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Is Poverty an Ideal for All?

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The Instrumentum Laboris and documents of the Ecclesial Network for the Amazon (Repam) have contradictory aspects regarding the poverty of Amazonian populations and poverty in general.

On the one hand, they say that since Amazonian inhabitants are among the poorest on the planet, they deserve special attention and care. On the other hand, they say that one of the most commendable aspects of the native population is the poverty in which they live and their lack of concern with wealth.

For those monitoring the huge volume of ecclesiastical declarations in this regard, it is not clear if poverty is an economic evil to be resolved or a moral good that must be preserved.

For example, in the opinion of Father Dario Bossi, Italian missionary and advisor to the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (Repam), Synod participants should speak on behalf of the Amazonian people’s exclusive autonomy and enjoyment on the territory. “In fact, the Church has been taking a position in this direction for a long time. The Synod will only confirm this position,” he stated.

Now, he who speaks of “enjoyment” ipso facto implies enrichment, because the concept means nothing else but to “enjoy the fruit” of natural riches. However, everyone knows that the Amazon’s enormous resources, which include minerals, require high technology for their exploitation, something the natives lack.

Can Indians partner with companies that provide them with the resources to do so? Can private companies lease areas, paying the indigenous people the right price to exploit these riches? Will they be able to hire Indians in manual labor paying due salary?

If the Indians are the sole owners of their wealth, why could they not, by these or other means, take better advantage of them and obtain better income?

The ecclesiastical documents in this regard respond that if the Indians took this “appropriative” attitude toward their resources,  it would be tantamount to adopting a capitalist position that would corrupt their “native innocence.” Therefore, indigenous people should be content with being utterly poor, living on hunting and fishing.

However, it so happens that the vast majority of the indigenous population is already urbanized and naturally wants to have a level of progress proportional to the rest of the Brazilian population. Forcing the Indians to remain in poverty is to ignore their most natural human needs.

Some reader might object that, instead of opposing those needs, the Synod is only seeking to fulfill the mandate of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you”(Matthew 6:33)

This objection clashes with another highly controversial aspect of Repam’s ecclesiastical authorities.

The Vatican’s Osservatore Romano, in its edition of September 11, published an interview with the Colombian Jesuit priest Alfredo Ferro Medina. In it, he declares that one of the most important challenges for the Church is to determine how to implement “evangelization.” However, he does not understand “evangelization” as a proclamation of the Gospel but as participation in an “intercultural and interreligious dialogue” (for the sake of “dialogue”).

In other words, evangelization is not about communicating the Kingdom of God as taught by Our Divine Redeemer, but about engaging a “dialogue” with shamans and pagan cults of all kinds.

Therefore, the natives should seek neither wealth nor the Kingdom of God – unless you equally find this Kingdom both in paganism and Christianity.

***

The spokesmen of the coming Synod have made three things clear.

First, they do not want indigenous peoples to solve their situation of poverty but remain in it.

Second, they do not want them to abandon their pagan cults but to keep them.

Finally, these churchmen want to expand the indigenous formula of poverty and ancestral worship to the universal Church.

It is hard to understand why they make so much propaganda about the Synod. Indeed, if it is only a question of leaving the poor Indians in their paganism, as they have remained for centuries, all they would have to do is nothing.

So it seems that the Synod’s only concern is precisely this: that they do not leave pagan obscurantism and the miserable backwardness in which some still find themselves, to make them an example for the rest of the world.

Now, this is precisely the opposite of the Divine mandate: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

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