Category: Amazon Synod

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Pachamama – the missing piece of the puzzle

In my last article about the Our Lady of the Amazon / Pachamama controversy, I tried to reconcile the apparent contradictions between the various claims about the identity of the enigmatic wooden carved figure. I reached the conclusion, supported by interventions from official sources that the figure could be construed as either 1) a representation of life, fertility, Mother Earth (Vatican spokespeople and REPAM representatives); or 2) the Blessed Virgin Mary (the native woman who...

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National populist org behind traditionalist opposition to Pope Francis

Now that the dust has settled after the Vatican’s summit on the Amazon, one unlikely result has been the surfacing of the connection between Pope Francis’ most avid traditionalist opposers and a broader organized network that has the aim of disseminating a particular brand of national populism. Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), a group that originated during Brazil’s dictatorial regime and is known for its far-right attacks on “progressive” politics and nationalist defense of traditions,...

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A missionary Church: where everyone’s wounds are healed

Pope Francis recently sat down with journalist Gianni Valente of Fides (the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) for a lengthy interview on some of his favorite topics, including evangelization, what it means to be a missionary, and witnessing to the Gospel. It was published on November 5 in Italian as a book entitled, Without Him, We Can Do Nothing: a Conversation About Being Missionaries in Today’s World. Hopefully an English...

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How the pope’s critics sound like Luther

I will take one more instance. A man is converted to the Catholic Church from his admiration of its religious system, and his disgust with Protestantism. That admiration remains; but, after a time, he leaves his new faith, perhaps returns to his old. The reason, if we may conjecture, may sometimes be this: he has never believed in the Church’s infallibility; in her doctrinal truth he has believed, but in her infallibility, no. He was...

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O influencer de Bolsonaro que tenta interferir no sínodo

Um youtuber e influenciador digital que tem recebido o apoio de Bolsonaro surgiu recentemente como protagonista dos ataques da mídia conservadora ao sínodo da Amazônia. Bernardo Küster, católico tradicionalista e abertamente crítico ao Papa Francisco, é um jornalista brasileiro, dono de uma livraria em Campinas/SP, e que se valeu do sínodo da Amazônia como plataforma para expandir sua influência. Não que ele precise de mais exposição. Küster, que tem pouco mais de trinta anos de...

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Displays of paganism in the Vatican: what can we learn from them?

Throughout October, I wrote a number of posts addressing the controversy involving the indigenous statues displayed in the Vatican Garden’s ceremony at the beginning of the Synod on the Amazon. This controversy was based on the notion that it is unacceptable to have displays of paganism in the Vatican, the geographical heart of the Catholic Church. Of course, the claim that this figure is pagan does not hold water, as I demonstrated clearly in several...

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Still Worried About Pachamama? Read Laudato Si’

I know that papal documents are not easy reading. I also know we all have lots on the go, and it is hard to find the time to sit down and read and think for a couple hours. But this is crucial: if you are Catholic and worried about paganism having infiltrated the Church through the Amazon synod, but have not yet read Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, please read it as soon as...

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The Bolsonaro influencer seeking to sway the synod

[UPDATED OCTOBER 30: More signs of an Anti-Francis alliance between Küster and TFP with English-speaking papal detractors emerge: On October 29, two days after the synod came to a close, Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register was seen having dinner with Küster on in a restaurant in Rome. This highlights the professional and social ties between the Brazilian social media influencer and portions of the Catholic media world, pointing to the involvement of nationalist...

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Our Lady of the Amazon: solving the contradictions

[Note: this article has been updated with a new section entitled “The Pope weighs in”] This Monday, October 20th, some people barged into the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina, where the controversial statues were kept and displayed, stole them, and threw them into the Tiber river, while filming themselves doing the deed. This, of course, is no novelty. Anyone who has followed this controversy in recent weeks knows of this already. I will not...

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As the “Inside Synod” nears the finish line

In his opening address to the Synod of Bishops on October 7, 2019, Pope Francis warned about “two synods”–the idea that while a synod of bishops takes place in the Synod Hall (Aula del Sinodo), a “synod of the media” takes place concurrently. This second, unofficial synod is the public, often vitriolic, ideology-fueled discussion that takes place in the public square, on social media, and in publications and blogs (including this one). This media synod...

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Our Lady of the Amazon, a Rorschach Test

By Paul Fahey and D.W. Lafferty Those little statues brought to the Amazon synod by the REPAM group, so callously stolen and thrown in the Tiber, have functioned as a sort of Rorschach Test for the Church. Some Catholics view the image the way the Indigenous Catholics presented it to the pope, as “Our Lady of the Amazon.” This is clear to them because they trust in the orthodoxy and good will of the pope,...

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Our Lady of the Amazon, Pray for Us

[This article has been updated on the “The answer to Ivereigh” section] Since the publication of my article about the alleged pagan ritual hosted at the Vatican Gardens, new facts have emerged. This was bound to happen, as I myself admitted and wished for in the conclusion of the article. After all, there was still much that was not known about the ceremony at the time. This is why I was very cautious in drawing...

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Inculturation and Syncretism

With the ongoing Amazon synod dealing extensively with the relationship between Catholicism and various indigenous South American religious beliefs and practices, the concepts of inculturation and syncretism have rocketed into the Catholic news cycle. These terms are somewhat technical but many people have been able to get the (more or less accurate) sense that one of these things is desirable and the other is not. This piece seeks to provide working definitions and historical examples...

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The Power of the Half-Truth: Cardinal Müller’s Latest Statement

As much as I try to dismiss and ignore it, I must admit that Cardinal Müller’s endless pontificating often causes me pain. While it never undermines my trust in the Holy Father, it hurts me to think that it may be having that effect on others. Some, I know, actually find the sheer force of his absolutist rhetoric convincing, at least on an emotional level. In his latest statement, published on LifeSite News on October...

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Paganism in the Vatican? Hermeneutic of suspicion at its peak

[Note: this article has been updated. See here] On Friday, October 4th, a ceremony took place in Vatican gardens in preparation for the Synod on the Amazon. This ceremony was not organized by the Vatican itself, but by the Order of Friars Minor, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network. Here is Vatican’s press release issued before the ceremony. A video of the entire service can be seen below. The high point...