The Pope and the Amazon Synod: Why the Narrative Belongs to Mary, Mother of the Church.
THE POPE AND THE AMAZON SYNOD: WHY THE NARRATIVE BELONGS TO MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH.
By Fr. Kenneth Chinkata Evurulobi, PhD.
Official reports have it that the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region is scheduled to meet in Rome from 6 to 27 October 2019.
Pope Francis announced on 15 October 2017 that it would work "to identify new paths for the evangelization of God's people in that region", specifically the indigenous peoples who are "often forgotten and without the prospect of a serene future".
The Synod defines the region to include all or parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela, and Suriname, most of which are countries where most of the population is Roman Catholic.
HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE AMAZON SYNOD.
A legend has it that during one of his many contemplative moments on the Holy Trinity, St. Augustine was drawn to the bank of a river where he encountered a little boy who was scooping water from the river and pouring it into a small hole he had made at the river bank. When confronted by St. Augustine, the little boy said his mission was to empty the whole water content of the river into the small hole using his hands. In total astonishment, St. Augustine scolded the boy and insisted that he engages himself with something more serious than playing a fools game with the impossible. As a reply to these remarks by St. Augustine, the boy said it was he (St. Augustine) who was playing a fools game and trying to do the impossible by thinking that he would understand fully the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Some commentators have identified the little boy whom St. Augustine encountered at the bank of the river as an Angel exhorting him to concentrate more on the Economic Trinity rather than on the Immanent Trinity. Even though the Immanent Trinity is the same thing as the Economic Trinity and vice versa, the nomenclatural values differ. Immanent Trinity describes the primordial mode of the transcendent Being of God who is and ever remains unseen and unknown by anyone while the Economic Trinity refers to the God who has revealed Himself in the Economy of Salvation by the events of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery. Economic Trinity means the Self-revelation of the Eternal Mystery of the Being of the unseen and unknown God in the person and works of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as given in the events of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery. Allegorically speaking, God who is in himself a bottomless OCEAN of boundless Mystery allowed himself to be fully emptied and accommodated, without a remainder, in a ten-litre container which the human person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth represents. Jesus Christ is therefore God's GIFT of Himself to humanity. In Him the unseen, unknowable, untouchable God became touchable, knowable and can be seen and heard so that the Human Person can be saved. This is the meaning of the Salvation Economy.
To what extent St. Augustine understood and heeded this injunction of the angel remains to be seen in his theology where he expended much of his time and energy trying to come to terms with the total depravity of the human nature as effected by Original Sin with no prospects of a remedy except by the event of Divine Mercy obtained through rigorous prayer and penance owing to the transcendent nature of God.
Consequently,, there seemed to be lacking in Augustine’s Theology a deeper appreciation and solemn exploitation of the proximity of the Divine Reality and the inherent powers thereof. The result was an unconscious eclipse of the great miracle of Salvation and a theological hacking into the tall walls of the Absolute Mystery which yielded very much little of the Grace of God for practical Christian life and experience when compared to the vast and boundless richness of Grace which is readily available for everyday life and which became the inheritance of the People of God through the events of the Incarnation and Paschal Mystery. This had some pastoral implications for the People of God in the sense that the jubilant character of the self-revelation of God was replaced by constant rigorous ruminations about sin and guilt. God failed to be a Father/Mother, a Brother/Sister, a Friend and a Liberator. Instead, He was portrayed in the light of a King on a throne inhabiting the firmaments of heaven and exacting vengeance on his slaves. With this strand of thought which permeated and ruled every aspect of the Church’s life, including liturgy and pastoral actions, it is hardly the case that the human person is a SON/DAUGHTER – a subject of rights and obligations.
The foundations of the Church of the last century were made to stand on the theology of St. Augustine and that of St. Thomas Aquinas.
As a matter of fact, Rahner regretted the monumental neglect or eclipse of the Economic Trinity by St. Augustine. He expressed deep appreciation for the life and monumental works which St. Augustine accomplished at such an opaque moment of the development of faith but did not hide his dissatisfaction with his inability to expound - for practical life and experience - the prospects, significance and implications of the Economic Trinity which he discovered and illuminated through his worthwhile theological engagements.
While the neglect created a deep schism between faith and praxis, between doctrines and pastoral action, between body and spirit, the gross involvement with the opaque walls of the Absolute Mystery served to create the dogmas and doctrines of the Church into a museum where the Faith was locked away for fear of being tampered with, treated as asocial monads with no much tangible relationship with existing between the and practical Christian life and then kept out of the reach of those, especially theologians, who have a passion for and a responsibility to engage the Word and positively challenge its potency through theological investigations and innovative pastoral action. The outcome was not very helpful in the sense that Christian life and experience became highly stereotyped and moribund having, as its sole nourishment, the vision and sharing in the mission of the members of the hierarchy, including those whose visions and missions were a product of bias, prejudice, ambition and insensitivity. The thoughts and practices, actions and inactions, commissions and omissions of a select few whose ecclesiastical posture - whether good or bad, right or wrong, legitimate or illegitimate - made unconscious but successful attempts to bypass God and, at the same time, undercut the input of freedom. The extinct situation of the Church in places like North Africa and issues like the manner the sex-abuse scandals were handled or dealt with at their various stages of incubation by the official Church are very significant in evaluating the consequence of the neglect of the Economic Trinity.
THE ARISING PATHOLOGIES OF THE AMAZON SYNOD.
The Amazon Synod is a major trunk in the Reform Agenda of the Pontificate of Pope Francis and has its roots deeply entrenched in the Second Vatican Council
It represents a pastor's bold, resolute and commendable attempt to, legitimately and validly, recover - for practical Christian life and experience, - the readily available powers, riches and provisions embedded in the events of God's self-gift or self-revelation in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, that is, the Economic Trinity. This project may require that someone may have to take the Church with him or her on a very risky but rewarding walk along some delicate doctrinal paths. Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former Archbishop of Buenos Aeres and a world class diplomat who has a strong sympathy for Liberation Theology which he hides under the toga of "an Option for the Poor" is exploiting the options available to him in his capacity as the Supreme Pontiff, the Head of the Universal Church and Bishop of Rome.
Some of Pope Francis' theological households and the allied interest-groups regard the Synod as a necessary update that is long overdue. And they argue that any update that promises to be practical and effective must, first of all, be seen to have the capacity to review and argue old questions and, at the same time, show a certain readiness to make the necessary concessions. To the extent Pope Francis is willing to do this, to that extent the Amazon Synod – in conjunction with the previous Synods and Encyclical Letters sponsored by the Francis papacy – is controversial.
Giving the presence of the suffocating atmosphere and the progressive tension respectively which the proposed Amazon Synod has created in the two most visible camps that would obviously turn out to engage themselves in a struggle many believe would be distanced from a dialogue with an input of the Holy Spirit but which has the inherent capacity to eventually transform into a cage-fight or a bull-fight, there is a growing apprehension that swallowing balls of fire officially ignited to consume the entire edifice of the Catholic faith and morals could be the most remarkable “gift” which the upcoming Synod holds in store for the 21st Century Church – if not instantly, then certainly, in the nearest future.
Exacerbating concerns are varied in their sources but the suspicion that Pope Francis or the handlers of his papacy have an ugly mission tucked away under some dirty armpits has festered. Fundamentalists have had to throw some spanners on the arcane bolts that hold the decisions of the Second Vatican Council together, questioning the genuinity of the Council and the sincerity of the minds that conceived, planned and executed it. Their resentment arises from the discovery – in their own terms – that the Council is the springboard of acute secularization that has enveloped the Church. The violent wave of reform sweeping across the Church is hinged on the secret agenda of globalists like Pope Francis and his acolytes for total secularization of faith and morals. Thus, from the opposite direction, observers are very much worried that the upcoming Synod will leave behind it a very deep and sore wound on the body of doctrines that may never heal.
Arresting the schismatic, silencing the heretic and rebuking the apostate are all inclusive factors of any would be authentic and successful reform. But judging by his diplomatic behavior, doctrinal language and radical pastoral disposition, the fear still persists that pope Francis has not paid adequate attention to those factors that define and underline the validity and legitimacy of the kind of reform he is implementing and that he is merely paying lip service to or playing games with issues and events that touch directly on the heart of the Church’s faith.
Pope Françis' reluctance or inability to address the pathology of a burgeoning underclass which the Synod have been churning out along theological and ecclesiastical lines is an issue many regard as a time bomb.
This situation must be resisted in a very realistic manner, and the resistance must predate the Amazon Synod otherwise it would easily be categorized as reactionary and gross disobedience.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A REGIONAL SYNOD FOR A WORLD CHURCH?
It is an indisputable fact that the events of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery, undeniably and irrevocably, constitute the peak and most decisive moment - unique and unrepeatable in itself - in the evolution, understanding and appreciation of the Divine Reality or Incarnate Word. This is the Gospel, and there is no other. And the Church is the custodian of the Gospel. In a deliberate demonstration of her responsibility for the Faith and its relevance today, the Second Vatican Council was born.
The Second Vatican Council was, therefore, the Church’s own wisest decision to confront the New World with the Gospel with strong emphasis on the provisions of Paul's Letter to the Romans 1:16, " ....the Gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes",
Thus, against all odds, and in the face of many dangers, the Church risked the Gospel solely in the spirit of “Salus Animarum”.
When the true picture of the Church today is placed against the background of fatal and monumental neglects or that of futile and amputating involvements - not by any individual theologian alone or by one member or a group that has got a lot to do with the hierarchy – but by the official Church, directly or by proxy - it would be discovered that the violent wind of necessary reforms blowing across the entire length and breadth of official Catholicism is not an issue any responsible pastor can easily dispense with, what more overlook.
Notably, the official Church has gone to work in the Amazon region, and there is an apprehension that the outcome of the deliberations there will turn out to reverberate across the length and breadth of the 21st century Catholicism.
Remarkably, two brothers from the same womb who originally stood at closer unity with each other, at least going by the bond of the priestly brotherhood – personalities who were already friends and colleagues before and during the Second Vatican Council and who actively participated in it having climbed to positions of power, authority and influence in the Church as theology professors – are, today, standing at different, opposing, irreconcilable and hostile poles and are living very much apart from each other.
The Kuhn – Ratzinger rift encapsulates the real picture of the macro elements that gave birth to and propels the ecclesiastical war that continues to rage in the German Church and these have unattractive and grave consequences for the future Church, for unity and for the security or purity of the Catholic Faith and as well imperils authentic Christian experience and pastoral action.
The Hans Kuhn - Joseph Ratzinger kind of rift is the drama that is set to replay itself at the larger stage of the World Church as the Amazon Synod begins if Pope Francis fails to address the doctrinal question and the arising pathologies. More significant is the fact that incubating atmosphere of the Synod has violently stirred the same volatile waters that flooded the Church and which totally drowned the arcane structures of unity by an arrogant refusal to heed the voice of reason and genuine concerns legitimately advanced as the controversy on the nature of the relationship that exists between the Son and the Holy Spirit and between the Father and the Holy Spirit raged on and led to that regrettable but avoidable schism between the East and the West.
As the Amazon Synod continues to unload with forceful assertions and a somewhat reversal of roles for a Hans Kuhn that now wears the face of Cardinal Walter Kaspers on the one hand and a Joseph Ratzinger that is now more of a lay reader than an official or influential doctrinal voice as could be found in the person of Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, the German Church is the universal Church writ large, both in her problems and in its unenviable journey to total extinction.
It is highly regrettable and disgusting that schism, apostasy and heresy on the one hand and clericalism, careerism and “ecclesiolatry” (apologies to Mathew Fox) on the other hand were allowed to assume an upper hand during the course of theological investigations and in the exercise of ecclesiastical office in the Church of the last century and in this manner constituted themselves into effective weapons of compromise for the destruction of faith and morals, and later on, went ahead to arrogantly stifle every real and bold effort made to place the Church on the path of progress, justice, peace and development.
At the close of the Second Vatican Council that took place over five decades ago, the Council Fathers identified and underlined the phrase “Mother of the Church,” in the midst of many others including “Mother of God” and Co-redemptorist”, as the most adequate and effective title of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this way, the supernatural and transcendent personality of the Ucadian Woman who is “Mother of God” in it's most real sense (Theotokos) and Co-redemptorist, condescended to appreciate and embrace – in the spirit of maternal love and anxiety – what Annah Arendt has referred to as the “Human Condition”. The Council was damn correct. For, it was while in the ”Human Condition” that our Blessed Lady won and, at the same time, worked out the grace to become the first believer as well as the first person to bear witness to the Gospel in her womb. Her experience and expertise are exceptionally unique, irreplaceable and inescapable.
It would, therefore, amount to total abuse for anyone to peruse through the pages of the documents of the Second Vatican Council hoping to, consciously or unconsciously, find therein and feed one’s appetite with the ingredients of secularization and liberalization.
Conversely, no authentic and unbiased orthodox Catholic disposition can refuse to embrace the powerful actions of the Holy Spirit that leap out of the pages of the documents of that historic Council to confront him or her.
The Church of the last century may not have had all that was needed to avoid the Kuhn – Ratzinger rift. Nevertheless, that rift – no matter whatever name one would want to attach to it – is regrettable, disgusting and remains as an indictment on a method that flings the stinging sands of the doctrine of the Primacy of Peter and Papal infallibility on face of the People of God or deploys such as ingredients of fermentation in the soup served by the Mother Church. If it was wrong in the Church of the last century, it has not stopped being wrong in the 21st century Church. At such moments like this, the title of Hans Kuhn’s influential book “Infallible?” comes into play.
The Amazon Synod challenges Pope Francis as Pastor or a shepherd which is a critical and urgent need for the 21st century Church family where many have become deeply wounded and have been abandoned to rot away on the roadside of life and at different junctions of our faith owing to gross abuses, insensitivity, careerism, clericalism and ecclesiolatry.
At the same time, the mounting anxiety and concern in the face of an imploding schism, apostasy and heresy by many who are unpretentious and unwavering collaborators of Pope Francis and who, at one time or another, had assumed the mould or form of the persons of Pedro Pio and Theresa of Calcutta, are not issues or events which a true and authentic pastor in the ranks of a Pope can easily discard with, or feign unmoved.
The captivity or total enslavement of the Human mind and the attempt to castrate and render it unproductive in the face of daunting challenges which the New World present to human reason and experience at a time when every confirmed human identity is a subject of rights and has some incurred obligations does actually prove to be the new and effective form which EVIL has assumed today.
That is to say, in a World where every human person deserves a breath of life, freedom and dignity; where every voice deserves to speak and be heard;where every eyes deserve to see and be seen; where every ear deserves to hear and react; and where every hands deserve to feel and be felt, a united, peaceful, safe and progressive Human Family - whether this assumes the shape or form of a Nation or an Institution - can only be a product of an unreserved confession of, unbroken attentiveness and an irrevocable commitment to the primordial needs for Peace, Justice, Growth, Development, Security and Progress.
Personally, as a theologian who is actively involved in the Theology of Liberation and who have spent quality time to investigate into the 3rd Secret as contained in the Fatima Message (Find my Reports here <http://saharareporters.com/2010/04/09/my-story-rev-fr-kenneth-evulurobi-c-why-they-want-me-dead >), I am compelled to lay an ambush against intransigence and disunity - in anticipation of the upcoming Synods by sending a special “Appeal Letter” to the Tribunal of Apostolic Signatura pursuant to the adoption of the “Sacred Deed” (Holy See Model) as the adequate and effective response to the expectations, questions, problems, dangers and risks inherent in the present situation of the Church.