As further details of the agenda for the forthcoming Amazon Synod emerge, a striking paradox becomes ever more apparent. As the rainforest burns and the lifestyle of indigenous peoples is more and more under threat, the proposed solutions appear more and more fanciful. Why is the Catholic answer to this existential crisis the application of the aims of the German bishops – married priests, extended roles for women – to a region which few of them have visited and none knows well?
The answer is surely that, for some liberal Catholics at least, these nostrums are a universal prophylactic against decline. Add to that superstition a naïve belief in the virtues of primitive societies – the Rousseau theory of human development – and you have a guaranteed recipe for disaster.
Just as the proponents of women priests and homosexual marriage habitually appeal to historical evidence from remote places and distant times, so liberals are eager to achieve their aims in far flung climes and among peoples of which they know little; in order, in due time, to bring them home.
It would be folly to suppose that that their primary intent was the wider and deeper evangelisation of a region rapidly falling to American evangelical activists, who for the most part espouse the same principles.