The reason for this writing is the participation of Pope Francis and other high Church prelates in a pagan welcoming ceremony, which took place on 27 July 2022 in Quebec (Canada).
Some Catholics consider this an act incompatible with the faith and are scandalised by what happened. Others, on the other hand, see such reactions as exaggerated.
Are these ceremonies, then, simply harmless indigenous practices, which carry no danger and can be participated in as a sign of friendship and courtesy, or are they objectively violating the first commandment of God’s law, exceeding the limits set by faith?
These are serious questions! Indeed, thanks to many accounts of the Old Testament, we know very well that the people of Israel was strictly forbidden to participate in strange cults, and we know the consequences they had to bear when they fell into idolatry. When they did so, they were committing a grave breach of the first commandment, which is why idolatry was one of the great abominations in the sight of God.
Let us recall the perhaps best known story: the dance around the golden calf, by which the people of Israel turned their backs on God and gravely offended Him (Ex 32). The Old Testament never tires of warning the people again and again not to get involved with the gods of foreign peoples (cf. e.g. Ex 20:3; Dt 12:30; Ps 81:10). In her supplicatory prayer to the Lord, Queen Esther acknowledges that the cause of the misfortunes that befell the people of Israel was idolatry: “We have sinned against you and you have handed us over to our enemies for paying honour to their gods.” (Est 4:17m).
The demons use these false cults to secure their influence over people and to keep them away from the knowledge of the true God and His ways.
The great missionary work of the Church, which the Lord Himself entrusted to her (Mt 28,19-20), was always to bring the Gospel to all nations, leading them to the knowledge of the true God. Thus, the idols had to retreat and, thanks to evangelisation, the dominion of the demons was broken or at least weakened.
The same thing had happened in Canada! In the 17th century, a group of French Jesuits carried out their missionary work there and gave their lives for the evangelisation of the indigenous tribes. Among these missionaries, St. Jean de Brébeuf, who lived for a long time with the Huron Indians, stands out. He clearly recognised that the demons had almost total dominion over these Indians and fought with all spiritual weapons to break their power. His heroic martyrdom remains an unforgettable testimony!
It would almost seem to be a belated revenge of the demons expelled at that time, that now another Jesuit, as a representative of the Catholic Church, comes to these same lands and participates with other hierarchs in a pagan ritual conducted by a shaman of the Huron tribe. A brief description of this ceremony will suffice to make it clear that it is incompatible with the Catholic faith.
In Quebec, the shaman invited the participants to place their hand on their heart. Those present, including the Pope and the other hierarchs, followed this instruction. The shaman then asked the “Western Grandmother” to give them access to the “sacred circle of spirits”, to unite with them and become stronger in union with them. He then blew with a bone flute towards the four cardinal points.
For us Catholics it must be quite clear that such a cult cannot be the invocation of the true God, but of other spirits, designated here as the “sacred circle of spirits”. This is one of the usual ways of attempting to contact spiritual forces in pagan rituals. Thus, the shaman does not communicate with God, but, in his ignorance, comes into contact with demons and is deceived by them.
This is one of the reasons why a true evangelisation of peoples and tribes is necessary. St. Paul tells it like it is, and the following words of his can also be applied to this ritual: “When pagans sacrifice, what is sacrificed by them is sacrificed to demons who are not God. I do not want you to share with demons” (1 Cor 10:20).
Therefore, this ceremony is by no means a harmless act, which carries no danger and is simply a cultural expression. Even if the participants have such a vision, they actually took part in a ceremony that, on an objective level, violates God’s first commandment. By carefully applying the discernment of spirits, this should be clear.
The paths being taken here are wrong and confuse the faithful. What happened during the Pope’s visit in Quebec can be compared to what took place almost three years ago in the Vatican Gardens and in St. Peter’s Basilica, when an idolatrous cult to Pachamama occurred in the framework of the Amazon Synod.
In my view, participation in a pagan ritual is a paradox to the true mission of the Church, who is to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples. Even if there were thought to be good reasons for this, a public act of reparation is necessary, just as it should have been made after the aforementioned cult to the Pachamama in Rome. So far the latter has not been officially atoned for, and it is to be feared that the pagan ceremony in Quebec will not be expiated either, since its falsity has not been realised and acknowledged. It will certainly be helpful to offer acts of atonement on a private level, but these will not be able to repair the totality of what has happened.
The faithful are called upon not to close their eyes and ears when they hear of such things. They should also be expressly warned not to take part in dubious ceremonies. Evidently, the spirit of discernment is increasingly being lost. Participation in a pagan ritual cannot bring blessing and is not simply a friendly gesture, let alone a successful inculturation. Quite the contrary! It opens the doors to powers hostile to God, and unfortunately this will have consequences.
Let us not be deceived! These are not the ways of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, it is yet another waywardness. In the face of this, we must cling even more closely to Holy Scripture and the authentic doctrine of the Church, and seriously follow the path of holiness.