Pope’s “Querida Amazonia”: Reactionaries Step in it Again

Pope’s “Querida Amazonia”: Reactionaries Step in it Again February 13, 2020
Pope Francis released his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia on 2-12-20. The hysterical and fanatical reactionary gossipy nonsense about married priests and a corrupted liturgy in the Amazon was utterly unfounded and erroneous, as always. I shall document numerous examples of it below. But first I’d like to remind readers of several recent controversies of a similar ludicrous and unfounded nature. If folks don;t learn from history, they will repeat the same mistakes again.
We had the infamous “pope slapping the woman’s hand” fiasco, which I examined at length. The reactionaries spun that as proof-positive of the pope’s poor character and ferocious, out-of-control temper. They said he should apologize. He humbly did so in a homily within a day or two. That wasn’t good enough (nothing ever is for the prejudiced person), and so they noted in further criticism that he hadn’t apologized directly to the woman. It turns out that he did that, too. Oops! Maybe next time, just shut up, guys? Start looking at the wooden planks in your own eyes, instead of a speck in the pope’s that he publicly and personally repented of? In other words, apply biblical ethics for a change?
Then there was the “book controversy” concerning Pope Benedict XVI’s and Cardinal Sarah’s joint effort regarding priestly celibacy. Of course the reactionaries saw that as a “pre-emptive strike” against this very exhortation. But there was no need. The pope agrees with their position, as I noted and documented at length a month ago. Jimmy Akin dealt with the same topic over six years ago.
And I’d like to give a “shout-out” to my fellow columnist at National Catholic Register, Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, who saw right through the hysteria, in an article dated 1-15-20, subtitled, “Why is it assumed by some of the Catholic press that the Pope Emeritus is undermining the Pope on priestly celibacy when he agrees with him?”He delightfully observed (cutting through the dense crap):

Pope Francis has allowed that an exception might be made in remote areas — the Pacific Islands were the example he mentioned — but that he was opposed to making celibacy optional for priests.

Benedict XVI, like St. John Paul II before him, made exceptions, for former married Protestant clergy who wished to become Catholic priests. Benedict also allowed for special exceptions to be made in the “personal ordinariates” set up for former Anglicans. . . .

The liberal press do the Holy Father a great disservice, suggesting that he is conniving or manipulative or deceitful, teaching one thing in public and promoting another thing in private. It is more respectful to believe that the Holy Father says what he believes to be true.

There is no such thing as a secret magisterium. Benedict and Cardinal Sarah are in accord with Catholic teaching, as is Pope Francis.

Before that was the so-called “Pachamama” nonsense, amounting to an accusation that Pope Francis was engaging in rank idolatry of graven images. I believe that I disposed of that in several articles.

And there was a lot of worthless tripe about the pope supposedly denigrating Mary. In fact, he has exhibited a profound veneration of and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (including Mary Mediatrix), as I documented at length, as has my good friend, systematic theologian and Marian devotee Dr. Robert Fastiggi.

Will these relentless lies, myths, and legends ever end? Will these people who spread them ever learn?

Now, do you remember all the ballyhoo and tempests in a teapot (among our beloved, wiser-than-thou reactionaries) about Pope Francis — flaming subversive liberal dissident that he supposedly is — getting ready to take away the long-established priestly requirement of celibacy, or at the very least do so in the Amazon? Even such a sensible, rational person as Karl Keating joined in on the hysteria, and put up a ridiculous meme (on 10-26-19) on his Facebook page, stating, “THE REAL PLAN [:] Married priests in Amazon today, married priests everywhere tomorrow” [caps in original]. As of this writing, that post has received 186 likes and 25 shares. Shame on all of them. I hope they learn their lesson now. And I wonder if Karl will take that down. If the link no longer works at some point in the future, we can assume that he did (and I hope he openly retracts it too).

This new document (as searches quickly reveal) doesn’t even contain the words “celibate” or “celibacy” or “marriage” or “married.” One can search “priests” (6 instances) and “priest[ly]” (19) and never find anything about relaxing the celibacy requirement at all.
The other big manufactured controversy was hysteria about butchering the liturgy in the Amazon. Here is the key and relevant section about that:
82. In the Eucharist, God, “in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter”. The Eucharist “joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation”.[116] For this reason, it can be a “motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation”.[117] In this sense, “encountering God does not mean fleeing from this world or turning our back on nature”.[118] It means that we can take up into the liturgy many elements proper to the experience of indigenous peoples in their contact with nature, and respect native forms of expression in song, dance, rituals, gestures and symbols. The Second Vatican Council called for this effort to inculturate the liturgy among indigenous peoples;[119] over fifty years have passed and we still have far to go along these lines.[120]
[116] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 235: AAS 107 (2015), 236: AAS 107 (2015), 940.
[117] Ibid.
[118] Ibid., 235: AAS 107 (2015), 939.
[119] Cf. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 37-40, 65, 77, 81.
[120] During the Synod, there was a proposal to develop an “Amazonian rite”.
If we go to Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) and some of the cited portions, we see that what is proposed is nothing new or radical at all, and it is the expressed will of an ecumenical council (before anyone had ever heard of the Amazon Synod):
37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples’ way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit.
38. Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.
65. In mission lands it is found that some of the peoples already make use of initiation rites. Elements from these, when capable of being adapted to Christian ritual, may be admitted along with those already found in Christian tradition, according to the norm laid down in Art. 37-40, of this Constitution.
77. The marriage rite now found in the Roman Ritual is to be revised and enriched in such a way that the grace of the sacrament is more clearly signified and the duties of the spouses are taught.
“If any regions are wont to use other praiseworthy customs and ceremonies when celebrating the sacrament of matrimony, the sacred Synod earnestly desires that these by all means be retained” [41]. . . .
81. The rite for the burial of the dead should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death, and should correspond more closely to the circumstances and traditions found in various regions. This holds good also for the liturgical color to be used.
Conclusion: much ado about nothing. Everyone should stop listening to these slanderous reactionaries. They consistently don’t know what they’re taking about — are shown to be “false prophets” again and again — , and are leading millions astray. They were dead-wrong once again, as they are so often.

They did the same thing with Amoris Laetitia, making a mountain out of a molehill (actually, nothing at all) and pretending that it was the Destroyer of All Catholic Moral Tradition. That was a lie too. How many times does it take before folks will wake up and stop being influenced by these nattering nabobs of negativity (hat tip to Spiro Agnew for the famous phrase)?

So now let’s take a look at what several prominent reactionary sites were saying about what terrible things were likely to be included in this new Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

Here’s a prime example of delusional reactionary madness, from an article dated 2-10-20 (just two days ago as I write):
[W]e have seemed to be headed to major changes on priestly celibacy, deaconesses, and — in several respects — the very nature of the Church. . . .
The Exhortation may “only” recommend establishing a commission on celibacy. If true, we’ll still have yet another case of papal ambiguity. . . .
Either way, by intention or not, the current papacy has brought back something that we thought died in 1978 with the election of Karol Wojtyla: the feeling that virtually everything in the Church is up for grabs, not only celibacy and deaconesses, but marriage, sexuality, Hell, the Devil, Communion, teaching authority. Jorge Bergoglio may be pope in Rome, but it often seems these days that many of the ideas he entertains are manufactured in Germany. . . .
Keep an eye out, . . . for how celibacy, deaconesses, and Church governance are treated in the coming Exhortation.
Michael Massey, writing at One Vader Five yesterday (2-11-20), made a fool of himself as well:

700 Years of Clerical Celibacy in History

With the pope’s long awaited post-synodal exhortation not far away, we can be sure that the modernists will be taking their axes to the roots of the discipline of clerical celibacy. We will hear claims that clerical celibacy was introduced only in the 12th or 5th century and that it is not a discipline that can be traced back to the apostles. Before being bombarded with these outright lies and half-truths, it is important to learn the history of clerical celibacy so as to counter these arguments and preserve this sacred discipline. . . .

Regardless of what comes from Pope Francis’s exhortation, clerical celibacy is the tradition of the Church, and we must fight to defend this sacred and apostolic tradition.

Nice summary of the history of priestly celibacy (I have vigorously defended this in 15 of my blog papers and several books, too), but if he had dropped the paranoid hysteria, it would have been much better. Will we see a retraction? Only time will tell . . .
The Remnant wouldn’t have kept up its tradition of wholesale lying about popes and Pope Francis in particular, if it hadn’t contributed it’s own foolish piece:
[Summary]: Next up, the celibate clergy… its history, its biblical foundation, and its necessity to the life of the Church.
With the Pope’s post-Amazon Synod Apostolic Exhortation threatening to do away with priestly celibacy, Father gives marching orders to Catholics everywhere: Stand strong and resist!
An orgy of baseless speculation continued in the obligatory and worthless combox chatter (a lovely and edifying feature of all these reactionary sites).

There was at least a little bit of light and common sense at the reactionary site Rorate Caeli, which was a lot more reserved and careful, but we can see that even its qualified fears were perfectly groundless:

La Fede Quotidiana has learned of an important fact relating to the coming papal document on the subject of the Amazon. And this fact, unless modified at the last moment, contradicts what has been recently reported concerning a text in which ‘a yes’ is given to viri probati and the married priesthood. Those who saw this text two days ago (it will almost certainly be presented on February 12) said that the two hotly debated categories are not mentioned in the document and thus there is no official opening up [to them]. . . .
Probably, but this is a mere hypothesis that must be verified, the recent book published by Cardinal Robert Sarah with the contribution of the Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI ”From the Depths of Our Hearts” , which stirred up so much controversy, must have created some problems and also some embarrassment. We shall see. As matters stand, from what we have understood in the document, the hotly debated two categories are not mentioned. (” ‘Exclusive: Francis “is not opening up” to viri probati and the priesthood for married men'”, Bruno Volpe, 2-2-20)

Along the same lines. Michael Voris’ Church Militant reactionary outfit spectacularly confirmed that the pope’s statement was heroically orthodox and traditional. But it was in terms that obviously reveal unnecessary and groundless surprise at these developments (thus revealing what it had expected and predicted):

[sub-title] ‘Querida Amazonía’ a blow to subversives seeking to end clerical celibacy
In a historic declaration — delighting traditionalists and infuriating progressives — Pope Francis emphatically rejected the ordination of women and married men, the advocacy of religious pluralism and support for a compromised ecumenism in his apostolic exhortation on the Amazon Synod.
Titled Querida Amazonía, the exhortation seemed to signal a paradigm shift in the pontificate of Francis, as it resoundingly affirmed the evangelization of the Amazonian peoples in the words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “We are not ashamed of Jesus Christ” and “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! . . .
. . . there was no hint of the pantheism evidenced in earlier synodal discussions . . .
The lesser controversial aspects of taking into the “liturgy many elements proper to the experience of indigenous peoples” like their “native forms of expression in song, dance, rituals, gestures and symbols” based on the Second Vatican Council’s call for “this effort to enculturate the liturgy among indigenous peoples” fell far short of the demand for an Amazonian rite for the Holy Eucharist — a proposal mooted during synodal discussions.
Role of Women
However, the most unexpected emphasis was on the categorical rejection of ordained women ministers: . . .
 . . . absence of the proposal for ordaining married men of tested virtue (viri probati) . . . (“Pope Vetoes Women Clergy, Affirms Christ as ‘Sole redeemer'”, Jules Gomes, 2-12-20)
The writer was so surprised that the pope thought Jesus was our (and everyone’s) redeemer and that evangelism was a good thing! I have thoroughly documented that the pope is quite in favor of evangelism and apologetics (so has Jimmy Akin: three times [one / two / three] ).

Some — likely even many — reactionaries (not all: see the Church Militant article immediately above) will double down and say this is simply a lie and a deceptive document. That’s their answer to everything. If the pope produces a perfectly orthodox, traditional document, they say, “well, he doesn’t really mean that, you see [wink, nod, wink, nod] . . . ”

In this way, there is absolutely nothing he can do or say that they have not already rationalized away by their false and slanderous and quasi-schismatic presuppositions. They’ve done the same with Vatican II documents for over 50 years.

Lo and behold, not many hours after I wrote the above two paragraphs, on the same day (Wednesday, 2-12-20), I discovered that good ol’ Steve Skojec: self-appointed expert on Church affairs and the Big Cheese at One Vader Five, has made a prophet out of me, in his latest article (2-12-20). He does what reactionaries almost always do when faced with something positive and perfectly orthodox, that disproves their pet theories and talking points: they become pharisaically legalistic and conspiratorial.

Matthew 23:23-24 (RSV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. [24] You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

He can’t just accept what the pope says (with his majestic magisterial authority) at face value. He starts talking about early drafts (just as reactionaries have done with Vatican II for 55 years) — even “leaks” for heaven’s sake –, and engages in empty, worthless speculation that will neither educate nor edify anyone. This is absolutely classic reactionary tactics (I’ve been studying them and observing them closely for now 24 years, folks). And so here is what he states:

Everything we were concerned about in the final synod document is still there; it’s just been cleverly concealed. . . .

In moments such as these, we have to remember the Perón Rule. Remember the shell game. With this particular pontificate, we must not be so distracted by what is in front of us that we forget to watch the other hand. And the other hand, in this case, is concealing everything we were worried that it would. . . .

The bottom line, when one connects all the dots, is that there is nothing to celebrate here. . . .

Unfortunately, it has served to lower many people’s defenses — there’s a lot of “well, it could have been worse!” thinking out there this morning, and I can only caution you to remain wary.

We haven’t heard the last of any of this. They’ve invested years of work into getting to this point. Just because they didn’t advance these issues via the exhortation doesn’t mean they’ve gone away.

Alright, Steve. Whatever you say. Even fellow reactionaries like Church Militant disagree with him; he’s so far wacko / conspiratorial “right.” But let’s play his game for a few moments, just for fun. Steve wanted to bring up two cardinals (Czerny and Baldisseri) who discussed the document. Okay (we play along). Catholic Herald, in its article, “Vatican officials: ‘Querida Amazonia’ is magisterium, Amazon synod’s final doc is not” (Hannah Brockhaus, 2-12-20) explained:

Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation on the Amazon is part of the Church’s ordinary magisterium  that is officially a kind of Church teaching  while the final document of the Vatican’s 2019 Amazon synod is not, Cardinal Michael Czerny, special secretary of the Amazon synod has said.

The distinction in the authoritative weight of the two documents was also emphasized by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, and by Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office.

Bruni emphasized that “the apostolic exhortation is magisterium, the final document is not.” He later added that “anything in the final document should be read in the lens of the apostolic exhortation,” including any “application.”

“So we have two documents of two different kinds,” Czerny said in a presentation to journalists.

“The final document, consisting of proposals made and voted by the Synod Fathers, has the weight of a synodal final document,” he said, whereas the apostolic exhortation, “reflecting on the whole process and its final document, has the authority of ordinary magisterium of the Successor of Peter.” . . .

The final document of the Amazon synod “has a certain moral authority, sure,” he [Cdl. Baldisseri] added, “but not magisterial.”

Now, how did Skojec, in his infinite wisdom, respond to the statement in the final sentence? Without missing a beat (utterly shameless and clearly unaware of his own ridiculous pretension and self-importance), he blew it off. He knows better than not only the pope, but now two high-placed cardinals as well:

I’m going to just flat-out call foul on this one. First of all, Baldisseri seems unsure of himself here, and he may well be corrected by Francis later — but only if the ambiguity he introduces fails to serve a purpose.

“Unsure of himself”? Words fail me . . . Cardinal Baldisseri added:

The apostolic exhortation does not speak of approval of the final document. It does not speak [of it]. It speaks of presentation, but not of approval. . . . There is not a clear canonical word of approval, as in article 18 of Episcopalis Communio. It speaks of express approval, not indirect, imagined.

But our boy Steve sez, on the other hand, “I think Episcopalis Communio, inasmuch as it does not identify a mechanism for ‘express approval,’ nevertheless applies here. The pope is officially presenting the document . . . ”

Skojec’s self-delusion (and delusions of grandeur, too, for that matter) is very similar to the mindset and mentality of Martin Luther and John Calvin, in their “I can ditch whatever I want” casual, flippant attitude to the same magisterium, in their own time. But how very far is his attitue from the approach of extreme deference of St. Paul, in relation to even the Jewish high priest, who wasn’t even a Christian, let alone the Supreme head of the one true Catholic Church, but was considered the (theological / spiritual) “ruler”:

Acts 23:1-5 And Paul, looking intently at the council, said, “Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day.” [2] And the high priest Anani’as commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. [3] Then Paul said to him, “God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” [4] Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” [5] And Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written [Ex 22:28], `You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

Liesite News also joins in on the attempt to interpret Querida Amazonia in the most cynical, pessimistic, negative way. Maike Hickson and Patrick B. Craine argue:
While it seems the pope’s apostolic exhortation, titled Querida Amazonia, fails to accept the progressives’ most high-profile proposals for a married priesthood and female diaconate, many are sure to argue that it nevertheless leaves ample room for them to advance a revolutionary agenda for the Church. . . .
Rorate Caeli also contributes to the paranoid hysteria:
Querida Amazonia: a document for a kind of “Lay Church”? . . . the exhortation goes much further, in the direction of a Laicized Church, in which the common priesthood of the baptized largely absorbs the priestly ministry, being mixed up with it.
And now for some real, inspired authority:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.
It was heartening to see that Michael Warren Davis: editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine (which has been more than a little critical of Pope Francis in the past), write an article today entitled, “The Pope is Still Catholic.” He states:
Nothing has changed, and there’s nothing in Querida to suggest it ever will. . . .
Pope Francis showed tremendous bravery by defying his friends in the Church’s progressive wing, who have long called for the Church to relax its teachings on sexuality—for priests and laymen alike. No doubt many of them helped him get elected, believing they would find him a pliable instrument for advancing their own agenda. But the Holy Father has refused to play the patsy. Whatever we may think of Francis, today he deserves unqualified praise from all faithful Catholics. Indeed, the Pope is still Catholic. . . .
[L]et’s seize every opportunity to be optimistic about the future of our Catholic faith.  . . . The Holy Spirit—that “other comforter” promised to us by Our Blessed Lord—won’t fail to guide Francis in matters so grave as these.
Our choice is to accept the self-important (but authority-free) pontifications of Steve Skojec and other like-minded “loose cannon” reactionaries, or the magisterial proclamation of Pope Francis, and the interpretation of some fine, nuanced canonical points by two high-placed cardinals. Pious, obedient Catholics have always accepted the authority of a pope and of cardinals reiterating what the pope has magisterially proclaimed, ever since Our Lord Jesus said to the first pope, “feed my lambs, . . . tend my sheep . . . . feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17).
The Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome inevitably exhibits the same characteristics: inveterate, irrational, hysterical, fanatic, hostile opposition and force-fitting facts into a fictional (often also conspiratorial) preconceived narrative.


Related Reading
Replies to Critiques of Pope Francis (Dave Armstrong) [160 of my own articles, as of this writing]
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