VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - As the pope prepares to pray the Rosary in union with Marian Shrines across the world on Saturday, some Catholics are struggling to reconcile the pontiff's latest initiative involving the Mother of God with his entanglements involving the pagan "Mother Earth" goddess Pachamama.
In an event organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (PCPNE), Pope Francis will recite the Rosary "to offer a further sign of hope to a world still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic" in the Vatican Gardens on Saturday, May 30, in union with Marian shrines throughout the world.
According to the PCPNE, the pontiff also "intends to support the pastoral activity of these very important places of prayer, whose usual function as pilgrimage destinations has been compromised owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is now slowly recovering."
Though pleased with the Rosary initiative, some critics do not know how to harmonize the pope's turning to Mary with his involvement in the Pachamama scandal in October 2019, especially since he has yet to offer an explanation or apology for his participation.
While some prelates, such as Cdl. Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, have said referring to the Pachamama scandal as "idol worship is an exaggeration," others, like Bp. José Luis Azcona, emeritus bishop of Marajó in the Amazon region, have said the scandal involved "demonic sacrileges."
"In those rituals [the ones that occurred in October 2019 with the pope present] there is the devil, there is magic. Our Lady is not the Pachamama, she is the Virgin of Nazareth," Azcona explained.
In what some consider a personification of nature, the pope suggested in April that the outbreak of the Wuhan virus was nature's response to humanity's poor treatment of the environment. "We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18 months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods?," he said. "I don’t know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature's responses."
Also in April, Msgr. Nicola Bux, a highly respected Vatican theologian, warned Church leaders about the dangers of idolatry, viewing the virus as a chastisement for what he called the "gravest sin."
In what many consider a reference to the Pachamama scandal that occurred during the Amazon Synod, Bux said, "We gave in to idolatry ... by kneeling before heaps of earth and worshiping idolatrous statues even in St. Peter's Basilica."
Launched in October 2019, a protest against the sacrilegious acts surrounding Pachamama currently has 4,500 supporters.
The protest highlights the pope's involvement in what occurred during the Amazon Synod:
The pope's reticence to explain or clarify these events, subsequent statements on nature and now an upcoming Rosary initiative have many Catholics confused, since the Mother of God and the pagan Pachamama "Mother Earth" are worlds apart.
"Pachamama is not and never will be the Virgin Mary," Bp. Azcona preached in a homily. "To say that statue represents the Virgin is a lie. She is not the Lady of the Amazon because the only Lady of the Amazon is Mary of Nazareth. Let's not make syncretistic mixes. All this is impossible: the Mother of God is the Queen of Heaven and earth."
According to Vatican News, the PCPNE has provided families and individuals representing areas most affected by the Wuhan virus with dozens of rosaries. In a press release, the PCPNE stated the pope "will be accompanied in the recitation of the Rosary by some of the faithful representing the various categories of people particularly affected by the virus."
The pontiff's recitation of the Rosary will take place Saturday, May 30, at 5:30 p.m. Vatican City time before the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens.
Main Marian shrines from around the world will include those from Lourdes, France; Fatima, Portugal; National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.; Our Lady of Peace on the Ivory Coast, Africa and the National Shrine and Parish of the Divine Mercy, Philippines.