“COMPANION INDIA”: WHY I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS MAGAZINE TO CATHOLICS
Adapted from this ministry’s report
VIRGINIA SALDANHA-ECCLESIA OF WOMEN IN ASIA AND CATHERINE OF SIENA VIRTUAL COLLEGE-FEMINIST THEOLOGY AND THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN PRIESTS
Smart COMPANION India “National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership”
Kalpaka Bangalow Perumanoor P.O. Cochin – 682 015 Kerala, India Tel: 0484 – 2664733; 0484 2665233 Fax: 0484 2665433
Cardinal Telesphore Toppo
Cardinal Oswald Gracias
Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil
Major Archbishop Baselios Mar Cleemis
Bishop Henry D’Souza (Bellary)
Fr. Francis Kodiyan, MCBS
Chief Editor Jacob Naluparayil MCBS
Fr. Jacob Srampickal, SJ
Sr. Leela J. Perumpally Executive Editor, see 2.2 on the page 3
Rt. Rev. Henry D’Souza (Bellary)
Rt. Rev. Steven Rotluanga (Aizawl)
Rt. Rev. Felix Toppo (Jamshedpur)
Sr. Santan Nago (Superior General, Fatima Sisters, Pune),
Fr. George Plathottam (CBCI Media Commission) [Also a contributor]
Fr. Felix Wilfred
(Asian Centre for Cross Cultural Studies, Madras),
a liberal priest who has been castigated by Rome; the Centre is a hotbed of inculturation and syncretism.
Jose Kavi (UCAN, Delhi)
Allwyn Fernandes (Crisis Communications Professional), supporter of feminist “theologian” Virginia Saldanha
Averthanus D’Souza (Journalist, Goa)
Fr. Cyril D’Souza (Education, Rome)
Fr. Francis Gonsalves, SJ (Theology, Delhi), liberal theologian, contributor to National Catholic Reporter
Fr. Felix Raj, SJ (Education, Calcutta) Principal, St. Xavier’s, Kolkata
Fr. Godfrey D’Lima, SJ (Social Activist, Maharashtra)
Fr. George Therukattil, MCBS (Theology, Trichur)
Fr. Joe Andrew, SDB (Media, Madras)
John Dayal (Journalist, Delhi)
Fr. Subhash Anand (Theology, Udaipur), supports women’s ordination
Adolf Washington (Bangalore), SAR news
Joseph S. (Varanasi)
Fr. Ivan D’Silva, SVD (Arunachal)
Fr. Santhosh Sebastian (Gorakhpur)
Fr. Santosh Digal (Orissa)
Shane Alliew (Calcutta) 1.
Bro. Jose Daniel SG of the pro-women’s ordination Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel
Sr M. Wilberta B.S., Superior General
Sr. Inigo Joachim SSA,
Ex-Superior General, popular feminist speaker and writer
Fr. Joseph Mattam SJ,
Systematic theology criticized the post-synodal document Ecclesia in Asia
Sr. Shalini Mulackal PBVM,
Vidyajyoti, Delhi, feminist theologian
Sr. Mary Scaria,
Advocate, Supreme Court, New Delhi
Fr. Keith D’Souza SJ, Pius X Seminary, Goregaon, Bombay
Fr. Mathew Illathuparampil, Moral Theologian, Pontifical Seminary, Aluva
Fr. Ishanand Vempeny SJ, Professor emeritus, Gujarat Vidya Deep
This report will be best understood if read in the light of the Virginia Saldanha report to which I have provided the link on page 1, as well as the following report:
VIRGINIA SALDANHA-WOMENPRIESTS INFILTRATES THE INDIAN CHURCH-CATHERINE OF SIENA VIRTUAL COLLEGE
I have put this report together from information that I obtained from a few early e-magazine copies sent to me by its recently deceased Consulting Editor
Fr. Jacob Srampickal, SJ, who was then in Rome, as well as from a couple of pdf files of COMPANION India that I located on the Internet.
1. COMPANION India, Pilot Issue, February 2010
1.1 Virginia Saldanha and a South Asia meeting for women held at Dhaka 20-24 January 2010
figure in a “Top 10” item of the pilot issue of February 2010. The news item cites her customary feminist statements.
Virginia Saldanha is a lay woman of the archdiocese of Bombay who, having attended just a certificate course in theology at the Pius X Seminary, Goregaon, Mumbai, is now acclaimed by the Indian bishops and the Catholic media as a theologian, and who militates for the ordination of women as priests through the Ecclesia of Women in Asia [EWA] which is the forum of Asian Women Theologians, and through the Catherine of Siena Virtual College that is the conduit for the heretical ideologies of womenpriests.org. Womenpriests.org was founded by Dutch ex-priest John Wijngaards precisely to promote his and his radical feminist nuns’ unholy ambitions to further the cause of the sacerdotal ordination of women, an issue that the recent and present Popes have declared to be against the foundational principles of Catholic doctrine.
In the following pages, I conclude that COMPANION India comes across as favorable to radical feminism or as controlled/dominated by the feminist lobby that has taken root in the Indian Church.
In general, all my comments, both in green as well as in red, are written keeping that conclusion in mind. As I wrote earlier on this page, for details as well as for documented evidence in support of some of my statements, the reader will have to read the two reports for which I have provided the links. A third report in this series will concern another feminist lay “theologian”, Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, who is also associated with COMPANION India. This report will be updated, and I am confident that future inclusions of information will only reinforce my conclusions that radical feminist forces hold sway in COMPANION India.
1.2 Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram [DVK] releases a full page colour advertisement for its Institute of Spirituality and Counselling on the front inner cover of COMPANION India pilot issue of February 2010!
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram
has a tie-up with the
Catherine of Siena Virtual College.
Virginia Saldanha is the registrar of Catherine of Siena Virtual College, see http://www.catherinecollege.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=50&Itemid=61.
1.3 In the Obituaries column:
a) Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx OP. He
was a dissenting theologian who was condemned by Rome.
b) Fr. Josef Neuner SJ. He
lesser control from the Vatican in the Indian Church. He criticized the Vatican declaration
“Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church”.
1.4 In the Luminaries column:
Interview with Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ
What are the other aspects of [theology in the] Indian social context?
The social situation in India is different as also varied. It has given rise to significant Dalit and Tribal theologies too. There is also a specific Indian approach to feminist and ecological theologies. God is perceived in the Indian context as male-female: ardha-nareeswara. Such a perception can give rise to a holistic view of gender…
is yet another liberal theologian who lambasted the Vatican Document Dominus Iesus in his article “Stop judging, that you will not be judged”
in the theological journal Jeevadhara May 2001 issue. 2.
2. COMPANION India, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, July 2010, Volume 1, No. 1
Feminism rears its ugly head in the very first numbered issue of COMPANION India.
2.1 The cover has the name of Virginia Saldanha under “Luminaries”.
Virginia Saldanha writes on “Church, pastors and status of women” in “For a Participatory Church”
No more is there mention of her “certificate” course, see pages 3 and 78, or even the somehow-upgraded-to-“diploma” in theology; the blurb says she has done “her theology studies” conveying the impression that she is a full-fledged degree holder in theology.
“If the Church does not take women seriously women will not take the Church seriously“, she warns.
Will the new developments at the political and the CBCI level help women?
I saw the news about the gender policy and the reorganization of the CBCI. I have yet to study the gender policy. All depends on the women who are put in charge and to what extent they are aware of women’s concerns and have the courage to bring about changes. All the three Executive Secretaries of the CBCI Commission for women have their story of struggle and pain endured in that position. How can women contribute to the Church when all power and control are vested in the male leadership and decisions are taken by them? The new Executive Secretary of the CCBI Commission for women told me, “I will do whatever the bishop tells me to do”. Her statement is eloquent on women’s status in the Church.
1. In my records, the three Executive Secretaries since inception of the Women’s Commission of the CBCI have been Virginia Saldanha [till 2004],
Sr. Lilly Francis Poovelil, SMMI [since 2005], and the present incumbent, Sr. Helen Saldanha, SSpS. It is possible that I am wrong and that Sr. Helen Saldanha is the fourth in succession. In that case, I am unaware of who was at number three.
Sr. Lilly Francis, SMMI assisted in the formation of the CBCI’s Gender Policy.
Sr. Helen Saldanha
directed “Streevani, a Church-run center that works to empower women“, see pages 57, 93.
2. The “new Executive Secretary of the CCBI Commission for women” referred to is Sr. Philomena D’Silva, SCC. Apparently she is neither a feminist nor a sympathizer of the feminist lobby in the Church. From Virginia Saldanha‘s tone of regret, can one infer that she tried to exert her evil influence over the executive office of Sr. Philomena D’Silva and failed?
3. When looking up my records, I found that the bishop heading any CBCI Commission used to be designated as “Chairman”. From around 2009 or 2010, the new designation is the gender-neutral “Bishop-in-Charge”. A small concession to the inclusive-language demands of the feminist lobby, perhaps? The CCBI Commissions now use the term “Chairperson” instead of the earlier “Chairman”!
Catholics, let us not ignore these “small” changes, innocuous, but milestones in the feminist struggle.
2.2 In the editorial “Powered by Love”, executive editor Sr. Leela J. Perumpally writes with feminist undertones, “Indian theologians have started asserting that we need to see the feminine in God. This balance has to be maintained in any sane society. The intuitive wisdom and genuine self-giving of women cannot be restricted to forcing subservient roles on them…”
2.3 There is a letter to the editor from Dr. Shaji George Kochuthara CMI. He is from the Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram [DVK],
Bangalore which is affiliated with the
Catherine of Siena Virtual College.
2.4 Under the section “Faith Alive”, we have four feminist writers. Read these extracts:
Women Religious can create new awareness among women and men by Fr.
Joseph Mattam SJ, Theologian
The first thing required to empower women in the Church is to recognize that the present male dominated hierarchical system is not from Jesus, but the invasion of the Church of the poor Galilean by the Empire.
• Recognize the evil effects of the negative attitude towards women promoted by some of the Fathers of the Church.
• Reinforce a new theology that fosters the neglected feminine characteristics of God, Jesus often highlighted.
• Recognise that Christian women do not want power of the type that has evolved in the Church over the centuries; they want to share the power Jesus given to all his followers without distinction of gender (I Cor 12).
• Abandoning the wrong idea of priesthood gives the Church a chance to become a community of sisters/brothers who would serve one another using the charism each has.
• Women should explicitly use inclusive language; train girls for such usage. For example, God is “Our Mother/Father”.
• Women should organize them themselves to resist exploitation by priests; they should not leave any case of exploitation, over domineering attitude unchallenged.
Joseph Mattam criticized the post-synodal document Ecclesia in Asia and favors the Ashrams movement.
Having strengthened in faith you must strengthen your sisters by Sr. Inigo Joachim SSA,
Produce and disseminate the literature on gender related issues among partners, church bodies, seminaries, schools and Congregations.
Create awareness about in the formation houses through academic subjects. Theology has to be interpreted from this perspective of equal dignity and equal responsibility. 3.
Introduce gender sensitization programmes and feminist theology in initial and in the ministry of the Proclamation of the Good News. A woman’s experience of God and approach to the reading and interpreting of the Word of God are unique.
Get in touch with one’s own patriarchal blocks! Change should start from women first. A truly mature and liberated woman must also be educated, economically independent. She should have the courage to share the wisdom and stand for truth, justice and peace. Ultimately, it is women who must determine what a woman’s worth is.
Sr. Inigo Joachim SSA is a popular feminist speaker and contributor of articles to Catholic media.
Sr. M. Wilberta B.S., Superior General:
Each of us also ought to ask, “Am I an empowered religious capable of empowering others?” If the answer is in the negative we may have to seriously review our systems of formation to ascertain that we do not foster infantilism and submissiveness, suppressing creativity and growth in inner freedom. We need to courageously confront the sinful structures in our communities and society that dehumanize women created in the image and likeness of God.
Role of Women Religious in Empowering Women by Dr. Shalini Mulackal, Vidya Jyoti, Delhi [MAIN ARTICLE]
Women’s empowerment has to start with women themselves… The first step towards empowerment would be that religious become an empowered group, through processes and programmes that would help them to come out of patriarchal conditioning and belief system… “I have made them in my own image and likeness. Man and woman I made them.”* Women’s empowerment has to start with women themselves…
Once empowered, women religious can promote an alternative understanding of life through the various ministries they are involved in. They can help people to identify and eliminate patriarchal attitudes…
Since religion play an important role in legitimizing and perpetuating the subjugation of women it is important that women religious learn to look critically at religion, religious Scriptures, spirituality and theology from the experience of women and reinterpret these so that woman’s full humanity is affirmed and her human rights protected. Women religious can create forums for women to share their experiences and build solidarity among them. They can develop alternative rituals and practices that enhance women’s humanity, ensure their dignity, and promote their well being.
Feminist theologian Dr. Shalini Mulackal, PBVM is with EWA since the very first EWA conference.
*All three womyn contributors to Smart Companion appealed to Genesis 1:27. In fact, citing Genesis 1:27 is the hallmark of feminist writers and speakers. I must have come across it a thousand times in my research on the Indian feminist league, but refrained from reproducing it. Here, I found an excellent opportunity to highlight it because all three of the feminist religious sisters used it for their arguments. See page 7.
3. COMPANION India, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, October 2010, Volume 1, No. 3
3.1 There is a letter to the editor from one Frieda Lobo eulogizing Virginia Saldanha.
Luminaries – need of the hour
Congratulations for bringing in a lady in the Luminaries Column. In fact, I know Virginia for almost 23 years. I have found that she always carries a fire in her heart. The vision she shares is not a podium piece but a cause for which she has spent her whole life. There are times she may sound a bit too assertive and yet we need such voices in the Church as a clarion call to a participatory Church, especially of women.
3.2 …and another
I appreciate very much the main story on ‘Women Empowerment’. It is high time that the Church and Society make use of women power… Sr. Alessandra Lamera
4. COMPANION India, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, December 2010, Volume 1, No. 4
Virginia Saldanha makes her debut in COMPANION India as its Contributing Editor (Women’s Issues).
5. COMPANION India, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, January 2011, Volume 1, No. 5
5.1 From Top 10 news: First Catholic Woman Priest
On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patron Saint of Latin America (12 Dec. 2010) the first Latin American woman was ordained a Catholic priest, opening a new chapter in the history of the Catholic Church there. It reminded of Pope John XXIII’s saying in ‘Pacem in Terris’ (1963), “Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity…the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons” (41). The ordination took place in the catacombs as a reminder to sinful structures of gender discrimination and to represent small Christian communities, where ‘bread’ is broken today. Although made valid through the laying on of hands in apostolic succession, it violates the Canon Law that stipulates ordination only for baptized males
(can 1024). (NCR News)
The story is taken from the left-wing National Catholic Reporter.
In the Roman Catholic Church, a woman can never be ordained a Catholic priest.
I wrote to Consulting Editor
Fr. Jacob Srampickal, SJ
in Rome but he expired a couple of days later; so I forwarded that same letter to COMPANION India and to Fr. Jacob Naluparayil MCBS, Chief Editor. 4.
Dear Fr. Jacob Srampickal,
How are you? I trust that you remember our 2011 correspondence when you invited me to join you in contributing to and helping in editing the fledgling magazine,
I just saw this news item*
in Smart Companion, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, January 2011, Volume 1, No. 5.
Can there be any such ecclesial office as a “Catholic Woman Priest“?
As I could not access volume no. 6, of Smart Companion, I am not aware if there was a retraction of that error by the editors, or if someone pointed the problem to you in a ‘letter to the editor’ in the next issue.
If a correction has not been made, I am quite concerned because I note that the inclusion of this news item took place soon after Virginia Saldanha
made her debut in
as its Contributing Editor (Women’s Issues).
In case you are unaware, Virginia Saldanha is the Indian face of ex-priest John Wijngaards’ womenpriests.org.
Kindly let me have your response on this issue.
Michael Prabhu, apologist, Chennai
*From Top 10 news: First Catholic Woman Priest […]
Subject: Catholic Woman Priest?
KIND ATTENTION: Fr. Jacob Naluparayil MCBS, Chief Editor, Smart Companion India
Dear Fr. Jacob,
This morning, my email letter to email@example.com was sent inadvertently. I had meant to send it to you instead.
I prepared it when I heard the sad and shocking news that Fr. Jacob Srampickal had passed away.
He had become my good friend. One reason that I did not accept his invitation to be a contributing editor was because I am a writer with existing commitments that do not give me time to write for periodicals. I also had another reason** but I did not share that with him.
I trust that you will respond to my letter.
**The reason is this: On December 17, 2010, Fr. Jacob Srampickal, SJ, had written to me about the new
Smart Companion India
describing it as “a lovely magazine on faith education“, asking me to subscribe to it and to inform others about it. He later wrote, “Why don’t you put up our magazine and the blurb** on your website an [sic] give it some publicity“. Still later, he wrote, “I am much impressed by your site. Will you be interested in writing for COMPANION: here is a good chance for you to reach out to millions“, and again “I like the ministry you are in thanks much. Can you do a little help to popularize COMPANION among your clientele?”
Much later, when I read the names of Smart Companion India‘s contributing editors [Virginia Saldanha, Allwyn Fernandes, Francis Gonsalves SJ, Fr. Subhash Anand, etc.] I knew that eventually I was going to be highlighting error in this magazine and I did not want to be one of the “contributing editors”.
In June 2011, I sent Fr. Jacob Srampickal my May 2011 document THE ERRORS AND SPIRITUAL DANGERS OF THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT-2 [http://www.ephesians-511.net/about_this_ministry_1.htm] which has since then been carried in a Catholic charismatic monthly. Father Jacob Srampickal wrote back, “The article you treat is not the type we publish. This would go into our question answer (NEVER STOP ASKING) where we answer what good is new age movements by our expert. Hence we can’t publish it as it is. I admire that you find time to be an apologist. I guess you have your income to survive in this costly world by some other work that you do in regular way. I also feel that your way of running a website does not reach large number of people. You have lots of ideas and channeled through the right media could reach our Catholics usefully. Why don’t you join us in editing COMPANION?” The letter was signed:
Dr. Jacob Srampickal sj Professor, Communications Studies PONTIFICAL GREGORIAN UNIVERSITY
PIAZZA DELLA PILOTTA , 4 ROMA 00187.
**EXTRACT OF BLURB
-To foster an authentic, integrated Catholic Christian living.
-To contribute to understanding, appreciating and thus uniting a Church that is much divided by rites, regions, languages, cultures, castes, classes etc.
-To make theology and the teachings of the Church comprehensible and relevant to our times.
-To help Catholic Christians to live their Christian life authentically in the socio-cultural and political realities of the day.
After Fr. Jacob Srampickal declined to publish my article, I examined the COMPANION India e-magazine issues that he had sent me. What I noted is reproduced in this report. I realised that this was not a Catholic magazine I could — in good conscience — be associated with, and did not write to Fr. Jacob Srampickal till April 12, 2012 when I took up the issue of the “First Catholic Woman Priest” news item for this report. On April 15, I learned that Fr. Jacob Srampickal had passed away.
The COMPANION India reply was this:
Thanks for the comment. We took the item from NCR as you can see. In fact I double checked the matter before taking it. They must be meaning something.
Smart COMPANION India
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 10:01 PM Subject: Re: Catholic Woman Priest?
Thank you for your reply on behalf of “Smart Companion India” to the issue that I raised.
However, it is not clear to me as to who has replied to me on behalf of the magazine as you have not signed your name.
I have, this afternoon, sent a copy of the same letter to both the email addresses of Fr. Jacob Naluparayil MCBS, Chief Editor whom I must presume has replied to me here; if not, I hope that he will do so.
I searched ncronline for this news item but found no record of it, so far at least. Nor did I find anything else on the Internet on this issue. It will be helpful if you can provide me with the link/URL.
What confuses me is why a magazine that purports to be faithful to Rome should visit a dissenting, left-wing, radical, liberal agency like the National Catholic Reporter [NCR] for copying news about an alleged Catholic woman priest ordination when there are any number of authentically faithful, conservative Catholic agencies from which faith-building news items can be reproduced.
A Catholic woman priest is an oxymoron. There can be no “meaning” [to quote you] in the news item. Such an “ordination” is an act of rebellion and heresy. You apparently read my words to mean that I felt that there was a probable error in accrediting the source, viz. NCR. What I actually meant was that for you to repeat the allegation that “a new chapter [has been opened] in the history of the Catholic Church” with the so-called ordination of that woman is an error. So I asked you if a retraction or correction has been done, seeing that eminent cardinals and bishops are your Patrons and on your Advisory Board, and they or someone else might have brought this issue to your attention. But I received no clarification on that.
Would it be asking too much of you for you to send me a pdf file attachment of Smart Companion India Volume 1, No. 6?
Please expect an annual subscription order from me during the coming week. I must keep the yet-unfulfilled promise that I made to Fr. Jacob Srampickal.
With regards, Michael
5. 2 Women Religious – New Challenges, New Responses by Sr. Jyoti BS
The Church’s Gender Policy, the roles of the CRI, the CWRI [Conference of Women Religious of India] etc. are examined.
5.3 Gender in the Church by Allwyn Fernandes, Mumbai
One of the things that surprise me when I interact with nuns of various congregations is their suppressed anger towards priests – not just among young nuns but even those at major superior/ provincial levels. This is not about ordination or women. It is the attitude of superiority that women in the church experience from priests or bishops… I wonder if gender issues are part of the curriculum for priestly formation, not just for young seminarians but also for older priests who clearly need a regular continuing education programme to keep them in tune with the times. We also need similar programmes for women in formation in the church to empower and encourage them to stand up to offensive behavior.
Allwyn Fernandes is a journalist who sympathizes with the feminist agenda. He is known to post favourable information from/about Astrid Lobo Gajiwala and Virginia Saldanha on some blogs. See 6.2 below
6. COMPANION India, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, March 2011, Volume 1, No. 7
6.1 Women in the Church by
Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Journalist, Mumbai
New ways of thinking and acting to change gender relations need to be developed so that not only can women take on leadership but they will not fall into the trap of perpetuating the patriarchal roles and ethos that they inherit…
At its heart is the confrontation of the fundamental sexism of the Christian tradition “in as much as it has valued men over women, has seen masculine experience as normative for women’s experience, has imaged God in predominantly masculine metaphors, or has used the Christian message to support violence against women” (feminist theologian Catherine Mowry LaCugna).
Astrid Lobo Gajiwala makes her debut in Smart Companion in a new avatar — as a “journalist”. 6.
6.2 For an Inclusive Church by Allwyn Fernandes, Mumbai
[…] (Others who contributed to this article are Virginia Saldanha, Dr Jacinta D’Souza, Anthony de Sa, Richie Pinto, and Jesuits Myron Pereira and Joseph Mattam.) Joseph Mattam: see 2.1 above
6.3 Gender Policy – Making it effective by
The Gender Policy deals with women empowerment in the Church. How realistic is the document? A critical evaluation by a woman [Virginia Saldanha] who has been working in various forums of the National and Asian Church.
A couple of months ago I was presenting the Gender policy of the Church to a group of religious men and women. Using several examples I tried to impress on them the relevance of the policy and its implementation. The session concluded with the Eucharistic celebration. “Beware of feminists,” the priest said in his homily. The majority present were women who would believe the priest! “Was it his aim to undo whatever I tried to do? Will the new Gender Policy of the Church supersede such attitudes of male superiority, and privilege in the Church?” I asked myself.
The CBCI released its Gender Policy on 24, February, 2010, during its annual meet at Don Bosco Institute, Guwahati. The
50-page document is the result of two years of deliberations and study following its 2008 General Body. It reflected on the theme, “Empowerment of Women in Church and Society.”
The project was headed by Bishop John Baptist Thakur, Chairman, CBCI Commission for Women, and it’s Executive Secretary, Sr. Lilly Francis SMMI. […]
comments are peppered with phrases such as “woman’s experience of oppression in the Church itself”, “structural sin dominates”, “the Church’s sin of sexism, and discrimination within a patriarchal and hierarchal power structure”, etc.
Arguing that the “Church is the workplace of priests,” Virginia Saldanha seeks that “the Supreme Court Order dated 13.08.1997 for ‘Implementation of the Guidelines in The Case Of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace and Other Institutions’ needs to be included in the Gender policy,” she equates the Church with other secular institutions.
“The policy is based on Genesis 1:27* which has been referred to several times in the document but lacks an appropriate theology. Sadly, the quote at the beginning uses non-inclusive language which is jarring to female readers.
created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.’ Non-inclusive language demonstrates lack of sensitivity to understand how women feel when addressed in male terms in Church documents, in scriptures and homilies. As it stands the quote reinforces the secondary status of the female. God is male, he created man in his image and created that man to be male and female (?!)“
*See my comments on page 4
7. COMPANION India, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, April 2011, Volume 1, No. 8
7.1 Women Washing Feet – A experiential sharing on how ‘washing of feet’ can be made meaningful and inclusive
New Way of being the Church
Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Journalist, Mumbai
7.2 Letters to the editor
i) Women’s empowerment is indeed a major challenge to the Indian Church. I feel it a heavy log made heavier with long term practice. And yet modern society has already opted to change the male dominating trends. Women are proving themselves even more efficient team builders in companies and firms. They have a very special way of going about it as they appeal more to the heart rather than to the intellect. Why not the Church in India take the risk and let women be included in all spheres of its life? Of course it will require that women be trained and educated in matters of management, theology, philosophy and ethics. Why is the Church so afraid to entrust her treasures and positions to women, who are keepers of the best of our possessions – our future generation? Do the Church authorities buy the prejudiced dictum of media advertisements that women are good ONLY to buy washing powder and soaps? The Church has changed in this regard only in documents and pronouncements. The attitudes prevail. Astrid is very powerful in her argument for women. Proof that we have women with mettle among us!
ii) Both Virginia Saldanha and Astrid Lobo Gajiwala gave rare insights and valid suggestions to empower women. However they are saying things which the authority in the Church is aware of… Bishops and superiors can do much because they are in decision making roles. We need more such bishops with a prophetic vision, to lead the way. However the ball comes back to women themselves as they need to empower themselves through training and deep faith asserting their womanhood.
Sr. Assunta Maria,
iii) The editorial was really power packed! I was wondering how many editorials it will take before women could be heard, accepted and involved in weightier matters of the Church! Actually an inclusive language can come only when an inclusive mind set comes in. Only women I feel can bring about such changes by constant assertion of their rights as well as by self respect.
Sr. Sheila SRA, Varanasi. 7.
These gushing letters from readers display sublime ignorance of what lies behind the façade.
They also show the impact that the barrage of subtle feminist ideologies is having on Catholic readers.
They are also evidence that the spirit of liberalism and modernism has pervaded the Indian Church and many are already influenced by or are fertile ground for the seeding of those ideologies. See more letters below.
8. COMPANION India, National Fortnightly for Christian Leadership, May 2011, Volume 1, No. 9
8.1 Letters to the editor
i) I found Gajiwala‘s sharing on ‘washing the feet’ ceremony very meaningful. In fact, I believe what we celebrate on Maundy Thursday is a symbolic repetition of what Jesus did in the upper room. Every Christian is invited to follow this lesson of humility and self giving. So I feel it is not fair to include only men in the washing of feet.
Again, in many places both men and women are invited to be included among the twelve. Does the teaching of the Catholic Church differ from place to place? Or is it a problem to priests who are men, to kneel before women and children? I hope we consider these symbolic acts in its true meaning.
Rose D’Souza, Goa
ii) Astrid Lobo Gajiwala‘s narration of the washing of the feet in the Parish Pastoral Council was inspiring. I wish more are inspired by this example. I know a parish in Italy where the parish priest lets the parish groups to select 12 people for the washing of feet. These can be women, children, old men, boys; the only criterion for selection is that they have had some kind of serious sufferings, physical or mental during the year. Asked for the reason he said, “The Holy Week is a celebration of suffering and Easter makes sense only if we understand the significance of sufferings”. Priests can be surely creative. I hope no bishop objects such creative efforts if done meaningfully.
Jacob Srampickal SJ, Rome
8.2 Br. Paul Raj SG*,
The Church is predominantly a lay organization. But the Church we see today is mostly priest-centred.
Priests feature strongly in the popular image of modern Catholicism. Media often conveys the impression that priests form the heart and soul of the Catholic Church. A lot of official teaching, while trying to emphasize the role of the laity, ends up reinforcing the central role of priests.
Today there are over 1,100,000,000 Catholics in the world. There are approximately 450,000 ordained members; some deacons, most are priests. That means 99.95% of the Catholic Church consists of lay people, while the ordained clergy form just 00.05%. In a Church so overwhelmingly lay in nature, why do a handful of priests have such extraordinary power and significance? Why such gross imbalance between the many and the few? Why Catholic discourses so often go on from the perspective of priests? These are questions often raised by great writers like Diarmuid O’Murchu*** and Sandra Scheniders**** [sic].
*Br. Paul Raj SG
is the Provincial Superior of the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel who are part of the feminist lobby and who are in virtual domination of the Conference of Religious, India [CRI].
**National Assembly of Religious Brothers of India, NARBI, functions from Vidya Deep College, annexed to CRI Brothers’ Institute at Bangalore.
Vidya Deep College, CRI
Brothers Institute, Bangalore is affiliated to the
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram which has a tie-up with womenpriests’ Catherine of Siena Virtual College.
O’Murchu takes an overtly feministic and anti-religious stand throughout the book Quantum Theology, suggesting that the paternalistic organized religions, as part of aggressive, paternalistic cultures, have divided and weakened the world. He suggests that the solution to this problem is the adoption of a more feministic, holistic spirituality, independent of organized religion.
****Sr. Sandra Schneiders IHM is listed as a feminist theologian and
“dissenter against Catholic Church teachings“
who promotes the ordination of women as priests.
To be continued.
Categories: Ordination of Women Priests Movement in India