Questions around German Amazon Synod funding

Conservatives push ‘fake news’ on German Amazon Synod funding

The National Catholic Register is pushing ‘fake news’ on supposed German Amazon Synod funding. The Register insulted two German Church aid agencies, along with the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) and the organisers of the Amazon Synod.

The Register claimed the two agencies, Misereor and Adveniat, are “funding” the REPAM and the Amazon Synod. Numbers for both agencies, however, reveal they have spent around 0.005% of their finances on the Network and the Synod.

More on the Amazon Synod on Novena

Driving the news: German Amazon Synod funding

“The Register has learned [Misereor and Adveniat] have made significant financial and other contributions toward preparing for the Pan-Amazon Synod”, Register correspondent in Rome Edward Pentin wrote July 19.

What do these “significant financial and other contributions” amount to?

One level deeper

As Pentin reports:

“Adveniat spokeswoman Carolin Kronenburg told the Register July 16 that the organization ‘supports several REPAM projects financially and therefore the preparatory meetings for the Amazon synod’.

“She disclosed that for the 2018 financial year and ‘in preparation for the synod’, Adveniat supported ‘nine projects and REPAM activities with a total of €272,000 [$307,000]’.

“Kronenburg added that Adveniat… made ‘further funds’ available ‘after the closure of the budget (Sept. 30, 2018) and in previous years’.

[…]

“Ralph Allgaier, a spokesman for Misereor, stressed the agency is ‘not co-financing the Amazon synod’ nor does it have any ‘mandate for such financing’, but he added that ‘various projects coming out of REPAM’s partner organizations receive funding from Misereor”.

The intrigue

Pentin only has evidence that Adveniat has given €272,000 to the REPAM. Along with some suggestion of “further funds” in an unspecified amount. He also has an acknowledgment from Misereor that it funds “various projects” from REPAM’s partner organizations.

€272,000, out of Adveniat’s total 2018 budget of almost €50 million. Some 0.005%. Misereor had a total income in 2018 of €232 million.

The money Adveniat gave the REPAM went, among other projects, to collecting “questions, suggestions and topics from 85,000 local people at numerous preparatory meetings in the Amazon region”, Kronenburg told Pentin.

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Also, to supporting the commitment of the Amazon peoples “to safeguarding creation in the fight against violence done to the earth”.

Related:

Pax Christi gets behind Amazon Synod, denounces “economic violence that treats people and Earth as disposable”

Between the lines

Why would Pentin attempt to insult Misereor, Adveniat, the REPAM and the Amazon Synod in such a clumsy way?

Because the chief executives of the two aid agencies are convinced that the Amazon Synod “will show that change is possible in politics, the economy, technology and, last but not least, in the Church”.

The Amazon Synod will be held in October this year. There is speculation that it will introduce both married priests and women deacons into the Church.

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Related:

Austrian bishop predicts married priests, women deacons from Amazon Synod

Why it matters

Pentin, the Register and other ultraconservative elements in the Church are convinced that married priests and women deacons are being imposed on the Amazon by liberal elements in the German Church.

Hence the conspiracy theory around German Amazon Synod funding.

Ultraconservative Cardinal Gerhard Müller, for instance, believes the working document for the Amazon Synod “has a very European perspective”.

“I think it is more of a projection of European theological thinking upon the people of the Amazonian region because we heard all these ideas 30 years ago”, said Müller.

But Pentin’s own quotation of Adveniat spokeswoman Carolin Kronenburg puts the lie to the conspiracy theory. Some 85,000 people in the Amazon contributed “questions, suggestions and topics” to the working document.

Elements like the Register, Pentin and Müller are unable to accept that the people of the Amazon have a legitimate desire for married priests and women deacons.

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Austrian-born bishop in the Amazon, Erwin Kräutler, recently called it a “scandal” that some Catholic communities have access to the Eucharist only two or three times a year.

More on Novena:

Kasper slams “completely absurd” reports of secret Amazon Synod meeting

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.