July 20, 2008

13 grandmas accused of idolatry

Indigenous grandmas nearly kicked out of VaticanThey went to pray. They went to see Pope Benedict XVI on his home turf. They went to ask that he rescind historic church doctrine that played a role in the genocidal onslaught of millions of indigenous people worldwide.

For 13 indigenous grandmothers, accomplishing only one of their three goals wouldn't have been so bad--had they also not been harassed by several Vatican policemen who claimed the women were conducting "anti-Catholic" demonstrations.

The elders, formally known as the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, convened in the morning hours of July 9 at St. Peter's Square. After setting up an altar cloth, candles and sacred objects, including feathers and incense, they began holding a prayer and ceremony circle. Nine-year-old Davian Joell Stand-Gilpin, a direct descendant of Chief Dull Knife of the Lakota Nation, was brought along by one of the grandmothers to participate in traditional regalia.

Soon, however, four Vatican police officials asked the women to stop the prayer ceremony, claiming their prayers were in contradiction to the church's teachings--despite the two crosses on the alter cloth and some of the members being practitioners of the Catholic faith.

The officials told Carole Hart, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer and filmmaker traveling with the grandmas, that the group was in violation of Vatican policy. They said a permit Hart had obtained in order to document the prayer gathering was only relevant in terms of filming, but did not allow the women to pray, sing or burn incense.

The police said the actions of the grandmothers were "idolatrous."
Comment:  So praying with incense and feathers is idolatrous, but praying with crosses, statues, paintings, wine and wafers, holy water, relics, and other sacred icons and objects is okay? These Catholics aren't too hypocritical, are they?

Let's read a typical critique of Catholic idolatry from Wikipedia:Many Protestants, especially those of evangelical or fundamentalist denominations, believe that in attributing holiness or power to human artifacts, they foster disbelief in God's omnipotence, and his independent and sovereign will, and suggest instead to human fallibility that God can be manipulated. To them, this is the essence of idolatry considered as a sin.

The earliest Catechisms of the Protestant Movement, written in the 16th through 18th centuries, including the Heidelberg (1563), Westminster (1647) and Fisher's (1765), included discussions in a question and answer format detailing how the creation of images of God (including Jesus) was counter to their understanding of the Second Commandment's prohibition against creating images of worship in any manner.

They also consider the Catholic and Orthodox cult of relics to be idolatry, as is the practice of pilgrimage to distant shrines, and hold instead that God is no less accessible here and now than he is in a distant holy place. Especially suspect in Protestant eyes is the belief that articles such as Lourdes water, holy water, blessed handkerchiefs and so forth possess supernatural powers, such as for healing. To the Protestant mind this seems akin to the practice of magic. For these believers, idolatry can be viewed as a sort of fetishism.
For more on the subject, see "Primitive" Indian Religions.

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