Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Wooden statue of a young pregnant woman in procession towards St. Peter's BasilicaWooden statue of a young pregnant woman in procession towards St. Peter's Basilica  (AFP or licensors)

Saint John Henry Newman and the statuettes thrown into the Tiber River

The sad episode of the theft and destruction of Amazonian images.
By Andrea Tornielli
The theft and casting into the Tiber River of several wooden statues from the Amazon depicting a young pregnant woman is a sad episode that speaks for itself. Certain reactions to this violent and intolerant gesture, following its publication on social media, have been striking: "Justice is done", reads the enthusiastic headline on one Italian website. An image of motherhood and the sacredness of life, a traditional symbol for indigenous peoples representing the bond with our "mother earth", as described by Saint Francis of Assisi in his Canticle of the Creatures, was thrown away with contempt in the name of tradition and doctrine.

The new iconoclasts, who have gone from expressing their hatred through social media to acting in this way, might find it useful to re-read what was said by one of the new saints canonized a few days ago, Cardinal John Henry Newman. In his 1878 Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, concerning the adoption of pagan elements by the Church, Newman wrote:
“The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees, incense, lamps and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water, asylums; holy days and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the east, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the church”.


rcg said...

This argument presumes that the images were sanctified rather than that they usurped their position. Was there an apparition of Mary that puzzled the people of the Amazon for ages until it was correctly identified by the synod? Hogwash.

1. It is perfectly acceptable for people who are tied to the land as the indigenous people of the Amazon to use the image of a pregnant woman to artistically represent the great river. It is patently wrong to worship it or conflate it with a real person.
2. Does anyone know if the religion of the Amazon is uniform across the region? Do all the groups there worship the same way and the same gods? That seems unlikely. So are the synodal fathers picking the winner from those religions for coopting and leaving the others behind?

Frankly, with the vast amount of time and effort the hierarchy are devoting to justifying homosexuality, incorporating paganism, and stealing huge sums of money it seems that they are not only apostate they are bored with their jobs. Why don’t they leave the Church to become producers of records or broadway musicals? It is exactly the same lifestyle and pays better with no pressure to behave decently.

TJM said...


Your last paragraph is a tour de force!