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An “Amazonian Face”, assorted spiritualities, and an anonymous “Relatio”

The Pan-Amazonian Synod is in the final stretch after three intense weeks.

Marcivana Rodrigues Paiva, representing the Satere-Mawe indigenous people in Brazil, attends a news conference following a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 21, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

October 23, Rome: The Pan-Amazonian Synod is in the final stretch after three intense weeks. The Synod intends to give the Church an “Amazonian face”  with “a universal dimension.” The phrase isn’t clearly defined but roughly suggests that Catholics the world over will profit from cultural lessons on the care of nature from the Indigenous communities in the Amazon.  A Church with an Amazonian face rejects a clericalism and Colonial tradition (see Instrumentum Laboris, 109-110).

The “Amazonian Face” is further understood as an instance of living out an integral ecology as outlined in chapter four of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. Pope Francis wrote, “Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live… We are part of nature” (Laudato Si, 139).

For the Amazonian indigenous people, however, the “Amazonian face” isn’t about the Church universal. Instead, for them, it’s about inculturation—how the Church can accept their native spirituality, to allow their own “face” to shape their practice of Catholicism.

Ribelino Ricopa, belongs to Kukama people. He works in Santa Rita da Cascia parish in the Loreto region of Peru. Ricopa had some advice for the Synod:

I suggest in the view of the Synod – as the Pope says – that the Church must look for new ways to reach the Amazonian peoples and their cultures. This is possible by respecting their traditions and their indigenous cosmovisions…what I would like to underline is that our beliefs, such as the purahua (a great water snake that shoots magnetic rays from its eyes by which it is able to attract anything coming from above and can transform itself into boats of various shapes), are something real to us, something that we feel deeply. It might seem an imaginary world, but we, the indigenous people, are strictly connected with it, because to us it is a world which is inhabited by other beings.

For instance when a person of our communities feels sad, they get connected with the spiritual world through dreams or a ‘medicine man’ and so they can talk to the spirits who reassure and calm them and say that they protect them…That is why I’m saying that our beliefs are connected with reality, with our everyday life…This is the path to follow if we want to build a Church with an Amazonian face. Christian priests and pastoral agents must learn that things or animals are not just things or animals to us the Kukama people, but they are parts of our being, of ourselves…

We the Kukama people are extremely connected with animals and plants and this makes us feel strong and safe. We also feel connected with the world of spirituality, which is not the spirituality of the Church. Our spirituality is considered by the western world as superstition, while to us it is something real, it is life, and it helps us to survive…

I believe that after the Pope’s message, the Church and its pastors have been wondering how a Church with an Amazonian face can be built. I think that the Amazonian face of the Church is already shaped, and that the Church shows its Amazonian face every time it accepts indigenous peoples’ traditional spirituality. (Emphasis added) .

It’s this blended Amazonian/Catholic spirituality that set off strenuous criticism of the ceremony in the Vatican Garden on October 4th. Videos recorded indigenous persons bowing down before carved statues of a naked pregnant woman. This week, the same naked pregnant women statues were spirited out of Santa Maria Traspontina and flung into the Tiber River to “sleep with the fishes” (a phrase from The Godfather that’s making the rounds in Rome).

Critics claim an “Amazonian Face” (as the indigenous understand it) and an “Amazonian Rite” that has been proposed during the Synod are examples of a dangerous syncretism. Cardinal Müller, emeritus Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, denounced this syncretism in the Synod’s working document as “pantheistic eco-spirituality.”

Some spiritualities such as those described by Ribelino Ricopa are pagan and cannot be assimilated into Catholicism. However, the forty bishops who signed the new Pact of the Catacombs had no discomfort with indigenous spiritualities. The Pact insists on a “respectful dialogue with all spiritual traditions.”

Today, at the press briefing on the Synod, Gilberto Alfredo Vizcarra Mori, S.J., of Peru recounted his visit with peoples in the Amazon forests, but said “I did not go there to teach them.” His comment reflects a milder version of Bp. Erwin Kräutler, who proudly claimed he had not baptized an indigenous person in 20 years, but had left them to their own spiritualities out of respect for their traditions. Under whatever guise—dialogue, respect for traditions or inculturation—this approach to evangelization hasn’t shown success when measured against the numbers of conversions to Pentecostalism among the indigenous peoples.

Conversely, in those Amazonian areas where bishops insure proper catechesis, parishes are thriving—something not reported by the Vatican Press office:

Today at the Vatican Press Office journalists heard brief reports from Communications officers. Each repeated the importance of the Synod’s work and the integrity of the process. The Relatio (the Synod document) is in its final stage but is essentially complete. Synod members are still able to suggest small tweaks.

Fr. Giacomo Costa, S.J., Secretary of Information, advised press that the document produced by the bishops and now in its final stages is not the purpose of the Synod. “It’s a tool,” he said, to move everyone forward, the stones to pave this new pathway are the individual contributions made by participants

Sr. Roselei Bertoldo, I.C.M of a Brazil briefed reporters on the scourge of human trafficking. Trafficking in Brazil encompasses sex trafficking of young girls and women as well as child labor.

Cardinal Gracias of Bombay, India, noted that the problems of the Amazon were shared by Indians. Others covered the daily discussion of women’s value and roles in the Church. Bishop Zenildo Luiz Pereira da Silva of Brazil stated that it was “time to make a change” on the role of women, though not “necessarily as a consequence of this synod.”

Finally, overheard in the halls: The final document will contain both a proposal for married older priests (viri probati) and an enhanced role for women. Also , Bishop Erwin Kräutler, who serves on the Synod planning council, denies knowledge of who has actually written the final document. Synod Secretaries, the drafting committee and the Rapporteur have helped, as if placing pieces of a puzzle, but the final author of the anticipated document remains shrouded.

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About Mary Jo Anderson 32 Articles
Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and speaker whose articles and commentaries on politics, religion, and culture appear in a variety of publications. She was appointed to the USCCB's National Advisory Council (NAC) from 2010 to 2014 and served as member of the NAC Executive Committee in 2011. She covered the Synods from Rome in 2014, 2015, and 2019. She is the co-author of Male and Female He Made Them: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-Sex Unions (Catholic Answers). Follow her on Twitter @maryjoanderson3.


  1. I’m forced to wonder if the Amazonian (and others in Central/South America–and Mexico, perhaps) people who abandon Catholicism/Native Spirituality and convert to Pentecostalism or Protestant/Evangelical end up economically better off after a few years. Or maybe their children do better financially.
    That has been my impression, but I do not know if that is true.

    • Interesting comment; may be true. But, not sure why that’s relevant; unless material things are as important as conversion and the reception of the Sacraments.

      • Most people will happily trade illness and poverty for health and a full belly. Most people want education and prosperity for their children. Most people want lasting marriages and family stability.
        If the Catholic Church communities/parishes do not point the way toward those things, people will abandon the Church for groups that do–especially since much of the Church leadership does not appear much interested in conversion or the sacraments anyway.

  2. “Some spiritualities such as those described by Ribelino Ricopa are pagan and cannot be assimilated into Catholicism. However, the forty bishops who signed the new Pact of the Catacombs had no discomfort with indigenous spiritualities. ”

    But they are not just “spiritualities” but different beliefs and practices…some of which violate the Commandments. The Carthusians and the Salesians have different “spiritualities” and charisms. One must also then believe, as does Bergoglio and friends, that people are led by the Holy Spirit…to even reject Chirst…and to NOT follow certain Commandments? Yes, that was part of the Open Letter, folks…the “heretic” stuff.

    So what it amounts to is that while such practices as Candomble were “tolerated” so to speak as “on the side”in a Brazil…now those belief/practices should also be actually brought into a “Catholic” let’s call it “service” like the Pachamama worship…so in effect something like spirit possession would be now part of the larger Brazilian face in a Catholic “service” maybe even a Mass? or is the “Amazonian face” a limited special offer? Because why NOT make this offer to agnostic Germans or gay New Yorkers?

    Yes, similarly people who cannot give up or accept Church teachings on infanticide, euthanasia, suicide…various “sexualities” including homosexuality or polygamy…

    How about those who really do NOT accept Christ as unique Savior (or as divine)…are they in the “tent” Bergoglio referred to? Well, Bergoglio and many of the Jesuits and Synod Fathers are in that “tent” so why not everybody else…

    They are turning the Faith into a joke…which will increase not simply the number of Pentecostals and Evangelicals…but the number of Nones and even atheists.

    And like belief in the the magic realism that appears in the novels in Latin America…the latest word (if this is true?) is that in the same way no one really knows what the Pachamama statues mean? Breaking News? no one really knows who wrote the Final Synod Document (or when, really) …like no one knows about what the priest did and who knew what and when…or where all the money went at a local parish (or globally)…what’s the full story on McCarrick…was there really “a drug-fueled orgy”…what was going on in Washington, DC at the Shrine?…or at various pre-Pact? Bishops’ residences…and what’s the final, real deal with Amoris Laetitia…will Bergoglio respond to requests for clarification?

    Will the “Amazonian Face” distract us from the “Clown Show Face” and the “Liar Face” and the “Run-Like-a-Criminal-Enterprise Face?” No, and it won’t distract us from “We-Think-You’re-A Bunch-of Dummies-Who-Will-Keep-Giving-Us-Money Face.”

  3. Inculturation?

    Rather than Old Testament-type reverse osmosis into the surrounding cults of Baal, why not something like the “Catholic Ladder,” an ingenious aid easily taught and then easily used by the indigenous peoples themselves in the American Pacific Northwest, nearly two centuries ago.

    “[Father] Blanchet came up with an imaginative and inspired answer to this question [real inculturation]. He had seen the Native Americans communicate complex stories through carved wooden poles. He decided to do the same.”

    Of the nuclear race,
    “trust, but verify!”
    Amazonian face?
    “Mission,” but clarify!

  4. The “Jungle Synod” is the live song of our “Supreme” Pontiff Jorge Bergoglio to his “co-worker” the millionaire Bolivian Marxist dictator Evo Morales.

    Evo Morales and Pope Bergoglio staged their famous “bromantic” photo-op in Rome when Pope Bergoglio agreed to receive the profanity of the Hammer and Sickle Crucifix from Morales. It’s all about profaning what Jesus called The Kingdom of Heaven, and elevating another Lord in His place.

    That Lord is Pachamama, the new Lord of All.

    It may not surprise readers to learn that Pachamama is the deity chosen by Evo Morales and other South American Marxists (among whom are quite obviously Jorge Bergoglio), who is the embodiment of the new “communitarian” world political order of “indigenous peoples.” For a simple primer about the connection of the Marxist Evo Morales and the ideology of Pachamama, just read this “environmentalist” web site here:

    Pachamama is what they live for. (Jesus is a colonial invader.)

    • Chris, what I have come to realize/conclude in the midst of this are three things: 1) as stated in the Open Letter related to Amoris Laeititia, Bergoglio and companions actually believe that God can will/want someone to do wrong, ergo the “irrelevance” of a department of moral theology and moral theology itself, 2) I would not rule out direct demonic influence from their having sympathetically participated in how many “indigenous” rituals among their own people, and 3) related to the “God wills the diversity of religions,” these apostates and many of them sodomites, believe that the Holy Spirit, which they blasphemously reference and exploit…can lead people to DENY Christ?

      How much heresy, apostasy, anti-Church, anti-Christ do we need?

      • Joseph –

        The sociopath boy-raper McCarrick and Pope Francis are long time friends.

        The man chosen by “Team McCarrick” to be Pope, and fixed with the moniker “Francis,” (which by the way is the marketing label chosen by the St. Galens Mafia for whomever they got elected) is nothing more than a Marxist politician with a career in post-Christian theater.

    • You have stated the situation perfectly. Really, nothing needs to be added, but I would point out that the only defenders of this pontificate are now found at sites like Patheos, CruxNow, and the National Catholic Reporter. That is a searing indictment of the sodomitical socialist eco-paganism that has overtaken the Vatican. This – not the Protestant revolt – is the greatest crisis in the history of the Church. The young men who threw the Pachamama idol into the Tiber have done more for the Faith in that one act than all the popular “conservative” Catholic apologists of the past 50 years.

      • They are not simply attempting to hijack the Catholic Faith but the nature of the Godhead as “the supreme Good.” It goes beyond the Protestant revolt? It goes beyond Arianism! It is a relativization of God Himself, not simply His commands and not only only in the “diversity of willed religions” but in the relativization, definition of His nature/essence within purely material reality. In short, it is Satanic and goes beyond even atheism as a kind of mockery, with a strong compulsion to mimic “belief” and “worship” and to promote these images/photo ops as equivalent to genuine Faith and to back that up with “synodal” hype(which they blasphemously ALWAYS conclude is the Holy Spirit)…and the first strategy? Simply saying it IS the same, just “a different form” even when nobody knows what it is! That’s real chutzpah!

        The same can be said for the homosexual agenda that goes beyond seeking compassion but demanding a belief in equivalent status..”love is love etc.” The statistics and the details of anatomical and medical impact tell a different story minus even any presentation of psychodynamics. The transgender agenda? The logical outgrowth? Nominalism on LSD. There are men who have X, there are men who have Y. Even minus surgery…they are men or women or…regardless…whatever they believe and despite what’s there.

        And so, did Fr. Martin reject Scripture and Church Teaching on homosexuality(and everything else in the Catholic Faith)…or was he just being…morally coy and precocious after being photographed with Bergoglio face to face (like Spadaro) in one of those Ignatian close ups, two man huddles?

        A war on God requires a war on reality. Not just a war on Scripture.

        “The young men who threw the Pachamama idol into the Tiber have done more for the Faith in that one act than all the popular “conservative” Catholic apologists of the past 50 years.”

        Truth spoken! Still raising a glass! Still saying thankful prayers!

    • “675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.“

      Those who do not “keep, hold, and teach The Catholic Faith”, necessarily deny that Christ, The Word Of God Incarnate, Has Revealed Through His Life, His Passion, And His Death On The Cross, That No Greater Love Is There Than This- To Desire Salvation For One’s Beloved.
      “Love one another as I Have Loved you.” – Jesus The Christ

  5. Thank you for this Synod update. Ribelino Ricopa’s “advice for the Synod” is a good description of the “Amazonian Face” as perceived by many. As he says, they feel connected with the ‘world of spirituality’ which is not the spirituality of the Church, but rather one the Western world considers superstition. But an “Amazonian Face” is one we are being asked to assume ourselves – and, right now people have many ideas of what that looks like. Where is Jesus Christ in all this?

    I feel sorry for those in the Amazon who appreciate their culture, but want to learn of the one true God and what He has done for us and how He wants us to live – and to be able to flourish in ways not imaginable to people for whom superstition is a way of life. Fortunately, in Belem, Brazil, where they have the Tridentine Mass, people are experiencing the true beauty, Truth, and goodness others are being denied.

  6. Ribelino Ricopa seems to me to be saying, fairly clearly, “We don’t want to be Catholic; we want to keep our own pagan religion, while claiming to be Catholic.”

    St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. We humbly beseech God to command him; and do thou, o Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the divine power thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

  7. The Pachamamarians, both the indigenous themselves and also their homosexual worshippers, are a total fraud and a total failure, in all areas of human life both material and spiritual. How do you turn them into the “new gods”, “new leaders”, “new prophets”, “new saints”, and “new examples” for all humankind? Through False-Guilt-Infested-Sentimentalist-New-Age-Obsessed-Propaganda! The indigenous totally Failed Pachamamarians are used as human shields, tools and weapons to make all of us total failures as humans, in all areas as well, so total human failure becomes the norm and all forms of evil are “magically” turned into the “New Gospel of Love”. Voila!!

    Failed humans are desperate at the core and will accept anything in desperation, even the very evils that started it all, all over again and again (Hell’s “Groundhog Day”)! That way, all forms of radicalism (including the radical, aggressive, cultic, political Pentecostalism rampant in Latin America), and also socialism, communism, satanism and atheism are embraced as we should embrace only the True Jesus and the True Catholic Church. The Failed Pacahamamarians, driven by the core pansexual, unlimited sex, lust for destruction brought by Satan’s rebellion, don’t care at all if the Catholic Church gets fractured into thousands of Protestant-ish denominations or gets reduced to a few thousands. BUT WE SHOULD!! Precious human souls are at stake!!

    Let’s stop the Failed Pachamamarians at the gates of our souls, where they are seeking to infect us and make us one of them. Failed Pachamamarians inside the Church will continue to invoke the Holy Spirit as a disguise to bring their destruction. I was at a Catholic meeting where I heard a lady call the sentimental-spiritual-marijuana in the movie and book “The Shack” (heartwarming, “light” heresy) a great source of inspiration, love and power from the Holy Spirit. Another and another and another sentimental hybrid of good and evil, the ULTIMATE POISON! That’s what we are facing! Let’s pray to the TRUE Holy Spirit to be free from the spiritual-marijuana of the Pagan Environmentalist Fraud of the Failed Pachamamarians, who want us to worship nature, animals and ourselves all over again and again, instead of Jesus Christ!! No more historical, infinitely repeated, Pagan, Satanic “Groundhog Day” (Hell is all about repetition- Stephen King, horror writer)!!

  8. Pope St. Clement once used the myth of the Phoenix as an analogy of the bodily resurrection. Yet he spoke of this in a pre- (methodological) scientific age as a natural wonder of the world to show that resurrection is not far-fetched. Thus, he raised a mythic tale to a natural occurrence within the context of ancient understanding and belief. The example here, however, of the “purahua” puts forward a people that is asking to remain in superstitious belief and ignorance; in ancestral worship protected by a sort of modern-approved eco-paganism. It is the Pope’s bounden duty to speak to these peoples with the truths of Christian faith and right reason. He has the opportunity to show that the Church is not a conquistador of power but a faithful counselor of truth. Even if Pope Francis resists (as he should) the temptation of giving his blessing to married priests and deaconesses, he will utterly fail in his office if he does not speak to the people of the Amazon about the errors of their pagan thoughts and ways.

  9. The Synods have become the institutional equivalent of a self-destructive adolescent engaging in “cutting” and collecting hideous tattoos.

    • “Let’s stop the Failed Pachamamarians at the gates of our souls”?

      Yes, by all means, but don’t stop there. By itself, it would be rather too passive for these urgent circumstances. Resist! Stop Pachamama at the doors of your local parish church. If they let her in anyway, flee and find another.

  10. Any doubts that Latin American prelates and priests have participated in pagan rituals prior to the Amazon Synod? A few examples here in this link, but I have seen others over the years on the Internet (just Google it)…and have spoken with priests from Brazil in particular who have admitted this about themselves and their parishioners without apologies:

    No influence of demons and ancestral spirits in the “new church?”

    Of course not! Not even Fr. Sosa head of the Jesuits believes the Devil is a real person! Just a symbol!

    Do we need to ask why Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray the Rosary?

  11. Not to worry, dear CWR friends. Our Lord Jesus Christ is still in charge – not Bergoglio, not his dissident cohorts, not the Pachamamarians – now and forever, for all eternity. All will be well.

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