Ideas do not travel on their own through history: they are incarnated by men. And among the apostles of the “Church of the Amazonian face” we have Claudio Hummes, Emeritus Archbishop of San Paolo, President of the Ecclesial Pan Amazonian Network (Repam) and appointed rapporteur-general by Pope Francis for the Synod which opened last Sunday October 6th in the Vatican.
“The mission of the Church today in the Amazon, is the core issue of the Synod,” explained Cardinal Claudio Hummes, at the opening of the Synod’s first General Congregation. “The Pope made it clear that the relationship of the Church with the indigenous people and the Amazonian forest, is one of its central themes,” continued the President of Repam, whereby “the right to be protagonists of their history must be restored and guaranteed and that they be, subjects not objects in any colonial spirit and action. Their culture, languages, histories, identities and spiritualities constitute riches for humanity and must be respected and preserved in world culture.”.
In his latest book just recently published, The Synod for the Amazon (Edizioni San Paolo, 2019), Hummes explained how the peoples of the Amazon “have lived from time immemorial, immersed in an incalculable and fascinating biodiversity (…). Their wisdom should not be lost, nor their culture, languages, spirituality, history and identity (ivi, pp. 44-45). The Brazilian Cardinal is fighting for an “indigenous Church” that “defends the natives and their rights, culture, history and identity.” (p.79), “incarnated and inculturated in the various indigenous cultures.” (p.84).
Cardinal Hummes lays emphasis on Pope Francis’ “mantra”, whereby “everything is interconnected”(Instrumentum laboris, n. 25). “Integral ecology reveals that everything is connected – human beings and nature. All living things on the planet are children of the earth.” For this the Synod “takes place in the context of a grave and urgent climatic, ecological crisis, which involves our entire planet. The Church – the Cardinal added – “cannot stay at home, tending to itself, behind a protected wall. And even less so by looking back with nostalgia to past times.
Faced with the pressing needs of the Amazonian Catholic community, Hummes- who has always been in favour of abolishing priestly celibacyn (La Stampa, November 12 2007) – has said it is necessary that “the door be opened for the priestly ordination of married men, resident in the communities. At the same time, faced with the great number of women who are presently running the communities in the Amazon, that this service be recognized and an attempt be made to consolidate it with a ministry suitable for the women leaders of communities.”
By stressing the urgency in proceeding with the process of inculturation and inter-culturalism, already implemented “in the liturgy, inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue in popular piety”, Hummes referred to several interventions Pope Bergoglio had dedicated to the Amazon, starting from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro (2013), when he spoke of “consolidating the Amazonian face of the Church”. Hummes then quoted the Pope’s encyclical Laudato si and his discourse given in January 2018 in Puerto Maldonado, Perù, when he symbolically opened the Amazon Synod.
Claudio Hummes, born in 1934 and ordained a priest in the Friars Minor, was consecrated Bishop by Cardinal Lorscheider (a great defender of Liberation Theology) and from 1975 to 1996, he governed the diocese of Santo André. Elected Archbishop of San Paolo, Brazil, by John Paul II, he was made a Cardinal in 2001. In the 2013 Conclave, Hummes was seated right next to Cardinal Bergoglio and it was he that suggested the name of Pope Francis, saying “Don’t forget the poor.” “Francis is not a name. It’s a project for the Church – poor, simple, evangelical”, wrote, one of the Cardinal’s friends, Leonardo Boff in his book Francisco de Roma e Francisco de Assisi – Uma nova primavera na Igreja? [A new springtime in the Church](Mar de Ideias, 2014).
For his part, Hummes’ slogan is “the cry of nature and the cry of the poor are one and the same” (Il Sinodo per l’Amazzonia, p. 29) a literal repetition of the title from one of Leonado Boff’s ultra- ecological books. Grido della Terra, grido dei poveri – Per una ecologia cósmica [Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor – towards a cosmic ecology]. (tr. it. Cittadella, 1996).
A fierce critic of Bolosonaro’s government, last September 8th, Hummes, took part in a meeting in San Paolo in Brazil which gathered together all the sectors of the Brazilian left and included the participation of the American sociologist, Noam Chomsky.
In the city of Santo André (where Hummes was Bishop until 1996) the Worker’s Party was founded in 1980 (PT), fruit of a merging of unionists, progressive intellectuals at the University of San Paolo and Liberation Theology Catholics. Hummes is a close friend of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former Communist President of Brazil [currently] serving a 12 year and 1 month sentence in prison for corruption, money-laundering and other crimes. During the union demonstrations in Brazil in the 1980s, the then Bishop of Santo André, authorized parishes to welcome the followers [of these groups].
During his episcopate in Santo André, Dom Hummes, moreover, chose the Dominican agitator, Frei Betto, to be Head of the Pastoral for Workers and authorized his first trip to Cuba (Américo Freire e Evanize Sydow, Frei Betto – Biografia, con prefazione di Fidel Castro, Civilização Brasileira, 2016, pp. 246-247). As a result of this meeting, the São Paulo Forum was established between Lula and Fidel Castro, thanks to Frei Betto. This is the Latin-American organization which gathers together all the ultra-leftist political groups, with the aim of rebuilding a new international front, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Dom Claudio Hummes stated that “Lula is as Catholic as all the other Catholics in Brazil” (O Estado de San Paolo, 7 aprile 2005) and during a Mass in the Chapel of Alvorada, Brasilia, he compared him to Jesus Christ and St. Francis. (Folha de San Paolo, 28 maggio 2007).
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller revealed his opinion of Cardinal Hummes’ influence on the Amazon Synod with these words: “The mere fact that Cardinal Hummes is President (rapporteur-general) of the Synod will allow him to exercise serious influence in the negative sense, and this is enough to render justified and realistic our concern.”
On Friday October 4th, while an international meeting of the Istituto Plinio Correa de Oliveira was denouncing the pantheistic direction of the Amazon Synod, a ceremony in honour of the pagan divinities of fertility took place in the Vatican Gardens, with the blessing of Cardinal Hummes and Pope Francis.
Cardinal Hummes is to the Amazon Synod what Cardinal Kasper was to the Synods on the Family. Both are the Pope’s trusted men; both were part of the mysterious meeting held on June 25th of this year, to plan the ultra-progressive strategy for the upcoming months. Their role of destruction in the Church must be documented, also for future reference.