*

upload_article_image

Thieves steal Amazon fertility statues as synod nears end

Pope Francis' controversial meeting on the Amazon has taken a criminal twist after thieves stole indigenous fertility statues from a Vatican-area church and tossed them into the Tiber River.

Video of the pre-dawn theft from the Santa Maria in Traspontina church was shared and celebrated on conservative social media Monday. The Vatican's communications czar, Paolo Ruffini, termed it a "stunt" that violated the idea of dialogue.

Even before the three-week Amazon synod opened, conservative and traditionalist Catholics blasted its agenda as a heretical celebration of paganism, given its deference to indigenous cultures and spirituality.

Members of Amazon indigenous populations walk during a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession from St. Angelo Castle to the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Pope Francis is holding a three-week meeting on preserving the rainforest and ministering to its native people as he fended off attacks from conservatives who are opposed to his ecological agenda. (AP PhotoAndrew Medichini)

Their criticism reached a fever pitch when Francis presided over a prayer service in the Vatican gardens featuring the statues of pregnant women, which the Vatican says symbolize life and fertility.

The synod ends Sunday.

Members of Amazon indigenous populations pray at the end a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession from St. Angelo Castle to the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Pope Francis is holding a three-week meeting on preserving the rainforest and ministering to its native people as he fended off attacks from conservatives who are opposed to his ecological agenda. (AP PhotoAndrew Medichini)