the Guarani and Yanomami are “stateless societies” and “societies that refuse to work.” For Clastres, the Amazon savages are superior to the Indians of the Inca Empire because they do not work and their production activity is limited to satisfying their needs.
Note that even today the Yanomami practice infanticide and ritual cannibalism. In a sacred collective funeral ritual, they burn the corpse of a dead relative and eat the ashes of his bones in the belief that his vital energy resides in the bones of the deceased, who is thus reintegrated into the family group.
Environmentalism, a Postmodern Religion
In those same years, after its political failure, Marxist dialectical materialism embraced the ecological stance seeking to extend the democratic and egalitarian principle from humans to the whole universe. The “ecological society” is in fact an “anarchic” society in the strict sense of the term because it intends to eliminate the primacy of man over nature to achieve anarchist “democracy” in the biosphere. Man must descend from his throne as “king of creation” and place himself on a level of absolute equality with the nature that surrounds him. As I described in a book of mine published in 1990, the dream of construction that inaugurated the twentieth century turned into the “dream of destruction” of “chaos theorists.” As French sociologist Edgar Morin (one of the masters of Italian premier Giuseppe Conte) announced, “Disorder now claims its place. Every theory must now bear the mark of disorder and make the maximum space for disorder, which has become a full-fledged cosmic principle, and an immanent physical principle.”
The new scientific cosmology, disseminated by authors such as Fritjof Capra, sees the universe as a “network” of interactions in which each individual and every reality are destined to dissolve and merge. It is a cosmological vision that dissolves the idea of nature and immutable essences, replacing it with that of “relationship” as an interconnection of all living and non-living elements of nature. The ego merges into the environment and becomes, so to speak, a part of the landscape or the landscape itself.
The writer Michael Crichton has aptly said that, “environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.” Today, the powerful of the earth profess the “Religion of Global Warming,” the prophetess of which is Greta Thunberg, in its temple – the United Nations. But it is also upheld by the ecotheologians gathering at the Vatican, who are the heirs of Liberation Theology.
Liberation Theology and Ecology
In a book published in 1995 titled, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, Leonardo Boff explained that, “The theology of liberation must incorporate the new cosmology of the ecological discourse, that is, the vision of the Earth as a living superorganism articulated with the whole universe.”
The socio-political framework for this integral liberation is provided by an “enlarged” socio-cosmic democracy that includes elements of nature such as mountains, plants, waters, animals, atmosphere and landscapes, all of which participate in human conviviality as new citizens, while human beings participate in the common cosmic life. “Only then,” he says, “will there be ecological justice and peace on planet earth.” 
These theses emerge in the Synod’s Instrumentum laboris, which reads: “The life of Amazon communities not yet influenced by Western civilization is reflected in the beliefs and rites regarding the actions of spirits, of the many-named divinity acting with and in the territory, with and in relation to nature. This worldview is captured in the ‘mantra’ of Francis: “everything is connected” (LS 16, 91, 117, 138, 240)” (No. 25).
‘Everything is interconnected’ means that nothing is distinct; everything forms a unity that includes heaven and earth, rocks, stones, animals and men; nothing transcends this whole because all things, interconnected among themselves, encompass God, form Goddess Earth, the divinity the natives have always worshiped.
Similarly, Leonardo Boff invites us to listen to the “permanent message” and “ancestral wisdom” of indigenous peoples. According to him, “the aboriginal peoples, like the Yanomami, Apocuva-guaranì and Bororo of Brazil, the Cuna of Panama, or Sioux populations of the United States, and many others, show themselves much more civilized than us, presenting a human being inserted into a more comprehensive universe and a more harmonious penetration in the archetypal forces of the collective unconscious than all our contemporary ways of individuation.”
In the Amazon forests, Boff explains, “The human being feels immersed in the world of gods and ancestors, who live with them in another dimension accessible through dreams, feasts, and ritual drugs.” In this animistic perspective, “…The tree is not just a tree closed in itself. It is a being with many arms and thousands of tongues (branches and leaves), sleeping in winter, smiling in spring, generous mother in summer, and austere old woman in autumn. It is God who makes himself present in all these manifestations.”
Is this the cosmology that the Synod architects are inviting us to follow when they speak, in the Instrumentum laboris, of “ancestral experience, cosmologies, spiritualities and theologies of the indigenous peoples” (no. 50)?
That pseudo-wisdom is certainly the one that horrified the early missionaries, because the ones adored as spirits of the earth, trees and waters, were demons.
The old theories of panpsychism, monism, animism and fetishism are back. In a word, it is idolatry, which denies not only the first article of the Creed but also the first commandment of the natural law, according to which there is only one God, creator of heaven and earth. The Amazon religion deforms the attributes of God and denies His transcendence by including Him in nature as do the pantheistic, panenteist, and monist philosophies; like pagan polytheism, it also denies His uniqueness.
The Amazonian religion is a polytheistic religion in which the concept of God applies to a plurality of improper subjects through the personification of individual parts of nature. Its religious model is the one that Boff indicates when he exalts paganism, “with his rich pantheon of divinities populating all the spaces of nature.”…“However we may want to interpret it, we must recognize that the pagans had this extraordinary feature: they saw the presence of gods and goddesses in all things. In the woods of Pan and Sylvan, in the Terra Gaia Demetra (Mother Earth) or Ceres, in Apollo the Sun, and Phoebus, and so on.”
The Cult of the Forest and Tribalism
Environmentalism is a cosmology that has nothing to do with respect for nature. Perhaps some radical chic thinks that saving the forest is useful to protect the tranquility of one’s weekend in the countryside. In reality, the hatred that ecologists have for the countryside is even greater than the one they have for cities. Their ideal is not the countryside because it is cultivated by man – in other words, it is tampered with. Their ideal is a return to the forest, the environment most directly antithetical to everything that can somehow recall civilization.
The forest is the denial par excellence of civilization because man lives there in the state of nature, in symbiosis with nature, which he does not dominate but to which he submits. But the forest is also the theological-physical habitat of evil spirits that make it their kingdom.
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.
Christian Civilization, the Reign of Unity and Diversity
This is the crossroads we face. We are countering the cultural paradigm of the Amazon with the cultural paradigm of Christian civilization, and an Amazonian-faced Church with the face of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.
As in Lepanto and Vienna, we are fighting to defend our faith and civilization, intimately linked to each other. In Lepanto and in Vienna the aggressors were external; today our enemies are mainly internal: the Pastors are those handing to the wolves the flock entrusted to them.
We are simple laypeople with no right to teach Church doctrine because that authority belongs only to the Pope and bishops. However, we do have the right and indeed the duty to defend the doctrine we have been taught and the civilization we have received from our Fathers.
Our enemies are not proposing a different and better civilization than the one built before us, but rather an anti-civilization, a “dis-society,” as the French philosopher Marcel De Corte called it: dissociation modeled after savage tribalism.
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).
-  Antoine Caillot, Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, écrites des missions étrangères, Bruno Labbe, Paris 1855, pp.209-210.
 Ibid, p. 211.
 “This is a great epic … I cannot deny the great pain I feel as I become aware that some, including those who should see them as models, have tried to denigrate them according to a distorted vision, more political and ideological than religious” (John Paul II, Speech to the Indians of Cuiabá in Amazonia, October 16, 1991).
 Juan Donoso Cortés (1809-1853), Filosofia de la Historia, in Idem, Obras completas, BAC, Madrid 1970, vol. I, pp. 648-649.
 Cit. in Nelson Fragelli, “La cristianizzazione delle Americhe: un’epopea della fede,” Famiglia e Civiltà, Verona 1992.
 Mariano Cuevas (1879-1949), Historia de la nacion mexicana, Porrua, Mexico 1967, p. 70
 Cit. in Alberto Caturelli (1927-2016), Il Nuovo mondo riscoperto, Ares, Milan 1992, p. 201.
 Serafim Leite sj, Monumenta Brasiliae, Monumenta Historica Societatis Jesu, Roma 1956, vol. I, p. 47°.
 Ibid, p. 185.
 Padre Manuel Nobrega (1517-1570), Lettera dell’11 agosto 1551, in Monumenta Brasiliae, vol. I, p. 267.
 S. José Anchieta (1534-1597), Letter of September 1, 1554, Ibid, vol. II, pp. 85-118
 Ibid, p. 114,
 Paul Hazard, La crise de la conscience européenne, Boivin, Paris 1935, vol. II, pp. 16-18.
 Cf. among others: René Gonnard, La légende du bon sauvage. Contribution à l’étude des origines du socialisme, Librairie de Médicis, Paris 1946; Giuseppe Cocchiara, L’eterno selvaggio. Presenza e influsso del mondo primitivo nella cultura moderna, Il Saggiatore, Milano 1961; Lionello Sozzi, Immagini del Selvaggio. Mito e realtà del primitivismo europeo Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Roma 2002.
 Étienne-Gabriel Morelly (1717-1778), Code de la nature, édition critique par Stéphanie Roza, Paris, La ville brûle, 2011.
 Alberto Saladino García, Indigenismo y marxismo en América Latina, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Toluca 1983, p. 141.
 Harry E, Vanden, Mariátegui, influencias en su formación ideológica, Biblioteca Amauta, Lima 1975.
 Saladino García, Indigenismo, p. 125.
 Walter Kolarz (1912-1962), Comunismo e colonialismo, Dominus, São Paulo 1965, p. 99.
 Julio Loredo, Teologia della liberazione. Un salvagente di piombo per i poveri, Cantagalli, Siena 2014.
 M. Gorbachev, Perestrojka. Il nuovo pensiero per il nostro paese e per il mondo, tr. it. Mondadori, Milano 1987, pp. 24-26.
 Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (1908-1995), “The Aborning Fourth Revolution,” in Id., Revolution and Counter-Revolution @ https://www.tfp.org/revolution-and-counter-revolution/.
 Ibid, p. 190.
 Ibid, p. 191.
 Cf. Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009), La pensée sauvage, Plon, Paris 1962, p. 326.
 Indigenous Tribalism, the Communist-Missionary Ideal for Brazil in the Twenty-First Century, https://www.tfp.org/indian-tribalism-the-communist-missionary-ideal-for-brazil-in-the-twenty-first-century/.
 Pierre Clastres (1934-1977), La société contre l’état, Les éditions de Minuit, Paris 1974, p. 161.
 Ibid, p. 167.
 Ibid, pp, 168-169.
 Roberto de Mattei, 1900-2000. Due sogni si succedono: la costruzione, la distruzione, Edizioni Fiducia, Roma 1990.
 Edgar Morin, Il metodo, Feltrtinelli, Milan 1987, p. 97.
 Fritj of Capra, The turning point, Simon and Schuster, New York 1982.
 “Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists” (Michael Crichton, Remarks to the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, September 15, 2003)
 Boff, Grido della terra e grido dei poveri, tr. it., Cittadella, Assisi 1996, p. 198.
 Ibid, p. 198.
 Ibid, p. 216.
 Ibid, pp. 111-112.
 Ibid, p. 223.
 Ibid, pp. 223-224:
 Arthur Preuss, God: His Knowability, Essence and Attributes. A dogmatic treatise, Herder, London 1921, pp. 219-220
 Boff, Grido della terra e grido dei poveri, pp. 353,355.
 Marcel De Corte, De la dissociété, Editions Remi Perrin, Paris 2002.