Peruvian expert in liberation theology reveals ‘scheme’ behind the Amazon Synod
ROME, June 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The upcoming synod of bishops on the Amazon region is a “scheme” aimed at “revamping” the Church according to the “most radical versions of liberation theology,” a Peruvian author has said.
Julio Loredo, president of the Italian branch of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and author of “Liberation Theology, a life jacket for the poor made of lead” [Teologia della liberazione. Un salvagente di piombo per i poveri (Cantagalli, 2014)], said the “untold” backstory of the Amazon Synod is that it’s been decades in the making, and is designed to “change the whole Church” according to “so-called indigenist and ecological theology.”
“It is a whole revamping of the Church from an ‘Amazonian’ point of view, which is nothing else than the culmination of liberation theology,” Loredo said in comments to LifeSite on Friday, June 21.
Loredo, who serves as an editor and regular contributor to the new website, “Pan-Amazon Synod Watch” (launched by an international coalition seeking to combat such efforts), noted that this vision “is now being proposed by a Latin American Pope for the whole Church.”
“That is very important,” he said, adding that this vision “also coincides with the most extreme visions of the modernists and progressives in terms of ecclesiology.”
Loredo noted the upcoming Synod “is being prepared and staffed by a well-organized network of ‘indigenist’ associations and movements,” such as REPAM (Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network).
“All its mentors come from the folds of the Liberation Theology movement,” he said.
“Another point to be made,” Loredo added, “is that the encyclical Laudato sì is the doctrinal foundation for the Synod.” This encyclical, he said, “has parts inspired by ecological liberation theology, or eco-theology, and parts based on documents of the United Nations, like Agenda 21 and the Treaty on biodiversity.”
“These are binding treaties for all of the countries that signed during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero, in 1992,” the Peruvian author explained. “These documents were studied and proposed by researchers from Socialist International who were seeking to explore ways for post-socialism or post-communism. Concepts like ‘sustainable development’ and ‘negative growth’ were launched by these documents. So, we are not speaking just of the Church in the Amazon.”
Loredo said he has been “struck” by the extent to which the Vatican, through the Pan-Amazon Synod, is assuming “the neo-pagan agenda proposed by the United Nations in conferences like the 1992 Rio Summit and the 2012 Rio+20 Summit.”
“I participated, as a journalist, in the 1992 conference, and studied these issues in depth.”
Turning to the preparatory document and Instrumentum laboris for the October meeting, Loredo said the documents’ “embrace [of] a radical interpretation of ‘sustainable development’” is particularly concerning.
Equally worrisome, he said, is the complete absence of anything negative about the Amazonian tribes, some of which he said “practice cannibalism, infanticide and witchcraft.”
“For someone like myself who has been studying liberation theology and indigenous theology for so many decades, so many things in these documents are perfectly clear,” Loredo said. “But for someone who has not followed these currents it might be baffling, or at least not fully comprehensible.”
Here is our interview with Mr. Julio Loredo.
LIFESITE: Mr. Loredo, who is responsible for launching the “Pan-Amazon Synod Watch” website, and what assurance can you give readers that they will find in it a credible source of information regarding the issues surrounding the October Synod?
JULIO LOREDO: The site was set up by an international network of conservative associations. It officially belongs to the Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute, in São Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Corrêa de Oliveira (1908-1995) studied the so-called indigenist currents inside the Church already since the early 1970s. But it is an international site which implies not only Tradition, Family and Property, but also other conservative associations internationally.
It contains articles by leading experts, scientists, philosophers and professors; therefore, the material it features is highly academic. For example, it contains articles by Professor Evaristo Miranda, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the Amazon. Dr. Miranda is the head of EMBRAPA, which is responsible for the satellite monitoring of the Amazon in Brazil. As you might know, Brazil has its own space program. The satellite system in Brazil is highly developed. EMBRAPA Monitoramento por Satéliteis the government organ which monitors the Amazon, and Prof. Miranda is its head. There are many articles by Miranda, as well leading ecologists from the United States and other countries. Very authoritative figures are writing for the site.
The Vatican released the Instrumentum laboris for the Pan Amazon Synod earlier this week. It has drawn considerable media attention, particularly for suggesting a relaxation in priestly celibacy for the Amazon region. What in your view should those in the media, and Catholic clergy and faithful more broadly, know about the upcoming meeting? Where should we focus our attention?
There is an untold story that has not gotten enough attention in the Western media. Cardinal Pedro Barreto, the vice president of REPAM(Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network) said very clearly in recent days that the plan they intend to carry out at the Synod is one they have been working on for almost 50 years. So, there is a whole plan, a whole scheme, behind the Synod, which consists in the introduction of so-called indigenist liberation theology that has been developing over the past 40 or 50 years. Now would be their time to propose it to the entire Church.
European media are focusing on clerical celibacy and the possible diaconal ‘ordination’ for women, and rightly so. These are both very important aspects of the plan, but there is a whole story behind it. What they want is to change the whole Church according to the most radical versions of liberation theology — the so-called indigenist and ecological theology.
We have been following this for many decades. In 1977, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira wrote a book about this, titled “Indian Tribalism: The Communist-Missionary Ideal for Brazil in the Twenty-First Century,” in which he describes pretty much what’s going on today. However, this panorama hasn’t been very present or widely known to the European public. It was more a Latin American situation, which is now being proposed by a Latin American Pope for the whole Church, and that is very important. It also coincides with the most extreme visions of the modernists and progressives in terms of ecclesiology.
At last year’s Youth Synod, certain controversial issues (such as the inclusion of “LGBT” language) were anticipated, but the final document’s heavy emphasis on “synodality” and ecclesiology was not expected. What surprises do think the Pan Amazon Synod holds?
If you read the preparatory documents for the synod, especially the Instrumentum laboris, you will see that they want to reinterpret the whole Church from an “Amazonian” perspective. They call it the new Church with “an Amazonian face.” They want to re-interpret the whole Church, and this is a point that I think European media are not stressing enough. It is not simply the problem of relaxing clerical celibacy, as important as that is, or the problem of the ordination of women. It is a whole revamping of the Church from an “Amazonian” point of view, which is nothing else than the culmination of liberation theology.
If they get their way, it would be the most pernicious revolution that has ever happened in the history of the Church — if they get their way.
At the June 17 press conference to present the Instrumentum laboris, LifeSite asked synod organizers about this. “In reading the working document,” we said, “[we] got the impression that the idea is not only to help the Amazon but also to give the rest of the Church ‘an Amazonian face,’ an expression Pope Francis has used various times. Will this Synod have implications and ramifications for the rest of the Church?” we asked. Bishop Fabio Fabene, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, responded by insisting that this synod is only dedicated to the Amazon. But he added that there could be repercussions “from a pastoral point of view also for the Church, especially ... in the field of ecology.”
Exactly. They are proposing a whole series of ideas, like the “conversion to integral ecology,” which are valid for the whole Church. They are using the Pan Amazon Synod in order to propose a new model for the Church.
Do you believe the indigenous peoples are being exploited to carry out the ecclesial revolution you describe?
This Synod is being prepared and staffed by a well-organized network of “indigenist” associations and movements, like the aforementioned REPAM. All its mentors come from the folds of the Liberation Theology movement which, in more recent years, has been evolving in this sense, as well as in the sense of an “integral ecology.” In this quest, they have involved some highly-motivated Amazonian Indians, like Cayapó Chief Raoni. But I doubt they represent the majority of the indigenous peoples. Knowing the Amazonian reality quite well, I would say that the vast majority want to integrate themselves into modern society.
Another passage in the Instrumentum laboris which is raising concern is n. 129. It says that because “authority” in the Amazon is “rotational” it would be opportune to “reconsider the notion that the exercise of jurisdiction (power of government) must be linked in all areas (sacramental, judicial, administrative) and in a permanent way to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.”
As I said, they want to revamp the whole Church from an “Amazonian” standpoint. A chapter in the Preparatory Document dealt with the “sacramental dimension,” and stated that Sacraments had to be reinterpreted under this light, including the Sacrament of Orders. It’s obvious that they are using the “Amazonian face” as a pretext to implement an old progressive scheme: confusion regarding the common priesthood of the faithful and the sacramental priesthood of the clergy. They want to attenuate, if not destroy, authority in the Church. Theirs is an egalitarian view of that Church and society.
That said, anyone who’s been in the Amazon knows full well that authority in the Indian tribes is anything but “rotational.” Indian tribes have a dictatorial structure in which the power of the chief is only towered by that of the witch doctor.
Another point to be made is that the encyclical Laudato sì is the doctrinal foundation for the Synod. This encyclical has parts inspired by ecological liberation theology, or eco-theology, and parts based on documents of the United Nations, like Agenda 21 and the Treaty on biodiversity. These are binding treaties for all of the countries that signed during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero, in 1992. These documents were studied and proposed by researchers from Socialist International who were seeking to explore ways for post-socialism or post-communism. Concepts like “sustainable development” and “negative growth” were launched by these documents. So, we are not speaking just of the Church in the Amazon.
The Vatican seems in recent years to have bolstered its cooperation with the United Nations.
Exactly. One thing that strikes me about the encyclical Laudato Sì and about the Pan-Amazon Synod is the extent to which the Vatican is assuming the neo-pagan agenda proposed by the United Nations in conferences like the 1992 Rio Summit and the 2012 Rio+20 Summit. I participated, as a journalist, in the 1992 conference, and studied these issues in depth.
What do you think people will find most surprising about the situation in the Amazon as it relates to this synod, beyond what we’ve already discussed?
I think European, and in general Western, peoples will find it quite shocking that the Synod is proposing the Amazonian tribes as bearers of a new revelation for our times that will revamp the whole vision of the Church and of Catholicism. They call the Amazon an “epiphanic place,” a “source of divine revelation” (Instrumentum Laboris, n. 18, 19). What do they mean by this new Indian or indigenous revelation for the world for the 21st century? It’s very worrisome.
Another thing that might shock people is the fact that they embrace a radical interpretation of “sustainable development.” It says that the level of consumption today is far beyond the capacity of the Earth to produce food and materials. So we have to drastically reduce our level of consumption by adopting more austere and poorer models. And that is where the tribal model comes in; they say that the Indians can teach us how to be poor and yet happy. They are proposing the doctrine of buen vivir —“good living” (Instrumentum laboris n. 12,13) — which is not living in abundance but in poverty, but in perfect communion with nature. And this is the “good living” they are proposing. They are against industrialization, they are against not only consumerism but actually consumption. They say that we have to lower our levels of consumption, because the Earth cannot support it. This is also very worrisome because it means that they want us to do away with a whole series of advantages that industrial civilization has brought about.
When you say “they,” who do you mean?
Both the people who in the United Nations propose this doctrine of sustainable development and the people in the Church who embrace the doctrine of sustainable development, which is an essential part of what they want to do in the Synod. The documents proposed for the Synod are quite clear. They want the Amazonian Indians to be the evangelizers of the world.
Through “good living” …
Exactly, and this is also very shocking. Of course, as Christians, we are called to live humbly and modestly and to care for the gift of creation, which has been entrusted to use by our heavenly Father. But if interpreted interpreted in a linear way and taken to its last consequences, this way of thinking means we would have to renounce many advantages of modern society. Just think if people will renounce cars, electricity or air-conditioning!
At the June 17 press conference, Sandro Magister noted that while the Instrumentum laboris has critical things to say about the Pentecostals or urbanization, they only speak positively about the indigenous peoples, without addressing the evils of cannibalism or infanticide or other pagan practices that are still present in some tribes.
Or witchcraft. Both the Preparatory Document and the Instrumentum laboris, as well as statements of the people who are involved in the Synod, are full of negative language with regards to industrialization, or what Pope Francis calls “extractivism”, i.e. the extraction of material from the earth; they are full of negative language against free market economy and private property. But they have nothing negative to say about the Amazonian tribes, some of which practice cannibalism, infanticide and witchcraft. The Indian tribes are presented as idyllic. The real Indian tribes are very different.
Is there anything you would like to add?
For someone like myself who has been studying liberation theology and indigenous theology for so many decades, so many things in these documents are perfectly clear. But for someone who has not followed these currents it might be baffling, or at least not fully comprehensible.
However, the gates of Hell will not prevail. We must face this situation with serenity and hope, knowing that God at times permits His flock to be tried in the Faith so that it can be proven worthy. And we must especially never lose or diminish our veneration for the See of Peter.