Pope Francis formally kicked off the Amazon Synod with a religious ceremony held in the Vatican Gardens which included the blessing and veneration of a wooden sculpture of a naked pregnant woman known as the “Pachamama”.
The religious ceremony, held on October 4, 2019, eve of the Amazon Synod, was presided over by a shaman, in the presence of the Pope as well as several bishops and cardinals. Several indigenous people bowed down and prayed before the pagan “Pachamama” image, which was blessed and formally received as a gift by the Pope.
The ceremony belongs to indigenous rituals of Amazonian tribes, and involves worship of the so-called Mother Earth, the “Pachamama”. The Pachamama is an object of veneration amongst Amazonian tribes, a goddess to which some Bolivians sacrifice llamas, an earth deity worshipped by some Peruvians, rooted in pagan Incan beliefs and practices.
Rev. Paulo Suess, a participant in the Amazon Synod, left no doubt as to the pagan character of the ceremonies with the wooden images in the Vatican Gardens. In an October 17 interview with Vatican News, he welcomed the pagan rites, saying: “Even if this was a pagan rite, it is nevertheless a pagan worship of God. One cannot dismiss paganism as nothing.”
The American visual media company “Getty Images” made an official press photograph (first page photo) of this ritual with this description: “Pope Francis and Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo, President of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), stand in front of a statue representing Pachamama (Mother Earth).”
Pachamama takes the Vatican by storm
In the following days since the ceremony and blessing in the Vatican Gardens, the “Pachamama” figures were venerated in St. Peter’s Basilica in front of the Tomb of St. Peter. Pope Francis also greeted two bishops carrying the Pachamama object on their shoulders in a procession into St. Peter’s Basilica. Pachamama statues were also put on display in the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina. The statues also received places of honour in the Synod Hall during the actual Synod proceedings.
Vatican denial falls flat
In response to outcries from the Catholic faithful regarding these rites and the use of these statues, Vatican spokesmen and members of committees of the Amazon Synod downplayed or denied the evident religious syncretistic character of the statues.
In response to a question during a synod press briefing, Paolo Ruffini, president of the Amazon synod’s information commission, reiterated that he believed the unclothed pregnant female statue represents a “symbol of fertility and life.”
How was the statue described to visitors?
Volunteers of the Carmelite Church Santa Maria in Traspontina, where the wooden statues were displayed, however, contradicted the Vatican denial of the religious nature of the statues.
To find out how the mysterious statue was being described to visitors at the Santa Maria in Traspontina Carmelite Church just down from the Vatican, where several of them were on display at side altars, journalists paid a visit to the Church on two separate days.
On the first visit, a volunteer said the carved image “represents the revelation of the feminine mother with mother nature, which gives us nourishment.”
Asked if it is the Pachamama, she said: “Yes, the mother, who cares for life, who gives nourishment to life, so it’s a very strong form of symbolism.”
“The indigenous see the presence of God in everything,” the guide explained. “So if they cut down a tree for some purpose, they cry, and ask for forgiveness from Mother Earth, because they have to cut down that tree.”
“That’s very beautiful — respect for nature, for everything,” she said. “But we, living in the modern world, have distanced ourselves from Mother Earth. …Those communities that disconnect themselves from Mother Earth become orphans, without a mother. So the Holy Father wants us to learn from the indigenous, to learn to connect with Mother Earth.”
“The [carved] mother that I brought from Brazil … that was in the procession, well, we brought it from Brazil. It was done by an indigenous artist, and we asked him for a piece of art that would symbolize all of that connection of Mother Earth, of women, the feminine aspect of God, that God is the one who protects and nourishes life,” she said.
Faithful Catholics take action
Some faithful Catholics decided to take action against the public display of pagan idols in the Catholic Church. On October 21, two men entered into Santa Maria in Traspontina Church near St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, removed several of the controversial Pachamama statues that had been there on display and then threw them into the Tiber River.
On October 25, Pope Francis apologized for this act to those who felt offended, calling these statues “Pachamama statues.” He also considered displaying them during the closing Mass on October 27, but this did not take place, perhaps also due to resistance from prelates within the synod hall and outside.
In an official statement, on October 21, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) condemned the heroic act of the gentlemen who had thrown the wooden images into the Tiber as an act of “religious intolerance.”
The new “golden calf”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider condemned the open veneration of the pagan “Pachamama” deity in the Vatican, calling it today’s “golden calf”. He clarified that Catholicism and pagan worship or beliefs can never be reconciled:
Catholics cannot accept any pagan worship, nor any syncretism between pagan beliefs and practices and those of the Catholic Church. The acts of worship of kindling a light, of bowing, of prostrating or profoundly bowing to the ground and dancing before an unclothed female statue, which represents neither Our Lady nor a canonized saint of the Church, violates the first Commandment of God: “You shall have no other gods before Me” and the explicit prohibition of God, who commands: “Beware lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and worship them and serve them, things which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” (Dt 4:19), and: “You shall make for yourselves no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall you set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God” (Lev 26:1).
A figure of the antichrist?
Fr. Hugo Valdemar, a Catholic priest from Mexico City, burned effigies of the pagan “Pachamama” statue last November 3 while leading the faithful in prayer. He likewise narrated what an exorcist priest told him regarding the “Pachamama”:
A friend exorcist says that this idol (Pachamama) is actually the figure of the antichrist. It is a blasphemy and parody of Mary. Pachamama is pregnant but carries the antichrist to give birth to him in the Masonic church, to destroy the sacraments, which is to return to idolatry and superstition. So, this antichrist who is to give birth to a church with an ‘Amazonian face’ is an abomination, it is a contradiction to Church doctrine, which is the dynamic into which these idolaters want to enter into now.∎
by Paul Simeon