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Bishop Erwin Kraütler, emeritus of Xingu in Brazil, is a vocal proponent of married priests. Twitter
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Proposal for ‘Amazonian Catholic rite’ comes as a surprise at Synod

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

ROME, October 9, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- There is nothing truly unexpected about the proposals that were presented on Monday during day two of the Amazon Synod. Among them were instituting new ministries for laymen and women, including “the possibility of diaconal ordination for women,” and creating a new Catholic rite, the “Amazonian rite,” that would probably include the ordination of married men and an inculturated “Mass” of which several rituals performed these last few days by indigenous Amazonians in and around the Vatican could be a foretaste.

All of these innovations were clearly present in the Instrumentum laboris of which several cardinals – Raymond Burke, Walter Brandmüller, Gerhard Müller – have stated lately contains heresy or even apostasy in its naturalistic approach, where Jesus Christ and redemption are notably absent, and in its exaltation of the indigenous lifestyle, its promotion of the ordination of married men, and of some form of ordained ministry for women.

But while the Instrumentum laboris repeatedly called for a church with an Amazonian face, this is apparently the first time that there has been a public appeal for a new Amazonian rite within the church. In fact, this proposition was not present in any press briefings in different languages. This point was reserved for the Spanish communiqué.

The communiqué, which has apparently not been published online, was quoted by ACIPrensa (the Spanish service of Catholic News Agency) and by Religión Digital, a major progressive Spanish-speaking religious news service.

Speaking of the “Synod fathers (and mothers)” Jesús Bastante of Religión Digital said the proposal to create an “Amazonian Catholic rite” was the “star position” during afternoon discussions on Monday in the Synod Hall.

These indigenous rites, according to the Vatican note, could be instituted ad experimentum, that is for a theoretically limited time in order to test their usefulness. “The Church considers with benevolence all that is not linked to superstition in order to harmonize it with the true liturgical spirit,” explained the note.

“From there, the suggestion to have in Amazonia a sharing process regarding the experience of indigenous communities that have enculturated celebrations for certain sacraments such as baptism, matrimony or priestly ordination. (…) One of the proposals that was presented involves thinking about establishing – ad experimentum and following the right theological, liturgical and pastoral discernment – a Catholic Amazonian rite in order to live out and celebrate faith in Christ,” according to the note as quoted by ACIPrensa.

“Fundamentally, it was underscored in the Aula, in the same way that exists an environmental ecosystem, there also exists an ecclesial ecosystem.”

What would an Amazonian rite look like? The ceremony of the planting of an oak tree in the Vatican Gardens last Friday under the eyes of Pope Francis and in the context of an easily identifiable indigenous ritual to the Mother Earth gives a number of indications.

The leading role was played by a woman – an important point – raising her hands in prayer facing a blanket on which many Amazonian objects had been placed, including two statuettes of naked pregnant women, one of which is now referred to by some journalists in Rome as “Our Lady of the Amazon” as it pops up repeatedly in churches where Masses linked to the synod are being celebrated, including St. Peter’s Basilica.

During that ritual in the Vatican Gardens, participants prostrated themselves toward the blanket and figurines.

They did so again in Santa Maria in Traspontina, at the bottom of the Via della Conciliazione leading to St. Peter, that same day, surrounding the same blanket with symbolic offerings (to Mother Earth?) during a prayer vigil in view of the Synod. The event included woman executing a barefoot dance with what appears to be the New Testament, in the nave of the church, in the presence of priests and religious.

What is especially worrying about these obviously religious events is that they are not purely pagan ceremonies – which would be bad enough – but that Christian elements, such as prayers to Christ and signs of the cross are included, creating a syncretistic pseudo-Catholic rite that is orientated not toward Our Lord but toward pagan artifacts.

As far as “theological, liturgical and pastoral discernment” is concerned, this seems to have been massively absent from the rituals that were performed in churches and even under the eyes of the Pope without encountering any form of visible opposition.

The idea of having women deacons or another form of feminine ordained ministry was also present during the first day of discussions on Monday when participants were invited to express themselves during four minutes, by fours, with time left in between for the synod fathers to “meditate.”

LifeSite reported on Cardinal Claudio Hummes’ and Sister Alba Teresa Castillo, who mentioned the need for change because of the lack of priests in the Amazon region: “This means pastoral care made up of sporadic visits instead of adequate pastoral care,” said the cardinal. The nun underscored how women religious are already performing baptisms and presiding at marriages in regions where priests are not easily available. She also said when death is near the indigenous will “confess” their sins to a woman religious who cannot give absolution.

All lay people can baptize in case of necessity as long as they respect the form of the rite and want to conform to the Church’s intention. Marriage is in fact a sacrament whose ministers are the man and woman exchanging vows and this can be done without a priest if none will be available to witness them for an extended period. As to telling one’s sins to another person when there is no priest, even St. James would agree, as long as no absolution is given: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

But on the other hand, baptism and the receiving of marriage vows are part of the ordinary ministry of deacons.

Putting forward a woman religious to speak about these forms of ministry without recalling the rules of the Church feels very much like a subtle promotion of ordination for women so that they may ordinarily provide these sacraments, even when there is no emergency.

The very “feminine” face of the indigenous rites performed in the Vatican over the last few days is in the same vein. Indeed, several participants in Tuesday’s discussions at the Synod openly spoke of the “possibility of diaconal ordination for women, so as to emphasize their ecclesial vocation.”

In particular, they said the ordination of married men and the creation of “lay ministers” such as permanent deacons with the role of assisting in administering the sacraments would help in “promoting indigenous vocations.”

“Having lay men and women contribute to the spiritual life of their communities, particularly in bringing them the sacrament of the Eucharist, would help the Church pass from a ‘pastoral ministry of visits’ to a ‘pastoral ministry of presence,’” said Tuesday’s official news summary from the Vatican.

Interestingly, Fr. Pablo Mora, a Jesuit priest who has worked for the Servicio Jesuita a la Panamazonia (SJPAM) and the Red Ecleisal Panamazónica (REPAM) and is currently helping to prepare the Amazon Synod as an official of the Bishops’ Synod in Rome, published an op-ed on Amerindiaenlared.org in which he spoke extensively of this “pastoral ministry of presence,” on Monday.

Fr. Mora did make clear that he was expressing himself personally and not in the name of the Synod officials of which he is a member.

Nonetheless, it is the vocabulary he uses that is being employed in the Synod Aula, where calls for “new ministries” echo his dreams.

Speaking of the central character of the Eucharist in the Catholic faith, he said Jesus should not be brought to the indigenous communities occasionally but should “dwell with them,” in his “tent” or “tapiri.”

Priests are trying to give a more “Amazonian taste” to their chapels so that the liturgy can be “better identified by the local culture,” using materials from the local forest and “native paintings and images,” he said, but argued that “inner changes are also required,” with indigenous people celebrating the Eucharist and accepting “cultural distance.”

According to Fr. Mora, this needs to take into account the importance of community for the Indian tribes “where the collective being or identity take precedence over individual being or identity.”

Even more, he argued, this requires understanding of the fact that “from the perspective of an indigenous community, it is difficult to understand that the priest should be celibate and in truth, this matters little … They simply do not believe that an adult man can be celibate and not have a family and children.

“In many indigenous communities, a man without the company of a woman is considered to be an incomplete man who has not reached ‘maturity.’ This vision of the cosmos suggests a mentality of that which is dual, opposites and complementary. It means that in the case of man and woman, their complementarity in different levels of family life, social interaction and work are a necessary reality, one that is simple and needs no explaining. So we understand why initiation rites into adult life, that soon leave to indigenous marriage, take place very early in adolescence.”

Bishop Erwin Kraütler, emeritus of Xingu in Brazil, a vocal proponent of married priests, said much the same during Wednesday’s press conference about the Synod in Rome. Fr. Mora goes into far more detail, making clear that a Church with an “Amazonian face” would be something very different from the Church that is centered on Christ and dispenses His saving grace.

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