The Amazon Synod and the Vatican’s Radical Environmentalism

People concerned with the threat of radical environmentalism would be mistaken to assume that the Catholic Church’s upcoming Amazon Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome in October 2019, is an internal affair dealing with pastoral matters. On the contrary, it will be a laboratory of ecological activism that promises, in the Vatican’s own words, to present a new social, economic, and political “paradigm” for Western civilization to imitate.

Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si of May 24, 2015 marked the first time in the history that a Pope took sides in a purely scientific debate. Without references to any supporting studies, the encyclical defended the theory of man-made global warming. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system” caused by “the great concentration of greenhouse gases…released mainly as a result of human activity.”[1]

Man-made global warming is not just a nuisance, he says, but an environmental catastrophe that threatens the very survival of the Earth and human race. Its underlying cause is the social and economic structures of modern, industrialized society. The cost of inaction is self-destruction. “The pace of consumption, waste, and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world.”[2]

Such a dire threat requires far-reaching measures. According to Laudato Si, human society needs not incremental policies that alleviate one or another type of pollution, but a new ecological paradigm. We must break our old notions of economy, money, society, government, wealth, and man’s relationship with the Earth. In his words, we need a “new synthesis,”[3] a “radical change,”[4] and a “bold cultural revolution.”[5] “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”[6]

This new ecological paradigm, he writes, “needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational program, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.[7]

In short, we must throw out Western civilization and replace it with a new green “civilization” and ecological “faith.”

Tens of thousands of scientists from around the world have raised serious doubts about environmentalist theories such as global warming. Although universities and the scientific establishment remain in the control of radical environmentalists, many scientists have demonstrated errors in green theories such as man-made global warming, the link between wealth and pollution, or even the role of carbon dioxide in the “greenhouse effect.” There is simply no “scientific consensus” regarding the nature of climate change and man’s role in it.

Ban Ki-Moon

The Vatican, however, has put all its resources at the service of this green ideology. In April 2015, Pope Francis hosted an environmental summit titled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity” in which the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs participated.

In July of that year, Pope Francis organized another conference, “People and planet first: the imperative to change course,” to which he invited Canadian feminist and far-left activist Naomi Klein.

Bill McKibben

For the third anniversary of Laudato Si in July 2018, Pope Francis hosted another environmental summit, “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth,” inviting long-time American environmentalist activist Bill McKibben.

The biggest push for this ecological revolution, however, is likely to occur at the upcoming Amazon Synod in Rome.

Radical Environmentalism of the Amazon Synod

On October 15, 2017, Pope Francis announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place in October 2019 in Rome. It will involve prelates from Latin America’s Amazon region, which includes Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam. Its theme is “The Amazon: New paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.”

The Vatican released a 16-page “Preparatory Document” on June 8, 2018, laying out the goals and framework for the Amazon Synod.[8] Written by a counsel of 18 clerics and laymen presided over by the Pope, the document is a Green Manifesto which promises to present social, economic, and political solutions by drawing upon the “wisdom” of the Amazonian Indians.

Relentless attacks on modern economy

Like Laudato Si, the Preparatory Document declares that the Amazon is in a deep environmental crisis “triggered by prolonged human intervention.” The solution, it declares, “requires structural and personal changes by all human beings, by nations, and by the Church” in which mankind “breaks with structures that take life and colonizing mentalities.”

Very high on its list of causes is the Western economy, based on private property, profit, and free enterprise. Without providing any footnotes or studies, the document declares that the Amazon rainforest and rivers suffers primarily from “expansive economic interests” with an “extractivist mentality.” Such people commit crimes against the environment such as “indiscriminate logging…contamination of rivers, lakes, and tributaries…oil spills, legal and illegal mining.”

The document makes no distinction between legitimate and abusive economic activity, nor does it give any specific examples. Rather, with one broad stroke it paints all modern farming, mining, and logging as illegitimate, even if they cause no damage to the environment. Condemnations against modern economy are all over the document. It attacks “neo-extractivism” and the “strong business interests that want to lay hands on [the Amazon’s] petroleum, gas, wood, and gold.” One of the worst offenders is agriculture, a pillar of the South American economy and primary source of income for many people in the Amazon region.

Even infrastructure such as “hydroelectric megaprojects” and “road construction” are abuses of the Amazon. Cities have harmed not only the environment but the Amazonian Indians and their culture. By encouraging the integration of the Indians, cities have “displaced” them and forced them to suffer “social inequalities” and endure supposed “relationship of subordination.”

The logical conclusion is that a poor, subsistence economy – like that of the Amazonian Indians – is the only moral one.

Elevating the Primitive Indian Lifestyle as the Ideal

How can mankind live a more ecological lifestyle? By imitating the Amazonian Indians. We must reject the “myth of progress” and the “dominant culture of consumerism and waste” which “turns the planet into one giant landfill.” Rather, we must re-appropriate the Amazonian Indian “heritage permeated by ancestral wisdom.”

What is this wisdom? It is “to live in communion with the soil, water, trees, animals, and with day and night.” Thanks to their primitive pagan religion, Indians “promote the harmony of people among themselves and with the cosmos.” Western man’s problem is his technology, culture, science, education, and art, which are obstacles to reaching this supposed state of perfection attained by the Amazonian Indians.

Such praise for the primitive Indian lifestyle overlooks the grim reality. Europeans and North Americans are often unaware of the widespread disease, poverty, tribal violence, lack of basic hygiene, and low life expectancy that is universal in Indian societies. Far from living “in harmony” with the Earth, Indian hunting and farming practices cause great harm to the water and soil. It is simply an illusion that Indian tribes live a type of paradise while Western peoples live in misery.

Environmental Sin, Repentance, and Conversion

The Amazon Synod will address environmental threats and solutions in terms of “sin” and “conversion.” Those people and societies who refuse to adopt a more ecological lifestyle are guilty of an ecological “sin.”

Quoting Laudato Si, the Preparatory Document itself defines this new ecological “sin.” No longer an offense against God or the breaking of one of the Ten Commandments, it defines “sin” as any act against the Earth. “Already in the biblical stories of creation it emerges that human existence is grounded in ‘three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor, and with the earth itself…These vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin.’” Without mincing words, the Synod fathers affirm that this ecological sin against the earth is “an offense against the Creator, an attack on biodiversity and, in short, on life itself.” [emphasis mine].

Although the document does not name specific acts as sins, its earlier condemnation of oil extraction, mining, and mechanized farming naturally leads one to believe that those activities are an offense against God. True repentance of one’s ecological sins goes far beyond cleaning up air pollution or recycling. “Integral ecology,” they write, “invites us to an integral conversion…Only when we are aware of how our lifestyles – and the ways we produce, trade, consume, and discard – affect the life of our environment and our societies can we initiate a comprehensive change of direction.

What exactly is this “change of direction” necessary for a true ecological “conversion”? The Synod Fathers give us a definition: “Ecological conversion means freeing ourselves from the obsession with consumerism.”

At a minimum, it is fighting “cultural and economic models” which have created “situations of injustice in the region, such as the neocolonialism of the extractive industries [and] infrastructure projects that damage its biodiversity.” Although not named, these “models” seem to be the free-enterprise economic system of the West based on private property and free initiative.

Our duty, they write, is to replace these models with a “new paradigm” in which “consumerism” is abolished. “A harmonious relationship with nature allows us to live a happy sobriety of inner peace…and a serene harmony that comes from being content with what is really necessary.” In other words, man should be content with poverty, a subsistence economy and the bare minimum of material goods to survive, just like the Amazon Indians. Such an economic system bears a great resemblance to socialism.

The goal of the Synod is not to address the environmental crisis of the Amazon region only. This new ecological paradigm “requires structural and personal changes by all human beings, by nations, and by the Church.” “It is necessary to overcome myopia, nearsightedness, and short-term solutions. A global perspective is required, going beyond one’s personal or particular interests, in order to share responsibility for a common, global project.”

For anyone concerned with the threat of radical environmentalism, it would be a mistake to ignore the 2019 Amazon Synod. Far from treating of pastoral matters in an obscure corner of the world, it promises to provide energy and a path forward for the global environmentalist movement that until recently has found itself struggling to advance across the West.


[1] Pope Francis, Encyclical Laudato Si, May 24, 2015, no. 23, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

[2] Ibid., no. 161

[3] Ibid., no. 112

[4] Ibid., no. 171

[5] Ibid., no. 114

[6] Ibid., no. 23

[7] Ibid., no. 111

[8] http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2018/06/08/180608a.html

12 Comments

  • Glenn Lego
    Posted 04/05/2019 13:32 0Likes

    I don’t want to give up the life I am now living and go live like an Amazon Native. I no longer believe Francis has the best intentions of the True Church in mind. He’s obviously a one World socialist.

  • Sarah Conner
    Posted 04/05/2019 13:47 0Likes

    I mean no offense to the Christian Church, but do you really believe that the condition of the planet doesn’t matter at all and that we have the God-given authority to exploit it and pollute as we please, with no regard for indigenous peoples or animals?

    • Ann
      Posted 06/05/2019 18:46 0Likes

      Of course true Christians care deeply about the planet that God made. He appointed us stewards of it, after all, and most of us have taken that seriously across the centuries (there will always be fools and greedy people who serve only their own interests, of course). But the objection is to Francis’s making environmental mania and a false utopian vision of primitive living the mission of the Church. This approach is based on bad science and an ignorance of history and of the mission Christ gave to his Church (spread the Gospel, love one another, save souls, etc.). Francis’s vision, as well as those on the far left in the enviro-crusades, smacks of pantheism and nature worship, not to mention the great, grim leveling of socialism.

      • Tosca Hero
        Posted 08/05/2019 11:35 0Likes

        Well Said Ann!

  • Pamela Lindo
    Posted 04/05/2019 14:24 0Likes

    With all due respect, I am so, so disappointed with this Pope’s actions! What were the Cardinals thinking when they voted him in? I just don’t get it!

  • Antonio Mataban
    Posted 04/05/2019 14:52 0Likes

    Our destiny lies not in obstructing progress but to exercise cautious co-relationship with our environment consistent with the dictates of reasonable needs.

  • Luis
    Posted 04/05/2019 15:38 0Likes

    NASA satellites show the planet is actually cooling – not warming. The planet is doing fine.
    This fake science all it wants is our economic resources for fake “green” projects and the Rothchild Cabal.
    These Socialist Global ideas will destroy humanity not save it.
    If the Church has sold its soul to Hades then I will not follow it.

  • Mike Boyle
    Posted 04/05/2019 16:38 0Likes

    What is the life expectancy of an “Amazon Indian”?

  • Geraldine Goralski
    Posted 04/05/2019 19:45 0Likes

    I am saddened that you can not see that our Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to honor the planet that Our Father gave us. We don’t need to selfishly consume and satisfy our earthly needs to the harm of our earth and ignore our responsibilities

  • Marc Veilleux
    Posted 04/05/2019 21:32 0Likes

    From defending the deposit of the Faith against faked sciences (heliocentrism, evolutionism, Earth and universe very old, etc…), the Vatican gradually switched side and now openly defend faked sciences against the Holy Scriptures!

  • Philippe
    Posted 05/05/2019 02:27 0Likes

    This is yet another thinly veiled UN Agenda 2030 push. The agenda is not about sustainability or ecological anything. It is about enslaving the majority of the world after a 95% depopulation program. Read it. The holocaust was tame compared to this agenda.
    http://www.naturalnews.com/051058_2030_Agenda_United_Nations_global_enslavement.html

  • Tom Sinnott
    Posted 05/05/2019 20:00 0Likes

    Earth worship is the end game. Global green initiatives are charades veiling a massive money grab meant to enslave all peoples world-wide. From there will arise the Beast. Supporters of these movements appeal to the easily manipulated by pushing the narrative that those against their belief lack common sense. Therefore, need to be reigned in by the brainwashed lay person. In other words, the powerful say something is a fact. Which their followers embrace, and do the dirty work down to the grass roots level. In the midst of it, God is replaced by Earth. Promoters of this agenda are rolling out the red carpet for the Deceiver. Once all world political and religious leaders have pledged their allegiance to this ideology, their followers will equally be considered bound by it. Dont get me wrong, I conserve what I can control. But these theories have only one objective – Scare humanity into falling in line. George Carlin said it most poignantly, “We are but fleas on the earth’s back. This planet will be here long after mankind has destroyed itself.” God have mercy on us all.

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