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‘An Antichristic Church’

A representative of one of the Amazon Rainforest's ethnic groups (R) walks past Pope Francis as he takes part in a mass on October 6, 2019 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, for the opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

I met Canadian Catholic theologian Douglas Farrow at last week’s Touchstone conference. He is a gentle, thoughtful man. Which makes the powerful rebuke he delivers to the Vatican in this First Things column about the Amazon Synod even more devastating. As someone raised in the era of John Paul II, who came into the Catholic Church in part because of JP2’s witness, and who left the Catholic Church in sorrow in part because I was leaving behind the great Benedict XVI, I never, ever imagined I would see anything like this said about the Roman Catholic Church. But we are not in normal times. Not remotely. Excerpts:

Our times are times when eco-theology in the Amazon basin and sexual theologies in the bowels of Europe can, with a “liberationist” flourish, flush the gospel of Jesus Christ down [Liberation Theology founder] Leonardo Boff’s drain.

The real problem here is not, as some suggest, the expensive German plumbers who, after all, are doing the flushing for free. The real problem is the Great Apostasy, now several centuries in the making, which has at last produced a global union of such plumbers—a union now so powerful that it can elect popes and conduct its dirty business in the name of the Church itself.

The Amazon, we are told in the name of the Church, “is living a moment of grace, a kairos,” because it is “living the culture of encounter.” Encounter with the God and Father of Jesus Christ? No, encounter with itself and its own lands, peoples, and cultures, which are veritable sources of revelation. Encounter also with “the other,” with “love lived in any religion” and in every cultural space. Except that of the colonialists and neo-colonialists, of course, who do not know how to love. (The neo-colonialists, one would think, must surely include the European Marxists and Gramscians running this synod, but apparently not.)

In this moment of grace, of encounter, the oppressive space of “petrified doctrines” is broken open. Old wineskins, to change the metaphor, are burst, that the new wine may flow freely. Dogma gives way to dialogue, christology to pneumatology, the exclusive to the inclusive:

Many peoples of the Amazon are inherently people of dialogue and communication. There is a broad and essential arena of dialogue between the Amazon’s spiritualities, creeds and religions that requires an approach of the heart to the different cultures. Respect for this space does not mean relativizing one’s own convictions, but recognizing other avenues/pathways that seek to decipher the inexhaustible mystery of God. Insincere openness to the other, just like a corporatist attitude, that reserve[s] salvation exclusively for one’s own creed, [is] destructive of that very creed. This is what Jesus explained to the Doctor of the Law in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:30-37). Love lived in any religion pleases God. “Through an exchange of gifts, the Spirit can lead us ever more fully into truth and goodness” (EG 246). [A quote from the working document of the Synod — RD]


The kairos, the culture of encounter, being lauded in the Pan-Amazon Synod is a Bergoglian kairos and culture. The church “called to be ever more synodal,” to be “made flesh” and “incarnated” in existing cultures, is a Bergoglian church. And this church, not to put too fine a point on it, is not the Catholic Church. It is a false church. It is a self-divinizing church. It is an antichristic church, a substitute for the Word-made-flesh to whom the Catholic Church actually belongs and to whom, as Cardinal Müller insists, it must always give witness if it means to be the Church.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us, quite frankly, with the question of how both the true Church and the false can have the same pontiff, and what is to be done about that fact.

Read the whole thing. It’s stunning. These are the words of a prominent Catholic theologian.

Along those lines, here’s an interview in National Catholic Register with an English Catholic who, in the late 1960s, submitted to an Amazonian healing session with a female shaman. It demonized her. Excerpts:

With hindsight, I believe the physical illness throughout my life was exacerbated by the false “healing” in Brazil which I later learned was known as umbanda, the white healing aspect of the occult religion known as Macumba. The latter I experienced in Brazil when I went with friends one evening to attend a samba school event. I did not realize until too late that the beautiful and rhythmical spectacle of the samba dance would become a religious ritual of hate and revenge, Macumba, whereby the practice of killing chickens and extracting their blood is performed with the intent to raise “natural spirits” who would inspire/entrance someone to injure or kill a specific person, usually before the night was finished. The famous poesias and songs accompanying samba can be very dark, encouraging shunning light to enter darkness and suicide. Contrary to our culture, I learned in Brazil that life was cheap and at that time in Rio I remember seeing dead bodies wrapped in paper lying at the side of the road, the authorities and passersby seemingly unconcerned.

What else besides the physical sickness did you feel?

The spiritual aftermath of the false “healing,” however, was a far greater suffering.

For 10 years afterward I experienced constant attacks and visitations of evil; the most notable was in my studio flat near Avenue Louise, Brussels. There I was woken one night by the sound of my windows crashing in the hall, kitchen and bathroom. I thought it was a burglar, but no one was there except for a hostile presence. I believed it was an unhappy spirit who had formerly lived in the flat, so I got up and prayed for the spirit for about two hours with my rosary. This occurred every night for a week until on the last day, the crashing was louder than usual. I realized I could not move, speak or open my eyes but sensed an overwhelming presence of evil around and above my bed. I felt I was being strangled. In my mind, I heard the words, “I am stronger than you and you can do nothing.”

I was terrified, and envisaged the Sign of the Cross in my mind at that moment, I imagined I saw the figure of a woman standing at the foot of my bed, whom I thought was my mother, and the evil presence disappeared. I now believe the woman may have been Our Blessed Mother, Mary.

She was not delivered until many years of suffering later, when a Catholic priest who practices deliverance ministry exorcised her. More:

What aspects of the upcoming synod make you concerned that the experiences you had could find their way into the Church?

The instrumentum laboris clearly indicates its willingness to introduce into the practice of the Catholic faith aspects of the cosmological culture of the Amazonian tribes, which is pagan and open to the occult: “Harmonizing relationships between nature, men, the supreme being and various spiritual forces (12-13) … the beliefs and rights of the elderly healers (88-89) … in dialogue with the spirits (75) … regarding the many-named divinity (87) … (to) live in harmony with Mother Earth” (85) describes characteristics of the syncretized religion of the occult healing practice of Umbanda, from which I received a false “miraculous” healing, leaving me “bound” by physical illness, evil attacks and spiritual darkness for 48 years.

This is the origin of New Age pagan practices developed in the West, including the U.K., for which samba music, chanting poesias, drums and rhythmic dance entice and raise the spirits, with Gaia Mother Earth as principal symbol. The “supreme being” mentioned in the document would suggest to me the originator of the occult,

God’s enemy, together with his legion of “various spirits.” My experience would warn anyone from becoming involved.

The document’s insistence of tailoring Catholic ministries to the ancestral customs of the aboriginal peoples would freely allow native “elderly healers” (88), including women, to perform “shamanic indigenous rituals and ceremonies integrating (their own) rites, symbols, styles of celebration into liturgical and sacramental rituals of the Church without any structural controls, i.e., no “censorship, dogmatism or ritual disciplines.” This risks introducing into Catholic liturgy a practice similar to the one I experienced in Rio de Janeiro i.e., a woman in a ministerial/priestly role possessed by a “healing” spirit. which had a “preternatural” power sufficient to abnormally reverse an extreme physical facial disfigurement within two hours, a condition that medically takes weeks on strong medication to cure.

I would be concerned that if the Catholic Church does not maintain control of its liturgy and protect its Sacred Tradition, a powerful influence of the “supreme being” of death and darkness would risk overwhelming the Church and men’s hearts and souls — at its worst, encouraging sacrilege and defilement of the Eucharist, as well as pagan sacrifice and inspiration to kill from a spirit of hatred and revenge as contained within the samba ritual, Macumba. This “being” is deceitful and, from my experience, man only knows he is “bound” once it is too late.

Although many kind priests have listened to my story, only few fully understood the nature and dangers of my experience with evil and its effects from occult practice.

In this respect, I am concerned there may be clergy and priests at the synod unaware of the dangers these proposals may hold for the faith and the Church. They may, therefore, agree with its suggestions out of a loving benevolence and inclusion toward indigenous peoples by accommodating their practices within the Church, but which are an antithesis of the Truth, neither evangelizing them nor enriching the life-giving faith of the Church.

Please read all of it. It’s extremely important. What is happening now in Rome is something of world-historical spiritual significance.

The English lay Benedictine writer Esther de Waal said that St. Benedict of Nursia arose in a time of great chaos, when “life was an urgent struggle to make sense of what was happening.” Like today! In 2015, when I had my first conversation with Father Cassian Folsom, the former prior of the Benedictine monastery at Norcia, the saint’s birthplace, about the Benedict Option, he told me:

“Those who don’t do some form of what you’re talking about, they’re not going to make it through what’s coming.”

Father Cassian could not have foreseen the Amazon Synod. But my Catholic brothers and sisters, my strong belief is that the Amazon Synod is one of the things that the old monk was talking about. Read the signs of the times! Prepare yourselves, your families, and your communities! 

Earlier this month, Pope Francis and various cardinals gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica around a pagan idol of Pachamama, brought to Rome by Amazonian native peoples gathered in Rome for the Synod:

This is from a video report on Lifesite News.

One cannot see this without thinking of Jesus’s words about the End Times, in Matthew 24, verse 16:

“So when you see the appalling abomination, of which the prophet Daniel spoke, set up in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains… .”

Here, from the same video, is a photo of a display from the nearby church of St. Maria in Transpontina, where the statue and other Amazonian figures are displayed. Notice the native woman nursing an animal in this banner illustrating the cosmos of the pagan peoples there. “Everything is connected,” reads the text.



Earlier, the papal biographer told us:


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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