March 17, 2020

Yet “Antichrist” Pope Francis Walks the Streets of Pandemic-Ravaged Rome Free of the Virus . . . 

Dr. Taylor Marshall, the notorious reactionary and conspiracy theorist, is on record arguing that the “coronavirus” is “a sign of divine judgment.” He did this in a video entitled, “Catholics and Corona: No Public Masses in Rome or Italy until APRIL 3 2020”: dated  3-9-20. This video was excerpted into a much shorter one called “Is Coronavirus a Sign of Divine Judgement?” (3-10-20).

Dr. Pedro Gabriel, in one of his uniformly excellent and helpful articles at the website, Where Peter Is, has already offered a scathing rebuke of this thinking (“Dr. Marshall and the coronavirus: suffering people deserve better!”: 3-14-20).

I want to highlight one particular aspect of Marshall’s claims. He wanted to make the argument that God (particularly as revealed in the Old Testament), exhibits wrath against sin, including (sometimes) diseases, and that the coronavirus is an instance of this. He goes on at length mocking those (“modernists” et al) who don’t believe in this general attribute / behavior of God.

I for one certainly do believe in it, and have written at great length about it (“Does God Ever Judge People by Sending Disease?”: 10-30-17), as part of my effort in teaching about how God’s judgment works, in many papers on the topic. Dr. Gabriel also acknowledged that this is a truth revealed in the Bible:

It is indeed true that there are many biblical examples of natural disasters and diseases as a manifestation of God’s wrath. I certainly do not exclude that this can be a reason why suffering exists in some cases.

He goes on to argue that “this is just part of the story” and that the overall picture: taking all of the Bible into account, is far more complex and multi-faceted. Again, I wholeheartedly agree. This has been my own “take” as well, in writing about both judgment and the issue of sickness and suffering, and how God (and our own sins) are related to that.

But back to my particular point. I submit that if Taylor Marshall wants to appeal to the Old Testament and God’s particular wrath, then he has to consistently abide by his interpretation. If he wants to argue Old Testament and what it teaches about judgment, then that is the hill he chooses to die on, and he must defend it. I can play that “game” with him if he likes (though we know he avoids me like the plague: no pun intended!).

I’ve already laid out much of this data  in my article on this very topic. To be totally fair about this, Marshall and his friend Timothy Flanders, in these videos (I have dialogued fruitfully with Timothy now four times, and he has been a class act), acknowledge that God’s wrath and judgment (even if it is applicable to the current pandemic), strike a lot of “innocent” people. Timothy stated near the end of the abridged video:

This falls on many innocent souls who had nothing to do with any of this stuff [Marshall agreed, saying, “right”]. [8:11-8:16]

This is absolutely right, and (again) I have noted it many times in my apologetic treatments of God’s wrath. But if Taylor Marshall wants to appeal to Old Testament passages about God’s wrath, then he has to squarely face and incorporate the many that single out sinful individuals and groups in particular for judgment. Here’s an extensive sampling:

Exodus 9:11 (RSV) . . . the boils were upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians.

Exodus 15:26 . . . “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD, your healer.”

Leviticus 26:21 Then if you walk contrary to me, and will not hearken to me, I will bring more plagues upon you, sevenfold as many as your sins.

Numbers 12:9-10 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed; [10] and when the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. [

Deuteronomy 7:15 And the LORD will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict upon you, but he will lay them upon all who hate you.

2 Kings 15:5 And the LORD smote the king [Jeroboam], so that he was a leper to the day of his death, . . . (cf. 2 Chr 13:20)

2 Chronicles 21:18-19 And after all this the LORD smote him [King Jehoram] in his bowels with an incurable disease. [19] In course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. (cf. 21:15)

2 Maccabees 9:5 But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him [Antiochus] an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no relief and with sharp internal tortures —

Acts 12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him [King Herod], because he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died.

Now comes the part where it is very difficult to apply such passages and actions by God to the current pandemic, with the interpretation that alleged “idolatry” with regard to supposed “pachamama” gods in the Vatican garden (that I and others have refuted over and over) has brought it on. We shall assume this is true for a moment, for the sake of argument, and in light of the above Old Testament passages that Marshall and Flanders directly appealed to.

Why is it, then, that the alleged purveyors and promoters of the “idolatry” (folks like, oh, Pope Francis and other Vatican cardinals and bishops) are not suffering, whereas the very person who tossed some of the statues (falsely alleged to be “Pachamama”) into the Tiber River, and who has been lionized for doing so (Alexander Tschugguel), has himself sadly caught the virus?

Isn’t that the opposite of what we would be led to expect, according to this conspiratorial hypothesis? Taylor Marshall announced in a video dated 3-15-20 (“Urgent Corona Prayer Request for Alexander Tschugguel”), that he has been struggling mightily with a terrible fever (even after being released from the hospital) and is in a “bad way.”

I wish him all the best, and urge prayers and penances on his behalf. He seems like an earnest, sincere, pious, and zealous young man. He was dead wrong about this, but that’s of course beside the point, as to wishing him a full recovery. In fact, I would like to apply my current acute suffering of right shoulder pain to the souls of Alexander and all sufferers from the virus: especially those who are critically ill.

I am not — repeat, NOT — claiming that he is a subject of God’s wrath (though he could possibly be, just as is true — or could eventually be true — of any of us). Austria currently has 1,332 cases of this quite non-discriminatory virus, and, sadly, Alexander is one of them. Please pray fervently for his full recovery. Since young people are the least affected by this virus, he very likely will get well.

What I am contending is that if Taylor Marshall wants to argue this way about God’s judgment, and apply it to the current pandemic tragedy (complete with absurd, ludicrous charges that the suspension of Masses — even in pandemic-ravaged Italy? — is also part of God’s judgment), then he has to explain this anomaly of the “good guy” being afflicted and the arch-enemy “bad guy” and antichrist, Pope Francis, walking the streets of Rome virus-free thus far.

After all, God struck down kings; He (the same God Who did all that stuff as revealed in the inspired revelation of the Old Testament) can dispose of a supposedly wicked, evil pope just as easily. If Pope Francis were one-tenth as bad as the mountain of lies and calumnies and scurrilous slander about him would have it, arguably he should have [biblically] been devastated by God and eaten by worms (or some similar such horrible fate) no later than five years ago.

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Related Reading

US Coronavirus Deaths: Elderly with Preconditions [3-13-20]

Alexander Tschugguel, Taylor Marshall, & God’s Wrath [3-19-20]

My Outlook & Goals During This Coronavirus Crisis [3-24-20]

Explanation of Coronavirus Statistics (Dr. JD Donovan) [3-26-20]

“Black Death” Mentality On Display at Patheos Catholic [3-26-20]

Dialogue: [Irrational?] Leftish Reactions to Coronavirus [3-27-20]

Dialogue on Leftish Reactions to Coronavirus, Part II [3-27-20]

Why Has Italy Suffered the Most from Coronavirus? (+ Reflections on the Propriety of Using the Term, “Chinese Flu” / Condemnation of Anti-Chinese Prejudice) [3-28-20]

Reply to Unfair Criticisms of Trump Re Coronavirus [4-4-20]

Mini-Debate on Laying Blame for Lack of Knowledge of Coronavirus, and Irresponsibility (vs. Jon Curry) [Facebook, 4-5-20]

Coronavirus: Chris Ferrara vs. Science & Historical Precedent (Social Distancing Was Used in the 1918 Flu Pandemic and Has Been Shown Again and Again to be Highly Effective) [4-7-20]

Will US Coronavirus Deaths Be Far Less than Predicted? [4-7-20]

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Photo credit: CounterDarkness (10-18-16) [PixabayPixabay License]

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March 3, 2020

The following exchanges took place on a public discussion combox for The Catholic World Report, between 28 February and 2 March 2020. Words of Dr. Robert Fastiggi will be in black; those of Fr. Peter Morello, PhD in blue, of Leslie, in green, and of Brian Killian in brown.

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Yes, we must be concerned about violations of the first and sixth commandments, but we must also be concerned about violations of the eighth commandment. It has never been proven that idolatry took place in the Vatican Gardens on October 4, 2019. Those who claim that it did need to re-read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about rash judgment (nos. 2477-2478). St. John Paul II, in a homily given in Cochabamba, Bolivia on May 11, 1988, referred to “pachamama” as the ancestral name given to creation and the earth, which are the work of God and a reflection of divine Providence. See no. 10 in the homily.

This article by Francisco Figueroa goes into papal perspectives on “pachamama” in more depth:  The Catholic lawyer (and papal critic), Eric Giunta, provides some further insights here.

Pedro Gabriel, M.D. provides some more helpful perspectives in this article.  Perhaps there could have been better communication about the meaning of the symbols used in the Vatican Garden prayer ceremony on Oct. 4, 2019. To simply label what took place as “idolatry” strikes me as rash judgment, which is forbidden by the eighth commandment.

Dr Fastiggi your defense of the Pontiff is virtuous, we should give him the benefit of the doubt when applicable. Although respectful adherence to the Roman Pontiff is not an act of faith in a person rather foremost a faithful recognition of the office [the canonical definition of that authority] instituted by Christ. Matters that are not strictly Magisterially binding are subject to reasoned assessment. You may interpret Pachamama veneration [it was called such by the Vatican] as you wish insofar as the Pope’s intent. Intent as you’re aware does not determine the morality of an act. And neither does an act necessarily determine a benign intent, which I’m inclined to believe was. Right reason however assesses the object of the act, which is veneration [worship] of an Idol.

Whether Pope Francis did not intend idolatry the act itself speaks to idolatry in similar manner that having an affair outside of marriage however well intended between both parties remains immoral. Acts that are objectively manifest as illicit remain illicit despite intent. And certainly you’re aware of the wide scandal caused among the faithful, which is also addressed by canon law and the Catechism. It’s possible to make reference to native ritual, veneration of objects as having some cultural value. It’s entirely another matter to have a ceremonial procession chanting, gesticulating gleefully, offering prayers centered on a widely known Andean goddess of the Earth up to and in front of the main altar of St Peter’s Basilica.

Dear Fr. Morello,

Thank you for your gracious note. All I can ask is that you and others read the articles to which I provided the links. You assume the wooden statues were idols, but that’s not at all certain. In the article by Eric Giunta he explains that “Pachamama” has a different meaning in the Andes than in the Amazon. In his May 11, 1988 homily in Bolivia, St. John Paul II provided a benevolent understanding of “Pachamama.” I agree that a good intention does not change the status of an objectively immoral act like adultery. The question, though, is whether what took place in the Vatican Gardens or in the processions you mention were actual acts of idolatry. I think there are far more benevolent explanations available. Oremus pro invicem.

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I’ve learned to trust my own understanding of what the Holy Father says and does. I actually believe some of the confusion is generated by certain people and groups who take an overly critical view of Pope Francis.

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St. John Paul II, in a homily given in Cochabamba, Bolivia on May 11, 1988, referred to “pachamama” as the ancestral name given to creation and the earth, which are the work of God and a reflection of divine Providence.

Mmmm. Can you provide me with video from when Pope John Paul II gave that homily that compares to this [?] 

Did the Italian Bishops’ Conference publish a prayer to Pachamama in 1988? (the bishops’s site has pulled the page by now).

Also, all kinds of pagan religions had names given to creation and the earth, which are the work of God and a reflection of divine Providence. If that’s the best they knew – or know – that’s one thing. It doesn’t follow that Catholics, or even Christians in general, should be participating in ceremonies involving those things.

From one of your links: “I cannot find any scholarly or other documentation that “Pachamama,” an Andean deity, is commonly worshiped by non-Christians in the Amazon.”

Oh, yes? Then why was there a Pachamama statue (and I remind you that Pope Francis called it that) at something that was related to the Pan-Amazonic synod? And my, but Mr. Giunta is snide.

From Dr. Gabriel’s article:

Earlier today, it has been reported on Twitter that Ruffini issued a “definite answer”:

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

No? I just watched the video. Kneeling and then lowering one’s forehead to the ground in a circle around the statue is prostration.

From the same link, Brother Afonso Murad said, “Among them, there were three female silhouettes of an indigenous pregnant woman that symbolized the Earth that takes care of us, and also the indigenous peoples. … Therefore it was simply a religious symbol among many that are present in that church for those who want to see it. Therefore, this act was an act of violence, of disrespect and therefore cannot be approved by any of us. Would you like it if someone went to your church and took any of your religious symbols, be it a candle, or a cloth, would you like it? Of course not.”

Actually, if somebody put a statue that represented, say, Terra (the Roman name for Gaia) and the indigenous peoples of Italy, or Greece, or anywhere else in the world, in my church, I would most definitely salute anybody who took it out of the church. I wouldn’t want it thrown in the river, however; I’d want it burnt.

Someone else said it was “Our Lady of the Amazon.” How very exceedingly odd that they can’t even get their stories straight.

“In other words, at least some of the natives look to this figure and attribute a Marian connotation to it.”

And some of them, in fact possibly many of them, don’t.

“And we know that at least one of those natives was the woman who presided over the St. Francis Day activity in the Vatican Gardens.”

And that brings me to another question: Why was a woman presiding over the “activity?”

“For me, I cannot imagine how Monday’s act of disrespect for indigenous culture by people who proclaim themselves to be the mouthpieces of true Catholicism will open the hearts of the natives who brought that image as a symbol of their values”

Mmmmm, yeah, how dare St. Boniface have cut down that tree? So disrespectful of indigenous culture, of an image that was a symbol of their values.

“Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope used the word as a means to identify the statues because that is the way they have become known in the Italian media and not as a reference to the goddess.”

Yet another example of the necessity of explaining, or explaining away, something that has been said.

Dear Leslie,

The burden of proof is on you to prove that idolatry took place. That you have not done. You assume what you need to prove.

The burden of proof is on you to prove that I said idolatry took place. That you have not done. You assume what you need to prove.

Tell me, will you at a very minimum admit that kneeling around a representation of the planet earth (which is what that painted cloth appears to be) and a statue that very likely (I’m being generous and not saying “almost certainly”) represents an earth goddess, bringing offerings, and bowing to the ground in worship, are actions very open to interpretation as idolatry?

I do not speak whatever language it is in which they were chanting or praying. Can you provide me with a translation?

Dear Leslie,

Thank you for your follow-up comments. Here is the Vatican Press Release from Oct. 1, 2019 explaining the prayer service that would take place in the Vatican Gardens on October 4.

The ceremony was profoundly Catholic. The representative of REPAM recited a prayer of consecration of the Amazon Synod to St. Francis of Assisi. Cardinal Turkson (in Italian) spoke of the shared commitment of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew to the care of the earth, our common home. Cardinal Humes (speaking in Portuguese) highlighted the importance of St. Francis of Assisi as the patron saint of ecology, and he then recited the Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis of Assisi in Italian. A religious sister gave some reflections in Spanish, and she recited a passage from the prophet, Jeremiah. Another speaker (in Italian) referred to the Canticle of Creatures of St. Francis of Assisi and then recited Psalm 148, which bears a resemblance to St. Francis’s Canticle.

There is an important explanation around 6:13 into the video of the ceremony. A Franciscan friar (in Italian) explains that the instruments displayed on the circular mat are symbols of water, earth, seeds, and martyrs. He then switches into Spanish. The brief bowing to the symbols displayed on the mat can easily be understood as a gesture of prayer asking God to bless the upcoming synod. I could not make out the words of the song they were singing. Those who claim this was a pagan incantation, though, need to provide evidence (which they have not done). When the representatives from the Amazon bestow symbols from the Amazon to Pope Francis they make the sign of the cross. One of the women bows before the Holy Father. (Was she worshipping him as an idol?). The woman who presents the wooden statue to Pope Francis refers to the image as “Our Lady of the Amazon” as Dr. Pedro Gabriel explains.

A large part of the ceremony was bringing portions of soil to the tree being planted with accompanying explanations of what these portions of the earth represent (all of them profoundly Christian). The ceremony ends with the singing of the Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis of Assisi and the Pope Francis reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish. This was a deeply Catholic prayer service. The claim that a pagan ceremony was somehow inserted into such a Catholic prayer service strains credulity.

The postings above by Brian Killian are well worth reading. Bows and prostrations can take on different meanings. St. John Paul II was known to bow down and kiss the earth when he first set foot in a country on an apostolic visit. Was he worshipping the earth? To accuse the Pope and the Holy See of sponsoring or endorsing a pagan ceremony is so serious that those who make such an accusation better provide evidence. The only “evidence” I’ve seen so far is grounded in subjective impressions motivated it seems by distrust and hostility towards Pope Francis. Referring to what took place on October 4, 2019 as idol worship without any real evidence strikes me as a grave violation of justice, charity, and the eighth commandment. I am sorry to be so blunt, but I believe it’s important to warn people of the serious spiritual implications of such unfounded and grave accusations against the Roman Pontiff.

Thank you for the information.

You didn’t answer this question: “Tell me, will you at a very minimum admit that kneeling around a representation of the planet earth (which is what that painted cloth appears to be) and a statue that very likely (I’m being generous and not saying “almost certainly”) represents an earth goddess, bringing offerings, and bowing to the ground in worship, are actions very open to interpretation as idolatry?”

At best, I consider the whole thing to have been inadvisable.

To accuse the Pope and the Holy See of sponsoring or endorsing a pagan ceremony is so serious that those who make such an accusation better provide evidence.

Or one could be considering them to be innocent dupes.

The only “evidence” I’ve seen so far is grounded in subjective impressions motivated it seems by distrust and hostility towards Pope Francis.

And what would be the grounds for people to have distrust towards Pope Francis?

Dear Dr Fastiggi as you honor the Roman Pontiff others also have deep respect for him and cherish the Chair of Peter instituted by Christ. We also recognize the purview of that sacred authority and its limits. “When the Pope thinks it is God who is thinking in him” (Louis Veuillot). Veuillot a staunch Catholic believed anything said, likely also done by a Roman Pontiff was consequently sacred. That of course as I’m confident you agree is untrue. It’s not necessary to recount history on that matter with you because the evidence of that untruth is clear.

Nevertheless there is a tendency for some of us today to follow what 18th century French journalist Louis Veuillot professed, a form of Ultramontanism that defends anything Pope Francis says or does as inspired by God. For those of us who question the events at the Vatican discussed here you find it “important to warn people of the serious spiritual implications of such unfounded and grave accusations against the Roman Pontiff”. Perhaps some remarks made were untoward. Though not all spoke disrespectfully. Though most were concerned, even distressed by events. I would only ask that you consider that there may be justification for concern.

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You’re [i.e., Fr. Morello] begging the question. How do you know the “object of the act” was the veneration of an idol? There is no such thing as an intrinsic act of idolatry just as there’s no physical object that is intrinsically an idol. A physical object is not an idol unless the object is believed to be a god or a representation of a god. An action is not idolatrous unless it’s intended to be the veneration of an idol. In both cases, one can’t say what is an idol or what is an act of idolatry until and unless one knows what the belief is about the supposed idol and what the intention is of the supposed idolater. Rituals, gestures, and symbols are all intentional, the “object” is determined by what they are referring to or intending. Intent doesn’t determine the morality of an act, but the morality of a ritual act is not what is disputed. The question is not the morality of an act but what does the act mean and to what does it refer?

In itself, the statue is nothing more than a figure of a pregnant woman. It is a multivalent symbol in the Amazon, it can represent a goddess, it can represent Mother Earth, or it can represent the Virgin Mary. Bowing is also a multivalent gesture, it can mean different things depending on the intention of the person. So how do you prove that the figure is an idol and that the people were engaged in idolatry? Everything depends on knowing what the beliefs and the intentions of the participants were. You must provide evidence of a belief that the figure was a god figure, which would indicate an intention to venerate an idol. So do you have that evidence?

These weren’t pagans that someone found in the middle of the jungle and shipped to Rome to demonstrate their ceremonies, they were Catholics. The woman on the video referred to the figure in her hands as “Our Lady of the Amazon”. That in itself is a refutation of the idolatry theory. We also know that these figures have been used to represent the general notion of Mother Earth. Again, that refutes the idolatry theory. What evidence do you have that anyone at that ceremony or anyone involved with REPAM had a belief that the figure represented a pre-Christian divinized goddess?

On the contrary, the bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mexico relates how he asked a Bolivian indigenous person if Mother Earth (Pachamama) and Father Sun (Inti) were gods. The person replied that “those who have not received evangelization consider them gods; For those of us who have already been evangelized, they are not gods, but the best gifts of God.”

Is that distinction not good enough for you that despite their deep connection to and veneration of “Mother Earth”, that they nevertheless know that they are creations of God and not gods? The concept of mother earth is also not lacking in Christian scripture. One can find it in Job, “naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I will go back again.” One can find it in the Psalms, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

So if you want to claim that there was idol worship going on at the Vatican you need to provide evidence that demonstrates idolatrous beliefs and intentions, evidence that doesn’t beg the question, evidence that overwhelms and cancels out the evidence to the contrary that the ceremony was indeed an enculturated Christian ceremony.

Brian what an act does determines the object of the act, for example sawing a limb off a tree. You’re reverting back to the intent as if there is some indeterminate object of the act. As someone in their skepticism, actually an unwillingness to accept reality for sake of defending their position continues to say How do you know Father that the man sawing the limb off the tree intended to saw the limb off the tree? There is the internal object of the will [the intent or form] what you’re referring to, and the external object of the will that determines the object of the act [the matter or materia circa quam]. Your quotes which reference cultural interpretation do not address the fact, what the act does. Examples of religious and laity prostrating before Pachamama in the Gardens, enshrinement procession of clergy, laity chanting toting a canoe with Pachamama into Saint Peter’s Basilica up to the main altar clearly makes a definitive statement of intent. We cannot parse reality to suit our disposition.

Suppose a disciple of a syncretistic religion (that worships saints as gods together with other local gods) was in a cathedral kneeling in front of a statue of a saint or lighting a votive candle, or making some other gesture of veneration. You walk into the cathedral and see this person without knowing anything about him. How would you know, just by looking at him, if he was a Catholic venerating a saint or a syncretist worshiping a false god? You wouldn’t.

You wouldn’t be able to tell unless you asked him what he was doing (revealing his intention). There is no externally recognizable act of idolatry because idolatry is necessarily an intention, like love or virtue.

You see a politician give a homeless man twenty dollars. Was it charity or vainglory? Was he moved by pity or was he moved by a desire to look good on camera? We don’t know by observing his actions, we only know by his actual intentions. Yes, the object is indeterminate from the perspective of an outside observer.

So once again, you are going to have to do more work than merely assuming that the pregnant woman was an idol (a pagan god) and that the gestures of the people in the ceremony was idolatry. Everything we know about the ceremony, the people, their intentions, demonstrate the absurdity and the falsity of the “idolatry” hypothesis.

Most crimes require general intent, meaning that the prosecution must prove only that the accused meant to do an act prohibited by law. Whether the defendant intended the act’s result is irrelevant. Example: A state’s law defines battery as “intentional and harmful physical contact with another person.” This terminology makes battery a general intent crime. The intent element is satisfied if the defendant intends to cause harmful physical contact and actually causes it—it doesn’t matter whether the defendant actually intended to hurt or seriously injure the victim (Nolo). Nolo is an assoc of criminal defense attorneys Nolo Latin for I do not intend.

Among the very best analyses of responsibility and or lack is within the legal system reaching back to English criminal law, the Roman Codex. When meeting justice the greatest ethical minds such as Blackstone Britain Scalia US fine tune our perception of justice and responsibility. If you perform an act despite the benevolent intention [he did not intend to practice idolatry rather promote ecological concern] which I grant the Pontiff, guilt can be justly adjudicated on the basis of the consequences of the act. We must be responsible for what we do.

Related Reading

“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? [11-5-19]

“Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual [11-8-19]

“Pachamama” Confusion: Fault of Vatican or Catholic Media? [11-12-19]

Anti-“Pachamama” Doc: “Usual Suspect” Reactionaries Sign [11-14-19]

Vatican II –> Alleged “Pachamama” Idolatry, Sez Fanatics [11-15-19]

Bishops Viganò & Schneider Reject Authority of Vatican II [11-22-19]

Viganò, Schneider, Pachamama, & VCII (vs. Janet E. Smith) [11-25-19]

Pope St. John Paul II Respectfully Referred to Pachamama (+ Orthodox Catholic References to “Mother Earth” and Similar Biblical Motifs) [12-13-19]

Is “Mother Earth” a Catholic Concept (Church Fathers)? (guest post by Rosemarie Scott) [12-17-19]

“Pachamama” Redux (vs. Peter Kwasniewski & Janet Smith) [12-17-19]

Dialogue: “Pachamama” (?) Statues & Marian Iconography [12-24-19]

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Photo credit: Gary Todd (7-25-07): Babylonian Clay Idols, Oriental Institute, Chicago [public domain / Flickr]
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December 24, 2019

Words of Fr. Deacon Daniel G. Dozier will be in blue; those of Pete Vere in green. Both are Eastern Catholics. This took place on my Facebook page.

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So you want to argue in favor of a nude Icon of the Madonna?

I don’t. I personally don’t care for them. But that’s not the point at all, which is: were these statues consciously, idolatrously, blasphemously adored as gods (with the sanction of the pope and the Vatican), or were they not? There is no evidence that they were; therefore, the charge that this happened is gravely sinful.

I’m taking issue with the fact that if they are going to assert that these things plucked from its pagan are or can be legitimate “icons” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gospel inculturation is more than just taking statues of Apollo and calling it Christ. The image must also teach and be imbued with Christian symbolism so that it clearly is the Virgin Mary. Had this image been clothed and adorned with the language of Christian symbolism associated with the Theotokos, I do not think you would have any real outrage. But this is not a legitimate Christian icon and they are referring to it by its pagan title. This is a problem of their own making.

I know that this is your issue, but it’s not mine or what the bottom-line issue of the whole thing is. It’s not iconography, but rather, whether what happened was idolatry. That is what these people and the pope are being accused of; yet the accusers have never honestly examined all of the relevant evidence.

People don’t care about facts. We’re in a postmodern world now where they simply don’t matter. Everything is feelings, subjectivism, and emotion, leading to divisions and polarized tribes within the Church. When everything is subjective, honest differences can’t possibly be resolved, and so we are left with relentless suspicions and rumormongering.

But I think it is relevant to your main point. I can argue that by worshipping an idol of Zeus which I refer to as Zeus I am actually worshipping God the Father all I want, but in my words and deeds it just looks like I am worshipping Zeus. This is a problem of their own making, which was entirely avoidable.

Nope; it is a problem ultimately brought about by the unwillingness of the critics to examine what was going on, and to understand how a different culture expresses itself in Catholic worship.

Where I do agree is in criticizing the Vatican for not making a serious effort to explain what would inevitably be misunderstood (and was). There is a hostility to non-European piety that is deep enough that (in my opinion) what happened should have been anticipated and decisively dealt with, to avoid this debacle that we now have.

It should have been known that a significant sub-group of Catholics (reactionaries) have basically a Protestant and liberal Catholic outlook. So they make the accusation of idolatry without serious reason to, just as Luther and Calvin did in the 16th century.

See and I think you are being too generous to the Vatican organizers of the Amazonian Synod that was neither Amazonian nor a Synod. The problem is not with the reactionaries. The problem is that they (the organizers) do not understand Christian iconography.

I can grant that point (your last sentence; not that the reactionaries have no fault), but it is a relatively minor one in the whole controversy. “What is a proper icon?” is a legitimate concern, of course, but it is far from (and far less serious than) the question of “did rank idolatry and worship of a false god consciously occur, with the pope’s approval?”

The latter is what all these reactionaries are discussing; it is the controversy, and it’s why I as an apologist have devoted so much effort to it. Your concern is only a small secondary point, in terms of what they are concerned about.

In my own articles on the topic, I’m simply not dealing with iconography, Catholic aesthetics, and liturgical considerations, but with the question of whether the pope and the Vatican sanctioned idolatry in a way that would be outrageous, blasphemous, and heretical. There is no evidence that they did that, which in turn makes the repeated public charges even more ludicrous and outlandish and gravely sinful.

I think by their silence they sanctioned an unhelpful murkiness under the guise of inculturation, which is pretty irresponsible. I see my point as the central one that upends both the points of the reactionaries and the Vatican’s defense of their actions.

The reactionaries were reacting to the easily misunderstood actions of others (as I demonstrate above with my Zeus reference).

Let me see if I understand you correctly:

As best I can tell, you are contending that the statues were so far removed from the past history of iconography of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that this irresponsibility of the Vatican 1) allowing it at all, in light of this past history, and 2) not properly and helpfully explaining when controversy arose, is indeed the heart and origin of the whole controversy, and caused the reactionaries to understandably (though wrongly) charge idolatry, when there was in fact (?) none intended.

I don’t know what you think about what the practitioners intended, or if you thought idolatry took place regardless of their intentions (hence, my question mark).

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Assuming the above is an accurate summary of your argument, where I would disagree is:

1) “they are referring to it [the statue] by its pagan title.”

The people themselves did not do so. They called it “our Lady of the Amazon.” The Vatican clarified the pope’s reference to “pachamamas”, but of course, the reactionaries never care about any clarification, which they instantly interpret in a cynical, doubting way. Other statements from the Vatican were conflicting and contradictory. But what we seem to know from the people in the ceremony is that the statues were NOT “pachamama” [which is not even an Amazonian phenomenon] and did represent the Blessed Virgin and/or “mother earth” (perhaps it can have a double application).

2) “it just looks like I am worshipping Zeus.”

This is a huge question. To our European Catholic (and Orthodox, and also Protestant-influenced) eyes, filled with the memories and continuing practice of 2000 years of European iconography, these statues look weird and even bizarre and thus we may instantly conclude that they must be idols. But who’s to say that vastly different non-European forms of Marian piety are not equally valid and proper and pious? Why should European art be the only standard for what is proper and pious and what is not?

In other words, there could indeed be at the very least, a bias in what such an icon “should” look like, and at worst, in some cases, actual prejudice against other Catholic cultures, because we personally don’t care for their own brand of icons and they are utterly “foreign” to us. So it “looks” like worship of an idol, because we can’t fathom a pious expression of Marian veneration with regard to a statue that we find repulsive and ugly and offensive.

A couple of thoughts. Yes, for the most part what you are saying reflects my thoughts, although I cannot say for certain that idolatrous worship was not interspersed in some of the liturgies at the Vatican, since, while I do not think they were deliberate on the Pope’s part, I think we witnessed some very strange ceremonies, including some that were led by the Franciscans. And it would be helpful of course if we had the actual texts that were used. I did not think the primary issue is a cultural one regarding the imagery. I have seen many images that were the Virgin Mary presented according to some of the artistic standards of indigenous people. What I saw was an attempt to truly integrate culture and faith, and there was some attempt at least to retain some core Christian symbolism. I really don’t see any of that in this particular case. Gospel inculturation needs to be more than just appropriation. There should at least be some effort made to ensure that the image is reflective of the received Christian tradition. I cannot simply bring a Statue of Liberty statuette to the Vatican and hand it to the Pope and say “This is Our Lady of the United States.” Icons especially should avoid all manner of ambiguity regarding their identity. It should be clear who the sacred person is. The Pachamama images are radically unclear to any Christian familiar with even a basic level of familiarity with Christian iconography.

So the problem is with the ambiguity of the image, it’s incorporation into strange and unfamiliar non-traditional rituals, and the employment of the Pachamama deity name in describing it, even in italics.

The video above by the same group shows once again that Mary was being referenced.

I think it depends what means by iconography. If we are going with the Byzantine understanding, or even the Coptic/Alexandrian understanding, then the Pachamama carvings are not icons since our Eastern grammar when it comes to iconography is quite strict.

So strict, in fact, that much of Western sacred art also would not qualify as iconography.

As far as repurposing a Zeus statue as God the Father… For all intents and purposes, isn’t this what Michelangelo did with his famous statue of King David? Basically he removed the wings from Apollo’s heels. [link to image]

Additionally, Father Deacon Daniel, whereas we in the East–especially in Byzantium–have for the most part rejected portrayals of God the Father in our traditional iconography (with the exception of Rublev’s Trinity), Latins have never been as strict in their sacred art tradition.

Thus western sacred art has often portrayed God the Father in Zeus-like images and poses. Again, looking at Michelangelo, there’s his famous “Creation of Adam” painting in the Sistine Chapel that features God the Father in a very Zeus or Jupiter-like pose. [link to image]

In short, Deacon Daniel, I do not disagree with you that the Pachamama does not meet the strict grammar of traditional Eastern Christian iconography. But neither does not much of the western sacred art tradition.

Another famous piece by Michelangelo is the Pieta, which denies us communion with Christ according to our Byzantine grammar because the statue does not allow one to look into Our Lord’s eyes.

As you are well aware, but many of our Latin brothers and sisters following this discussion may not be, the reason saints are portrayed either in full-face or three-quarter profile in Byzantine iconography is so that both eyes are visible. This is because communion comes through the eyes.

Thus the traditional image of Our Lady of Guadalupe does not meet the traditional Byzantine standard since it often portrays the Blessed Mother with her eyes closed.

We would also have to reject traditional western images of Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima, as well as the ubiquitous miraculous medal, since they portray the Blessed Theotokos without Christ embracing her or enthroned on her lap.

And given that we both live in North America, this traditional western image of the North American martyrs would also have to be jettisoned since it portrays two of the martyrs in side profile–which in traditional Byzantine iconography is reserved for Satan or Judas.

In short, Pachamama clearly is not Byzantine or Eastern iconography. That does not mean it cannot be repurposed within a Latin context. As noted above, Michelangelo has already repurposed Zeus for God the Father, and Apollo for King David.

Thank you, Pete. I would only say that, while King David is a sacred figure, would anyone really argue that Michelangelo’s King David, while artistic, constitutes liturgical art? I mean, it is certainly historic, but is it an object of sacred veneration, devotion and prayer? Not in the least.

I’m saying that sacred iconography is as much a matter of pedagogy and prayer, as it is cultural appropriation. And I see almost no pedagogy here.

Very interesting argument and input, Pete. Thanks. I was mainly noting that non-European Christians art may be very different, and who is to ultimately say that this is legitimate or not?

Would anything not two-dimensional be immediately disqualified as an icon, from the Eastern perspective?

I would actually love to see some artist/iconographer attempt to Christianize the image drawing on some common aspects of Eastern or Western tradition.

My apologies for not answering your question directly, but using some qualifiers to limit the question. The reason being my expertise is mainly in Byzantine iconography and does not extend to all Eastern Patrimonial Traditions. So while I can answer generally for the Byzantines, I am not familiar enough with Coptic, Armenian, or other Eastern Traditions to give an informed answer according to their iconology.

So according to the Byzantine tradition, icons are “two dimensional” because they represent how God sees us and not how we see ourselves. So it is God’s view from Eternity. This is also why various icons will show the same person or event from different perspectives, or different events that are related. Because God’s perspective is not limited by time and space.

The one exception is the Icon of Christ Sinai, the original which is I believe the oldest surviving icon of Christ in the world. Half of Christ’s face is two dimensional according to traditional iconography, while the other half is three-dimensional. This is to symbolize Christ’s two natures in one Person.

The wikipedia entry for the icon has some excellent comparisons showing the original icon, plus what each side looks mirrored.

Thanks; fascinating. Eastern Catholics and Orthodox don’t have statues, either, do they? And if these figures are statues, why, then, are we talking about iconography at all, strictly speaking? How would it apply? We could talk about Christian images and art, but not iconography, if we exclude statues from the category.
 
Or where am I wrong, here?
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Fr Deacon Daniel – I would say that Michelangelo’s work (including David) is sacred art according to the Latin/Western Tradition, but does not meet the grammar of Eastern iconography. The same is true for much of Latin/Western sacred art.

This past week I was blessed to visit the Basilica of Ste Anne de Beaupre near Quebec City, Canada. It is in my opinion the most beautiful and spiritually inspiring western church in Canada or the United States. It probably the only Western church I would consider equal to Byzantine churches in its spiritual consistency awe-inducing spiritual inspiration.

I’m delighted to see that you believe one western church attains to the Eastern higher standards. :-)

What really struck me was the western iconography in the crypt, as well as the main Basilica. I cannot deny the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over its artists and that it inspires the pilgrim’s vision heavenward.

But on the strict question of whether or not it meets the grammar of Byzantine iconography, the answer is no. As you are well aware, Fr Deacon, being a Byzantine cleric and one whose ministry includes iconography, ours is a very strict grammar in the East–especially Byzantium. The Western iconography and other sacred art at this shrine do not meet our strict standard.

But that does not mean they are in any way wrong, or of no spiritual value, or a danger to the faith. Rather, they inspire within their particular context, which is Latin and Western.

Which brings us to Pachamama. Can it be converted to Byzantine iconography? Like you I have a difficult time seeing it. However, having attended the French Catholic school system as a child, many of my friends and classmates (and some teachers) were Indigenous. Thus I grew up around Indigenous Catholics and the inculturation of Indigenous art forms within local (Latin) Catholic churches.

Pachamama is similar to a wood carving of Madonna & Child that was popular among local Indigenous Catholic artists, and we actually had one in our house that hung next to our Sacred Heart statue. (My father is a Latin deacon). So I am not uncomfortable with the concept within a Western Indigenous Catholic context.

I would agree with you that in the context of Pachamama and statues we are talking Western Sacred Art, and not iconography. It is an important distinction.

What is often not understood by many Latins, Protestants, and even us Easterners is that iconography in the East is much more than sacred art is in the West. It is an entire theology that supports the Eucharist in tying together all other areas of theology. Icons are not just sacred images that inspire our gaze towards Eternity, but an entire language. As Easterners, we “read” icons like you as a Latin apologist would read a Bible commentary.

However, iconology in the West died in the aftermath of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Second Nicea), which ironically vindicated the use of icons for sacred worship. The reason being the translations from Greek to Latin that ended up in the West were so poor and self-contradictory that Latins and their Frankish-Germanic daughter churches could make neither heads nor tails of them.

For example, one particularly popular but bad translation stated that it was idolatry to use icons in Divine Worship, but to deny their use was Christological heresy. So the West took the attitude that the East seems to have resolved the iconoclasm controversy that had been rocking it for several centuries, and they did not want to risk clarifying these contradictions lest the West accidentally re-ignite this controversy for a fourth time among Easterners.

So the West simply moved on to statues and realism in its sacred art tradition.

I would not argue that King David in this piece is even a form of Western liturgical art. It is certainly artistic and the subject is a sacred person, but it is not a liturgical icon.

That said, I have never argued that Western liturgical iconography needs to follow Eastern canons or practices, although we see that there were common early influences in Rome.

Regarding the Pachamama/Our Lady of the Amazon, I would also here say that it does not need to be Byzantine to be a true icon. But they could at least draw on some patrimony of Christian symbolism regarding the BVM, such as a halo and garments with color schemes that fit with Amazonian culture and their understanding of the sacred. Those simple changes would help clarify the identity of the sacred person being represented here.

Fair enough about Michelangelo’s King David that resembles Apollo. But what about his portrayal of God the Father in the Sistine Chapel that draws upon Zeus imagery from classical Greece? This very definitely is intended as sacred art, even though it draws upon Pagan imagery for artistic influence.

In terms of Pachamama as Our Lady of the Amazon, I think we need to be patient as God is patient and give time to inculturate. I am sure the Indigenous carving of Madonna & Child that became popular among Indigenous Catholics near where I grew up was not the first artistic attempt, but one of multiple attempts that was refined through prayer.

These statues in question are not “pachamama.” That is a completely different thing: usually portrayed as a woman on top of a mountain.
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That being said, I do appreciate Fr Deacon Daniel’s clarification that he is not seeking to impose the Byzantine standard on the West when it comes to iconography. My response is would be that the western/Latin tradition of sacred art is much more broad so as to accommodate the Our Lady of the Amazon statue.
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Yeah, that’s a variation of my own argument, except that I broadened it even more, to pointing out that there can be legitimate Catholic traditions in iconography and the larger category of sacred art that go beyond the usual European-dominated theology and spirituality (both Latin and Eastern Catholicism and also Orthodoxy and Protestantism to a lesser extent): to very different approaches from all of those, but still just as Catholic.

I think there was much too much tendency with this whole mess for critics to blithely assume that these statues were (to their eyes and understanding) “ugly” and/or “inappropriate.” But cultural background has a great deal to do with that perception.

Then it is a completely separate discussion, as to whether idolatry was actually taking place. Everything I’ve seen suggests to me that it was definitely not. On the other hand, if someone claims that it was taking place, then the pope participated, since the Vatican sponsored the tree-planting ceremony, and he blessed the statue (which the woman presenting to him called “Our Lady of the Amazon”).

He said there was no idolatry, so to claim otherwise would also essentially amount to calling him a liar.

[cites an article with Cardinal Schönborn saying the ceremony had to do with a “mother of life” archetype] Okaaay… Not seeing any real reference to the BVM. This is more of the same unhelpful ambiguity. If it’s not the BVM, it’s an idol. My point in sharing it was only to say that the ambiguity continues.

It’s very confusing, yet there is no hard evidence that this was idolatry of a pagan goddess. See Dr. Pedro Gabriel’s excellent series of investigative articles:

Paganism in the Vatican? Hermeneutic of suspicion at its peak (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-16-19)

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In other words, I’m not using this article to argue “See, it’s not the Blessed Virgin Mary.” I’m simply making the point that there is a fundamental lack of clarity coming from even senior hierarchs. The Cardinal’s point (and their source is a German language interview) is illegitimate. It cannot simply be a vague “archetype” and legitimately receive the kind of veneration it did, not at least from a Catholic perspective. It’s either the Blessed Virgin Mary, or it is an idol.
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I’m saying that the Cardinal’s argument even in the German language interview is illegitimate. My point is that there is no room for the kind of compromise with “archetypes” that he offers. No Catholic can defend what we saw unless it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. If it was not, to Hell and the Tiber with it.
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By the way, I can accept (as I have said) that it was an early and crude attempt at an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Christ in utero that I think is in desperate need of iconographical attention. I’m willing to stipulate that, despite the interpretation of the Cardinal.
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I’m comfortable with your latter comment stating that you can accept the Pachamama statue as an early and crude attempt at a (presumably Western) icon of the Blessed Mother with Christ in utero. This is pretty much my view as well, coming from an area where Indigenous Catholic art is much more developed. So I am open to moving the conversation in that direction.
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Oh, I’ve always agreed that clarity is lacking form the Vatican on this. My primary concern remains what it always has been: did idolatry occur or not, and what is the proof from the folks who claim that it did (it remains utterly absent; all is appearances, subjective guesses, and innuendo). Anyone is capable of studying the issue for themselves, just as in all the controversies about this pope.

But people prefer to listen to biased Catholic media sources: many of them reactionary. The most in-depth, informative articles for the position that no idolatry occurred are by Dr. Pedro Gabriel.

“No Catholic can defend what we saw unless it was the BVM.”
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“It’s either the BVM, or it is an idol.”

Those aren’t the only choices. It could be a non-idolatrous ceremony having to do with “Mother Earth” (in a Catholic sense that does have a long history, going back to St. Francis and the fathers and positively referenced by Pope St. John Paul II). There is evidence to suggest that even if “Pachamama” was referenced at all, it was in this sense, not a “pagan goddess” sense.

It could be a dual application of Mother Earth and the Blessed Virgin Mary, just as we often see dual applications in Scripture: such as Revelation 12, which references both Mary and the Church.

In the ceremony, they lifted their hands up to heaven, did a deep bow for just a few seconds, and resumed worship of God with hands uplifted. No one was worshiping or adoring any figure present.

I believe it was intended as Mary because of the statement of a woman in the ceremony. But it could also have had to do with “Mother Earth.” Neither thing is necessarily idolatrous. The pope said it was not. That’s good enough for me. For those who dislike Francis, his word is obviously not good enough (nor is the report of the woman in the ceremony).

But it’s simply not the case that it is either the Blessed Virgin Mary or idolatry of a pagan goddess. Vatican and high cleric reports are obviously confused, but this doesn’t prove that idolatry occurred. Cdl. Schönborn gave his opinion. What he holds — consistent with all other opinions from prelates — is that it was not idolatry. That’s what all the interpretations have in common.

Yet people are still out there saying that it was, and not providing adequate reason to do so. The inadequacy of the rationales exists no matter how confused or not able to be perfectly harmonized various people in high places may be.

Yeah, not going there with you, Dave.

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Not going where?!
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Thanks for the great dialogue, my two esteemed brothers in Christ & His Church. Not sure where Fr. Deacon Daniel doesn’t want to “go” but I thought we were still making progress in dialogue, and I hope he does go “there” (wherever “there” is).
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We eventually got right back to the question of whether idolatry occurred: which has always been my primary concern in all this. If there is still strong suspicion that it did, then (from my perspective) we are at an impasse, and unless people read the best literature on both sides of the question (Dr. Pedro Gabriel on the “no!” side), it will remain an impasse, like so many of the endless debates in the church today (connected to Pope Francis) have.
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I think it’s very sad and ought not be. We are able to ascertain the facts of the matter, no matter how much the Vatican and a hostile Catholic media have done to assure that unnecessary confusion continues. We’re all orthodox Catholics (little “o”) and should be able to come to agreement, and be able to freely disagree where disagreements are okay and permitted.
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Always a pleasure!
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I cannot accept the idea of venerating “Mother Earth.” The dual symbolism is fine, if interpreted the way you suggest in Revelation 12 with the Virgin Mary as the symbolic embodiment of creation and church.
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As a Secular Franciscan I’m just fine with the poetry of St Francis and his expression of familial and fraternal relations with creatures altogether worshipping the Lord.
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I didn’t claim it was venerating Mother Earth. If that is the charge, it has to be substantiated as well. There could be a possible idolatrous, pantheistic sense of that (in this instance and generally). It has to be proven. Or it could be in the St. Francis sense. We can’t simply assume things. That’s been the problem all through this fiasco.
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Related Reading:

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“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? [11-5-19]

“Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual [11-8-19]

“Pachamama” Confusion: Fault of Vatican or Catholic Media? [11-12-19]

Anti-“Pachamama” Doc: “Usual Suspect” Reactionaries Sign [11-14-19]

Vatican II –> Alleged “Pachamama” Idolatry, Sez Fanatics [11-15-19]

Bishops Viganò & Schneider Reject Authority of Vatican II [11-22-19]

Viganò, Schneider, Pachamama, & VCII (vs. Janet E. Smith) [11-25-19]

Pope St. John Paul II Respectfully Referred to Pachamama (+ Orthodox Catholic References to “Mother Earth” and Similar Biblical Motifs) [12-13-19]

Is “Mother Earth” a Catholic Concept (Church Fathers)? (guest post by Rosemarie Scott) [12-17-19]

“Pachamama” Redux (vs. Peter Kwasniewski & Janet Smith) [12-17-19]

Pope Francis’ Deep Devotion to Mary (Esp. Mary Mediatrix) [12-23-19]

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Photo credit: The Virgin Mary Nursing the Christ Child (bet. 1487-1490), by Hans Memling (c. 1433-1494) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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December 17, 2019

These exchanges took place in a thread on Dr. Janet Smith‘s public Facebook page. She is a renowned moral theologian (especially notable for her defense of Humanae Vitae), who is now in the anti-Francis camp and steadily moving to the “right” on the ecclesiological spectrum.  Peter Kwasniewski is a reactionary who is moving so rapidly right that he may end up in SSPX or as a sedevacantist. He wouldn’t be the first to do so, if so. It’s a sad trajectory to observe. Janet’s words will be in blue; Peter’s in green.

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Dave Armstrong maintains that since Saint JPII spoke of Pachamama, and because Church documents say beautiful things about the earth as our mother, that we should not be disturbed by events at the Amazon Synod regarding the so-called Pachamama. I don’t find his argumentation persuasive. JPII may have had little idea who Pachamama is and references to “mother earth” should in no way be conflated with Pachamama. I just can’t imagine JPII allowing the Vatican Garden ceremonies or the presentation and placement of a potted plant on the altar. In such matters, I believe we need to err on the side of caution.

Actually I made little or no argument (strictly speaking) at all in this particular article of mine. What little argument there was, resided in the title: “Pope St. John Paul II Respectfully Referred to Pachamama.”

Can you imagine Taylor Marshall doing that, or Peter Kwasniewski, or yourself? And that is the only point that I made (if one really wants to understand what I was trying to accomplish).

I did find some Bible passages, too, that I thought had perhaps some relation to the notion of “mother Earth”: which has a Christian application and not only a pagan one, as you acknowledge (“Church documents say beautiful things about the earth as our mother”).

Anyone who has followed my commentary on the “Pachamama” fiasco would know that I have contended that it has never been established that idolatry took place. The very first thing that needed to be done (i.e., by those who so vehemently disagree) has never been done, nor (to my knowledge) has this basic “investigatory obligation” even been attempted.

Instead we have proclamations from folks who just “know” that idolatry took place (just like John Calvin “knew” that blasphemous idolatry took place at every Catholic Mass and that statues of Mary and even Christ Himself were “idols” to be smashed or stolen), as if they are mind readers or gnostics with esoteric knowledge of what goes on in other hearts and minds.

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Janet, have you seen the argument I give here [he links to his article]? I show that it’s idolatry [referring to the tree-planting ceremony at the Vatican] as defined by the Catechism, and that even if there was no “intention,” the external actions stand condemned for their appearance of evil. Armstrong cannot respond to these arguments and so he leaves them unaddressed.

I hate to inform you of this, but Armstrong never saw said article because Armstrong doesn’t read reactionary junk sites like One Peter Five. I’ll take a look out of curiosity, if nothing else.

I find this a very revealing statement on your part. It’s easier to maintain a desperate worldview when you live in a bunker. I like to read sites such as yours, PrayTell, Crux, La Croix, and other purveyors of confusion, so that I can see what the other guy is thinking (or not thinking).

I inevitably come across the junk in the course of my apologetics (as in this present instance). It’s not “don’t read” as in an absolute statement, but in the sense of “not regular reading, because one has standards and one has only so much patience.” I don’t read flat earth folks or geocentrists or other conspiracy theorists, either.

In this instance, I was directly responding to your silly charge: “Armstrong cannot respond to these arguments and so he leaves them unaddressed.”

And so I shot that down by pointing out the simple fact that I never saw your article (and humorously, you ask Janet if she had seen it). Now, if you had sent it to me and asked my opinion on it, that would have been very different, wouldn’t it? Instead, I get foolishly accused of being unable to respond to an article that I had never seen. Nice bit of chest-puffing triumphalism there.

Moreover, it’s hardly the case that I can live in a bunker when I have defended this pope now literally more than 150 times, and have also a collection of articles defending the pope, numbering almost 400 (so, for example, I read Taylor Marshall’s and Phil Lawler’s anti-Francis books cover-to-cover, while Taylor Marshall blocked me from his Twitter page as soon as he knew I was critical, and Amazon literally censored my review of his book which had previously been the “top critical review” for over two weeks).

It would be impossible to be in a bunker, with no interaction with anti-Francis views, in light of these facts. But keep up the fantasies. Whatever floats your boat.

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I would have a huge problem if it were actually proven beyond any reasonable doubt that conscious, deliberate idolatry of false gods occurred in that [tree-planting] ceremony. I would be as big of a critic of it as anyone, including Janet and Peter Kwasniewski.

A thing is either proven with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt or it is not. Feeling that a thing is insufficiently proven is not at all the same as a positive assertion or defense of a supposed act that was idolatrous. It would be like the following scenario:

1. It is believed that x killed y.

2. There is enough evidence to bring x to trial [determined by a grand jury], charged with possible murder of y.

3. It is the task of the jury in the trial of x to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed y; failing that, to acquit or declare “not guilty.”

4. Dave Armstrong, as a member of that jury, thinks there is a reasonable doubt that x killed y, and so he cannot commit to a “guilty” vote.

5. Therefore, my critics who find it difficult to take me “seriously”, conclude that I endorse the notion of the killing of y by x.

This is how ridiculous the reasoning here is. Just apply the analogy to the tree-planting ceremony. I am saying that the evidence to establish idolatry is insufficient. If in the future I am persuaded that it is sufficient and compelling, then I shall argue as vociferously against what happened as anyone else, since, as an apologist I have literally opposed idolatry and false religious beliefs and practices these past 38 years.

Samuel above [another participant in the thread] freely admits that the basic fact has “never been established” and so he is restricted to arguments about appearances, which is a completely separate issue (one I could even quite conceivably agree with or be persuaded to agree with).

***

[to Peter Kwasniewski]: I asked Dr. Pedro Gabriel about a portion of your article. This was his reply:

The divinity present in the Amazonian ground can be God. There is nothing in that statement saying that the divinity is Pachamama. All of the rest stems from the gratuitous assertion that the people involved in the event paid worship of latria to the statue (cf. my article “It was clearly idolatry!”) and the gratuitous assertions that the statue did not represent Our Lady (See my other articles).

Also, why does Peter take Mrs. Ednamar’s word for it when she mentions the “divinity present on the Amazon grounds”, but not when the same Ednamar calls the statue “Our Lady of the Amazon”?

***

And now we already see that at least some folks on this thread will move from pope-bashing to Dave-bashing. I will not and would not allow personal insult-type Janet Smith-bashing on my Facebook page or my blog. If some such comment slips by and I miss it, please let me know and I’ll delete and/or block the person if it is extreme enough.

Dave, I think you are pretty darn good at hurling insults yourself. If I deleted all intemperate and insulting posts it would not be to your advantage. If things become seriously uncivil, I will delete posts. You are a candidate.

Feel free. If you delete what I have posted in this thread, I’ll never visit again. It seems to me that you would want to encourage an actual two-sided discussion. I was the subject of the post. I showed up. That’s what those who are seeking to be serious thinkers do: engage opposing viewpoints. I argue vigorously. It’s not the same as personal insult. If someone says something untrue about me, I defend myself. That is not an “insult” either.

We don’t seem to agree on what insulting language is. But your interactions with many here I take as being insulting. You want me to delete what others say. If I start deleting insults, you will be deleted and you can decide whether or not you want to come back.

I have already, since your opinion is clear, whether you delete or not. There is no discussion here, save a few exceptions. See ya. Please don’t tag me again in your posts. I’m only interested in dialogue, not what typically goes on here (echo chamber back-slapping). May God abundantly bless you with all good things, and I wish you and yours a blessed Advent and Christmas.

***

Let me ask you some questions for I truly am having a hard time understanding the reasons for your publishing the article I posted. Do you think the ceremonies using what some think are artifacts representative of the idol Pachamama, are harmless? Or do you think we should simply trust that they are not because they were allowed by Pope Francis?

These statues did not represent “Pachamama” in the first place. The woman in the ceremony who talked about them described them as “our Lady of the Amazon.” That’s her own report. I suppose you can simply say (in retort) she was lying through her teeth . . . These were Catholics in the ceremony: not some pagan savages from the jungle.

I assume the ceremonies are “harmless” and “kosher” unless I am given compelling reason to believe otherwise (i.e., shown that gross idolatry was indeed taking place). I think Dr. Gabriel has shown again and again (in about six articles now) that this was not the case.

Precisely what do you think should be our response to the appearances of those artifacts in religious ceremonies?

I would say that your response should be (given your alarm and concern) exactly what I have said from the beginning: prove that this ceremony was undertaken with deliberately blasphemous and idolatrous intentions. The pope expressly denied the latter. But of course today it’s fashionable to doubt what he says. I am in the habit of accepting what popes say, short of absolutely compelling reason not to.

I disagree with his take on climate change, but of course that isn’t theology, and I have every prerogative as a Catholic to do so. I likely disagree on economics as well, being a distributist.

***

I find the articles authored by Pedro Gabriel very hard to read since they being [begin?] not with evidence about the nature of the Pachamama or artifacts but are character assassinations of those trying to figure it out or who think they are idols. Not a contribution to the conversation.

I see. Is there anyone who defends the pope whom you think is not engaging in “insults” and “character assassination”?

That is a strange question. I was not making a sweeping statement. I was explaining my response to an article you posted. Keep the conversation on track, please.

I’ll ask again: “Is there anyone who defends the pope whom you think is not engaging in “insults” and “character assassination”? I sincerely would like to know who it is that you think is worthy to be read: of those who defend this pope. If you think there is no such person, just say so.

Samuel A Schmitt: There are some – Drs. Robert Fastiggi and Rocco Buttiglione come to mind – but I find their arguments weak. I’m no theologian but even I can see the holes in what they say. Am I missing something? [comment “liked” by Janet Smith]

Ask as many times as you like. I was responding to an article you posted. Offer better stuff. There is no question that he [Dr. Pedro Gabriel] leads with insults so don’t suggest that I think all those who think Pachamama is not an idol lead with insults. I will not respond to unjust charges. And soon I will not respond at all. You shift the conversation with irrelevant questions and claims. I would think your best response would be to post someone who defends the pope in this matter who does not engage in insults.

Dr. Fastiggi absolutely loves my work defending this pope and has said so many times (we’re good friends), but if Janet Smith wants to believe that I am “insulting” and he is not, that’s fine. She calls “insult” what I call simply “vigorous argument” and (when necessary) “self-defense against public false portrayals and inaccuracies”.

You can’t please everyone (as Rick Nelson sang).

The substance of what Dr. Fastiggi is arguing regarding Pope Francis and what I have argued is identical, as far as I can tell. I don’t recall disagreeing with him about anything having to do with this pope.

This is my last response here (now and ever). If anyone wonders why I don’t respond anymore, that’s why. Blessings upon all during this holy Advent Season . . .

***

[I was asked a question about this by someone else] One can distinguish between thinking it would be prudent, wise “PR”, good pastoring, and pragmatically advantageous to answer the dubia and to clarify misunderstandings and existing confusion (my position), and objection to the demand that the pope must do so (which is, I think the position of the other paper you reference). I would disagree with casting aspersions on motives of those who want mere clarification.

My friend and seminary colleague of Janet’s, Robert Fastiggi, has argued that the pope has already in effect answered the dubia in Amoris Laetitia alone.

***

Anyone who has to go to such lengths to prove that what looks like idolatry isn’t is waging a losing battle. Which brings me to that more general point, acknowledged by every single moral theologian of the past 2,000 years, namely, shouldn’t we avoid scandalous appearances? Dontchathink?

Yes, of course. And it is also true that the less educated and the less inquisitive the Catholic populace is, regarding learning about something that is on the surface “scandalous” the more likely they will draw the negative conclusion of what they guessed in the first place. To put it bluntly, the dumber they are, the more likely they will be wrongheadedly scandalized. They can become the biblical “weak brother” if they make no effort to learn about the things in question.

But if people take the effort to fully investigate a controversial event, by reading the best articles on both sides (Dr. Pedro Gabriel offering the best for the view that this was not idolatry), then this is a much better state of affairs.

But now the latest mantra about pope-defenders like Dr. Gabriel and myself (doing things that all apologists used to do, as recently as seven years ago) is something like, “well, if you have to work so hard to explain this, that, and the other, there must really really be something wrong!”

That doesn’t follow at all, logically, and I won’t waste time explaining why it doesn’t. There are many things in the faith that are a bit (or quite a bit) complicated and require considerable effort to explain and provide rationales for (which is what we apologists do).

The trick and key in anti-Francis polemics is to quickly dismiss anyone who thinks differently, and to resolve not to read their stuff, or in the rare case that it is read, to dismiss it as special pleading or implausible or borne from nefarious motives, or the result of “papolatry” or “ultramontanism.”

Anything but actually give it a fair reading and grapple with it. Go into your echo chambers and pat each other on the back. Insult and dismiss any “dissenter” who dares enter the chamber. Groupthink. Avoid dialogue at any cost. Employ caricature and straw men in order to avoid such dreadful dialogue.

And so you offer a variant of these tactics: “Anyone who has to go to such lengths to prove that what looks like idolatry isn’t is waging a losing battle. ” You show no visible inclination of wanting to interact with any differing view. You’d rather mock and dismiss them so you don’t have to in the first place. I’ve already offered answers to some of your questions asked, but you have shown no interest in actually talking about it.

It should not be necessary for ordinary Catholics to have to study apologists in order to find out that, in fact, their pope and other high-ranking clergy are not guilty of what looks like sacrilege and idolatry. This is the fatal weakness of your entire defense of post-conciliar continuity: it is not something at all evident, but requires endless argumentation. But FB will hardly be the place in which we resolve this longstanding disagreement.

[I replied to this statement on my Facebook page only] Apologetics has always been necessary and always will be. So, for example, Janet Smith herself has a big (and well-deserved) reputation as a defender of Humanae Vitae. The reasoning in that document is subtle (especially for this secular age). Very few understand it. So folks like her and apologists like me have to explain and defend why contraception is wrong.

To say that nothing needs to be explained is absolutely ridiculous. During Vatican I in 1870 the big debate was papal infallibility: would it be defined de fide? Lots of people didn’t understand it, including Dollinger and his schismatic group, the Old Catholics, who left the Church.

Cardinal Newman, on the other hand, took great pains to explain papal infallibility, which he had accepted many years since (though he was an inopportunist about the definition before it happened: which has been endlessly lied about as well). If people like him weren’t around to expound truth and explain doctrinal development, likely many more would have left the Church.

***

I didn’t become a Catholic only to end up being a quasi-Protestant. I had more respect for the pope as a Protestant than these reactionaries have today. Would that they would just shut up and keep their endless bellyaching “concerns” to themselves.

***

I replied to a completely different critic (words in purple) who blasted me in a recent post. Due to the similarity of subject matter, I’ll include it here:

It appears that Armstrong, also, thinks bowing down to naked images which Francis called “pachamama” is perfectly okay.

Armstrong doesn’t think that is what happened in that tree-planting ceremony. The Catholics in the ceremony had their hands raised upward in prayer to God, momentarily made a deep bow, and then resumed the upward prayer posture. The statues were not “Pachamama” (which is not an Amazonian religious belief), but according to the woman who presided over the ceremony, “our Lady of the Amazon” (thus not an idol). The Vatican clarified that the pope meant “pachamama” only in a generic sense, used by the Italian press.

I dare Armstrong to take a picture of himself bowing down to the naked statue Francis called “pachamama” and post it on his blog since he thinks it’s perfectly okay.

I have no problem with bowing before and showing veneration to any statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But again, it’s questionable that this was what the bowing meant in the ceremony.

Does Pachamama apologist Armstrong have the conviction of his stated Pachamama belief?

I am not a “Pachamama apologist” in the first place. I am one who believes that it is gravely sinful to accuse fellow Catholics of blasphemous idolatry without cause; without any compelling proof that this is what happened, and in light of several factors that prove, I think, that it is not what happened at all.

***

Related Reading:

“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? [11-5-19]

“Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual [11-8-19]

“Pachamama” Confusion: Fault of Vatican or Catholic Media? [11-12-19]

Anti-“Pachamama” Doc: “Usual Suspect” Reactionaries Sign [11-14-19]

Vatican II –> Alleged “Pachamama” Idolatry, Sez Fanatics [11-15-19]

Bishops Viganò & Schneider Reject Authority of Vatican II [11-22-19]

Viganò, Schneider, Pachamama, & VCII (vs. Janet E. Smith) [11-25-19]

Pope St. John Paul II Respectfully Referred to Pachamama (+ Orthodox Catholic References to “Mother Earth” and Similar Biblical Motifs) [12-13-19]

Is “Mother Earth” a Catholic Concept (Church Fathers)? (guest post by Rosemarie Scott) [12-17-19]

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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.
*
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 (and “likes” and links and shares). Thanks!
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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: Dr. Janet E. Smith; photo from You Tube talk, “Contraception: Why Not?” (12-29-10).

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December 13, 2019

+ Orthodox Catholic References to “Mother Earth” and Similar Biblical Motifs

Many thanks to Francisco Figueroa, who discovered this in a homily dated 5-11-88 (in Spanish), delivered in Bolivia, in the Valley of Cochabamba. This was Francisco’s translation of the Spanish. My friend, Dr. Robert Fastiggi, a systematic theologian, sent me a personal letter, stating, “I checked the Spanish original, and the passage from JPII is accurate.” Pope St. John Paul II’s words follow below.

*****

“Blessed is he who, in any work, seeks God from the heart. Blessed is he who, in the exercise of any profession, seeks the good of others.

I want to address now, from this land of Cochabamba, peasant par excellence, to you, Quechua peasants, men of the “bronze lineage”, who from time immemorial populate these valleys and are at the roots of Bolivian nationality; that you have given to the world your nutritional and medicinal findings such as potatoes, corn and quinoa. The Lord continues to accompany your work with His help. He takes care of the birds of the sky, of the lilies that are born in the field, of the grass that sprouts from the earth (Mt 6, 26-30). This is the work of God, who knows that we need the food that the earth produces, that varied and expressive reality that your ancestors called the “Pachamama” and that reflects the work of divine Providence by offering us His gifts for the good of man.

Such is the deep meaning of the presence of God that you must find in your relationship with the earth, which covers for you the territory, the water, the stream, the hill, the hillside, the creek, the animals, the plants and the trees, because earth is all the work of creation that God has given us. Therefore, when contemplating the earth, the crops that grow, the plants that mature and the animals that are born, raise your thoughts to the God of the heights, the creator God of the universe, who has manifested to us in Christ Jesus, our Brother and Savior. That way you can reach Him, glorify Him and thank Him. “Because the invisible of God, since the creation of the world, [His] intelligence is revealed through his works” (Rm 1:20).

“Blessed is he who … rightly administers his affairs; the righteous will never falter ”(Ps 112 [111], 5-6). Blessed is he who strives in his work, despite the difficulties of the environment. Blessed is he who seeks to build the civilization of love with his work.”

***

Pope Benedict XVI also referred to “mother earth” in a general audience on the topic of Psalm 139 [138]: 28 December 2005.

So did St. Francis of Assisi in his Letter to the Faithful, which included a prayer with the words: “Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”

[see many other documented examples of “mother earth” in historic Christian devotions and prayers, art, and literature]

One might perhaps observe “mother earth” motifs in the following biblical passages:

Genesis 1:11-12 (RSV) And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. [12] The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.

Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Genesis 41:47 During the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth abundantly,

2 Samuel 23:4 he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth upon a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

Psalm 65:9 Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it; the river of God is full of water; thou providest their grain, for so thou hast prepared it.

Psalm 104:14 Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth,

Isaiah 42:5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it,

Isaiah 61:11 . . . the earth brings forth its shoots, . . .

Sirach 38:4 The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them.

Sirach 40:1 Much labor was created for every man, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, from the day they come forth from their mother’s womb till the day they return to the mother of all.

Hebrews 6:7 For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.

James 5:18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

Related Reading:

Pachamama, Celibacy, and the Amazonian Synod (Trent Horn, Catholic Answers, 10-23-19; audio with transcript)

“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? (Dave Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 11-5-19)

 “Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual (Dave Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 11-8-19)
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“Pachamama” Confusion: Fault of Vatican or Catholic Media? (Dave Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 11-12-19)
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Anti-“Pachamama” Doc: “Usual Suspect” Reactionaries Sign (Dave Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 11-14-19)
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Vatican II –> Alleged “Pachamama” Idolatry, Sez Fanatics (Dave Armstrong, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 11-15-19)
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Paganism in the Vatican? Hermeneutic of suspicion at its peak (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-16-19)
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Our Lady of the Amazon, Pray for Us (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-16-19)
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Our Lady of the Amazon: solving the contradictions (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-26-19)
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Pachamama – the missing piece of the puzzle (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 11-10-19)
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The Pachamama Primer (Dom Cornelius, Abbaye de Saint-Cyran, 10-27-19)
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Addendum (12-16-19)
Moral theologian Janet E. Smith made reference to this article on her Facebook page:
Dave Armstrong maintains that since Saint JPII spoke of Pachamama, and because Church documents say beautiful things about the earth as our mother, that we should not be disturbed by events at the Amazon Synod regarding the so-called Pachamama. I don’t find his argumentation persuasive. JPII may have had little idea who Pachamama is and references to “mother earth” should in no way be conflated with Pachamama. I just can’t imagine JPII allowing the Vatican Garden ceremonies or the presentation and placement of a potted plant on the altar. In such matters, I believe we need to err on the side of caution.
I replied:

Actually I made little or no argument (strictly speaking) at all in this article of mine. What little argument there was, resided in the title: “Pope St. John Paul II Respectfully Referred to Pachamama.”

Can you imagine Taylor Marshall doing that, or Peter Kwasniewski, or yourself? And that is the only point that I made (if one really wants to understand what I was trying to accomplish).

I did find some Bible passages, too, that I thought had perhaps some relation to the notion of “mother Earth”: which has a Christian application and not only a pagan one, as you acknowledge (“Church documents say beautiful things about the earth as our mother”).

Anyone who has followed my commentary on the “Pachamama” fiasco would know that I have contended that it has never been established that idolatry took place. The very first thing that needed to be done (i.e., by those who so vehemently disagree) has never been done, nor (to my knowledge) has this basic “investigatory obligation” even been attempted.

Instead we have proclamations from folks who just “know” that idolatry took place (just like John Calvin “knew” that blasphemous idolatry took place at every Catholic Mass and that statues of Mary and even Christ Himself were “idols” to be smashed or stolen), as if they are mind readers or gnostics with esoteric knowledge of what goes on in other hearts and minds.

*
***
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.
*
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 (and “likes” and links and shares). 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:Alice Popkorn: “Mother Earth” [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]
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November 25, 2019

On 11-22-19, I posted my article, Bishops Viganò & Schneider Reject Authority of Vatican II (And Abp. Viganò Appears to Have Lost His Mind; Denies Indefectibility, Spews Ridiculous Tin Foil Hat Conspiracies).  Renowned Professor of moral theology, Janet E. Smith (whose work — especially regarding Humanae Vitae — I have greatly admired for years), cross-linked it on her public Facebook page, with her original caption: “What some people think.” The usual “feeding frenzy” (personal attacks from others) ensued, and then I attempted dialogue with her and (briefly) with one other person. Her words will be in blue; those of James Russell in green.

*****

First, the purely personal attacks that commenced (just a few examples of some of the worst):

Brian Williams: D. Armstrong fell into the category of irrelevancy years ago. Much like Shea and other professional Patheos “writers”.

Matthew Francis: It is really fools like these: Armstrong, Eden, Shea, Ivereigh along with those clerics supporting a Church of Nice that excludes Christ and his teachings who are creating a de facto schism through their progressive Church.

Matthew Francis [to Mark Wilson]: I think DA is disingenuous and uncharitable in his critique. Vigano and Schneider have criticized the ambiguity in the documents when have led to the issues of today. 

I commented about this on my Facebook page:

She knows better than this. And now she is sitting there allowing bald-faced lies to spread about me that she knows [i.e., that I’m some flaming liberal] are not true.

Technically, she just posted my paper, and allowed the insults and ad hominem against me and others to fly on her page. But to me that is almost as bad. If one sits by and lets known lies be lobbed, then how is that much better than simply lying by yourself?

Then I started to interact with Janet herself:

What is it you think about all this, Janet? You must know that I’m no flaming liberal: I’m as orthodox as I can be (as much as you, I dare say). So why do you allow all this hogwash here, making out that I am, because I defend Vatican II?

Defending VII is one thing; attacking very good men with false charges is another. That article is intemperate, to say the least.

For instance you say Bishop Schneider rejected the authority of VII. He did no such thing – he spoke of confusion and ambiguity.

But the language you use and the insults you hurl! Yours is no measured critique of men who deserve our respect. Their critique of some of what the Pope has said and done is measured. Why are you going in the direction of an unhinged screed rather than a judicious analysis?

Isn’t it amazing how anything and everything is permitted in talking about the pope. None of that is ever “intemperate”: but let someone dare critique all the rotgut and we are “intemperate” and “attacking” persons, etc. I stand by every word of this post of mine. It wasn’t written in a rage; I was calm as a cucumber, as I am 99.9% of the time.

The point of my article was that opposition to Pope Francis goes much deeper than just any issues that are said to be about him: to a reactionary attitude that is against or too critical of Vatican II and the ordinary form Mass, and ecumenism.

I contend that Abp. Vigano has “dissed” Vatican II (I don’t think anyone here has even denied that; only denied that Bp. Schneider did), and that he has gone off the deep end with goofy conspiracy theories now, a la Taylor Marshall and Henry Sire. It’s now fashionable to make Vatican II the boogeyman for every problem in the Church. That’s what is chic and fashionable and oh-so-trendy.

I was defending Pope St. John Paul II 20 years ago (I was online back then, too). Then I defended Pope Benedict XVI against folks like Bob Sungenis and (later) Michael Voris. Now I defend Pope Francis when I think he is subject to bum raps and outright calumny. I haven’t changed one whit. Many of the people who go after the present pope also don’t like Vatican II and the ordinary form Mass, or ecumenism. And (in many cases) they didn’t like those things long before Francis became pope. I’m not just speculating. I’ve documented it several times now. It will only get worse. I’m trying to sound the warning.

There is a world of difference between what and how you write in opposition to the critics of the Holy Father, e.g., Burke, Vigano and Schneider and how you speak of and to them — tinfoil hats, rot gut, clowns, spewing out garbage. If you can’t see that, you are far gone. Calm or not.

You guys write your jeremiads against Pope Francis, that I think are wrong and wrongheaded and expressly against biblical injunctions of how to treat rulers (and I can back it up: having written 144 in-depth defenses of Pope Francis to date), and I write mine against his critics (including bishops), whom I think are wrong and wrongheaded (including now advocating various wacko conspiracy theories). Goose and gander.

The rightness of a jeremiad depends on whether what it is criticizing is actually worthy of criticism. There is nothing wrong with the literary form itself: provided it is necessary and appropriate in a given situation. Jesus and Paul did it; so did prophets in the Old Testament (including mockery and satire). If a bishop trashes a pope unfairly, he is certainly worthy of being the target of a hard-hitting jeremiad. And that’s what I did.

Do we need a refresher course in the history of how Dante placed many bishops and priests in hell, and how Cardinal Newman talked about the bishops during the Arian crisis or Belloc’s treatment of the cowardice of the English bishops during the so-called English “Reformation”?

Karl Keating stated on his Facebook page that all of the bishops should resign. Is that “intemperate”? Was that “far gone”? I say that it’s ridiculous. I criticized (yes, very strongly, because they deserve it) two inveterate critics of Pope Francis. They are entitled to be scrutinized, just as they would say the pope is. You (meaning everyone here) can attack me in this thread all you like. It doesn’t faze me in the slightest. So far it is three main accusations:

1) I’m a modernist (a demonstrable and damnable lie).

2) My rhetoric was over the top (at least arguable, unlike #1; I strongly deny it, for reasons expressed here).

3) Bp. Schneider in fact did not diss Vatican II.

No one says a word about the ridiculous conspiracy theories that Abp. Vigano is now setting forth. Perhaps it’s embarrassment, since he has been so lionized. Perhaps it’s a case of the emperor with no clothes. So I point it out, and all the ire gets directed towards me. But not one person has tackled that issue in this thread. Am I to believe, then, that y’all believe all of the ludicrous nonsense that he wrote about, that I cited in my paper?

And you want to complain about my tone? Do you really want me to go and pull out 200 statements of extreme trashing and bashing that have been made about this pope? I could put together quite a collection from your words alone, Janet. [this portion was later alluded to in a revised introduction to Janet’s OP: “Dave Armstrong makes the charge in the comments below that he could put together “quite a collection of quotations by me that would qualify as “extreme trashing and bashing” of the Holy Father”: but my intended meaning was distorted, as I clarify below]

***

I will only respond to Janet Smith from now on, due to my immense respect for her work (minus her views on the pope for some time now).

I appreciate your expression of respect. I too have respected your work but this article, as I have stated, is beyond the pale. It is a rant, not an interpretation or response to critics. Your limitation of responding only to me, however, is not in the spirit of my FB threads. I enjoy seeing what others say and in the responses: it often saves me a lot of time and I learn from it. So if you won’t engage others here, I am bowing out as well.

It’s a jeremiad, as explained (which Merriam-Webster defines as “a prolonged lamentation or complaint”). So the issue is whether it is deserved or not. There were several indefensible pure personal attacks. Here are two examples p[see above]

You may think that is “dialogue.” I do not; sorry. You allowed those comments to pass without comment. Did you “enjoy” or “learn” from those? I was happy to dialogue with you, but it takes two. I do thank you, in any event, for allowing me to fully express myself without censorship, and wish you all of God’s blessings always.

Oddly, I looked for the part in your piece where Vigano and Schneider explicitly reject the authority of Vatican II–I did not find any such explicit rejection. I expected such a serious charge to be supported by incontrovertible evidence, but it wasn’t….did I miss something?

Yes you did. Read it again. It’ll come to ya. It may take a few times. Just imagine them saying this about any portion of Trent or Vatican I.

[T]he topic here is schism–you are publicly accusing Churchmen of schism, when their right to a good reputation in this regard is just as sacrosanct as the Holy Father’s.

Which is why you should have more than “interpretation”–you should have direct and incontrovertible objective proof–before claiming successors of the Apostles are in schism…

I have accused no one of canonical schism. I specifically call these positions “radical Catholic reactionary”: a term that I myself coined (as you may know). Reactionaries routinely attack four things:

1) Popes (since Ven. Pope Pius XII).

2) Vatican II.

3) The ordinary form / Pauline Mass.

4) Ecumenism.

To my knowledge, I have never said anyone was in “schism” for saying these things (contemptible though they are). At most, I will say “quasi-schismatic attitude” and suchlike, because it could lead to that. I say it about sedevacantists and (kinda sorta) about SSPX, but never about reactionaries. In this paper, I alluded to “schism” twice:

1) “The big danger now is schism, not syncretism.” [i.e., potentially, in the future] The pope is often accused of potentially causing this, but let no one dare to suggest that his accusers might be the ones to do so.

2) “quasi-schismatic buffoonery”.

The double standards in this whole debate are wider than the Grand Canyon (which I just visited again in October).

Okay–glad you are making this distinction. But it raises a fundamental question–so a bishop can reject the authority of an ecumenical council (which is what you claim is happening here in your post), but by that fact not be in schism?

I said I’m done. Not gonna keep going round and round. Janet said she’s done, so I am too. I was willing to have an extended dialogue with her. She said no. I’m supposed to wrangle with everyone here . . .

I always have made this distinction. For you to think I did not shows me that you understand little about my writings concerning reactionaries (and I thought you did). It’s tough when one’s heroes are criticized, but someone’s gotta do it once in a while. Be well.

There’s severe irony in your last sentence, my friend–as it applies not only to Vigano and Schneieder, but to Pope Francis as well…I wish you weren’t quite done, as thoughtful readers might benefit from hearing a response to the question I posed. But it’s FB and it’s late. You’re a good and faithful man and I’m glad we’re brothers in Christ. Thanks again for the conversation.

Thanks for your cordiality and kind words. I appreciate it. He’s not my hero, he’s my pope. My hero is St. John Henry Cardinal Newman: and he has been since 1990.

*****

I have written no Jeremiads against the Pope. The views on this thread are diverse and should not be lumped together. I don’t think you need to interact with everyone — I certainly don’t but I also don’t exclude people from the conversation. Those who object to Jeremiads should not engage in them. They should raise the tone, not lower it.

It’s simply common sense to interact with one person (the one who runs the site, and in this case, a renowned professor, whom I respect), as opposed to trying to argue with literally ten or more people at once.

This is my standard policy, even if there weren’t the usual personal attacks that you decided were perfectly fit to appear and remain in this combox. The ten-against-one scenario is a thing I have objected to as long ago as 2003, when I quit Internet forums, for this and many other reasons.

So to insist that I must interact with other people, or else you’re not interested in dialogue, is, I confess, a stance that is utterly incomprehensible to me. I haven’t lumped everyone together, and in fact, I said I would interact with Fr. Stephen, and also did (albeit briefly) with James Russell.

As usual, possible constructive (and cordial) discussion was over before it even began. And this is part and parcel of what is wrong with Internet discussion. Only the devil wins when all these polarized factions that we have in the Church today refuse to even talk to each other.

There is no way I can comment on all the comments on my thread. You know that. And as you know I haven’t censored you in any way.

You can condemn and/or censure / delete ones that are unworthy of a Christian venue. But very few do, and this is why Internet discourse of such a poor quality overall. The insulters will always bring the quality of the overall discussion down.

[to someone else] The whole article [mine] is unsubstantiated and the substantiation given doesn’t exist.

I don’t think you could find any quotations by me that would qualify as “extreme trashing and bashing” let alone “quite a collection.” That is quite an accusation amounting to defamation. Such remarks may be in articles I post but as those who follow me know I post articles that I agree with and those I don’t — such as yours. No one can be held to agree with all that is said in every article posted.

Technically, I didn’t accuse you of “extreme trashing and bashing.” I was writing generally about all the anti-Francis bashing, and then simply added that I could also collect what you yourself have said, if we are to engage in the issue of comparative “tone”. I wrote:

And you want to complain about my tone? Do you really want me to go and pull out 200 statements of extreme trashing and bashing that have been made about this pope? I could put together quite a collection from your words alone, Janet.

***

It’s also fascinating that you posted tweets from Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein here and then when she came to defend herself and interact, you blocked her from your page. You haven’t even done that with me. Why block her but allow me to post here? What did she do that caused her to be blocked?

***

Samuel A Schmitt: I’m confused – every heretic is now a schismatic because by their heresy they have rejected the authority of the pope, and every schismatic is a heretic because rejecting the authority of the pope is a heresy. Which one is it?

Hahaha. We are all schismatics now!

As explained to James Russell elsewhere in this thread, I have classified none of the people I have criticized in this instance as schismatics, and call them “Catholics” (as well as bishops and archbishops). I also have accused no one of heresy.

But has the pope been accused of heresy by your heroes (or yourself)? So you and Samuel have a good chuckle and falsely insinuate that I (being the subject of this thread) and/or others who are of my opinion are unjustly or ludicrously slinging around the terms “heretic” and “schismatic” when in fact it is your party which has done so, and with regard to the Holy Father.

The double standard and blindness here is literally breathtaking.

***

For further discussion and documentation of Dr. Janet Smith’s seeming recent “drifting” to a traditionalist or (more likely) reactionary position, see my cross-posted Facebook thread.

***

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.
*
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 (and “likes” and links and shares). 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.
***
***
November 15, 2019

See my past treatments of this topic:

“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? [11-5-19]

“Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual [11-8-19]

“Pachamama” Confusion: Fault of Vatican or Catholic Media? [11-12-19]

Anti-“Pachamama” Doc: “Usual Suspect” Reactionaries Sign [11-14-19]

*****

Presently, I simply want to document (like the four articles above, this is another sociological — not theological — treatment) how many reactionaries directly tie an existing antipathy to Vatican II into what they perceive (assume / dogmatically assert, without sufficient evidence) was rank idolatry occurring at the Amazon Synod with regard to these statues that they so detest.

1) Bishop Athanasius Schneider

“This is already rooted here [in the Vatican Council],” Bishop Schneider states. “If you have a right by God given to you, by nature, also to be able to choose acts of idolatry – like the Pachamama – when it is rooted in your dignity of man even to choose a Pachamama religion: this is the last consequence of this expression of the Council text,” he explains. The expression of the text was “ambiguous” and needed to be “formulated in a different way” to “avoid these applications in the life of the Church, which we also had in the Assisi meeting of Pope John Paul II in 1986 and the other meetings, where even idolatrous religions were invited to pray in their own manner – that is to say in their idolatrous manner – for peace.” . . .

He says that what we have now in Rome, the “formal performance of idolatrous acts in the Catholic Church, in the heart of the Catholic Church of St. Peter, is the triumph of the evil.” (Lifesite News, 11-8-19; derived from a You Tube interview with Michael Matt of The Remnant, 11-2-19)

2) Deacon Nick Donnelly “Is Catholic sensibility so coarsened and jaded by Vatican II that this [the “Pachamama” incident] doesn’t register?” (tweet of 10-19-19)

3) Fr. Richard Gennaro Cipolla

A sense of irony is not strong among these prelates who as Catholics are blind to the blasphemy of putting these idols in a Catholic church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a stone’s throw from the tomb of Peter, Apostle and Martyr.  One wonders if these men think at all, think about anything, let alone the Faith that they have sworn to defend and uphold.  . . .
*
We could not have arrived at this point in the history of the Catholic Church unless the Great Lobotomy following the Second Vatican Council had not been performed by the surgeons in charge of the Great Forgetting of the People of God, for whom two millennia of Church History and Faith and Worship were blotted out and in its place was put the Beast of the 1960’s slouching to an evacuation of the Ultimate Seriousness and Real Joy of the Catholic faith. (Rorate Caeli, “The Mother of God and Pachamama: The Sign of the Church in Crisis,” 11-1-19)
*
4) Rorate Caeli Twitter page
*
The line is drawn: on one side, the Church of Jesus Christ, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic; on the other, the Judas Church, the Pachamama-Church. Bishops and priests will have to choose. “Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.” (10-26-19)
*
Replies (note that the page has no problem allowing comments like these; rather than deleting them as spiritually harmful):
*
 Oct 26  The line was drawn at Vatican II. Ask yourself why you chose the Judas Church. Will you come around to join the Catholic Church now?
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 Oct 26  Yes. Vatican II and JPII. The truth will set us free.
*
5) Fr. Anthony Cekada [sedevacantist]

“ALL THE Gods of the heathens are demons,” says Psalm 95 — but that didn’t stop Jorge Mario Bergoglio from sponsoring pagan idol worship of the Amazonian earth goddess, the Pachamama, in the Vatican gardens on October 4. Nor did it stop him, during the Offertory Procession of a Mass two weeks later, from smilingly receiving the traditional red-ribboned flower offering to the Pachamama — and instructing his Master of Ceremonies to place it on the High Altar of St. Peter’s, which stands directly over the tomb of St. Peter himself.

Heresy and apostasy, canonists and moral theologians teach, can be committed dictis vel factis — not only in words, but also in deeds. And if Bergoglio’s latest deeds aren’t proof that he has totally repudiated the religion revealed by God, the very words heresy and apostasy — and indeed the whole First Commandment — have utterly lost their meaning.

How did it become possible to justify these actions — ones which the martyrs refused to perform under threat of torture and certain death — and all in the very place where St. Peter himself died?

The answer, of course, is Vatican II, which taught that pagan religions are “means of salvation” used by the Holy Ghost. And this heresy, in turn, is the product of another: the modernist meta-heresy of the evolution of dogma. . . . 

Finally, while Bergoglio’s madcap and blasphemous antics have forced many Catholics “on the right” to focus on errors and issues they would never have even thought of a mere six years ago, they shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking “It’s just a Bergoglio problem.”

Rather, it’s a Vatican II problem. Sure, enshrining the Pachamama in Santa Maria in Transpontina was a real horror. But it’s a passing trifle next to enshrining as a permanent principle in “papal magisterium” the heresy of dogmatic evolution. And that idol, before which all dogma melts into air, can’t be made to disappear by just tossing it in the Tiber. Vatican II, the Robber Council, has be dumped over the rail first — and this time, weigh it down. (“Papa Pachamama’s Profession of the Modernist Heresy,” Quidlibet, 11-3-19)

6) SSPX

The recent Synod on the Amazon was witness to terrible scenes where the abomination of idolatrous rites was played out within the sanctuary of God in new and unthinkable ways. And then, the final document of this tumultuous assembly attacked the holiness of the Catholic priesthood, pushing for both the abolition of ecclesiastical celibacy and the establishment of a female deaconate. Truly, the seeds of apostasy which our venerable Founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, had identified from the earliest days as being at work in the Council, continue to yield their putrid fruits with renewed effectiveness.

In the name of inculturation, pagan elements are increasingly integrated into divine worship and we can see, once again, how the liturgy that followed of the Second Vatican Council is perfectly suited to this. (Communiqué of the Superior general of the Society about the Synod on the Amazon [Don Davide Pagliarani, Superior General, October 28, 2019)

***

Unfortunately, Money Trees Do Not ExistIf 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.
*
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 (and “likes” and links and shares). 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.
***

Photo credit: manhhai (9-20-12). Pope John XXIII leads the opening session of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 11, 1962 [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]

***

November 14, 2019

The latest document in the endless parade of such “protesting” tomes is, of course, “Protest against Pope Francis’s sacrilegious acts” (or, Contra Recentia Sacrilegia), having to do with the events regarding alleged idol-worship at the Amazon synod (“Pachamama” etc.). I have dealt with this controversy three times:

“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? [11-5-19]

“Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual [11-8-19]

“Pachamama” Confusion: Fault of Vatican or Catholic Media? [11-12-19]

And I have exposed the extreme reactionary leanings (being against Vatican II and/or the Pauline / ordinary form Mass and/or opposed to the canonizations of Pope John Paul II, Pope Paul VI, etc.) of various radical Catholic reactionaries,  who repeatedly sign the various formal protests against Pope Francis, now four times:

Radical Reactionary Affinities in “Filial Correction” Signatories [9-28-17]

Reactionary Influence: Correctio & June 2016 Criticism of the Pope [1-24-18]

*
*
I don’t plan on doing a full “investigation” of such leanings of all the signatories of the present document (I’ve done more than enough of that already, and someone else can do that thankless work, this time), but I will simply share the information I already have on the signees of this latest document who are known to hold to extreme and quasi-schismatic ecclesiological positions: dangerously close to a belief in the defectibility of Holy Mother Church. In other words, as always in these matters, “it ain’t just about Pope Francis.” These people have had a dangerous, quasi-schismatic mentality and agenda for many years before anyone had ever heard of Pope Francis.
*
Without further ado, let’s look at the notorious and highly questionable beliefs of many of the signatories of Contra Recentia Sacrilegia:
*
Abbreviations used for three of the most notorious reactionary sites:
*

1) The Remnant (“TR”)

2) Rorate Caeli  (“RC”)

3) One Peter Five (run by self-appointed prophet of doom, Steve Skojec: “1P5”)

1) Prof. Roberto de Mattei is published at RC (7-2-17 / 1-28-15 / 7-13-17 / 3-29-17 ). In the latter article he writes: “who could have ever imagined that a pontifical document, Pope Francis’ post-synod Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia made public on April 8th 2016, would endorse adultery?” At the top it states: “. . . whose columns we bring you here first in English each week.” 1P5 announces with great fanfare a lecture by Dr. Mattei in Washington DC (3-8-17). He’s clearly hailed as one of reactionary “good guys.”

He has an article at RC entitled, “To which Church does Pope Bergoglio belong?” (10-19-16). In this article he clearly thoroughly distorts the Holy Father’s words that he cites, with the inane analysis: “Pope Bergoglio calls ‘good Lutherans’ those Protestants who do not follow the faith of Jesus Christ, but its deformation and ‘lukewarm Catholics’ those fervent sons and daughters of the Church who reject the equalizing of the truth of the Catholic religion with the error of Lutheranism.”

[Note: I’ve been informed that among Italians, use of the form “Pope Bergoglio” is not derisive in intent, as with English-speaking reactionary Catholic usage]

In another RC masterpiece from 11-2-16 he opines: “What surfaced during the ecumenical meeting between Pope Francis and the World Lutheran Federation on October 31st in Lund, seems to be a new religion.” Like most reactionaries, he has not the slightest clue as to the true nature of authentic Catholic ecumenism. After all, ecumenism is one of the things (one of the four hallmarks) that they detest and despise. He’s also interviewed on 1P5 (5-16-17).

2) Deacon Nick Donnelly is a regular columnist at the pathetic reactionary site One Peter Five (ten articles listed), and (more recently), Rorate Caeli (he took pains to inform his readers of this infamous writing “gig” on his Twitter page, noting this article; thanks for reading, Deacon Nick!). The sedevacantist site Novus Ordo Watch noted about him in an article (complete with screenshot): “For years Donnelly ran his Twitter account under the handle @ProtectThePope, yet a few days ago, on July 17, he notified his followers that he was changing his Twitter name from @ProtectThePope to @ProtectTheFaith.” He also has 33 articles listed at Michael Voris’ reactionary organization, Church Militant.  Michael Voris claimed that Pope Benedict XVI exaggerated his illness in order to allow for an “immoral” resignation.

He has attacked Pope St. John Paul II and associated him with the alleged heresies of Pope Francis: “Pope John Paul II’s Assisi syncretist jamboree gives Francis the excuse for this travesty. Just as JPII’s unilateral change to the Catechism over the death penalty gives Francis the ‘mandate’ to change it at will. Francis is exploiting every mistake made by Pope John Paul.” (Twitter, 9-18-18) He doesn’t like Vatican II very much. On 19 October 2019 he tweeted, reacting to the “Pachamama” fiasco: “Is Catholic sensibility so coarsened and jaded by Vatican II that this doesn’t register?” On 19 December 2018 he tweeted about “Vatican II in a nutshell: Satan the friendly snake for children.”

3) Christopher Ferrara is perhaps the most prominent figure at The Remnant: one of the most influential radical Catholic reactionary organizations. He was a key man in promoting the ridiculous title, “neo-Catholic”Gerry Matatics (who was a sedevacantist and now — even beyond that — thinks there are virtually no valid Masses anywhere) originally coined the term in the late 90s.

Ferrara picked it up and promoted it in his 2002 book, The Great Facade (see also the expanded 2nd edition, 2015). His latest article, entitled, “Luther’s Revenge: The Neo-Catholic Surrender to Protestantism” (9-24-17) is an attack on Catholic Answers and one of the very best Catholic apologists today, my friend Jimmy Akin.

A thousand ludicrous, slanderous, self-evidently false citations could be culled from The Great Facade (I have a copy of the original edition in my library), but just a few will suffice to give readers an idea of its nature and tenor:

[S]ome neo-Catholic commentators are honest enough to admit that the Council and the conciliar Popes have introduced true novelties into the Church. Taking the bull by the horns, they openly declare that John Paul II is an innovator, who sees in Vatican II (as did Paul VI) a mandate for previously unheard-of progressivist undertakings . . .

[T]he traditionalists we would defend have been in just the right place all along: the postconciliar novelties are neither Magisterial nor formally heretical; they do not actually bind the Church to an act of belief in what is wrong. The Pope is still the Pope, and yet this is the worst crisis the Church has ever endured, in part because the conciliar Popes, helped along by the blind “obedience” of the neo-Catholics, have refused to acknowledge that there is a crisis, but instead persist in the very novelties that have engendered it. . . .

[T]he documents of Vatican II are a hopeless muddle of ambiguity from which it is impossible to discern the “real Council,” . . . The “real Council” is, therefore, a chimera. (pp. 38-39, 58-59, 308)

Ferrara is (very characteristically of radical reactionaries) inveterately opposed to Vatican II, the ordinary form of the Mass, ecumenism, and the present pope (whoever he is). These are the four identifying / defining marks of the reactionary. He was just as much against Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, as he is now against Pope Francis. Nothing new at all, in other words.

4) Maria Guarini “Maria Guarini’s ultra-traditionalist blog ‘Chiesa e Postconcilio’ publishes titles such as: ‘If the next Pope is Bergoglian, the Vatican will become a Cathomasonic branch.’ ” [link] Anyone can see how reactionary she is by visiting her blog and selecting the English translation option. She published on her blog, for example, an article by Fr. Albert Kallio (6-26-18) which contended that Vatican II espoused a collegiality which he falsely equates with heretical medieval conciliarism (basically, the primacy of councils over the pope): a doctrine which was “new and contradicted a belief and a centuries-old practice of the Church” and “contradict[ed] the previous magisterium.”
*

5) Dr. Robert Hickson here we get more of the good old-fashioned heterodox / semi-schismatic reactionary hostility to Vatican II: which, as Cardinal Ratzinger made clear in 1985, has the same exact authority as the Council of Trent. Maike Hickson wrote about her husband at the radical reactionary site One Peter Fiveon 8 January 2018:

My husband – then [in 1985] a Professor and Head of the Literature Department at Christendom College – challenged Mr. Lawler (as well as Christendom Philosophy Professor Russell Hittinger) – and with it the Council – concerning some of its problematic aspects. He then questioned whether the College effectively wished to “preserve the revolution of the Second Vatican Council,” and he added that he believed that parts of the teaching of the Council cannot be reconciled with the Church’s tradition, especially about religious liberty, syncretism, and indifferentism, and about grace, a sincere but erroneous conscience, and about the very nature of the Church (de Ecclesia).

6) Dr. Maike Hickson is a reular contributor to reactionary sites, One Peter Five and Lifesite News. She showed herself to be anti-Vatican II in her review on One Peter Five, of Ross Douthat’s book, To Change the Church:

While further discussing the council, Douthat shows how ambiguities were deliberately placed into its documents – “because the Council had many authors, and because many of those authors were themselves uncertain about what could be changed” (p. 23) – so that in some way, two different readings, the liberal as well as the conservative, were “in some sense intended by Vatican II.” With regard to the topic of religious liberty, for example, “there seemed to be a plainly-revised teaching, but even where there wasn’t there was a new language, and the apparent retirement of older phrases and rhetoric and forms.” Importantly, the author adds: “And this linguistic shift inevitably suggested a new teaching, to those who wished to have one, even as it stopped short of offering one outright.” [italicized word was, it appears, in Douthat’s book]

7) Fr. John Hunwicke is anti-Vatican II. He wrote on his own blog (9-19-17): “Clearly, we have now definitively (irreversibly?) moved out of the dark shadow of Vatican II. ” He wrote (2-17-07): “Vatican II, like so many of its predecessor councils, is obsolete or, at the very least, obsolescent.” Fr. Hunwicke compares Pope Francis to Pope Honorius: the most notorious example of an actually or allegedly [Catholic historians and theologians differ] “heretical” pope in history:

Pope Honorius I (9-23-17)

. . . Honorius encouraged heresy by neglect.

Does this have any relevance for our times and our troubles?

Whatever may be the objective meaning of Amoris laetitia, whatever the intentions of the current pope in issuing it, there can surely be little doubt that he has de facto encouraged heresy by neglecting to correct those bishops and episcopal conferences which have promoted interpretations of the document constructively allowing for adultery.

This, in my own personal, subjective, and fallible opinion, is what most securely brackets Francis I with Honorius I, although, as a dutiful Catholic, I respect and love both of them equally and enormously. [bolding and italics in original]

Note the outright disrespect of the Holy Father and his office in these comments:

The current pope is neither learned nor intelligent. . . .Given a world so sadly unappreciative of eccentricity, in most other organisations this side of North Korea the Men in White Coats would have been sent in to hustle such a CEO out of public view. (8-29-17)

Having compared Pope Francis to Honorius, he then analogizes today’s situation (on 6-19-17) to the Arian crisis (in which the divinity of Jesus was denied):
The time has surely come for the Four Cardinals who intervened last year with their Dubia to revisit the question. And the time for Bishops, Successors of the Apostles according to the teaching of Leo XIII and of Vatican II and not mere vicars of the Roman Pontiff, to speak with courage, clarity and unanimity. And for clergy, laity, and academics to do the same. Remember that, at the height of the Arian Crisis, it was not among the Bishops or even in Rome that the Faith was most conspicuously preserved and defended.

8) Dr. Peter Kwasniewski I debated him and defended Pope Benedict XVI and the “reform of the reform” (of the liturgy). He opposed both. He makes a frontal attack on Vatican II, Pope St. John XXIII, Pope St. Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI in his article, “RIP, Vatican II Catholicism (1962-2018)”: scandalously and outrageously published at One Peter Five:

I was once one of those Talmudic scholars who attempted to square every circle in the sixteen documents of the Council. I praised their textual orthodoxy and lamented their neglect or distortion at the hands of hijackers. I knew that the loyal Catholic mentality always began its sentences “if only…”: “If only the new liturgy were properly celebrated…”; “If only the new catechism were widely taught…”; “If only people everywhere could just follow the lead of the great Polish pope” (and later, “the great German pope”).

That’s where I used to live. I have since moved on to a bigger and more beautiful dwelling called traditional Catholicism. I was tired of living in the newly built, supposedly more energy-efficient and environmentally sound but in reality flimsy, drafty, fluorescent, insect-infested, falling-apart building produced by the only ecumenical council that made no solemn definitions and issued no solemn condemnations. I came to see, . . . that the hijackers were not the ones after the Council, but the ones inside the Council who cleverly steered it toward the progressivism and modernism they secretly longed for, deliberately planting “time bombs” throughout the documents – ambiguous phrases that could be turned this way or that, and which were turned this way and that in the neverending turf war between liberals and “conservatives” of every stripe, at every level. . . .

For a long time, I thought John Paul II and Benedict XVI were fighting the good fight against this revolutionary reinterpretation of Christianity, but after a few high-profile interreligious meetings, osculations of the Koran, book-length interviews with dialectical answers to every question, and other such indicators, I lost my enthusiasm for them as pastors, whatever I might have admired in their philosophical or theological writings (which, however you slice it, are not the primary job of a pope). It was a shock to the system to realize that these popes, though undoubtedly well intentioned, were swimming in a lake of Kool-Aid rather than the ocean of Tradition – the only difference being that they were strong enough to keep swimming and occasionally cry out to heaven for help, instead of drowning and sinking to the bottom like a millstone with a cardinal tied around its neck.The last five years are not a sudden catastrophe that came from nowhere; they are the orange juice concentrate of the past fifty years, the last act in a tragedy that has been escalating to this point. Bergoglio is the distillation of all the worst tendencies in Roncalli, Montini, Wojtyła, and Ratzinger, without any of their redeeming qualities. Francis’s predecessors were conflicted and inconsistent progressives; he is a convicted modernist.

9) Dr. John Lamont signed the piece published by the reactionary luminaries at The Remnantquestioning the beatification of Pope St. John Paul II. He’s an “equal opportunity” pope-basher. In another article at the notoriously reactionary Rorate Caeli (5-11-15) he goes after Vatican II advocates, decrying those “who wish to apply a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ to Vatican II, or who deny that there can be any opposition or rupture between the documents of that council and Catholic tradition, or who claim that the assertion that the authentic teachings of Vatican II formally contradict the tradition of the Church is false”.

This , too, was praised and passed along at One Peter Five. He wrote an article which was posted at RC, entitled, “On the Formal Correction of Pope Francis” (2-12-17). It was enthusiastically referenced two days later by 1P5. In it, he opines:

In the light of the fact that Pope Francis has openly endorsed heretical understandings of Amoris laetitia in his letter to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region of Sept. 5th 2016, it is more likely than not that he is in fact a formal heretic. . . .
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[T]he crisis over Amoris laetitia and Pope Francis’s support for heresy is not simply the result of a rogue pope having disastrously been elected. The failure of the hierarchy to oppose the Pope’s disastrous actions is the result of a deeply-rooted systemic problem in the Church. It is not just this failure, but also the heterodox programme of Pope Francis and his allies, that is rooted in this problem.

10) Michael Matt is one of the big shots at the notorious reactionary site, The Remnant. See my critique of their many serious errors, way back in 2000.

11) Brian M. McCall bashes and lies about Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican II, and the ordinary form of the Roman Rite Mass (three of the four classic hallmarks of reactionaryism):

Unless Benedict XVI is claiming that the Council Father John Paul II is not part of the Council of the Fathers but rather the Council of the Media, the destruction of the Church’s hierarchical structure by collegiality and the People of God is not the work of this supposed Council imposter but rather is in harmony with the letter and the spirit of the Council of the Fathers. . . .

[I]t was not the media but Paul VI, Archbishop Bugnini, the various bishops conferences, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the document which enabled them all, the Constitution on the Liturgy, which wrought this destruction of the Roman Rite.

It is always easier to blame a scapegoat.  It allows you to avoid the real evidence.  It is even easier when the real culprit is a friend, or protégé.  Pope Benedict was one of the midwives who gave birth to the historical real documented Second Vatican Council and it is much easier to blame the big bad media than one’s beloved child.  Have no despair; notwithstanding the continual downward spiral of the Church in all areas of measurement, the real Council is finally emerging says Pope Benedict, with a smile of hope for his priests “50 years later, the strength of the real Council has been revealed. [when would that be?] Our task for the Year of Faith is to bring the real Second Vatican Council to life [but I thought it already has been revealed?].”

You see the “real Council” is finally after all these long years showing its true self.  “The real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church.”  But it was the documents of the real Council that authorized and encouraged the prayer meeting at Assisi, the New Mass, the bureaucratic tyranny of bishops’ conferences, the appointment of women chancellors of diocese, etc., etc.  What Pope Benedict evidently cannot accept, even after two years of detailed documentation presented in the doctrinal discussions with the Society of St. Pius X, is that it was the documents of the real Council that contained the time bombs whose shrapnel is now imbedded [sic] all over our Church in crisis.  The media and journalists only reported, with glee and celebration, what the Council said and what the popes following it implemented in its name.  The last fifty years is simply the natural consequence of the ideas and expressions issued by the Council.  It is this hard truth which the retiring Council Theological Expert does not want to hear.  It seems he is willing to keep the unjust internal exile of the SSPX in place, notwithstanding an apparently strong personal desire to end the injustice, because he will not face the terrible crisis that was the Second Vatican Council.

All we can do is pray that God permits the next pope to be someone who is not a man of the Council, but who is willing to call a spade a spade and tell the media: Away with this robber Council; we are going back to Tradition. (“Will the Real Second Vatican Council Please Stand up!”The Remnant, 2-15-13)

12) Prof. Paolo Pasqualucci is profoundly against Vatican II as well, which was triumphantly proclaimed on One Vader, er Peter Five (” ‘Points of Rupture’ of the Second Vatican Council with the Tradition of the Church – A Synopsis”: 4-13-18):

It has become an inevitability that in our attempts to understand the current crisis in the Church, we must look back upon the events that precipitated it. There is perhaps no more debated topic in this regard than the question of whether the Second Vatican Council was unjustly marred by a poor implementation and interpretation — the ill-defined and often reckless so-called “Spirit of Vatican II” — or was in itself problematic and thus formative in bringing us to the present ecclesiastical moment. What is beyond dispute, however, is that the council did, in one way or another, play a pivotal role in the digression of contemporary Catholicism from the longstanding traditions — liturgical, sacramental, and doctrinal — of the perennial Church.

Today, we present an analysis by Paolo Pasqualucci, a Catholic philosopher and retired professor of philosophy of the law at the University of Perugia, Italy. Pasqualucci identifies, in this adaptation of the introduction to his book Unam Sanctam – A Study on Doctrinal Deviations in the Catholic Church of the 21st Century, 26 distinct points of rupture with the Tradition of the Church in the texts of the Vatican II documents themselves.

I wrote a twelve-part refutation of this atrocious article.

13) Prof. Claudio Pierantoni RC published a translation of a talk of his at a conference in Rome on 22 April 2017, in which the professor compares Pope Francis to Popes Liberius and Honorius: two of the most notorious alleged or actual or nearly heretic popes. He states, with extreme condescension:
What instead leaps to the attention in the current situation is precisely the underlying doctrinal deformation that, as skillful as it may be in evading directly heterodox formulations, still maneuvers in a coherent way to carry forward an attack not only against particular dogmas like the indissolubility of marriage and the objectivity of the moral law, but even against the very concept of right doctrine, and with it, of the very person of Christ as Logos. The first victim of this doctrinal deformation is precisely the pope, who I hazard to conjecture is hardly aware of this, a victim of a generalized epochal alienation from Tradition, in large segments of theological teaching; after him, there are innumerable victims who fall into deception. . . .
Now, these five questions have put the Pope in a stalemate. If he were to answer them by denying the Tradition and the Magisterium of his predecessors, he would pass to being formally heretical, so he cannot do it. If instead he were to answer them in harmony with the previous Magisterium, he would contradict a great part of the doctrinally relevant actions taken during his pontificate, so it would be a very difficult choice. He, therefore, chose silence because, humanly speaking, the situation can appear to have no way out.
TR makes lengthy reference to this speech in an article dated 5-6-17. In another RC article (11-3-16), the rather imaginative professor makes the claim that today is analogous to the Arian crisis in the early Church (which heresy denied that Jesus was God), and maintains that Amoris Laetitia “legitimates a series of positions which are mutually incompatible, and some manifestly heretical.”
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14) Prof. Enrico Maria Radaelli Sandro Magister, in his article, “High Up, Let Down by Pope Benedict” (Chiesa, 4-8-11) describes Dr. Radaelli’s disappointment with the German Shepherd (good ol’ pope-bashing again):

In the erudite and vibrant pages of his new book [Entrance to Beauty, 2007], however, Radaelli does not fail to subject to criticism the current hierarchy of the Catholic Church almost in its totality, including the pope.

The disappointment over the action of Benedict XVI stems – for Radaelli as for other traditionalists – not only from his having convened a new interreligious encounter in Assisi, or having initiated the “Courtyard of the gentiles”: both initiatives seen as a source of confusion.

The biggest fault attributed to pope Ratzinger is that of having declined to teach with “the power of a scepter that governs.” Instead of defining truths and condemning errors, “he has made himself dramatically open even to being criticized, not claiming any infallibility,” as he himself wrote in the preface to his books about Jesus.

Even Benedict XVI would therefore have submitted to the capital error of Vatican Council II: the renunciation of dogmatic definitions, in exchange for a “pastoral,” and therefore inevitably equivocal, language.

In another article in Chiesa, written by Sandro Magister (2-9-13), Radaelli trashes Vatican II “as an assembly in total rupture with Tradition.” Magister summarizes his outlook at the end: “in a nutshell he seems to identify the hoped-for pacification with an all-encompassing victory for the Lefebvrists [i.e., SSPX] and for those who, like them, see themselves as the last and sole defenders of dogma.”
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15) John Salza is a geocentrist, and is given to several extreme and conspiratorial and/or reactionary views.
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16) Dr. Anna Silvas wrote in an extreme, absurd article,  “A Year After Amoris Laetitia. A Timely Word” (4-21-17):

Now, in the few short years of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the stale and musty spirit of the seventies has resurged, bringing with it seven other demons. And if we were in any doubt about this before, Amoris Laetitia and its aftermath in the past year make it perfectly clear that this is our crisis. That this alien spirit appears to have finally swallowed up the See of Peter, dragging ever widening cohorts of compliant higher church leadership into its net, is its most dismaying, and indeed shocking aspect to many of us, the Catholic lay faithful. I look up at any number of higher prelates, bishops and theologians, and I cannot detect in them, by all that is holy, the least level of the sensus fidelium—and these are bearers of the Church’s teaching office? . . .
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But I think ‘the spirit’ to which Francis so soothingly alludes, has more to do with the Geist of Herr Hegel, than with the Holy Spirit of whom our blessed Lord speaks, the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him (Jn 14:17). The Hegelian Geist on the other hand, manifests itself in the midst of contradictions and oppositions, surmounting them in a new synthesis, without eliminating the polarities or reducing one to the other. This is the gnostic spirit of the cult of modernity. . . .
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When I hear those who lecture us that Pope Francis is the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church today, I do not know whether to laugh at the naivety of it, or weep at the damage being done to immortal souls. I would say that yes, Francis is the agent of a spirit, namely the Hegelian Geist of ‘modernity’ very much at work in the Church.
17) Henry Sire Author of The Dictator Pope. I wrote a strong critique of his extremist views. Some excerpts:
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1) Views of Vatican II as Heretical and Not a Legitimate Ecumenical Council

Christopher Lamb, writing for The Tablet (3-22-18), observed:

Mr Sire has written half a dozen history books including one on Catholic tradition where he describes the Second Vatican Council as a “betrayal of the Church’s faith” that needs to be “reversed” and backs the traditionalist group, the Society of Saint Pius X. [made quite clear in Chapter 15, pp. 41-430, 434-438]

The book he is referring to is Phoenix from the Ashes: The Making, Unmaking, and Restoration of Catholic Tradition (Angelico Press, July 14, 2015). The words cited above appear to be from page 205. I can’t access that in the Amazon “Look Inside” feature. But there is plenty in what I can access on Amazon that is very troubling and outrageous:

The Second Vatican Council as a Betrayal of the Faith (subtitle: p. 201)

In the Council’s documents the effects of this [liberal / heterodox] influence were seen concretely in the definition of the sources of Revelation in a Protestantising sense and in the decrees on ecumenism and on the priesthood.

The question of explicit heresy brought in through the council documents will be dealt with later, in the chapters on the priesthood and on religious freedom. Here it would be appropriate to comment upon Gaudium et Spes . . . While free of actual heresy, this is a deplorable document. . . . The document is pervaded by modern materialist standards . . . (p. 203)

Innovation in doctrine is the charge that traditionalists lay against the second Vatican Council, and it also applies to the changes that have emerged since the Council. . . . The case to be made here is that no such innovations of doctrine were made before the Second Vatican Council, and that those of the present time are proof of the heretical position into which the Council has drawn the Church. (p. 207)

What the Church cannot do is teach one doctrine at an earlier time and an opposite one later. Even less can it consistently condemn a doctrine over a period of time and proceed to teach that doctrine immediately afterwards. That is the position into which the modern Church has fallen in its efforts to woo the contemporary world, specifically in its teaching on freedom of religion and on the ideology of secular liberalism. These are not examples of development of doctrine but of plain reversal. (pp. 215-216)

The Second Vatican Council introduced changes which make the Church of today unrecognisable by the standards of tradition . . .

The idea that there have been heretical councils, of some sort, in the Church’s history, is a perfectly familiar one. The so-called Arian councils of Milan, Sirmium, Ariminum, Seleucia, and Constantinople (355-60) are examples of councils regarded as heretical . . . (p. 217)

Only through their defence of objective orthodoxy against false councils was the final assertion of the true doctrine made possible. The same criterion applies to the Second Vatican Council. The definitive judgment on its authority will have to be left to a future council of the Church, but in the meantime Catholics have the right and the duty to point out where its teaching conflicts with the doctrine of tradition. (p. 223)The idea that the Church has officially adopted a heretical view of its own nature is one of the products of the second Vatican Council and is the premise  on which its ecumenical programme has been founded. (p. 383)

2) Negative Views of the Pauline / Ordinary Form Mass 

We need to be clear that in attempting to stamp out the traditional liturgy of the Church, Pope Paul VI and the hierarchies of the world after him were following a policy of complete illegality. This assertion is not a legal quibble; it does not rest on a benign oversight in the constitution Missale Romanum. Paul VI did indeed want to consign the traditional rite to oblivion, but he knew that he was not entitled to do so. Yet even the legitimate intentions of legislation need to be expressed in legally valid form, and where the intention is legitimate there is never any difficulty in ensuring that. The failure of Pope Paul VI to abrogate the old liturgy is the consequence of the fact that it was a wholly illegitimate intention. This is merely part of a wider truth, that the entire liturgical reform is steeped in illegitimacy and illegality from beginning to end: the assumption by Bugnini and his associates of a mission beyond what the Council had authorized, the disregard that they showed for the Congregation of Rites, the ignoring of due process in the introduction of reforms, the overriding of the Synod of Bishops when it opposed the new Mass, the forcing of the new rite on the Consilium by Bugnini on the plea that it was the pope’s personal will, his disobedience of the pope’s direction to submit the General Instruction to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. When the new rite was brought in, the attempt to accompany its introduction with the abolition of the old was part of the same course of illegality. Hence we ought to recognize what the genuine law of the Church is at present: there is no need juridically for the restoration of the traditional rite. The only thing needed for its recovery is that the Church should return to legality. As a matter of law, there is no obligation on any priest to use the Missal of Paul VI for any celebration, and the only liturgy that has universal right in the Latin Church is the one decreed by Pope St. Pius V in the bull Quo Primum. (p. 286)

The Destruction of the Mass (title of Chapter 11, p. 226)

The Mass of Paul VI as a Rejection of Tradition (subtitle, p. 270)

The Mass of Paul VI as an Expression of Heresy (subtitle, p. 276)

It’s not absolutely clear if he denies the validity of the Pauline Mass or not, but almost all reactionaries don’t do that. Nevertheless, he certainly mercilessly bashes and excoriates and condemns it.

3) Views on the Non-Validity of Ordinations to the Priesthood

The Destruction of the Priesthood (title of Chapter 12, p. 287)

[T]here is good reason to doubt the validity of many ordinations under the new rite, conferred by bishops with no intention of transmitting the traditional sacrament on candidates with no intention of receiving it. (p. 323)

18) John-Henry Westen is editor-in-chief of the notoriously reactionary Lifesite News. See two critiques (one / two) of its dubious “research” methodology / journalistic approach by Catholic writer Scott Eric Alt.

19) Dr. Taylor Marshall is the author of the ridiculous conspiratorial book, Infiltration. I have offered numerous critiques of it and his convoluted reactionary thinking.

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November 12, 2019

This was a cordial dialogue I had with Facebook friend Gregory Danowski on my page. His words will be in blue.

See my two earlier related articles:

“Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry? (11-5-19)

“Pachamama” Fiasco: Hysterical Reactionaryism, as Usual (11-8-19)

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Whether or not the statues represent an Amazonian deity or Mary is moot. The fact that they are confusing enough to be mistaken for an earth deity is enough.

St. Paul was clear on this point. Sure, he could eat food sacrificed to dead gods because they meant nothing to him. But since they might cause scandal and mislead people away from Christ, then he would avoid doing so.

The same principle applies here. Given the unclear and confusing nature of the statues, forcing large portions of people whose conscience is bothered by them to accept them or worse, to ridicule such people, is contrary to the Holy Spirit.

The wisest course of action would have been to remove the statues, put them in a Vatican art gallery as a curiosity to allay any anxiety of Christians and be done with it. Instead we have turned it into a dispute.

As an artist, I can tell you that a third possibility that no one has entertained is that the statues are a hybrid of both Mary and the Amazonian deity. Yes, such hybrids have happened in other cultures. However to elevate such statues with questionable meaning using questionable rituals that require Dave to write reams in defense of them seems to me to be a ripe candidate for scandal that could have been easily avoided.

I agree that it could and should have been handled much better. Virtually everyone does. But it’s certainly not “moot” if someone like Fr. Mitch Pacwa thinks it is perfectly obvious that they are idols, and says, “we’re not stupid“: perhaps (but not necessarily) implying that those who think otherwise may suffer from that malady.

Charging fellow Catholics with rank idolatry (and others with promoting / defending it) is a very serious charge. So I suggest that those who think this occurred prove it. This they have not done, and so I believe we see a subtle shifting away to or far greater emphasis on this “impressions / perceptions / causing scandal / PR” argument, which is a logically distinct one.

In other words, the most loudmouthed (and generally reactionary) critics couldn’t prove beyond any doubt that idolatry was occurring — with appropriate and requisite documentation — and so the discussion shifted to “well, it sure as hell looks like idolatry!” But of course lots of things look like it, which is why one must examine the interior dispositions of those so accused.

Again, we return to St. Paul’s example. He did not rail at the criticism bestowed on him but instead shrugged, acknowledged that eating the food was not an issue and why, and then agreed not to do so again to avoid further scandal. He did not defend himself by saying his intentions are goo, get over it and that he would continue to eat from the sacrifices food even if it caused great doubt among the Christian followers.

All that has to happen is for the Pope or a ranking official to humbly suggest what I wrote and that while they do not believe the statues are an issue, to humbly set them aside respectfully in order to alleviate past scandal.

Unfortunately, I personally know too many religious who actually think blending native rituals with Christianity as okay. They argue that the rituals indirectly worshiped the one God even though under a different name. They point to the similarities of the deities to the Christian religion. Perhaps in a divine way this is true and maybe leads these indigenous peoples to the One True Father , but it is a dangerous precedent that has led many religious nuns and priests into new age heresies which they think are completely okay because they see no inconsistencies with practicing both simultaneously. This may or may not be such a case. But it doesn’t matter if it is greatly disturbing our brothers and sisters in Christ. Reconciliation is needed, not finger pointing.

I think the Vatican and the pope should clarify, but so often they do not. Instead, it is left to apologists and doctors and lawyers (Gabriel and Giunta) to do so, and no one cares what we think. But sadly, at this point, I highly doubt whether the legion of papal critics would even care what the pope thought, even if he did clarify.

The main finger pointing is at the folks in the ceremony as alleged idolaters. That is big-time accusation. Yet if I try to defend them (even extend simple fairness and the benefit of the doubt to them) I catch hell.

So again, I agree with you about clarification and prudence. I disagree that that is a bigger issue than the mountain of (as far as I can tell) false accusations towards the Amazonian people who did the tree-planting ceremony.

If people want basic clarification, I would point out that the pope blessed one of the statues and said that the ceremony was not of “idolatrous intent.” But of course, many of the critics no longer care what he says in the first place, and (I would say) that is the true root of the whole thing.

The hostile Catholic conservative media blows it up a billion times bigger than it would ever have been, when there was no basis or need to do so, people are scandalized as a result, then they blame the pope for what they deliberately created to make him look bad.

I think the closer “Paul and idols and causing scandal” analogy is to Paul preaching in Athens (Acts 17). He mentioned the “tomb to an unknown god” which was certainly pagan and quite arguably an idol as well (if the building and/or any figure in it were venerated or outright worshiped and adored).

But he didn’t rail against it and demand that it be torn down, or dismantle it himself (a la St. Boniface and the pagan oak tree in Germany, or the young Austrian zealot who threw the statues into the Tiber). Rather, he used it to build upon what they already knew, and to share the gospel and the true God with them. And that was indisputably false religion, whereas in this instance it hasn’t even been proven that some sort of paganism / idolatry, and/or syncretism was taking place.

While I recognize the central importance of image and perception and subjectivism in our postmodernist world, I will always highlight objective truths. Hence, I am far more concerned, in the scheme of things, with what actually happened, not nearly as much about how it was perceived (though I acknowledge that that is a valid and legitimate concern as well).

Unless we determine whether idolatry took place or not we can’t really talk about it intelligently or constructively, and no “solution” will be forthcoming. But I would say that the lying, unscrupulous “conservative” Catholic media (particularly the many extreme reactionary outlets: One Peter Five, Lifesite News, The Remnant, Church Militant, Taylor “tin foil hat” Marshall et al) has already done its gargantuan damage, and that that can’t and won’t be undone, anymore than the scrambled egg can ever be unscrambled. They did their dirty propagandist work, and now we see the sad and troubling results of it.

God is not mocked. If they keep on like this, I think their “house” is gonna come down one day. They’re playing with fire. One can’t keep fighting / opposing the pope and telling outright lies and not be in serious spiritual danger.

At least we’re actually talking normally and cordially back and forth, and you make some semblance of a case; something different from the current talking-points. I appreciate that very much. Thanks.

This is the way it should be among the Body of Christ. Peace to you brother.

We disagree. But my point remains that it does not need to be proven to be a scandal. Paul didn’t get upset with the people who clearly thought he committed idolatry in the temple.

The difference between the food and using the pagan temple as a teaching moment is that of worship. Paul did not worship at the pagan temple even if he used it as a way to bridge a gap with potential converts. In this case, the appearance that idols were used (the Vatican actually admits they are not Marian but represent fertility and the earth) in a worship ceremony and placed in a church for worship is the scandal.

As an artist, I actually appreciate indigenous art and culture. But I think it’s clear these statues at least blur the line between Christianity and the local deity pantheon which also incorporated Jesus and Mary as a subset of their deities. Again, to argue who is right or wrong instead of repairing the effects of this scandal is counterproductive. It will only drive a wedge among Christians.

Do both things! I’m trying to do my part to repair the scandal (90% caused by reactionaries and hostile Catholic media) and I and others are also calling for a proper examination to determine the exact nature of the thing that has so many up in arms or confused.

You say the second thing is “moot” and “counterproductive”. I say it is absolutely central and crucial and the bottom line. I am primarily concerned with objective fact and secondarily with subjective impression and appearances and all the rest; you (apparently exclusively) with subjectivism.

I am surprised that you think the objective aspect is utterly irrelevant. If in fact idolatry was taking place under the auspices of the pope and the Vatican; literally sanctioned by them, this would be ultra-scandalous and would far surpass any of the myriad (false) accusations against the pope these past six years.

That’s why such a big fuss was made about it by all the usual suspect reactionaries. They were convinced; thought this was their long hoped-for and prayed-for knockout punch of the wicked “liberal” pope, but they couldn’t prove it, and now we are mostly reduced to mere subjective impressions. I take that (from them) as a virtual concession that they had no case from the start and have now made almost total fools of themselves.

Msgr. Charles Pope wrote about it on 10-27-19:

How is this not analogous to the “abomination or desolation” that foretold the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 24:15)? To any average person this has idolatry written all over it. Simply saying there is no idolatrous “intention” does not remove what the eye can plainly see. I would be shocked even to see the faithful prostrating before statues of the saints. Kneeling can indicate mere prayer, but prostration — which photos of the event seem to clearly depict — indicate full worship of adoration.

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, not nearly as “sure” as Msgr. Pope and Fr. Pacwa and Cardinal Mueller, observed the same events (10-22-19), and did not think it was so obviously idolatry. While railing against how it was handled and explained (and I agree again), he still held that:

a deliberate ambiguity was promoted by those who were responsible for the information, allowing the impression to fester that something akin to idol worship was going on in the heart of Rome. I don’t actually think that was the case. But it should not have been hard to say that clearly, directly and unambiguously. [my bolded italics]

Objective facts are always good, but ask yourself what is to be gained over these statues? Defend the objective facts of Christianity and faith. These are worth not budging upon even as we turn the other cheek for those who revile us.

But these statues whom are not even Holy relics, but from some street vendor picked presumably as a whim to represent the region are only divisive. What is the rule Jesus told us to test things? If the statues are causing such discord then perhaps they are diabolical or at least the effects of them are so. Had they been commissioned works of local art to represent Mary, this entire thing would not be an issue.

St. Paul clearly was in his rights to eat the food to the dead idols. Objectively they were not real gods and therefore had no real power over the true disciple of God. However, even Paul recognized that the subjective perception he made to Christians actually caused them great distress. His solution was not to win an argument that he clearly was correct about, but to avoid scandal. Scandal is not objective but subjective.

I agree with much of your premise about the statues, but my concern as a member of the Body of Christ is to help each person get to heaven. We are in this journey together in the Holy Spirit. If I am causing you anxiety over this, please forgive me. I’ve said my piece. May God love you and keep you.

The quote from your link demonstrates and supports my point. The scandal is not based upon objective but subjective interpretation because the provenance of the statues, the meaning and representation Of them are unclear. Even the Vatican admits the statues are symbolic of fertility and the earth, not necessarily of Mary.

Perhaps the reactionaries on the other side went to far in outrage. But instead of reconciling and just dismissing the statues and perhaps commissioning new statues of Mary by local artists, this has become a big argument over statues? I mean, that alone tells me there is something wrong here.

So you may be correct. You may be right and just. But what is to be won or gained over lifeless empty statues? Certainly not the peace of those souls disturbed and distressed by them.

Just think about what I’ve said. I respect you and am not attempting to win an argument. My disposition is too mild for such things.

Thanks for your input. Meanwhile, I just discovered that Bp. Athanasius Schneider: huge critic of the pope and this “pachamama” fiasco, has deliberately dissed Vatican II.  This is how it goes. It ain’t just about Pope Francis. It’s about an entire quasi-schismatic agenda.

I was just asked in person by a friend at a group discussion at my house, two nights ago, if I thought Cdl. Burke and Bp. Schneider were reactionaries. I said I would have to see what they thought about Vatican II and the Pauline Mass. I already know they are habitual pope-bashers. And so, lo and behold, here I am two days later and discover this article.

Dr. Robert Fastiggi, a major Catholic scholar and professor of systematic theology, was also at my house two nights ago. He’s been a good friend of mine for well over ten years. I asked him whether some of what is going on now verges on a denial of the indefectibility of the Church and he agreed and thought it was “extremely dangerous” territory.

So now we have a guy like Bp. Schneider saying that an ecumenical council was dead wrong, and that a pope expressly sanctioned rank idolatry at the Vatican. That is awful close to a denial of indefectibility, if not an outright assertion of defectibility, which is rank heresy. If it’s not technically or canonically so (I would guess not yet), the “spirit” and mindset is certainly there. Thus, what we have is more like rank heresy and near-schism, rather than rank idolatry.

Hmmm, so again, take away the excuse for the complaint and the detractors are rendered toothless. So fighting on this battlefield for statues only creates an atmosphere that allows an excuse for further discord. But what do I know? I only keep my eyes on Jesus Christ. Each day I try to be less of the worldly things, the material things, and more of the spiritual. This is why the statues objectively are of no importance to me. But what can be lost by clinging to them is perhaps very great.

Take away the atrocious, agenda-driven, ultra-biased, anti-Francis Catholic media and it still could have been avoided. If the concern is to not scandalize the faithful, they bear at least equal (but I say much more) blame.

They want the people to be scandalized because that is their agenda: drive Pope Francis out or pillory him so much that he will be widely hated and despised. It’s the equivalent phenomenon to the ridiculous Democrat kangaroo court impeachment proceedings. The Democrats couldn’t care less about the people, the country, passing legislation, the glowing economy, etc. All they want is vengeance for 2016.

Likewise, many Catholic journalists (the ones hostile to the pope) don’t give a fig about how many people are scandalized by what they choose to make front page news for weeks and weeks. All that matters is (for the worst of them) the reactionary agenda, and (for the less extreme ones) an anti-Francis narrative. And all over a thing that has not been proven at all to be idolatry.

Sigh. St. Paul also wasn’t idolatry. His was the wiser course of action to deflate his detractors in my humble opinion.

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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 (and “likes” and links and shares). Thanks!
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Photo credit: Chris Dlugosz, “Hysterical” (4-13-08) [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]

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November 8, 2019

In my previous article of three days ago: “Pachamama” [?] Statues: Marian Veneration or Blasphemous Idolatry?, I took a more or less neutral and wait-and-see stance. I was exploring, and I refused to rush to judgment, which is the knee-jerk reaction of the reactionaries to everything regarding Pope Francis. They give no benefit of doubt, extend virtually no charity (very unlike St. Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 13), and begin from an assumed position of cynical hostility. All of that is quite unCatholic, but that’s another issue.

Now I have adopted a position that the controversy turned out to be the usual tempest-in-a-teapot / much ado about nothing. As far as I can tell, I’m ready to assert that no idolatry took place in this instance at all.

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At worst, the Vatican can certainly be criticized for sowing confusion and ineptitude: I agree. Yesterday I wrote: “The situation was handled very badly, even to the point of absurdity and scandal. But that’s still different from the thing (the disputed ceremony) itself. Was it idolatry or not? . . . I have not seen definitive proof (far far from it) and so I assume it was Marian veneration until compelling proof appears to overthrow such an opinion.”

Armin Ebner, a good friend of mine who regularly follows my writings, is from Chile, and he noted yesterday on my Facebook page that the usual depictions of Pachamama looks nothing like the disputed statues, and that the image “is normally depicted as the upper part of a woman forming a hill in a landscape.” He provided three images to illustrate his point (one / two / three).

My decisive turning-point late yesterday came when I discovered an article by Eric Giunta, entitled, “My Last Word on the Fake ‘Vatican Pachamama Idols’ Controversy.” (11-7-19; from his website, Laboravi Sustinens). It’s a tour de force takedown of the prevailing narrative (including “optics”). This is a guy who thinks that “Pope Francis is a bad man, a terrible pope, and a heretic.” So he can’t be accused of being a blind partisan or special pleader (a charge that anyone — like myself — who attempts to even be fair to Pope Francis, let alone defend him, constantly hears).

Yet he doesn’t buy the view that rank idolatry occurred. And he gets into some very in-depth stuff. He has done the necessary work of investigative reporting that the reactionary press and even the “conservative” Catholic press has failed to do (in their constant manifest bias and anti-Francis mentalities: a jaded point of view that  has become contemptible).

Previously, he wrote a very helpful piece about the “mother earth” aspect of the controversy, called “No, ‘Mother Earth’ Is Not ‘Pagan’ “ (originally 10-25-19, with updates). Moreover, I ran across another good clarifying article yesterday, too:  “A Hermeneutic of Suspicion: Pope Francis’s Critics & the Amazon Statues” (Rita Ferrone, Commonweal, 11-4-19). The other articles I’ve found that were most informative and non-hysterical and objective, are the following:

Paganism in the Vatican? Hermeneutic of suspicion at its peak (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-16-19)
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Our Lady of the Amazon, Pray for Us (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-16-19)
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Our Lady of the Amazon: solving the contradictions (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 10-26-19)
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Pachamama, Celibacy, and the Amazonian Synod (Trent Horn, Catholic Answers, 10-23-19; audio with transcript)

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Pachamama: Is It A Gotcha Mama for Enemies of Pope Francis? (“Catholic in Brooklyn”, 11-6-19)
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Pachamama – the missing piece of the puzzle (Dr. Pedro Gabriel, Where Peter Is, 11-10-19)
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The Pachamama Primer (Dom Cornelius, Abbaye de Saint-Cyran, 10-27-19)
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My friend, Catholic author, fellow Patheos blogger, and canon lawyer Pete Vere made some great comments on my Facebook page yesterday, too:

I’m away at a conference where I grabbed a quick coffee today with a bishop who is basically his country’s version of Bishop Robert Barron. He embodies St John Paul II’s zeal for evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI’s theology, and Pope Francis’ pastoral heart. In fact, he is known to quote all three of our most recent popes frequently and enthusiastically in his sermons and speeches (He also is familiar with some of your apologetics work). He is very TLM and Eastern Catholic friendly.

I won’t name him because it was a private coffee and I did not seek his permission to record the conversation or report him on record. However, we discussed Pachamama and I was quite heartened by what he shared. Particularly because he was in Rome when the controversy took place.

As I have stated publicly, up until now I referenced and shared your prudent position of reserving judgment until we know exactly what the Pachamama statue represents along with what happened in Rome.

Here were the bishop’s two points:

First, this bishop made it clear that everything to do with the introduction of Pachamama and its subsequent explanation was very badly handled by the Church’s leadership. He stressed that the rollout was confusing to the faithful, and subsequent explanations only added to the confusion. And thus he is very sympathetic to those clergy and laity who mistook Pachamama as a pagan idol. He is also appreciative of Catholic apologists like yourself who took a posture of prudence in response to this controversy. (This bishop is very familiar with the apologetics movement and has gently chided me at times when he felt I was too hard on Catholic apologists).

Second, he stated that Pachamama is clearly a Christian adoption of a Indigenous symbol, which follows the Church’s longstanding practice throughout her history of inculturating herself in different cultures by adopting the culture’s symbols and art forms. As such, he had no problem venerating Pachamama as a portrayal of the Blessed Mother, carrying the Divine Child in her womb, while in a posture of prayer.

This bishop is quite conservative theologically. And thus his explanation was very much welcomed. I am thankful to him for clarifying the confusion while not soft-peddling how this situation was poorly handled by Church leaders like himself. I am also thankful to you for expressing publicly the reservation of judgment that many of us felt while this issue was being sorted out.

I understand your position, which I too held until today’s conversation with this bishop. And since I have not named the bishop due to its private nature, I would maintain your same position in your circumstances, which is of cautiously giving Rome the benefit of the doubt.

[reply to someone else] Part of the issue is that this controversy was ginned up by certain anti-Francis forces within the Catholic media resorting to blatant dishonesty. For example, the following lawyer blogger [Eric Giunta] dislikes Pope Francis immensely and even considers him a heretic. However, he lists several reasons why certain anti-Francis media have been dishonest in their reporting this story.

I replied: “I take the position you do now, too, after the second Giunta article. In my opinion, he put it to rest, and it is now merely yet another ‘tempest in a teapot’ / hysterical anti-Francis episode.” I just wrote elsewhere on my Facebook page: “I think Giunta has laid this thing to rest. His article was the Grand Slam in the 7th game of the World Series, to win it.”

The following are remarks I made yesterday and today on a friend’s Facebook page, which is set to private (so I can’t cite any replies):

Where is the compelling evidence that anyone was worshiping these statues as God? I still haven’t seen it. And until we do, it’s quite possibly calumny of fellow Catholics. Where is the proof that it is worshiping an idol as God? A woman in the ceremony herself called the statue “Our Lady of the Amazon.” Is that completely irrelevant?

[it was stated that it was a “bad” icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, if that is what is claimed for it] That’s merely an aesthetic argument. Tastes (and views on nudity) differ widely in different cultures. To establish idolatry is far more than an argument about artistic taste. It has to be a deliberate internal intention.

The latter has not been proven — i.e., documented from the practitioners themselves — anywhere that I have seen thus far. It’s simply assumed.

Who decides if it appropriate? The pope blessed it. Is that to be bashed too? He’s some sort of ignoramus as to what is appropriate in Christian imagery and iconography? So we have to choose between the pope and this 26-year old Austrian who threw the statues into the Tiber?

The pope blessed it, and specifically said the ceremony was not idolatrous, and this guy (and many thousands of hysterical Catholics at present) thinks it is rank idol worship? Those two things are indisputable facts, and should be enough to stop all the calumnious talk. His saying that the ceremony was not idolatrous makes it not idolatrous.

That’s a lot more Catholic authority than some 26-year-old zealot, given to theft, and a bunch of reactionaries like One Peter Five, The Remnant, Lifesite News, and Taylor Marshall, who also bash Vatican II, the New Mass, popes since Pius XII (three of them saints), etc.

We have all these people from a distance condemning it utterly based on appearances only and not looking closely enough at the statements that have been made.

[replying to one person]  You don’t know what was in the hearts of these people. And you have to (in the nature of the case) in order to charge them with idolatry. You have to hear their self-report.

[to someone else] Your point  that the statues were “neither sacred nor pagan” is different from saying they were idols per se, but rather, simply inappropriate to be associated with a Catholic altar. I have no problem with that, as far as it goes. It’s an interesting point, and you may have something there.

But it is distinct and altogether separate from claiming that the ceremony in question was deliberately, in intent, pure pagan idolatry: which has been the droning mantra of the reactionary press and many more people who should know better than to breathlessly follow their take on everything.

I think this point you make is about all that is left of legitimate protest, after the Giunta article above, has elegantly disposed of the usual fact-challenged hysteria.

According to Giunta, the prostrations were but for a brief moment, and actually not to the statues in question. That is a crucial piece of information; yet no one seems to have noticed it.

I used to prostrate on occasion in worship as a Protestant. I’m not aware of an out-and-out prohibition of it in Catholicism, but I don’t know. If it is forbidden, please (someone) show me where it is, according to canon law. I’m too lazy to look it up.

But say that it is, for the sake of argument, and they violated that. How would it be different from the routine violation of canon law that takes place in almost every Roman rite parish every Sunday now: extreme over-use of Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion (supposed to be only for very large crowds), or the routine violation of using the orans posture and holding hands during the Our Father?

That goes on year after year (I wrote about both many years ago), yet we are to be all up in arms that these South Americans [presumably, piously] prostrated themselves for a short time? If one thing is wrong and ought to be condemned, so are the other two. We’re no better than the people in the ceremony, and we have no basis to look down our noses at them.

If it was wrong according to canon law, then this should be plainly documented, and they ought to be corrected with love, not despised and detested as supposed idolaters of the worst sort. I’m not saying you are doing that (your position is much more nuanced and subtle); but referring to the general controversy and fuss over it.

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See further discussion underneath my Facebook cross-posting of this paper.

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Unfortunately, Money Trees Do Not ExistIf 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.

*

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: Administración Nacional de la Seguridad Social (“Anses”): depiction of Pachamama (7-25-16) [Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 license]

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