Friday, October 25, 2019

Pope Francis says Amazon Figures are of 'Pachamama'

Finally, after nearly a month of speculation we have something solid regarding the Amazonian Indigenious figures that were cast into the Tiber a week ago.

Pope Francis has called them "pachamama" and offered pardon for those men who threw the figures into the Tiber. He praised officers for retreiving the figures from the Tiber and said that they will be present at the closing Mass for the Amazon Synod. Here are his off-the-cuff words:

Pope Francis' words
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.
The Commander of the Carabinieri desires that you should be informed of this recovery before the news is made public. At the moment, the news is confidential, and the statues are being kept in the Italian Carabinieri Commander's office.
The Commander of the Carabinieri has expressed his desire to follow up on any indications that you would like to give concerning the manner of publication of the news, and any other initiative you may want to take in this regard: for example, the Commander said, “the exhibition of the statues during the Holy Mass for the closing of the Synod”. We’ll see.
I have delegated the Secretary of State to respond to this.
This is a bit of good news. Thank you.


The pope called the retrieval "good news" and clearly stated that the intentions of the figures was not idolatry. I am sure that Dr. Taylor Marshall, Rorate Caeli, Fr. Z, Church Militant and others are fuming mad now knowing that the celebration of their stunt was premature and futile. The statues were recovered undamaged, and now will be on display at the closing Mass. Perhaps this last bit was the Pope's "in your face" response to the outrage. We may never know.

However, I do have concerns now that the figures have been confirmed as "pachamama." This is Pagan imagery representing "mother earth." However, St. Francis has called the earth "mother" as well. The difference here is inculturation with Christianity. The Church allows this. the Church borrows from the customs and ways of the people she evangelizes. We read in Ad Gentes:

22. The seed which is the word of God, watered by divine dew, sprouts from the good ground and draws from thence its moisture, which it transforms and assimilates into itself, and finally bears much fruit. In harmony with the economy of the Incarnation, the young churches, rooted in Christ and built up on the foundation of the Apostles, take to themselves in a wonderful exchange all the riches of the nations which were given to Christ as an inheritance (cf Ps. 2:8). They borrow from the customs and traditions of their people, from their wisdom and their learning, from their arts and disciplines, all those things which can contribute to the glory of their Creator, or enhance the grace of their Savior, or dispose Christian life the way it should be.(5) (Ad Gentes)

The things the Church borrows from the culture of the people she evangelizes is used to give glory to the Creator and enhance the graces needed so the Christian life can be lived. These elements are culture are purified in order to serve God. We read in Lumen Gentium:

Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, (Lumen Gentium 17)

So we see that the Catholic Church does not want to destroy or erase the culture of the people and replace it. Rather, she borrows from them, cleanses them and uses them to glorify God and evangelize the people so that the people can live their Christian life as it should be lived. The Catholic Church is not an imperialistic empire looking to assimilate and destroy other cultures. She has made it clear. In Faith and Inculturation and Evangelii Praecones, we read this clearly:

24. The Holy Spirit does not establish a superculture, but is the personal and vital principle which will vivify the new community in working in harness with its members (FAITH AND INCULTURATION, 1988).
"The Church's aim is not the domination of peoples or the gaining of temporal dominions; she is eager only to bring the supernatural light of faith to all peoples, and to promote the interests of civilization and culture, and fraternal concord among nations."[23] (Evangelii Praecones)

Those vocal about the figures have been affluent white men who adhere to a so-called "traditionalist" take on Catholicism.  They seem to prefer Eurocentric ideas over anything else.  The idea that every culture must adopt a European or white way of doing this is not the Church's thinking. As stated, The Holy Spirit did not create a super culture in the Church that seeks to replace other cultures. The Catholic Church does not exist to dominate other people and erase their culture. Rather, she cleanses them and makes use of them so they can glorify God and evangelize the people more effectively. Evangelii Praecones goes further by stating:

58. This is the reason why the Catholic Church has neither scorned nor rejected the pagan philosophies. Instead, after freeing them from error and all contamination she has perfected and completed them by Christian revelation. So likewise the Church has graciously made her own the native art and culture which in some countries is so highly developed. She has carefully encouraged them and has brought them to a point of aesthetic perfection that of themselves they probably would never have attained. By no means has she repressed native customs and traditions but has given them a certain religious significance (Evangelii Praecones 58)
We said: "The herald of the Gospel and messenger of Christ is an apostle. His office does not demand that he transplant European civilization and culture, and no other, to foreign soil, there to take root and propagate itself. His task in dealing with these peoples, who sometimes boast of a very old and highly developed culture of their own, is to teach and form them so that they are ready to accept willingly and in a practical manner the principles of Christian life and morality; principles, I might add, that fit into any culture, provided it be good and sound, and which give that culture greater force in safeguarding human dignity and in gaining human happiness. Catholic inhabitants of missionary countries, although they are first of all citizens of the Kingdom of God and members of His great family,[46] do not for all that cease to be citizens of their earthly fatherland."[47] (Evangelii Praecones 60)
So as you can see, the Catholic Church does not seek to make every culture into a European one. While we are the Latin rite, that does not mean that every culture must become Roman in the cultural sense. She can and does incorporate even Pagan symbolism in order to serve Christ and His Church. This is the key thing we need to understand and which Taylor Marshall and others do not seem to process.  If the pope allowed "pachamama" to be used in these non-liturgical rituals, it is because the imagery was Christianized and used to serve Christ.  It became a symbol, not an object of worship.  This would be like using fire to represent the Holy Spirit.  Many Pagan cultures thought fire was a god or some supernatural power entity.  However, the Church has incorporated the imagery and transformed it.  This is allowed.  Here is some reaction on Twitter:



UPDATE OCTOBER 26, 2019:
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni now claims that the word pachamama was in italics in the statement indicating that the pope simply mentioned it because that was how the media was identifying it. In other words, he did not mean to say that the figure was pachamama.





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Source:

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-10/pope-francis-comments-on-statues-stolen-from-church.html

https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2019/10/25/pope-francis-apologises-that-amazon-synod-pachamama-was-thrown-into-tiber-river/


UPDATED Source:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/pope-asks-forgiveness-theft-controversial-181532713.html

https://kfgo.com/news/articles/2019/oct/25/pope-asks-forgiveness-for-theft-of-controversial-amazon-statues/951029/

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/10/22/world/americas/22reuters-pope-synod-amazon-hate.html

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