Rorate Caeli

From Sandro Magister: Those images really break your heart

Sandro Magister received the following letter which he published on his site on October 22, 2019.

Dear Magister,
The fascination of Amazonian rites (more or less) and statues representing pregnant women may be enchanting for the Synod Fathers and those around them, but they are creating trouble for Catholics in the Southern hemisphere of the world. Given that, even in the shanties of the global peripheries, people watch YOUTUBE and spend hours on FACEBOOK, those statues, take on a significance that is complicating the lives of [Catholic] catechists and missionaries, grappling with a constant loss of the faithful.
It is the experience of anyone on a missionary journey outside Europe to find themselves faced with a great number of aggressive Evangelical Churches or millenarian sects who spend a great deal of time attacking the Catholic Church and luring the faithful away. One of their main arguments is: “Catholics adore statues” or “Catholics adore demons”. Ergo: “Catholics are not Christians, come to us.”
Well, let me tell you my experience as a simple lay Catholic, who for personal reasons frequently travels to Mindanao in the extreme south of the Philippines. This is a region in which a great number of Muslims settled centuries ago and now added to this, there is an explosion of Protestants, giving a glimpse of a Brazilian-flavored future i.e. Pentecostal, even in what is still today considered one of the most Catholic countries in the world – namely -  the Philippines.   

There is no street, nor TV channel nor Radio frequency that is not infested by preachers seeking Catholic prey. Their first goal is to convince [people] that the Catholic Church is false. Their second is to get them to tithe. Well then, the images showing the adoration of pagan divinities – or anyway of something appearing to be a pagan divinity – during a ceremony in the Vatican Gardens, right in front of the Pope, have indeed made their way  round the world.  And at Mindanao, particularly in areas like South Cotabato where Protestants are now 20 or 25 percent of the population, they have  encouraged all sorts of preachers to point their fingers and say “Look, Catholics are idolaters. We have always told you this. As the Bible says.”  

Chatting today with a young lady, a courageous Catholic catechist, she is also scandalized.  I heard the embarrassment in her voice; in not knowing how to defend her faith, in not knowing how to explain to the young, the truth that Catholics are not idolaters. In deference then, she didn’t even want to comment on FACEBOOK  about what had happened in Rome, because if she had begun criticizing the event she would have aided the Protestants. Try explaining to the people of these regions the subtleties from the  Prefect Paolo Ruffini, about seeing evil where it doesn’t exist. And this happened at Mindanao, I don’t dare think about Africa or South America.  

What is certain is that those images, seen by the south of the world, really break your heart. And render life very difficult for those who, already, on one side, every day risk Islamic terrorist attacks while attending church, and on the other, have to cope with Protestant proselytism when walking the streets.

I hope Rome gets it. Do they think they can gain the Amazon like this without losing the rest of the world? …   What a great achievement.
Letter signed

Translation: Francesca Romana