ROME, October 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis has called the carved wooden statues at the center of an idolatry scandal in the Vatican “Pachamama statues,” confirming suspicions that the statues were idols of the Incan fertility goddess.
Speaking to attendees at the Amazon Synod, he apologized as “the bishop of Rome” to those who were offended at the statues being removed from the church and thrown into the Tiber.
He also said the statues have been displayed without intending to be idolatrous.
Read the full transcript of the Pope's remarks here.
The story was first broken by I.MEDIA in France, whose reporter was present in the meeting hall of the synod this afternoon and overheard the pope’s remarks. National Catholic Reporter’s Josh McElwee confirmed the report with a tweeted video where the pope’s voice can be heard but not clearly. He cites NCR's Brian Roewe for recording it.
McElwee tweeted: “It's very hard to make out fully what Pope Francis said about the throwing of indigenous statues in the Tiber, but the pope clearly said to the #AmazonSynod bishops: 'As bishop of the diocese [of Rome], I ask forgiveness.'”
LifeSite has applied audio “noise” reduction filters to enhance the sound quality:
José Sierra, the head of the Pontifical Mission Works in Canada, added: “The Pope seems to have said that the statues were found in the river and this (situation) has caused him so much turmoil in his soul (“ci hanno creato tanto clamore nella mia alma”).”
The statues first caused scandal when they were seen in the controversial Vatican garden ceremony on October 4 just prior to the official launch of the Amazonian Synod. The statues were the center of a display of Amazon artifacts around which a group including a Franciscan friar prostrated themselves – kneeling and with faces to the ground – in an obvious act of worship.
Today the Vatican media chief falsely claimed there was no prostration.
Moreover, at another event, the statues were processed into St. Peter’s Basilica where the Pope and curial cardinals offered prayers in a circle around the strange objects. They were also processed on a boat in the Synod Hall, and one of the statues remains there directly in front of the Pope’s place on the dias such that all the Synod Fathers look at it during the Synod proceedings.
An additional number of the statues were brought to the church of Santa Maria in Transpontina just steps from the Vatican. That church has been transformed into an exhibit hall of sorts for Amazon-themed displays.
It was from that Church that at least three of the Pachamama statues were taken early Monday morning and dumped into the Tiber river under the Castel Sant Angelo. The act has been hailed as heroic by some comparing it to Christ’s ousting the money changers out of the temple, while it has been decried as theft, vandalism and even racism by others.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller commented on the incident Thursday night on EWTN's The World Over with Raymond Arroyo. He said: “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 added, “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.”