Rorate Caeli

Guest Op-Ed: "Discerning the false prophets at the Amazonian Synod" - by Nick Donnelly

 by the Rev. Deacon Nick Donnelly

As we await the Amazonian Synod we would do well to pay special heed to one of sacred Scriptures and sacred Traditions insistent warnings we must be on our guard against individuals who seek to pass off their own words as the word of God. The history of the ecclesia dei includes dark periods when false prophets and heretics sought to deceive the faithful that they spoke the word of God.  However, darkness does not have the final say the history of the Church also contains glorious moments when such deceptions were resisted, exposed and defeated, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn 1:5.)

Old Testament warnings against false prophets

The Lord God warned Jeremiah about the egotistical deceptions of false prophets:

The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. (Jer 14:14).

Such lying prophets lead those who follow them to destruction, because God allows those who are gulled to reap the consequences of colluding in such blasphemous impostures, For I will pour out their wickedness upon them. (ibid, 14:16.) God permits those who follow false prophets to experience these consequent evils both as divine punishment and as the unmitigated working out of their sinful choices.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman explained that the deceptions of false prophets are so destructive because they present the Gospel in selective half-truths:

And in one sense they speak the truth; but it is not the whole truth; and we know, even from the common experience of life, that half the truth is often the most gross and mischievous of falsehoods. (Parochial Sermons, Vol.1, sermon 24).

Half-truths are so dangerous because they more easily seduce and beguile than blatant lies.  The other reason why false prophets employ half-truths is because, like the devil, they are too wise to set it in open opposition to the Word of God. (ibid). Open opposition to Gods revealed Truth would immediately expose their deception, therefore false prophets cunningly use confusion, evasions and ambiguity to hide their intent.  According to Newman, the purpose of the false prophets scheming and manipulation is to create a worldly, counterfeit religion that inclines:

our minds in a wrong direction, and at length to pull them down to the earth, which is the aim of our adversary, the devil. It is his aim to break our strength; to force us down to the earth,to bind us there. The world is his instrument for this purpose (ibid).

Rule One: a rule for discernment during the Amazonian Synod follows from Newmans insights if synod fathers speeches focus on the Earth, on nature, and pull us away from Heaven, from grace and the supernatural, then they are likely to be false prophets or in league with a false prophet.

It is therefore concerning, that the focus of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Amazonian Synod is almost exclusively on this Earth, with 48 references to the world, 43 references to nature, 17 references to forests and only one reference to Heaven. It portrays the Amazon, not heaven, as a source of hope, the Amazon represents a pars pro toto, a part for the whole, a paradigm, a hope for the world.(IL, 37.) For the Instrumentum Laboris, its not Our Lord or His Holy Cross that are hope for the world, but the Amazon and its indigenous people. There is mention of the blood of the earth (IL 17), but no mention of the Precious Blood of Christ. Unaccountably, there are no references to the greatest hope for mankind Gods offer of sanctifying grace and holiness.

New Testament warnings against false prophets

Our Lord Jesus Christ further cautions us to be on our guard against the deceptions of false prophets:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. (Mt 7:15-17).

Our Lord warns that there are some among us who are practicing deceit by pretending to be one of us, while really intending our destruction and the destruction of the Church. St. John Chrysostom characterises this type of deceit at work in the Church as an ambush and a conspiracy which Our Lord charges us to watch out for with exact care. (St. John Chrysostom. Commentary on St. Matthews Gospel).

Those who have tried over the past sixty years to warn the Church of a conspiracy to distort and corrupt her doctrine and discipline have been, more often than not, ridiculed and dismissed as conspiracy theorists. But such cavalier ridicule and dismissal is contrary to Our Lords categorical instruction to beware these false prophets who conspire against the Church. In fact, Jesus warning about false prophets tells us to expect such conspiracies against the Church and to look especially for them among those who claim to speak in the name of God. Such conspiracy is one of the hallmarks of Modernism among the clergy (Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 42), a recent example among the cardinals being the self-styled St Gallen Mafia, involving Cardinal Martini, Cardinal Danneels and Cardinal Murphy-OConnor, amongst others.

St. Augustine identified the manipulator behind the scenes of such conspiracies as the devil, the arch-deceiver, Now the wolf is the devil, he lieth in wait to deceive, and they that follow him. (Sermons on New Testament Lessons, LXXXVII). The devil has attacked the Church through false prophets since the beginning, as St. Paul warned in his farewell to the Ephesians:

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be alert (Acts 20: 29-31).

False prophets do the devils work of destroying souls by leading disciples into apostasy, by deceitfully drawing them away from the word of God.

Rule Two: following from this, another rule for discernment during the Amazonian Synod is if there are signs of a conspiracy among some synod fathers, through scheming and manipulation, to lead the Church away from the word of God then you know that they are doing the work of the devil. The rigging of synods to advance heretical changes to doctrine has become a hallmark of recent times.

Evidence has emerged that heretical elements within the German hierarchy are conspiring to use their ecclesial influence and economic power to manipulate the Amazonian synod. Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, Head of the German Bishops conferences Latin America department, has expressed the hope that the Amazon Synod will lead the Catholic Church to a point of no return and that, thereafter, nothing will be the same as it was”’. The German bishops manipulation of the Amazonian synod to promote their heretical agenda has been so brazen that some of the faithful on social media refer to it as the Germazonian synod.

If we acquiesce to their apostasy, either through commission or omission, we will justly receive divine punishment. Sacred Scripture tells us that the consequences of betraying God are inevitable destruction, corporately and individually. Be in no doubt, God will allow us to suffer the full effects of the devils destructive plan for the Amazonian Synod if we co-operate with it actively or passively. 

What the devils first conspiracy tells us

Eves conversation with the devil is archetypal of all subsequent false prophets and heretics who seek to pass off their own words as the word of God. Eves addition of her own words to the command of God is the first example of mans catastrophic preference for his own thoughts over the word of God. Almighty God commanded Adam and Eve:

You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die. (Gn 2:15-17).

In response to the devils opening question, whose goal was to tempt Eve into joining his conspiracy of disobedience against God, she replied:

We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die. (Gn 3:2-3).

Gods command did not include the injunction, nor shall you touch it, which was purely of Eves own invention, inserting her own thoughts into the word of God. Adam was with Eve during her conversation with the devil (Gn 3:6) but he did nothing to correct her interpolation, passively acquiescing to her making herself the judge of Gods word. This is the undoing of Eve and Adam, and the whole human race. Instead of replying to the devil only with the word of God as Jesus did during his temptation in the desert she took the first step towards committing the sin of pride by thinking that she could improve on Gods command.

Jesus rendered the devils attack impotent by relying solely on the word of God, successfully blocking each temptation and forcing the devil to move onto the next until he gave up. By failing to rely solely on the word of God, Eve failed to block the devils temptation, giving him the opening he sought to blasphemously contradict God, You will not die. (Gn 3:5.) Without the protection of Gods word by preferring her own thoughts, Eve descended into a disastrous conspiracy with the devil that led her and Adam to disobey Gods commandment by eating the forbidden fruit.

Eve shows the consequences of choosing human thinking over divine Truth enslavement to the devil with its consequent descent into sin, and the punishment of death. Just like the serpent, the false prophets of Modernism promise to make us equal to God, but instead sink those who follow them into apostasy and moral depravity.  

Rule Three: from this follows another rule for discernment during the Amazonian Synod expect an openness to dialoguing with the demonic among those synod fathers who do not rely solely on sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition, but prefer human thinking and culture, inserting their own thoughts into the word of God.

One of the most shocking aspects of the Instrumentum Laboris is its positive references to Amazonian shamanism and the worship of spirits, that are in reality demons. It refers positively to the beliefs and rites regarding the actions of spirits, of the many-named divinity acting with and in the territory, with and in relation to nature. This worldview is captured in the mantra of Francis: everything is connected”’. (IL 25). And mentions with approval the indigenous culture being in dialogue with the spirits. (IL 75).

Reflecting on Eves disastrous response to the devil, St. John Chrysostom indicates how we should respond to those false prophets who give voice to the devils lies during the Synod:

Be off, you are a cheat, you do not know the force of the direction given us, nor the extent of the enjoyment we have, nor the abundance of good things given us”…You should [have] turned away from him utterly, and have had nothing to do with him nor listened to anything said by him. (Homilies on Genesis.)

Recognise that the Gospel is not human thinking

The Amazonian synod is shaping up to be the most extreme phase in the catastrophic aggiornamento project begun at Vatican II that has seen the secular and profane ideas of the fallen world invade the Church. Instead of giving primacy to Gods revelation, many post-conciliar bishops and priests have given primacy to human experience, as if human thinking is equal to even at times superseding Gods Truth.

Facing this crisis, we will only stand on firm ground if we follow the apostolic understanding that Gods revelation is not human thinking, that Gods thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8):

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1Th 2:13).

What does it mean to give primacy to Gods wisdom over human thinking?  St.  Paul tells us that the Crucified Christ exposes the weakness and limitations of human wisdom. It means recognising that the Cross of Christ and his Paschal Mystery is the fundamental revelation of God, the axis on which the world turns, and the indispensable hermeneutic that explains what it means to be a human being. As Pope St John Paul IIs favourite Vatican II paragraph puts it:

The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on lightThrough Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death. (Gaudium et spes, 22).

Rule Four: a final rule for discernment those synod fathers who promote the human wisdom of the Amazons indigenous people as equivalent to divine wisdom are really promoting their own anti-gospel, that is completely at variance with the word of God. For example, the Instrumentum Laboris scandalously presents the indigenous culture of the Amazon as another source of revelation apart from the Gospel:

Furthermore, we can say that the Amazon or another indigenous or communal territory is not only an ubi or a where (a geographical space), but also a quid or a what, a place of meaning for faith or the experience of God in history. Thus, territory is a theological place where faith is lived, and also a particular source of Gods revelation: epiphanic places where the reserve of life and wisdom for the planet is manifest, a life and wisdom that speaks of God. (IL 19).

The danger that false prophets pose to souls is that they deceive others to abandon God for the worship of idols, which are really the worldly masks assumed by demons. The eco-theology of the Amazonian synod gives every indication of doing exactly this erecting the Amazon rainforest as a demonic idol at the heart of the Church. Just as the apostate King Ahab created a grove for the devil worship of the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah (1 Kg 16:33), the false prophets of the Amazonian synod are planning to create a pagan grove for the worship of nature spirits. The instrumentum laboris even refers to a earth mother goddess, It is necessary to grasp what the Spirit of the Lord has taught these peoples throughout the centuries: faith in the God Father-Mother Creator; communion and harmony with the earth. (IL 121.) In response, we must pray for the prophetic charism of Elijah, on fire with the word of God:

O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back. (I Kg 18:36-37).