VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Shrouded by darkness on the night of Nov. 16, 1965, 42 bishops led by the "red" Abp. Hélder Câmara of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, secretly left the Vatican and met at the Santa Domitilla Catacombs on the edge of Rome.
As the curtain fell on Vatican II, they celebrated Mass and signed a secret document that came to be known as the "Pact of the Catacombs."
The pact was soaked in the euphemistic phraseology of liberation theology — Marxist dialectical materialism baptized by radical Latin American theologians.
Bishops pledged to jettison wealth, privilege and ecclesiastical titles and to work "for the advent of a new social order" which would involve engaging with international organizations and transforming "economic and cultural structures."
This Sunday, 40 bishops, including two cardinals, participating in the Amazon Synod returned in broad daylight to the Domitilla Catacombs, celebrated Mass and signed an updated document calling it the "Pact of the Catacombs for the Common Home" ("Pacto das Catacumbas pela Casa Comum"). This time, laymen and women were also among the signatories.
Wearing the stole of Dom Camara at the Eucharist, Cdl. Cláudio Hummes, socialist successor to "red" Camara and general rapporteur of the Amazon Synod, led the renewal of the covenant.
The new pact is marinated in the newspeak of eco-socialism and the signatories commit themselves and the Church "in the face of extreme global warming" to an "integral ecology in which all is interconnected."
"These clerics had been planning the Pan-Amazon Synod for years. Indeed, most of the forty signatories of the Pact of the Catacombs were their predecessors from Latin America," notes commentator George Neumayr.
The pact reaffirms the earlier "Catacombs' Pact of the Poor and Servant Church" and "in deep communion with the successor of Peter" vows to combat the "violence of a predatory and consumerist economic system" that threatens to devastate the Amazon.
Explaining the political agenda of the bishops who have signed Sunday's pact and its significance for the Amazon Synod, Neumayer calls it "nothing more than a pretext to unite the Church and the United Nations in a power grab against Brazil and other Latin American countries where the Amazonians reside."
He observes: "Rome, as I can attest from my visit to it, is crawling with UN officials, such as Jeffrey Sachs, who seek to use the Church to turn the Amazonian regions into NGO-ville, as it were, so that they can push their radical environmentalist and socialist projects."
The leitmotif of liberation theology is reiterated with a wider scope in the new pact, as signatories promise "to renew in our churches the preferential option for the poor, especially for native peoples," and "guarantee their right to be protagonists in society and in the Church."
There is a new note of religious pluralism negating evangelization as bishops promise to help the indigenous people "preserve their lands, cultures, languages, stories, identities and spiritualities."
The document explicitly states that the bishops will "abandon … all types of colonialist mentality and posture, welcoming and valuing cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity in a respectful dialogue with all spiritual traditions."
In the case of non-Catholic and non-Christian peoples, the bishops choose to "walk ecumenically with other Christians communities in the inculturation and liberating proclamation of the Gospel with other religions and people of goodwill," even though the Catholic Church in the Amazon has lost 50% of its indigenous membership to Protestant denominations.
According to a synod document, the Jehovah's Witnesses — a cult that denies the Holy Trinity — have mopped up the largest number of Catholic converts (around 5% of the total) as critics blame liberation theology for Catholic conversion to other sects.
The document also strongly hints at the existence of female deacons already playing sacramental roles in the Amazon as it seeks "to recognize the services and real diakonia of a great number of women who today direct communities in the Amazon."
There are also more practical commitments like reducing the production of garbage and plastics and using public transport wherever possible.
Observers noted that many participants at the signing ceremony wore the black "tucum ring," a symbol for Brazilian Catholics of commitment to the poor.
Archbishop Erwin Kräutler, who called the recent fires in the Amazon a "true apocalypse," is reported to have organized the group under the leadership of Hummes.
A number of prelates have refrained from signing the pact, seeing the gesture as ideological.
Dom Camara supported divorce and remarriage, women priests and said he would "respect priests with rifles on their shoulders."
The original Pact of the Catacombs was signed at the spot where two Roman soldiers were executed for converting to Christianity. There are over 10 miles of tunnels around the catacombs, with the tombs of more than 100,000 Christians from the earliest days of the Church.