C O R R E S P O N D E N C E W I T H T H E V A T I C A N
MY FIRST LETTERS TO THE VATICAN
His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,
Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 00193 ROMA, THE VATICAN 23 March 2002
I draw your kind attention to the letters dated 28 August 1999 and 8 and 29 September 2000 written to you by Capt. Mervin John Lobo of Mumbai, India with copies to Archbishop Julian Herranz, President of the Pontifical Council; Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Apostolic Nuncio to India; Simon Cardinal Pimenta and several Archbishops and Bishops of the Church in India.
Capt. Lobo has expressed his great concern about the SYNCRETIST teachings and HINDU-ISATION [in the guise of INCULTURATION] of the Catholic Church in India. And about the increasing use of EASTERN MEDITATION TECHNIQUES like VIPASSANA, ZEN and YOGA
and of OCCULT HOLISTIC
NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINES
AND THERAPIES LIKE PRANIC HEALING AND REIKI.
I introduce myself to you as a Catholic Lay Evangelist. I worked in the harvest part-time from 1982-1991 in New Delhi. Since 1995 I have been in full-time ministry. I have attended several Catholic Bible Colleges as well as the International Catholic Programme for Evangelization [ICPE] and I am well grounded in Catholic Teaching and Apologetics. Like Capt. Lobo and many other lay leaders, I am deeply concerned about certain developments in the Church in India. During the past 3 years, several articles carried in Catholic periodicals and written solely by LAY PERSONS, have exposed the truth about the New Age philosophies and practices as well as the Hindu and Buddhist prayer forms that are being propagated in the name of Inculturation and Low Cost Holistic Health Care by nuns in Holistic Health Centres, by priests in organizations with Catholic titles, and by Catholic periodicals.
Capt. Lobo has also informed you that OCCULT and NEW AGE books are sold in Catholic bookshops. He did not say that many of the titles are written by Catholic priests and nuns and printed and published by Catholic congregations who should be promoting the Word of God [Scripture and the teaching of the Magisterium].
Capt. Lobo also gave you the names of several priests and a few Bishops who are introducing their congregations to erroneous doctrines and practices.
Mr. Errol Fernandes of the EMMANUEL PRAYER GROUP, MUMBAI has taken a courageous stand against these errors and is paying a heavy price for it.
I enclose herewith a copy of the July-August 2001 issue of their Newsletter for your study.
Even though I write AGAINST the New Age and from the FROM the standpoint of Scripture and Church teaching, I find no Catholic periodical [except one] prepared to publish my articles. Though I have sent letters to over one out of every four Archbishops and Bishops, none [except one] has responded. My Auxiliary Bishop Dr. Lawrence Pius ignores all my letters to him. Included here is a copy of my letter dated 3 February 2002 to him which is self-explanatory.
I had met with him a few times between December 1999 and January 2000 and presented him with hard evidence on my findings after much research on the propagation of New Age Alternative Medicine and occult Oriental philosophies and practices in the Catholic Church in India. He wrote to me 6 months later in July 2000 that he would soon read my reports and revert to me. I have not heard from him since then despite many reminders and further reports.
During the 10th World Day of the Sick International Celebrations and Exhibition of Alternative Medicines in Vailankanni, India from 9 to 11 February 2002, I personally handed letters and copies of my findings to the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Baldissseri; to Archbishop Javier Lozano, President, Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, Vatican; to Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops etc.
I have sent out nearly 100 sets of the same, like the one that I am now sending to Rome, preceding the above event, and to many of the episcopal delegates attending the Conference of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India at Jalandhar earlier this month. 1.
I have not received even a single acknowledgement till today.
I have attempted to meet Bishops but I am unable to get past their Secretaries [who are priests] even after I have revealed to them the purpose of my visit.
It is indeed a sad day for the Church when a fully trained and equipped Catholic lay evangelist, who has a burden for the Church and does battle against her enemies, is rendered impotent. What perplexes me most is that no Bishop including mine is willing to commit himself in writing by giving me a reply. If my findings and views are correct and in line with Scripture and Catholic teaching, why can they not say so and take action against those who are in error? If I am wrong, then it is equally necessary for them to unequivocally say so.
The Vatican has issued several Documents and Letters which clearly indicate the Church’s position on the issues in question. I have examined and quoted from them in my articles and reports. The Bishops have not communicated them to Catholics. Because many Catholics are being deceived and the Church through her Bishops is unwilling to comment, I have undertaken to produce and distribute thousands of articles such as those which are enclosed herewith. Among all the supportive letters I have received from lay persons, nuns, priests and seminarians, there is no letter which says that I am in error. On the other hand, just two priests have defended their positions as practitioners, but even they have commended the quality of my research and my burden for the Church.
Fr. Benedict Heron OSB whose book on spiritual warfare, ‘I Saw Satan Fall’ has a Foreword by his Bishop and a chapter titled ‘THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT AND ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES’ has just written to me [from London] that though he had earlier written a best-seller, he could not find a Catholic publisher who was willing to publish THIS book ! Catholic magazines publish pro-YOGA, pro-REIKI or pro-PRANIC HEALING articles written by nuns and priests, but refuse my writings which are anti-New Age.
The New Leader, a Catholic fortnightly, has refused to release an advertisement for my ministry because I labeled REIKI and PRANIC HEALING as occult, New Age Alternative Medicines. They carried articles FAVORING PRANIC HEALING and REIKI. The authors? A nun and a priest!!
I am enclosing my reports on HOLISTIC HEALTH CENTRES where nuns teach and promote New Age Alternative Medicine; and on the CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF INDIA [CHAI] along with their recent letter THREATENING ME WITH LEGAL ACTION*** if I continue this crusade.
I look forward to a favorable reply from Rome. In Jesus’ Name
His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,
Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 00193 ROMA, THE VATICAN 24 March 2002
SUB: 10th WORLD DAY OF THE SICK INTERNATIONAL CELEBRATIONS IN VAILANKANNI, INDIA, FROM 9-11 FEBRUARY 2002
This letter is in the context of my other letter to you dated 23rd March which is in connection with the alarming spread of syncretism and New Age in the Church in India.
I have submitted evidence to you that the Orders of the Society of Jesus [S.J.] and Verbum Dei [S.V.D.] are two who are in the forefront, though several others are not behind. Among the nuns’ congregations, the Medical Mission Sisters [M.M.S.], I.C.M. and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary [F.M.M.] lead the way while the Good Shepherd, Loreto and others are close behind.
Yoga has recently been introduced as an elective subject, and Tai Chi [and other Martial Arts] as part of the holistic development of our children in Christian colleges and schools. Reiki and Pranic Healing [New Age Alternative Therapies] seminars are made available to Catholics in parish halls and campuses.
In ‘HOLISTIC HEALTH CENTRES‘, anti-Christian and New Age practices and philosophies are propagated by nuns, while priests conduct ‘retreats’ that employ occult techniques. In seminaries and novitiates, our young men and women are trained in Yoga, Vipassana, Zen, etc. Catholic bookstores print, publish and/or sell New Age and occult books. Catholic magazines carry articles authored by nuns and priests that would have, a few years ago, been outrightly condemned as occult or heretical. They carry advertisements promoting freemasonic and occult literature.
But most shocking of all was THE BRAZEN DISPLAY OF THE OCCULT AT VAILANKANNI!!!
A separate detailed report is under preparation by me for submission to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI]. [At the venue], As usual the St. Pauls bookstall had a few titles that were decidedly occult. And the stall of the Sister-Doctors Forum of India [SDFI] advertised for Pranic Healing and the use of condoms to prevent AIDS!
The third stall at the ‘Exhibition’ was “SPIRITUAL HUMAN YOGA- UNIVERSAL ENERGY” managed by its founder-director Dr. Sr. M. Amalavathy I.C.M. 2.
There were books and magazines on sale and a large number of photographs on display. Everything and every written word was
OCCULT. I have recorded an interview with the Reverend Sister. I will be making the shocking contents available to our Bishops shortly.
The fourth stall belonged to the CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF INDIA [CHAI]. Every single item [books and their ‘HEALTH ACTION’ magazine] promoted the NEW AGE and PURE OCCULT. THERE WERE TITLES BY FREEMASONS, THEOSOPHISTS AND SATANISTS! THERE WAS NOTHING CATHOLIC ON DISPLAY OR SALE.
For distributing warning leaflets** [copy enclosed] about the true activities of CHAI, CHAI have sent me a letter threatening me with legal action***.
My detailed report follows. Meanwhile, in Jesus’ Name I ask you to please study my reports and do the needful.
**a copy of which was also sent to CHAI
***REPRODUCTION OF THE REFERRED THREAT LETTER FROM CHAI :
On the letterhead of THE CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF INDIA,
157/6 STAFF ROAD, P B 2126, GUNROCK ENCLAVE, SECUNDERABAD A.P. 500 009
Tel : 0091-040-7898756/7848457/7841610/7848293 FAX: 0091-040-7811982
1st March 2002 (Reg. With Ack. due) (Under Certificate of Posting)
Mr. Michael Prabhu,
This in response of the libellous letter sent by you to the Director, Catholic Health Association of India, 157/6 Staff Road, Gunrock Enclave, Sec.bad-500 009. This letter should be taken as a notice for your immediate action.
The Catholic Health Association of India is an internationally reputed organization with 57 years experience in the field of voluntary health care sector. The printed writing sent by you is published with a malicious intention to defame our association and member institutions spread through out India.
Because the letter is drafted to address the matter to the highest authorities of church and also you have admitted the same by your writing that your letter and articles have been a timely warning to the recipients and public.
I came to know from the staff members of CHAI who were present at Velankanni for our programme that you had distributed these libellous writing among the delegates during 10th World Day of Sick celebrations between 9th – 11th February 2002 at Velankanni.
You are persistently trying to defame the institution and its activities and exposing the organization to public hatred and ill will for the reasons best known to you.
The allegations raised by you in writing against CHAI is utter false and baseless. CHAI in all its years of service has been worked according to the rules and guidelines of the church. This gist of the libellous writing is to injure the reputation of the institution and its activities subjecting it to ridicule, contempt and disgrace.
Hence, you are hereby warned and called upon to withdraw from the libellous action of writing, circulating or any other action which may result in defaming CHAI and also abstain from such action in future. You are also called upon to inform me about the withdrawal of your statements within 10 days of the date of receipt of this notice.
Take note that if you fail to inform us about your withdrawal of the statements and malafide action, I will be constrained to initiate legal proceedings against you for defaming our institution. For which you will be responsible for cost and consequences.
Fr. Sebastian Ousepparampil
[NOTE THAT THE DIRECTOR OF CHAI DID NOT RESPOND TO ANY OF THE SPECIFIC CHARGES IN MY LEAFLET OR LETTER. HE ALSO DID NOT MARK COPIES OF HIS LETTER TO ANY OF THE BISHOPS OR THE CONCERNED COMMISSION OF THE CBCI. THIS MINISTRY DID NOT RESPOND TO THE LETTER. HOWEVER, COPIES OF IT WERE SENT BY ME TO THE CONCERNED BISHOPS. WITH, AS USUAL, NO RESPONSE.]
FIRST RESPONSE FROM ROME
LETTER FROM THE PONTIFICIUM CONSILIUM DE LEGUM TEXTIBUS, VATICAN CITY
THIS LETTER WAS WRITTEN TO ME IN RESPONSE TO MY ABOVE TWO LETTERS TO THE VATICAN [WITH ENCLOSURES] ADDRESSED TO CARDINAL RATZINGER, WITH COPIES TO THE [THEN] APOSTOLIC NUNCIO TO INDIA MOST. REV. LORENZO BALDISSERI, ARCHBISHOP JULIAN HERRANZ, ARCHBISHOP JAVIER LOZANO, ARCHBISHOP IGNACE DAOUD, CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO, CARDINAL JOZEF TOMKO, AUXILIARY BISHOP OF MADRAS-MYLAPORE ETC., DATED 23rd and 24th MARCH, 2002.
19th April, 2002
Dear Mr. Prabhu,
Archbishop Herranz, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, recently received copies of two letters that you had addressed to Cardinal Ratzinger (dated 23 March 2002 and 24 March 2002) concerning your perception of an “alarming spread of syncretism and New Age in the Catholic Church in India”.
While it is clear that the matters that you discussed are in no way connected with any of the areas of competence that have been attributed to this Pontifical Council, we have taken note of your correspondence, aware that the above mentioned letters have already been sent to the Cardinal Prefect of the Dicastery of the Holy See that is competent in these matters. Sincerely in Christ,
+Bruno Bertagna Bishop Secretary
A Letter to the Vatican
Subject: ‘New Age’ in the Catholic Church in India
5th May, 2004
This letter is in connection with the 3rd February 2003 Vatican Document, “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of
Life, A Christian reflection on the ‘New Age'”. I wish to bring to your notice the following:
To the best of my knowledge, the referred Document has not been written about, commented upon or explained to the laity by any of the Indian Bishops even up to a year after its release. This is despite the fact that the secular press, when reporting on the release of this Document, quoted Pope John Paul II as saying that the New Age Movement [NAM] is “one of the greatest threats to Christianity in the third millennium”.
For that matter, Indian Catholics are ignorant of the 15th October 1989 Document, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic
Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” which warns of the spiritual dangers involved in the practice of such Eastern meditations as Transcendental Meditation, Zen and Yoga.
Indian Bishops, who are the official teachers of the Church, have actually written the Forewords for books authored by priests on the very subjects that have been classified by the Document as New Age.
We now have Indian Bishops who have practiced yoga therapy and certain Eastern meditations.
I have written well-researched, detailed analyses on the following serious issues and I have sent them to the concerned Commissions of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India [CBCI] as well as to over half [around 75] of our Bishops, especially those who govern the major dioceses of this country. Only two Bishops acknowledged receipt of my reports using their official letterheads. Another wrote a personal letter, and one telephoned me.
Every one of these 75 Bishops, even those who have not cared to respond to my letters, has received several follow up communications from me, and a total in weight of from one-half to over a kilogram of my researched reports.
The great majority of priests who I have met could not be less aware or less interested in the New Age Movement. The only priests who have shown awareness of the NAM or concern about its infiltration in the Church are those involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal [CCR].
Consequently, it is these few priests in the CCR who are exposing the dangers of the NAM in the context of the Vatican Documents, and standing for authentic Catholic teaching.
But the fifth columnists in the Church, who maintain that the Document on the NAM is not after all a serious Document but simply a ‘Provisional Report’, scoff at, ridicule and persecute those of their fellow-priests who are proponents of genuine Catholic orthodoxy in the context of the Document, and label them as fundamentalists.
Catholic clergy who unabashedly propagate New Age in their parishes and institutions [and in some Dioceses with the approval of the Bishop] assume [rightly?] that any layperson who objects must be one of ‘those charismatics’.
[I see the CCR in India as the only bulwark against New Age expansionism within the Church].
The reason is not far to seek. One has only to examine the curriculum followed by our seminarians in most houses of formation in India, and the worldviews of their teachers. I have attended the classes of some of these liberal theologians and I have seen and heard for myself that much of their teachings are neither Biblical nor Christian, and sometimes anti-Catholic if it all Christian. Novices are exposed from their earliest days in the seminary to New Age beliefs and practices. I personally know young men who exited both the seminary and the Church in disgust, one [a convert from Hinduism] who left to look into the possibility of ministry as a layperson, and another whose ordination was deferred for refusing to obey/accept the erroneous instructions/teachings of his religious superiors.
THE CATHOLIC PRESS
In April 2003, I prepared a four-page summary of this Document and sent it to several leading Catholic periodicals. It was accepted for publication by just one of them, ‘The Examiner’, the Archdiocesan weekly of Mumbai.
Later, CHARISINDIA, the monthly publication of the Charismatic Renewal Services in India featured an article, again authored by a layperson, explaining the Document.
Pauline Publications printed a limited edition of the Document and it appeared in a few of their shops. It is now not available in most cities. However, if one would like to buy New Age books, including those of world-famous New Agers like Deepak Chopra and Jose Silva, they are always available at St. Pauls bookstores in India.
I have published a list of a few hundred such titles which includes books on Jungian philosophy, Alternative Medicine, Enneagrams, Feng Shui, Yoga, Reincarnation etc., all of which are declared in the referred Documents as occult / New Age. St. Pauls/Better Yourself Books not only sell but print and publish dozens of books, most of which are written by priests, on the very issues that are the subject of warning in the said Vatican Documents.
[This list has been circulated to St. Pauls bookstores across the country, to the Bishops and to hundreds of laypersons in ministry in the Church. I have done the same in connection with the other issues following].
The same can be said of other Catholic publications in India. In over a decade, I have never been able to locate even one single authoritative Catholic book against the ‘New Age’ from any Catholic bookshop, whereas I have purchased from these very shops a large number of works written by Catholic priests to enable me to study the ‘New Age’ errors that they are propagating in the Church. And, of course, several titles that rightfully belong in the New Age or Astrology or Occult section of a secular bookstore, for my research purposes.
The few Catholic books that are in my library are courtesy of friends who have visited the United States or Europe. On the other hand Protestant bookstores in India have provided me with a few hundred titles that expose the New Age Movement, oriental meditations, Alternative Medicine and the esoteric, and which have been invaluable in the development of my ministry against the ‘New Age’, which is explained in the acronym of my letterhead above.
Popular Catholic magazines, TEENAGER for example, carry articles that would do a New Age publication proud. The Jesuit monthly JIVAN and a national Catholic fortnightly are examples of periodicals that have featured interviews and write-ups which are New Age in content and contradict Church teaching.
One prominent national Catholic weekly ignores contributions [letters or features] from Catholics who write as I do here, the plain truth about the worsening situation in the Indian Church, for reasons best known to them.
OUR NUNS AND THEIR HOLISTIC HEALTH CENTRES
Over 4 years ago I have submitted to the CBCI and to individual Bishops a detailed report on the occult and New Age philosophies and practices that Catholic religious and laity are being indoctrinated and equipped with at these centres, offered professionally in retreat format round the year in the guise of low-cost holistic healing, and with particular reference to the centres at Chennai and Pune [run by MMS/ICM nuns] which are supported by religious congregations, CBCI funding and some Bishops.
They continue to function as effectively as before despite the severe cautions of the recent Document against Alternative Therapies and Holistic Health and my repeated letters to the Bishops of the concerned dioceses.
Two years later I prepared another in-depth forty-page report* on the latest occult therapy promoted from Nagercoil/ Kottar Diocese by an ICM nun on behalf of a Vietnamese Master [who possesses a wooden doll that ‘grows’].
Its New Age and overtly anti-Christian [and I can confidently say satanic] philosophies were propagated by her from her stall at the Tenth World Health Day of the Sick celebrations held at Vailankanni in February 2002.
Using the public address [PA] system, I drew the attention of the many Bishops of India gathered there, the Pro Nuncio and the Papal Delegate to the Celebrations to that as well as other occult/New Age goings-on [see below] at the venue, which is also a Catholic Basilica. In reply to me, Fr. Lisbert D’Souza, Jesuit Provincial told the thousands of delegates that it was a matter of discernment, which all mature individuals should be capable of making.
The photograph-supported report has reached the CBCI and all concerned Bishops with no response. Meanwhile the movement promoted by the nun has contaminated thousands of Catholics, mostly nuns. And also a few priests.
The number of nuns programmed in New Age practices is rapidly growing, and they defend the correctness of their positions because many have received their training from priests, and the laity adopt these practices in the conviction that all these learned priests and nuns surely cannot be wrong. These nuns transfer their acquired New Age ideologies and practices every year to thousands of innocent Catholic children in our educational institutions, more and more of whose premises and facilities are being used to promote New Age activities that are diametrically opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The logo of one such centre is the yin-yang symbol, which the Document classifies as occult/New Age. The head of the Pranic Healing Foundation of [the predominantly Catholic State of] Kerala is a nun.
*All reports are thoroughly researched and well documented, and based on printed and published evidence. 6.
THE SISTER-DOCTORS FORUM OF INDIA [SDFI]
This organization of highly qualified Catholic nuns who are also eminent medical doctors advertised their mission and goals through charts and posters at the Vailankanni event.
They gave no indication that they were dedicated to practicing allopathic medicine. Instead they propagated Aids prevention through the use of condoms, healing with Universal Life Force Energy, and New Age Alternative Therapies like Pranic Healing and Reiki. I have submitted a photo-report on this too to the Bishops and the CBCI.
THE CONFERENCE OF RELIGIOUS, INDIA [CRI]
Some of its office-bearers are known to favour New Age Alternative Medicine and a syncretistic brand of Christianity. One of them is closely associated with the top echelon of the Pranic Healing Foundation in India and abroad and is herself a proficient pranic healer.
TWO DANGEROUS ORGANIZATIONS
There are two Trojan horses within the Catholic Church in India.
One, a powerful organization, headed by priests and started with CBCI support, is today an authority unto itself and corrupts the Church through its presence in over 3000 Catholic member organizations in the medicare sector.
The other, founded by a well-meaning layman [whose wife has since left him], has slowly secured the recognition and support of the CBCI and several Bishops while assimilating New Age ideologies and a brand of Indian syncretism, both of which combine to form a new religion which is inimical to Catholicism and the Bible, but which is being injected into the Church of the future in and through our educational institutions:
1. THE CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF INDIA [CHAI]
It is also over 4 years since I completed my research and submitted to the CBCI and individual Bishops my reports on the anti-Christian activities of this organization and the Alternative Therapies promoted by them through their ‘Health Action’ magazine, a monthly that reaches Bishops’ houses, parish libraries, seminaries and all our medical institutions and which features articles on issues that the Document has branded as New Age Alternative Medicine. ‘Health Action’ brazenly advertises for books authored by the founder of Pranic Healing and one written a century ago by a 33rd degree Freemason and founder of an esoteric church called the Liberal Catholic Church which is located locally in the premises of the Theosophical Society, an organization whose founders [with whom that author was closely associated] are declared by the Document to be the modern initiators of the New Age Movement.
My above-mentioned report to the Bishops on the Vailankanni event also carried an extensive story with photo coverage of the CHAI stall at the venue that exhibited around 40 esoteric titles, every single one of which was written either by pranic healers, Freemasons or Theosophists. I had also announced this over the PA system to the assembled ecclesiastical delegates and Church dignitaries in case they had somehow missed the exhibition. I conducted one Bishop* on a personal tour of this and the other stalls, but he was, typically, non-committal. * of Allahabad
2. DHARMA BHARATHI
I have submitted two detailed reports to the Bishops and to the concerned CBCI Commissions concerning this organization whose founder and leaders [which include priests] are ‘Hindu-ising’ Catholic schools and colleges across the nation in the guise of inculturation and the New Age ideals of a syncretistic oneness and secular peace.
Important goals are the compulsory introduction in Catholic schools and colleges of yoga, chanting of mantras like ‘om’, and inter-faith prayer with the replacement [or placing on par] of the Bible by texts of scriptures [also considered to be equally divinely inspired] of other world religions.
The original Dharma Bharathi which, I have shown in my reports, has first-hand connections with modern New Agers in the West, soon split. A rival Dharma Bharathi emerged, its founder a priest, who with the help of a nun hijacked the name, goodwill and properties of the founder-organization in which they were serving. Legal action by the original organization has been considered but avoided only to preclude a public scandal, since both Dharma Bharathis tout a solution to the communal disharmony in India, a new world order of peace and harmony through their almost identical programmes. This second Dharma Bharathi [name recently changed] was not slow in obtaining the support of some Bishops. As a clone of the original, its goals are not very much different either.
Earlier connected with the original founder, an eminent educationist-priest has founded a third Dharma Bharathi with the blessing of his Bishop.
The Dharma Bharathis have virtually served notice on the Church that she must cease, in secular India, to evangelize [read as preach Jesus and His Gospel], or to insist that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [Jn. 14:6], in defiance of the teaching of the Document ‘Dominus Iesus’ and Pope John’s directives in Ecclesia in Asia etc.
THE ASHRAMS & THE NATIONAL BIBLICAL, CATECHETICAL AND LITURGICAL CENTRE [NBCLC]
The Ashram culture was originally meant to be or projected as an Indian Christian way of life and worship that would find mass appeal, and remove the impression that has been created that Christianity is a ‘foreign’ religion, in a country where just over 2% of the population have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord.
But the actual history [as seen from the true believer’s point of view] is sadly different, and warrants close scrutiny from Rome. What it is now can be easily seen from the writings of any of the Benedictine or Jesuit priests or RSCJ nuns connected with the ‘Ashram Movement’. It is difficult to see the unique dualistic theism of the Bible in the different shades of advaitic monism that colour all their ‘Christian’ writings.
From there it was just a short step to the New Age. One of the pioneers Fr. Bede Griffiths not only ended up as a yogi but also opened his center to New Agers from the West [one of whom wrote his famous New Age thesis in the Ashram]. Bede also traveled to Europe to participate in an international New Age conference. His teachings greatly influenced many people who, along with some of his former disciples, are today influential in the major religious congregations and Church hierarchy and who continue to promote the Hindu-isation of the Catholic Church in India. It is no coincidence that the founder of DHARMA BHARATHI is one of these disciples. He met his first New Agers from the West at Bede’s Ashram. They have influenced his beliefs and his vision and he in turn now passes it on to our children through his organization with the recognition of the CBCI.
These Ashrams have not brought anyone to a saving knowledge of the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Rather, the use of gross iconology, cross-breeding of sacred religious symbols, yogic exercises, temple-dances and dubious rituals and liturgies of an inculturation gone awry that emerged from the Ashram culture and were disseminated in the Church through the NBCLC continues to be one of the major reasons for Catholics leaving the Church.
The Ashram movement is nothing but a Hindu way of life thinly disguised as Christianity. It has opened the door to a multitude of evils which, as in the case of the other issues here already reported on by me, will be the subject of a detailed report from this writer in the near future.
While my reports have not received the slightest attention from the Bishops who are the guardians of authentic Church teaching, I have been served a warning notice threatening me with legal action for defamation and libel, and issued other written and verbal threats by some of the organizations and persons whom I have referred to in this letter. To be fair, I must mention that an Archbishop and his Auxiliary both wrote to me, independent of each other, [one, officially] that they have referred my reports to the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI. But that was the first and the last that I heard from them in a long time.
If the articles contributed by dissenting and liberal theologians to THE NEW LEADER and JIVAN [they disagree with accepted Christian beliefs] are any indication of the state of the Indian Church, I am certain to be branded as a fundamentalist [which title I have received five years ago against my first report, from a theologian at the local major seminary]. Many Indian theologians are so far to the left that a layman like me standing at the centre on the Word of God [Scripture and Church teaching] would appear to them to be a right extremist.
It would be my great pleasure to send to you at the Vatican, a complete set of my reports in the hope that someone, somewhere, will wake up to the reality and gravity of what is happening in and to the Church in India. And do something about it. Since a complete set would consist of over 300 A4 sheets and weigh over 1.5 kilograms, it would be very expensive. Hence this comparatively ‘short’ four-page letter.
However, in case I do receive a positive reply from you assuring me that you would read my reports, or at least some selected ones, it will be my privilege to send them to you. Over the last four and a half years of this ministry, I have mailed out or distributed around 170,000 copies/pages of these letters and reports. It has been made possible by the financial and material contributions of other laypersons, a few priests, and one Bishop all of whom have the same burden for Mother Church as I have, and which I am sure that you do too.
I look forward to receiving your reply.
In Jesus’ Name
Copies to the Bishops, Priests, Religious and Lay Leaders of the Church in India.
Read the Bishops’ responses to the above in a separate paper titled CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE BISHOPS –
LETTERS RECEIVED BY THIS MINISTRY FROM THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIO, CARDINALS, ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS
SECOND RESPONSE FROM ROME
LETTER FROM THE PONTIFICIUM CONSILIUM DE CULTURA, VATICAN CITY
THIS LETTER WAS WRITTEN TO ME IN RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE “LETTER TO THE VATICAN” OF 5th MAY, 2004 ON THE “NEW AGE IN THE CHURCH IN INDIA” WHICH CONTAINED A SUB-HEADING ON THE ASHRAM MOVEMENT.
From the Vatican, 7 September 2004
Prot. n. 962/04
Dear Mr. Michael Prabhu,
Thank you for your letter of 5 May 2004 addressing New Age issues in India. I read with interest your interpretation of Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life and some practices in India which may be confusing the People of God.
You are right to note that it is only with great care, sensitivity and charity that people can further enter into the mystery of Truth.
While I appreciate your offer of sending me your detailed reports alleging various abuses, I must turn you down.
The task of this Pontifical Council for Culture has never been that of condemning the New Age as a whole, but instead of encouraging dialogue in a charitable way with non-believers and the religiously indifferent who are exposed to contemporary cultural trends, and at the same time ensuring that believers take every opportunity to promote proper inculturation of the faith into today’s cultures. Part of this task requires awareness of the world in which we are living and discernment of where the Spirit is or isn’t moving.
In this way the fullness of Truth is handed on to future generations in a language they will understand, but outright condemnation and wholesale rejection of a current of thought, even one that effects [sic] whole swathes of the population, is rarely productive.
Believe me, I do share your concerns, but my task is to provoke charitable reflection on the cultural signs of the times – I have no interest in launching a new inquisition. Perhaps I can sign off by referring you, as the provisional document does, to I Peter 3:15, and by assuring you of my sincerest respect for Cardinal Dias, Member of this Council, who might appreciate your insights if they are expressed in a more charitable tone.
Sincerely in Christ,
Melchor Sanchez de Toca,
Undersecretary, Pontifical Council for Culture
To, Most Rev. Melchor Sanchez de Toca,
Undersecretary, Pontificium Consilium de Cultura, Piazza San Calisto, 16 00120 CITTA DEL VATICANO 1st January, 2005
Subject : Your letter ref. no. Prot. n. 962/04 dated 7th September, 2004 in response to my letter dated 5th May 2004 to the Holy See on the ‘New Age’ in the Church in India.
I am very grateful to you for having responded to me, considering that the other 15 or so Congregations and Dicasteries in Rome and the Vatican, to whom I had also simultaneously written, did not extend to me the courtesy of a reply. However, a careful scrutiny of your choice of words and your comments gives me the impression that you vaguely commend this ministry [and my referred ‘Letter to the Vatican’] to a very minimal extent, and then proceed to qualify these virtual encouragements with several statements that I can only describe as ‘negative’. It is difficult for me to accept your remark concerning what you perceive is my interpretation of the Vatican’s Provisional Report [PR] on the New Age [3rd February 2003]. I strictly adhere to Church interpretation of the Bible as well as to Vatican documents and encyclicals. Thousands of deeply concerned Catholics agree with me, as do similar Catholic ministries all over the world [several of whom are in touch with me, and most of which are conducted by LAY PERSONS].
The purpose of this ministry is not to highlight the “good” in the New Age [the PR itself acknowledges its ‘good’ points but warns of its spiritual pitfalls in no uncertain terms], as there are enough and more of clergy and religious already engaged in doing so, even as apostolates, but to create an awareness among Catholics about its dangers especially in the context of Alternative Medicine and Eastern Meditations. Again, the purpose of my writing to you was not to influence you into “launching a new inquisition” [to quote you].
Considering that, from your viewpoint, I am probably an uninformed and over-enthusiastic layman, I am not surprised that you had really nothing positive at all to say about this ministry in pursuing which there is not much to gain from the hierarchy [whom we greatly revere], but rejection. A Jesuit priest once told me that there are two types of laypersons who write to the Bishops out of concern for their Church, and the letters of both are consigned to the trash bin. That held true in my case for over four years, but the response from the Indian Bishops over the last six months has been, to put it simply, overwhelming.
As advised by you, I referred to 1 Peter 3:15, but am unable to find any understanding of the verse to connect it with my Letter, and the issues in question in my Letter. It is a matter of regret that you think that the “outright condemnation and wholesale rejection of a current of thought… is rarely productive”. Do you mean the ‘New Age’? If the “fullness of the Truth” that you write of is to be “handed on to future generations in a language they will understand“, then ministries such as this, that defend the unicity of Jesus [re. : Dominus Iesus, which as you know many Indian theologians have lambasted as absolutist and exclusivist] as in John 14:6, are the dire need of the hour.
I sincerely hope that I have not misinterpreted your letter, as one seminarian remarked to me that for a layperson to even get a response from the Vatican is a lifetime achievement.
I wholeheartedly agree with your view that we should “encourage dialogue in a charitable way with non-believers and the religiously indifferent who are exposed to contemporary cultural trends” while attempting to “promote proper inculturation of the faith into today’s cultures”. But instead of turning down my offer [again, quoting you] to send you detailed reports on my findings, if you had asked for them and read them, you would know [I am sure you DO] where inculturation and interfaith dialogue is heading in India, spearheaded by dissenters, rebels and liberal theologians. The Truth is a bitter pill to swallow.
The evangelization that our Pope repeatedly talks about has almost come to a halt [details in future reports],
for example : the pilot letter on the report of my visit to a ‘Catholic’ ashram which has been sent to you by email as well as by post. A number of reports will continuously follow this year including an assessment of 12 Indian theologians’ responses to the New Age PR in which they dismiss it and the Church as archaic, patriarchal, monolithic, colonial, self-righteous and so on. Surely you are not in agreement with them?
I have much confidence in and respect for in the pastors of the Catholic Church in India. To respond to your advice that “Cardinal Dias, member of this Council” might appreciate my “insights if they are expressed in a more charitable tone“, I must ask you if it is the Truth of an issue that matters in the final analysis, or the way that one expresses it? Though I find my referred Letter to be nowhere uncharitable, the respected Cardinal has never responded to any one of my other letters and reports over the past 3 years whereas dozens of other Bishops have welcomed them. I am enclosing in my letter to you a picture of an Archbishop “lighting a lamp at the inauguration of an international seminar on Hindu-Christian Cosmology” on 7th October 1997 before a large idol of the Hindu elephant-god Ganesha [courtesy Indian Express]. I rest my case.
If Your Grace can respond to this letter, it will be reflection only of your own greatness as a genuine Catholic pastor.
BELOW IS ANOTHER LETTER WITH THE SAME DATE, FROM THIS MINISTRY TO THE SAME COUNCIL.
LETTERS WITH THE SAME CONTENT, BUT INDIVIDUALLY SLIGHTLY MODIFIED, WERE SENT TO OTHER VATICAN ADDRESSES, THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIO, AND THE BISHOPS AND COMMISSIONS OF THE CBCI AS USUAL, AS ALSO TO THE FATHER-GENERAL OF THE CAMALDOLESE BENEDICTINES IN ROME.
To, Most Rev. Melchor Sanchez de Toca,
Undersecretary, Pontificium Consilium de Cultura, Piazza San Calisto, 16 00120 CITTA DEL VATICANO 1st January, 2005
Subject : SACCIDANANDA ASHRAM, SHANTIVANAM, Thannirpalli, Karur district, Tamil Nadu, INDIA
From the 15th to the 21st of December 2004, I was a resident of this ashram. At the request of the late Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB in 1980, this Catholic ashram was affiliated with the Benedictines of Camaldoli in Italy. I am therefore addressing separately to them a letter which is on the same lines as this letter to you.
As a Catholic lay evangelist who has, since 1999, endeavoured to create greater awareness of the infiltration of New Age in the Catholic Church in India, my many articles and reports are sent to all the Bishops of India [and to the various commissions of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India] as well as to over 15 Dicasteries of the Holy See.
They are also received by a fair number of priests and several hundred lay leaders in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal both in India and abroad. This ministry has been blessed to receive encouraging replies from 2 Cardinals [the third Cardinal’s office has however acknowledged receipt of my letters] and from around 60 Bishops till date.
To some extent, I was already aware of what I would expect to see and experience, even before my visit to Shantivanam. The purpose of my visit there was to obtain first-hand information about what I had already read in books or heard from others who had visited this place. Despite this preparedness, I was thoroughly shocked at what is going on in the ashram.
I have enclosed to the Camaldolese Father-General in Rome a copy of my Letter to the Vatican* dated 5th May, 2004 on the subject of “New Age’ in the Catholic Church in India which was sent to all concerned persons as indicated above. May I draw your kind attention once again to the first three paragraphs on page 4 which deal with Ashrams and the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC].
My visit to Saccidananda Ashram confirmed my apprehensions as stated in my report. But it is yet far worse than that.
In the simplest analysis, there is only a semblance of the sannyasin-priests at Shantivanam adhering to what I believe is the Benedictine dictum of ora et labora [prayer and work].
The entire setup seems to be geared to luring Western sadhakas [seekers] and to making money. There is open condemnation of all organized religion and the teachings of the Church, and a liberal interpretation of the Bible that suits the ends of the sannyasins as well as the foreigners who visit the ashram. What I witnessed heard there can be termed nothing else but heresy, blasphemy,
sacrilege and liturgical & sacramental aberrations.
Enquiries made by me reveal that during infrequent visits by officials from regulatory Church bodies or other authorities there is a careful cover-up of the actual goings-on. There is also the possibility that these visiting officials do not look beyond the trappings laid out during their visits, that they are satisfied with simplistic explanations against their queries, and that certain ashram activities are dropped or curtailed. Or that the orthodoxy of these officials is itself questionable. It may be required that the Congregation and/or the Church depute an undercover priest, who is theologically sound and faithful to orthodoxy and orthopraxis, to make a thorough assessment of the situation.
In the referred Letter to the Vatican I have also mentioned the organization called Dharma Bharathi, its founder [now known as Swami Sachidananda Bharathi]’s connection with Fr. Bede, and their links with the New Age Movement . During my visit I have found further evidence to confirm these links.
I have enclosed to the Camaldolese Father-General my report on Dharma Bharathi in which I have written about, or quoted other Catholic authors on, Shantivanam’s New Age connection, [a copy is enclosed for you] and informed him that I am writing to the concerned Bishops and CBCI Commissions, and to the Vatican.
I am presently preparing a detailed report on my findings at Saccidananda ashram and it will be sent to you in due course. Meanwhile, I look forward to receiving your kind response to this letter.
REMINDERS, FOLLOW UP TO THE ABOVE TWO LETTERS FROM THIS MINISTRY:
Subject: REPLY TO HIS GRACE, FROM INDIA, RE : YOUR LETTER OF 7 SEPTEMBER, 2004
Subject: REPLY FROM INDIA TO YOUR LETTER OF 7th SEPTEMBER
MOST REV. MELCHOR SANCHEZ DE TOCA,
UNDERSECRETARY, PONTIFICAL COUNCIL OF CULTURE, VATICAN
This is in reply to the letter that you wrote to me. Please read the attachment. A copy of it has been posted to you. Yours obediently, Michael Prabhu
METAMORPHOSE CATHOLIC MINISTRIES TO EXPOSE ‘NEW AGE’, INDIA
Subject: Fw: REPLY FROM INDIA TO YOUR LETTER OF 7th SEPTEMBER
MOST REV. MELCHOR SANCHEZ DE TOCA,
UNDERSECRETARY, PONTIFICAL COUNCIL OF CULTURE, VATICAN
This is in continuation of our correspondence. Please read the attachment. A copy of it has been posted to you.
Yours obediently, Michael Prabhu
METAMORPHOSE CATHOLIC MINISTRIES TO EXPOSE ‘NEW AGE’, INDIA
[NO RESPONSE RECEIVED]
OCTOBER 21, 2005
SUBJECT : NEW AGE, DOCTRINAL ERRORS, HERETICAL TEACHINGS, LITURGICAL ABUSES, AND
HINDUISATION INSTEAD OF INCULTURATION IN THE CATHOLIC ASHRAM MOVEMENT IN INDIA
I am a fulltime Catholic-trained Catholic evangelist, in lay ministry since 1982.
I have sent reports on various aspects of the ‘New Age’ in the Church in India over the last three years to different councils / dicasteries / congregations of the Holy See on behalf of hundreds of lay persons, many of whom are servant-leaders in ministry, and dozens of seminarians and priests who support this ministry in various ways.
I have once received an acknowledgement only, and another time I received a reply that was quite negative, and dismissive of my ‘perceptions’ and ‘apprehensions’, to say the least.
I have acknowledged both letters with no further response from Rome.
After several fruitless meetings with the Auxiliary Bishop of Madras-Mylapore, my further letters to His Grace were met only with silence. My next course of action was to send my various reports and letters to our Cardinals and Bishops. Cardinal Ivan Dias has never responded. I once received an acknowledgement from another Cardinal, while a third has written to me several encouraging letters.
This was after they received copies of my “Letter to the Vatican” of May 2004 [referred to in the attached report] which was sent to the Holy See. Meanwhile several Bishops have acknowledged receipt of that Letter and other reports.
The responses of the Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India have also been very heartening. I am quite certain that he and other Bishops will carefully study their copies of the report which I have also attached here.
In my Letter to you of May 2004, I had stated that the goings-on in the Ashrams are a matter of very serious concern. My attached report confirms that.
I now look forward to a positive response from the teaching authority of the Church.
1. Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]
Secretary: Archbishop Angelo Amato
Palazzo della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11
00193 Roma /
00120 Città del Vaticano
2. Pontificium Consilium pro Dialogo Inter Religiones [Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue]
President: Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, M.
Secretary: Pier Luigi
Via dell’ Erba, 1
3. Pontificium Consilium de Cultura [Pontifical Council for Culture]
President: Cardinal Paul Poupard
Secretary, Father Bernard Ardura, O. Praem
Piazza San Calisto, 16
00120 Citta del Vaticano /
4. Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti
[Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments]
Prefect: Cardinal Francis Arinze
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 10
00193, Roma / 00120 Città del Vaticano
Congregazione per il Clero [Congregation for the Clergy] Prefect: Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos
Secretary: Archbishop Csaba Ternyak
Undersecretary: Mons. Antonio Silvestrelli
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 3
00193 Roma / 00120 Città del Vaticano
6. The Secretary of State
Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano
00120 Città del Vaticano
THIRD RESPONSE FROM ROME
LETTER FROM THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LAITY, VATICAN CITY
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2005 11:02 PM Subject: R: NEW AGE IN THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS IN INDIA
Dear Mr. Prabhu
After a preliminary investigation of the subject of your email, we have come to find out that Ashram movement is a national movement, and as such, not within our competency as this Pontifical Council deals with International Movements. The Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity ask that your redirect your inquiry to the local bishop where the movement is active.
If, after this inquiry is made, and still no satisfactory response is offered, we suggest as a last extreme, that you direct your inquiry to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Pontifical Council for the Laity
MY RESPONSE OF
NOV 5, 2005:
To, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, The President,
Through, The Undersecretary, Pontifical Council for the Laity
I thank you for your kind letter of November 4.
In the context of your letter and my detailed Report, I would like to submit to you the following.
1. While the Ashram Movement is certainly a ‘national’ one in the sense of its having its roots in India,
a) it is now transnational because many copy-cat ashrams have sprung up in the West, most of them having ties, links and connections with Indian ashrams, particularly Shantivanam.
b) the Indian leaders and activists of the Movement are exporting its ideologies and practices to the West- to Australia, the United States, countries of the European Union, etc.
Concerned priests and lay Catholic leaders have written to me from these places.
c) the New Age components of the Movement have been absorbed from the West.
2. The Ashram Movement, which already has spread its errors, will result in a rapid and probably irrecoverable Hindu-isation of the Catholic Church in India. And will have a similar impact on other Asian nations.
It will soon be too late for damage control measures by the Vatican.
a) Since a few Bishops, especially those from one or two particular religious orders, are already closely associated with different aspects and activities of the Movement, it is already having an impact at the ASIAN level as I have noted from reading certain reports on JEPASA [Jesuit Provincials of South Asia] and the FABC [Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference].
b) As more Bishops are elevated in the future, an increasing number of them will be priests who have had exposure, and I would say ‘indoctrination’, [either at the Ashrams, or from professors who are associated with them] during their formation. There will be fewer and fewer Bishops loyal to Rome to oppose these new Bishops. Reports coming from the recent jubilee celebrations of the Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth [formerly the Papal Seminary] in Pune, are an indication of this alarming trend. [This will be the subject of a report that will be issued next week].
c) The powerful NBCLC [National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre] in Bangalore exerts an influence that extends beyond national boundaries.
3. The Movement uses blasphemy, teaches heresy, practices sacrilege, and advocates a rebellion against the Magisterium of the Holy See. The specifics and details can be found in my Report. Since this involves diverse aspects of Catholic faith and living, it therefore is the concern of, as I see it, MOST of the Congregations and Councils in Rome, and not just your Council or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
However I have written to that particular Dicastery too, and I await their response. I have in fact submitted reports to that Congregation on connected issues since several years, even when it was headed by our present Holy Father, but I received no acknowledgement.
Regarding your suggestion to me to direct my “inquiry to the local bishop where the movement is active”,
I have already sent copies of the Report to all [that means about 165] of the Bishops because there are Ashrams in almost every State and Union Territory of India; and even if a particular Diocese does not have an Ashram, there is always the likelihood of one being started there, given the present trend.
Moreover, I believe that many Bishops are genuinely unaware of what is really going on in these Ashrams, and a reading of my report may bring an awareness to them.
Though it is a month since I sent them the Ashrams Report, only a few Bishops have responded. Those who did not respond include many Bishops whose Dioceses are host to major Ashrams. I may add that I have sent at least one reminder, and in some cases upto three, to each Bishop’s email address.
Those few Bishops who have responded to my Report have been very encouraging in their replies.
I have also received scores of letters from concerned seminarians, priests and lay leaders from all across India and the world. They are alarmed at the revelations in my report.
I am sure that you too must be seriously concerned after reading it.
In view of all the above, I look forward to further suggestions and / or action from your end.
Thanking you, Yours obediently,
Michael Prabhu Chennai India
With email copies to my own Archbishop and Auxiliary Bishop [Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore] who are among those whose responses I still await with all confidence:
MOST REV. A. MALAYAPPAN CHINNAPPA
MOST REV. LAWRENCE PIUS D.
[NO RESPONSE FROM THE VATICAN OR FROM THE TWO BISHOPS]
FOR MORE RESPONSES ALSO SEE:
LETTERS FROM THIS MINISTRY TO THE HOLY SEE_ NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE_12