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The Pachamama Pope

In October 4 Vatican ceremony, Pope Francis blesses pachamama statue (LifesiteNews)

The statues of the fertility idol that vandals had removed from a Catholic parish in Rome and tossed into the Tiber have been recovered, said Pope Francis. Excerpt from his remarks:

“Good afternoon, I would like to say a word about the pachamama statues that were removed from the Church at Traspontina, 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 people who were offended by this act.”

So the Pope now affirms that these statues were meant to represent the Incan fertility goddess. Useful to know. He went on to say that they might be displayed at the final mass of the Amazon Synod on Sunday.

There you have it.

On EWTN last night, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who was, until dismissed by Francis, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — that is, the top doctrinal body of the Catholic Church — called the statues “idols,” and said that bringing them into the church was a crime against the law of God. Watch this short clip:

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Understand what is happening here: the cardinal who until fairly recently was the top doctrinal official in the Catholic Church is indirectly accusing the Pope of allowing idolatry, and breaking the divine law. If those “pachamama statues” — to use Francis’s own words — turn up at the closing mass of the Synod in St. Peter’s Basilica, it will be seen by many as a profanation of the temple, as an “abomination of desolation,” to use the term of the prophet Daniel, and Jesus of Nazareth.

Many Biblical scholars say that Christ’s warning about the abomination of desolation in the Temple was a prophetic reference to the Roman army attacking Jerusalem and profaning the Temple. This happened in the year 70 AD; the Romans initially intended to capture the Second Temple and turn it into a sanctuary of Emperor worship, but they ended up burning it down. In any event, that was the end of Jewish temple worship.

But some scholars believe that Jesus made a double prophecy, and that just before the Apocalypse, there will be another abomination of desolation in the temple. I am Orthodox, not Catholic; I don’t know if reputable scholars in the Orthodox tradition believe that this was a double prophecy, and if so, what it portends for the Last Days. But if I were a Catholic, and I saw those idols at the final synod mass in St. Peter’s on Sunday, my blood would run cold.

Whatever you think of prophecy, the fact that a senior cardinal — the former head of the CDF! — has called what Pope Francis has blessed a crime against the divine law is a staggering. Last night, I had an exchange on Twitter with a couple of Catholics, including CNA’s excellent editor J.D. Flynn, who wondered why I write in such a crisis mode about events in the Christian world. My answer is: look around you! The crisis is real. 

Let me repeat it in a slightly different framing: In the last 24 hours, the Catholic world has seen the Pope call these Amazonian statues by the Mother Earth goddess name — Pachamama — lament their theft from a church, celebrate their recovery, and suggest that they might be present at mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday. It has also seen the former doctrinal chief of the Catholic Church denounce these statues as “idols,” and call the placing of them inside a Catholic Church as a violation of divine law. If that doesn’t tell you that the Catholic Church is in a severe crisis at its very summit, what will it take?

In 2018, Cardinal Willem Eijk, the Archbishop of Utrecht, said that Pope Francis’s confusing teaching reminds him of Paragraph 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That graf reads as follows:

675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

In this subsequent May 2019 interview with Lifesite News, the Dutch cardinal elaborated:

LifeSite: You used extraordinarily strong words. You spoke of “apostasy inside the Church”. Could you explain what you meant by that?

Eijk: I quoted number 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Because there are cardinals who plead for the blessing of homosexual relationships, I referred to this paragraph of the Catechism as a warning. It states that shortly before Apocalypse, voices will rise within the Church itself, and even among the highest authorities of the Church who will express divergent opinions in relation to Catholic doctrine. I did this as a warning: let us be careful not to find ourselves in this situation. I must say that, to my surprise, Cardinal Müller took up this idea: on February 9 of this year, he published a statement on the fundamental elements of the Catholic faith, in which he also referred to number 675 (2). It is also remarkable that my interview and the full quotation were also taken up by Bishop Gänswein during the presentation of a book by Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option.

All this has reached many people and many have also started to think about it. In this way, I hope to get more and more people in the Church to open their mouths and create clarity, because many Catholics – but you know this as well as I do – are really confused.

In his “Manifesto Of Faith” from earlier this year, Cardinal Müller said:

To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, “the price of their apostasy” (CCC 675)  it is the fraud of Antichrist. “He will deceive those who are lost by all means of injustice, for they have closed themselves to the love of the truth by which they should be saved” (2 Thess: 2-10)

Cardinal Müller later gave an interview about the Manifesto to Catholic World Report, in which he said:

CWR: There has been quite a bit of discussion about your references to apostasy and “the fraud of the Antichrist” (§ 5). Were you suggesting that we may be living through the “last trial of the Church”? And what sort of apostasy, specifically, did you have in mind?

Cardinal Müller: The Antichrist is a figure embodying opposition to Christ. He does not simply appear at the end of history, but emerges in every age as the one who tempts us into the pit and the one who destroys God’s house. Jesus has asked whether he will still find faith when he returns. And sometimes in Church history, it seems as though faith does run out in the Church. In the struggle against ultra-powerful Arianism, which was sustained by public opinion and political power, Saint Athanasius often seems outmaneuvered. Back then, Arianism was modern and Catholicism premodern in the eyes of those whose faith lay in forward progress. As Saint Jerome puts it with a groan, the world awoke and found that it had become Arian. This is the hour of Saint Peter. Jesus told him that Satan has longed to sift the disciples and the whole Church like wheat. Then followed Jesus’ word of tremendous force and relevance, even in this present time of suffering in the Church: “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22:32).

These are days.

UPDATE: Via the website Rorate Caeli, a Catholic from the Philippines wrote to the Italian journalist Sandro Magister, and said, in part:

There is no street, nor TV channel nor Radio frequency that is not infested by preachers seeking Catholic prey. Their first goal is to convince [people] that the Catholic Church is false. Their second is to get them to tithe. Well then, the images showing the adoration of pagan divinities – or anyway of something appearing to be a pagan divinity – during a ceremony in the Vatican Gardens, right in front of the Pope, have indeed made their way  round the world.  And at Mindanao, particularly in areas like South Cotabato where Protestants are now 20 or 25 percent of the population, they have  encouraged all sorts of preachers to point their fingers and say “Look, Catholics are idolaters. We have always told you this. As the Bible says.”

Chatting today with a young lady, a courageous Catholic catechist, she is also scandalized.  I heard the embarrassment in her voice; in not knowing how to defend her faith, in not knowing how to explain to the young, the truth that Catholics are not idolaters. In deference then, she didn’t even want to comment on FACEBOOK  about what had happened in Rome, because if she had begun criticizing the event she would have aided the Protestants. Try explaining to the people of these regions the subtleties from the  Prefect Paolo Ruffini, about seeing evil where it doesn’t exist. And this happened at Mindanao, I don’t dare think about Africa or South America.

What is certain is that those images, seen by the south of the world, really break your heart. And render life very difficult for those who, already, on one side, every day risk Islamic terrorist attacks while attending church, and on the other, have to cope with Protestant proselytism when walking the streets.

OnePeterFive quite rightly says that the Vatican is “gaslighting” the faithful. More:

At the presser for the Amazon Synod today, Vaticanista Sandro Magister said that the video of the ceremony in the Vatican gardens before the synod has now gone viral among evangelicals and pentecostals.

“This video is used as a weapon to accuse the Catholics of being idolaters.” Magister explained to the panel. “What is your judgment about these rituals that were made with these people kneeling before objects…?”

Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communications, responded:

“We said here that there was no ritual and no prostration took place, we have repeated this here, so we have to be vigorous in saying things that actually happened before cameras, so we have explained that this did not happen.”

He actually got applause for this answer.

But of course this actually happened, and was captured on video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6P39XswlzI&w=525&h=300]

UPDATE.2: Think the Pachamama stuff is harmless? Via Father Dwight Longenecker, here’s a National Geographic piece about Bolivian paganism:

La Paz’s Mercado de las Brujas, or the Witches’ Market, is a hot spot for spiritual workers, who read fortunes and facilitate cha’llas (“offerings”) to Pachamama. Vendors sell items like colorful sugar tablets, cigarettes, dried starfish, lacquered frogs, coca leaves, and even llama fetuses that can be assembled into custom-made payments. In exchange, locals believe they will be blessed with better health, prosperous business, safe travel, and good luck.

In the Bolivian highlands, Kallawayas [medicine men] —known for their strong spiritual connection to the mountains and Earth—are generally called into a client’s home to prepare a cha’lla. The offering is placed within a brasero, a simple metal structure heated by sacred wood. After an assortment of medicinal herbs, candies, and mystical trinkets are carefully layered together, a dried llama fetus is placed on top before the package is wrapped up in white paper—a kind of “soup” for Pachamama to feast on. As the cha’lla burns, the ceremony’s participants smoke cigarettes and chew coca leaves so they can feast alongside the great Mother. Once the package has burned to ash, the client buries the remains near their home to complete the process.

One of the most popular cha’llas requested in Bolivia is for the safe construction of a building or home. Workers will ask a wealthy home-owner, for example, to hire a Kallawaya to sacrifice a live llama to Pachamama. The llama’s throat is cut and its blood spilled over the construction site to keep the workers safe from accidents. If the owner can’t afford a live llama, a preserved one will suffice.

These types of offerings—for good health and safety—are classified as white magic. Black magic, by contrast, can be used to curse others, like an ex-lover or enemy. Practitioners of black magic often use dark candles, ornamental skulls, and handfuls of soil dug up from cemeteries to make a more sinister type of payment.

As Father Dwight said:

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According to this report about the Vatican garden ceremony, the objects included fruit, candles, an, of course, carvings.

In some of the video of the ceremony, you can hear the Amazonian woman leading it speaking as she has her hands raised in prayer. Does anybody know if there has been a reliable translation of what she said?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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