Maike Hickson

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Were ‘Pachamama’ statues absent from Amazon Synod’s closing Mass after bishops’ resistance?

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

October 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – To the surprise of many observers, the “Pachamama” statues were not present in St. Peter's Basilica during the closing Mass of the Amazon Synod on 27 October. Sources in Rome overheard bishops in the synod hall saying that they would not participate at the closing Mass in St. Peter's if the Pachamama statues were going to be present.

The Austrian Catholic news website Kath.net has reported this fact today, and a well-placed source in Rome confirmed the story to LifeSite, saying that he heard from an eye witness from the Synod Hall that some bishops announced they would not participate at the Sunday Mass at St. Peter's. Due to the current tense atmosphere in Rome, our source explicitly had to speak on the condition of anonymity.

Kath.net itself writes on the fact that the Pachamama statues were missing during the closing Mass on Sunday: “One hears from usually well-informed circles in the Vatican that, on the part of the bishops, there were beforehand some statements, according to which they would not be able to participate at the closing Mass if these [Pachamama] statues would be used.”

As LifeSiteNews reported, Pope Francis had announced on Friday that the Pachamama statues that had been thrown into the Tiber River by some indignant Catholics had been retrieved. He also mentioned the possibility that they would be again on display at St. Peter's during the closing Mass on Sunday. 

Stated the Pope: “The leadership of the Carabinieri will be very happy to follow any indication given on the method of making the news [of the retrieval of the Pachamama statues] public, and regarding the other initiatives desired in its regard, for example, the commander said, 'the display of the statues at the closing Mass of the Synod.' We’ll see. I delegate the Secretary of State to respond to this.”

On Saturday, several prelates and priests spoke up, pointing to the pagan character of the Pachamama statues and opposing the display of them in any Catholic Church, much less any act of honoring them or venerating them.

For example, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, speaking about the presence of the Pachamama statues at several ceremonies in the Vatican, stated that “Catholics cannot accept any pagan worship, nor any syncretism between pagan beliefs and practices and those of the Catholic Church.” He continued, saying that “the acts of worship of kindling a light, of bowing, of prostrating or profoundly bowing to the ground and dancing before an unclothed female statue, which represents neither Our Lady nor a canonized saint of the Church, violates the first Commandments of God: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.'” 

Schneider praised the men who removed the Pachamama statues from a Catholic church in Rome as “heroes”, saying about them: “Like a new 'Maccabees' they acted in the spirit of the holy wrath of Our Lord, who expelled the merchants from the temple of Jerusalem with a whip. The gestures of these Christian men will be recorded in the annals of Church history as a heroic act which brought glory to the Christian name.”

At the same time, Bishop Schneider called out those who watched on and did not do anything about the presence of the Pachamama statues in Rome, by saying that “the acts of high-ranking churchmen, on the contrary, who defiled the Christian name in Rome, will go down in history as cowardly and treacherous acts of ambiguity and syncretism.”

Bishop Marian Eleganti, from Chur, Switzerland, stated on Saturday that, even if Pope Francis somehow insists that these statues were used “without idolatrous intentions,” “there would still remain the scandal that, at least, it looks like such [idolatry] and that the Rock of Peter [the Pope] is not at all getting worried about it.” On the contrary, said Eleganti, the Pope “even defends those rituals conducted in the Vatican Gardens” which are “alien to Christianity.” 

“It is not understandable to an observer that the publicly displayed veneration of Pachamama at the Amazon Synod is not meant to be idolatry,” he added. 

As it seems now, there have been several prelates in the Synod Hall who had similar thoughts and therefore made it be known that they would abstain from coming to the closing Mass on Sunday at St. Peter's should the Pachamama statues be present.

Earlier this week, on Thursday, Cardinal Gerhard Müller had already raised his voice of resistance against the Pachamama statues. He told EWTN's journalist Raymond Arroyo that “The great mistake was to bring the idols into the Church, not to put them out, because according to the Law of God Himself – the First Commandment – idolism [idolatry] is a grave sin and not to mix them with the Christian liturgy.” 

“To put it out,” Müller continued, “to throw it out, can be against human law, but to bring the idols into the Church was a grave sin, a crime against the Divine Law.”

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.