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Word Gems 

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Weaponized Art: Part II

the 'Pachamama' controversy



return to "Weaponized Art, Part II," main-page



the Vatican and the ‘Pachamama’ controversy: a microcosm of a millennia-old modus operandi to become a ‘universal’ church

Shortly after I’d written the paragraphs on the numerous savior-gods and mother goddesses, each fitted to a local culture as a power-and-control scheme, a modern day example has presented itself, which, in principle, reflects this ancient Machiavellian dynamic.

In October of 2019, RCC bishops of South America attended a conference in Rome. To commemorate this synod, statues of a nude "Pachamama" ("Earth Mother"), an ancient fertility goddess, were displayed - "outrageously," some said - right next to the holy altar in one of the local Vatican parishes, the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina (“Holy Mary across the Bridge”).

Not everyone took kindly to what they charged as an invasion of paganism. But the hierarchy just loved it.



With a google-search of “Pachamama, Catholic Church,” you will find many articles from Catholic news agencies on this incident. I read several of them. Here are some of the phrases from RCC officials and aligned interests as they attempted to spin this violation of a church’s sanctuary: 

“reconciliation with non-Christian cultures”

“willingness to set aside protocol and doctrinal and liturgical norms” - Editor's note: a little too willing to set aside protocol and norms.

“the Amazon synod [of visiting bishops] has been billed as a sign of the Church’s closeness to real people.” Editor's note: "real people," not like some faux people, you know, those who live in giant palaces while preaching poverty as a virtue.

Jesus was a person of dialogue and encounter, the synod’s working document proclaims. Indeed, the document mentions dialogue 68 times, pointing to dialogue as the method that must always be applied to achieve the good life. But on this issue, which became important to a notable number of Catholics, dialogue was forthcoming from neither the pope nor his communications staff."

“an emphasis on meeting people where they are" - Editor's note: translated as, "we violate core principle, move to their side, if it will increase the coffers and the attendence"

“the Church’s long-considered and nuanced views on inculturation are complex” - Editor’s note: “complex” – really? The greatest scientists of history, including Einstein, said the opposite; they’d tell you, when you find the truth, you’ll recognize it in its elegance, its “beauty and simplicity.” Those who would hide behind a cloak of purported complexity, an unfathomable “mystery,” do so to obfuscate and distract. I recall unscrupulous business people from my youth who advocated, when dealing with the public, a policy of “B.B.B.” – “Bullshit Baffles Brains.” It’s what you do when you don’t want people to know what you’re doing.

“tried to insist that they were depictions of Elizabeth by the Virgin Mary” - Editor's note: Yeah, that's right, elderly Elizabeth is a dead ringer for the nude fertility goddess. This is incredibly ironic as, according to the story, the venerable Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was barren for all of her life but for one moment, as per the grace of God.

“expressions of an uncritical embrace of all things indigenous” - Editor's note: Well, this is such high-sounding language. Who could argue against "uncritical embrace," a sweet tolerance for the underprivileged - even if it means selling your soul down the river for bloody mammon. This game is played by offering one measure with one hand, and then subtracting two with the other.

“described as symbols of the Blessed Virgin, the Andean pagan idol Pachamama, and ambiguous symbols of life” – Editor’s first note: This equating of Pachamama to Blessed Mary is more than curious. Since when has the Virgin Mother been propriotously depicted in her birthday suit? One news reporter, John-Henry Weston, dared to state the obvious while Vatican officials attempted to ignore. In a “the Virgin has no clothes” moment, he blasted that he “frankly did not know what was worse,” in that, “either way," -- the paganism or the pious symbology -- "it was totally outrageous” to entertain the notion of a nude “Our Lady of the Amazon.” Editor's second note: Mr. Wesley is correct but Pachamama fertility festivals, in their time-honored bacchanal reveries, were always well attended, looked forward to the whole year, with a good time had by all.

an extended excerpt from a news-reporting agency

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2019 / 10:21 am (CNA).- Last week, Vatican Media interviewed Fr. Paulo Suess, a German priest who has served for decades among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. Fr. Suess is in Rome as an official of the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, and is regarded there as an expert on the region.

The priest was asked about a ceremony held in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 7, which seemed to use both traditional Christian symbols and unexplained symbols of indigenous Amazonian culture.

“It is definitely the case that there is a noticeable sentiment against the synod on the part of certain media here….Someone wrote that it was a pagan rite,” Fr. Suess responded.

“So what?”

“Even if that had been a pagan rite, what took place was still a worship service. A rite always has something to do with worship. Paganism cannot be dismissed as nothing. What is pagan? In our big cities we are no less pagan than in the jungle. That’s something to think about,” he said

Vatican Media eventually removed those comments from its interview with the priest, with no note or indication of the redaction.
Anyone who wants to understand how the Vatican’s synod of bishops on the Amazon has become such a flashpoint for controversy, or why five carved statues were removed from a Roman church and tossed into the Tiber River, should think carefully about Fr. Suess’ comments, and their publication by the official media organ of the Holy See.

On Oct. 21, five statues were taken, apparently quite early in the morning, from the Carmelite Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, four blocks from St. Peter’s Basilica. They were thrown off a nearby bridge into the Tiber River.

On Friday the pope announced that they had been recovered, apologized to anyone offended by their submersion in the Tiber’s waters, and said they might make an appearance at Sunday’s closing Mass for the synod.

The statues had become recognizable to Catholics around the world. They were featured prominently in a tree-planting ceremony that kicked off the Amazon synod. They have been a part of daily “moments of spirituality” at the Carmelite church. They have been inside St. Peter’s Basilica, at an Amazonian stations of the cross, and at many other events surrounding the Amazon synod.

They have been alternatively described as symbols of the Blessed Virgin, the Andean pagan idol Pachamama, and ambiguous symbols of “life.”

At the synod, they are symbols of controversy.

Images of the figures used prominently in unexplained and unfamiliar rituals or spiritual expressions, even with persons prostrating themselves in front of the statues, led observers to ask what connections the figures have to indigenous religious rituals, in short, whether they have a pagan provenance, and, if so, what it means for them to be used in a Catholic context, and most especially in the sacred space of a Church.

It should be clear that the Church’s long-considered and nuanced views on inculturation are complex, and that the Gospel is always expressed in the context of some culture, and that missionaries, dating back to St. Paul himself, have taken up the symbols of particular cultures in order to proclaim the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, there might have been clear and reasonable answers to the questions that surfaced even as soon as the Oct. 4 tree-planting ceremony was concluded.

But at least three times, Vatican officials or synod participants were asked about the statues and the rituals and spirituality expressions in which the they were involved. Questions went mostly unanswered. Vatican officials pointed to organizers of synod events, who pointed back to Vatican officials. The few nebulous answers that were offered made clear that, although the statues were present at official synod events, the Vatican seemed to have no idea what they were, and little interest in finding out.

While the statues were the subject of almost no discussion inside the press room, they went instantly viral on social media. They were featured prominently in memes, were the subject of fierce social media debate among Catholics, and from their first appearance, speculation about their significance ran rampant.

Some of that speculation was uninformed and reactionary.
Ultraconservative commentators insisted that the figures were specific pagan idols, with very little evidence. Some went so far as to accuse the pope himself of a kind of paganism, to support their broader narrative of calumnious criticism of the pope.

With the same enthusiasm, ultramontane writers claimed first that the statutes were definitively the Blessed Virgin Mary. When that viewpoint was dismissed by Vatican officials, the same commentators began to claim that the figures were indigenous symbols about which asking questions was somehow an expression of prejudice, or even racism.

Even in the Vatican press room, one journalist said this month during a press conference that other reporters, presumably those who had asked questions about the statues, had committed lamentable acts of racism against indigenous persons. Vatican officials did not refute that charge.

The truth, of course, is that no one has provided a definitive answer about the statues’ provenance, and few seem able to do so.
But in the absence of information, the figures became totemic rallying cries for all parties in the fractious debate over the present and future of the Catholic Church.


what happened at that infamous service 

The evening before the commencement of the bishops’ conference, a service was held at the the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, with the Pachamama statues boldly displayed as centerfold.

A news-reporting agency commented:

“All were invited to join hands or raise them to heaven to sing the “Our Father of Martyrs” (indigenous people “martyred” by white men … not martyrs of the faith).

“The [prayer of the martyrs] is overtly revolutionary.

“Here is the translation:

“Our Father, of the marginalized poor,

“Our Father, of the martyrs and the tortured…”

Editor’s note: One gasps in disbelief at the unmitigated Naram-Sin chutzpah on display.

“Our Father of Martyrs,” those “martyred indigenous people by white men” – and who might those white men be? Would it have anything to do with the white RCC conquistadors who slaughtered indigenous peoples in their hundred of thousands or millions and destroyed entire cultures?

“Our Father of Martyrs,” … those “tortured” - Have you ever heard of the Malleus Maleficarum? - "The Wicked Hammer." Arguably, it was one of the most infamous books ever written as it served as an “Idiot’s Torture Guidebook” for RCC Inquisitors during the Middle Ages. Under its direction, hundreds of thousands or millions of poor innocent souls were tortured to death by the RCC.

But here we see, in these latter days, the philosophical hierarchical heirs of the those who launched the conquistadors and the inquisitors, now, with great pious demeanor, with pageantry and pomp, attempting to “jump to the head of the parade” and claim that they’ve been leading the virtuous charge all along.


the “boomer generation” is offered an unexpected compliment, and the RCC's demise is predicted, by Brother John of Glastonbury

On the Summerland page, and elsewhere, I quote Brother John of Glastonbury of “the 500,” the 500 tape-recorded messages from the other side. He often had something good to say.

He is no longer of the Church; none of the sane over there claim membership anymore.

On September 12, 1968 he offered tape-recorded comment, via Leslie Flint, on the troubled situation in the world. And how well I remember that tumultuous time. Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King had very recently been killed. Cities were burning. I would soon graduate from high school and was anxiously waiting to leave the farm for university.

The great turmoil in the world, Brother John suggested, was tempered by what he saw as encouraging signs by the younger generation. They were far more likely than their elders, he thought, to “seek for enlightenment,” to “desire for knowledge.” They were currently “rebelling against much that had been [unwarrantedly] accepted, and were not as easily taken in as were past generations.” They “wanted to analyze, wanted change, wanted to know truths, and were protesting against evil,” as they saw it, and were not afraid to do so. They had “lost faith in the Church,” and all of this thinking and questioning, he said, was “the beginning of the end for the Church,” though its departure, a long good-bye, would linger for some time.

He then offered a panoramic perspective as only one, many hundreds of years old, might do. He said that the “young,” the boomer-generation, with all of their critical thinking and questioning, created more hope for the world “than at any time in history.” Wow. That’s quite a statement.

However, regarding the Church, though it's in serious decline now, it will be around to menace the world for a good while yet. There are a great many good people in the Church, in all churches, really. Their hearts are right. They want to do well and to do good. But they've been seriously led down the garden path. It will not always be so. There are no Church power-structures in Summerland; at least, not in the good neighborhoods. The average religious good person is given time, as much time as needed, to perceive the true nature of reality. However, it's not quite that easy for the likes of those who strut and boast of how God has appointed them to high position. When one proactively embarks upon a life of deceit as we've seen, then one creates darkness in one's spirit. These manipulators can repent and change and have a good life over there as anyone else, but it will be much harder for them. For the hard-core, there's a rat-cellar with their name on it waiting for them.

Editor's note: see the "scientific evidence for the afterlife," how the universe really works.

summary statement

So, what’s going on with this “Pachamama” thing?

In order to understand, we must remind ourselves of how the dysfunctional ego works. It’s all about filling up the “inner neediness.”

Did you notice in the reports above? – how it all seemed so similar to the daily political news? Even the disingenuous charge of “racism” and “prejudice” for just asking a question about the Pachamama idol!

These are not religious people, per se. The Blackrobes are political people, just ordinary political demagogues of a common stripe. Everything they do, if it’s led by the “Little Me Ego,” is designed to further a power-and-control agenda.

The bishops from South America are dealing, by and large, with a peasant population of multiple millions. These hapless masses are generally uneducated, superstitious, and easily led by fear and guilt. The populace at large in these third-world countries still believes in the efficacy of the Pachamama goddess. It’s had a long run. These beliefs go back many hundreds, possibly, thousands, of years. People want to believe what their parents and their grandparents believed, and they do.

The bishops know this. They have to deal with the “down and dirty” everyday. In the South American parishes, there aren’t so many liberal “SUV soccer moms” from upscale suburbia attending Sunday mass; in countries where they do attend, you have to approach them differently. In the quotations above, one of the pope's spin doctors asserted, to the effect, "The gospel must be preached in a manner to accommodate particular cultures" - translated this means, "We have to modify theological propaganda techniques to match socio-economic milieu."

And so the Pachamama gods at the Vatican were just a sop for the true-believer folks back home on the plantation. It's called pandering. It was a feel-good publicity stunt for the local constituency in South America. Because, back home, the natives have the Pachamama statuettes around all over the place, as much as they like, and no one says anything about it.

In order to avoid demonstrations in the street, you need to build on local customs and beliefs. You need to air-brush and photo-shop your way to equating an ancient fertility goddess with the Blessed Mother. It’s how you build a church that is “universal” - which is the meaning of the term "catholic."



Editor's last word: