Last week, we reported that faithful Catholics threw primitive figurines in the Tiber that were used in a Vatican garden ceremony and placed by an altar in Rome’s Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina. The Catholic men were offended that the “Pachamama” statues were more akin to fertility goddesses than sacred Catholic images.

In an apologetic statement, Pope Frances indicated that the statues have now been dredged up and may be displayed again.

“As bishop of this diocese, I apologize to those who have been offended by this act,” said Pope Francis in the opening remarks for Friday’s afternoon general congregation, first reported by French media outlet i.media, present in the aula.

The pontiff referred to the statuettes as “Pachamama” — up till now a pejorative used by by critics who claim she represents the pagan Mother Earth goddess — and announced that Italian police had found them and currently have them in safekeeping.

“The Commander of the Carabinieri wished to inform us of the retrieval before the news becomes public,” he said, adding that “the statues are being kept in the office of the Commander of the Italian Carabinieri.”

Pope Francis also announced the possibility of “the display of the statues at the closing Mass of the Synod.”

The move will likely anger many Catholics. Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, issued an open letter condemning the use of the Pachamama statue at the Amazon Synod in the Vatican.

In the Oct. 26 open letter, Bishop Schneider is also calling on all Catholics — bishops, priests and laity — to offer acts of reparation, protest and correction for the use of the Pachamama statues, which he calls a “new golden calf.”

Bishop Schneider writes: “Syncretism and paganism are like poisons entering the veins of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.”

He continues: “As a successor to the Apostles, entrusted with care for God’s flock, I cannot remain silent in the face of the blatant violation of God’s holy will and the disastrous consequences it will have upon individual souls, the Church as a whole, and indeed the entire human race. It is therefore with great love for the souls of my brothers and sisters that I write this message.”

It seems that the Amazon synod is female-focused. Pope Francis also declared that he would be reopening a commission to study the history of women as deacons in the early days of the Catholic Church.

After calls by women for greater decision-making roles in the Church, the pope made the announcement at the end of his three-week assembly discussing issues facing the Amazon region, solutions to a shortage of priests, environmental protection and the role of women.

Francis originally opened a commission to study the possibility of women in the role in 2016, but the commission ended its work without a consensus on the topic. A gathering of 181 bishops voted on 120 recommendations presented to the pope. The recommendation to re-examine female deacons passed the two-thirds vote threshold, 137 in favor and 30 opposed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This is on top of proposing married priests, as we noted in a previous report on the Synod.

 

 
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