Pope Francis cannot sneeze without being condemned by Those More Catholic Than The Pope. They have hated him from the time he stepped onto the balcony after being elected pope in 2013, and have been plotting and strategizing to push him out of the papacy from the point on.
Think I am exaggerating? Here is the post from Rorate Caeli, one of the most right-wing, anti-Francis catholic websites on the Internet, from March 13, 2013, the day of Pope Francis' election:
Of all the unthinkable candidates, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst. Not because he openly professes doctrines against the faith and morals, but because, judging from his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, faith and morals seem to have been irrelevant to him.
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May God help His Church. One can never dismiss, as humanly hard as it may seem, the possibility of a conversion... and, nonetheless, the future terrifies us.That could have been written today, 6 and 1/2 years later. These people are consistent, if nothing else.
There have been a lot of hopeful "gotcha" moments that have come and gone: the synods on marriage, Laudato Si, Amoris Laetitia, Who Am I To Judge?, praising a dead Anglican priest, washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday, the people he talks to, the papal staff he carries at Mass, etc. etc. etc. There have been open letters written by Catholic theologians to Pope Francis accusing the Holy Father of heresy. We can't forget the Dubia by four cardinals (two of whom are now dead) and, of course, Archbishop Vigano's accusations and call for the Pope's resignation. The list goes on and on and on.
Almost every day the enemies of Francis find some new mud to sling at the Holy Father, but so far, nothing has worked for Those More Catholic Than the Pope. Francis continues to sit in the Chair of Peter.
But now they are convinced they got him. They have found the silver bullet: PACHAMAMA!! It is indisputable. Francis the heretic is actively and publicly promoting the worship of pagan idols.
I mean, how can you deny it?! There was Francis in the Vatican garden while people were bowing down to the naked goddess of fertility. This abomination was even paraded through the streets of Rome and then placed at the altar of a Catholic Church. Francis is a heretic and must be resisted!
The enemies of Pope Francis are experts at leaving out all context when condemning Pope Francis or any of their other myriad enemies. They tell you only what they want you to hear and misdirect you from everything that challenges their accusations. And the "Pachamama" incident is certainly no exception to their devious actions.
The wooden statues were brought to the Vatican as artifacts representing the indigenous Amazonian culture. There were also other Amazonian symbols as reported in the narration of the official video of the event produced by Vatican News:
If you're watching, you will see some of the objects that have been brought from the Amazon region, each one of them with its particular symbolism. The symbols of light and water, the fruits of the earth, the seeds, and the symbols of the martyrs, people who have shed their blood in order to defend this Amazon region. We know that many of them are our brothers and sisters of religious communities, and our brothers and sisters in the indigenous community as well.Commonweal gave this description:
At the tree planting a number of items representing life in the Amazon were arranged in a central position on the lawn of the Vatican gardens, with the assembly gathered around them in a circle: a canoe; a cloth covered with images of a river and plants; representations of birds and fish; a net; and several human figures, including martyrs to the faith and two pregnant native women, kneeling, in an introspective pose, with a child visible in the womb of each one.
It should be noted that there were not just symbols of the Amazon culture but also Catholic symbols. For instance, almost none of those condemning this ceremony noted that one of the martyrs represented in the Vatican garden was Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic missionary who was murdered in Brazil in 2005 for defending small farmers' land rights.
It is also interesting to note how all of these symbols of the Amazonians are connected. These artifacts are all symbols of nature, beauty and simplicity. They are representative of a humble people living at one with nature, not looking to conquer and exploit nature as we do in our western culture.
If we were to bring symbols of American culture, it would be cell phones, computers, big screen TV's, cars, processed food, etc., all man made unnatural objects based on our culture of consumption and of the destruction of the earth. There would be no symbols of the natural world, and Western culture would certainly never be represented by a pregnant woman unless, of course, she was walking into an abortion clinic.
Right wing catholic media also did very little reporting on the other participants in the tree planting ceremony at the Garden. The only other person they reported on was Cardinal Peter Turkson who gave the first speech. There were several other speakers as well.
Vatican News reports the participants in this ceremony:
Then there were the participants: the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor, and the Global Catholic Climate Movement organized the event, while various religious congregations and representatives of the indigenous people of the Amazon Region played important roles in providing colour and creativity.As noted above, not all of the people present in the Vatican garden were Catholic. This was not a Catholic ceremony. This was a tree planting ceremony meant to showcase the culture of the people of the Amazon. It was a way of honoring the Amazonian people. That is the reason it was not held in a Catholic Church. It was held outdoors in a garden because it was a secular event.
The ceremony very much reminded me of watching Native Americans perform their ritual rites when I was a kid. Just watching them did not mean the audience was partaking in their rites or endorsing them. We were there to learn about their culture. That was the meaning of these symbols in the Vatican garden.
|Native Americans performing their rites for an audience|
Neither do right wing radicals care that it is estimated there is only one priest for every 10,000 Catholics in the Amazon. They don't care that many in the Amazon go for months without being able to attend the Mass or receive the Sacraments.
The right wing conservatives prove once again that like the Pharisees in Jesus' time, the law is more important to them than people.
It is also interesting to note the symbols from other nations at this tree planting ceremony in the Vatican Garden:
Even the soil in which the tree was planted came steeped in significance. There was soil from the Amazon, celebrating the wealth of the bioregion’s cultures and traditions; earth from India, representing countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis, where droughts and floods leave millions devastated; soil representing refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes because of war, poverty, and ecological devastation. There was earth from places of human trafficking, and from sustainable development projects around the world. And there was more soil from the Amazon, earth bathed in the blood of those who have died fighting against its destruction.Of course, none of this has any meaning to those on the far right.
Catholic News Agency, owned and operated by anti-Francis catholic media EWTN, gave this report of the garden ceremony which is very representative of the right wing media:
Participants sang and held hands while dancing in a circle around the images, in a dance resembling the “pago a la tierra,” a traditional offering to Mother Earth common among indigenous peoples in some parts of South America. No explanation was provided by the event organizers as to why the dance was performed for the Feast of St. Francis or what it symbolized.Are you kidding me? Does CNA even know the purpose of the Amazon Synod? Do they not recognize one of the major reasons for the Synod was to spotlight the destruction of the rain forests and the people who live in the rain forest?
Further, does CNA not know that in 1979, Pope Saint John Paul II declared St. Francis the Patron Saint of Ecologists? Almost every Catholic Church that I know of has a blessing of the animals on St. Francis' feast day. Is that a mystery to CNA as well?
Has CNA never heard of the Canticle of the Sun, also known as Laudes Creaturarum (Praise of the Creatures) composed by St. Francis?
But, you say, what about the fact that these pagan statues were exhibited in a Catholic Church? Isn't that heretical?
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,Is there really any doubt that St. Francis would have related very closely with the indigenous people of the Amazon and that they would have loved him?
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
I know most Catholics are pretty much allergic to the Bible. They rarely if ever read it. But there is a very interesting passage from St. Paul found in I Corinthians 8. At that time, there were temples in which meat was sold that had been offered to idols. Some people felt it was wrong to eat this meat. Certainly there is no doubt that the radical right wing catholics of today would condemn anyone who ate meat offered to idols.
But what did St. Paul say:
1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by GodSt. Paul is making it very clear here that the most important aspect of following Christ is not how much you know but how much you love. Knowledge alone merely "puffs" up, but love builds up. Those who are so knowledgeable about idols and so quick to condemn may know many things, but they are lacking in the most important thing: love.
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.Paul is telling us that there is absolutely no need to fear false gods because they basically don't exist. They are "nothing at all in the world." They have no power to harm us in any way. Only God is God.
But, St. Paul tells us, the weaker among us don't understand this. They think that false idols are real:
7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.St. Paul says it is not wrong to eat meat offered to idols but because it offends those who are spiritually weak, we should refrain.
The right wing catholics who have raised such a stink about the Pachamama statues are showing their spiritual weakness and defiled conscience. Pope Francis, in his statement after the statues had been recovered after being stolen and dumped in the Tiber, made it very clear that the statues were not in the Church for the purpose of worship. They were merely there, along with all of the other Amazonian artifacts, to highlight the culture of the indigenous people:
Good afternoon. I want to say a word about the statues of the pachamama that were taken from the church of the Transpontina – which were there without idolatrous intentions – and were thrown into the Tiber.The radical right never mentions the fact that Pope Francis made it very clear that there were no idolatrous intentions in regard to these statues. They can't because then they would be shown to be the liars that they are.
If Pope Francis had displayed these statues and told us to bow down to them, or if he himself had bowed to the idols, there would be definite cause for alarm. But that was most definitely not the case. We have an actual statement from the pope that these statues were displayed "without idolatrous intentions."
I wonder if the right wing is offended when they go to a museum and see artifacts from a pagan culture. Do they start throwing holy water at them? Do they steal them and trash them so they don't pollute the museum? But, you say, a Church is not a museum. A Church is a holy place! Of course it is. If the statues were there to be worshipped, then yes, we would have a real problem. But they were merely being displayed along with other artifacts from the Amazon as a way to honor the Amazon people. If you are offended by that, then it shows how really weak you are.
And it also shows that you are racist.
The racism which drives many of the radical right was really on display in their reaction to the poster of a woman nursing an animal.
Okay, CIB, now you've really lost it. That is disgusting! How can you possibly defend this?
We in the Western culture are very myopic in our vision of the rest of the world. We are very convinced that our ways are superior to everyone else, and that if the rest of the world doesn't do everything as we do and the way we do it, then they are ignorant, primitive savages who must be condemned.
But think about what this poster is saying. This woman literally lives in the rain forest, completely one with nature. She has no communication with our modern Western world, which is basically at war with nature. We conquer and destroy the world everywhere we go. If we see so much as one ant in our artificially cooled and heated homes, we bring out the poison, killing everything in our paths. Nature is the enemy of the Western world.
Not so with the people of the rain forest. Just as St. Francis saw himself related to everything in God's creation, so it is with the people of the rain forest.
In the Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis wrote of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water, Brother Fire and Sister Mother Earth. St. Francis was often known to spend time in nature talking with the animals.
St. Francis saw God in every part of creation. He felt as connected to nature as he did to other human beings because all were created by God.
This is exactly how the people of the Amazon see nature. Unlike us in western culture, the people of the Amazon feel completely at one with their surroundings.
Almost certainly the animal in the poster had lost his mother and would certainly die without another food source. I say this because the animal would never take food from another source if his mother was around. The animal wouldn't be interested and even if he was, the mother wouldn't allow it.
Many people even in our culture will save baby animals when they lose their mothers. We get the right formula and feed them. But there are no stores to go to in the Amazon to pick up formula for animals. This woman saved the life of the animal by giving him the only thing she had: her milk. If we can get rid of our own biases and prejudices and racism, we can see that this is actually very beautiful.
|Feeding an orphaned kitten|
And it is absolutely not uncommon of for one species to nurse the young of another species. Here is a picture of a dog nursing a litter of kittens.
No, I am not disgusted by the poster of a woman in the rain forest breast feeding an animal. I think it is a beautiful representation of being one with nature.
But I am truly disgusted at many on the catholic right. They care nothing about the people or the Amazon itself. They are only interested in pushing their own agenda, which is to rid the world of Pope Francis.
The man who stole the statues and threw them into the Tiber says he did so because to display them in the Church was breaking the first commandment to have no other gods. A good question to ask, then, is what is a false idol? A false idol is anything or anyone we place before God in our lives.
What are the the most dangerous false idols? Is it not our arrogance and pride, self righteousness? Is not the worse idol of all the lack of love we feel for others? What idol did the Pharisees worship? They worshipped the law and cared nothing about the people. And this is exactly what we see in the radical right wing of the Catholic Church.
As I wrote, anything we put before God is a false idol. One of the biggest false idols of the radical traditionalists is the Traditional Latin mass. They quite literally worship this form of the Mass. No, they do not worship at or with the Mass. They worship the Mass itself. One proof of this is that you will not find a single sedecvacantist group or ultra right group that does not exclusively celebrate the TLM. The Mass is so important to them that they will leave the Church over it.
I actually love the TLM. It is a beautiful, holy and sacred form of the Mass. I attended the TLM for several years, and I miss it. The thing I loved most about the Mass is the silence. I feel the presence of God in the silence more than anything else. The High Mass is wonderful, but for me, the Low Mass with its profound silence was always even more sacred. I found the music and the rubrics of the High Mass to actually distract from the worship of God. Even now that I attend only the Ordinary Form of the Mass, I still try to find Masses without music, or as little music as possible.
But for the radical traditionalists, the Latin Mass is the ONLY Mass they will accept as valid. They see the Mass, not Jesus Christ, as their savior. "Save The Liturgy, Save The World." They think that there can be no salvation outside of the Traditional Latin Mass. They think that anyone who does not worship in the Latin language or anyone who uses anything other than the organ and Gregorian chant at the Mass is anathema.
The radical right wing have created their own religion, worshipping a make believe Church they claim existed prior to Vatican II. They shake their fist at everyone who wants to reach out to the world and accept people for who they are. They believe everyone must look and act just like them. There is no salvation outside of their own image.
And why is Pope Francis the focal point of their hate? Because he dares to be merciful to sinners. He says people are more important than the law. Pope Francis says that before we can bring people to Christ, we must first show them Christ's mercy, love and compassion.
And this is exactly why Jesus was so hated by the religious leaders of His time.
There is no doubt that if Jesus Christ walked the earth today, the radical right wing would condemn Him even more than they condemn Pope Francis.
Jesus Christ partied down with sinners, going right into their homes. He was constantly surrounded by women, some of whom were known prostitutes. He forgave a woman taken in the very act of adultery, not even waiting for her to repent. He met privately with a pagan women at a well who had had five husbands and then was just living with a man outside of marriage. And not one word of condemnation from Him!
He walked into a town and went to the house one of the worst sinners there, a man who had literally stolen from and defrauded unknown numbers of people. Jesus actually told this lying thief that salvation had come to his home that day.
Then Jesus made one of the most disgusting statements imaginable: He said we have to eat his body and drink his blood!! He was literally into cannibalism. Is there any doubt in your mind that the man called Jesus is a heretic and must be condemned and resisted?
The right wing have now begun to call themselves Catholic Maccabees. They never explain publicly why they have chosen to identify with the Maccabees.
So I will tell you why they call themselves Catholic Maccabees. Then you will understand why they never give the explanation for this title.
The books of I and II Maccabees in the Bible concern the story of the Jews held captive under a pagan king who was trying to force them to give up their religion and take on pagan ways and worship of false gods.
Interestingly, the Office of Readings has been from the Book of Maccabees for the last few days. A recent reading was about Mattathias, son of a priest. Mattathias was approached by officers of the king and urged to join other Israelites in their apostasy:
The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices. Many of Israel joined them, but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart. Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias: “You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city, supported by sons and kinsmen. Come now, be the first to obey the king’s command, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those who are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King’s Friends, and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts.”But Mattathias would not give in to them:
But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kinsmen will keep to the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.”Those opposing the apostasy became quite violent. I wonder how many of the radical right wing would love to do this to Pope Francis and others in the Catholic hierarchy:
As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu.
Then Mattathias went through the city shouting, “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow after me!” Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons, leaving behind in the city all their possessions.It is pretty obvious why the radical right wing catholics relate to the book of Maccabees. They see Pope Francis as the evil king trying to lead them into apostasy, and they are the faithful who refuse to follow him.
Of course, the problem with this view is that Francis is not a pagan king, as much as they would like to paint him as one. Francis sits in the only office on earth that was founded by Jesus Christ and which has been protected for over 2,000 years by the Holy Spirit. The Pope is the earthly foundation of the Catholic Church through which Christ rules over His people. There is no Church without the Pope. If you destroy the Pope, you have destroyed the Church.
Who are the true Maccabees, and who is the true idolatrous king?
Who are the ones who are truly serving false idols?
I think when all is said and done, the radical right wing will find that they will be relating much more to the Book of Esther than to the Maccabees.
Where Peter is, there is the Church.
Below is the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi.