In a recent interview on France's TVLibertes, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, an American and a judge at the Vatican's highest court, said that during the October meeting of bishops at the Vatican -- the Amazon Synod -- a statue, a wooden "idol" that represents "a demonic force" was introduced to St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome.
Cardinal Burke also endorsed a prayer initiative launched in France in reparation for the sacrilege, saying people "need to pray so the evil forces that came with this idol may be overcome by God's grace through Christ who wants St. Peter's Basilica purified of the sacrilegious act."
The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region took place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. Its purpose was to focus on the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, evangelization there, and to foster a greater respect for planet Earth and God's creation. In many ways the synod took a strong political turn to promote a green agenda, economically and socially.
Two days before the official opening of the synod, a ceremony was held in the Vatican gardens, attended by the Pope and other clerics, as well as Amazonians. As explained by the Catholic News Agency (CNA), "Pope Francis witnessed an indigenous performance at a tree planting ceremony in the Vatican gardens Friday, during which people held hands and bowed before carved images of pregnant women, one of which reportedly represented the Blessed Virgin Mary."
"A group of people, including Amazonians in ritual dress, as well people in lay clothes and a Franciscan brother, knelt and bowed in a circle around images of two pregnant women who appeared to be semi-clothed, in the presence of the pope and members of the curia," reported the news agency.
"Participants sang and held hands while dancing in a circle around the images, in a dance resembling the 'pago a la tierra,' a traditional offering to Mother Earth common among indigenous peoples in some parts of South America," said the CNA. "No explanation was provided by the event organizers as to why the dance was performed for the Feast of St. Francis or what it symbolized."
The wooden statues of pregnant women are pagan "pachamama" images; they represent fertility and Mother Nature. They do not represent the Virgin Mary. "It is not the Virgin Mary," said Vatican communications official Fr. Giacomo Costa, SJ.
Dr. Paolo Ruffini, head of the Vatican Dicastry for Communication, said the Holy See had "already repeated several times here that those statues represented life, fertility, Mother Earth."
At the garden ceremony, Pope Francis received and blessed one of the pachamama statues.
The pagan images and other items were also taken into the church St. Maria Traspontina, near the Vatican, and displayed at the foot of the altar.
Commenting on what happened at the Vatican, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, told The Remnant newspaper, “We have to condemn this.”
“Idolatry,” he said, “is a violation of Divine Revelation.... You cannot commit acts of idolatry in the Catholic Church.”
“Unfortunately, Pope Francis defends the veneration of these pachamama idols, in saying there were no idolatrous intentions in using them," said Bishop Schneider. But these “were clearly acts of a religious cult -- bowing, revering, and even prayers towards a wooden statue” which even the Pope said is "pachamama."
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian parish in Washington, D.C., said the issue was "very, very serious."
“I also think we’ve just got to really pray a lot that there’ll be repentance now,” said the monsignor. “Because if there’s not, I’m very concerned” that there will be divine retribution, “as there was in Assisi and other places where these things have happened.”
“I hope the Holy Father will lead the Church in an act of repentance for the whole Church, for anyone who participated in it, even those who misunderstood,” said the monsignor.
On TVLibertes, Dec. 8, Cardinal Raymond Burke was asked about his support for France's prayer of reparation, an event that organizers were planning for Dec. 12, a special day dedicated to honor the Virgin Mary.
The cardinal said, "There was a very serious thing in the church during the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon region. An idol has also been introduced into St. Peter's basilica ... the figure of a demonic force."
"So there is a need for reparation and prayers, in order to pray that the evil forces which entered with this idol will be overcome by the grace of God, by Christ who wants the basilica of Saint Peter to be purified from the sacrilegious act that was performed during the synod," said Cardinal Burke.
He continued, "All must pray and make acts of reparation for the scandal caused, and especially because of the offense to God by this act. ... I want to encourage you in any way to move forward with this initiative. "