AnalysisOctober 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A prayer to Pachamama, the “Mother Earth” venerated by indigenous tribes such as the Aymara and Quechua in the Andes but also in the northern plains of Argentina and in Brazil near Bolivia and Peru, has been found in an official booklet of the Fondazione Missio (Mission Foundation) of the Italian bishops’ conference.
The prayer is presented without warning about the fact that it is addressed not to God — another prayer in the publication, written in the same letter-type and the same color scheme, is addressed to the “Most Holy Trinity” — but to a pagan divinity, asking for material prosperity and aiming to placate the spirits of the Earth.
The booklet is part of a series of resources presenting the work and aims of the Catholic mission and its missionaries, with a special focus on the Amazon Synod that took place in Rome from October 6 to October 27.
It was published before the opening of the synod. The presence of the “Pachamama” in an official publication of de Italian bishops’ mission agency suggests that both the group comprising indigenous natives of the Amazon region and their European-type accompaniers and the Catholic hierarchy in Rome were fully aware of the “Mother Earth”–type cult with syncretic Christian overtones that repeated itself in the Vatican gardens and the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina near Saint Peter’s Basilica and at an “Amazonian” Via Crucis.
This sheds a whole new light on the presence of the carved wooden images of naked pregnant women whom Pope Francis himself designated as “Pachamama” statuettes.
The 30 pages of the booklet, which is dedicated to the “animation” and “formation” of the faithful in view of the Amazon Synod, is available (in Italian) here under the title Sinodo sull’Amazzonia. It explains how REPAM, the ecclesiastical network for the pan-Amazonian region, was created in 2014 in order to help the Church “walk together” with its inhabitants, especially the indigenous tribes who still live there according to their ancestral traditions, some of them refusing all contact with the rest of the world.
It contains astonishing statements such as this one: “The Amazonian basin contains 20% of the unfrozen fresh water of the planet. Out of every 5 glasses of water you drink, one comes from the Amazon river.”
Remarkably, the booklet also uses multiple phrases and concepts that can now be found in the final document of the synod, lifted out from the preparatory document (2018) and the working document (instrumentum laboris, June 2019).
Neither of these used the word “Pachamama,” but the second frequently mentioned “Madre Tierra,” which is the Spanish translation of the concept of Pachamama, “Mother Earth,” or “Mother of the Universe.”
Indigenous ceremonies to the Pachamama involve different rites, including the most important that takes place at the beginning of August, when “Mother Earth” is supposedly tired and worn out. The rite consists in singing, dancing, and drinking around a blanket on which offerings are placed, some of them burned or smoked ritually, to “feed” the Earth that nourishes but that also destroys and kills by earthquakes and other catastrophes when men use too many of her resources, according to pagan legends. The ritual is led by a local shaman.
Often a hole is dug in the ground, symbolizing the Pachamama’s womb, and burnt offerings — including the highly sought after llama fetus, which is supposed to bring luck and riches — are ritually tipped into it.
Male and female shamans will take part in conducting these ceremonies.
Historically, before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the Incan cult to Pachamama included human sacrifice, often of children aged 7 or 8, whose death was supposed to placate the Earth “divinity,” to avert her anger and to obtain prosperity. So were 200 youngsters offered up to accompany the crowning of Pachacutec in Cuzco, somewhere between 1530 and 1540. The sacrifice often took the form of freezing the children to death after having drugged them with coca, the sacred plant of many indigenous tribes in South America. Mummies of sacrificed children have been found that confirm the truth of the practice of human sacrifice to Pachamama in particular.
Vestiges of the Pachamama cult were to be found in the 1960s, but since then, the “Mother Earth” rhetoric has become more visible, if not mainstream, within the indigenous communities of some of the Andean regions. Evo Morales, indigenous president of Bolivia since 2006, played an important role in the recovery of pre-Columbian customs and rites; he even went so far as to include a mention of the syncretic “cosmogony” of the indigenous in the Bolivian constitution.
In November 2014, cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, participated in a Pachamama rite during which the main officiator and representative of the Institute of Aboriginal Cultures (ICA), Victor Acebo, presented a lengthy and plaintive speech about the pagan “spirituality” of “Mother Earth.” The speech, in Spanish, was clearly understandable on the “Atrio de los gentiles” website, in a video that appears since to have been pulled from the site. The “Courtyard of the Gentiles” was an initiative of Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to invite non-Catholics and atheists to discover the Catholic faith. In Argentina in 2014, it worked the other way round.
Pachamama was therefore not altogether unknown in Rome when a series of brown and black statuettes of native, naked, pregnant women with their blood-red wombs and fetuses clearly visible — as they are in modern-day depictions of the Mother Earth — made their debut in the city.
Nor can the meaning and sense of the Pachamama “prayer” included in an official booklet of the mission agency of the Italian bishops’ conference have been ignored, especially since said document can be found on particular websites of Italian dioceses, such as Bergamo.
Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute published an English translation of the Italian text of the prayer on his Facebook page.
Here is the full prayer, as translated from the Italian:
Pachamama of these places,
drink and eat as much as you like of these offerings,
so that this land may be fruitful.
Pachamama, good Mother
Be propitious! Be propitious!
Let the oxen walk well,
and let them not get tired.
Make the seed taste good,
that nothing bad happen to it,
that frost may not disrupt it,
that it produce good food.
We ask you:
give us everything.
Be propitious! Be propitious!
(Prayer to the Mother Earth of the Inca peoples)
Interestingly, the original Quechua version of the prayer and its Spanish modern translation are slightly different.
The first two lines read as follows:
Pachamama of these places,
Drink, chew coca, and eat as much as you like of these offerings…
Apparently the Fondazione Missio were wary of the “chewing coca” part, coca being illegal in almost all countries except Bolivia and a few others, where its traditional use is permitted. While viewed by U.N. as an addictive substance, the coca leaf is considered sacred by the indigenous tribes of the Andes, and its mastication is credited with many virtues: it is rich in vitamins, diminishes appetite, and works as a stimulant.
On the other hand, while the production of cocaine from the coca leaf requires a number of complex chemical processes, it acts as a drug even when simply chewed, procuring hallucinations and other effects of a natural narcotic. As such, it was widely used in traditional indigenous rites. It plays an important part in the Pachamama ritual, in particular because of its “stimulating” characteristics, and it is also used to divine the future.
The expunged version of the Pachamama prayer was used at a missionary vigil in Verona, according to a photo of part of the ceremony leaflet posted by a commentator under Michael Hichborn’s Facebook message.