Cari, this is absolutely spot-on and beautifully said. Introducing this painful issue of Christian cultural isolationism with the adoption of the Christmas tree is so, so poignant. St. Paul summed it all up so well in Galatians, yet somehow the same old problems keep cropping up. There's so much beauty in the grafting of regional culture with Christianity, and a stark disservice has been done by trying to put a wedge between them.

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I have a lot of questions about this topic.

I do not have a problem acknowledging the many, many issues that European settlers caused when they came to the Americas. I don't have a problem discussing how the sins committed by these people still cause roadblocks for conversion for Native peoples today.

But the Amazon Synod gives me great, great pause. I'm willing to entertain the idea that certain ceremonies or rituals weren't explained well - and I would really, really like to hear those explanations! But there was a lot things happening there that really did seem like idolatry. Were those statues the Amazon goddess Pachamama? That is how the Pope referred to them. The Vatican denied they were the Blessed Virgin, but wouldn't explain what they were!

This entire incident was centered within a papacy that is riddled with problems in providing moral guidance, even on issues that are clearly settled church teaching. So it makes sense that a cloud of suspicion followed these events - and since then, we've certainly had no indication that our Holy Father would have any problem actively promoting a practice that would be contrary to the faith, since he systematically refuses to clarify any action or words of his which cast doubt on Catholic beliefs and morals.

Honestly, I think it's difficult to place people's reactions to the Amazonian Synod into a category unaffiliated with people's deep anger at Pope who refuses to be a shepherd.

Most people are unfamiliar with indigenous practices - unfamiliar and uninterested. A discussion of what they are, and how they can benefit the entire Church, is a conversation worth having.

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