VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Walter Brandmüller is warning that the Amazon Synod represents an attempt to replace Catholicism with "a pantheistic natural religion of man."
"It would be a fatal error to think that the promoters of the current Synod of Bishops were truly concerned only about the well-being of the indigenous tribes of the Amazon forests," he cautioned. "They are, rather, obviously being instrumentalized in order to push an agenda which concerns the Universal Church and which has its roots largely in the 19th century."
Reflecting on the meaning of religion, Brandmüller contrasted the historical Judeo-Christian tradition with the modernist concept of faith.
"When Jews and Christians speak of religion — with its forms of expressions in doctrine, morals, and cult — then they mean the way and manner with which man responds to an extra- or supra-worldly reality which comes to him from outside," he observed.
"In plain language, it is about man's response to the Creator's self-communication-revelation to His creature, man," he said. "God speaks — in whatever form — and man gives an answer. It is a dialogue."
"The religious concept of Modernism, on the other hand, means a monologue: man remains alone with himself," the cardinal warned.
Sacred Scripture records the dialogue between God and man, Brandmüller wrote:
God's address to His chosen people took place in the course of an eventful history that, at each step, led to a higher level. The Letter to the Hebrews begins with the words: "Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son." The Gospel of St. John calls this Son the Incarnate Word of the Eternal God. He is and He brings the final Revelation, which can be found in written form in the biblical books and in the authentic oral tradition of the community of disciples chosen by Jesus Christ, out of which the Church grew. All this has happened once and for all and is universally valid with regard to space and time.
These facts "exclude a concept of religion which has some kind of geographical or temporary limits," he noted, adding this means that "an Amazonian Church is theologically unthinkable."
"It is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic (and therefore Roman) Church," Brandmüller continued, "to whom the transmission of the Gospel and the transmission of Christ's Grace to all peoples of all times have been entrusted and to whom the light and strength of God's Spirit is promised for the fulfillment of this mission."
The Church, he added, "lives up to this mission — with the help of the Holy Spirit — by fulfilling her magisterial and her pastoral ministry throughout history."
In what he described as an "alarming observation," the cardinal noted that the synod's Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, contains scant references to Church councils and the papal magisterium:
Particularly spectacular is the total absence of Vatican II (apart from two rather marginal references). The fact that such important and thematically relevant documents as the Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church, "Ad Gentes" — quite apart from the Major Constitutions on the Liturgy, Revelation and the Church — are at no point quoted, is simply incomprehensible. The same applies to the post-conciliar Magisterium and the important encyclicals.
Brandmüller observed that the Instrumentum Laboris ignores the doctrinal tradition of the Church, and instead draws almost exclusively from the social justice and environmentalism-infused Aparecida Document, the product of a 2007 regional meeting of the Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM).
This "can only be understood as a spectacular break with previous history," he warned. "Moreover, this quasi-absolutizing [of Aparecida] also raises the question of the Latin American understanding of ecclesial Communio on the universal level."
The authors of the working document "ignore the Second Vatican Council" as well as "all of the documents of the post-conciliar Magisterium interpreting the Council," the cardinal continued.
He reiterated that this disregard represents "a break with the dogmatically binding tradition. Actually also with the universality of the Church."
"The fact that this break is, so to speak, being put into action in an 'underhanded' fashion, i.e., in a hidden and secretive manner, is all the more disturbing," he wrote.
The "disputes over the Amazon Synod are only very superficially about the indigenous population of the Amazon which is itself quite small in numbers," said Brandmüller.
"Rather, the frightening question arises whether the protagonists of this synod are not more concerned with the attempt secretly to replace religion as man's answer to the call of its Creator by a pantheistic natural religion of man," he lamented, "namely, by a new variant of Modernism from the beginning of the 20th century."
"What is here at stake is not more and is not less than the Catholic Faith ... plain and simple," Brandmüller warned.