ROME – In the first of many counter-events to this month’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, key critics of Pope Francis blasted him for allegedly promoting widespread heresy in the Church, saying his agenda for the 3-week gathering is “demonic” and calling on him to resign.

“With all respect owed to the ecclesiastical authorities, I accuse all those who approved or who will approve the Instrumentum Laboris of the Amazon (synod) of polytheism, or more specifically, poly-demonism, because as the psalms say, all divinities of the gentiles are demons,” Italian journalist Roberto de Mattei said, speaking at a high-profile event in Rome.

Director of Italian Catholic news site Corrispondenza Romana, de Mattei issued an appeal to “the bishops who are still Catholic to raise their voices against this scandal.”

“If their silence continues,” he said, “we will continue to seek the intercession of the angels and Mary, Queen of Angels, to save the Church from every from of reinvention, distortion and reinterpretation.”

De Mattei was among nine panelists participating in an Oct. 4 counter-event to the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon titled, “Our Church – Reformed or Deformed?”

Titled “New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” the Oct. 6-27 synod will draw some 300 Catholic leaders from the Pan-Amazonian region to discuss issues including the rights of indigenous populations, land rights, migration, corruption, the Church’s missionary efforts in the area, local liturgy and sustainable development.

Organized by a conservative group called “Voice of the Family,” Friday’s panel is one of several counter-events to the synod being organized for October. It drew high-profile critics of Francis, including major English-speakers John-Henry Westen of LifeSite News and Michael Voris of Church Militant. De Mattei is among the most vocal Francis critics in Italy.

RELATED: Resistance amps up as Amazon synod approaches

In his remarks, de Mattei criticized the synod’s official working document, called an instrumentum laboris, for proposing to give the Church “an Amazonian face,” particularly when it comes to understanding the environment and creation.

Calling the synod’s “modernist” approach to environmental issues a “distortion rather than outright attack” on the Catholic Church’s traditional positions, de Mattei said the synod risks “reinventing” Catholic teaching on creation and promotes an agenda “in line with post-modern environmentalism.”

What he called the “Francis mantra” of “everything is connected” puts God and creation on the same level and risks allowing Amazonian indigenous polytheistic traditions to seep into Catholic doctrine, he said.

“The new Amazonian religion misinterprets and distorts the first article of the Creed, citing the ancestral elements of the indigenous people, who see God in the physical elements in nature without comprehending that God transcends these elements,” de Mattei said, insisting that indigenous communities in the Amazon “have no notion of transcendence because they have no notion of creation and they confuse God with nature.”

Critics also hit against proposals for “new paths” of ministry for women in the Amazon and for the proposed ordination of viri probati, or mature married men, to help curb a regional priest shortage.

While synod organizers have insisted the request to discuss the topic of the viri probati has come from the Amazonian people themselves, critic Jose Antonio Ureta, who is part of the Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) organization, blasted the idea as “a new Lutheran offensive against the priesthood.”

Should the viri probati be approved, he said, “the hierarchal priesthood will no longer be the Catholic Church.” To avoid this, he said, “we must all proclaim, ‘long live clericalism!’”

Jeanne Smits, a freelance French journalist and the only woman on Friday’s panel, said the focus on finding “new” forms of ministry for women, which some believe will include women’s ordination, is a dangerous deviation from Catholic teaching.

“To have women actively participating as ministers of a sort in the Mass would be like promoting women soldiers,” she said, explaining just as soldiers kill their enemies, priests sacrifice their lives for the Church, while women are meant to give life. Thus, “Women priests would be the ultimate gender confusion,” she said.

Calling the Amazon synod the “most sever calamity of the faith yet,” Westen insisted that Francis “has gravely harmed the faith” in his six years in office, and prayed that the synod outcome “will not be as bad as imagined.”

“For the love of Christ, for the love of his Church, for love of Blessed Mary in heaven, for our children: We must proclaim from the housetops, enough!” he said, insisting that the “confusion and error” perpetrated in Francis’s papacy are contrary to the will of the Holy Spirit, “who would be available to the pope as to no one else.”

Westen insisted that his critiques are out of love for Francis and concern for his soul, saying the pope’s errors “harm him most of all.”

“We must pray for him every day, we must pray for his conversion,” Westen said, adding that while he believes Francis assumes his actions are good for the Church, “it is a false Church and Christ.”

As he often has in the past, Voris suggested that Francis has brought unparalleled amounts of moral and political confusion into the Church, and because of this, “he needs to recognize this and resign.”

“The Church does not belong to him,” Voris said, insisting that from the beginning Francis “has aligned himself with a counterfeit atheism” and surrounded himself “with numerous clerical scoundrels” who propagate the spread of liberation theology and cover up abuse.

“Whether he realized it or not, the Holy Father has entangled the Church in an anti-God philosophy which has as its end the overthrow of all that is divine,” he said, calling Francis’s agenda a “political chameleon” able to adapt “to whatever is said in a latest survey or poll.”

“For once the façade should be dropped and the truth prevail,” he said.

Follow Elise Harris on Twitter: @eharris_it

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