VATICAN CITY, October 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― An indigenous theologian once investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated yesterday that an “Amazonia Rite” must “express our faith in the appropriate way of thinking.”
Fr. Eleazar López Hernández of Mexico suggested at a press briefing on the Amazon Synod that Latin Americans think in ways foreign to Europeans.
“I believe that all of the churches that form the communion of the Christian faith, the churches of Latin America need to express our faith in the appropriate way of thinking,” he said.
“The Amazonian Rite is based on this. We cannot continue to live with ways of thinking that are foreign to our people,” he explained.
“We have to generate within the Church the specific faces of the people, the human groups where the Christian proposal arrives.”
The priest, a member of the Zapoteca people of Mexico, suggested that the indigenous people of Latin America have incorporated the Gospel into their previous religious understanding and that the new rite should reflect it.
“A formula that arose in the synod was that the Gospel of Jesus has been received by the Gospel of the people — the Amazonian people,” López said.
“Therefore, this must be expressed. But as Christians, we have the responsibility of knowing what is essential of the Christian project and what is secondary and what is cultural.”
López cited Pope Francis as having said that thinking of “the Christian project” being expressed in a monocultural way was “unjust.”
The priest called for a diversity of theological and liturgical “expressions” and said it is necessary to have rituals that are adequate for indigenous people and the Latin American Church.
In 2005, López was investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. By his own account, this is because he was accused of misinterpreting the words of the pope, promoting syncretism, and giving a simplistic interpretation of the Christian missionary effort. López was apparently accused of saying the missionaries had not dialogued sufficiently with the people to whom they preached and had them pastorally.
Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri, a professor and member of the Ashaninca people in Peru, became agitated as journalists jotted down the priest’s reply.
“Well, from here it seems to be that you look a little restless, that you don’t really understand what Amazonia needs,” the professor said.
“We have our cosmovision, our way of looking at the world that is around us,” he explained. “The natural world brings us closer to God. We draw closer to the face of God in our culture, in our way of life. Because we indigenous live in harmony with all the beings that exist there.”
The professor, who in his introductory remarks had spoken of “an intercultural vision” and a “dialogue,” went on the offensive.
“I can see that the idea of us indigenous does not suit you,” he told the audience. “I see that you are worried. I see that you are doubtful before this reality that we indigenous seek.”
Siticonatzi Camaiteri then raised his voice.
“Don’t harden your hearts!” he cried. “Softening your hearts is what invites us to Jesus. So that we can live together. We believe in the same God. As a result of this, we can be united.”
“That is what we indigenous want,” he continued. “Do we have ritual? Yes, we have rituals. Those rituals should be incorporated into the center, which is Jesus Christ.”
The indigenous professor said he had not argued for anything else on the issue and that “the center that joins us together at this synod is Jesus Christ.”
“Defending life, defending natural life, there is nothing more!” he concluded.
Concerns about indigenous rituals have dogged the synod since an unusual ceremony involving wooden images of pregnant women took place in the Vatican Gardens on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. As part of the rituals, both indigenous people and people of European descent prostrated themselves before the images as Pope Francis looked on. Some of the images, which are apparently mass produced, were kept in a side chapel of the Church of Maria in Traspontina. Identified with the pagan goddess Pachamama, the statues were removed from the church by persons unknown and thrown into the Tiber River.
The group who introduced the display, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), has threatened to take action against those responsible for the removal of the figures.