The Pan-Amazonian Synod suspended its general session today to permit the circoli minori (small groups) to further discuss topics in depth. Afterwards, Pope Francis met with the indigenous invitees of the Synod. In doing so, he continued to stress the major theme of inculturation, drawing upon the Parable of the Seed. “The peoples,” he told his guests, “receive the announcement of Jesus with their own culture.”
Pope Francis explained that the seed grows according to the earth on which it falls. He sketched the history of Christianity from its origin in the Jewish land through the Greek world, advancing into Europe and America.
In a particular reference to the Amazonian region, Pope Francis shared his concern that colonization might arrive new forms. The topic of inculturation is present in most of the discussion groups as well. However, the word “inculturation” has not been given a definitive meaning within the context of evangelization. Some limit the term to catechesis and liturgy in native languages, while others insist that a broad inculturation is the best means of avoiding “colonization.” The latter wish to import dance, indigenous symbols, and some rituals.
But to include indigenous rituals and symbols is a delicate matter and risks syncretism. The dilution of the gospel imperatives to accommodate native sensibilities is a point of departure for some of the voting members (that is, bishops) of the Synod. The Synod Fathers must attempt to arrive at some acceptable definition of “inculturation.” Questions regarding how inculturation is achieved—local feast days, foods and music, local rituals and dances are problematical.
A bishop entering the Paul VI Hall earlier today was asked if he favored an Amazonian rite. The prelate declined to say more than “It’s too unsettled as to what that liturgy would be.”
At the Sala Stampa, the Vatican Press Office, a minor drama took place during the daily press briefing when veteran Vaticanist Edward Pentin, of National Catholic Register, confronted Archbishop Roque Paloschi. Abp. Paloschi is president of CIMI, the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference’s Indigenous Missionary Council.
Pentin told Abp. Paloschi that a Brazilian journalist had uncovered CIMI grants from the Ford Foundation in excess of two million dollars. “It’s well known”said Pentin, “that the Ford Foundation is an overtly pro-abortion organization that has advocated gender ideology, both of which the Church strongly opposes.” He offered the briefing panel a sheaf of papers with the figures from the Ford Foundation. “Is any of that funding,” he asked, “being used to fund REPAM?” REPAM—the Pan-Amazon Church Network—has helped organize the Synod.
The prelate attempted to defuse the uncomfortable moment by citing CIMI’s open books and accountability to the Brazilian government. He even assured the press that his “personal bank account had already be checked.” But, there had been no inquiry from Pentin regarding the archbishop’s personal finances. Perhaps Paloschi heard the question in the context of the current financial irregularities at the Vatican. The question of the morality of any Catholic organization accepting millions in funds from an international pro-abortion foundation was unanswered. Details and documentation can be found in Pentin’s article, titled “Pro-Abortion Ford Foundation Major Funder of Key Synod Organizations”, posted today on the Register website.
Revelations such as a relationship between CIMI and the Ford Foundation are sure to send journalists digging into other connections between Amazonian NGOs and international organizations that fund a plethora of unethical projects from abortion and population control to cloning and Euthanasia. Some of the 184 Synod Fathers will likely have quiet misgivings as the news of this apparent financial impropriety comes to light. Tomorrow’s small group discussions may reflect a new caution among the bishops. Pope Francis has asked for transparency in the Synod—perhaps some has come in an unexpected form.
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