You’ve read the Amazon synod’s neo-pagan, pantheistic Instrumentum Laboris, relishing Pope Francis’s “mantra” that “everything is connected” (n. 25). You’ve reread Laudato Si, letting yourself be pierced by “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (n. 49). But you still want to delve deeper into the spirit of the Amazon synod.
You’ve come to the right place.
Who better to help prepare you for the synod than eco-theologian Leonardo Boff, who likes to boast that Pope Francis used his material for Laudato Si? (“Wait, that is Boff!” various people told him after reading the encyclical.) Boff—who left the priesthood to enter a marital relationship with a Marxist activist after being silenced by the CDF in the 1980s—is also the apparent “theologian of reference” for the Amazon synod’s Instrumentum Laboris, as Roberto de Mattei has shown. It is even suspected that Boff may have offered advice during the text’s drafting.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
So here are five Boff-inspired ways to get ready for the Amazon synod, gleaned from the book that Laudato Si and the Instrumentum Laboris both love to quote: Boff’s Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor.
Think of yourself as Earth. Love yourself as Earth.
Want to be able to say, with the indigenous peoples quoted in the synod’s Instrumentum Laboris, “We are water, air, earth, and life of the environment”? Just stop thinking of the Earth as an object—and start loving yourself as Earth.
“Love leads us to identify ever more with the Earth,” explains Boff. “We must think ourselves as Earth, feel ourselves as Earth, love ourselves as Earth. Earth is the great living subject feeling, loving, thinking and through us knowing that it thinks, loves, and feels.”
“Then we can be mountain, sea, air, road, tree, animal,” promises Boff.
Learn about the “new world order” and the new “universal religion.”
To ensure the salvation of the planet, Boff proposes a bold “new world order” in which Earth is “Gaia” and all beings in nature—mountains, plants, the atmosphere—are citizens of a “sociocosmic democracy.” He suggests a “central government” to “manage matters having to do with all of humankind”—and a “universal religion” to attend it.
“The new paradigm that is coming to birth—that of connectedness—will be the basis of a universal religion that will only be truly universal if it seeks convergences in religious diversity,” explains Boff. He says the universal religion’s convergent “supreme value” will be the preservation of planet Earth.
Have you noticed how many times Laudato Si and the Amazon synod’s Instrumentum Laboris denounce forms of “anthropocentrism,” call for a “new paradigm,” and say “everything is connected”? These themes come straight from Boff—and they’re instigators of that “spiritual revolution.”
So could the ecological principles in Laudato Si and the Amazon synod be paving the way for a “surrender sooner or later” on the prohibition against contraception?
“If we accept as a fact that human presence and activity is harmful to the environment and puts the very survival of the planet at risk…we must sooner or later accept emergency measures to stop human activity, such as contraception,” says one critic of Laudato Si and the Amazon synod.
Boff, for his part, is fiercely critical of the “arrogant” anthropocentrism embodied in Gen. 1:28: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”
“These texts present a clear call to limitless demographic growth and unrestricted dominium terrae,” he warns.
Acknowledge that our species is the “true Satan of the Earth.”
“Our species is a threat to all other species; it is terribly aggressive and is proving to be a geocide, an ecocide, and a true Satan of the Earth,” warns Boff.
The eco-theologian chillingly predicts that “as a result of excess chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and other polluting ingredients, the Earth-superorganism may be about to devise new adaptations, which will not necessarily be easy on the human species.”
“Gaia may eliminate [our species], very painfully, in order to allow the overall balance to remain and so that other species might live and continue the cosmic thrust of evolution,” says Boff. He wonders whether, after millions of years, new complex beings—“new ‘humans’” with a true devotion to Gaia—may replace our “arrogant” species.
Clearly, “the great emergency” is even worse than you thought.
Recognize “the secret truth of religious polytheism” and the “permanent value” in animism.
What will the new universal religion look like? According to Boff, we need to recover “the aspect of truth in paganism, with its rich pantheon of divinities inhabiting all the spaces in nature.”
“To cure humankind of its polytheism, early Christianity subjected the faithful to a violent and harsh medication. With the existence of the gods denied, many doors of the soul were closed,” Boff laments.
Boff says we also need to recognize the “permanent value” in animism.
“We moderns are also animists to the extent that we…feel part of a living whole in which we are enveloped,” he explains. “Everything sends us a message; everything speaks or can speak: trees, colors, wind, animals, roads, persons, and household things.”
“Shamanism arises out of this interpretation of reality,” the eco-theologian continues. Shamans use “gestures, dances, and rites” to put “energies at the disposal of human beings as they seek balance with nature and with themselves.”
“All must awaken within themselves this shamanistic dimension,” Boff says.
Fortunately for Boff, the Instrumentum Laboris valorizes pagan rituals (n. 87), “dialogue with the spirits” (n. 75), connection with “the various spiritual forces” (n. 13), and indigenous “beliefs and rites regarding the actions of spirits, of the many-named divinity acting with and in the territory” (n. 25). The native peoples idolized by the Instrumentum Laboris “have been liberated from monotheism and have restored animism and polytheism,” as de Mattei puts it.
“Not even witchcraft is sidelined” in the Instrumentum Laboris, others note.
Embrace ecofeminism and fight patriarchy.
It goes without saying that the new paradigm will deploy ecofeminism against all patriarchal oppression. Boff says ecofeminism’s merit lies in its development of a “new pattern for relating to nature”—“against rationalism, authoritarianism, compartmentalization, and the will to power, which are historic expressions of androcentrism and patriarchalism.”
“[In scripture] even God is presented as Father and absolute Lord. Female, especially maternal, characteristics of pre-neolithic deities, which tend to be matriarchal, are delegitimized,” laments Boff, who promotes female pronouns for God and women’s ordination in The Maternal Face of God and Ecclesiogenesis.
Hence the Amazon synod’s praise for “faith in the God Father-Mother Creator” (n. 121) and its agenda to approve a female diaconate.
Hence Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s description of a coming “‘Amazonian-Catholic’ sect” which “practices the adoration of nature and which will have a female priesthood.”
* * *
“It will not be easy to control this wrecking ball,” says Cardinal Müller of the Amazon synod and the “linked” synodal path of the Germans.
“Afterwards, nothing is to be anymore as it was before, and it has been said that one will not even recognize the Church afterwards,” he warns.
So we must forcefully prepare for the synod in 5 other ways: Pray. Fast. Make reparation. Organize. Speak out.