Pope apologizes that statues were vandalized, says they were recovered

A wooden statue of a pregnant woman is pictured in the Church of St. Mary in Traspontina as part of exhibits on the Amazon region during the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon in Rome Oct. 18, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis apologized that two men entered a church near the Vatican, took controversial statues and tossed them into the Tiber River.

"As bishop of the diocese, I apologize," he said Oct. 25, the first time the full membership of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon was gathered since the statues were taken from the Church of St. Mary in Traspontina Oct. 21.

Advertisement

Referring to the statue as "Pachamama," like many media had done, Pope Francis told bishops at the synod that the statues had been displayed in the Rome church "without any idolatrous intention," although the men who took the statues claimed on social media that they did so because the statues were idols. "Pachamama" is a term for "Mother Earth" used by some South American indigenous people.

Pope Francis apologized that two men entered a church near the Vatican, took controversial statues and tossed them into the Tiber River.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

The pope also said that the statues, which floated, had been recovered by Italian police. The statues, "which created such a media clamor," he said, "were not damaged."

The statues are still in the custody of the Italian "carabinieri," the military police, who are awaiting instructions about what should be done with them, the pope said.

The commander of the carabinieri, he said, "suggested, for example, 'the exposition of the statues during the holy Mass closing the synod.' We'll see. I have delegated the secretary of state (Cardinal Pietro Parolin) to respond to this."

The statues are still in the custody of the Italian military police, who are awaiting instructions about what should be done with them.

The recovery of the statues, he said, "is good news."

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, told reporters Oct. 21 that the statues "represented life, fertility, Mother Earth."

The statues had been kept in several side chapels at the back of the Church of St. Mary in Traspontina, where prayer services connected to the synod were held daily during the synod.

The statue was present Oct. 4 when Pope Francis planted a tree in the Vatican Gardens and entrusted the synod to St. Francis of Assisi. It was used again Oct. 7 during a prayer and procession from the Basilica of St. Peter to the Vatican synod hall and early Oct. 19 as synod members and supporters prayed the Stations of the Cross on the main street leading to St. Peter's Square.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Christopher Scott
3 weeks 5 days ago

Maybe Pope Francis could also work on recovering the millions of $$$ stolen from the Peters Pence bank account by his fellow clergy bros

Jim Smith
3 weeks 4 days ago

Statues, icons, paintings, drawings and stained glass scenes were appropriately used as media for recalling the good news, reminding of bible characters and events and adventures as a communication device for illiterate persons as well as readers.

Just as there has correctly been a series of judgments and pronouncements on ideas put in words, so too must there be judgements as to what are graven images, false idols and unique symbols as to their truth or falsehood, virtue or vileness.

Jews and Christians see the Creator taking slime or clay, fashioning into shape and breathing spirit into it.
Does an image of a pregnant woman depict that truthfully?
I think not. This is an image of a fertility goddess.

Al Cannistraro
3 weeks 4 days ago

Could be. So what? Get a grip! An increasingly ultra-traditional church would be a shriveling church.
https://cruxnow.com/amazon-synod/2019/10/25/pope-apologizes-for-theft-of-pachamama-says-shell-be-back-on-sunday/
https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2019/10/22/perhaps-its-fitting-that-pope-francis-now-has-his-own-cadaver-synod/

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]

Advertisement

The latest from america

The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738), Blue crew, returns to homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., following a strategic deterrence patrol. Maryland is one of five ballistic-missile submarines stationed at the base and is capable of carrying up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with multiple warheads. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ashley Berumen/Released)
The obvious religious motivation of the Plowshares activists did not insulate them from criminal prosecution. The First Amendment prohibits the government from applying different rules to religious believers, but the Plowshares defendants were treated the same as any other intruder on government
Ellen K. BoegelNovember 20, 2019
Alexandra DeSanctis: We are called to defend the least among us, and there is no more weak and defenseless population than unborn human beings.
Alexandra DeSanctisNovember 20, 2019
In death, what we thought was lost is, wondrously, restored to us. What we feared could never be accomplished is achieved.
Terrance KleinNovember 20, 2019
Before my illness I frequently thought of life from the perspective of what I had accomplished. Throughout my illness, God has reminded me that what is most important is what we do for other people and that he is really in charge.
Shawn SextonNovember 20, 2019