Beginning October 6, 2019 and continuing for three weeks, the Synod for the Amazon could have worked discreetly, so that the press room of the Holy See would have to communicate only half-way or at the end of the work.
Alas! The Synod got off to a flying start, with childish demonstrations bordering on blasphemy, pathetic liturgy, and disturbing statements.
A Rowing Church
From day one, there were appalling celebrations in St. Peter’s Basilica and in the Vatican Gardens. Several colorful Indians from the Amazon were exhibited, duly painted and feathered. There was also, in the sacred place, a sort of noisy and inappropriate demonstration to sound “the cry of Mother Earth,” which some of them would like that it were that of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. Blasphemous comparison.
There were dances and grotesque ceremonies in front of the pope and the cardinals, with a dugout canoe and statuettes, a mélange of illegitimate rites and idiotic incantations. Through the procession to bring into the Paul VI hall the aforesaid canoe, the invitation for the Church to begin to row with and for the indigenous peoples. Ridicule, alas, does not kill. Poor barque of Peter.
Far from the breath of the Holy Spirit that should fill its sails, it is with the oars and paddles of Ayoreo and Bushinengue that the Church must henceforth advance. In passing, we will have a tender thought for these poor natives embarked on this adventure. Sordid merchants in times past exposed their ancestors as curious creatures in the cities of Europe, sometimes behind bars. At least their stupidity had the excuse of ignorance or misunderstanding of distant and unknown peoples.
Nowadays these natives come willingly to show themselves, bringing a touch of exoticism of which photographers are fond. Wearing rudimentary objects, scantily dressed, they still came by airplane. The organizers did not have them set up tents in the Vatican Gardens, and they are not lodged under the trees of the Janiculum, but in hotel rooms. It is not known if this measure will be judged as discriminatory.
Greta and the Strength of Symbols
On October 4th, the Pope chose the great St. Francis of Assisi to preside over the work of the Synod. But it is Greta Thunberg who appears to be the true icon of this tumultuous gathering. The official media site Vatican.news reports how the first day dealt with youth and ecology, “In continuity with the 2018 Youth Synod, we reflected on the importance of the role of young people in integral ecology, with the example of the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and the climate strike initiative.”
Among the chastisements that God sends to his unfaithful people, includes this one: “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child!” (Eccles 10:16). There is perhaps worse: when adults, consecrated persons, bishops, and cardinals begin to imitate children and their buffoonery to bring about their objectives and make an impact.
But, after all, it would be a mistake to see in these demonstrations only the consequences of this “youthism” that political leaders have been catering to for a long time and to which the princes of the Church are not visibly unaffected. In reality, these stagings are as much symbols as they are signals that are not innocent. They are intended to prepare minds and create the climate needed for the next stage of the revolution.
Ecological Conversion and Exotic Extravaganzas
The topics are grave and serious. The Fourth General Congregation calls for an ecological conversion that involves recognizing and confessing “ecological sins.” Ecological conversion, explained a Salesian missionary, must even be presented as “a form of conversion to holiness” (sic). Christianized Amerindian peoples must be evangelized without a priest: hence the promotion of a permanent indigenous diaconate, the development of the “lay ministry” and the call for the involvement of women. If they absolutely insist on the presence of priests, the ordination of married men is strongly evoked.
The latest proposal in this exotic extravaganza: the creation “ad experimentum”—we know what that means—of an Amazonian Catholic rite. They argue that just as there is an environmental ecosystem, there is also an ecclesial ecosystem. Hence the idea of creating enculturated rites which, without being linked to superstitions, could “harmonize with the true liturgical spirit.” Unfortunately, while there is undoubtedly the ability to create new rites, it would be good to ask what is left of the “true liturgical spirit” promoted so much by Pope Saint Pius X that Paul VI’s reforms have pillaged for fifty years .
Do Not Lose Hope
There are more than two weeks left. The synod began with a lamentable spectacle that was more akin to a bad all-night Scout campfire—in broad daylight and without a fire. It continues in the extravaganza of appeals and manifestos, while the work of the Synod Fathers starts with listening to ancestral spirits and primitive cultures.
We know that God will never abandon the Church, that the gates of hell will not prevail, that Tradition is the solution. The Church is living her passion; like her Master she may appear disfigured and unrecognizable. Only faith can maintain hope and charity, and remain faithful to the Church by serving it in truth, justice and holiness. Human constructions are only for a time, they will pass like the figure of this world.
“As for my people, their oppressors have stripped them, and women have ruled over them. O my people, they that call thee blessed, the same deceive thee, and destroy the way of thy steps” (Is.3:12).