MEXICO CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic priest in Mexico recently used what appears to be a Pachamama image as a monstrance holding the Eucharist.
On Facebook, Fr. José Luis González Santoscoy posted photos on June 28 of the effigy of a seemingly nude pregnant woman bearing the Eucharist in her womb. The monstrance was used at St. Juan Macias parish in Zapopan during a retreat for young people. (Zapopan is a suburb of Guadalajara, Mexico's third-largest city.)
Pachamama is a "mother earth" goddess from the indigenous peoples of the Andes mountains; it has no ties to Mexico.
Following outcry, Fr. González deleted the photos from his social media account and has limited public comment on his posts. According to media reports, he refused to comment but claimed he had discussed the issue "with my bishop, with my authorities."
Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega is head of the Guadalajara archdiocese. Leader of Mexico's bishops, he was appointed to the cardinalate by Pope Benedict XVI. No response had been received from the archdiocese by time of publication.
Speaking about the controversy, lawyer and publisher Fr. Javier Olivera said, "Nothing surprises me anymore."
Eduardo Peralta, a pro-life campaigner, Catholic blogger and radio show host, said he was not surprised either. "But I am shocked by this idolatry stemming from modernism," he remarked, "seeking to desacralize the Eucharist by leveling the sacred to the worldly."
He also blamed "environmentalism" and "indigenism," the latter of which he identified as the glorification of a "mythical Arcadia where the so-called original Americans lived in peace without the Catholic faith and Western civilization."
Peralta said, "The idea is abroad it is okay for some people to follow pagan and even anti-Christian faiths, but they will still be saved."
According to Peralta, fellow Argentine Pope Francis' intervention in the Pachamama controversy was "a secondary consequence of modernism and Indigenism." But what troubled Peralta the most is the pope "has not preached against these errors, thus contributing [to] the spread of error and confusion."
According to ACI Prensa, the pastor of the parish, Fr. Juan Pedro Oriol, claimed the display "was done without my knowledge and without my permission" after he left for vacation June 28. Oriol said the Pachamama idol does not belong to his parish, which always uses the same monstrance for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
One of Fr. Oriol's critics lamented on the priest’s Facebook page: "We need a public act of reparation after the desecration we have sadly witnessed! Stop the circuses in your parish. No more Communion in the hand! They must make amends for the Eucharist, enough of the offenses against the most sacred of things!"
Controversy has swirled around Pachamama since Oct. 4, 2019, when Catholic clergy joined in an indigenous ritual organized by the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) and the Catholic Movement for Climate in the Vatican Gardens during the Pan-Amazonian Conference. Worshippers danced around the Pachamama idol as shamans offered prayers and incense. Pope Francis greeted the participants and approvingly observed the wooden figurines.
While some identified the pregnant figurine as Our Lady of the Amazon or the virgin mother of Christ, it was later identified as the Pachamama. It was also displayed on the altar at the Santa Maria in Transpontina church in Rome, along with other representations of Andean and Amazonian religion.
In October 2019, two men threw the Pachamama idols into the Tiber. Pope Francis claimed the statues were "without idolatrous intentions" and begged forgiveness for their dumping into the river. While he did not place the idol on the altar during the final Mass of the conference as was feared, a smoking bowl of incense associated with Pachamama was placed there — in violation of canonical norms.
The figure of Pachamama reappeared during a December 2019 Christmas concert at the Vatican sponsored by the Congregation for Catholic Education. At the event, a woman dressed in Amazonian garb invoked "Mother Earth, Hicha Gueia," and coaxed priests and prelates present to cross their arms over their chests in reverence for the deity.
In November 2019, bishop emeritus José Luis Azcona — a Spaniard who retired from a see in Brazil's Amazonian region — denounced the "scandal" and "idolatry" associated with the idols. Azcona said in a homily:
The invocation of the statues before which even some religious bowed at the Vatican (and I won't mention which congregation they belong to), is an invocation of a mythical power, of Mother Earth, from which they ask blessings or make gestures of gratitude. These are scandalous, demonic sacrileges, especially for the little ones who are not able to discern.
Father Hugo Valdemar, a high-ranking priest of the archdiocese of Mexico City, burned several paper versions of the Pachamama as an act of reparation. Valdemar stood next to an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, long beloved by Catholics in Mexico and the Americas.
"Pachamama symbolizes Satan, who gives birth to the Antichrist, who is represented by the fetus in Pachamama's womb," he declared.
Zapopan is also home to the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan, which attracts thousands of Catholic pilgrims to venerate a 17th-century image of the Virgin Mary. The state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara and Zapopan are located, was notable for defending the Catholic faith during the Cristero War that ensued when Mexico's atheistic government shuttered churches, murdered priests and persecuted faithful. Laymen defended their Church and faith against a government that received financial assistance from Freemasons in the United States.