VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Concerns over Pachamama are overblown, according to a leading Vatican official.
"I don't know the Amazonian culture well enough to say what the scope of these symbols is, but they didn't bother me," Cdl. Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, told a Spanish website last week. "To say that it was idol worship is an exaggeration."
News of Ouellet's dismissal comes as Catholics across the world are coming together in prayer and reparation for Vatican ceremonies celebrating the Andean fertility goddess during October's Amazon Synod.
Thursday — the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe — marked a day of reparation for the synod's pagan idolatry. Launched in France, the international prayer campaign asked Catholics everywhere to pray the Rosary to atone for the Pachamama ceremonies.
Cardinal Raymond Burke endorsed the reparation effort earlier this week, telling a French Catholic journalist, "I want to encourage you in every way to go ahead with this initiative."
Burke added that reparation was needed to defeat evil forces unleashed at the synod: "Something very grave happened during the special assembly of the bishops' synod for the Amazon region. An idol was introduced into St. Peter's Basilica — the figure of a demonic force."
"Therefore reparation is necessary and also prayers," he observed, "so that the diabolical forces that entered with this idol are vanquished by the grace of God, by Christ who wants St. Peter's Basilica to be purified of the sacrilegious act that took place during the synod."
Like Cdl. Burke — and unlike Cdl. Ouellet — Abp. Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan views the emergence of the Pachamama cult as a danger to the Faith.
"To declare all these acts of worship of the Pachamama statues, which always took place during a prayer ceremony and in churches, as non-cultic and not religious, but merely as an expression of culture and folklore ... denies the evidence and flees from reality," Schneider warned in a November essay.
The archbishop described Pachamama as a bridge between ancient paganism and modern environmentalism:
Anyone who has dealt with the global environmental movement has undoubtedly heard the term Gaia. Gaia is a revival of paganism that rejects Christianity, views Christianity as its greatest enemy, and sees the Christian faith as the only obstacle to a global religion that focuses on the worship of Gaia and the unification of all forms of life concentrated around the goddess 'Mother Earth' or the 'Pachamama.'
"A sophisticated mix of science, paganism, Eastern mysticism and feminism has made this pagan cult a growing threat to the Christian church," he added. "The worship of 'Mother Earth,' or 'Gaia' or 'Pachamama' is the focus of today's global environmental policy."
Schneider acknowledged that some Catholics are ignoring or even criticizing those in the Church who are concerned about the Pachamama phenomenon, "on the grounds that it personally attacks Pope Francis."
But, he countered, such "reasoning is very reminiscent of the story of the Emperor's new clothes."
As of now, Cdl. Ouellet remains unconvinced.