This is a look back at one of the memorable events of the year and of Francis’ pontificate. The scandal of pagan ceremonies around the Pachamama statuette during the Synod on the Amazon (see DICI n ° 390, November 2019) has aroused absolutely opposite reactions.
The Vatican sought to downplay or “Christianize” the affair, while conservative prelates recalled the gravity of the facts. In this heated exchange, the political dimension of the worship rendered to the Pachamama was revealed—an eco-globalist dimension.
After the planting of a sacred tree and the prostration in front of the Pachamama, on October 4th in the Vatican gardens, followed by its exhibition in the Church of Santa Maria Traspontina, the official line of the Vatican tried to minimize the meaning of these animist rites. On October 21st, Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communications, declared: “These statuettes represent life, fertility, Mother Earth,” and nothing more. Pope Francis spoke in person on October 25th, saying that there were no “idolatrous intentions” in the presence of these statuettes at the synod.
The day before, October 24th, Delio Siticolnatzi Camaiteri, a member of the Ashaninca people in the Peruvian Amazon, testified before the press: “The presence of these effigies manifests a pastoral option of the Church with regard to traditional cultures. The Church seeks to welcome with respect what already testifies to the presence of the Creator, source of all life, and of the seeds of the Word, traces of Christ beyond the visible borders of the Church,”—according to the conciliar doctrine of degrees of communion, supported by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who considers that (pagan) error is only less true (pre-Christian).
Not to be outdone, L’Osservatore Romano on November 19th, included a statement made to Zenit earlier in the month by Archbishop Romano Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel. The bishop emeritus of San Cristobal de Las Casas in Mexico, reported the remarks of an Indian Aymara on Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Inti (Father Sun): “the natives consider the earth as a true mother to be respected, because it provides them with food, water, and air. Likewise when they turn to the four cardinal directions.”
“Before,” Archbishop Arizmendi Esquivel admits ingenuously, “I was tempted to condemn them as idolaters. Over time, I appreciated their respect for these elements of nature that give us life, and I am convinced that they do not worship them as gods, but as works of God, as his gift to humanity.”—It is interesting to note that this bishop has evolved. He saw these rites at first sight as idolatrous ceremonies, but that was before. Before the interreligious dialogue which persuaded him that there are “many elements of sanctification and truth” (Lumen gentium 8) outside the visible limits of the Church?
This negation of the gravity of the facts can be explained by supporters of the new conciliar ecclesiology, but it is also found, according to French academic Edouard Husson, among priests and faithful inclined to practice “ostrich politics.” On the Atlantico site on November 24th, he deplored this voluntary blindness: “These ‘Ostriches’ are not only lay people but also members of the clergy who put their heads in the sand while waiting for this to pass. Throughout the Synod on the Amazon, I encountered several priests in perfectly orthodox positions, but who avoided my questions on what it would take to bring Francis back to orthodoxy. They seemed to consider that they were not concerned by this synod and even less by the idea, however frequent in the history of the institution, of a ‘filial or fraternal correction’ of a sovereign pontiff unfaithful to his mission. ‘Questioning the authority of Francis is something you don’t think about,’ was the implicit answer, ‘the pope is the pope, he must have his reasons.’”
The Reality of the Facts
The best answer to all those who downplay the significance of the pagan rites in honor of the Pachamama, is given by an absolutely indisputable personality since she was the main protagonist. Indeed, the same day (October 4), Ednamar de Oliveira Viana, woman of indigenous origin who led the ceremony in the Vatican gardens, published a press release to explain the meaning, as revealed by Diane Montagna on the LifeSiteNews website on November 8th.
Here is the full text of the press release: “To plant is to have hope. It is believing in a growing and fruitful life to satisfy the hunger of Mother Earth's creation. This brings us to our origin by reconnecting divine energy and teaching us the way back to the Creator Father.
The Synod is to plant this tree, water and cultivate, so that the Amazonian peoples are heard and respected in their customs and traditions experiencing the mystery of the divinity present in the Amazonian soil.
Planting in the Vatican Garden is a symbol that invites the Church to be even more committed to the forest peoples and all of humanity. But also, it is the denunciation of those who destroy our common house by greed in search of their own profit.”
Diane Montagna recalls here that Saint Boniface, the apostle of Germany, felled Donar’s oak which the Germans regarded as the sacred tree of Thor. And she makes a wish: “At present the Amazonian sacred tree is safely guarded within the precincts of the Vatican gardens until a new St. Boniface should arise.”
As Jeanne Smits pointed out on her blog, on November 9: “This idea [in the press release] of the ‘hunger’ of Mother Earth is precisely the basis of the Pachamama rituals: that which generates and nourishes, but which punishes with earthquakes those who take too much resources. Thus it is a question of satisfying its hunger and its thirst during a ceremony which takes place by presenting to it offerings taken on what it gave, in a cover placed on the ground, or by digging a hole in which they throw sacrificial objects or animals—a llama fetus being the object of choice.”
“Pachamama is an entity, the Earth, but also a spirit with a conscience and a power; a ‘divinity’” [‘present in Amazonian soil’] as it was also called in the press release by Ednamar de Oliveira Viana, whose anger must be appeased. This was done in the past, especially in Inca times, through the sacrifices of children and adolescents.
“The language of the press release is clearly pagan and syncretistic. It shows the reason for prostrations before the planted tree, surrounded by soil brought back from the Amazon: it is soil, land to which we attribute a ‘divine’ identity.”
But perhaps we still need a testimony totally outside the Synod, to get a few ostrich heads out of the sand? Here is one from a Swiss shaman, Laurent Huguelit, founder of the Outre-Monde center for shamanic practice and author of a book entitled Mère : l’enseignement spirituel de la forêt amazonienne (Mother: The Spiritual Teaching of the Amazon Rainforest), published in September 2019 by Mama editions, in Paris.
It introduces itself like this, on the 4th cover page: “It was during a stay in the Amazon that the author was designated spokesperson (sic) of the great forest by the spirit of the mother of all mothers in person. In accordance with the spiritual contract which is linked within this plant matrix, Laurent Huguelit put on paper the words, the visions, the impressions, and the anecdotes that the forest asked him to express.”
And to manifest the object of his belief: “It is a teaching given by nature which is delivered to us with sincerity in these pages, a pilgrimage to the heart of the great family of the living. We come across, in turn, the ancestral tree, the clarity of consciousness, compassion, shamans, and their songs of healing—but also, because everything must be known, the agony of darkness. With Mother, the intention of the forest is to re-establish the sacred bond which links humanity to planet Earth, so that a new consciousness can emerge—and so that the children of the forest encounter the one who saw them being born and grow. So that they respect it, preserve it, and love it.”—It is particularly instructive to consider, in the light of this shamanism with a European face, the desire expressed by the Synod for a “Church with an Amazonian face.”
Pachamama Revered by Eco-Globalism
This debate enabled Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano to restate the Catholic doctrine on the worship of idols. But it was Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan, who on November 18, 2019, published the most documented study, in German on kath.net and in English on LifeSiteNews.
The prelate affirms that those who think that the ceremonies surrounding the Pachamama are cultural or folklore, “harmless and insignificant,” “lack both factual knowledge on what Pachamama means for indigenous peoples and on world propaganda of the new ‘religion of Gaia or Mother Earth’ today.”
“Anyone who has dealt with the global environmental movement has undoubtedly heard the term Gaia. Gaia is a revival of paganism that rejects Christianity, views Christianity as its greatest enemy, and sees the Christian faith as the only obstacle to a global religion that focuses on the worship of Gaia and the unification of all forms of life concentrated around the goddess ‘Mother Earth’ or the ‘Pachamama.’ A sophisticated mix of science, paganism, Eastern mysticism and feminism has made this pagan cult a growing threat to the Christian church. The worship of ‘Mother Earth,’ or ‘Gaia,’ or ‘Pachamama’ is the focus of today’s global environmental policy.”
And Bishop Schneider cites two facts: “The 2009 UN General Assembly proclaimed April 22 as International ‘Mother Earth Day.’ On that day, the former Bolivian President Evo Morales, a self-proclaimed Pachamama worshiper, made this telling statement to the United Nations General Assembly: “Pachamama—Quechua’s ‘Mother Earth’—is a fundamental deity of the Native world view, which is based upon a total respect for nature. The earth does not belong to us, but we belong to the earth.”
“That the expression ‘Mother Earth’ or ‘Pachamama’ is not a harmless cultural name, but has religious traits, is proved, for example, also in a teacher’s handbook published in 2002 by UNESCO with the significant title ‘Pachamama Teacher’s Guide.’ It states, inter alia: ‘Imagine, Mother Earth assumes a physical form and imagine what it would be like to meet with her. How would she look? What would you talk to her about? What would be your main concern and your questions? How would you answer them? Where could you meet her [Mother Earth]? Think of a place where you could meet them.’”
Further, Bishop Schneider quotes Msgr. José Luis Azcona, bishop emeritus of the Amazonian prelature of Marajó, who in an open letter dated November 1st wrote: “the poor, the simple, the ‘weak,’ the unprotected of Amazonia are the most affected deep in their heart by this idolatrous stroke, which is an attack against the Christian faith, against the ecclesiastical conviction that the only queen of Amazonia is Our Lady of Nazareth, the Mother of God the Creator and the Redeemer. No other mother, no Pachamama of the Andes or from anywhere else and no Yemanja [mother goddess of Afro-Brazilian cults]!” The Amazon prelate also recalled: “Let us remember the countless Mother Earth deities who preceded and accompanied the Pachamama as goddesses of fertility in all biblical cultures and religions. In the Old Testament, Astarte (Asherà) is the goddess of fertility, of sensual love in her nude portrayal. In the New Testament, Acts 19: 23-40; 20:1, it is the Artemis of Ephesus, ‘the Great,’ the goddess of fertility; she is depicted with half of her body full of breasts. She sums up what is meant by the statue of Mother Earth ‘Pachamama.’ It is impossible to place the image of Our Lady of Nazareth, the Mother of God and the Church, and the statue of Pachamama, the goddess of fertility, upon the same altar or in the same church.”
In this detailed study, Bishop Schneider also quotes Gianfranco Amato, pro-life lawyer, who in La Verità on November 14, wrote: “To portray Pachamama as an icon of the indigenous culture of the Amazon not only means distorting reality, but denying and humiliating the diversity of true Amazonian cultures in order to impose an indigenous theological vision for enforcing purely ideological and political purposes.” And the Italian lawyer recalled: “The Mexican President Lopéz Obrador has held a ritual in honor of the deity Pachamama to apply for permission to build the Mayan railway in southeastern Mexico. Hugo Chávez, Nicolas Maduro, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Evo Morales, and Daniel Ortega are just a few heads of state who have officially participated in worship services in honor of Mother Earth. So, not only is it a purely Peruvian religious fact, but we are facing a real political fact that is inserted in a precise political agenda that promotes pantheistic thinking. It excludes the Christian idea of a transcendent God in relation to creation and places the dignity of the earth above the dignity of the human person.”
The opening of the Church to the contemporary world, promoted by the Second Vatican Council, is likely to lead to an eco-animistic abyss, a pantheist-globalist chasm. Unless, like Bishop Schneider in his recently published work, Christus Vincit (Angelico Press), the Roman authorities recognize that only an “honest examination to show that certain expressions in the Council texts are in rupture with the constant tradition of the previous Magisterium” (p. 119). Such is the prerequisite for “the restoration of all things in Jesus Christ”( Eph 1:10).