[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 link to or show the video in order to not give more publicity to these individuals, who have already received too much applause from like-minded supporters.

I have withheld my comments on this incident until now, because I hoped that the response to this regrettable action would provide some clarity to this entire mess. Since the beginning of this debate, I have always advised people to be prudent about the information they were given, and to avoid jumping to conclusions and making rash judgments. At this site, we strive not to react in a kneejerk way and try to provide information only from primary (or at least reliable) sources. The stunt performed this Monday was precisely the antithesis of this approach: a reckless and imprudent act by people who thought they were certain of what was going on, because they listened to sensationalistic and biased propaganda. For them, it was simple: they were right and others were wrong.

On the contrary, it is proper of a person who studies a matter in depth to eventually face the complexity of reality, with all its nuances and the multiplicity of factors at play. And the reality is this: since this controversy began, we have received contradictory information. This is not exclusively the fault of the biased media who wants to push the “paganism in the Vatican” narrative in order to score points against the Pope. So why? Why all the contradictions? Where do these contradictions come from? Likewise, where did the “Our Lady of the Amazon” claim come from? This is what I have tried to sift through over the past few days.

A representation of life

After the theft, there was a clarification from Dr. Paolo Ruffini, from the Vatican Dicastery of Communications:

We have already repeated several times here that those statues represented life, fertility, mother earth. It was a gesture – I believe – that contradicts the spirit of dialogue that should always inspire us. I don’t know what else to say except that it was a theft, and perhaps that speaks for itself.”

Earlier today, it has been reported on Twitter that Ruffini issued a “definite answer”:

“No prostrations or rituals were performed. We must all be rigorous in telling things that have happened in front of the cameras.”

This is consistent with his previous reply to the same question, before the theft (see here, in the section “Answer to Ivereigh”.) At the time, he answered by giving his personal opinion, not in his oficial capacity as Vatican spokesperson. Also, he said that he was going to get more information from REPAM and the other organizers. Was this the case?

It seems like it, because this answer is also consistent with interventions from other REPAM members, that have since weighed in on this controversy. Inés San Martín from Crux was present at the Via Crucis this Sunday where the statue was present, and asked one of the organizers of the event about its meaning:

According to Father Fernando Lopez, a Jesuit, and a member of the “Itinerant Group,” composed of men and women, religious and lay, who travel around the Amazon preaching the Gospel in extremely remote areas, the image of the pregnant woman “represents life.” (…) The Jesuit priest was one of hundreds who attended Saturday’s Way of the Cross organized under the aegis of “Amazon: Common Home,” sponsored by several Catholic organizations, such as Caritas Internationalis, Misereor, the International Union of Superior Generals and the REPAM, the Pan Amazonian Ecclesial Network (…) Lopez said the wood carving is an image the Itinerant Group has been using for years, and it was bought at an artisan’s market in Manaus, a city in Brazil’s Amazon.

More recently, we discovered a video posted on the Facebook wall of someone involved with the REPAM group, named Afonso Murad (link). Here he says that the image is not religious, that it did not receive any kind of worship, and that it represents the earth and the indigenous peoples.


Here is the transcript of what he said (my translation from the original Brazilian Portuguese):

“I am Brother Afonso Murad, and I am here in Rome at the Synod for the Amazon and I want to clarify something that many people in Brazil asked me to address. This Monday morning, or what seems like it, a small group entered in the Transpontina Church of the Carmelites, where there have been a series of celebrations about the Amazon, happening in parallel with the Synod. Each day there are at least two moments of prayer, besides lectures and expositions. In that context there was a series of symbols which were used at this location. Among them, there were three female silhouettes of an indigenous pregnant woman that symbolized the Earth that takes care of us, and also the indigenous peoples. I want to clarify that contrary to what has been heard in Brazil, that is not a religious image, it was not the object of worship, it’s simply a symbol of the indigenous peoples that has been labeled as if it were an image of Pachamama, the Mother Earth. The indigenous peoples do not worship images of Mother Earth as we do with an image of Our Lady or the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore it was simply a religious symbol among many that are present in that church for those who want to see it. Therefore, this act was an act of violence, of disrespect and therefore cannot be approved by any of us. Would you like it if someone went to your church and took any of your religious symbols, be it a candle, or a cloth, would you like it? Of course not. Therefore we are clearly against this violent act and we also do not give too much importance to it. Because what is more important is that our eyes, our minds and hearts are directed towards the Amazon, towards the Church in the Amazon and for your mission to announce the Gospel, in a dialogue with the Amazonian peoples.”


Contradictory accounts

These are authoritative sources, since these clarifications issue from people who were actually involved in the organization of the parallel activities in the Synod. Since my first article, I have said these should be the ones we should turn to to find answers.

However, these informations do contradict what was said by two other participants, namely the native woman who presided over the service, and Fr. Roberto Rojas, the priest who was interviewed by Rome Reports and who was the organizer of the exhibit in the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina. Both of them referred to the figures as “Our Lady of the Amazon.” Also, there are two contradictory accounts of the origin of the statue: Fr. Lopez said it was purchased in a market in Manaus and Fr. Rojas said it was carved by the indigenous Catholics of the Amazon.

It is important to note that REPAM is not a single organization, but a network of various different organizations working together towards a common objective. Also, there was more than one copy of the same figure, so they could have different origins.

Therefore, contrary to what some of our commenters have said in our comboxes, Dr. Ruffini was not at fault by ignoring these facts. He was likely repeating the explanation he received from the organizer he asked or who provided him with this information. We at Where Peter Is went with the information gathered from some organizers who said one thing and Dr. Ruffini and the other Vatican spokespeople probably received different informations from other organizers.

However, even with these discrepancies, everyone involved who has been interviewed about the figure agrees that the statue is not pagan:

  • The native woman and Fr. Rojas say it’s Our Lady of the Amazon; They have not attributed a pagan meaning to the figure;
  • Dr. Ruffini, from the Vatican Dicastery of Communications, said in his first answer to the topic (albeit not acting in his official capacity at the time): “I believe to try and see pagan symbols or to see… evil, it is not
  • Before him, Bishop David Guinea had also been asked about the meaning of the statue, and he replied: “we don’t need to create any connections with the Virgin Mary or with a pagan element
  • Fr. Lopez, interviewed by Inés San Martín: “Asked if it was part of a pagan ritual, the priest offered a flat “no.”
  • Br. Afonso Murad is clear that the figure is not a religious image and that it did not receive any kind of cult

In other words, the “it’s clearly pagan” hypothesis has been refuted every step of the way. The fact that this accusation was not abandoned, but rather was stubbornly clung to, demonstrates that those who revile this figure are not concerned with the truth, but with pushing a narrative. In the course of the last few days, many of these people would send us social media links to interventions that they believed refuted the Marian interpretations of the statues (glossing over how these links actually refuted their own claims of paganism), and would go on triumphalistic tirades along the lines of, “And now, watcha gonna say about that, huh? Huh? Watcha gonna do? Gotcha!” In the meantime, they would studiously ignore the organizers who actually said that it was Our Lady of the Amazon, as a kind of selective amnesia that made them forget these inconvenient pieces of evidence. The same kind of selective amnesia that conveniently forgot everything in their own links that debunked the paganism charges, and went only for that which denied Mary.

Of course, this is not a zero-sum game, in which two antagonistic perspectives compete for references, and the one who scores more points wins. That was the perspective of those who were desperate to validate their unsubstantiated Pachamama thesis. They would scavenge for links to bolster their position and then would throw them at us as if they somehow cancelled the organizers who said it was Our Lady.

However, a person who is indeed looking for the truth of the matter, instead of pushing for a narrative, will act differently. Such a person will ask himself: “If this is just a representation of life… then why are there people close to the event saying it’s Our Lady of the Amazon?”

Interestingly, I got a glimpse at a potential answer for this crucial question from two very unlikely sources…

The natives speak through the smokescreen

The two unlikely sources I am talking about are LifeSiteNews (LSN) and EWTN. To their credit, they did what I asked reporters (and the Vatican spokespeople) to do in my first article: gather information from the people on the ground. Of course, both of these media outlets are biased against the Pope, and LSN in particular has been actively trying to prove that the Vatican Gardens ceremony was a pagan ritual, and that the controversial figure is Pachamama. So we should be careful when accepting their explanations that it might be so. However, there is such a thing as criterion of embarassment. In other words, if sources biased against the “Our Lady of the Amazon” hypothesis come out and say something that proves this hypothesis right, then we should believe them, for they would not have said it if it was not true.

On their end, LSN interviewed several volunteers at the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina who allegedly answered the statue was Pachamama.

Please bear in mind that we do not have a full transcript of LSN’s question, nor to the full answer of the volunteers save one (who then proceed to describe the figure more as a symbol than as a goddess): given LSN’s bias and unreliability, we should take this with a grain of salt.

However, the reason why I bring this up is this hidden gem buried in the middle of the LSN news article:

Two gentleman we asked seconded Paolo Ruffini’s belief that the statue is merely a symbol of “life.” But when we mentioned to one of them that several other volunteers had identified the statue as the “Pachamama,” he paused and said that of course people have “different interpretations: some life, others the Pachamama and some even call it the Virgin Mary

Who are these “some” who call it the Virgin Mary? Can we know? This brings us to a video from EWTN, in which Rafael Tavares, the Editor-in-Chief of the Portuguese-speaking branch of ACI Digital, is interviewed. Here is the video:


Rafael Tavares asked REPAM (03:21 mark of the video) about the origin of the statues, and received the following answer (03:46 mark onward):

“The image is art. Pure art. It does not have a pagan significance, neither a Christian significance (…) The story behind this statue is that an artist in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas… this artist, he crafted this image and a member of the spirituality team organizing the events at Transpontina, they have found the image and started to take it from tribe to tribe, from places to places, and the indians themselves have started to call that image – which you see – Our Lady of the Amazon

From that point onward, Tavares immediately moves on to highlight the similarities with the pagan goddess Pachamama. But this is a gratuitous presentation of his personal opinion, based on similarities. It’s his interpretation as a non-indigenous man, playing according to the bias of both EWTN and ACI, that have advanced the pagan hypothesis since the beginning. So, again, this part should be taken with a grain of salt.

However, this EWTN video sheds a lot of light on the matter. First, it matches Crux’s version of the origin of the statue: it was bought in a market in Manaus. Secondly, it shows that there may be a disconnect between the significance attributed to the figures by the official organizers of REPAM and the indigenous peoples. The former view the image as a representation of life, devoid of religious significance (either pagan or Christian,) that they can use to illustrate their activities. The latter may view this image as a representation of the Virgin Mary. A grassroots movement from the Amazon itself, which may or may not be significative in term of size, has taken the initiative to “Christianize” this image. That’s consistent with everything that has transpired in the last weeks.

In other words, at least some of the natives look to this figure and attribute a Marian connotation to it.  And we know that at least one of those natives was the woman who presided over the St. Francis Day activity in the Vatican Gardens. She called it “Our Lady of the Amazon” and used very Catholic terminology (she mentioned “the Church”) that seems to rule out a pagan mindset. Since this activity is what prompted the entire kerfuffle, I believe we should take her word for it and charitably assume she did not perform anything contrary to the faith. At best, they were venerating what they perceived as being a Marian image (even if that was a meaning they attributed to a statue that was not created specifically with that intent in first place.) At worst, they were performing a kind of symbolic dramatization before a representation of life and the Amazon, with no religious significance either way, since the paganism charge has been consistently refuted by the organizers and Vatican spokespeople and the Pope himself.

It’s all the same thing, it’s all Pachamama

One of the ways the critics have evaded the constant rebuttals of paganism, is by saying that hosting a representation of life (or Mother Earth, or fertility, or whatever) in a Church and bowing to it is paganism anyway. Of course, this ignores what paganism actually is. Ancient pagans did not create a religion out of symbols and mere representations. Pagan gods were not abstract entities, but concrete realities for their worshippers. Pagans believed that their idols did not just represent certain concepts (like nature, physical elements, love, war), but that these same idols contained the energy of the concepts they represented. The idolatry was, therefore, a way to manipulate those abstract realities, by making them tangible, palpable, visible. You would never see an ancient pagan saying: “This is just a symbol, a representation.” Saying so would make the act of idolatry meaningless, since the pagan worshipper did it to actually achieve some kind of favor from the gods.

Some critics postulate that when they say “Pachamama,” they are not referring to the actual goddess from the anthropology books, but to any abstract idea they can construe as paganism. Whether it was Pachamama or a representation of life, it’s all the same. In this case, what the critics are really saying is that “Pachamama” is a meaningless concept that they can fill with any definition they want. By labeling anything they don’t like “Pachamama,” they perform a sleight of hand whereby they can transform anything the Vatican says into a pagan goddess. This is the reason for the constant repetition of “Pachamama” as an established fact.

Of course, this is not as straightforward as they want it to be. At one point during this controversy, I received a message from reader Eric Giunta. It is clear from his email that he is not biased in favor of Pope Francis in the least, but in the spirit of intellectual honesty, he graciously shared with me his excellent essay, which I highly recommend . He shows the rich and orthodox tradition, going back to medieval times, of representing Mother Earth / Nature in churches. In an addendum to his essay, he also mentions legitimate expressions of inculturation in South America, where the figures of Pachamama and the Virgin Mary are mingled. Unlike some armchair anthropologists who have weighed in on this issue by simply flaunting their credentials, Eric Giunta actually provides extensive quotes and scholarly bibliography to his article. I cannot recommend it enough.

I would also like to refer my readers to a fantastic book, called “Eternity in their Hearts.” It’s a small book, very easy to read. It was being recommended in orthodox Catholic circles before Pope Francis was elected (I know, that’s the reason why I bought it.) It was written by a Protestant missionary, but it does not contain anything contrary to the Catholic faith and shows no hostility towards Catholic missionaries. Drawing from Scriptural evidence (Melchizedek’s cooperation with Abraham; the altar to the Unknown God used by St. Paul) and from his heavy missionary experience (and the experiences of fellow missionaries), he clearly shows how some pagan expressions contain what the Second Vatican Council termed semina Verbi (“seeds of the Gospel”), which are in fact a materialization of the unevangelized Man’s yearning for God. We need to exert discernment and prudence, for in our eagerness to catalogue everything coming from other cultures as pagan, we may be actually stifling valuable resources that will help us in our evangelization process and closing the hearts of those who we want to bring to Christ.

For me, I cannot imagine how Monday’s act of disrespect for indigenous culture by people who proclaim themselves to be the mouthpieces of true Catholicism will open the hearts of the natives who brought that image as a symbol of their values (perhaps even as their representation of Mary). “You cannot see Mary in this, you have to see it in the molds I give you: you can use Our Lady of Guadalupe — she is depicted as a South-American native and it has my seal of approval.”

Or, in alternative: “You cannot have symbols that evoke your culture in our churches. These are our churches, and they should only reflect our understanding of what is permissible or not. Not even the hierarchy or the Pope can overrule us. If you don’t comply, we will see this as an aggression, an invasion, an infiltration, and will destroy your icons.”

All of this is burning bridges that would bring new souls to Christ.

It is my absolute conviction that Pope Francis’ approach of inviting people to his own backyeard, allowing them to express themselves in their own voice, and prayerfully listening to them before making a judgment is how we bring souls to Christ.

The Pope weighs in

In the meantime, the Pope has weighed in on this controversy. Today, Francis has made some remarks regarding the incident:

“Good afternoon. I want to say a word about the statues of the pachamama that were taken from the church of the Transpontina – which were there without idolatrous intentions – and were thrown into the Tiber.

First of all, this happened in Rome, and, as Bishop of the Diocese, I ask pardon of the persons who were offended by this act.

Then, I want to communicate to you that the statues which created such attention in the media, were retrieved from the Tiber. The statues were not damaged”

Please note, the Pope is very clear: the statues were there without idolatrous intentions. Again, the charges of paganism are refuted by none other than the Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Rome. Can’t get more oficial than that.

However, the usual suspects have taken the fact that the Pope referred to the statues as Pachamama as a validation of their point. Again, we can see the modus operandi: they pick and choose what validates their narrative and conveniently gloss over what does not interest them. They clung to one single word (“Pachamama”) and ignored the part about it not having an idolatrous intent.

Fortunately, a Vatican’s spokesperson was quick to clarify what the Pope actually meant:

“In his remarks, the pope used the phrase “the pachamama statues” but in the transcript the word pachamama was in italics.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope used the word as a means to identify the statues because that is the way they have become known in the Italian media and not as a reference to the goddess.”

It is interesting that people who, until a few days ago, were clinging desperately to Vatican spokespeople’s words (even if they were not acting in their official capacity at the time, but providing personal interpretations) are now eschewing the Vatican spokesperson’s clarification to cling to a literalist reading of the Pope’s words. Of course, they only believe the Pope on the “Pachamama” bit because they think this proves their point. If the Pope said otherwise, they would not believe him, as is made manifest by the fact that they do not agree when the Pope said the statues had no idolatrous intent.

At the end of the day, the Vatican has spoken about why the Pope used the word “Pachamama.” The idea that the statues were a pagan goddess, and that they received cult of latria in the Vatican Gardens, has been refuted once more, now at the higher echelons of the Church.


At this moment in time, I think we can draw the following conclusions from all this saga:

  • The statues were acquired and used by REPAM as a representation of life, mother earth and the indigenous peoples, not pagan goddesses;
  • The official stance of the Vatican and REPAM is that these representations (either in the Vatican Gardens activity or in the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina) have no religious significance, either pagan or Catholic;
  • Nevertheless, some indigenous people have conferred a Marian significance to the carved images;
  • Among those is the native woman who presided over the activity at the Vatican Gardens and who presented the figure to the Pope; This has also been validated by the priest in charge of organizing the events in the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina;
  • The only ones peddling charges of paganism are media outlets hostile to the Synod and biased against the Pope;
  • The charges of paganism have been officially, continuously and repeatedly denied by REPAM members, by Vatican spokespeople and by the Pope himself;
  • Symbolic acts of reverence to representations of abstract concepts do not amount to idolatry or paganism;
  • There is a tradition of orthodox representations of Mother Earth in the Church, and also of orthodox inculturated expressions of Pachamama, that are not pagan or idolatry;
  • Therefore, the acts of theft, vandalism and disrespect for indigenous culture that happened on October 20th were unwarranted, and resulted from ideas surrounding the figures that do not conform with the reality of the facts;

In the end, nothing that could be said by the Vatican or by REPAM or by Where Peter Is could’ve stopped the regrettable events that took place on Monday. The narrative of the pagan ritual had already been set in motion and could not be stopped, because those who believe this narrative have given their submission of mind and will to the outlets that fed them this propaganda. It had to be believed, because it had an ulterior motive: to undermine the Synod, by depicting it as a den of heterodoxy, liberalism and syncretism. This, in turn, served the supreme motive: to undermine Francis’ pontificate. That is the sole reason why this figure had to be Pachamama, and why this claim was not falsifiable in their minds.

In the end, this act of vandalism was nothing more than the physical manifestation of what transpired on social media in the past weeks, the embodiment of the hermeneutic of suspicion, that Fr. Jorge Bergoglio, future Pope Francis, would accurately describe in his essay Silencio y Palabra:

“Suspicion is an old bug. It creates in the heart a certain uneasiness toward any behavior of my brother that I do not fully understand. This uneasiness grows in intensity and ends by seeing as a menace everything that it doesn’t understand and control (…) The suspicious man sins against the light, he has enamored himself of this attitude of wanting everything clarified, because his life consists in confusing the conspiracy for reality. There is always, in the suspicious man, an area that resists God’s light. If such light would come, he could not have suspicions any longer. (…) Suspicion is the clinging to an area of penumbra, feeding the man who has opted for the partiality of the [internal institutional conflict] over the totality of the institution as a body.”

We at Where Peter Is preferred, as Paul Fahey and David Lafferty wrote recently, to “trust in the orthodoxy and good will of the pope, the synod, and the Indigenous Catholic participants.” We oppose the hermeneutic of suspicion, by advancing a hermeneutic of faith and charity instead. Some people have decried us for having believed the native woman who presented the statue to the Pope at face value. However, we have no reason to doubt her, or her sincerity. If her representation of Our Lady is imperfect, let us build from there, instead of taking it away from her and destroying it.

We tried to take the Synod of the Amazon to our heart, and learn from it. And one of the things that the Synod has asked us to do since its very inception is to talk less and listen more. Those who spiraled into suspicion and vandalism were the ones who refused to listen to anyone or anything, because they thought they had everything figured out: the ritual was “clearly pagan”, “even a 5-year old could understand that” and those who said otherwise were “spinning.”

We have given our ear to the indigenous people instead, for we understood that we didn’t know much and needed to gather more information. Even when relying solely on primary sources, we had to acknowledge that the reality of the facts was more ample, nuanced and complex than what we thought at first. We were not wrong, but neither did we have the full picture (something that we still don’t have.) As the pieces of the puzzle fall in place, we need to integrate the new findings with the ones we previously found, even if in the surface they seem irreconcilable. We keep learning and listening and finding out new things as we keep going. As we do, we find less and less reasons to be scandalized and afraid.

Let us not fear learning from those who act in ways incomprehensible to us. Let us be moved by their thirst for the Blessed Mother, so strong that they extrapolated Our Lady from a mere representation of life, and let us direct this seed of the Gospel, instead of aborting it. While they were joyfully expressing their faith in their own way, others in the West were more occupied with accusing, condemning and destroying, even without taking the time to understand. Just by contrasting these two attitudes, we can see how much we can learn from them if we just listen.

 [Photo credit: Austen Ivereigh]

Liked this post? Take a second to support Where Peter Is on Patreon!

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Our Lady of the Amazon: solving the contradictions

116 Responses

  1. Anne Lastman says:

    Oh Pedro… thank you for these words. Thank you for the amount of work that went into what you have written.
    Thank you It gives me courage to continue defending Peter the holder of the Keys of the kingdom and the Vicar of Christ.

  2. B. Reilly says:

    Thank you for this. Reading this article and the articles it directs us towards, keeps me in a place safely away from the hysteria . I’m not American , I’m Scottish and an artist and I liked the article explaining the depiction of mother earth in Catholic/ Christian literature and art. It all makes sense to me. Here n the UK there doesn’t seem to be , as far as I’m aware, the same level of criticism of Pope Francis but I watch EWTN and have become involved in tuning into some of the YouTube channels which seem to exist only to question and criticize Pope Francis and everything in the church since Vatican 2. Let’s be faithful and constant in our prayers and stay in the barque of Peter. Amen

  3. carn says:

    You have a further contradiction to solve:


    ” Dans ses quelques mots, le Souverain pontife a tenu à souligner que ces statuettes de la Pachamama – nommée par le pape ­– avaient été exposées “sans intentions idolâtriques” dans l’église de Santa Maria in Traspontina – à seulement quelques dizaines de mètres du Vatican. Cet événement, a-t-il encore déploré, a causé une “clameur médiatique”. XLN”

    Google translate makes of this:
    “In his few words, the Sovereign Pontiff insisted that these statuettes of the Pachamama – named by the pope – had been exposed “without idolatrous intentions” in the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina – only a few tens of meters from the Vatican . This event, he still lamented, caused a “media clamor”.”

    Pope calling them “Pachamama”; not “our Lady of Amzon”; “Pachamama” is the name of a pagan godess.

    LSN of course has it:

    ““Je demande pardon” à ceux qui ont été offensés par le vol et le jet dans le Tibre de statuettes amazoniennes, a déclaré le pape François dans l’aula du synode pour l’Amazonie le 25 octobre 2019, a constaté I.MEDIA. Ce vol étant survenu dans une église de Rome, il s’est exprimé “en tant qu’évêque de ce diocèse”.”

    “”I apologize” to those who have been offended by the theft and throwing into the Tiber of Amazonian statuettes, said Pope Francis in the synodal aula for the Amazon on October 25, 2019, found I.MEDIA. This robbery having occurred in a church of Rome, he expressed himself “as bishop of this diocese”.”

    You cannot resolve this by calling LSN unreliable, cause LSN is not primary source.

    Pope saying that figurines of a pagan goddess have been prostrated to in Vatican gardens with him present and been on display in a Church and that removing them from there is something to apologize for.

    Can it get weirder?

    How much fuel has to be there before self-ingnition will happen by random chance?

    • Pedro Gabriel says:

      Did you read the “It’s all the same, it’s all Pachamama” section? It’s dealt with there

      • carn says:

        I read it; in it you say:

        “By labeling anything they don’t like “Pachamama,” they perform a sleight of hand whereby they can transform anything the Vatican says into a pagan goddess. This is the reason for the constant repetition of “Pachamama” as an established fact.”

        that the statues are Pachamama statues is not an established fact.

        Now it is. The local bishop (*) responsible said so. They are Pachamama statues according to the local bishop. It is an established fact, unless one can show that the local bishop erred in this.

        All other evidence is naught.

        (* As far as i understand Pope Francis was speaking as “only” the Bishop of Rome)

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Yeah, you also left out from that section my distinction about idolatry having to fulfill certain conditions regarding the god that is being worshipped (conditions that cannot be fulfilled if, as the Pope said, they were not displayed with idolatrous intentions)

        You also left out the part where I talk about legitimate, orthodox and traditional expressions of Pachamama and Mother Earth

        Also, here is another link


        “ Hard-line conservative media said the statue was of a pagan goddess known as Pachamama. The Vatican said it was an indigenous traditional symbol of life.

        In his remarks, the pope used the phrase “the pachamama statues” but in the transcript the word pachamama was in italics.

        Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope used the word as a means to identify the statues because that is the way they have become known in the Italian media and not as a reference to the goddess.”

      • carn says:

        I think i repeat myself, but Vatican would have needed a PR team:


        “I want to say a word about the statues of the pachamama”

        If i hear anyone say “the statues of the pachamama” i would immidiately assume they talked not about statues known under a certain name (“the pachamama statues”) but about statues depicting/symbolizing the pachamama.

        “you also left out”

        Cause it is irrelevant for the fact, that the people suggesting that the pachamama statues are not the lady of amazon were right all along.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        It is not irrelevant to the fact that, even if that statue was Pachamama, that would be no proof of idolatry. And the “there was an idolatrous ritual in the Vatican” is what prompted all of this since the beginning

      • Andrew says:


        With respect, if you have to do this much explaining then it’s obvious that the meaning of this statue is ambiguous at best. The Church shouldn’t be ambiguous in her worship. Symbols should speak clearly. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the government erected a symbol for a “stop sign” that no one was able to clearly and immediately identify? Confusion and chaos. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

        I think your intentions are very good, but this web site is almost becoming comical in terms of the acrobatics it must do to defend and explain the words and actions of the Vatican; this is especially so when it was Our Lord who said: “let your yes be yes”. In other words, Christians should speak and act plainly and truthfully.

        If the Vatican was operating properly it wouldn’t need good and well meaning people like you to write lengthy essays explaining what should be obvious to all; that the only being Catholics worship is the Holy Trinity.

        PS: I’m NOT a “radtrad”. I’m just a regular Mass going Catholic.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Dear Andrew: people keep saying that I am performing acrobatics, but I honestly and sincerely don’t view myself as doing such. I have studied the matter closely and arrived at the conclusions you see above. I admit I needed to adjust some of my conclusions from previous articles given that there were contradictions (if they did not exist, the title of this article would be nonsensical), but I think I was able to account for them all and provide a plausible explanation of what happened

        As for the need to do much explaining, I refer you to what is termed “Brandolini law”. Pardon the language, but it’s basically this: “The amount of effort needed to refute BS is at least one order of magnitude higher that the effort needed to disseminate BS”. In the course of the last days, there was much BS about the statue being disseminated, so of course the answers needed to be exhaustive. You saw how the critics latched onto one single word from the Pope while ignoring the overall statement that clearly refuted them. So I needed to be long and thorough and cover all ends. If that is construed as acrobatics, so be it.

        As for the signs not being clear, I think that is one more reason to not jump to conclusions and await for credible information. That is clearly not what is happening.

    • AveMaria says:

      He definitely confirmed that this was not an idol. As Pedro kindly explained, Pachamama is not necessarily the name of a godess. It also has a meaning, which is the mother earth. Specifically what that artistic figure is said to have represented. But again, that may be too much to ask for you to give up on your baseless postulates.

      • carn says:

        “Pachamama is not necessarily the name of a godess”

        Whatever the Pope intended to say; his choice of words is like pouring kerosene into an open fire.

        “But again, that may be too much to ask for you to give up on your baseless postulates.”

        One would need an immediate full scale media effort to ensure that the story will be that the Pope was not talking about the pagan goddess “Pachamama” but instead was talking about generic “mother earth” statues or so; but i fear none will be forthcoming.

        Independent of what you think about my motives or my arguments, my guess is that dozens of millions of Catholics around the world will be convinced, that statue of a pagan goddess will be on display during the final mass of the synod in St. Peter.

        Can’t you understand that I am basically horrified at that? frightened? angry?

        Cause if the Pope had said today, that these statues are not Pachamama statues but depiction of our Lady of Amazon, then a lot less Catholics would think that.

        What you and WPI people do not seem to understand is that the opposition to Pope Francis is very focused on formal thought; or maybe you just do not understand the consequences.

        When Vaticannews quotes the Pope with “the statues of the panchamama”, then they are statues of the panchamama to critics of Pope Francis and to millions of other people.

    • jong says:

      Pope Francis saying is Pachamama, is a bad thing for the Catholic apologist like the WPI and it’s a feast day for all the Rad Trads channel, but how can a faithful christian look at this situation according to the Wisdom of God?
      I’ve been telling WPI since I posted a comment here that the Church is undergoing purificationCCC675), and all the issues starting from 2013 are all directed towards Church purification.
      How can the prediction of Cardinal Ratzinger be realize, ” the Church will be reduced to a small but a more pious Church”. and Pope Francis said “How I wish the Church becomes poor and for the poor”. And Blessed Ab.Fulton Sheen prophesy on a “counterfeit church”. And lastly, St.JP2 on the “Final Confrontation between the two church”.
      Pope Francis is being guided since Day1 by the Holy Spirit, and the path is towards “humility, obedience and trust” in the midst of growing confusions thrown by the Council of Media. And Pope Francis, even seen as the one feeding the Rad Trads with something to spin, twist and to create a fake news. But, why is the Church heading towards this direction? This is the painful way of Church purification, only the faithful loyal to the Pope who had embraced the virtue of obedience, humility and trust can stand with the Pope until the end. This is the Remnant Church that can face the “counterfeit church”, a small church but a more pious Church strengthen and polished by the virtue of humility & obedience a total opposite of Pride & Disobedience that satan had been nurturing on all the schismatic rigid Rad Trads.

      Look at the definition of idolatry, as St.JP2 was accused of that before in kissing the Quran.
      Pope Francis allowing the Amazonian indigenous people to expressed their faith in the Vatican gardens did not commit idolatry nor he promoted it. As the Holy Father of the People of God you need to see where can you help the Amazon people, the Holy Father seeing face to face the expression of faith of the Amazonian people is a good experience when finally he contemplates the direction of the Church in it’s Pastoral role to help the Amazonian people.
      For sure, Pope Francis saying it is a “Pachamama” would create the needed purification, as some will separate from the Church, and those who remain loyal will receive the grace to strengthen more their virtues. Pope Francis is like Gideon, he is trimming down the Church to prepare it for the Final Confrontation. (Exodus14:14)
      Pachamama is only the tip of the iceberg, watch out for the “ordination of women to the deaconate” as this will feed more the Rad Trads to be more noisier in the Media…and I can see Pope Francis softening the “disciplinary force” to give way for woman ordination into priesthood citing the “Time of Mercy” and “signs of times”. The Church having a “women priest” in the indigenous areas will change the Face of the Church but it will reveals the mystery that in the Upper Room the “other Mary’s” had played a role of priest after all Our Lady the chosen Woman is the First Woman Priest to celebrate the First Holy Mass in the “Mystery of Incarnation”. All of us “man or woman” share in the royal priesthood of Christ. And no one can enter the New Paradise if they are not living a “priestly life” of consecrating our body & blood to Christ like St.Paul did.
      We become a priest when we say “this is my body, this my blood”, offering our own body as a pleasing sacrifice to God.
      Thank you Pope Francis, and may the Church be even more purified to become a more pious Church capable of winning in the Final Confrontation.
      Mary Virgin Priest, pray for us. (St.Pius X; 1906)

      • Christopher Lake says:


        On your speculation that Pope Francis will allow female priests in the Catholic Church, he has already spoken on that subject, and what he said went in the exact opposite direction of your speculation. He reaffirmed Pope John Paul II’s statement that this cannot ever be done in the Church: https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-confirms-finality-ban-ordaining-women

      • jong says:

        Christopher Lake
        Pope Francis criticize Medjugorje at first and then later on approved the Pastoral significance of Medjugorje.
        Amoris L. is a change in sacramental discipline, CCC2267 considered the social situations.
        The Dogma “outside the Church there is no salvation” was develop.
        All this happen because the Holy Spirit breathe in the Mercy of God.
        Pope Francis said, the Holy Spirit is the one leading the Synod.
        Will the Holy Spirit breathe in again the Mercy of God to soften the “force of discipline” stated in paragraph #4 of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis?, thats a very small window of opening.
        Woman ordination will definitely change the Face of the Church, and could it also be the seed for Final Confrontation for the Rad Trads to justify and launh their grand revolt..
        It is the destiny of the Church, the Church will be reduced to a small church. Pope Francis already stated the “signs of times” and “Time of Mercy”. Will the Holy Spirit supply the power and authority that is lacking in the Church today in these end times? Jesus left the 99 good sheep to save the one lost sheep.
        The Second Pentecost will renew the Face of the Church and the face of the earth and it is coming soon.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        The Pope has been very clear that he does not support women’s ordination.

      • jong says:

        Pedro G.
        That is the Wisdom why Pope Francis is very vocal that he does not support the woman ordination. So, that his action can be seen as the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and not his personal conviction.
        What if, the ordination of woman to diaconate happen? 7Will you still be supporting and willing to defend Pope Francis?

      • M. says:

        jong- just to clarify..are you talking about the ordained priesthood for women, or a type of ministry characterized by the term “priesthood of the laity?” Ordination of women is a door that is closed- Pope Francis has made that very clear. Your comments are getting a little bit…wonky. Be careful brother, don’t get too sure of yourself and your own predictions. I’m not really comfortable with the constant preaching of fire and brimstone to Rad Trads. Lets of these people are understandably misled, we mustn’t condemn as if we were God. A little less intensity might do no harm. More prayer, less commenting, perhaps? For myself, as well.

      • jong says:

        I’m not the only one speculating. try this link: Five Steps to Ordained Women Deacons http://wherepeteris.com/our-lady-of-the-amazon-solving-the-contradictions/#comments , https://ronconte.com/2019/10/05/amazon-synod-women-deacons-apostasy/

        Also, I am not an apologist like the WPI, the wisdom why Pope Francis never answered the Dubia Cardinals is in Luke22:32 and 1John2:18-19, Pope Francis has no obligation to confirm Bishops who had chosen a path of separation and does not treat him as their True Pastor. How can you confirm a schismatic Bishop?…sorry you cannot ponder 1John2:18-19

        And it’s not only me who sees the schismatic rigid Rad Trads as evil, Stephen Walford in Mike Lewis interview called this Rad Trads channel “satanic”, and I agree 100% esp. the channel of Michael Matt, and followed by Michael Voris, Dr.Marhsall ,and John Westen, etc, this people are constantly accusing, twisting, spinning, lying & gossiping all this are the works of the devils.(Revelation12:10) See this Mike Lewis interview with S. Walford;

        ““The abuse from many, including those who run websites and Traditionalist blogs aimed at the Holy Father and those who are loyal to him, is nothing short of satanic. You are their role models and that is an intolerable situation. In reality, there is no confusion but only outright rejection and defiance towards the legitimate Pope and his magisterial teachings.”(Stephen Walford ; http://wherepeteris.com/interview-with-catholic-author-stephen-walford-part-1/)

        You said “Ordination of women is a door that is closed- Pope Francis has made that very clear. “..Well, the Holy Spirit in Vatican II Council in the words of St,JP2 had said “Open wide the door to Christ, be not afraid”. And in 2015, Pope Francis even open the Door of Sanctuary, Pope Francis had open the “Door of Mercy”, so the main door and the sanctuary door are fully open to the Mercy of God to flow abundantly.

        In the words of Stephen Walford in that same link; “The principle is that as the Church moves ever closer to the end of time, it understands its doctrines more and more –closer to how Jesus himself sees them– and it acts more and more as a mother to humanity. ”

        The gospel was silent if the “other Mary’s” were present in the Last Supper, but in the Upper Room in Acts1:14 the “other Mary’s” were united in prayer with the Apostles & disciples. I believe that as Pope Francis said we are seeing the “signs of times”, and we are now living in the Time of Mercy and approaching the end times, the Face of the Church is really the Face of a Loving and Merciful Mother, who really is the First Woman Priest to celebrate the “First Holy Mass” and who can worthily pronounce the consecration prayer “This is my body, this is my blood”, and the Holy Spirit come down to not only imprint the image of Christ in Her flesh/host, the Logos had took Her very flesh. Mama Mary is the “Living Holy Eucharist” walking for nine months that’s why the Holy Spirit need to put a veil by overshadowing the New Ark of the Covenant.

        The Catholic Church in the end times, will reveal the New Face of the Church, and it has the Face of the Mother, after all the Logos has no face, His face was the Face of the Woman andand . Mary Virgin Priest, pray for us. (St.Pius X; 1906)

      • jong says:

        Watch this new video from Rome, and listen to Pope Francis, he will reopen a new commission to further study the woman role as diaconate in the Church. See, I told you, Pope Francis will be inspired by the Holy Spirit to use the “small window” in paragraph#4 of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JCQ_GQ3Sg4
        The future Church will exalt the Marian dimensions of the Church because we are now heading towards the fulfillment of Genesis3:15.
        The New Face of the Church is the Face of the Woman, who gave Face to the Logos the Head of the Church and who gave birth to the Mystical Body of Christ the Church.
        How will these New Transformation happen, like in the Upper Room the Pentecost anointed all the Apostles, the Second Pentecost will pour-out new graces to anoint woman to priesthood as “helper” like Eve to Adam. The New Adam and New Eve is the New Face of the Church towards the New Paradise celebrating the Eucharistic Era.
        see this link; “The Cenacle A Preparation for the Second Pentecost” https://mmp-usa.net/the-purpose-of-the-cenacle/

      • carn says:


        If I understand you correctly, it will be in the end a good thing that the Pope poured kerosene into the fire,, cause then it burns hotter and purifies the Church more?

        Ok, one cannot exclude that.

        Though I think there was limitation about doing bad things so good may come from them. And pouring kerosene into the fire of schism might fail that criteria.

        And if you noted: Gideon sent majority of troops home, he did not kill them to reduce his own numbers. The method of number reduction is not irrelevant.

      • carn says:

        @Pedro Gabriel:

        As it is established that in settings like press conferences, interviews and so on, Pope Francis often says something verbatim which he did not mean that way, how can you be certain that his statement about that door being closed, that he would die before doing that, etc. can actually be understood verbatim?

        I do not think either, that Pope Francis will go that route.

        But i cannot see how one can exclude that if the Pope using the words “the statue of the pachamama” actually intended the words to have the meaning “the so-called pachamama statues”.

        After all, put a synonym of “so-called” into
        “This door is closed.”

        “This quasi door is quasi closed.”

        and there is all the wiggle room Jong needs.

        If one has to read Papal interviews, press conference statements, etc. with always the possibility in mind that the Pope uses words such that for the intended meaning a “so called” or similar is sometimes to be placed here and there, interviews, press conference statements, etc. are useless to show what the actual position of the Pope is.

  4. Marthe Lépine says:

    My question might be stupid in the middle of such a controversy, but I have been wondering about a very practical aspect. The sculptures having been made of wood, is there a possibility they could float somewhere where they can be rescued? And maybe even repaired from the damage done by the water, or any other thing like stones?

    • Marie says:

      Don’t suggest they were floating Marthe, next we’ll be hearing they were levitating! 🙂 Excellent article Pedro.

  5. Chase says:

    Pedro, I would recommend adding your discussion with carn re: the pope’s recent words to the article. This article, and the work you have done, is a comprehensive resource in getting well-sourced, non-hysterical information. The pope using the word “pachamama” is a Christmas gift wrapped up with a nice, red bow for the Vorises and Marshalls of the world. His use of the word needs to be addressed specifically in an article of this kind, else it’s already obsolete.

    I know what he meant, and anyone who read the full context does either, but a good summary of the whole controversy should include it.

    • Pedro Gabriel says:

      I’m out at the moment, but will update as soon as I can

    • Pedro Gabriel says:

      It’s updated. Thank you.

      • carn says:

        Please note that excluding “idolatry intentions” does not exclude that something is an idol.

        The Pope putting an idol in a Church without “idolatry intentions” would also be rather severe, at least in the eyes of many of his critics. As evidence take Ed Peters, who is at least well like by LSN:

        “But then, neither is setting up idols (whether to demons or to secular causes) in Catholic churches an act of good order.”

        Also, please note that “the pachamama statue” is not the same as “the statue of the pachamama”; it is either a mistake if a false translation is still up on Vatican news and/or that Vatican clarified some words of the Pope with a wording which was not used by the Pope.

        Also, i do not understand how one could paint a positive picture of that situation without implicitely admitting:
        And when Pope Francis speaks unprepared remarks, do not mind if they are wrong, contradictory, etc., cause he is when speaking freely not always carefully optimizing his words in a lawyerly way.

        And thank God that those “whatever” statues were not on display in St. Peter during the final mass.

        Cause very simply, if I had been there, I am not sure I would or could have knelt with that things on the altar, as the Pope called them “the statues of the pachamama” and I am not to kneel before statues of the pachamama. Good, that the attendants have been spared that problem.

      • Mary Angelica says:

        “Also, please note that “the pachamama statue” is not the same as “the statue of the pachamama”; it is either a mistake if a false translation is still up on Vatican news and/or that Vatican clarified some words of the Pope with a wording which was not used by the Pope.”

        Carn, just an observation. I don’t know what language the Pope was speaking in, but at least in Spanish, you don’t really have a distinction between “statues of the Pachamama” and “Pachamama statues”. In both cases you would say “estatuas de (la) Pachamama.” and if you look at different translations of the transcript, you get both phrasings. I’m only guessing that this lack of distinction also occurs in Italian and I don’t know Italian all that well, so one would have to verify this, but the variation of translation is part of why I am guessing so.

      • carn says:

        @Mary Angelica

        I presume that even in Spanish there would have been some words to indicate that this is just the name these statues are called by some.

        And it is still on the Vatican News website without clarification or correction or whatever:
        “I want to say a word about the statues of the pachamama that were taken from the church of the Transpontina – which were there without idolatrous intentions – and were thrown into the Tiber.”

        “I’m only guessing that this lack of distinction”

        The in my view best explanation for this lack of distinction between whether the Pope meant “so-called pachamama statues” or “statues being an image of the pagan goddess pachamama” I heard from Michael Voris:

        People at Vatican simply do not get that the difference is relevant.

        Which results in carelessness when choosing words about the matter and half-hearted attempts to limit the reach of problematic citations.

        As if only the only problem about bowing to something, which might be idols, in Vatican gardens under Papal eyes and presenting these idols in Churches are those rigid hateful catholics and everything would be fine if they wouldn’t make a fuss about it.

        quoting myself:
        “Cause very simply, if I had been there, I am not sure I would or could have knelt with that things on the altar, as the Pope called them “the statues of the pachamama” and I am not to kneel before statues of the pachamama. Good, that the attendants have been spared that problem.”

        Both LSN and German kath.net claim that some bishops suggested that they would not attend the mass if the statues had been displayed and that this served as encouragement not to present them. If that were true, it would seem that i would not be alone in having problems how to behave during a mass in presende of statues called “statues of the pachamama” by the Pope.

      • Mary Angelica says:


        Think of it this way. My point is that if there were better way to indicate that he was just calling them by a colloquial name, and he was trying to be explicit about that, then if I am correct about how Italian works, he would have used a different phrasing than what could have been translated either to “pachamama statues ” or “statues of the Pachamama”. Multiple times you were pointing out the distinction between these two English phrases, but in Spanish, and maybe Italian, these would both be semantically direct translations of the same phrase. In other words, if you read this in the original language, you wouldn’t be able to conclude anything from the phrasing alone. Instead, you’ll need additional context.

        . If, as the WPI people say, the statutes had already been given unofficial pachamama name by Italian media, (and I think this is quite possible), then given the facts that
        1) Pope Francis mainly just looks at Italian media, and doesn’t pay attention to American media
        2) Francis was talking to other Italians in this transcript, and not even on a media level capacity, and
        3) English translations of anything Pope Francis says tend to be rather crappy, and “statues of the pachamama” is more word-for-word a translation, which is what less experienced translators are more likely to do,

        Then it makes more sense to see this more as having the connotation you ascribe to “pachamama statues” than “statues of the pachamama”.

        I still agree with you that the Vatican has done a terrible job in handling this, but I think you shouldn’t hinge your argument on a linguistic connotation found in English but not in Italian, nor do you have to.

      • Norris Archer Harrington says:

        I think all of this is absurd. But even if not, it does nothing to explain or excuse the publication from the Italian Bishops that included a decidedly pagan prayer to Pachamama. This is NOT from the secular Italian press. This is from “Missio”, an official publication of Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (CEI). That is to say, from the Italian Catholic Bishops.

        Here is the full prayer, as translated from the Italian:

        Pachamama of these places,
        drink and eat as much as you like of these offerings,
        so that this land may be fruitful.
        Pachamama, good Mother
        Be propitious! Be propitious!
        Let the oxen walk well,
        and let them not get tired.
        Make the seed taste good,
        that nothing bad happen to it,
        that frost may not disrupt it,
        that it produce good food.
        We ask you:
        give us everything.
        Be propitious! Be propitious!

        (Prayer to the Mother Earth of the Inca peoples)

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        That pamphlet is from April and we have no proof connecting it to the statues in question. It is meant to illustrate an example of native culture and respect for the environment. It was not meant to as a theological endorsement

      • Jude says:

        It does not just illustrate respect for the environment. Ode to a Tree illustrates respect for the environment.
        This is a prayer. The fact that the bishops published it back in April, does not help the cause.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        It does ilustrate respect for the environment. Just because it does not fall on the confines of the limits you set, it does not make it not “respect for the environment”. You also left out the part where I mentioned native culture.

      • carn says:

        @Mary Angelica

        You are correct, that i was to fixated upon the English translation by VaticanNews and others.

        But that doesn’t resolve, that in Italian and probably any other language there exists some equivalent of so-called:


        That word or similar would have fit in nicely and would have helped to convey the interpretation that the Pope only used “pachamama” so anybody knows about which statues he talks.

        But whatever, things seem to go really south. Now some Catholics spread the claim that some pot with plants placed on the altar during the closing mass of the synod was brought by a woman with pachamama symbols on the clothing, had the correct composition of colors, etc. as prescribed on websites about actual pachamama rituals and placed – after the Pope talked shortly to the person he gave the pot too (meaning he might have giving instructions what to do with that pot, which is not unreasonable, cause it might have been an unexpected item for the person the Pope gave it to, so he would have needed instructions) – on the altar where supposedly according to these pachamama websites it should be placed in pachamama rituals.

        I’ll resort in this matter to Hanlon’s razor:
        “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

        Those websites regularly organizing petitions by Catholics to the Pope/Bishops should consider a petition to Cardinal Sarah, that he should do nothing but rummaging through all stuff, prayer leaflets, booklets and so on, that is carelessly presented whereever the Pope happens to do something official, and put everything looking slightly problematic into a trash bag before the Pope shows up.

  6. Mando says:

    I sympathize with the intentions of this article that was clearly written in the spirit of charity and truth. However I do take issue with the lack of clarity that is characterizing the Vatican during this Synod.
    Also, I don’t agree too much with this whole rhetoric against the so-called “rigid”.
    Many people are genuinely worried that there’s some lack of clarity in conducing the evangelization of the Amazon, and I have to say I share some of these concerns (e.g. there’s an interview of an indigenous person who converted to Evangelical Protestantism because he was fed up with Catholic missionaries teaching his tribe that even the most obscene tradition was ok).
    An official clarification from the pope or some spokesperson addressing clearly the matter would have been an act of charity towards these concerns.
    As for me I wasn’t particularly worried about this Pachamama issue as I immediately thought of it as an (incomplete maybe) process of inculturation.
    But yes I would have liked some more clarity and maybe, now that the His Holiness has addressed the controversy, a charitable correction towards those who took this matter with too much zeal (well intentioned or not, it’s not on me to judge).

  7. Joshua Hernandez says:

    It does’t matter what you say, this entire thing is a completely unmitigated disaster. None of this makes any sense whatsoever. Mixed and contrary signals doesn’t even begin to approach a proper description of the absolute bewildering absurdity of what is coming to us from rome. You couldn’t possibly create a bigger more unholy mess if you tried. This is all extremely bizarre, shocking and deeply troubling, to say the very least. Pious Catholics of good will are confused, disoriented and suffering greatly. The faith of many is being tested. Please, for the love of God, stop defending this madness!

    • Pedro Gabriel says:

      I will not. You are free to dismiss it, but I am free to continue doing what I’m doing. Your opinions on my article are not shared by many people who thought it well-reasoned and well-researched, and who thought it cleared up their confusion. These are the ones that drive me to move forward.

      • Anne Lastman says:

        Please do continue to move forward Pedro. Please keep helping to clarify the lunacy which a small group of disenchanted individuals with access to all media forms have helped to create in order to undermine the Papacy of HH pope Francis.
        As I’ve said in past posts the Name he took at his election should have clearly told us that his charism was to “go and rebuild my church”
        This Synod has been do important because he has attempted to do what has not been able to be done in hundreds of years and thst is to minister to a society which has largely been ignored. He has been true Shepherd and gone looking for those left behind.
        To this end ordain men of their own. Set up catholic charisms for men and women Help the people truly feel part of the fold. Pope Francis had heard the whispers “ho and rebuild my church” and the gates of fury were opened

      • Norris Archer Harrington says:

        >>Your opinions on my article are not shared by many people who thought it well-reasoned and well-researched, and who thought it cleared up their confusion. These are the ones that drive me to move forward.<<

        Truth or falsehood in this matter has nothing to do with how popular your writing is.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Correct, but that was not the reason why I mentioned the people who supported my article. It’s not about popularity, it’s about someone asking me to stop writing while there are people who have been helped by what I wrote.

        In the meantime, truth or falsehood is also not determined by unpopularity among certain sectors who are convinced of papal wrongdoing from the get-go, nor is it proven by gratuitous dismissals

      • Norris Archer Harrington says:

        >>In the meantime, truth or falsehood is also not determined by unpopularity among certain sectors who are convinced of papal wrongdoing from the get-go, nor is it proven by gratuitous dismissals<<

        My dismissal wasn't gratuitous at all.

        Rather, it was based on the exceedingly evident falsehood that, "No prostrations or rituals were performed."

        Photos seen by millions prove that to be false.

        Not gratuitous at all.

      • Mike Lewis says:

        Your dismissal was over six years ago. There was absolutely no possibility that you would have been willing to approach this Synod or anything associated with it with an open mind.

      • Norris Archer Harrington says:

        “Your dismissal was over six years ago. There was absolutely no possibility that you would have been willing to approach this Synod or anything associated with it with an open mind.”

        Actually, no. That is not true.

        I have never even heard of Pedro Gabriel before tonight. Besides, his statement that I dismissed was made today, not years ago.

        Additionally, my dismissal of his statement was actually for the very reasons I have stated here.

    • Christopher Lake says:


      You came to this website, very recently, writing, in your very first comment here, that you were/are honestly confused by many of the Pope’s words and actions, and that you were/are genuinely crying out for answers and clarification. You just want to understand, can someone help me to understand, you wrote.

      However, in your subsequent comments, you have strongly resisted and opposed virtually every answer and clarification that have been offered by everyone here, whether by an official writer (of the articles) or by a commenter. Moreover, you have “informed” those attempting to offer answers and clarifications that the Pope is obviously at fault and that we all need to face up to it and stop defending him (as if no one here has heard such declarations from *many other people, often*– which, I can tell you, we have).

      In light of these “get with it, and see what is so obviously clear, and stop defending the Pope” lectures from you, which can be found underneath many recent articles here, it appears that you had already decided what you believed, and where you stood, regarding Pope Francis and his leadership, before you ever even came here. If you truly had honest questions and truly desired answers and clarification, and were willing to seriously consider that you might be mistaken, when you came to WPI, then why have you vociferously opposed virtually everything that has been offered to you here, and lectured those offering it that they need to drop their defense of the Pope and just see what is so obviously clear to you and others?

    • M. says:

      @Joshua The absurdity and confusion is not coming to us from Rome, but from the websites and YouTube channels that you, evidently, follow. I suggest a fast from these panicky, super dramatic sites that give you a little hit of adrenaline every time you visit. Hang out over here with us, instead. You’ll feel much better, and you’ll be informed with the truth, rather than click bait that lines the pockets of the likes of Taylor Marshall. (Whose posts I stopped following years ago, the moment I noticed him using his adorable kids for blog fodder.) Seriously, dude, these guys are like a bunch of gossipy old ladies who think they “know.” Fortunately for us, we have Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church, founded on the rock of Peter. SO glad he didn’t found his church on the rock of EWTN, Taylor Marshall, et al, for then there would be nothing left. Thank you Pedro for all your hard work in helping us to bear the sludge being dumped on our heads from both left and right. You are providing an umbrella of sorts and we appreciate it! Those who tell us we are “burying our heads in the sand” and blue pilled, etc. would love us to come out from under the umbrella, and stand in the rain of sewage these bloggers are pouring down on the poor church in the name of “truth” and “seeing reality.” Yuck, no thanks!

      • B. Reilly says:

        May I sincerely ask what it is you consider to be wrong with EWTN? I’ve watched it for years and I find the priests who say mass to be holy and very helpful in all their sermons. I find Fr. Spitzer’s programme really inspiring and helpful tok. I’ve never heard anything on EWTN which is against church teaching. It means a lit to me. Please tell me why you think it’s not good. Thank you.

      • Mike Lewis says:

        Fr Spitzer, from what I’ve seen, has been one of the more fair voices on EWTN. Other programs, however, such as the World Over Live with Raymond Arroyo, have been vocal in their opposition to the pope. Also, the National Catholic Register is owned by EWTN, and their Rome correspondent, Edward Pentin, is fiercely anti-Francis. The president of EWTN News, Dan Burke, is also militant in his opposition to the Holy Father.

    • carn says:

      “You couldn’t possibly create a bigger more unholy mess if you tried.”

      False; worse would have been possible.

      Imagine the whatever statues on the altar and
      Pope Francis has good knees that day.

      That would have been far worse.

      Accordingly, your claim that it could not have been worse is false.

  8. Yaya says:

    “Good afternoon. I want to say a word about the statues of the pachamama that were taken from the church of the Transpontina – which were there without idolatrous intentions – and were thrown into the Tiber.”

    Gracias Pedro for your fine article. It cleared up everything I wondered about as did our Holy Father’s words.

    I can now move on …

  9. Pete Vickery says:

    Why does Tavares look and sound like the many used car salesmen I have encountered in my life? I know I’m being judgemental but like I said Pedro, you have more charity in your heart than I do. Just a note of interest from history (I mentioned this on another blog) but there were faithful Catholics (including priests) who continued to refer to Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe as “Tonantzin” decades after the appearance of Our Lady on Juan Diego’s tilma. Got this from the 16th century Franciscan historian and priest Fr Francisco de Sahagun. Sahagun criticized the use by the indigenous of the name of the pagan goddess Tonantzin wrt the image on the tilma. The Franciscans tried to discourage the indigenous from the veneration of the image while the Dominicans encouraged their enthusiasm for it. From what I can glean from history, many of the Franciscans had a negative view of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the indigenous souls honoring her. The Franciscan discouragement from veneration of the image was bad enough to compel the successor of archbishop Juan de Zumarraga ( a Dominican named Alonso de Montufar) to transfer custody of the chapel at Tepeyac from Franciscan control to Dominican control.

    • Jessica says:

      There was a similar story in my high school American history book about the Franciscans and Jesuits. I have no idea if it was true, but the story made me a Jesuit fan to this day.

  10. Jude says:

    It occurs to me that this whole controversy could have been avoided if there were a little bit (or a lot) more care taken by the Vatican and the pope.

    From early on, perhaps having people without an agenda involved, who for years were touting all things scary and un thinkable.

    But, in the immediate term, they could have told the people to bring their art and statues etc, and have them present at the ceremony, but that they shouldn’t bow down in worship before them, as such a thing is not done by Christians. We may bless Christmas trees and Advent wreaths but we don’t prostrate ourselves to them.

    After the ceremony, they could have said “they shouldn’t have done that” “we didn’t know they were going to do that” or something along those lines, but no. We spend weeks arguing about who the figures were and having people parse the meaning of words to say that offering incense and bowing to a carved wooden object somehow isn’t objectionable.

    One might have thought that after the figures were removed from the church and thrown in the river, it might have given them a bit of reflection, That the recent actions have been so that it caused someone, to the great acclaim of many more, to react so strongly. A little “maybe we could have handled it better” “maybe we should have been as sensitive to Catholics in New York and London as we were trying to appear to be to Amazonians.” Or even an admission that the opening ceremony might have been a little over the top. But, no. Or an explanation of “I know how you feel, but think of it this way…” but just accusations of schism, and worse leveled at people who at least care enough about the church and the faith and the honor of God to react.

    My bottom line essentially is that I don’t know what the figures were, I don’t object to cultural art in Rome, I don’t object to depicting Our Lady as a different race (although she was a real person and not just an idea, a real person who did not go around exposed) but, prostration and burning incense to something other than God is unacceptable, and that if the Vatican can’t say that… We have a problem.

  11. Joshua Hernandez says:


    You said: “Earlier today, it has been reported on Twitter that Ruffini issued a “definitive answer”
    “No prostrations or rituals were performed. We must all be rigorous in telling things that have happened in front of the cameras.”

    Is this some sort of joke? Am I missing something? What Ruffini denied happened is, in fact, precisely what did occur, as is evidenced by the video footage. This is a brazen lie. Do they have no shame? Why is this quoted in the article as if it were true, without any further comment?

    You said: “Please note, the Pope is very clear: the statues were there without idolatrous intentions. Again, the charges of paganism are refuted by none other than the Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Rome. Can’t get more official than that.”

    No, it is not clear in the least bit, in fact. If this is the case then why were these statues front and center amidst a religious ritual in which the participants were prostrating themselves before them? Why were they given a place of honor and carried in a religious procession into St. Peter’s Basilica? Why have these images been placed inside of the sanctuary in front of our altars? Why is the pope talking about displaying them during the holy sacrifice of the mass on Sunday? This is insulting. Our trust is being taken advantage of. To say that things are amiss would be a massive understatement.

    You said: “More recently, we discovered a video posted on the Facebook wall of someone involved with the REPAM group, named Afonso Murad. Here he says that the image is not religious”

    What? How does this fit? You can’t just say that a particular thing is in no way religious and then proceed to use it in an explicitly religious manner and then be shocked when people are confused and refuse to have their intellects assent to such a patently absurd irrationality. They say one thing and then act in a way that contradicts it and then say something completely opposite the next day, then do another thing that makes even less sense, then etc. and so it goes. Rinse, repeat and then hang faithful Catholics expressing concern up to dry. This is psychological abuse. Again, none of this makes any coherent sense.
    Something is gravely amiss.

    Lastly, it bares repeating that, as I have already mentioned, mother earth worship is a still existing pagan cult within the amazon region. It’s not like we’re talking about Zeus, Jupiter or Thor who’s cults have been long dead and who have been emptied of all of their pagan connotations in terms of idolatry. As I have said before, this mother earth statue didn’t just pop up out of the cultural milieu of a London or New York. This is the AMAZON synod. We’re in the jungle, baby. …Hopefully, we’re not all going to die. Miserere, Domine

    P.S. Eric Gunta, if you read this, I miss you, man. Let us know next time you’re in town, and in the mean time get off the cray cray amazonian jungle train! Pax Christi

    • Pedro Gabriel says:

      At this time I would like to second Christopher Lake’s last comment to you

      • M. says:

        I was also wondering about the comment Ruffini made that “No prostrations or rituals were performed. We must be rigorous in telling things that have happened before the camera.” To me it seems like such an outrageous statement that it must be true. Hear me out. How many times have things been caught on camera that look like one thing, and turn out to be quite another? If a protestant walked into my house and saw me doing the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim in my tiny house with a picture of my dog on the wall, it would totally look like I was worshiping the picture of my dog, for example. What was the intent of these indiginous? Just because the images were there, does not mean that the intention was to prostrate before them. I prostrate in front of icons. But I’m not worshipping the icons, or anything else that happens to be in front of me- even though I have candles lit in front of the icons. The icons just happen to be there in front of me as windows, while as I worship the one high God. I would not prostrate myself to an icon of the virgin, but I would not hesitate to prostrate to God, with an icon of the Theotokos in front of me. My intention is different than it looks from the outside. Can you understand this Joshua? Anyone who uses prostrations in their worship understands this reality. The prostrations are directed to God, regardless of what happens to be in front of you at the time, even if whatever is there is part of the ceremony itself-

      • Wim Vanraes says:

        Absolutely. Some Protestant fundamentalists even accuse Catholics and other less strict Protestants of worshipping their Christmas trees every time to kneel in front of it to pick up a present. I wished I was kidding, but I am not: I actually was accused of that… 😀

        Not everything we kneel or bow in front of is worshiped. You’d think that is a no-brainer…

      • M. says:

        PS, I forgot to mention this one other point. I’m sort of appalled- even if this actually was an inappropriate form of liturgy/prayer- appalled that we keep applying our fat and happy standards to these poor people who have no priests to catechize them or give them the sacraments. Even if this ceremony *was* inappropriate, the Pope did the right thing not to freak out about it. C’mon, people. Here in the west we are “priest rich.” We can receive the Eucharist, and confession, we can receive instruction, we have access to loads of books *in our own language* about the faith, and we can access the internet to fin out anything about our faith we are unsure of. But the big thing is that *priests are willing to minister to us because their lives are not made too uncomfortable by ministering to us.* And we are going to freak out because the Pope didn’t yell at some Amazonian natives who have no priests, few books in their own language, and probably no parish, and little instruction? Yeah, you think he should’ve come down hard on them? Why are we applying our fat and happy western standards to these dirt poor people who have literally *nothing.* What is wrong with us? I’m sorry for sounding frustrated.

      • jong says:

        The tribal group in the Vatican Garden, the group who was seen kneeling down, when their Leader approached Pope Francis, in the article of Pedro Gabriel, the Tribal Leader uttered Our Lady of Amazon. So, for this group they look at the “naked statue” as a symbol representing the Theotokos, and remember there is a counterpart of a Woman who is also pregnant pointing to St.Elizabeth,.The presentation is a depiction of the Mystery of Visitation according to finite understanding & expression of the Amazonian Tribal group present in the Vatican garden.
        Do this people committed idolatry for kneeling infront of the “naked statue” who from their mind is a depiction of Our Lady of Amazon? NO!
        Why? idolatry definition is, when people bow down to a created false god and worship a false god. The Amazonian Tribal group in the Vatican Garden knows Our Lady is not God, so how can they commit idolatry? That’s why Pope Francis said there’s was no “idolatrous expression” if we carefully comprehend the true definition of idolatry.
        What is the solution to the art depicting the Theotokos in a naked state? Very simple, all the wooden statue of Our Lady in the civilized world were naked, they only dressed up Mama Mary in a Royal Vestment. So, the simple solution is to educate the Amazonian Tribe, to create a Royal Dress to their “naked statue”, so, that it will be more pleasing to the eyes of the common faithful. Will the Amazon listen to the Church Authority if they suggest to clothe Mama Mary? I think they will follow after all the noise created by the Rad Trads.

    • Anne Lastman says:

      Joshua I refer you to Christopher Lake’s words to you. Read them and Pedro’s words well.

  12. Mary Angelica says:

    Hello Pedro,

    I’d like to address one of the points you make, since it seems to correspond a good bit to a previous comment I made in a previous article.

    “Symbolic acts of reverence to representations of abstract concepts do not amount to idolatry or paganism.”

    I agree with you on this, and also agree that many of the variations out there of the “it’s all Pachamama anyway” arguments are pretty bad and ignorant of Christian history. However, I don’t think it would be correct to claim that “life” or “mother earth” are abstract concepts to the Amazonians either. I know you didn’t say this, but that does seem to be the go-to claim of the REPAM organizers and the Vatican spokesmen. I will admit I am not well versed in the indigenous religions, but from what I have read of them, they tend to be animist, and ascribe personality to these very real and powerful forces in their lives. In my searches, I also found that there is a strong connection between environmental consciousness and Indigenous Amazonian spirituality, which is often described in animistic terms, and well known enough among activists in South America that it is the subject of quite a few academic papers. This animistic spirituality is used by activists to coordinate with local Amazonians in environmental conservation (weirdly, or not so weirdly, enough, none of these sources talked about Pachamama, though they did bring Nunkuli… but that’s a digression), and is even referenced in the working document. Now this kind of view, though foreign to us, is pretty deeply embedded in the Amazonian people, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some elements remained among the Catholic Amazonians. The point being, thinking of life or mother earth as mere abstract concepts doesn’t seem to be Amazonian at all.

    Not all of these are bad either. I think a real awareness of God’s presence in the natural world, and a reverence for our sister mother earth is a very healthy and, yes, Christian mindset. There is also a problem with the overly materialistic viewpoint we Westerners have of the earth itself. But some of these may potentially be off. For one, I think part of the reason that this ceremony might be triggering the opponents so much is the specifically liturgical nature of the ritual. Sure, we have songs and poems reverencing mother earth even in the medieval era, but are any of these used in the context of worship, or was there a more general poetic, but not necessarily liturgical element to it? It’s very hard for most people to see the Amazonians prostrating bent fully towards the ground, and not think there is worship involved.

    I don’t remember if you wrote about this, but in the video of the tree planting ceremony the Amazonians were singing as they danced around the statues. Did you mention in some previous article what they were singing about? I tried to decipher it in case it was Spanish, but couldn’t get anything from the audio alone. It seems like that may be relevant. If it’s something Christian in content, that would add much strength to the claim that it was not idolatrous. Heck, if REPAM had a neat little description about the set up, that would be sweet as well. I was curious about why there were two statues facing each other.

    At the very least, while I was previously uncertain, I don’t think the Pachamama thesis a tenable one anymore.

    • Jude says:

      With All Saints day coming up, I am mindful of 2 things, one from ancient times and one more recent that bare upon the ceremony in the Vatican.

      first, when i think of the martyrs of the first centuries of the church who gave their lives rather than burn incense to idols, I have to think we have certainly come along way, though not in the right direction. I also ask myself if they were told not to honor Jove or the Nero, but mother earth or fertility with a grain of incense, would they have able to say “oh, that’s alright then,” I doubt it.

      On the other hand, we remember men like those in the synod if not actually them, removing all the statues of saints from our churches along with most of the marks of existing piety without any concern for the feelings of faithful. So, St. Anthony has to go, but mother earth must stay. “This is how we pray now, get with the program or get out” is what they told us, but now “there’s no right way to pray” Ok. forgive me if I don’t seem as enthusiastic as WPI.

  13. Wim Vanraes says:

    Dear Mr. Gabriel,

    Thank you very much for your hard work here! I think you were right on the money to decry this ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’, as you detailed.

    At a FaceBook page, The Omaha Beach Mass, we came to the following conclusion (written by my colleague and good friend, but wholeheartedly agreed with), which I think you will interesting as well, reaching a similar conclusion from a different angle.


    One a side note: one of the art I came across, was a Maori tekoteko, or carved image, of Our Lady. It depicts her in full native fashion and iconography, and I dare anyone, if it was set in a series of 5 other Maori statues of actual idols, to pick it up and identify it as deeply Catholic. It shows her, for example, with a full face tattoo. For us, Westerners, an abomination to depict Our Lady like that, it has all the hallmarks of paganism in our eyes. Yet, for the Maori, this was reserved only for men, so when given to a woman, it depicted her status as what we would call princess or queen. It is actually rather beautiful to see how their understanding of Mary found such a representation through their own iconography.

    If you ever come to the region around New York, it would be my honor and pleasure to invite you for dinner, and a chat over some good Belgian beers (I’m Belgian by birth).

  14. Norris Archer Harrington says:

    “No prostrations or rituals were performed. We must all be rigorous in telling things that have happened in front of the cameras.”

    This is simply false, and plainly shown to be false by photographs seen around the world.

  15. Marie says:

    This need to nitpick everything the pope says suggests he is striking a nerve rather that what he says is confusing. The standard that some place on him, where every word is hyper analyzed, but forgiving of our own of course, is more about the desire to reject the message or purposely misrepresent him then about genuine confusion. Let’s at least be honest about things. We all, without exception, know exactly what the pope meant concerning the statues. We might not have liked what he said, but we understood it. It just not that complicated. We did not need clarification, but again, that was granted, and again, it still wasn’t enough.

    We also know what the pope has said concerning the priesthood. We are free to agree or disagree, but why play games? It’s phony and disingenuous. I genuinely hope the Vatican stops ‘clarifying’ things. I see it as giving in to bullies, and that never leads to peace, just more bullying. It’s a demand to continue to be front and centre stage. Those days are gone, like it or lump it.

    • Mary Angelica says:

      “Let’s at least be honest about things. We all, without exception, know exactly what the pope meant concerning the statues.”

      Marie, I agre with you that the is a crowd of people that are dealing with the pope in bad faith, and that they have a double standard against him and in favor of their own ideologues. But I think this sentiment that you give is rather presumptuous for two reasons:

      1) people have different levels of connotational understanding when it comes to written and spoken language. I don’t know what your background is, but if you tend to have greater facility with literature, speech, human relationships, basically anything termed right brain, etc. You’ll like have a better capacity to catch these connotations.

      My brain is heavily tilted towards the mathematical, and I don’t have this linguistic ability. And so when faced with a text that seems troubling to me, and without any context, I need to first find sufficient context, and if that isn’t enough, I have to scrutinize the structure of the text itself.

      He can speak for himself, but carn, one of the main “opponent” commenters here, consistently will scrutinize a text down to its grammatical structure to ascertain its meaning, even to a scale that I don’t (and he’s done it for the “conservative” side as well). He is also a lawyer from a country that is known to have a very precise language, especially in theology and philosophy.

      A text like this is a structural mess, on its own at least, and not just because its from Francis, but it was a transcript of Francis talking to some people, so any verbal connotation was lost in transmission to writing form, and any additional precision that comes with pre-thought writing is also not there.

      2. It presumes that people are coming at the transcript with the same framework. If you’re an American who reads this transcript, even if you’re not constantly fed with anti- Francis nonsense (I, for one, don’t even look at Taylor Marshall, read Church militant, or watch EWTN. Etc. Most of my papal related stuff comes from the pope himself and WPI), but have even a little bit of unease about the synod, those comments at face value seem really strange.

      In my case, learning about how the reference to pachamama was more likely a result of the “meme- ification” by Italian media , most of whom don’t really care about the veracity of such a reference (much like the Washington post talked about these as fertility statutes), made plausible sense of what happened in the transcript. But I wouldn’t have thought of this as a possibility because I, as an American math grad student with a one year old who can barely keep track of US news, don’t really follow Italian news at all.

      The point being, just because something is ready for you to understand, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone else to understand

      • Mary Angelica says:

        Pardon the grammar mistakes and typos. I’m writing this from my phone and it autocorrects badly sometimes.

      • Marie says:

        Mary Angelica- I too limit myself to Pope Francis’ writings, WPI and a bit of twitter. Nothing else. I’m left handed, so you may well be correct about how we view things. Apparently it’s the right side of the brain for me. To be clear, I was not addressing people who have genuine concerns over the synod, or the statues, but strictly regarding what Pope Francis specifically said when discussing the controversy. I do understand some people naturally focus on detail, and others like myself tend to process overall concepts and ideas and drop specifics we feel irrelevant, right or wrong. That said, I still genuinely don’t see how what he said is open to interpretation other than if we view it with suspicion, because the second part of his sentence explained what he meant. I will take what you said to heart and see if I can see things differently. 🙂

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Hello fellow left-handed. Welcome to the club 🙂

      • Mary Angelica says:

        Marie, to get how it works, specifically in regards to PF’s comments on the statues: I honestly had no idea why he would have referred to them as pachamama statues if he didn’t see them as being displayed without idolatrous intent. For one, if he referenced them as such, that mean he was familiar enough with the claim, and he even new about the media kerluffle related to it. Surely he would be more careful? So something seemed amiss to me.

        At the very least I was willing to accept that I didn’t have all the info, and on its own it seemed incoherent in attitude, because whatever I think of PF’s flaws, I never thought that idolatry was one of them. But in order for me to make sense of it, I tried look over the details for context clues, but I didn’t know what was relevant, and what was not… the much need context was provided for me by the WPI people, and Mike Lewis at twitter. And then it made a lot more sense to me.

        I’m a leftie too… this is a 1 in 1000 occurrence!

    • carn says:

      “The standard that some place on him, where every word is hyper analyzed, but forgiving of our own of course, is more about the desire to reject the message or purposely misrepresent him then about genuine confusion. Let’s at least be honest about things.”


      “We all, without exception, know exactly what the pope meant concerning the statues.”


      “We might not have liked what he said, but we understood it.”


      You never notice that a large part of your arguments and also of WPI are literally attempts at mindreading by saying critics are motivated by this or that?

      For me personally i am not aware about any statement from high up in Vatican, what a) exactly these statues depict; b) what exactly these statues are; c) how bowing/prostrating to these statues is exactly meant/to be understood.

      Saying it is “mother earth” for example has as one suboption that it is pachamama, cause she is also “mother earth”.

      “but forgiving of our own of course”

      While i might forgive making such imprecise and unclear statements as upper Vatican has done in this matter, i would be ASHAMED for failing so. And ensure that nobody gets the message wrong.

      And i can write that confidently, cause in my job it is literal law that people will attack you based on your own unclear statements and that in some circumstances a “But i actually meant …” is not even allowed. Cause you get one chance to write something and if you fail to write it sufficiently clear, you have no way to amend it. Nothing.

      So not only you try mindreading, you actually provably fail in doing so.

      Just once try some argument without mindreading.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        I think it is not an exercise of mindreading to say that anyone with a modicum of sense knows what the Pope meant, and it is not that there was pagan idolatry involved. Therefore, the eagerness to cling to a single word, or to say that the Pope was talking only about the display and not the ceremony, or any other excuse, denotes that a person wants to keep fueling up the “pagan idolatry” narrative irrespectively of what the Vatican is clearly saying

        If people are so concerned about being accused of mindreading, maybe they should prove our mindreading wrong sometime. The “pagan idolatry” narrative has been denied, clearly and consistently, by REPAM members and by the Vatican. Instead of keeping on hammering on it, rejoice for the fact that there was no pagan idolatry and move on

      • carn says:

        I’ve proved your mindreading wrong a long time ago. Cause that is very simple.

        Just one sentence, like “The motive behind distrusting/disliking the Pope is …” and then me saying: “No, not true for me.” and it is disproven until it can shown that i am lying and/or not aware about my own motives.

        Here from a current article:

        “Fear or anxiety about what may be in the final papal document reveals a lack of trust in Christ and His promises to Peter.”

        False for me (and mind that Paul Fahey allows for no exception); my fear and anxiety about what might be written in the final papal document reveals a lack of trust in GERMAN (and some other) BISHOPS, cause i fear they will use it to further schism and/or cause spiritual harm.

        Hence, it is proven that not in all cases “Fear or anxiety about what may be in the final papal document reveals a lack of trust in Christ and His promises to Peter”, hence, in some cases it does not reveal such a lack of trust, hence, “fear”/”anxiety” cannot be treated as certainly revealing such a lack of trust, as it might be due to other causes.

        Hence, mindreading failed. Case closed.

        (May i suggest the use of words like “often”, “sometimes”, “regularly” and so on?)

        Also, the post you replied to already disproved mindreading although only of Marie:
        ““but forgiving of our own of course”

        While i might forgive making such imprecise and unclear statements as upper Vatican has done in this matter, i would be ASHAMED for failing so. And ensure that nobody gets the message wrong.”

        I would really feel ashamed if i talked about the rather delicate issue of potential idols placed in Churches and bowed to in Vatican gardens under papal eyes and then when trying to say something like “those statues known as pachamama statues”/”the so-called pachamama statues”/”the statues erroneously called pachamama statues”/…

        and then bungle it to using a wording that sounds like if i am saying that these not-pachamama statues are pachmama statues.


        Mindreading of Marie disproven.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        “I proved your mindreading wrong a long time ago.”

        So, you are going to rejoice with the fact that there was no pagan idolatry and move on? Because otherwise I fail to see how you proved the mindreading wrong, as I defined in my last comment.

      • carn says:


        That is sloppy from your side.

        You requested:

        “If people are so concerned about being accused of mindreading, maybe they should prove our mindreading wrong sometime.”

        “prove our mindreading wrong sometime”.

        That is not “prove our mindreading wrong in specific case …”

        So i met your request the moment i prove a single mindreading from ANY WPI article wrong. Which i did.

        Stop mindreading; its unchristian and bad way of arguing; very simple.

  16. Joshua Hernandez says:


    I’m not sure if this is permitted but I wanted to share a link to a very good short video on inculturation and the amazon synod. Here it is for what it’s worth…


  17. carn says:


    Could you help Austen Ivereigh a bit?


    “They were Amazonian Catholics praying to Mother Earth.”

    Or is it me who is dumb here?

    “Mother Earth” is not a person of the trinity, nor is it a saint, nor is it an angel. How could praying to “Mother Earth” be anything but idolatry? And how can a papal biographer not be aware about that?

  18. JMJ says:

    Question for y’all:

    If scripture/tradition/previous magisterium says X, and the current magisterium says and does not-X, Catholics are obliged to…

    1)…show filial devotion and reverence to the Holy Father, pray for understanding, and…
    A)…seek to understand how the current magisterium is in fact not saying not-X, for the Holy Spirit prevents him from doing so. In the final analysis, a Catholic does not need to choose between scripture/tradition/previous magisterium and the current magisterium, for they are necessarily in harmony.

    B)…henceforth adhere to the teachings of the current magisterium, even though this requires one to reject scripture/tradition/previous magisterium on those particular points of departure.

    2)…disrespect and/or break communion with the Holy Father.”

    Which one do you think is the orthodox Catholic position? Why?

    • JMJ says:

      For clarity, there are three options listed above: (1A), (1B), and (2). If you can think of a fourth option, do share.

      • Mike Lewis says:

        You have, of course, framed the questions and answers according to your ideological position (and not very originally, either. Seriously, I’ve seen the “X” and “not-X” scenario repeated at least 100 times in the last 3 years.)

        Try reading more posts at this site and you’ll see we’ve addressed it MANY times.

      • Mary Angelica says:

        Your fourth option is: 1C) verify whether it is actually the case that scripture and/or sacred tradition actually teach X, or whether your understanding of what you call X is actually correct.

        The general point being, if you trust the Church to be true, and you feel a contradiction between current and past magisterial teaching, depending on the level of teaching, you have at least two ways of reconciliation: either you are, at least in some aspect, wrong about what the current magisterium is teaching, or you are wrong about what the tradition/ past magisterium actually is.

      • JMJ says:

        Dear Ms. Angelica,

        How is your (1C) different from my (1A)?

        1)…show filial devotion and reverence to the Holy Father, pray for understanding, and…
        A)…seek to understand how the current magisterium is in fact not saying not-X, for the Holy Spirit prevents him from doing so. In the final analysis, a Catholic does not need to choose between scripture/tradition/previous magisterium and the current magisterium, for they are necessarily in harmony.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Option 1c) Assume that both magisterial pronouncements are correct and that the supposed contradiction derives from a misinterpretation on your part.

      • JMJ says:

        Querido Pedro Gabriel,

        This would be a variation of my 1A, without the “continue to seek understanding” clause.


      • Mary Angelica says:

        Jmj, the difference is in what you think needs to be reevaluated. In 1a, tou think you have the exact understanding on tradition, bur need to reinterpret PF/ new magisterial teaching or development.

        In 1c, you hear the current magisterial teaching very clearly, but then may have to reevaluate what you thought was part magisterial teaching, only to find that what you thought was traditional teaching was not entirely accurate to begin with.

        Example of 1a: you first think the pope opened the door to reception of communion in the state of moral sin in AL. You find out that this is a wrong way of understanding AL, because it only allows reception when the person has to little culpability, so v he is still in a state of grave, even though he is involved in grave matter.

        Example of 1c: you hear that or Benedict did at with the “doctrine” of limbo, which you are taught to believe as a kid. You later found out that limbo was never really a doctrine, but simply a (widely held) theological discussion.

        In 1a got had to correct your understanding of current magisterial teaching to align it with past traditional teaching.

        In 1c, you have to correct your understanding of past traditional teaching to align it with current magisterium.

        Keep in mind that sometimes you might have to do both 1a and 1c, since you can be wrong about both what PF is teaching and what past teaching was.

      • JMJ says:

        Mary Angelica,

        You’re right: a combination of (1a) and (1c) is a more precise articulation of the idea I was trying to convey. To accommodate for this correction, (1a) could be stated as:

        1)…show filial devotion and reverence to the Holy Father, pray for understanding, and…
        A)…seek to understand how scripture/tradition/the previous magisterium did not in fact say x and/or how the current magisterium is in fact not saying not-X, for the Holy Spirit prevents him from doing so. In the final analysis, a Catholic does not need to choose between scripture/tradition/previous magisterium and the current magisterium, for they are necessarily in harmony.

        The essence of the idea is in the second part: the two (previous and current) must be in harmony, so an apparent contradiction has to fall on an erroneous interpretation of one or the other.

        Moreover, one who subscribes to this idea by default rejects both 1b and 2 (different responses to the idea that the previous and the current can potentially contradict each other).

        (On an initial analysis it may seem as one can hold more than one of these options simultaneously, but on a closer inspection it becomes evident that this is not so. For an illustration, see the thread with Pedro Gabriel below).

        It sounds like you subscribe to (1a) (including your keen refinement). Am I correct?

      • Mary Angelica says:

        I am glad you were able to discern that from all those typos!

        Yes, I would hold to the revised version of 1A, and yes, If Jesus is who he said he was, and he established the Church, then either options 1B or 2 would contradict what we know to be true about Jesus and his Church, so they cannot be options.

        I would add that in practice, sometimes it takes a good bit of time to find out, at least for me, how certain teachings coincide. If I haven’t found a solution, it means I need to learn more about an issue. I am happy to let the dissonance stand in my mind if said dissonance is only temporary, and pray to God that a arrive at a solution. and he always has so far.

        Btw, I do think the main commenters here at WPI would also say the same, though I wouldn’t speak for them. Pedro’s response about ceasing to be Catholic should a true contradiction of X vs not-X arise is logically equivalent to this.

      • JMJ says:

        Mrs. Angelica,

        Haha no worries about the spelling errors.

        Good to hear that you subscribe to 1A. As I see it, this is the only position that allows for fruitful dialogue. Those who subscribe to 1B would defend the current magisterium (at any point in history) against any and all evidence to the contrary, and those who subscribe to 2 simply have too much to lose. In both cases, one forfeits one’s ability to think clearly and critically.

        Within 1A, we can press the issue a step further. Suppose we do all of those things (show filial devotion, pray for understanding, seek to understand both the past and the current better etc), but, at the end of the day, there is simply no way to square the circle: gje current magisterium (at any point in history*) is definitively saying not-X.

        *I’d rather not keep repeating this phrase. Henceforth please know that I’m including it in the thought “current magisterium.”

        Where does that leave us?

        I see 2 options (there could be others):

        1Ai) what appears to be the current magisterium is actually not the current magisterium, therefore we ignore it altogether.

        1Aii) the current magisterium cannot change x into not-x. Therefore, when it says or does not-x, we ignore not-x and continue to subscribe to x.

        Where do you land?

      • Mary Angelica says:


        I think part of the problem with this line of questioning is that you are asking for some conclusion based on contradictory premises, and if you do so, anything can logically follow. When you say something like:

        “Within 1A, we can press the issue a step further. Suppose we do all of those things (show filial devotion, pray for understanding, seek to understand both the past and the current better etc), but, at the end of the day, there is simply no way to square the circle: the current magisterium (at any point in history*) is definitively saying not-X. ”

        Add, of course, the qualification that past* (also at any point in history) magisterium definitely said “X”, but I’m assuming you are assuming this. The problem is, that given the authority that the Church has, and Given what Jesus said, such a scenario would be an internal contradiction. You have to then conclude that one of the premises here is wrong. Only 1Ai) does this (by questioning whether the magisterium is actually the magisterium), but 1Aii) is just a variation of 1B or 2, because it allows the contradiction to continue. 1Aii assumes a greater weight towards past than current magisterium, but in given 4,5, and 6, this is an ad hoc assumption. You can’t assume that past magisterium has greater authority than current magisterium, given that the promises of Christ were meant to apply to all ages.

        But you can only argue 1Aii if you are certain every other premise is true: that is:
        1. Past magisterium definitely taught X
        2. Current magisterium definitely teaches not-X
        3. (which you didn’t mention) Past magisterium was the true magisterium
        4. What the Church teaches about the authority of the magisterium is true, and Jesus did actually grant her this authority
        5. Jesus is who he truly said he was.
        6. X and not-X are both doctrinal in nature

        However, if you have an internal contradiction: that is, if you have something like

        1. Past magisterium definitely taught X
        2. Current magisterium definitely teaches not-X
        3. Past magisterium was the true magisterium
        4. What the Church teaches about the authority of the magisterium is true, and Jesus did actually grant her this authority
        5. Jesus is who he truly said he was.
        6. X and not-X are both doctrinal in nature
        7. The current magisterium is true magisterium

        Then of course, at least one of these must be false, but you in your limited power can’t immediately tell which. The problem here is that these premises aren’t as separate as they first seem, though they are logically distinct. Suppose you can show 1 and 2. This is largely an issue of epistemology and semantics. It is difficult enough, . The problem is, I see no reason to assume 3 anymore than I need to assume 7, and if you are conspiratorial, 3 and 7 would require way more knowledge than any average person is capable of having. More important, if either 3 or 7 are false, there really isn’t any other place we can point to as the “true magisterium” anyway in Catholicism. That is why most people, if they feel they run into something like this, not only don’t result to axing off 7 to avoid contradiction. They end up denying 3 in theory, and thus deny 4 by leaving Catholicism for Orthodoxy or protestantism or 5 because they cease to trust authority in general. The other way to avoid this is to do away with 6, but if X/ not-X is specifically a claim about what is considered the faith, then it may be rather hard to do away with this without also attacking 3 or 7.

        In the end, therefore, If I hold to 4 and 5, it is much better for me to think that I can resolve the issue by looking at 1, 2 and 6, rather than 3 or 7.

      • JMJ says:

        “In the end, therefore, If I hold to 4 and 5, it is much better for me to think that I can resolve the issue by looking at 1, 2 and 6, rather than 3 or 7.”

        In this thought experiment we’ve already explicitly said that 1 and 2 are true.

        As to 3, 5, 6: there is an infinite number of implicit assumptions (truth exists, truth is intelligible, God is one in three Persons, Jesus is the second person ergo God, God founded the Catholic Church, there has not been a total apostasy, etc.) It would be impossible to list all implicit assumptions from the outset, so we can make them explicit as they come up.

        If we did not subscribe to 3 and 5, we would be sedevecantists, or old catholics, or mormons, or protestants, or Orthodox, or muslims, or Jews, or atheists, or any other sect or religion or grouping, depending on when we thought the previous magisterium ceased to be/never was the magisterium. Given that we’re Catholics, it is an implicit assumption that 3 and 5 are true.

        As to 6, since it would not be a problem if there were a contradiction in discipline or theological speculation, it is an implicit assumption that we’re restricting this exercise to doctrine. Notwithstanding, you’re right – it would have been better if I had made that explicit from the outset.

        So in order to resolve the internal contradiction without ceasing to be Catholic, either 4 or 7 or both must be false.

        1Ai holds that 4 would be false (more precisely, it claims that the current magisterium could teach error, and if it did, that such error(s) ought not be ascented to);

        1Aii holds that 7 would be false.

        (By contrast, 2 resolves it by saying that 1-7 would be false. 1B resolves it by ignoring one of the implicit assumptions: truth (ergo doctrine) is non-contradictory).


        1. Past magisterium definitely taught X
        2. Current magisterium definitely teaches not-X
        3. Past magisterium was the true magisterium
        4. What the Church teaches about the authority of the magisterium is true, and Jesus did actually grant her this authority
        5. Jesus is who he truly said he was.
        6. X and not-X are both doctrinal in nature
        7. The current magisterium is true magisterium

      • Mary Angelica says:

        “If we did not subscribe to 3 and 5, we would be sedevecantists, or old catholics, or mormons, or protestants, or Orthodox, or muslims, or Jews, or atheists, or any other sect or religion or grouping, depending on when we thought the previous magisterium ceased to be/never was the magisterium.”

        My point is that if we are Catholics, and we weren’t pure skeptics, then both 3 and 7 would be equal in strength for us. If we denied 7, we would simply be the modern equivalent of the initial sedevacantists, old Catholics, protestants, orthodox, etc. I don’t see why I, looking at the list of assumptions here, would be more inclined to favor 3 than 7. Our 3 would have been their 7. You say that we hold 3 to be implicitly true because we are Catholics. My point is that for that exact same reason, we should hold 7 to be true.

        (To clarify, I make 3 and 5 different for a reason. Sedevacantists and Orthodox might hold to 5 but not 3, in that they think there is a true magisterium (and the orthodox hold to this even today), but that the Current Pope and the bishops in communion with him are not it. )

      • JMJ says:

        Yup. So 7 would remain true. Which means 4 would be false. That places you in (1Ai): if the current magisterium ever taught not-x on doctrine, contradicting scripture/tradition/previous magisterium which taught x, you would still respect the magisterium and remain in communion with it, but you would not ascent to any of its not-x’s. Right?

      • Mary Angelica says:

        But we as Catholics must also assume 4, and we assume 3 and 7 because we assume 4. And we assume 4 because we assume 5.

        Look. there is no option, because there is a contradiction. Are you asking me which of those 7 premises I would first throw out? If I assume 6 of them are true, then the last one must be false.

        These statements are distinct but related. If you want me to be technical, any statement logically follows from an assumed falsehood, and thus from a contradiction. I could say I’d turn into a Buddhist or grow wings,. I could say I’d both be and not be a woman, and still be logically correct. The less snarky answer would be something like what Pedro said. .

        You are basically asking me something like, if 2+2 = 4, and 2+2 =/= 4, which of the commonly accepted axioms of arithmetic would you do away with to avoid a contradiction? Would you do away with the injectivity of the successor function? how about the induction schema? Maybe 0 isn’t the smallest whole number after all! I might as well just toss out mathematics itself.

        The question is hard to answer because it is essentially word salad. You can’ coherently answer a question that contains a contradiction in its premises.

    • Mary Angelica says:

      *correction: we assume 3 and 7, in part, because if we assume 4, we want a 4 with teeth. In short, if all but 4 are true, then 4 is false. if all but 7 is true, then 7 must be false. However, 4 and 7 are not unique to this. Each of these can be seen as (to some extent) independent (if we disregard some implicitly mentioned premises relating them).

      I can’t be placed either in 1ai or 1aii as a result. Either way, Catholicism wouldn’t be true at this point.

      • JMJ says:

        Blessed Sunday! I said a prayer for you; please say one for me. I’m enjoying this conversation. I hope you are too.

        If someone were to demonstrate that 2+2=/=4, it would be a non sequitur – of the gravest proportion – to toss out mathematics itself. Someone operating with this fundamental commitment has misunderstood the nature of mathematics itself. He could get some things – even advanced things – right, but he’s building his house on sand. If this person were to try to teach mathematics to others, he would likely lead them to his own confusion.

        A more sensible mathematician would proceed with the other questions to which we’ve referred: What does he mean by 2+2=/=4? What do I mean by 2+2=4? If he’s right, which commonly accepted axiom does this new proof call into question? In any case, he would know that the way out of this problem is not “no mathematics,” but rather “more mathematics.”

        Not accidentally, this analogy has been used before. For instance:

        “At an academic conference years ago, a distinguished Catholic philosopher remarked (perhaps hyperbolically) that “If the pope said that ‘2+2 = 5,’ I’d believe him.” An even more distinguished Catholic philosopher gave the correct, and far more Catholic, response: “If the Holy Father said that ‘2+2 = 5,’ I would say publicly, ‘Perhaps I have misunderstood His Holiness’s meaning.’ Privately, I would pray for his sanity.”

        The first response (“I’d believe him”), would fall in 1B. The second in 1A – whether 1Ai or 1Aii we don’t have enough data here to know.

        I suspect that we are misunderstanding each other a bit because 4 is ambiguously articulated:

        4. What the Church teaches about the authority of the magisterium is true, and Jesus did actually grant her this authority

        There are many ways to read this, and we’re probably reading it differently. There are actually 2 propositions here:

        – What the Church teaches about the authority of the magisterium is true
        – Jesus gave her this authority

        The latter is an implicit assumption of the thought experiment, so we accept it as a given.

        The former, however, is precisely the hornet’s nest: What *is* the authority of the magisterium?

        Earlier, I said this:

        “1Ai holds that 4 would be false (more precisely, it claims that the current magisterium could teach error, and if it did, that such error(s) ought not be ascented to)”

        In other words, I’ve been using this proposition for 4:

        4. The current magisterium cannot teach error.

        Before we proceed, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. With this re-articulation of 4, do you now hold the 1Ai position?

      • Mary Angelica says:

        Yes, I do think that is what 4 is saying.

        No. I don’t think I can accept 4ai and remain consistently Catholic.

        “A more sensible mathematician would proceed with the other questions to which we’ve referred: What does he mean by 2+2=/=4? What do I mean by 2+2=4? If he’s right, which commonly accepted axiom does this new proof call into question? In any case, he would know that the way out of this problem is not “no mathematics,” but rather “more mathematics.”

        I agree; the thing is that using the analogy, asking what 2+2 =/= 4 or 2+2 = 4 means would be equivalent to questioning premises 1, 2, or 6. We are not allowed at this point to do so per your assumptions. 1,2 and 6 deal with the actual content matter, but the others are more axiomatic in nature. Thus if per the axioms of arithmetic, we actually came into a contradiction like the above, we have shown that arithmetic is inconsistent. In my mathematical analogy, we are making a statement that can be mathematically well-defined (something like 6), and X = (2+2 = 4), and not-X = (2+2 =/= 4) in the univocal sense we ascribe to standard arithmetic (in other words, not finite group theory, ambiguous operations, 2 and 4 actually mean 2 and 4, etc).

        Now, the next places to consider would be axioms 3 and 7. This would be like questioning the assumptions or reasoning that are unique to each of your proofs implying the contradictory statements. In my analogy, 3 is like saying that the axioms used to prove X are indeed axioms of arithmetic, and the proof is valid, and 7 is like saying the same, but for not-X. But you want 3 and 7 to be true as well in your thought experiment. We can also assume, to parallel our thought process, that these premises are rather obvious theorems but they are disjoint.

        you are allowing me to question are 4 (and 5). These are the axioms that are actually statements involving other axioms, like say, the induction schema. However, the induction schema is what you need to prove all sorts of properties essential to arithmetic, such as the commutativity of addition or multiplication, or the distributive property. In other words, any sort of interesting thing you can say about numbers, and thus math in general, is out the window, because you basically just broke math.

        So of course, if 1,2,3,6,7 are all true, then 4 or part of 4 is false, or 5 is false. But by then you’ve broken Catholicism. Keep in mind you originally asked what axiom you must throw out in order to remain Catholic. But 4 and 5, and to some extent 3 and 7, essentially determine Catholicism apart from other kinds of Christianity.. Even if you have this qualification of the Catholic magisterium being able to definitively error teach error, you just reject that error, then you’ve rejected the Church’s teaching about itself. You are now picking what axioms you want to use, and don’t treat the magisterium like a magisterium. That would make you a protestant.

        Does that make sense? If I pick 1ai, I cease to be a faithful Catholic. If I pick 1aii, I also cease to be a Catholic.

      • JMJ says:

        Are you operating with the understanding that “the current magisterium could not teach error” (without any distinctions about ordinary, extraordinary, ex cathedra) is itself an infallible doctrine or dogma of the faith?

      • Mary Angelica says:

        I was going to add an addendum, but lost my internet connection at the time.

        My 4 was actually a little different than yours when I wrote this. It was something more like “the true magisterium cannot definitively teach error as binding doctrine”.

        The qualifications would be those that you find in Vatican I for the Pope, or Vatican II for the pope and bishops in communion with him. I am assuming the teaching is at the level of assent of faith, and am also assuming that X lies under this heading. In other words, you can’t willfully disagree. I thought the distinctions would be implicit, and in our experiment, the role of premise 6 is to designate X as definitively held doctrine.

        Since this teaching on authority is from two ecumenical councils, yes I am assuming this as infallible dogma. This is part of why I originally described 4 as, “the Church is right about the nature of its authority”, and distinguished 4 and 5.

        “True” refers to the magisterium given authority by Jesus. “Current” and “past” refer to the groups of people who were commonly or conventially accepted as our Pope and bishops in communion with him.

        Anything else?

      • JMJ says:

        “the true magisterium cannot definitively teach error as binding doctrine”.

        Which of these options do you mean by “definitively”? You can pick more than one:

        1. when the pope speaks ex cathedra
        2. When exercising its extraordinary magisterium
        3. When exercising its ordinary magisterium

      • Mary Angelica says:

        I already specified that: anything that requires what is called the “assent of faith,” (as opposed to mere “religious assent”). Such doctrines are those that agre considered to bre part of the deposit of faith or which necessarily follow from it, such that to intentionally deny one of these with full knowledge that the Church teaches it would amount to heresy or loss of full communion with the Church. Such teaching includes ex cathedra and extraordinary magisterium, but also some of the ordinary magisterium, (but not all of it).

      • JMJ says:

        Got it. Thanks for your time. I finally see what you’ve been trying to tell me all along. If one holds to the view of the authority of the magisterium that youve just described, and a magisterium comes to teach not-x, then they’re forced to leave the magisterium – even after pursuing the path laid out in 1A.

        This points to a flaw in how I framed the thought experiment in the beginning. It doesn’t work to try to separate the 1A’s from the 1B’s and the 2’s and then go on to investigate whether there is a not-x. The prayer and study have to be presumed, then the possible conclusions.

        So, taking it back from the top, it would look something like this:

        Refinei um pouco o schema. Acho q é assim:

        “If scripture/tradition/previous magisterium definitely said X, and the current magisterium (at any point in history) definitely said and did not-X, there are three possible ways to resolve the internal contradiction:

        1) the current magisterium could teach error, and when it did, such error(s) ought not be ascented to.
        – this person would continue to believe in and practice the Catholic faith and would hold that he’s in communion with the magisterium, but he would not ascent to what he perceives to be doctrinal errors of the current magisterium

        2) what appears to be the current magisterium is actually not the current magisterium.
        – This person would continue to believe in and practice the Catholic faith, but he would break communion with the visible magisterium (and perhaps would claim that the magisterium is somewhere else or would come back in the future)

        3) Jesus is not God and/or the Catholic Church is not his Body.
        – this person would cease to believe in and practice the Catholic faith.

        4) it is within the domain of the current magisterium to teach not-X
        – this person would continue to believe in and practice the Catholic faith, and he would reject X and ascent to not-X.

        Does it work now?

  19. JMJ says:

    Dear Mr. Lewis, thank you for your reply. I appreciate how charitable and thoughtful you are in your posts and responses. Thank you for helping us Catholics to know God and to follow Him.

    I have not read all of your posts and certainly have not read all of the subsequent combox conversations, but I’ve read enough of them to derive this hypothesis: you adhere to the (1B) position.

    Is that the case? If so, how did you come to this conclusion?

    I am looking for the truth; any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    +Your brother in Christ+

    • JMJ says:

      p.s. I have seen in other articles you (plural) address and nullify the (2) position; I have not yet seen you address the (1A). You say here that you indeed have addressed it. Could you point me in that direction? Thank you.

    • Mike Lewis says:

      Sorry if I didn’t presume charity on your part, but your 3 “possibilities” were certainly not charitable.

      • JMJ says:

        I forgive you. I’m sorry for being narrow-minded. I’m open to more possibilities. Once again, if you know of a fourth, please let me know.

        You responded to my question in another post. I’m going to paste it here so as to not have more than one thread. If it’s possible to do this on your end, please go ahead and delete my comment on that entry.

        You wrote:

        “Current Magisterium” is the Magisterium. If the Magisterial authority insists that a teaching is a development in continuity with Tradition, then that’s the official Catholic teaching.

        What you appear to be pushing is resistance or trying to find excuses to justify dissent. That’s not something I find worthwhile to speculate about.

        Yes, I am not disputing that you adhere to position (1B). I’m also not disputing that it’s a reasonable position. If I find sufficient evidence that this is indeed the orthodox position, then I will ascent to it and adhere to it as my own.

        What I’m asking now is: *how* do you know that this is the orthodox position?

      • Mike Lewis says:

        I don’t adhere to 1B.

        But to answer your question, it depends on the teaching. Obviously I am operating under the assumption that the teaching is orthodox. Typically, there is an official explanation (such as the CDF document on the revision of the Catechism on the death penalty), or the line of reasoning in chapter 8 of the Magisterium itself.

        Both explanations satisfy me (personally speaking), and other theological writings and articles have deepened my understanding of the continuity of the teachings.

        But in all honesty, if your approach is to look at every papal teaching and pick it apart according to your preferred hermeneutic, you’ll find a justification to reject everything you instinctively dislike.

      • JMJ says:

        Dear Mr. Lewis, thanks for your response.

        I’m referring to teachings about papal supremacy and development of doctrine in themselves, not about any particular doctrine. Hence the variables x and not-x. We could plug particular examples in for illustration, but that’s not necessary.

        In your response here you’re arguing for a non-contradictory development. We could name this x+1 or 2x. Nothing to clarify here.

        What I’m asking here is about a *contradictory* development: not-x.

        So my question is: in the case of a contradictory development, how do you understand that a Catholic of good will should proceed? My schema above could be helpful in your response. Or, if you don’t know, where would you recommend that one look for the answer?

        (Please remember that to say that there has not been a case of a contradictory development in the current pontificate would be a red herring.)

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        What if, instead of choosing between x+1 and non-X, we go with y? Meaning, a doctrine that is not contradictory with x (not non-x) but that is more than a linear development (less obvious than x+1)?

      • JMJ says:

        This is another red herring. We could ask about y and define it as something different from not-x, but such is not my question.

        My question is: IF there is a not-x, what is a Catholic to do?

        (And, if you don’t know the answer, where should one look?)

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        The Church does not give instructions on that, because the Church probably does not consider that to be a feasible situation. What the Church says is: “give your religious submission of mind and will, even when the Church is not teaching infallibly”

        On a personal note, if the Church taught not-x in an official, binding, magisterial way, so that it would be completely irreconcilable with previous teachings, I would cease to be a Catholic. I don’t need a Pope to be wrong on faith and morals. I can be wrong on faith and morals on my own.

      • JMJ says:

        AKA option (2) above. I’d ask you why you think this is the orthodox position, but you’ve already stated that the Church does not have an official teaching on this and this is only your personal opinion. Fair enough.

        Thanks for your time. Ate a proxima!

  20. JMJ says:

    Mr. Lewis, are you on the same page as Pedro Gabriel on this? If scripture/tradition/previous magisterium said X, and the current magisterium said and did not-X, would you cease to be Catholic and break communion with the Holy Father?

  1. November 23, 2019

    […] performed at the Vatican. By Pedro Gabriel (Syncretism versus Inculturation) one, two, three, http://wherepeteris.com/our-lady-of-the-amazon-solving-the-contradictions/. Also read this blog posting by D.W. Lafferty […]

Share via
Copy link