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Jesuit Father Gilles Mongeau is a professor of theology at Regis College.Regis College


(LifeSiteNews) – In a marked difference from the Jesuit missionaries famously known as the North American Martyrs, today’s Jesuits have redefined their mission to the Indigenous tribes of Canada as one aimed at assimilating the natives’ non-Christian spirituality into the new “ecological spirituality” being pushed within the Church. 

In an interview with Vatican News, Father Gilles Mongeau S.J., Vicar Provincial of the Jesuits of Canada, gave some details as to the modern approach the Company of Jesus was taking when it came to the evangelization of the native tribes of Canada.

This modern approach included teaching the spiritual traditions of the natives and using Indigenous ceremonies in Catholic religious services, in spite of the fact that native spiritual traditions involve calling upon the spirits of the dead and venerating deities of nature like “mother earth,” such as was witnessed in the smudging ceremony in which Pope Francis took part last week. 

READ: Jesuit diaries reveal the love Indigenous Canadian tribes had for the missionaries and Catholicism

“With respect to education,” Mongeau said, “we actively support two middle schools that concentrate primarily on Indigenous children. They give a lot of attention to individual pupils and their families and teach Indigenous cultural and spiritual traditions… Concerning language and culture, we encourage the use of Indigenous languages and ceremonies in Catholic religious services.” 

In a turnaround from the previous Catholic rejection of the spiritual traditions and ceremonies of indigenous tribes as pagan superstitions — a rejection understood by Jesuit missionaries as an essential aspect of truly accepting the Gospel — the Canadian Jesuit vicar provincial castigated earlier mission efforts aimed at converting the natives to Christianity and called for a “decolonization” of “the practice of the Christian faith.” Instead, he said, Canadian Catholics needed “to appreciate the richness of Indigenous spiritualities.” 

“In September 2019,” Mongeau explained, “the Canadian provincial, Fr. Erik Oland, SJ, assigned a Jesuit priest to work full time to promote our 2015 commitment, to work toward decolonization among Jesuits in a more systematic way, by encouraging our ministries to develop relations with Indigenous people, communities, and organizations. As part of these efforts, Jesuits in training are involved in experiences led by Indigenous Elders.” 

“We are also exploring,” Mongeau continued, “with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Christians ways to decolonize the practice of the Christian faith and to encourage Catholics in Canada to appreciate the richness of Indigenous spiritualities.” 

As revealing as the above statements already are, the final question of the interview perhaps raises the most alarm. Mongeau was asked, “Recognising the presence of God in Indigenous spiritualities and ceremonies is an important step towards integration. How do you see this process in Canada?” 

In answer, Mongeau explained that all forms of “colonization” are scrupulously avoided by today’s Jesuits, and in the name of inculturation, the Indigenous spiritualities that emphasize a “deep relationship with the natural environment” are now taken up in the hope of forming “an ecological spirituality in the Church.”  

The process began in earnest in the late 1980’s, in indigenous parishes and in centers like the Anishinabe Spiritual Centre run by the Jesuits in Espanola, Ontario. It is a process that is still ongoing, and that requires a careful listening to elders and to indigenous Catholics. Indigenous peoples must take the lead in this process, to prevent cultural appropriation and deformation, which would be just another form of colonialism. Indigenous spiritualities are particularly alive with an awareness of [a] deep relationship with the natural environment, and the dialogue with these traditional spiritualities has taught us much about what an ecological spirituality in the Church could be.

Here the cloak is cast off. The new program of today’s Jesuits in their work with the native tribes of Canada — tribes whom their predecessors sought to convert from the pagan worship of nature, and for whose conversion they shed their blood in the most brutal martyrdoms — is not the conversion of these souls who need the grace of Christ for their eternal salvation, but the adoption of their pagan practices for the sake of forming an “ecological spirituality” within the Church that amounts to nothing less than the worship of nature and “mother earth,” which is a departure from the authentic mission of St. Ignatius, St. John De Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues, and Our Lord.  

It is those early Jesuit missionary martyrs and St. Ignatius who will judge these unfaithful sons who have exchanged the Faith for a lie, and who thus now risk neither entering the kingdom of God themselves nor allowing others to do so.

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