Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, rejects without appeal the Instrumentum Laboris of the Amazon Synod: “It comes from an ideological vision that has nothing to do with Catholicism.” “They treat our Creed as if it were a European opinion of ours, but the Creed is the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, who lives in the Church. There are no other creeds.” “We must absolutely reject expressions such as “ecological conversion”. There is only conversion to the Lord, and as a consequence there is also the good of nature.” “The sacraments are not rituals that we like and the priesthood is not a sociological category.” “The Revelation of God in Christ becomes present in the sacraments, and the Church has no authority to change the substance of the sacraments.”
“The Amazon Synod is a pretext to change the Church, and the fact that it is being held in Rome is intended to underline the beginning of a new church.” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, does not mince words to judge what is happening in preparation for the Amazon Synod that will be held next October in the Vatican. From his home a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Square, he has scrutinized what is happening and has agreed to analyse with us the Instrumentum Laboris, the document that will serve as the basis for discussions during the Synod and is the source of many controversies so that our daily blog has asked that it be rejected by the synod fathers (click here):
“It is only a working document that has no magisterial value – said Cardinal Müller – so only ignorant people can say that those who criticize it are enemies of the Pope. Unfortunately, this is their trick to avoid any critical dialogue. If you try to make an objection you are immediately labeled as an enemy of the Pope.” This clarification is more than appropriate because the text of the Instrumentum Laboris describes the Amazon and the peoples who inhabit it as a model for all humanity, an example of harmony with nature, and as a perfect synthesis of what is meant by integral ecology. This document presents an idyllic picture of the Amazon, including indigenous religions, to the point of rendering Christianity useless, if not for the “political” support it can give to keep these ‘unspoiled’ peoples and defend them from predators seeking to bring development and “steal” resources.
Eminence, you say, “they want to change the Church”, but what are the clear signs of this design?
The Instrumentum Laboris’ approach is an ideological vision that has nothing to do with Christianity. They want to save the world according to their own idea, perhaps using some elements of Scripture. Not surprisingly, although we are talking about Revelation, Creation, the Sacraments, and relations with the world, it makes almost no reference to the texts of the Second Vatican Council which define these aspects: Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et Spes. It does not mention the root of human dignity, the universality of salvation, the Church as the sacrament of salvation. There are only profane ideas, which can also be discussed but have nothing to do with Revelation.
In this regard, to me it seems important to mention the no. 39 of the Instrumentum Laboris, where it speaks of “a broad and essential arena of dialogue between the Amazon’s spiritualities, creeds and religions that requires an approach of the heart to the different cultures.” And it says: “Insincere openness to the other, just like a corporatist attitude, that reserve salvation exclusively for one’s own creed, are destructive of that very creed.”
They treat our Creed as if it were our European opinion. But the Creed is the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, who lives in the Church. There are no other creeds. Instead, there are other philosophical beliefs or mythological expressions, but no one has ever dared to say, for example, that Plato’s Wisdom is a form of God’s revelation. In the creation of the world, God manifests only his existence, his being a point of reference of conscience, of natural law, but there is no other revelation outside of Jesus Christ. The concept of Lógos spermatikòs (the “seeds of the Word”), taken up by the Second Vatican Council, does not mean that Revelation in Jesus Christ exists in all cultures independently of Jesus Christ, as if Jesus were just one of these elements of Revelation.
Then you agree with Cardinal Brandmüller when he talks about “heresy” regarding this document (click here).
Heresy? Not only that, it is also stupidity. A heretic knows Catholic doctrine and contradicts it. But here all they make is a great confusion and the center of everything is not Jesus Christ but themselves, their ideas for saving the world.
The document posits the “cosmovision” of indigenous peoples as a model of integral ecology, which would be a conception in which spirits and deities act “with and in the territory, with and in relation to nature.” And it associates it with the “mantra of Francis”: ‘everything is connected’” (no. 25).
The “cosmovision” is a materialistic conception similar to that of Marxism; in the end, we can do what we want. But we believe in Creation; matter is the form of the essence of nature, and we cannot do what we want. Creation is meant for the glorification of God but is also a challenge for us, called to collaborate with God’s salvific will for all men. Our task is not to conserve nature as it is, but we have a responsibility for the progress of humanity, education, social justice, peace. This is why Catholics build schools, hospitals, this is also the mission of the Church. One cannot idealize nature as if the Amazon were an area of Paradise, because nature is not always loving towards man.
In the Amazon there are predators, infections, diseases. And even these children, these young people are entitled to a good education, to benefit from modern medicine. One cannot idealize only traditional medicine, as is done in the synodal document. It is one thing to treat a headache, another thing when there are serious illnesses, complicated operations. Man not only has the right but also the duty to do everything to preserve or restore health. Even the Council values modern science, because thanks to it we have defeated so many diseases, lowered infant mortality and also risks for the mother.
However, the document describes traditional cultures and religions of the Amazonian indigenous peoples as a model of harmony with nature.
After the original sin, there is no harmony with nature. Many times nature is man’s enemy; in any case, it is ambivalent. Think of the four elements: earth, fire, water, air. Earthquakes, fires, floods, storms are all manifestations of nature, dangers for man.
Everything is read in terms of a dutiful “ecological conversion”…
We must absolutely reject expressions such as “ecological conversion”. There is only conversion to the Lord and therefore there is the good of nature. We cannot make ecologism a new religion. Here we are faced with a pantheistic conception that must be rejected. Pantheism is not just a theory about God but also contempt for man. A God who identifies himself with nature is not a person. Instead, God the Creator created us in His image and likeness. In prayer, we have a relationship with a God who listens to us, who understands what we mean, and not a mysticism in which we can dissolve our personal identity.
… and the Earth is considered a mother.
Our mother is a person, not the Earth. And our mother in faith is Mary. The Church is also described as a mother, as the Bride of Jesus Christ. But these words must not be inflated. It is one thing to have respect for all the elements of this world, another to idealize or deify them. This identification of God with nature is a form of atheism, because God is independent of nature. They totally ignore the Creation.
Already in the early 1980s , the then-Cardinal Ratzinger saw that they were no longer preaching about the Creation in churches and foresaw dramatic consequences.
In fact, all these mistakes are born from the confusion between Creator and creature, from identifying nature with God, which among other things generates polytheism because each natural element is associated with a divinity. The essence of biblical monotheism is the ontological difference between Creator and creation. God is not part of his work; He is sovereign and above all created things. This is not contempt, but an elevation of nature. And men are no longer slaves to the elements, they no longer have to worship or make sacrifices to the god of fire to make peace with an element that scares us. Man is finally free.
This pantheistic vision which the Instrumentum Laboris espouses also contains a critique of anthropocentrism, which the Church itself supposedly should correct.
It is an absurd idea to pretend that God is not anthropocentric. Man is the center of Creation and Jesus became man, he did not become a plant. This is a heresy against human dignity. On the contrary, the Church must emphasize anthropocentrism because God created man in his image and likeness. Man’s life is infinitely worth more than the life of any animal. Today there is already a reversal of this principle: if a lion is killed in Africa it is a world drama, but here children are killed in the mother’s womb and all is well. Stalin also argued that this centrality should be removed from human dignity so he could call many men to build a canal and kill them for the sake of future generations. Here is what these ideologies are for, to make some dominate all the others. But God is anthropocentric, the Incarnation is anthropocentric. The rejection of anthropocentrism comes only from a hatred of self and of other men.
Another magic word of the Instrumentum Laboris is “inculturation”, often associated with the Incarnation.
Using the Incarnation almost as a synonym for inculturation is the first mystification. The Incarnation is a unique, unrepeatable event, it is the Word embodied in Jesus Christ. God did not incarnate in the Jewish religion, nor did he incarnate in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ is unique. This is a fundamental point because the sacraments depend on the Incarnation. They are the presence of the incarnate Word. Certain terms that are central to Christianity cannot be abused.
Let us return to inculturation: from the synodal document we understand that we must adopt all the beliefs, rituals and customs of indigenous peoples. Reference is also made to how early Christianity was inculturated in the Greek world. It says that what was done then must be done today with the Amazon people.
But the Catholic Church never accepted the Greek and Roman myths. On the contrary, she rejected a civilization that despised men with slavery; she rejected the imperialist culture of Rome and the pederasty typical of the Greeks. The Church’s reference was to Greek thought and culture, which had come to recognize elements that paved the way for Christianity. Aristotle did not invent the ten categories: they already exist in being; he discovered them. Like in modern science, this is not something that concerns only the West but is rather the discovery of some structures and mechanisms that exist in nature. The same applies to Roman law, which is not any arbitrary system but the discovery of some legal principles that the Romans found in the nature of a community. Oher cultures have certainly not had this depth. But we do not live in Greek culture, as Christianity has totally transformed Greek and Roman culture. Certain pagan myths can have a pedagogical dimension towards Christianity but are not foundational elements of Christianity.
In this process of inculturation, the Instrumentum Laboris also “rereads” the sacraments, especially with regard to Holy Orders, on the pretext that there are few priests in that vast territory.
This further demonstrates that the approach used has nothing to do with Christianity. The Revelation of God in Christ becomes present in the sacraments, and the Church has no authority to change the substance of the sacraments. These are not some rituals that we like, nor is the priesthood a sociological category to create a relationship in the community. Any cultural system has its rituals and symbols, but the sacraments are means of divine grace, and therefore we cannot change either their content or substance. Nor can we change a rite when it is established by Christ himself. We cannot baptize with any liquid, we do it with natural water. In the Last Supper, Jesus Christ did not take any drink or food, he took grape wine and wheat bread. They say: but the wheat does not grow in the Amazon, let’s take something else. However, this is not inculturation. They want to change not only what is ecclesiastical law, but also what is of divine right.
Eminence, one last thing, you often refer to “them” who want to change the Church. Who are “they”?
That does not depend on a single person or specific group of people. It is a system, an ideain which those who are preparing the Synod, for example, participate. They want to adapt to the world: marriage, celibacy, women priests, everything must be changed in the conviction that in this way there will be a new springtime for the Church; as if the example of the Protestants was not enough to deny this illusion. They do not see that they are instead destroying the Church like blind men falling into the pit. But if someone says something, he is immediately marginalized, branded as an enemy of the Pope.
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