The Amazon Synod is causing irritation and perplexity for countless Catholics, as can be seen in the reaction to the initial working document (Instrumentum laboris), a sort of green proclamation tinged with clear sympathies for the (pagan) habits of the Amazonian peoples.
The malaise increased with the publication of the list of Synod participants, which includes some of the most radical exponents of liberation theology, indigenous theology, and eco-theology. These figures all propose a new orientation for the Church, which clearly abandons elements of Her Tradition and Magisterium. From the Synod’s beginning, we then witnessed pagan practices. Event participants made heterodox statements at briefings and conversations with journalists at the Vatican Press Office.
How did we arrive at this point? What is happening in certain sectors of the Catholic Church?
Hans Küng, the Starting Point
In his book Seven Popes (2015), theologian Hans Küng describes what he considers to be the Catholic Church’s fundamental error: the establishment of the Roman Curia, an efficient Vatican structure created under the pontificate of Innocent III (1198-1216). With different nuances, Catholic progressives almost unanimously claim that this development turned the Church into a bureaucratic apparatus that stifled the spirit. Since then, they claim sincere and pure faith was taken from the center and replaced by canon law, Magisterial documents, the Popes’ greed for power and a vast ecclesiastical administration.
Such progressives refuse to consider the Church as an institution of a supernatural character whose life is permanently supported by divine grace. They equate the present Church with a bureaucratic organization, which is a caricature of the Church. Thus, they conclude that the real life of the Church could have been entirely different had it followed the spirit. They deny the role of Divine Providence in the Church’s history. Instead, their narrative holds that Providence completely abandoned the Church and allowed Her to take erroneous paths. Today’s progressivists despise the history of the Church as it was, and thus advocate a change of direction.
There are two ways of looking at this change: the European and the South American perspective.
The European Vision of Cardinal Marx et alia
As we know, European progressives seek to adapt the Church to the spirit of the times. They attribute a “revealed” authority to the spirit of the times, from which they deduced how the faith should be lived today. Thus, the barriers to progressive proposals must fall one after the other. Modern views must be accepted and theologically justified. Therefore, they believe that the Church must be democratized, sexual morality must adapt to the habits of ordinary people, feminism must be imposed on all levels in the Church and ecology must be Her main concern.
Tradition, Church history, the ecclesiastical Magisterium, dogmas and popular piety function like a ballast that is doomed to be discarded sooner or later. The Church should continually reinvent Herself in the theological, moral and liturgical domains and Her daily practices.
The Latin American “Liberationist” Vision of Cardinal Hummes et alia
In South America, progressivists took a different path, which was strongly influenced by Marxism. This path was the so-called liberation theology, which adopts class struggle vision in society and the Church. Its classic paradigm portrays an “oppressed class” struggling against an “oppressor class.”
Since the Catholic faith knows no “classes,” the Holy See often censored liberation theology, especially in the 1984 Instruction, Libertatis Nuntius, released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However, liberation theology survived in the minds of many theologians. After 1989, an amazing metastases took place, resulting in “feminist theology,” “ecological theology,” and “indigenous theology.” The basis of these “theologies” is always the fundamental Marxist thesis that a ruling class oppresses and exploits the majority of the people.
From the cultural revolutionary standpoint, “indigenous theology” is the most radical one. It posits that the Church’s civilizing and evangelizing work in Latin America was an act of oppression. Europeans imposed their vision of the world on the natives. European oppression forced the natives to change their religious practices, now considered legitimate and good. Thus, they claim that the aboriginal peoples have been culturally and religiously oppressed for 500 years.
A reversed European version of this same thesis can be found in the case of the Nazi ideologue Rosenberg who claimed that Christianity stripped the Germanic peoples of their link with nature and destroyed their cult to Mother Earth and other deities.
The Link between Progressive Currents and the Silent Majority of the Episcopate
What is the link between these two paths of the progressive offensive? These two positions appear different. However, upon careful examination, we see a profound relationship in their shared rejection of Tradition and the Magisterium. They both hold that the practice of faith needs neither the Roman Curia nor canon law, or even hierarchy. Everyone in the Church should be equal.
In this Synod, both progressive currents worked together harmoniously, just like the Modernists of times past. Their differences are more appearance than reality. Both converge to form a single great and self-destructive movement within the established Church, which they derisively call the “Constantinian church.”
What do the majority of bishops think?
The above-mentioned radical currents do not represent a majority within the Church. Most bishops try to survive by taking a half-way position between respect for Tradition and adaptation to modernity. However, this majority feels weak due to the general crisis in the Church, the falling away of the faithful, the lack of priestly vocations and the accusations of psychological and sexual abuse all over the world. With few exceptions, these bishops dare not confront the radical minority of progressives, who feel empowered to dictate the rules of the game.
A New Element: Cohesion Is Broken
This situation is similar to the one at the time of the Second Vatican Council. Some wanted to change everything; others a few things. What is different today is that these two sectors seem to live on separate islands. In Germany, for example, the two parties at the Council maintained a visible cohesion in which the most prominent figure of the episcopate was Cardinal Lehman. Their differences were out of sight. Now every sector is on its own.
Thus, today, the radicals, who care little about Tradition and Magisterium, are raising the bar with their demands and acting increasingly in the open. One example is the veneration of Pachamama in the Vatican gardens, which was then carried in procession to a nearby church and placed at the foot of an altar in a highly visible place where the faithful constantly come and go. This blatant spiritual aggression is obvious to all those familiar with the Andean idolatry of Pachamama. What makes matters worse is that the idol is not Amazonian as is claimed!
Thus, the consensus as to what is and is not Catholic is disappearing. The bonds that unify Catholics are no more, and centrifugal forces seem to have been unleashed. Meanwhile, many voices, beginning with the Pope himself, are openly talking about possible schisms – something unthinkable a while ago.
The situation is critical. Some bishops like Most Rev. Peter Kohlgraf, Bishop of Mainz already think aloud about female priesthood. While this is happening in Germany, Bishop Kohlgraf’s ideological cousins in Latin America claim the Church must apologize for evangelizing the Indians. They say the Indians were baptized by God much earlier and lived in heavenly bliss until the West arrived and destroyed their “good living.”
In other words, Christ is not the only Savior of mankind. As trustworthy cardinals reported, we are facing something that is not only heresy but also apostasy—a clear departure from Christianity.
To conclude, neo-modernist progressives turned the Amazon Synod into a make-or-break gamble. They are saying that it is now or never, let us move full speed ahead. This maximalist approach is yet another link between Latin American and European progressives.
What to do?
The Church is rapidly moving toward anarchy. Faced with this picture, the Catholic faithful must make sure that their Faith remains firm and robust in the storm, mainly through the great means of prayer, the sacraments, and delving deeper into the Catholic truths. They must recite the Creed attentively, thoughtfully, and piously. All of these should serve as the foundation for their further actions.
Then, with resolution and vigor, they must renew their fidelity to the Church by firmly adhering to the belief that “the gates of hell will not prevail against her,” as Our Lord Jesus Christ promised (cf. Matt 16:18).