#3 Alexander Tschugguel

The Austrian who tossed the Pachamama images in the Tiber

“I only had one reason to do it: to defend the glory of God”

On October 4, 2019, during a ceremony at the Vatican Gardens, a group of people were filmed bowing down before two wooden statues representing Pachamama, the “Mother Earth” goddess of pre-Christian Amazonia. This occurrence roused the attention of 26-year-old married layman Alexander Tschugguel of Austria. While in Rome, Tschugguel saw the statues and witnessed the apparent veneration of them in the Vatican Gardens. After returning to his home in Austria and reflecting for several days, he felt that it was his duty to take action:he returned to Rome and physically removed the statues from the church in which they were being kept, Santa Maria in Transpontina. In a video interview published by Lifesite News, Tschugguel recounted his reasons for removing the statues:

“You have to know I followed very closely what was happening in Rome surrounding the Amazon Synod, and I had the idea in my mind that I should get more information in Rome itself. So I traveled to Rome at the beginning of the Synod to attend a few conferences which were held to get closer information on all the different issues of the Amazon Synod…. I traveled back to Austria and really tried to think over and over: is this, is this good, is this good? And then I came to the conclusion, together with friends of mine, we should do that, we should go to Rome, we should get the statues out of the church. They do not belong in a Catholic church. They should be outside of the church.”

Tschugguel claimed that he removed the statues not out of a desire to offend anyone, but because he wanted the Amazonian people “to have the Truth of Christ” and not some “mock Christian religion.”

Tschugguel recounted how, once he was inside the church, he tried to grab as many “pagan things” as he could; then he ran to a nearby bridge over the Tiber and threw the statues into the river one by one. Shortly thereafter, Tschugguel released a video of himself tossing the statues into the water, but stated that his purpose in doing so was solely to bring glory to God: “But the point is that I released my video to tell all those people that I only had one reason to do it: to defend the glory of God, to defend God and His teaching, and Jesus’ teaching.”

While Tschugguel’s action caused many to believe that he bears animosity towards Pope Francis, Tschugguel said, “It is our duty to pray for the Pope and to support him and respect his authority,” he said. “If we would hate the Pope, why would I pray for him?”

Tschugguel currently resides with his wife in Vienna, where he helps to lead the Vienna Pro Life Group. In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Tschugguel expressed his gratitude for support from traditional Catholic Americans: “Your action has been met with a powerful response among some Catholics, especially in the United States. Do you have a word for them?

TSCHUGGUEL: I have a very important word for them: I’m really very happy that many American Catholics are so faithful. They really are — and maybe they don’t know this but I know — the backbone for us European Catholics. We’re really happy that we see there are possibilities in America to be publicly and openly Catholic and traditional without too many problems. In Europe we have a society that is always strongly connected with the Church, which was of course good, and has brought us a great amount of culture and teaching and knowledge, but right now I see the Church is not leading the way anymore, but following the world.”

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