“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry?

“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? November 5, 2019

This is a combination of two Facebook threads, with starting dates of 10-24-19 and 11-4-19. There was also a third discussion thread (10-28-19), where I barely participated at all: and so it is excluded here. I have not included everything in the two long threads in this exchange, which is meant to get at the highlights, and especially my own take (this being my blog); so if readers want the full exchanges, the Facebook threads are for that. Words of Kevin Bingaman will be in blue; those of Fr. Angel Sotelo in green.

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Deliberately ignoring something (due to widespread hysteria) and reserving judgment is not either espousal or “defense”. If someone thinks that I am (by taking this course) advocating idolatry or syncretism or compromise of the Catholic faith, then you are free to stop following me (you don’t have a clue as to what I am about and I can no longer be of any aid to you as an apologist). May God abundantly bless you. Be sure to turn the light off as you go.

I will not join in on the conspiratorial hysteria (insofar as it is occurring, and it is, believe me, among the usual suspects — yawn), and no one can draw me into that. The truth and the facts of this thing will eventually come out. A lot of similar hysteria occurred over the ecumenical Assisi conferences, which I have dealt with in some depth; also, regarding Vatican II statements about Islam.

But I am truly neutral at this point. If there was real wrong or idolatry or scandal here, and reasonable, non-reactionary, orthodox Catholic commentary proves and reveals it, I will enthusiastically condemn it. If not, I will, with equal passion, condemn the fact-challenged hysteria.

Pachamama is a phrase meaning mother earth, but the Vatican guy did not say that the statue was Pachamama. He said it was a symbol of nature and life–more neutral than saying “Pachamama.”

Also, in Catholic moral theology, idolatry happens only when people adore as God, something which is not God.

There’s been no comment or assertion from the Amazonians that they intended to adore an idol.

Only when people state that they were intending to commit the sin of idolatry, should they be accused of that in public.

Great point, Father. Of course, many Protestants falsely and absurdly accuse us of idolatry simply because we have statues of Mary or other saints at all, or because we believe Jesus is substantially present in the consecrated host.

[addressing someone else] Do you claim that they are adoring it as God? If not, how do you overcome Father’s basic definitional point about the nature of idolatry? Protestants claim that we think a piece of bread is God and worship it. The very definition of transubstantiation makes that complete nonsense.

How are they “objectively” committing idolatry if you’re not even sure that they intend to worship these statues as God? You can provide all the [alleged] analogies you like but if you don’t confirm the basic fact of intended adoration / worship of an idol as God, then it’s much ado about nothing.

If they claim they are adoring “mother earth” or some such through the statues, then that would be a substantial case against them as idolaters. But if they say they intend to venerate Mary via the statues, it is entirely Catholic (including the bare breasts, which are present in countless good Catholic paintings and statues).

Let people note (again) that I am not defending whatever happened (I haven’t properly examined it yet). I’m simply objecting to a flimsy and insubstantial argument being made. It’s two different things. In other words, if this is the sort of case being made for rank idolatry, I don’t buy it.

Exactly. We don’t have to read the inner thoughts of the Natives. But they have to at least render a public confession that they adore as God, something which is not God. It is ignorance to observe religious behavior, and assign the meaning of idolatry to it, without hearing from the people themselves that they are worshiping an idol.

The argument that John Calvin makes against the Mass is that it is blasphemy and idolatry regardless of how many times Catholic say they are worshiping what they believe to be Jesus (as opposed to worshiping mere bread as Jesus: which Lutherans [consubstantiation] would also vigorously deny they are doing).

This is the basic category mistake many critics are making: arguing in a circle. They either see it as “mother earth” and some such or the Blessed Virgin Mary. If they are adoring the former, it’s idolatry (I fully agree). If they are venerating Mary in their understanding it is 100% orthodox. If they are worshiping Mary as God, it’s blasphemy and idolatry. Some Catholics (real or in name only) indeed do that, even though the Church condemns it.

The task of the critics is to determine what it is they intend, in order to build a case for idolatry. It may be (in the end). As I have said, I haven’t formed a judgment myself. But what I have seen presented so far advances the “case” for alleged idolatry not one whit. As for the general Catholic understanding of what constitutes idolatry, see my papers:

Biblical Idolatry: Authentic & Counterfeit Conceptions

Veneration of Images, Iconoclasm, & Idolatry (An Exposition)

Newsflash!: Catholicism Utterly Opposes Idolatry, Too

I distinguished between objective and subjective acts, when I spoke of the inner thoughts of the Natives, as opposed to their public confession of adoration of an idol. I don’t have a rule for idolatry. We are speaking of the Catholic definition–not the definitions of others according to their whim.

If Natives present a statue, and say, “This is our god” or they say, “This represents our god” and they are not professing faith in the one, true God, they are pagan. Further, if they tell us, “by bowing and utterances, we intend to surrender completely to this god, acknowledging this god as possessing divinity or qualities of divinity,” then they are idolaters as well as pagans.

By that objective standard, we could say, “These Natives are not Catholic, because Catholics cannot make such surrender to any, but the Blessed Trinity.” But these Natives have made no such confession, or anything like that.

Here are two of Jimmy Akin’s audio commentaries on the matter (10-17-19 / 10-22-19).

The pundits and commentators are missing a key element in their ruminations, viz. the perspective from the indigenous world view.

Many of the indigenous, while outwardly accepting the Christian faith, still inwardly retain, and continue to celebrate. traditional practices, ethics, and festivals associated with traditional pagan beliefs (aka syncretism).

Shamanism is alive and well (bolstered by old hippies and “narcotourists”), and they have even built a brand new temple of the sun in recent years in an attempt to restore the old pagan religion. Here in Ecuador (part of the Amazon region), the solstices are still widely celebrated.

It is also important to note that the resurgent neopaganism also has overt links to Marxism (which meshes nicely with the traditional indigenous collectivist ethic).

Neo-pagan Marxism is fast becoming a new religious-political force here in the Amazon region. And many of the Neopagans are overtly anti-Christian. Within the past month, a veritable army of indigenous tribes (along with their Marxist allies) have literally besieged, sacked and looted the capital (and cities all over the country) here over the course of nearly 2 weeks. The towns and roads were blockaded, stores were empty, and the water supply system was also targeted. Even government buildings were torched and the centuries-old historic center was trashed. At the end of the rampage, even private homes were attacked and the residents threatened.

As for “Pachamama”, it is much more than mere “mother nature” in the abstract sense. It is, to the indigenous, a goddess, or at least a divine force. All of the floral and food offerings around the statues? Why, those are sacrifices, of course. We see the same thing during the “Day of the Dead”. Sacrifices of food and flowers are left at the tombs in honor and worship of their forefathers.

The confusion regarding the statues is intentional. In the indigenous mind, they are equating Pachamama with the Virgin Mary, as both represent the general ideals/concept/beneficent aspects of fertility. This is syncretistic in nature. We’ve seen this happen time and again in the ancient world, where the gods of one culture are equated with that of another.

We should also keep in mind what happened to the Episcopal church when they began doing the same things a few years ago. It wasn’t long before they went headlong into apostasy and heresy. And it all started with (1) revision of the Book of Common Prayer, (2) female ordination, and (3) welcoming and accepting New-agers and witches into the Church, and giving them speaking opportunities and exhibition space in an attempt to be “welcoming”. Where have we seen this before?… Oh, yeah…

It is interesting to note that the Amazonian synod had the same goals as the “liberals” in the Episcopal church did. And it is also interesting to note that those bishops who are so angry at the actions of the “Catholic Maccabees” are of the same political persuasion. “Hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators”… Really? If only they were so dedicated to hunting down and prosecuting the pederasts among their own rank and file…

Their very vehemence is evidence of an underlying agenda…

On a side note: the arrangement of the food/flowers around the statues is typical of indigenous religious expression and is a form of sacrifice (since blood sacrifices are forbidden)–especially within agricultural communities, which are primarily populated by the indigenous tribes.

Gaia = Terra = Pachamama: all are personifications of the Earth; i.e., a pagan earth goddess, associated with fertility (sex, reproduction, fruitfulness). And they are viewed as such by the indigenous themselves. Now the Vatican denies that these figures are Marian in nature, and that they represent reproduction and fruitfulness (and by extension sexuality). These are clearly idols then, for they represent personification of the earth; i.e., an earth goddess. And the fruits and flowers surrounding them are clearly devotional offerings; a bloodless sacrifice. What is not said is the very real and close association with idols and sexual perversion within a religious context, including homosexual behavior… (ahem)

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Here’s the actual video from the guy who threw the statues (whatever they are) into the Tiber River.

It looks to me like his rationale was precisely the same as John Calvin and radical “Reformed” iconoclasts trashing Catholic Churches in the 16th century and smashing statues of Mary, other saints, and even Jesus, on the ground that they were “idols” and “graven images.” I think that, primarily, because this is the written introduction that he provides for the video:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.”

The implication is that he is claiming that the statues were worshiped as God. Thus, I simply ask for proof of that. No one can simply assume it’s true and go on from there. But many thousands are doing so.

If veneration of Mary was the intent there is nothing wrong with it, and this fool acted exactly as Calvin and the violent Protestant iconoclasts of the 16th century did.

What I would agree with at this point is in three in-depth articles by Dr. Pedro Gabriel:

Paganism in the Vatican? Hermeneutic of suspicion at its peak (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-16-19)
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Also, Trent Horn: Pachamama, Celibacy, and the Amazonian Synod (Catholic Answers, 10-23-19; audio with transcript)
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It continues to be the case that critics who claim this is idolatry need to document that folks were worshiping these statues as God (a la the Golden Calf). That would be the grounds to throw them into the river (and I would be the first to cheer lead it).

To my knowledge, no one has documented / proven that these statues were worshiped as God. There is a strong case to be made that they represent the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which case it would be perfectly acceptable veneration (assuming they were not worshiping / adoring her as God, in which case it would be blasphemous idolatry).

I thought this was already “dealt with”; i.e., there was more than enough evidence to conclude that they were, in fact, idols. You know, like video footage/photos of the indigenous blowing down on their knees and actively worshiping them, plus the knowledge that to the indigenous, “Pachamama” IS a goddess figure/divine force… What more does one need to see? Human sacrifice?

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I wonder why these discussions assume that the Amazonians are a monolith, when it comes to culture and religion? Why do we think that all of these Natives belong to the “Pachamama church”??

Pachamama was an Inca figure. Geographically we know that these peoples are scattered through nine countries in South America. They have as much diversity as the diverse groups living in metropolitan Los Angeles.

They do not all connect to Inca culture, or Inca paganism. We certainly do not know, without speaking directly to them, what the significance is of bowing down, shaking a gourd, or uttering chants in Native tongues might have signified for them, at that Vatican prayer ceremony.

The general concept of “Pachamama” is not strictly an Incan idea. It supersedes Incan theology. The proof of this lies in the fact that, at least here in Ecuador, ALL of the various tribes (many of which predate the Incan invasion), still actively participate in the traditional pagan festivals on a regular and frequent basis (most notably during the solstices, full moons, etc.).

(1) “We have already repeated several times here that those statues represented life, fertility, mother earth…”

Response [to Dr. Gabriel’s third article listed above]:

This is the exact description (practically word-for-word) of the Greek mother/nature goddess Gaia and the Roman equivalent, “Terra”. That’s pretty incriminating right there, if you ask me.

On a side note, it ought to be remembered that the acceptance of “Gaia” (the Greek equivalent of “Pachmama”) in the Episcopal church during the 1990s followed on the heels of the institution of priestesses (a hallmark of pagan religions)…

And one of the primary requests of the native contingent touches upon the concept of female ordination. Coincidence? I don’t think so…
Priestesses + nature goddess IS paganism…

To illustrate: Immediately after the Episcopalians accepted female ordination, and the concept of “Gaia” (“Pachamama”), they also began welcoming Wiccans (witches, essentially) into the church to teach/advocate their ideology… And we all know where THAT led to…

(2) “No prostrations or rituals were performed. We must all be rigorous in telling things that have happened in front of the cameras.”

Response: This is completely false. There is photographic evidence showing the Indigenous bowing down, sacrificial offerings strewn about, and there was even a member of the clergy, in a brown habit, alongside with his/her behind high in the air and nose to the ground…

(3) “The native woman and Fr. Rojas say it’s Our Lady of the Amazon; They have not attributed a pagan meaning to the figure…”

Response: This is utter nonsense. In fact, it’s a deliberate attempt to confuse the gullible.

“Our Lady of the Amazon” is specifically crafted to sound like a Marian figure (“our Lady”), but they deny that it was a Marian figure. Then what is it? Is it not Pachmama? It most certainly is. From the indigenous perspective, Pachamama IS “OUR Lady of the Amazon”. I’ve already demonstrated how Pachamama is the very same as Gaia and Terra.

So now we have “Our Lady of the Amazon” = “Pachamama” = “Terra” = “Gaia”. Therefore, these figurines, by their own admission, truly represent the “Mother-Nature” Goddess, that is, they are Pagan idols.

The rest is essentially repetitive blather attempting to prove that up is down and black is white. “Our Lady of the Amazon” = “Pachamama” = “Terra” = “Gaia” = Pagan mother nature/fertility goddess.

We are not speaking of a “general concept” of Pachamama. The Pachamama cult refers to a specific person of mythology, with specific traits. She cannot be reduced to “mother earth” but behaves in a unique way, as a unique goddess.

And I am not interested in Ecuadorian paganism. I am interested in those specific Natives at the Vatican prayer ceremony and what they, themselves, have to say. I have still read no quotes from them–only everyone speaking for them and ascribing idolatry to them.

Needless to say, in the search to know the real and factual intentions of those Natives who bowed down, I am not holding my breath.

“. . . the native woman who presided over the service, and Fr. Roberto Rojas, the priest who was interviewed by Rome Reports and who was the organizer of the exhibit in the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina. Both of them referred to the figures as “Our Lady of the Amazon.” [source: from Twitter]

See also: “Indigenous Peoples Honor the Blessed Mother as a Symbol of the Amazon,” by Melissa Butz (10-10-19).

[asking Kevin] Do you have a link to the article of the interview of the Natives? Where they respond to the charge of idolatry? Where they confirm that they deny the divinity of Christ, and affirm the divinity of Pachamama? I’ll wait for that. Take your time :)

“In fact, it’s a deliberate attempt to confuse the gullible.”

This is what these things seem to come down to. If a claim is denied, then the discussion descends to this sort of thing (a form of cynical conspiratorialism). Phil Lawler did the same in his anti-Francis book, saying that the pope deliberately says two contradictory things, and purposely seeks to mislead. If he says something orthodox, it’s only to fool the people as to his “real” [wink wink] intent.

Karl Keating put up this meme on his Facebook page (10-26-19):

THE REAL PLAN

Married priests in Amazon today, married priests everywhere tomorrow

How could he possibly know that? This is pure paranoid conspiratorialism. It matters not a whit what popes or various spokesmen say. This is the “REAL plan”: known only to folks like Lawler, Skojec, The Remnant, One Peter Five, Taylor Marshall, Michael Voris, Karl Keating, Rorate Caeli, Lifesite News, etc.

Another time, a while back, he stated (seemingly serious) that all of the bishops should resign, as if there are no good ones at all.

Seven years of first-hand experience living in Ecuador, where there is a very considerable indigenous population from a number of differing tribes. Also the land of the recently built Sun-Temple, where pagan celebrations and festivals are held (along with many other locations throughout the countryside). These are quite the tourist attraction (along with the Shamans and their drug-fueled rituals).

I don’t deny for a second that paganism improperly synthesized with Catholicism and other sorts of syncretism exist. Of course they do. There are probably millions (God forbid!) who actually worship Mary or some saint as God. I’ve noted this from the beginning of my conversion. One can find any error in practice and belief if one looks hard enough.

But the present dispute is whether that occurred in the instance under consideration. You can provide us a thousand examples of what I (and I think, Fr. Angel) would agree are genuine syncretism: to be roundly condemned as idolatrous and blasphemous.

Your burden is to prove that this was what happened during the synod: in the words of the actual practitioners of the ritual: whatever it was. And not only that it occurred, but that the pope and the Vatican sanctioned what you are claiming was rank idolatry and blasphemy.

Lots of stuff might look weird at first glance (depending on our presuppositions). Just look at how Protestants routinely misunderstand our veneration of saints (with statuary) or our eucharistic adoration.

Under most circumstances, you would be correct. Not this time, though (at least as it pertains to me). ;)

You see, for example, I’ve dealt with many on the “left” in social media (on other issues), who frequently and intentionally change the phraseology as a well-established tactic to distract from the true nature of what we are talking about. We see this all the time in the abortion/euthanasia debate.

Here in Ecuador (which includes part of the Amazon), “Pachamama” is always referred to by that name–never, in 7 years, have I EVER heard of the goddess being referred to as “Our Lady of the Amazon”.

Now, the very prenomen “Our Lady” is obviously Marian. Any Catholic knows that (as well as most Protestants). Yet, we are told by Vatican officials that the figures are NOT Marian…

So why is a Marian prenomen attached to a non-Marian figure, if not meant to distract from its true nature and make it more palatable to Catholics lacking discernment? An attempt at Syncretism or poorly executed evangelism outreach? Are you saying that the Vatican officials are really THAT incompetent? Men of such great learning and achievement?

There have been confused and contradictory accounts from the Vatican, as Dr. Gabriel concedes (I assume because of their ignorance of Amazonian spirituality: which I share with them; one can’t know everything about everything).

I continue to await direct quotes from the “offenders” proving that they are guilty of rank idolatry of the worst sort.

Are you saying that you cannot find such, or rather, will not? :-) Or would you argue that such proof is somehow not necessary in this case, while it is in any other case of ascribed heretical intent?

You’ve repeatedly mentioned your experience in Ecuador. That’s established.

What is not established is that the Natives at the Vatican ceremony accused themselves of idolatry.

I will assume you have no quotes from them, verifying the accusation that they are adorers of idols. I’ll continue to wait.

Me too. The silence on that score (not from just Kevin, but, I think, everyone who is up in arms) is deafening.

If anyone knows of such documentation, please post it in this thread for one and all to see. I’ll be eternally grateful.

This controversy is filled with everyone’s experience in South America. I know a priest who served in Ecuador share his experience as well.

There is plenty of talk about idolatry and syncretism.

I’m actually quite surprised at how quickly people on Facebook have Ph.D. level research of the sociology of religion in the Amazon, another Ph.D. for their research into Amazonian anthropology of religion, and another Ph.D. in the Catholic influence or lack thereof, among the Amazonians.

Shuffling around “facts” like a carnie shuffles around the coconut shells does not get to the heart of a factual description by….the Natives themselves.

[Kevin then posted (starting here) a number of posts showing what he thinks is proof of idolatrous mischief going on: but alas, none from the Vatican practitioners themselves]

Yeah, you still haven’t shown us that the folks in this ceremony under consideration have expressly stated that they were worshiping an idol of wood as God or somehow in place of God. Why is that so hard? Do you deny that that is necessary to nail down your case?

Wouldn’t that be like saying… “How do we know that these Catholics here believe the same as those Catholics there?” Theology of the Pachamama is not restricted to this tribe here or that tribe there. It supersedes tribes, as I, and others, have demonstrated. Specifically, I’ve demonstrated that the concept is the same in Ecuador as it is in Argentina, and as someone else here has noted, in Brazil. And that from indigenous, as well as Mestizo sources. Now the burden of proof is on you all to give evidence that it is not, or that the group in Rome has a significantly different understanding and practice (apart from any potential syncretistic development) than what I have already demonstrated. Everything I have seen is remarkably consistent across tribal cultures and national boundaries. Even more so than Catholicism itself.

“Now the burden of proof is on you all to give evidence that it is not, or that the group in Rome has a significantly different understanding and practice (apart from any potential syncretistic development) than what I have already demonstrated.”

So you refuse to produce the documentation we are requesting, and claim that it’s our burden? It’s simply not. The usual assumption is that the Church is not deliberately hosting a rank idolatrous pagan ritual (see the dumb controversies about the Assisi conferences). This is what the pope said about it. He’s simply lying through his teeth, and can’t be trusted at all?

Any observant Catholic (till recently) would extend that benefit of the doubt, and charity, and faith that God guides His Church. The burden is on the one who claims that a radical shift has taken place and is now sanctioned. You have refused it. Your reasoning chain appears to be like the following:

1) There are lots of syncretistic, idolatrous practices throughout South America, including Amazonia (I fully agree!).

2) The ritual from the synod looks like it contained elements of several of these.

3) Therefore, we shall conclude that the Vatican ritual was of this sort, despite the fact that it’s also true that genuine Marian piety exists in these areas, and this might very well have been an example of that.

4) And we will conclude that the statue is an idol for a false god even without documenting what the practitioners themselves say about it.

This is exactly how Luther and Calvin denigrated and lied about all Catholic practices of devotions to and veneration and invocation of saints, and how Calvin attacked the Mass as blatantly idolatrous and blasphemous (worship of mere bread, etc.).

They couldn’t care less how actual Catholics explained what they believe and what their intent was. They knew better. They just “knew” it was idolatry, and thought it was self-evidently so (precisely as you are doing now).

Your comprehension of my line of reasoning is flawed, and sometimes completely erroneous, regarding several important points. Consequently, your conclusions are also flawed and erroneous.

Be that as it may (I deny it), you are on the record now as having refused to document what the practitioners say and believe about their own ritual (instead shifting this burden onto us).

Until you do, your “case” is incomplete and shouldn’t persuade anyone who is being fair-minded, charitable, and reasonable. Of course it will “persuade” all those who already have a knee-jerk reaction against the pope, no matter what he does. If they assume the lowest possible motive and the most heretical “take” imaginable, then sure, they will readily agree with you and cheer lead this sort of speculation on.

You can produce 1000 examples. It’s all perfectly irrelevant if the ritual under consideration is not = to any one of them. And that is proven (yay or nay) through documentation.

I’m perfectly willing to concede that it is rank idolatry if solid proof is offered. I have yet to see it, and so I cannot draw such a negative conclusion. Your magnificent detailing of 101 instances of non-Catholic syncretism doesn’t advance your case one whit without the ironclad proof right from the “horse’s mouth.”

Pope Francis specifically said it was done not with an idolatrous intent. So do you accept that or not?

As far as the Holy Father’s remarks, I was offline (for a week) when he apparently said them. Last I heard, he had not yet made a comment. And as far as it goes, I’ll take his word for it.

But there is an important distinction to be made here. Isn’t the whole force of your current argument on this thread based on what the intent of the indigenous contingent was? So what the Holy Father says is not really germane to the specific point HERE. Allow me to explain: We are discussing the indigenous (contingent) perspective, not the Holy Father’s. 
This is the heart of my argument: 
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The indigenous perspective of Pachamama is that of Mother Nature as a fertility goddess. And when I say Mother Nature, I do not mean the western European/North American concept, but the indigenous one–which is that of a nature goddess, an actual personification of nature as a divine being, rather than “our” metaphorical/literary/abstract concept.

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And what do you call an image of a goddess? That’s right… an idol. That’s really it in a nutshell.

Unless you are arguing that the figures are actually Marian in nature, despite various denials of certain Vatican officials…

Did the Holy Father state that the figures were Marian icons? Did the indigenous contingent collaborate that, if he did? 

The three articles by Pedro Gabriel clarify these matters of definitions, Vatican statements, etc. I can’t do better than he does, and he has studied it in depth.
“Isn’t the whole force of your current argument on this thread based on what the intent of the indigenous contingent was?”

Basically, yes, because idolatry by nature and definition has to be about interior intent. Thus, we say in reply to Calvin, “we are not worshiping a piece of bread at all. Have you never looked up what ‘transubstantiation’ means?! We are worshiping what we believe to be Jesus Christ Our Lord, made sacramentally present (or, conversely, we are taken back to the cross).”

Calvin replies in effect: “I don’t care about all this fine-tuned sophistry! It’s idolatry no matter what you say!” Calvin also thought, by the way, that crucifixes, statues of Christ, organs, and stained glass windows were idolatrous.

Likewise, in this case. It depends how they viewed it. It could have possibly been a monstrous idolatry, as you say, or purely Marian veneration [wholly apart from the “bad art” sub-argument to be made], or a combination of the two. Thus, it should have been condemned, approved, or partially condemned and partially approved, respectively. Pope Francis and the synod obviously approved it.

But we don’t know for sure what the intent was until we hear it from the practitioners, per my article on the nature of idolatry.

If the Holy Father and the Indigenous contingent collaborate one another on these being Marian icons, then I would have no major issues, and my argument would be irrelevant (due to the defense of intent).
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Am I right in understanding that the contingent has NOT made a statement collaborating the fact that these are actually intended to be Marian icons? If not, why not?
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Given the apparent lack of such a statement, then the only logical conclusion, it would seem to me at this point, is that they presented these figurines with their usual understanding of Pachamama/Mother Nature being a divine goddess. And the figurines would be a physical representation of that (viz. an idol).
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The published images of at least one religious rendering what appears to be latria (together with, and in imitation of the indigenous) in the course of a standard indigenous Pachamama religious ritual, and in the presence of the usual agricultural offerings, is rather disturbing, and tends to confirm my general perspective at this point.
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Any argument, given the apparent lack of the aforesaid statement, attempting to paint this as a mere abstract concept is spurious, for that is not how the indigenous see it… And it’s not what WE think, but what THEY think which matters.
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[E]ven with these discrepancies, everyone involved who has been interviewed about the figure agrees that the statue is not pagan:

The native woman and Fr. Rojas say it’s Our Lady of the Amazon; They have not attributed a pagan meaning to the figure;

Dr. Ruffini, from the Vatican Dicastery of Communications, said in his first answer to the topic (albeit not acting in his official capacity at the time): “I believe to try and see pagan symbols or to see… evil, it is not“

Before him, Bishop David Guinea had also been asked about the meaning of the statue, and he replied: “we don’t need to create any connections with the Virgin Mary or with a pagan element“

Fr. Lopez, interviewed by Inés San Martín: “Asked if it was part of a pagan ritual, the priest offered a flat “no.”“

Br. Afonso Murad is clear that the figure is not a religious image and that it did not receive any kind of cult

In other words, the “it’s clearly pagan” hypothesis has been refuted every step of the way. The fact that this accusation was not abandoned, but rather was stubbornly clung to, demonstrates that those who revile this figure are not concerned with the truth, but with pushing a narrative. In the course of the last few days, many of these people would send us social media links to interventions that they believed refuted the Marian interpretations of the statues (glossing over how these links actually refuted their own claims of paganism), and would go on triumphalistic tirades along the lines of, “And now, watcha gonna say about that, huh? Huh? Watcha gonna do? Gotcha!” In the meantime, they would studiously ignore the organizers who actually said that it was Our Lady of the Amazon, as a kind of selective amnesia that made them forget these inconvenient pieces of evidence. The same kind of selective amnesia that conveniently forgot everything in their own links that debunked the paganism charges, and went only for that which denied Mary. . . .

At one point during this controversy, I received a message from reader Eric Giunta. It is clear from his email that he is not biased in favor of Pope Francis in the least, but in the spirit of intellectual honesty, he graciously shared with me his excellent essay, which I highly recommend . He shows the rich and orthodox tradition, going back to medieval times, of representing Mother Earth / Nature in churches. In an addendum to his essay, he also mentions legitimate expressions of inculturation in South America, where the figures of Pachamama and the Virgin Mary are mingled. Unlike some armchair anthropologists who have weighed in on this issue by simply flaunting their credentials, Eric Giunta actually provides extensive quotes and scholarly bibliography to his article. I cannot recommend it enough.

Now this article makes a bit more sense. The only point of doubt I have is the contention that there is no connection between “Pachamama” and “Our Lady of the Amazon” when there appears to be compelling evidence to the contrary.
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Specifically:
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(1) The definition/description I have seen given to “Our Lady” just “happens” – according to Vatican sources reporting what was allegedly said by the contingent – to be precisely the same as that of Pachamama (according to unrelated 3rd-party sources).
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(2) The images of the Vatican Garden ritual and those rendered to Pachamama in their homeland are also precisely the same (viz. the nature and layout of the sacred offerings).

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But you claim it is entirely pagan and idolatrous (do you not?), whereas Dr. Gabriel documents how the relevant people are saying it is either pagan but not worship at all, or Marian and not pagan. None of them said it was pagan and idolatrous. But you haven’t shown the people themselves saying that this is what it is. Thus, your critique is incomplete until you nail that down.

But at least you like Dr. Gabriel. Any further understanding and agreement is a good thing.

Given the lack of a specific, declaratory, official statement from the contingent as a whole (indicating intent), we can only rely on the evidence. And the significant and compelling, direct evidence (from initial public statements by both the contingent members and the Vatican officials) indicates that “Our Lady” = Pachamama. When compared to evidence from independent, non-partisan sources, the case is practically ironclad.

If I recall correctly, the gift-giver verbally stated, soon after the festivities occurred (and consistent with those of early Vatican statements), that the meaning of the figurines was precisely that as reported, by independent sources, to be the precise meaning of Pachamama. There’s the link.

Quack quack…
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I wonder, if, hypothetically, the Satanists came bearing the gift of a statue of Lucifer or Ba’al, and, having rendered it latria (after their usual manner), would it have received such a prominent place of display in the church? After all, we must be polite, right? Would there be any real difference between that and what has recently occurred? 
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I think that scenario is completely different. It has nothing to do with Mary, and (obviously) they are avowed Satanists, so it has no place from the get-go.
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What did the Jews do when Antiochus Epiphanes set up his images and the Romans brought their standard into the Temple?

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That was expressly against Mosaic law and blasphemous. But the event under consideration is (so defenders have claimed) simply Marian veneration.

Even if some notion of “Mother Earth” is also included, that is not automatically or necessarily suspect, as Mary can represent more than one thing. A rather well-known example of this is the passage in Revelation 12 (woman crowned with the sun), which most Catholic exegetes (and I agree) say is both Mary and the Church: a dual application that is common in Scripture.

Eric Giunta (not a Pope Francis fan!) documented this sort of thing at length — with many historical Christian [European] examples — in a very informative article.

If someone would just get quotes from those Natives, verifying that they rendered adoration to idols in the Vatican gardens, that would verify that they are idolaters.

I can see that, still, no one has taken up your offer to provide quotes from the Natives, but they incredulously still insist that these Natives were rendering idolatry.

It’s equal parts amazing and sad, isn’t it, Father? This video [by the guy who threw the statues into the river] actually ups the ante, because he starts it with the quote about worshiping idols as God. Everyone assumes; no one seems to ever prove (which is part and parcel of the usual mentality of anti-Francis hysteria).

At least I have not seen it. If someone can produce this evidence, I’d love to see it. Bring it on. But given the utter lack of response to this challenge thus far (now twelve days and running), I won’t hold my breath, because I like being alive.

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See further continuing discussion in a Facebook thread (now closed, at my request); particularly more exchanges with Kevin Bingaman. See also an additional Facebook thread.
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Unfortunately, Money Trees Do Not Exist: If you have been aided in any way by my work, or think it is valuable and worthwhile, please strongly consider financially supporting it (even $10 / month — a mere 33 cents a day — would be very helpful). I have been a full-time Catholic apologist since Dec. 2001, and have been writing Christian apologetics since 1981 (see my Resume). My work has been proven (by God’s grace alone) to be fruitful, in terms of changing lives (see the tangible evidences from unsolicited “testimonies”). I have to pay my bills like all of you: and have a (homeschooling) wife and three children still at home to provide for, and a mortgage to pay.

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My book royalties from three bestsellers in the field (published in 2003-2007) have been decreasing, as has my overall income, making it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.  I provide over 2600 free articles here, for the purpose of your edification and education, and have written 50 books. It’ll literally be a struggle to survive financially until Dec. 2020, when both my wife and I will be receiving Social Security. If you cannot contribute, I ask for your prayers. Thanks! See my information on how to donate (including 100% tax-deductible donations). It’s very simple to contribute to my apostolate via PayPal, if a tax deduction is not needed (my “business name” there is called “Catholic Used Book Service,” from my old bookselling days 17 or so years ago, but send to my email: apologistdave@gmail.com). Another easy way to send and receive money (with a bank account or a mobile phone) is through Zelle. Again, just send to my e-mail address. May God abundantly bless you.

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Photo credit: Julieta suarez (2-28-19), Translation of caption: “an Argentine ceremony in which people thank and express their love and gratitude to the pachamama through offerings.” [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license]
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