By Diogenes (articles ) | May 18, 2007

Amazonian Indians, through their spokeswonk, expressed outrage at the remarks the Pope made in Brazil. You'd need a heart of stone, as Mr. Wilde says, not to laugh.

Outraged Indian leaders in Brazil said on Monday they were offended by Pope Benedict's "arrogant and disrespectful" comments that the Roman Catholic Church had purified them and a revival of their religions would be a backward step.

"It's arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs," said Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab.

Sure, sure. A typical Amazonian Indian media briefing, complete with press packets of the kind given to Pedro Alvares Cabral on his arrival in 1500.

It's all an agit-prop stunt, of course, but in this case the ironies ram a lot of political elbows through a lot of historical windows. The practice of "taking offense" in a public official manner was unheard of before identity politics made its appearance in the North American faculty lounge, and it's grotesque to imagine that those Brazilian native peoples who have a genuine spiritual connection with indigenous religion (as opposed to a spurious relation contrived for reasons of ideological expedience) would be inclined to "listen in" to a papal discourse addressed to someone else so as to feel wounded at a perceived slight.

It would be interesting to know how -- to the extent they care at all what others think -- the different tribal religions in Brazil actually speak about one another, how they deal with their own contradictions and mutual antagonisms. Are we to picture the courtesies of the Oriel Senior Common Room at work in their ecumenical outreach listening sessions? ("A final word if I may. The Presiding Priestess sends her apologies and regrets to say she will be unable to attend this evening's plenary meeting because she was eaten by her nephew. The senior precentor has kindly agreed to chair the discussion in her stead ...")

Note to Jecinaldo: if you're going to play the indigenous Indian card to provoke a Western audience to indignation and sympathy, give yourself another title than Chief Coordinator. Sends the wrong message.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2007 1:42 AM ET USA

    umm.. I truly hope that's a chicken bone that that kid's knawing on..

  • Posted by: - May. 19, 2007 8:42 AM ET USA

    Once again, people didn't LISTEN to the Pope. He was not saying the deaths of indigenous peoples were good. He's saying that Christianity is a gift from God which is the right of everyone to hear and embrace if they want. Europeans gave up pagan practices to become Christian. Why is it OK for them but not for others? It is the role of Christianity to accept the true and transform the false. One belittles others by not seeing them as adults who can choose the truth when it is presented to them.

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 9:43 PM ET USA

    Obviously the Chief Coordinator went to an American Ivy League College!

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 9:21 PM ET USA

    Next we'll be hearing from the Aztecs and Mayans from Mexico, "How dare the Lady of Guadalupe insult our traditional human sacrifices?" Any wagers as to how long that will take?

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 7:48 PM ET USA

    "Reduce by a tenth" is one meaning of decimation. Here's another: the destruction of a considerable part : reduction to the point of almost complete extermination *decimation of the forest Indians, brought about by disease Farley Mowat* Di, you seem to show a narrowness to reality which almost exceeds the narrowness of the definition. Indians in North and South america were destroyed directly and indirectly by the coming of the white man. More peace, less arrogance, please.

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 3:28 PM ET USA

    "We repudiate the Pope's comments," Tuxa said. "To say the cultural decimation of our people represents a purification is offensive, and frankly, frightening." Interesting choice of words. Does anyone here watch "Monk"? To decimate means to reduce by a tenth. Just a little FYI

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 11:33 AM ET USA

    ...and over on Vatican Information Service, we read today that Abp. Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, expressed the Holy See's disappointment at the postponement of the adoption of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples...

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 11:19 AM ET USA

    "It's all an agit-prop stunt, of course...". Right on the mark, Uncle Di!

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 10:21 AM ET USA

    Di, you scoundrel, you've bested my coffee again.