CORRESPONDENCE AGAINST REPORTS IN THE SECULAR MEDIA, AND WITH CRITICS
OF OUR CRUSADE AGAINST THE ERRORS IN THE ST. PAULS’ NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE
1. THIS MINISTRY’S CRITICISM OF THE NCB:
PUBLISHED IN THE ASIAN AGE, MUMBAI, JULY 24, 2008 [except for the portions in red]
Subject: LETTER TO THE EDITOR
SECULAR AND SACRILEGE
This in response to the article Secular or sacrilege? [The Age, Saturday, 19th July, 2008 by
Edlyn G. D’Souza] on the “Indianised” “Bible”. To answer the question, The New Community Bible [NCB] is both secular as well as a sacrilege.
The NCB might be published by “Catholics“, but Catholics object to its claim to be Catholic, which requires that not only the text be faithful to the original biblical languages but also that the commentaries be in line with current Church teaching.
The NCB is not. In many cases the commentaries contradict Church teaching and are the views of the respective theologians. Some commentaries are manipulated and half-truth. The half-truth obscures the real truth, which is quite different. An “Indianised“
“Bible“ does not require contrived parallels with Hindu philosophy which has simply no equivalents or near similarities in Christian revelation.
If the NCB was meant for India, it certainly failed to treat many important issues like the caste problem and dalits, abortion, female infanticide, etc. It is shocking that a Mumbai Catholic priest, Fr Charanghat, will describe conscientious faithful as “narrow-minded”. He might be the spokesman for the Archbishop, but he is certainly not the voice of the Church.
We reject all these liberal theologians who preach only the social gospel of Jesus Christ to the exclusion of his complete mission and message of salvation from the shackles of sin which is the real cause of all human suffering.
The NCB will only serve to poison the faith of our seminarians and our children, and further syncretize Indian Catholicism.
Many Catholic priests have rejected the NCB but are afraid to speak up. The laity have no forum to express their views.
In a democratic Church, the faithful would have been consulted in the preparation of such an unprecedented work.
Organizations like the Bombay Catholic Sabha and All India Catholic Union are more of political lobbies than representative of genuine Catholic spirituality. The comment of Mr Dolphy D’Souza* only reveals his ignorance of the faith.
Kudos to Fr. Rocky Vaz for speaking the truth, and thank you for quoting him. May his tribe increase.
A number of lay faithful and priests, from India and overseas, have joined hands to use this writer’s forum to express their views through a detailed analysis of the offensive commentaries in the NCB. A copy is attached herewith for your perusal.
We have written by email to all the 200 plus Bishops of the country [including those in retirement] asking for a withdrawal of the NCB which we do not call a Bible.
Yours sincerely, On behalf of many other Catholics, Michael Prabhu, Metamorphose Catholic Ministries
www.ephesians-511.net. emails: personal
12 Dawn Apartments, 22 Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600 028, Tamil Nadu. Tel: 044 2461 1606
2. THIS MINISTRY’S CRITICISM OF THE NCB:
MUMBAI MIRROR. MAY HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED, THOUGH WE DO NOT KNOW FOR CERTAIN.
Subject: LETTER TO THE EDITOR
This in response to the article
THE BIBLE WITH A TOUCH OF INDIA [Mumbai Mirror, July 09/Pune Mirror,
July 11 by Manoj R Nair] on the ‘Indian Bible’ called the New Community Bible [NCB] released by a section of the Catholic Church.
The NCB might be published by “Catholics”, but Catholics object… […] [rest as in above letter]
*Mr Dolphy D’Souza
He is the President of the Bombay Catholic Sabha. I quote from the report in THE AGE, MUMBAI Sat. 19th July Secular or sacrilege? “Indianised” Bible throws up an interesting debate by Edlyn G. D’Souza:
“Dolphy D’Souza, president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha feels that of what he’s read of this Bible, he has found very interesting. ‘It is a supplement to the thinking process and at the end of the day, the methodology has to be clear’ he says.“
Dolphy D’Souza, an activist, evidently knows very little about his faith. If he knew his Bible, he would not have ‘read’ it but prayed it, and he might have discovered at least one of the many errors that have been pointed out in the commentaries.
His comment to the newspaper is anyway not one that a true Bible-praying Catholic would have made [“interesting”,
“supplement to the thinking process”, “methodology…”] as if it were a guide to selecting the right car.
But the NCB is in largely because there are more religion experts like Dolphy than lay prophets in the Catholic Church.
Dolphy and the Bombay Catholic Sabha were in the daily news of even Catholic sites otherwise dedicated to apologetics and faith-building, one of which however did not even announce the launch of the NCB, because, as one of its moderators wrote, “There has been a lot of controversy with regard to this Bible in the last few days and an independent report has also been released by Michael Prabhu… We would not want to create unnecessary publicity for the NCB especially with regard to the controversy that surrounds it.”
However, one intercessory group from Mumbai published this message on July 18:
“As you remember to pray for the Church in Mumbai remember two groups of priests, the activists that only have a political agenda without the Gospel… (human rights value system) — specially when we Christians are targeted in this city.
Pray for the group that spearheads this movement — it is called Bombay Catholic Sabha, President Mr. Dolphy D’Souza.
This group does a lot politically (fighting just causes) for the Church of Bombay but pray that each of the members have a personal experience of Jesus. They have quite a clout in our city, pray that their ideas would be set right by our Bishops and not take root in the heart of the church.
For many priests and nuns involved in new age practices of yoga, vipassana, reiki healings etc (one of the pioneering priest is Fr. Joe Pereira, Diocesan Priest). For a New Community Bible that was released on this Jubilee of St Paul, which looks more like a new age bible. Details by Michael Prabhu enclosed in file…”
When I congratulated one of their leaders on his discernment and prophetic spirit,
“Your Intercessory update of 18th evening is prophetic. You are the first and only person to openly tell the truth about the Bombay Catholic Sabha and Dolphy D’Souza. You analyzed them correctly. This is what I have been saying all along…”
From: Intercessory leader with international network To:
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 12:51 PM
Subject: Re: Intercession and the New Community Bible
Dear Michael, Praise Jesus
Our work is prophetic and intercession is the back bone. This is off the records I had a word with Dolphy D’Souza when he addressed a meeting in my parish last Monday and requested him not to misquote the Bible. I called him aside to share my view, but he got into a rage and started speaking to me very rudely. I quietly left the hall. God has used this situation to now muster intercession through our network world wide and we will see the victory. Glory to Jesus. Thanks for appreciating our work. God Bless …
LETTER FROM ONE OF THE COMMENTATORS OF THE NCB [NOTE THAT HE NEITHER IDENTIFIES HIMSELF TO ME AS A PRIEST NOR AS ONE OF THE COMMENTATORS]:
Dear Michael, I went through your “Update and Alert” concerning the NCB, and I feel sad about it.
If your name were Michael Ratzinger, or Michael Bush, or Michael Ottaviani, I would understand. But you are Michael PRABHU!
I appreciate your concern for the integrity of faith. Two things need to be noted here:
1. Our faith is centred on the person of the Risen Lord.
2. Because He is the RISEN Lord, nothing can destroy this faith. In the past many have tried to destroy it. Again we damage our faith not so much by some doctrine, but by betraying the person of Jesus. There have been many Christians, priests, bishops and even popes included, who have been absolutely unchristian, rogues, womanizers and murderers.
I request you to read carefully and reflect upon numbers 12 to 15 of Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum).
It may also be helpful to keep in mind that in his speech to the Greeks, St. Paul quoted from their (pagan) writers (Acts 17.28). Thus the words of Pagans are words of our Holy Scripture.
The post-synodal document, Ecclesia in Asia (1999) reminds us of a paradox of history: Jesus “took flesh as an Asian,”(EA 1) and yet “has until now remained largely unknown to the people of the continent,”(EA 2) and “Jesus is often perceived as foreign to Asia. It is paradoxical that most Asians tend to regard Jesus born on Asian soil as a Western rather than an Asian figure.”(EA 20) The Church appears to have largely failed in her mission of effectively the identity of Jesus to Asian peoples. Why did this happen? I am afraid in our eagerness to preserve the faith for our children and grandchildren we may succeed in the wrong way: preserving it only for them. Then the Church will continue to be what she has been for almost two thousand years: a small colony of Western Christianity. Without deep inculturation we will not be able to change the situation, however much we may wish. Do you want the Church to be a ghetto in our country?
You have every right to your views. My only request is that we try to see what is being said by persons who are also committed to Jesus, who have made an in-depth study of the Bible along the lines of Dei Verbum. The Holy Spirit is alive in the Church, guiding the people of God to carry the Word to all nations. They will understand the WORD only when we express HIM in their words.
I have also attached a letter* expressing the views of another lay person, who at one time was a very active member of the All India Catholic Association.
With my best wishes, Subhash Anand.
In the beginning was love. With the advent of writing came the Love Letter. SMS and email can never replace the Love Letter. It is the most precious form of communication between the lover and the beloved, when they are separated by time and space.
“In the beginning when God created the heavens…the spirit of God hovered over the waters (Gen1:1).
“In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).
Creation was an act of love. Redemption in Jesus was the continuing manifestation of that love. The Bible is the eternal Love Letter that reminds us of God’s love through time and space, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And now St Paul’s Publications have exceedingly enhanced the charm, beauty and appeal of that Love Letter, with the publication of the special Indian edition of The New Community Bible (NCB). I first fell in love with the Holy Bible in 1975, reading and reflecting on the poetically beautiful Douay version, that my father loving meditated on every morning. Since then I have read, studied, quoted and meditated on several versions and editions of the Bible, both Catholic and Protestant. But I have fallen unabashedly in love with the NCB, released on the Feast of Sts Peter & Paul on 29th June in India. It is quite simply a labour of love. The recipient of such a Love Letter cannot but feel elated, even ecstatic.
15 long years in the making, the NCB is perhaps the first English language Bible prepared specifically for India, through the efforts of Indian Biblical scholars (exegetes). Some purists and fundamentalists may baulk at the every suggestion of an “Indian” Bible. I would not like to here digress on the composition and evolution of the Bible over the years, and its authentication (canonicity). Suffice it to say that Love is not static. It evolves. So does faith. So does life and our understanding of it. A couple celebrating their golden jubilee would define love and life very differently from passionate honeymooners, though both would be right in their own way. So too, the Love Letter evolves and addresses itself to our changed situations – linguistic, ethnic, social, etc.
So what’s so special about the NCB? The easiest part is the physical properties. It is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Its selective use of ancient Roman calligraphy is brilliant. The rice paper, hardback and gold leafing makes it a collector’s choice. But collector’s choices are usually found in museums. That is not where Love Letters should be.
Though I am not easily swayed by emotions, I felt that lots of love went into the making of the NCB, which is why it speaks to the heart of the reader. Some Bibles are cut and dried bare text versions. Others are paraphrases, for easier reading. Yet others are scholarly tomes that are a mine of information for scholars and researchers. The notes and commentaries are scholarly in nature, like dissecting a rate under a microscope, to lay its innards bare. The NCB has an altogether different approach, which I would term pastoral, catechetical and formative.
The format is threefold – the actual TEXT, a box with CROSS REFRENCES, and thirdly a CATECHETICAL COMMENTARY. Very often the commentary is longer than the text; but it it’s not burdensome, nor a rude intrusion. It is infact a catalyst or a taste enhancer, and is the unique element of the NCB. It is in this area that I see a lot of love’s labour. The contributors have gone out of their way to give lucid and meaningful explanations. While being faithful to the everlasting content of God’s word, they have also exposed the human elements that went into its making. The NCB is telling us that indeed the Bible is the Voice of God in the Words of Men; and therefore seeks to separate these two elements.
This is evident in the biblical account of creation. Diehard traditionalists and fundamentalists would insist that God created the world in 6 Days and rested on the 7th.
The NCB commentary humbly admits that the biblical account of creation is not an attempt at history, geography, geology or physics. It frankly admits that creation, humans included, evolved over billions of years.
Another unique feature of the Indian NCB is the cross references to Hindu scriptures (book, chapter, verse, et al). This is especially poignant in the Genesis account of creation and the great flood. By listing these “uniquely” biblical events with similar ones in other religious scriptures, the NCB is conveying a subtle message. The Genesis (origin) of all mankind and all religions is the same. After the symbolic Diaspora, consequent to the tower of Babel; peoples, languages and religions diverged. There was now emphasis on the uniqueness of each religion – what differentiated it from others. Recent events, notably Vatican II, now talk of religious dialogue, and seeking what is the common factor. From conversion we now talk of convergence – coming together. All religions need to follow this path, lest from a common genesis they end up in a diasporal nemesis!
On a personal level I felt even greater satisfaction seeing familiar names among the contributors to the NCB – stalwarts like Rui de Menezes SJ, Christopher Coelho OFM, George Soares Prabhu SJ, T.K. John SJ, Subash Anand, and of course Bp Thomas Dabre. God bless every one of them.
Even a lover finds warts on the face of his beloved. There are a few areas for improvement that the compilers could consider for future editions. The NCB could do with a concordance of frequently used words, phrases, names and places. Besides the introduction to various books of the Bible, a general introduction on how the Bible evolved, canonicity and inspiration would round off an otherwise excellent effort. The very first illustration showing God as an old man, with long hair and drooping eyes, is incongruous with the modern image of the NCB. It tends to perpetuate stereotypes. My son, to whom I presented the NCB on his graduation, said that God looked like the ogre in the “Lord of the Rings”. Oh Lord, what a blunder! The gold leaf edging, though attractive, makes the pages stick together in this humid monsoon season.
Having said this I would strongly recommend that all lovers, including Bible lovers, rush to the nearest bookshop or St. Paul’s outlet, and pick up their copy of this Love Letter – The New Community Bible. You will find yourself falling in love all over again.
The reviewer is a layman who is a college dropout, and has no training in Biblical studies. But then, who needs a degree to love?-SA
MY RESPONSE TO FR. SUBHASH ANAND, COPY TO THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIO, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CBCI DOCTRINAL COMMISSION, AND THE BOMBAY BISHOPS:
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Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2008 11:16 PM Subject: Re: sa
My dear Fr Subhash Anand,
I thank you for your letter of August 10, 2008. I intentionally did not respond till I felt inspired to do so now, because
(i) I understood from the tone of your letter that it would be an exercise in futility
(ii) I needed to let the NCB issue be addressed with my complete concentration.
To briefly discuss your letter:
Your comments about my name [my identity and mission] are disparaging and condescending. As a priest and theologian, I believe that you should know better. My crusade is in defense of the orthodoxy of the Faith and not against personalities, though you represent those against whom my team and I are crusading, and therefore would be included by name in my reports.
You have loosely used the name of our Pope though you rebel against Rome [as when Dominus Iesus was released, see attachment* which is a follow-up to our original report on the NCB] and want her not to exercise any authority over affairs of the Indian Church. If, God forbid, you and other theologians succeed in having your way, and we know that there are Bishops who support you all, you will establish one more schismatic “church”, and many priests and laity will continue to remain loyal to Rome. *http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/PAPAL SEMINARY_NCB.doc
Your arguments or explanations do not convince us.
St Pauls might have published the NCB and theologians might have written some of its controversial commentaries. But three St Pauls priests who contacted me do NOT agree with their confreres, so there must surely be many more. And two theologians believe that the said commentaries are erroneous and dangerous, so again, there will be many more like them except that we have no contact with them.
Born Catholic, and after 11 years living as a Hindu, it was not theological arguments or explanations like yours that brought me back to Rome or which have sustained me till now. Neither are they pertinent to the dozens of priests and hundreds of lay persons, five of them Hindu-born, who have written in support of the demand for the withdrawal of the NCB.
All of us unanimously agree on one thing: if a Catholic were to have a living, personal relationship with the Risen Lord [whom you appeal to], he would not need or have an inclination to do all the things that you all are doing. There is no precedent in the missionary activities of the greatest evangelizers like St Thomas the Apostle and St Francis Xavier to conduct inter-faith prayer meetings, engage in inter-religious dialogue or “inculturate” [at least certainly not the model that you propose in the NCB]. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and simply preached the Word of God, exercising their charisms. We see NOTHING of that in you all who promote religious pluralism and a syncretized Christianity [a poor term since they are mutually exclusive].
Please do not think that we are ignorant, or as Bishop Valerian said in Bombay, “lacking in Biblical scholarship”. Knowledge is not the exclusive purview anymore of academically trained “scholars”. Leading “theologians” in the West today are laypersons, even women [nuns not excluded]. Moreover, theology never saved anybody.
You also disparage the Indian Church when you describe her as a “small colony of Western Christianity”. If all of you Bishops and theologians would devote more of your time and money and energy to preaching the Risen Jesus Christ of the Gospels as unique Lord and Saviour [see the Acts of the Apostles] as is done at the many charismatic retreat centres [that most theologians detest], India might be a Christian nation.
The total social liberation you all envisage and promote has its natural limitations. All bondage [from which liberation is needed] is caused by sin. That issue must be our starting point. The more that all forms of sin are identified, acknowledged, surrendered to Jesus and repented of, the more complete and wholesome will be our total liberation and salvation, and the sooner will come the Kingdom of God.
Today, on the Feast of the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, I had to painfully listen to one of the worst homilies I have endured in my adult life, a theologian telling us that God is so good that no one will go to hell..
We are facing an unprecedented crisis in the Church: attacks on Christians and attacks on the Faith. Most Catholics are concerned about the danger from the saffron without. While I am involved in a response to both, I am mostly concerning myself with confronting the saffron within. Let me end here. Some of the issues that you raised will be addressed in another follow-up report.
Regarding the letter from Chhotebhai Noronha that you attached, you might as well have sent me one from any other commentator of the NCB. To me, it is very suspicious that you sent me his pro-NCB letter since we have communicated a lot and he has directly emailed me some of his earlier writings. Why didn’t he do so in this case? I may be judging you all, but it seems as if the pro-NCB lobby actually sought such a “love-letter” from Noronha.
I admire Noronha’s writing skills and secular critiques, but his spirituality is programmed by the Catholic ashrams where he trained in the very New Age philosophies and practices that today are a malignant cancer in the Indian Church and which this ministry seeks to expose to the Light [Ephesians 5:11].
At your service in Jesus’ Name
Michael Prabhu, Catholic Apologist and Evangelist
NO RESPONSE WAS RECEIVED FROM ANY OF THE ADDRESSEES
Vishal Jagruti, the All India Catholic Union monthly from Goa, carried Chhotebhai’s article “Uptight about tithes” in its July and August 2008 issues. As its name suggests, the article refers to Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Holy Bible to demonstrate that tithing is a Mosaic law and is not a requirement today, having been invalidated by the fulfillment of the Old Law in Jesus Christ. Chhotebhai wrote the article after he was incensed on reading a suggestion in a reputed Catholic magazine that Catholics practice “tithing to the Church in order to be a better Christian…” He says “Jesus equated tithing with religious hypocrisy… I cannot subscribe to the theatrical support for tithing. I am really uptight about tithing and advocacy of the same in any form.”
So much for a Catholic who describes himself as having “been active in organized lay ministry for the last 40 years.”
How can anyone take seriously his commentary on the NCB?
Incidentally, Catholic lay ministries in India, almost all without exception, including this one, give and receive tithes, not in the letter of the Law, but in the spirit of the Law, and we have witnessed and experienced might miracles of Divine Providence [Luke 6;38, Malachi 3, etc.] that a Catholic of Chhotebhai’s spirituality would never understand.
Subject: Re: ALERT and UPDATE : CALL FOR WITHDRAWAL OF THE NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE [NCB]. YOUR RESPONSE — OR SILENCE — CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Michael, I had asked you to delete my name from your mailing list. Please do it NOW. I simply do not want to receive any mail from you anymore. I hope this is clear to you at least now.
Dear Father Tom,
It is as impossible for me to delete your name from my alerts on matters concerning the Catholic faith and the eternal welfare of the faithful as for you to refuse to hear my confession if I request you to. Love and God bless you, Mike
FR. TOM POLACKAL, SDB., IS A PASTOR TO THE ‘JESUS YOUTH’ MINISTRIES IN BANGALORE!
HE IS A PRACTITIONER OF ‘DREAMWORK’ THERAPY AND HAS OPPOSED IN WRITING THIS MINISTRY’S CRUSADE TO EXPOSE NEW AGE ERROR:
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2004 9:45 AM Subject: New Age Movement and Dreamwork.
Dear Michael Prabhu,
Good that we met at least for a brief moment at DVK yesterday. I was sitting down quietly to read the hand out you had given then a young man sat near me to say something when you passed by.
I would strongly recommend that you read a special issue of JEEVADHARA: NEW AGE THEOLOGICAL RESPONSE TO THE VATICAN DOCUMENT edited by Fr. Sebastian Painadath SJ*. This issue has articles by eminent and serious theologians of India on the matter of New Age.
The hand out disturbed me. I am taking DREAMWORK at our centre here and I do not find any of what you call New Age business. Church has had a grudge against Dreams – quite not in keeping with the Scripture Tradition. For my dreamwork classes I am using as my basic text the book by a team of Catholic writers: DREAMS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH – A Judeo-Christian Way to Dreamwork by Louis M. Savary, Patricia H. Berne, Strephon Kaplan Williams, Paulist Press, Mahwah, 1984. I this book I would recommend that you read the following pages: 38-45: Dreamwork and First Five Centuries of the Early Church; pages 50-56 treats of how the Church got into disfavour with dream work; pp 67-71 shows how the Church, not the squint eyed one, rediscovers the Christian Dreamwork Tradtion.
God gives us dreams for some purpose. What is that purpose if not to make us whole beings. It is not from the nether world or from the demons but from our own unconscious which is the untapped power source of wholeness and holiness.
Dear Michael Prabhu, please do NOT distribute such material among the youth, especially among Jesus Youth of Bangalore. You would unnecessary confuse the minds of young people. If there is any youth group that is really devoted to the Church, it is Jesus Youth. Did you by chance seek the permission from any of the organizers before distributing the same? If not that would be serious omission on your part. When we who their elders see anything wrong we can intervene without just distributing such material without any introduction or rhyme or reason. Please do not do this sort of thing anymore. It would be setting cat among chickens or a bull in the china shop. In Jesus Tom Polackal.
*FR. PAINADATH IS A LEADING FIGURE IN THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS MOVEMENT. PAINADATH’S BOOK, WHICH FR. TOM REFERS TO, TRASHES THE VATICAN DOCUMENT OF FEBRUARY 3, 2003 ON THE NEW AGE!!! I REPLIED TO HIM SUITABLY, AGAINST HIS ABOVE LETTER.
Subject: Re: FOR INTENSE INTERCESSION PLEASE. YOUR RESPONSE — OR SILENCE—CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Praise the Lord Please unsubscribe our mail id from your mailing list Thank you Divine Retreat Centre
Subject: REGARDING YOUR INSTRUCTION TO UNSUBSCRIBE YOU FROM OUR MAILING LIST
Pope Felix III said, “NOT TO OPPOSE ERROR IS TO APPROVE IT, AND NOT TO DEFEND TRUTH IS TO SUPPRESS IT, AND INDEED, TO NEGLECT TO CONFOUND EVIL MEN WHEN WE CAN DO IT, IS NO LESS A SIN THAN TO ENCOURAGE THEM.”
Dear Reverend Father Augustine, Praise the Lord.
I thank you for your letter. However, I am unable to obey your instruction for the above reason and for the following, apart from the injunctions in Scripture, including Ephesians 5:11, to oppose error.
1. The note in my alert on the NCB about unsubscribing disinterested recipients was meant for lay Catholics, of whom I have around 10,000 in my address book, who might be low on spirituality. Not for international preachers like you and ministries like yours which are accessed by hundreds of thousands who the Lord sends you.
2. My 10 years in part time ministry followed a direct instruction from the Lord, then confirmed by certain eminent priests, all of them known to you. My 13 years currently in full time ministry was initiated with the Word of Knowledge through Jeremiah 1:4, 5 in 1995 by none other than yourself when we prayed together in your room.
To obey you now would be to disobey God who confirmed the same from 1996 to 2001 through several other eminent retreat preachers. The prophetic charism must not be muzzled. Enough of that is being done by retreat centres and preachers to deliver a safe and popular gospel.
3. I am doing the same ministry now as I was doing in 1996, 1997 and 1998 when on three separate occasions you invited me to go back the same day with your team from Chennai to DRCM to serve there.
I could not oblige only because I was already committed with the ministry of Fr. Francis Rebello SJ in Mangalore, and also in obedience to a higher authority, the Lord. You eventually appeared to be very upset with me because you are unaccustomed to being turned down, I assume. It is like that very much all over the CCR where independent thinking, drawing attention to error, or constructive dissent are viewed as hostile. And punished.
4. Your unwillingness in the recent past to receive my mails which are a crusade against error indicates your personal animosity towards me for bringing to your attention certain errors and problems at Divine Retreat Center. I could expand descriptively on the all-round implications of that, but you are intelligent enough to understand my meaning.
5. Your unwillingness to say a good word to this ministry — as you used to for many years in the several letters that I have from you — and comment on the NCB issue, is symptomatic of the general malaise that has afflicted most leaders of the charismatic renewal worldwide and in India, holding it powerless in a vice-like deathly grip.
The problems that you faced at DRCM not too long ago were not unexpected. Glen and Teresa will confirm to you the prophetic word that I received from the Lord for you and gave to them the last time I left your Centre in 1999.
I believe that unless things change soon, the Lord might move me to act even as it happened for the NCB.
6. My crusade against the NCB has now been widely covered by the national secular [Mumbai Age, Asian Age, DNA, Hindustan Times, Times of India, etc.] and international Catholic press, blogs and websites — and the so-called bible is under intense scrutiny by the CBCI as a result.
One reason is that this ministry enjoys full credibility for being unbiased, non-compromising, accurate and truthful.
Despite my correspondence with you on Lalith Perera, the Sri Lankan Enneagram practitioner has again ministered at your Centre, this year, in July 2008. Several of my family and friends were there. I have always encouraged everyone to make retreats at DRCM while being equally clear about the mistakes and errors of some individual preachers.
My immediate family — sons, daughter-in-law, grand daughter, nephews and nieces have all made retreats there this year. I do not keep personal grudges. I try never to lose the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
In the Name of the Lord, I can only humbly warn you that compromise with spiritual error has very disastrous consequences. Sometimes you and I tend to forget that we are only instruments — by His Mercy — in His hands.
May He enlighten you to practice what you preach, and to be a humble servant to the thousands that He brings to the Centre over which He has given you stewardship.
One’s true greatness is in one’s ability to accept one’s failures and errors. I have nothing personal against you, Father Augustine. You are a good person, but some of the things that you have done are not of the Lord or for His glory, but yours. I too constantly have to fight the same battles in my ministry, failing sometimes, and I pray for you.
If you would sincerely pray about this for a few days and remember me at Holy Mass when your anointed hands and words change the bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood, I am certain that you will write a kind letter to me. I also always wish and pray for you and for DRCM all the very best of God’s blessings.
Thank you, Michael Prabhu
CRITICISM FROM A PRIEST OF THE SOCIETY OF ST. PAUL THAT PUBLIHED THE NCB
Fr. James Manjackal
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2008 11:30 AM Subject: Fw: NCB criticism
See the reaction….. Fr. James Manjackal, MSFS., MUNICH, GERMANY
Fr. James Manjackal
Sent: Monday, September 8, 2008, 3:18 AM Subject: NCB criticism
Dear Fr Manjackal,
This letter comes as a response to your letter to Mr Michael Praphu, which he quotes in all his misinformation campaigns. Although I do not know you, Mr Prabhu’s letter claims that you are an author and a retreat preacher all over the world for 34 years! If in case you have not written such a letter to Mr Michael Prabhu, but has cooked up one to drag your name into the controversy, please pardon me and ignore what I wirte below.
While you have all the right to “fully support all the efforts of Mr Prabhu”, it is unfortunate that you have branded the NCB as “pagan” and called for blocking it, without reading a single page of the same. You yourself write that your knowledge of this Bible comes from the article of Michael Prabhu.
As you are “a preacher all over the world for 34 years”, I do not question your credentials, but I doubt your ability to know the truth about the matter discussed as you have not taken the trouble to verify it. You have joined a misinformation campaign without reading a single page of the said Bible or trying to learn something about it from the Catholic theologians who lauded it as a landmark for evangelization, scripture scholars who spent 18 years preparing this Bible, or hierarchy which has given its imprimatur to it! If you cannot go along with what the official Church teaches and supports, I wonder what you have been preaching for 34 years and pity those listening to your preaching. Constructive criticism can strengthen the Church, but making false allegations without verifying the truth of the matter can only betray your own ignorance.
However, such baseless allegations as Mr Michael Prabhu’s or yours will not dampen our spirit to bring the Word of God to millions of people in meaningful ways. We are not bothered about the “black spot”. Even Jesus was found to be a “black spot” to the powers and people of his time. But he is the Saviour of the world!
Thanks and good wishes, Joe Eruppakkatt, SSP*
Joe Eruppakkatt, SSP Society of St Paul 2187 Victory Blvd Staten Island NEW YORK 10314 USA
Cell: 718-536-9209 Tel: 718-761 0047 718-761 0050 E-mail: email@example.com
My Blog1: http://joe-eruppakkatt.blogspot.com My Blog 2: http://eruppakkatt.multiply.com/
*Priest of the Society of St Paul that published the NCB
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2008 7:08 PM Subject: Re: NCB criticism
KIND ATTENTION: REV. FR. JOE ERUPPAKKATT, SSP
COPY TO BISHOP THOMAS DABRE, CHAIRMAN, DOCTRINAL COMMISSION, CBCI
BCC TO NCB OPPOSITION TEAM MEMBERS
Dear Fr. Joe,
Just as you have judged my scholarship, credibility and integrity, would it be fair if I replicate your own questions about you?
It is precisely because of priests like you, personally, and the New Age, modernist and liberal errors that you are propagating, personally and as a religious congregation, that my ministry exists.
I do not need to go into a lengthy defense of my position. I have collected hundreds of letters from priests, lay Catholic preachers and ministries from all over the world, including a couple of senior priests from your own congregation who concur with me and demand revision of the commentaries and withdrawal of the book they call a Bible.
A Catholic international news agency has contacted me and wishes to interview me on this matter. Several priests have agreed to join me in this interview.
Do you think that Fr James and all these priests do not know Jesus or love the Church any less than you do? You are being conceited, presumptuous and judgemental [from the words and tone of your own letter].
From the letters that this ministry has received from over 50 Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, it is clear that not a few of them would have given me similar letters [as in the hundreds I referred to], if only they had the freedom to. The same with many more priests, but they fear retribution from the establishment. Actually, it is you and many of the Bishops who are, to quote you, Jesus’ Pharisees of our time: the “powers and people of his time“.
Why did you not write to the Bishops whom I had named, instead selecting only Fr James?
Fr Joe, no one till today, excepting you, a priest, has accused me of “cooking up” letters. It doesn’t say much for you.
I do not know if Fr James would care to respond to you. He probably has neither the time nor the inclination. He is too bust preaching the undiluted, unadulterated Word of God to the “pagans”.
But he is real priest, and every word in the suspect letter is his. If you would like to have it, I can give you his telephone numbers.
On the other hand, your St Paul bookstores are today the main conduit of occult and New Age books in the Catholic Church in India: Enneagrams, Astrology, Vaastu Shastra, Reincarnation, Yoga, Chakra Therapy and Kundalini, Reiki, Jungian Psychology and a lot more.
I could fill 20 pages with a list of these esoteric titles printed and published and sold by you and your congregation.
I throw you a challenge: Let us visit St Pauls bookstores together with a Bishop in attendance and as witness, and you justify the presence of such books in a place which your founder intended for promotion of the Gospel. St Pauls has become a money-making racket, Father. I have personally, along with prominent lay preachers, got St Pauls to remove objectionable titles from their shelves in three or four cities, even from their stalls at public Catholic functions.
Letters FOR the NCB are being printed in Catholic magazines. Letters against the NCB are being trashed. You call this a democratic, Holy-Spirit filled Church?
Nay, as Pope Paul VI lamented, “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church”. Truly it has.
The NCB commentaries cannot bring anyone to the saving knowledge of the only Son of God, Jesus Christ. It subtly denies the unicity of Jesus as well as the exclusivism of Christianity. If I am wrong, I throw a challenge to all charismatic ministries in this nation to see if even one of them would approve of the NCB for study, prayer or preaching.
Many lay Catholics trained by Fr James are like me, today fulltime preachers, with no income, living on Faith, [even a very senior Bishop has sent me money!] re-evangelising Catholics and evangelising the “pagans”. Not one of us would deny that we are “converting” anybody like the vast majority of Indian priests are insisting they aren’t, NCB now in hand.
So please do not insult our sincerity when you condemn this priest.
I cannot say the same for ANY ONE priest or brother of your congregation whom I have met in your bookshops in the 27 years since I came to Catholicism from the darkness of Hinduism. They sell [usually for hefty margins], collect the money, and go back in nice big vehicles to lovely houses where they eat [etc.] and sleep very well and comfortably, and watch TV.
I know, I have been there!!! Try talking to St Pauls Fathers about Jesus or evangelisation and one will get nowhere.
With very few exceptions — and I know a couple of them too — you and your fellow Paulists would not push what you call the Word of God if there was no money in it for you. Would you like me to produce for you a couple of hundred letters to reinforce my statements? No? You might again charge me with “cooking” them up. [That was most uncharitable of a priest like you]
Did you read the Word of God in this Sunday’s readings Father Joe [and the previous Sunday’s too about the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel]? It teaches you to first approach the one you have a problem with. [Matthew 18:15 ff ] You did not write to me first. You wrote to Fr James behind my back to ask him if the letter was genuine. [Again it doesn’t say much for you, does it?]
On the other hand, I wrote repeatedly to 25 addresses of St Pauls in India, but not one of them responded. I think that your Congregation at least in India has outlived its real mission and purpose and maybe all of the St Pauls Fathers should join you in your apostolate in the United States. I am sorry that I had to end by adopting your style of writing.
In the Name of Jesus [John14:6], Michael Prabhu, Catholic apologist and evangelist.
PS. Do I have permission to publish your letter to Fr. James and my response to it.
Dear Mr Michael Prabhu,
My letter to Fr Manjackal was written to a brother-priest only to point out to him his error in judgement. The fact that he has chosen to forward the letter to you rather than reply to me shows he has understood and perhaps accepted my position. The letter was purely a private one written to him by me.
No one has permission to publish it in any form in any media.
I am not interested in entering into a debate with you on this topic or any other for obvious reasons. I am, not, of course, denying or questioning your good intentions either. God’s blessings.. Fr Joe
Subject: Re: NCB criticism
Dear Fr Joe,
1. Your powers of deduction [“The fact that he (Fr James) has chosen to forward the letter to you rather than reply to me shows he has understood and perhaps accepted my position”] are simply amazing!
2. Your letter to Fr James is by no means private. It is the voice of the St Pauls Fathers defending the NCB. And it was about the crusade of our team against the NCB. Fr James is part of our team. So, I am going ahead to put it on our website.
3. Asking you and getting your refusal was a formal exercise as we correctly anticipated what you would say, and we thought that the faithful should know.
4. Of course you will not “debate” with us. You cannot “debate” one single point of my letter because every word that I said is true. And you know it. In the Name of Jesus,
Fr. Joseph Vas
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2008 11:50 PM Subject: Re: NCB criticism
Dear Mike, in the fight against the evil in the Church it is some times our own who betray us. Thank you for posting me the letter written to Joe Eruppakkatt SSP. These sort of people have to be treated with the similar language you have used. They will learn a lesson. Then when God speaks to us he knows which words are to be used. I know when he spoke to Jeremiah he knew he would be derided by the listeners but the courage he gathered from the power of the Holy Spirit is worth taking note. Your effort in the midst of all vicissitudes is commendable. Keep up God is with you, our Mother Mary’s birthday we are celebrating today she will assist you in her permanent assistance God bless you, in the Divine Word,
Fr. Joseph Vas SVD., INDORE
Fr. Conrad Saldanha
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 11:36 PM Subject: Re: NCB criticism
Wow Michael, I sincerely appreciate that…it’s hard hitting and is needed… the prophetic anger… the zeal for the Father’s house has consumed u… [You wrote to Fr. Joe copy to Bishop Tomas Dabre]:
“I throw you a challenge: Let us visit St Pauls bookstores together with a Bishop in attendance and as witness, and you justify the presence of such books in a place which your founder intended for promotion of the Gospel. St Pauls has become a money-making racket, Father. I have personally, along with prominent lay preachers, got St Pauls to remove objectionable titles from their shelves in three or four cities, even from their stalls at public Catholic functions.”
May the Lord bless u and preserve u from the wicked VHP, BD & RSS’s in the Church of God.
Fr. Conrad Saldanha MUMBAI
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 1:16 PM Subject: RE: NCB criticism
Wonderful reply dear Mike. How I wish there were many who have the ability to write would take a stand against such priests and expose all their evil plans. Love
Richard Mascarenhas MUSCAT
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 11:30 AM Subject: Re: NCB criticism
Dear Mr. Prabhu, Greetings of peace and joy. Trust you and family are well. I am sure by now you have received my booklet on the Eucharist. As I wrote to you I have been noting all the comments on the NEB. I have already set up committee as I wrote to you. So do not have any anxiety. It is my duty not to allow any errors about the matters of the faith. I can sense that you too get a flak but be at peace. Also do not get involved in the war of words. Among us we
should not get personal and give cause for disturbing relationships among us. As ST. Paul teaches, charity is the highest and we should not quarrel among ourselves. I am studying all the reactions I have received from you and others. I may give my own assessment to the Standing Committee of the Bishops. So let us take this occasion to give a good example of dealing with faith errors and controversies. You have my prayers and good wishes.
BISHOP THOMAS DABRE
CHAIRMAN, DOCTRINAL COMMISSION, CBCI
Subject: Developments in Pune
Hi Michael, As you know, the Pune Bishop is defending the NCB.
He has asked one of the professors from the Papal Seminary to answer queries with reference to the NCB. He will be taking some session for all those interested in Pune. The Bishop asked to me to compile the objections, which I have done without mentioning names of any one of all those who has mailed us.
It is good because more people will be aware of what NCB is. Date for the session is not yet fixed.
Fr Victor Borde PUNE
IN RESPONSE TO THIS LETTER, AND IN PREPARATION FOR THE PUNE SESSION IN DEFENSE OF THE NCB, I PREPARED THE 38-PAGE REPORT ON THE PAPAL SEMINARY http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/PAPAL SEMINARY_NCB.doc AND SENT IT TO THE PUNE GROUP –Michael Prabhu
Sir, I am a lover of the Word of God from my childhood and that love has made me a priest in the Catholic Church. However, I did not really understand the word of God until I did my further studies in the Bible after my ordination. My studies and my life and ministry among the people of God in the current situation of India (especially the situation in some states like Gujarat where I am) have helped me to interpret the Word of God in a meaningful way by following the norms set by the Church and taking seriously the literary forms of the biblical texts, the context in which they were spoken and written and also the context in which we live.
Unlike the narrow-minded Prophet Jonah, God is full of mercy and compassion and wants every one to be saved. The Spirit of God is alive and active everywhere. The Church also recognizes the activities of the Spirit and the rays of truth in the other religions and in their scriptures. In the Acts of the Apostles we see St. Peter recognizing and commending the faith and works of the Spirit in the people of other religions (Ch. 10). St. Paul also appreciates the faith of the Athenians and even quotes the writings of their poets (Ch. 11). This is an important mission method we need to adopt in the present context of India. That is the only way to respond to all types of fundamentalism, fascism, terrorism, and intolerance and establish peace and harmony for which Jesus Christ the Messiah came to this world.
In this regard I find the Indian edition of the New Community Bible with all its short comings in the right direction.
It is unfortunate that some have leveled unjust charges against it in the name of defending the Spirit of God and the catholic faith.
Fr. R. A. Kumar
Subject: Re: New Com. Bible
COPY TO BISHOP THOMAS DABRE, CHAIRMAN, DOCTRINAL COMMISSION, CBCI
COPY TO BISHOP AGNELO GRACIAS [BECAUSE OF YOUR RESPONSE TO MY CRITIQUE ON THE NCB]
BCC TO NCB OPPOSITION TEAM MEMBERS
My very dear Fr. R.A. Kumar,
If I respond truthfully to your letter, I could stand accused of being judgemental. But, say a few words I must because you have written to the editor of The New Leader fortnightly under copy to me and to our team id.
I wonder why you wrote to NL. You could have done so without copying to me, or you could have written to me as you have evidently read my critique on the NCB. We note that you have not identified yourself by way of address [NL does not publish letters without the full address]. All the articles of my ministry, as well as my website, give complete information about me. As far as I am concerned, yours is an anonymous letter. Compare that with the dozens of supportive letters that I have received from priests, even theologians, from India and overseas, who do not hide their identities.
Scores of lay Catholic evangelists and ministries have endorsed our stand against the NCB. They feel exactly as we do. The compiled letters will soon be available on our website. We did receive four or five letters like yours, Father, and expectedly, they had the courage only to write anonymously but not to acknowledge my response. I, in fact, decline to accept and publish letters even of support unless the person discloses his or her identity [address] to me.
If you had read on my website [www.ephesians-511.net] the 38 page sequel to our critique on the NCB, the one about the Papal Seminary, Pune, and our Indian “theologians”, some of whom wrote the NCB commentaries, you would know that I know exactly what type of seminary formation you must have received. From the perspective of Catholic orthodoxy, it is de-formation, as far as we are concerned. A very small percentage of seminarians come through and are ordained without being influenced by the poison that is being disseminated during their studies, both in theory as well as in practice. I would say that they are being “indoctrinated” [in a negative context]. Many priests have shared this with me. They include three who are from the very same Society of St Paul that published the NCB, and one of the hundreds of letters is even from the office of a Bishop who is very much against our team’s conservative stand on the NCB!
Many of our Bishops are now presiding over the demise of the Church in India as we knew it and the rise of an autonomous “Indian Church” controlled by theologians and the leaders of the Catholic Ashrams movement.
I am neither a “charismatic” nor a “fundamentalist” nor even a traditionalist, but just a simple, straight forward Catholic. And I choose to be Catholic, having not been one for half of my adult life, despite the tragic condition of the Church with the majority of priests thinking and believing as you do. Yes, there are surely thousands more who would write a letter of the sort that you have, Father. So you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, Father.
I wonder if you pray your Breviary, if you spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, if you recite the rosary, how many times a day you talk to others specifically about Jesus, about the punishment for unrepented sin, when last you made YOUR confession to a fellow priest, and when last, outside of the Christmas and Easter seasons you sat in a confessional. And even if you celebrate daily Mass. I wonder this, because I hardly know one priest in dozens who could answer all those questions confidently and positively.
That being the case, why do we need to talk about the prophet Jonah? You fail to recognize a prophetic ministry in mine because the words of Jesus in Scripture are being fulfilled. Immediately below here I have copied an email received from a Catholic in fulltime lay ministry. It was written a few minutes after yours. I believe that it is the Lord’s answer to your charges. He too is a “lover of the Word of God” but his position is diametrically opposed to yours, and you are our anointed priest! It is no wonder that we and our children and grandchildren are finding it increasingly difficult to find a spiritual director or a confessor. If the priests of this age were fulfilling their pastoral roles, why would there be so many thousands of lay preachers, and why is every single one of them opposed to the NCB and what you interpret as inculturation? Your patron saint, St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars did not study philosophy and theology as you did, but he attracted penitents as bees to honey. St. Padre Pio is another example. And St. Augustine of Hippo. To us they are the real priests, models of Catholic holiness, apologeticians, defenders of the Faith against heresy and schism.
I knew several priests in Gujarat [some have left the priesthood because they never had any foundation on the Rock]. Not one of the remaining is witnessing to Jesus as unique Saviour and Lord. My family and I return from every Sunday Mass with more pain in our hearts because we love our Church so much. We go from parish to parish, yet we have not heard one good soul-stirring homily for the whole of 2008. What we get to listen to are inadequate, watered-down interpretations of the Word of God, milk and not solid food, and a lot of empty words. If I said that I could do far better, it would be unfair, but ANY lay Catholic I know could preach the Gospel more effectively than these priests. They all happen to be charismatic, Father, and I know one thing for certain despite all the mud-slinging against “charismatics”, they love the Church and their Faith; and, not ONE of those priests who supports the NCB is charismatic. The two are mutually exclusive.
If Sts Peter and Paul had really practiced what you claim they did, Father, there would have been no Book of Acts, and the “Church” would already have become, 2000 years ago, what you all are manufacturing today. Peter took the Gospel to the Gentiles, the Romans. He baptized them, “converted” them. If you have reached out to pagan Gujarati Hindus and Muslims, witnessed to them about Jesus Christ, filled them with the Holy Spirit by the laying of hands, baptized them into the Church, I would take back all I wrote. But a priest who selectively quotes from Nostra Aetate [etc.], omitting the very succeeding lines [re. John 14:6] in the Document, cannot be trusted by me. And, by the way, St Paul, in your own words, see further below, quoted “the writings of their poets” and not Roman or Greek man-made, mythological, pagan, deities.
[In the NCB, among the offensive commentaries are those that refer to pagan gods and not Indian poets.]
And when he did, it was to show the supremacy of Christian revelation over Greek philosophy and spiritual search, not — as in the case of the NCB as well as in your letter to me — a capitulation that admits to the good [which unarguably exists] in every religion –as otherwise they would not be called religions [religare]. So, if St Thomas or St Francis Xavier had gone through seminaries like ours, they might have come to India and sung the now popular refrain “Let a Hindu be a good Hindu…” Even if Mother Teresa said it, she is wrong, yet somehow, and most conveniently it became one of the three quotes most commonly attributed to her.
If you disagree with my contention that that is a lie from the pit of hell, try fitting it suitably in the context of any of Jesus’ words in the four Gospels, or of Sts. Peter and Paul for that matter, and let me know if you are successful.
Finally, if there were really NO problems with the NCB, why has it been withdrawn for revision?
If indeed it has, as we have heard, we have also received the copy of an internal 17-page letter, written by a Bishop, circulating among the Bishops, the tone of which is not unlike yours, belittling our concerns.
It appears that most Bishops and priests alike think that laity, having not studied philosophy and theology, are ignorant, never mind that all the apostles were uneducated but received the Holy Spirit Who was more than sufficient for them.
So. Father Kumar, we would like to thank you for revitalizing our team through your letter and starting us off in the second phase of our campaign against the NCB, especially as several priests and lay persons have been expressing skepticism about the sincerity of the Bishops as they have not communicated anything to us about their proposed course of action.
In Jesus’ Name,
Fr. Joseph Vas
Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 12:39 AM
Subject: Re: LETTER FROM A PRIEST RE. NCB
Dear Mike, Your response to Fr. RA Kumar’s vociferous comments about the validity of NCB is work taking note. Then people think by being good to people they can forget about the need to be authentic to people who try to oppose the Church by saying we cannot preach and convert. Many of us do not want to face the reality of being authentic witnesses of goodness. Let us hope your prophetic expositions will make people to rise up to situation as they exist today to live as committed Priests who are willing to experience God’s goodness in their lives by being transparent in prayer, commitment, and exercising their priesthood convincingly. We will be able to preach not just repeat some sermons printed in some leaflets and books like parrots which spits words which they have crammed.
When we preach the word of God becomes living and active as if coming from the hearts which burns and brings out expression of experience of Gods enduring presence.
Keep up the hope welling up yours ever in the Divine word,
Fr. Joseph Vas, SVD., INDORE
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: XXI CCBI Plenary Assembly at Mysore – Feb 12-18, 2009 / THE ST. PAULS’ NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE
Dear Mr Michael Prabhu, I went through the mail send to us in our mail id.
Since I happened to read it I would like to respond to you.
I do not know much about your group or your intentions. I wish you devote your energy more earnestly to teach the faith and educate thousands of catholics who need catechism and faith education rather than pick quarrel and argue with the bishops. The bishops by virtue of their office are entrusted with the teaching authority in matters of faith and so questioning their competence is not befitting of any good catholic lay person or organisation. Your letter refers to protest, public action etc. Church teachings are not decided on the basis of majority voice or protests and agitations.
You have also dragged in the name of Fr. Charangatt who is a distinguished editor of a well reputed weekly, which i thought is not in good taste. Every editor has certain discretionary powers to accept or reject letters to the editor. Do you think all the letters written to a newspaper are getting published? In addition, if the church authorities had any hesitation about his faith and credentials he would not have been entrusted with a responsibility like that of editing the Examiner.
Christ and His Word do not need defenders. What he needs is people who can commit their life to communicate him to others, to show his love in action.
I am open to listen to you and read through your comments and critiques on the NCB, but the disciples of Christ do not use the kind of intimidating language that you seem to be using. With best wishes
Fr. George Plathotam sdb Executive Secretary, CBCI Commission for Social Communications New Delhi
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 10:37 PM REPEAT,
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 10:42 PM
Subject: ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF FR. GEORGE PLATHOTAM’S LETTER
[COPIED TO THE CARDINAL, BOMBAY, AS IN FR. GEORGE’S LETTER TO ME. THE CARDINAL RESPONDED* TO ANOTHER LETTER OUT OF THREE LETTERS SENT TOGETHER, AMONG WHICH THIS WAS ONE] *see below
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; ALL BOMBAY
Dear Fr. George Plathotam,
I thank you very much for your kind response and I view it as an opportunity to answer some of your questions and thoughts.
1. You had kindly written to me on July 30, 2008 requesting me to send you my critique on the NCB which I did the very same day, but I did not hear from you after that. It was similarly the case with several Bishops who requested for the critique.
As a matter of fact, though I have never made any ‘intimidations’ at any time, some Bishops have blocked my letters, for example:
CANON LAW 212.3
“RIGHTS OF THE FAITHFUL”
They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred pastors their view on matters which concern the good of the Church.
They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the pastors, and take into account both the common good and the dignity of the individuals.
I have been writing to the Bishops on the NCB issue since the NCB was released end June 2008, and on other serious issues concerning the Catholic Faith for nearly 10 years. I have followed the procedures Scripturally, I believe, first going to my Archbishop, then writing to other Church authorities concerned, next getting other Catholics to write to the Bishops, and finally going public to a wider audience when there has been no response or action at each stage.
2. I have no intentions, except to bring certain errors to the attention of the Bishops who are the teaching authority of the Church. They have also the obligation to correct error to safeguard the Faith.
The reason I do it is because of a calling I have received from God, as a lay apostle. I am Catholic-trained at several institutions in understanding the Bible, in pastoral counseling and in evangelisation. I have also studied the rudiments of philosophy, theology and world religions when I prepared for two Master of Arts degrees from recognized universities.
I have given talks, retreats, and seminars to Catholic communities and groups, including seminarians, all over India since 1982.
I would very much like to continue to teach catechism, the Catholic Faith, and to evangelise, as recommended by you. The reason is that I am first of all a Catholic apologist. My last two-day seminar was on Catholic apologetics in Bangalore in December 2007.
However, over the years I found that there are dozens of charismatic ministries and retreat centres all over India who are doing an excellent job renewing Catholics, but there was not a single ministry willing –and possibly not knowledgeable or courageous enough — to identify error in the form of New Age etc., and as I started speaking out and writing, this ministry developed.
My intensively-researched and unique articles from a Catholic perspective have been published in several magazines including The Examiner [Mumbai], The New Leader [Chennai], Shalom Tidings [Kerala] and Streams of Living Water [Kolkata], etc. I have just received a request to write for another magazine, but I am not able to find the time for that or for existing commitments.
Last year I was to publish a book, my first, on Catholic apologetics [and NOT New Age]! It was shelved because from July onwards, I was involved continuously for almost four months only with the NCB issue. After that I was quite ill for two months.
Maybe if there were fewer unaddressed errors [I have a number of partially-completed reports] in the Indian Church, I could turn back to my first love: catechising, apologetics and evangelisation.
Because of my ministry against the New Age and my campaign against Hindu-isation in the name of inculturation, I do not receive invitations to give programs on apologetics. I have received hundreds of letters against the NCB; yet there are dozens of my friends who declined to put down their opposition in writing. Some did not like my taking the issue to the public arena; but mostly they are laity in popular ministry who do not want to jeopardise their security by associating with this ministry and the possibility of having prayer groups or parishes closed to them as has gradually happened to me.
There are priests who strongly support this ministry from the background but do not want their letters published by me or identities revealed because they apprehend that they might face victimisation from their Superiors or their Bishops.
3. You are in Delhi. The following can vouch for me:
Fr Victor D’Souza, former Vicar General, my former parish priest and confessor.
Fr Susai Sebastian, with whom I helped established the first Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Delhi.
Bishop Anil Couto of Jullundur, my former asst. parish priest.
There are many others, including the saintly late Fr Irenaeus dos Santos who told me on January 4, 1992 as I left for Chennai that God had a prophetic ministry for me here, and Archbishop Angelo Fernandes.
I served the Church in Delhi faithfully from 1982 after my conversion. I have nothing to gain from this ministry, having given up service as well as directorship of two firms in Delhi to follow God’s calling. So, I have no ulterior motive in doing what I do.
4. Father George, since the NCB already had received a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from two Bishops, are you maintaining that if someone had not raised objections to the commentaries, the Bishops would have still ordered a revision of the NCB?
5. Surely, bringing problematic issues of Faith to the attention of the Bishops is not a bad thing?
There have been cases of priests agitating against their Bishops during the last few months, in full glare of the media [Trichy, Bp. Anthony Devotta. You should have seen the Tamil dailies and weeklies! Cochin, Bp. John Thattumkal] and those were on personal/financial/moral issues. The secular press had a field day when the priests went public with their grievances.
This ministry is crusading on matters concerning the CATHOLIC FAITH.
When lay people are forced to fight institutionalized error by exposing it [Ephesians 5:11], why is it suddenly a bad thing?
I remember when Ralph Martin’s book The Catholic Church at the End of an Age, What is the Spirit Saying? 1994, was released, he was trashed in The Examiner, Letters to the Editor, for “exposing the Church’s dirty linen in public”, particularly the pedophilia issue among the clergy. The Bishops, it is common knowledge, and Rome, ignored the issue. When it became a public scandal through exposure in the secular media a decade later, Ralph Martin was vindicated. But by then, lives and souls had been damaged and it has cost the Church credibility and millions of dollars, resulting in moral and financial bankruptcy in many dioceses.
His latest book, personally autographed and couriered to me is The Fulfillment of All Desire, 2006. This work draws on the writings of seven Doctors of the Church! So, Ralph Martin is not just another rabble-rouser or sensationalist. He loves his Church. So do I.
Ralph Martin is a modern-day prophet. In a Church assailed by liberalism and post-modernism, who wants a prophet?
It was the Church who condemned both St Jean de Arc and Galileo, and who put severe restrictions on St Padre Pio, and I believe, St Faustina as well before reinstating them. I am neither surprised nor offended that my intentions and motivation are questioned.
Ralph Martin has also been a constant supporter of this ministry. He wrote in my copy, “Michael, the journey continues, keep on!”
6. Today, I read [The New Indian Express] that the New York Times exposé of Tom Daschle’s tax-evasion caused his nomination as Health Secretary to be withdrawn. President Obama could apologize to the nation and the world that he “screwed up”.
Can Catholics not expect more from our Bishops who are not infallible? Can we expect the Church, the Body of Christ, to be more democratic than a government?
Yes, I agree with you that Fr Anthony Charanghat, as editor of The Examiner, has every right to publish what he wants and to reject what he wants. But you still did not answer my charge which was in the form of a question, not an accusation:
“Does that reflect Fr. Charanghat’s personal prejudice or the control of the Catholic press by the Archdiocese of Bombay?“
The fact remains that with no prior reference to my critique on the NCB, The Examiner published a letter criticising it, followed by two more, all eulogising the NCB. Then he does not publish twenty letters against it. I doubt if a single criticism of the NCB as having problematic commentaries was published in The Examiner or anywhere in the Catholic press except by UCAN who did an interview with me. The Church’s arm is long and powerful, and I expressed to UCAN my apprehension that if the powers-that-be in the Church came to know about it, they would see that a critical report was not published. Please forgive me for my lack of confidence in my Bishops, something that has accrued from personal experience.
7. To return to The Examiner, when I publish my report of New Age [especially] and other errors in The Examiner, documented over several years of collecting the material, you will be the very first to receive a copy.
I can safely say that there is hardly a SINGLE issue of The Examiner that does not promote New Age or have some information or news that does not belong in a Catholic Christian newspaper. In fact, most issues have multiple problems, promoting acupuncture, enneagrams, homoeopathy, magnet therapy, martial arts, vipassana, yoga, zen, centering prayer, the list is endless, by way of advertisements or articles, even as official diocesan level programmes, conducted by priests, on Catholic premises. There are sometimes such lapses in The New Leader too, but not anywhere as numerous and regular. And, to be fair, one can write to Fr M.A. Joe Antony, the editor of The New Leader and be assured of a response. Even though he personally disagrees with some of my opinions, he has had the grace to publish all of my letters. That cannot be said of The Examiner.
The redoubtable crusader against New Age error, Errol Fernandes of Bandra, Mumbai, who was awarded the highest archdiocesan lay recognition — almost posthumously — when he was in his last stages of cancer five years ago, used to mark copies to me of his prophetic letters to The Examiner so that I would see that they were not being published. However, the liberal lobby and the anti-charismatic lobby always escaped the editorial scissors on those particular issues.
Errol also gave me the lowdown on some of the Bombay Bishops who were permitting error. I can reproduce these letters for you before I upload them on my website. They remind me of Ralph Martin’s writings in which he too named the Bishops. That did not make either of them less honorable Catholics. In my opinion, they are true Catholics who were ready to face criticism and ostracism because ‘when good men keep silent, evil triumphs’.
8. Dear Father George, you are a Salesian priest. I did my schooling under Salesian missionaries. Today, my alma mater has demolished the historic chapel and is constructing in its place an air-conditioned community hall and an inter-faith prayer hall or meditation room. The Blessed Sacrament, the beautiful Italian icons and all the pews with the boarders’ prayer books, relics, holy pictures and rosaries will be gone. It was proposed that they will be replaced with the Bhagavad Gita, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Quran, and of course the most suitable companion to them would be the inter-religious book, the New Community Bible, because a Bible is one of the many holy books. Confessions will be replaced by counseling, and the Salesians today are as much deeply into secular non-biblical psychological counseling [largely New Age] as the Jesuits are into dissent and liberation theology [both congregations and issues are the subjects of articles that will be published during the course of this year, God-willing].
I am the ONLY dissenting voice. Most other old students, including Catholics, find no problem with all that. They come for their annual get-together for drinking alcohol in the parking lot and even rioting [damage to school property] because of which the school locked its gates on them the following year. I have two grandchildren and would not want any of my family to study in that school.
The other Salesian school has yoga classes as part of the curriculum, and my godson and his brother were obliged to chant OM and ‘meditate’. What will be the future of these young men?
Yesterday, I read the report quoting your Salesian Rector Major, Fr. Pascual Chavez on the occasion of their platinum jubilee, in The Hindu. He said that the slogan of the Salesians was “To educate, empower and transform”. On the face of it, it is an excellent objective. But, as always, I beg to differ from what everyone else, or almost everyone else — because I am certain that there are many who will agree with me, if I voice my criticism in case they have not already realised for themselves — thinks.
I have read the life of Don Bosco and that of his pupil St Dominic Savio whose motto was “Death Rather Than Sin”. As an adolescent, these two saints were my role models. The NCB substitutes such model saints and the Early Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church with Hindu deities and mythical figures. And, why do we need saints and even Biblical heroes? The NCB takes great pains to emphasize that there are equivalents and parallels in Hinduism for many Biblical characters and event.
THE ANGEL GABRIEL DID NOT APPEAR TO MARY
Don Bosco promoted the cult of the rosary and Mary, Help of Christians. The commentary on Luke 1 in the NCB virtually explains the appearance of the messenger angel to Mary as a figment of her imagination!
The commentary Luke 1 [page1796 of the NCB, right hand column] denies that the angel Gabriel literally appeared and spoke to Mary. The commentator, the late Fr. George Soares Prabhu SJ now teaches Catholics that “The story of the annunciation is not to be read as a literal report of what happened, but as a dramatization of the inner experience of Mary’s call to be the mother of the Messiah.” In effect, he is saying, “The angel Gabriel did not appear to Mary. It was not a real, historical, external event. The Annunciation is just a story explaining how Mary experienced internally the call of God and responded to it.”
Frankly, to me that sounds like heresy. A theologian who is faithful to tradition and Church teaching might be able to explain better the wider implications of such liberal theology as the above. He would also be able to find many more such errors in the other NCB commentaries, subtle untruths that have earlier escaped my team and me [I have not included this point in my original critique].
If the Bishops have given the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat for the NCB, it means that they have endorsed the new teaching that the Annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Mary was not an actual historical event. It also means that all the Bishops who have released the NCB, the priest-editor of The Examiner and all others who defend the NCB, print and publish it and promote its sale are in agreement with this teaching that is not in any catechism or other Catholic study Bible. Or else, they did not see it.
Bishop Agnelo Gracias took so much of pains to study the commentaries of the NCB to write a long rebuttal [please expect my response to it] of my critique of the NCB. May I point out to him that he has missed this.
But, this is not an isolated error. It is typical of the problem that Catholics are finding with the entire NCB. Right from the Book of Genesis, the commentators keep stating that certain events/narratives are ‘stories’, ‘myths’, ‘dramatizations, etc’. While a person like me who has made a scholarly study of the Bible from a Catholic perspective can understand what the commentator means, for example when he explains the Creation story or the Flood, the average Catholic ends up confused over what to believe anymore.
10. Just a few days ago, a Bishop sent me a book, and its title is 40 Dreams of St John Bosco. I did not find anywhere in the book that Don Bosco shepherded his boys into the Oratory or preached to them or shared his dreams with them or founded the Salesian Order to look after future generations of youth in order “To educate, empower and transform” the young boys whom he loved.
These might be laudable additional goals as the Order spread into non-Christian lands and ventured into new fields of service and knowledge impartation. Don Bosco was almost exclusively concerned about the SPIRITUAL welfare of his Catholic wards. His main concern was to save them from hell. He incessantly preached to them about the evil of sin, and the devil as a real entity whose only goal was to keep the youth from repentance, confession of sin and eternal salvation.
That is the Catholic Faith that I have transferred to our two sons and wish for our grandchildren, not the faith of the NCB.
These values and truths are permanent. They do not change with the times, and certainly have not changed in the less than 150 years since the saint’s death. But it has taken less than two generations for most of the Salesians in India to get secularised.
The NCB will only give further impetus to this downhill slide. So, I am compelled to speak, to act, to protest, if no one else will.
The same Bishop wrote to me:
16th January 2009
Dear Mike, I do hope that this book reaches you before the feast of Don Bosco. I really had to make a search in the region to find this. Thank God I got it. How are you? I do hope that both of you are doing well and enjoying your days. Though I am not regular with my correspondences for the sole reason of not having time, I do think of you and pray for you.
I read whatever you sent. Congratulations for being so alert and alive to the situation of today. Be sure of my prayers.
Please do pray for me and my people. +signed
So, there are several good Bishops in the Indian Church, who love, trust and respect me, reading the reports and articles that I send them, the very same that others find objectionable and threatening. They pray for my mission, send me material, information and even money on occasion, as I live by faith since 1993. I can say the same for many priests. It is how I received a copy of Bishop Agnelo’s response to my critique on the NCB.
Should not the Bishops listen to these voices that speak along with my ministry?
The Bishops have been receiving my reports and articles since 1999 by postal mail. From mid-2003 by email.
February 9-11, 2002, I gave bunches of them personally by hand to several Cardinals and Bishops at the 10th World Day of the Sick at Velankanni. In the presence of the Papal delegate and Pro Nuncio and 3000 delegates, I also took the microphone and challenged them about their permitting the occult exhibition, promotion of Human Universal Energy [HUE] and Reiki and Pranic Healing and Tai Chi martial arts and sale of New Age and Freemasonry books being conducted under the auspices of the CBCI by individual priests, nuns and Catholic organisations.
I have written with full documentation exposing the New Age error [meditations and alternative therapies], blasphemy, sacrilege, heresy and rebellion against Rome, propagated by the Catholic Ashram movement, the CBCI-funded Catholic Health Association of India [CHAI], the different Dharma Bharathis [one founded by a lay disciple of New Ager Fr Bede Griffiths and two by priests], the Bandra, Mumbai-based KRIPA foundation, New Age Holistic Health Centres run by mostly MMS and ICM nuns in Pune, Chennai and Kerala, the production at a cost of Rs 1.5 crores [Rs 15 million / 300,000 USD] of a CD in praise of the Hindu deity Shiva by a Catholic priest using the Santhome Communications Centre,
Chennai, which is under the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council [TNBC]’s Office for Social Communications [of which you are the Executive Secretary at the (CBCI) national level], and so many others.
Several of these articles
and reports are already on my website. Others have been taken down for updating [addition of new information], while still others have been transferred from hardcopy to my computer by my painfully slow one-finger typing.
All will be complete in a few months, God-willing, and will be emailed to all the Bishops while being placed on my website.
11. I am confident that at least some of the Bishops must have actually read some of my reports. [I have dozens of letters from Bishops who have congratulated me on my diligence, research, correctness of doctrine, and love for the Faith.]
I have also sent a large number of these reports both by postal mail as also by email to the President/Prefect of every Congregation and Pontifical Council in Rome, including the then Cardinal Ratzinger, since March 2002.
So, I have three questions:
Where is the (Church’s) corrective action if my conclusions are right?
Where is the disciplinary action against me or a re-education of me if I am wrong? [Rome issued the Document on the New Age in February 2003. I first wrote to Rome about the New Age in the Indian Church in March 2002]
And, if I am wrong and in error, since I started my writing in 1999 and internet ministry in mid-2003, why is it that…???
i) I have received no official letter from Rome or the CBCI, analysing and detailing such errors as being detrimental to the Catholic Faith, in contradiction with the teaching of Rome, prejudicial to the interests of the Church, etc.
ii) I have written support and agreement both by email as well as on letterheads, on my stand on these issues, from the founders/ leaders and members of almost every single Catholic retreat centre, ministry and Catholic lay community in the country; I also have the moral encouragement of some non-Indian overseas Catholic lay ministries.
iii) A large number of priests, diocesan as well as from almost every major religious congregation [some are theologians, some Canon Law experts] write me regularly firmly supporting my ministry from India and overseas [some are non-Indians].
iv) Hundreds of lay Catholics, many of whom are have been to Catholic Bible College, trained in Catholic schools of evangelisation or attended courses in Word of God ministry agree with this ministry.
I do hope and pray that you now have a clearer appreciation of me and my ministry. God bless you,
Copies of this correspondence were sent to a number of priests and lay leaders in ministry, who wrote to me strongly supporting the response that I wrote to Fr George. All of them are firm in their insistence that the Bishops MUST withdraw the NCB. The letters are
published in a separate report which is titled
“LETTERS CALLING FOR WITHDRAWAL OF THE NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE” – Michael Prabhu
*THE CARDINAL’S RESPONSE
Subject: Re: THE NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE TEACHES THAT THE ANGEL GABRIEL DID NOT APPEAR TO MARY
Dear Mr Prabhu,
We are having the commentary studied. You have mentioned Bishop Agnelo’s report. I have also seen that.
I am conscious of our serious responsibility to ensure that the correct doctrine is taught. God bless.
[Archbishop of Bombay]
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India