Native Infanticide in the Amazonia: A Silenced Tragedy

News: Commentary
by Raymond de Souza, KHS, KM  •  •  May 6, 2021   

Cultural relativism is smothering the gospel

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This is Part I of a two-part series on the scandal of Church-sanctioned Amazonian infanticide.

The controversial Amazonia Synod had its full sway in the Vatican — with its pagan shamans, dances, colorful feathered headpieces and, above all, the worship of the pagan idol Pachamama at the Vatican gardens and St. Peter's Basilica. However, over and above the folkloric aspects, there is another side of the barbaric native practices in the Amazon, a side often hidden from the public: The murder of newborn indigenous babies.

I can speak about this reality because I am Brazilian by birth and am very familiar with what happens among the Amazonia Indians.

Most Americans (and even Brazilians) do not know that:

  • In several native Indian tribes in Brazil, babies are buried alive, strangled or simply abandoned to the beasts of prey to die in the jungle
  • The government agency charged with helping the Indians, the FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio, or National Foundation for Indian Affairs) abides this hideous practice of infanticide in the name of respect for "Indian culture"
  • The "Catholic" agency charged with helping the Indians, the CIMI (Conselho Indigenista Missionário, or Missionary Indian Council), agrees with the government FUNAI approach to infanticide and refuses to help the Indians abandon such practices

The denunciations are many. The facts are easily verifiable. The truth is there for all to see. Only those choosing to blind themselves cannot see — or refuse to see. Many Indian tribal leaders themselves are already opposed to the killing. Nevertheless, both the government agency FUNAI and the CIMI ignored them and even opposed a bill in Congress that aimed to stop infanticide.

One example: As early as 2008, the February edition of the Brazilian Isto é magazine published an article, "The Indian Boy Who Was Buried Alive." It read, "Amalé was nearly killed in the name of Indian customs. And FUNAI looks the other way from infanticide in some tribes."

The article added:

The dramatic story of that little Indian boy is the visible face of a cruel reality, repeated in many tribes scattered throughout Brazil. Many times, it counts on the connivance of FUNAI, the government agency charged with looking after the Indians. FUNAI hides many cases like this one, but researchers have already detected the practice of infanticide in at least 13 ethnic groups, such as the Ianomamis, the Tapirapes and the Madihas. In 2004, the Ianomamis alone killed 98 children. The Kamaiuras, the tribe of Amalé, kills between 20 and 30 children every year.

Moreover, according to the article, among such Indians:

The execution rituals consist in burying alive, drowning or strangling the babies. Generally, it is the mother herself who is expected to execute the child, although there are cases when she can be helped by the witch doctor. The Indians themselves have started to rebel against the barbaric custom. ... FUNAI has been affected by the contagion of this cultural relativism that views genocide as being correct.

It is simply irrational, scandalous and inhuman, for the CIMI, an agency of the Catholic Church, to favor the continuation of the practice of infanticide in the name of "respecting Indian culture," ultimately opposing a bill in Congress that aims to end infanticide.

Brazilian Bishops Support Infanticide

The Brazilian bishops are remarkably silent about this tragedy: Of course, it is not politically correct to criticize the culture of the natives. Indeed, many support it.

An article in newspaper Correio Braziliense observed in 2008 that "the CIMI missionaries do not consider infanticide as a savage practice of the Indians and defend the view that this culture makes sense in the tribes with little contact with the Western culture." The paper also documented that "a few years ago, the agency [CIMI] inaugurated a new method of evangelization: They do not baptize Indian children and accept the theology and rituals of those peoples."

No reply was issued by the bishops' conference of Brazil.

And why is CIMI in favor of such an inhuman status quo? Although they call themselves "Catholic," they belong to another religion, a relativistic and neo-pagan religion, one which denies the revelation of Jesus Christ and replaces it with the most barbaric tribalism.

The Brazilian bishops are remarkably silent about this tragedy.

CIMI should know that Indian children are human beings too! They are Brazilian citizens by right of birth and must have their right to life respected, according to the Brazilian Constitution, natural law and God's law.

In an attempt to defend the constitutional rights of the native and to oppose infanticide and cultural relativism, Brazilian congressman Henrique Afonso elaborated a bill (the Muwaji Law) to combat infanticide and to protect the fundamental rights of Indian children as well as other children belonging to "non-traditional" societies.

Scandalously enough, CIMI issued a legal opinion against the bill. And not one single bishop criticized the agency and defended the lives of the Indian babies.

Indian Theology as 'Liberation Theology'

Some voices in the Indigenist Missionary Council, CIMI,  have said that:

Since its inception in 1972, CIMI has maintained the same Indian theology, the same mystic utopia, and their new logic: The bishops defend the view that the main mission of the Church is not to catechize and convert the Indian, but to guarantee his values and to guide his cultural process such as to avoid conflicts and syncretism.

A few quotes from episcopal pundits of liberation theology underscore the errant understanding of many prelates in the Church with regard to the evangelization of indigenous peoples:

  • "To a certain extent, Anchieta [a famous Jesuit missionary] was a transmitter of a colonizing gospel. The Church should do penance. ... It is evident that the discovery of America was, in many aspects, a colonialist crime." — Bp. Pedro Casaldáliga
  • "The Indian communities should be received as evangelizers so that they may become a model for our society that has much to learn from them." — Abp. Dom Fernando Gomes de Oliveira
  • "Missionaries work with them [natives] without any pretension of catechesis. ... Without professing the name of Christ, the Indians live in a much greater fullness of the life announced by Christ, like a gospel of liberation, than we who live like pagans in our relations with each other." — Bp. Tomás Balduíno
Raymond de Souza, KHS, KM, is a knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta and a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus. A speaker on pro-life and apologetics issues, he is the delegate for international missions of Human Life International. He has visited 38 countries of the six continents as part of conferences held in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and has speaking ability in Italian and Afrikaans. He is available to address Catholic audiences anywhere in the free world to defend the gospel of life and the purity of Catholic doctrine, counting on the recommendation of bishops and priests in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. He has been a radio broadcaster in New Zealand and Australia and, today, writes a syndicated column for the weekly national Catholic paper The Wanderer.
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