POPE Francis opened a special “Amazon synod” today to push Catholic Church officials and followers to protect the environment and respect the region’s indigenous peoples.
The summit is seen as a challenge to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who stands on a platform of religious conservatism but combines it with a push to open the Amazon to mining and logging interests — legislating to remove rights from its indigenous inhabitants.
The bid to align the Church with environmental activists challenging big business’s exploitation of natural resources has been deeply controversial, with right-wing opposition to the Pope slamming the approach in the synod’s working document as “pagan.”
US Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading rightwinger recently close to far-right strategist Stephen Bannon, jointly called with Kazakhstan Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider for a 40-day “crusade of prayer and fasting” against the “implicit pantheism” and “pagan superstition” they detected in the document.
They also oppose discussion proposals around allowing some married people in Amazonia to be ordained priests to address growing shortages, as well as “official ministries” that would allow women to carry out some of the functions of priests while still being denied that status.