NEW WEBSITE: www.ephesians-511.net WRITTEN IN 2005 / UPDATED FOR HOSTING: MARCH 2009
INDIA: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS –
THE “INCULTURATION” OF CHRISTIANITY
This report is about a documentary film, a DVD produced by non-Christians but with the fullest cooperation of leading priests [an Archbishop has denied his involvement in it], that records the forms of “inculturation” and inter-faith dialogue in which the Catholic Church in India is engaged. The transcription of the contents of the DVD is on pages 5 through 9.
It is yet one more shocking example of the HINDU-ISATION of the Indian Catholic Church.
This report has been in the making, publishing delayed, for over two and a half years.
In the meantime, I had written to the Archbishop of GOA, since the makers of the film thanked him in their Acknowledgements, and a Bombay priest who features in the film quoted the Archbishop as saying that “the documentary was done well”.
I had hoped that the release of this film would be stopped and that it would never made public in India or anywhere else. But the news report immediately below was made available to this writer a few days ago. The documentary has been aired in 2005 September.
I do not know the motives of the Canadian Hindu producers or who, if any, is behind them, or if copies of this DVD are available in India or overseas. Any information will be most welcome.
The film does not depict the truth about the Church in India. All the priests featured in it have made highly questionable statements, and are therefore not loyal to the Church of Rome.
Concerned Catholics may write to the Bishops and priests whose email addresses are given here:
02. Fr. Joaquim Loiola Pereira, Secretary to the Archbishop of Goa
05. Most Rev. Bosco Penha, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay
06. Most Rev. Percival Fernandez, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay
07. Most Rev. Agnelo Gracias, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay
09. Most Rev. Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Vasai; Chairman, Doctrinal Commission, CBCI
10. Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, President, CBCI
12. Most Rev. Pedro Lopez Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio
13. Fr. Joe Pereira, KRIPA FOUNDATION, Mumbai
14. Fr. Seby Mascarenhas, Pilar Fathers, Rector, All India Mission Seminary, Goa
15. Fr. Noel Sheth, President, JDV / Papal Seminary, Pune
16. Rita and Vishnu Mathur, Toronto, Canada
UNDER AN EASTERN CROSS
VisionTV doc tells the story of Christianity in India
Father Joe Pereira spent so much time helping others find their way that he began to feel a little lost himself.
A Catholic priest for more than 35 years, Fr. Pereira works closely with alcoholics and addicts in Mumbai, India. It is demanding work that allows little time for prayer and reflection – so little, in fact, that he began to feel cut off from his own spirituality.
It was only when Fr. Pereira reached into Hindu tradition and started practicing yoga that he succeeded in reconnecting with his Christian faith. Now, he incorporates yoga into programs for people in recovery.
His story, in a way, is the story of Christianity in contemporary India – a faith that has revitalized itself by drawing upon the country’s many other vibrant spiritual and cultural traditions. This transformation, and what it portends for the future of Indian Christianity, is the subject of the VisionTV documentary India: The Lotus & The Cross.
The two-part presentation airs on
Wednesdays, Sept. 7 and 14, at 10 p.m. ET.
Toronto filmmakers Rita and Vishnu Mathur journey to present-day India to find out how Christians from all walks of life – educators, artists, clergy and nuns – are living their faith.
Christianity’s roots in India run deep. Indeed, the faith is said to have reached India in 52 AD – long before its beginnings in Europe – with the arrival of Saint Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles. When the Portuguese landed in 1510, they were surprised to discover a Christian Church already present, with its own distinct customs and traditions. In the mid-16th century, the great Jesuit missionary Saint Francis Xavier was responsible for winning hundreds of thousands of converts to Catholicism. Today, there are approximately 22 million Christians in India – barely two percent of the population. (80 percent of Indians are Hindus, while roughly 14 percent are Muslims). The growth rate is extremely low. And the greatest danger confronting the faith is stagnation. Until recently, in fact, services were generally still conducted in Latin and mirrored familiar Western practices, which left many followers feeling alienated from the Church.
All this has begun to change in the last few decades, through a process known as “inculturation.” The Catholic Church is becoming more “Indian” by absorbing rites and customs from the country’s other faiths. Indian Christianity gains strength now as it grows more deeply embedded in Indian culture.
“The people of a place should experience God through their [own] culture,” explains Professor Noel Sheth, who heads a seminary in the city of Pune.
In The Lotus and the Cross, the Mathurs look at some of the ways inculturation is changing traditional Catholic rites. They meet Father Hilary Fernandes
of Our Lady of the Sea Church in Vasai, who first translated the Latin Mass into the Marathi language for the 1964 visit of Pope Paul VI.
And they visit a village in Goa where local songs and dances have become part of celebrating the Eucharist.
The filmmakers also profile some of those who put their Christian faith into practice by helping India’s neediest – among them Sister Christobel, founder of the charitable organization Mother Teresa’s Roses, which tends to the destitute on the streets of Mumbai. And they spotlight the work of creative people who are using art forms such as music and painting to portray Christian ideas in a distinctly Indian fashion.
They even drop in on a local Christmas celebration, a cross-cultural affair that includes both schoolgirl renditions of “Jingle Bells” and an Indian-style depiction of the nativity.
Says Rev. Dr. Seby Mascarenhas, Rector of the All India Mission Seminary [PILAR] in Goa: “Once you use [your own] culture to express your faith, it touches you. People really begin to feel it is our faith.”
India: The Lotus & The Cross was produced and directed by Vishnu Mathur for SilverTouch Productions Ltd., in association with VisionTV. Rita Mathur is the writer and associate producer. Alberta Nokes is the Executive Producer for VisionTV.
As an independent filmmaker, Vishnu Mathur has spent the better part of the last two decades producing and directing documentaries for CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things. Many of these films have been broadcast as well on Discovery Channel Canada. Mathur has also worked for the BBC on prestigious programs such as Panorama and Disappearing World, and has traveled the world making films on political and cultural issues for NBC.
His most noteworthy projects include: War on Drugs , a two-hour special on the drug policies of four major cities; Alternative Medicine , a look at the growing disenchantment with modern medicine and the search for more holistic therapies;
Skin Deep: The Science of Race , which explores the human preoccupation with skin colour; and Phallacies, an evolutionary history of male sexuality. Mathur’s films have received honours at a number of major national and international festivals, including the Gemini Awards, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival, the New York Festival and the Columbus International Film and Video Festival.
1. Note that one of Mathur’s “most noteworthy” earlier productions is on the “evolutionary history of male sexuality”.
More significantly, he has produced a film on NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES AND HOLISTIC MEDICINE!
2. In the pages following, read more about the priests who feature in this film:
Fr. Joe Pereira of KRIPA Foundation, Bombay. A separate report on him and his Church-supported yoga centres is already available in the latter part of my October 2005 report on CATHOLIC ASHRAMS, pages 87 to 96.
A separate updated report will be released soon to show how he his going from strength to strength with Church support.
Fr. Noel Sheth, President/Principal/Rector, Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth [Light of Knowledge] [Papal Seminary], Pune. A separate report on the PAPAL SEMINARY has been released.
Fr. Hilary Fernandes, another priest of the Bombay archdiocese.
He finds striking similarities between Ganapati and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and wants the Hindu deity in his church.
Fr. Seby Mascarenhas, PILAR FATHERS,
Rector, All India Mission Seminary, Goa.
See separate report on the Pilar Seminary.
Sister Christobel: After the private release of the DVD in Catholic circles in January-February 2005 in Bombay and Goa, the nun, founder of the order of Mother Teresa’s Roses, who also features in the film, protested against the documentary after she attended its screening. She says that she was deceived into participating in its filming, having not been told the entire truth about its contents. She gave a copy to Bishop Bosco Penha of Bombay.
I understand that she did not hear from the Bishop after that.
FOLLOWING IS THE REPORT THAT I PREPARED IN EARLY 2005:
‘GOA PLUS’, the supplementary to The Times of India and The Economic Times’ Goa edition of 11-17 March 2005 carried a write-up by Ms. Cordelia Francis titled ‘THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS – THE INCULTURATION OF CHRISTIANITY‘ with two colour photographs, one of an ‘Indian Rite’ squatting Mass being celebrated by the Pilar Fathers, and the other, a painting by Angelo da Fonseca showing ‘Mary in a sari’. I quote from the article:
“Pioneering priest Fr. Hilary Fernandes of the diocese of Mumbai dared to change the mass at his church. He changed the language, no one objected, encouraged, he replaced Western instruments like the violin with the tabla and enraged a congregation member who stabbed at the tabla to make his point- Indian classical music has no place in the Church. The enraged man obviously missed the point that Fr. Fernandes was making:
For Christianity to survive in India it has to adapt. Today Catholic priests openly admit that they feel more comfortable saying the Indian Rite Mass sitting on bare floors in simple shawls singing devotional songs and dancing to praise the Lord. For non-Christians who attend the Mass, rich Indian sweets are distributed like prasad is at temples. At the Papal Seminary in Pune, students study world religions like Jainism and Buddhism.
Pilar Seminary in Goa teaches their students methods of quieting their mind with Yoga and Vipassana to help them deal with their vows of celibacy.
Witnessing the phenomenon of ‘Inculturation’- how Hindu rituals and symbols are intermingling into the practice of Christianity in India, documentary filmmaker Vishnu Mathur in his documentary ‘India: The Lotus and the Cross‘ delved into this sensitive topic to come up with some surprising revelations of how the Church in India is taking India forward. Mathur, the winner of awards like Hot Docs of Toronto, UNESCO’s Peace Prize, the New York Festival Award, Berlin’s Golden Ear, says, ‘In the West, people are fundamental about religion, but in India we are doing something right. We are witnessing the rejuvenation of Jesus’ message about love, peace and harmony’. The message Indian priests are sending out is that ‘We are Indians, not Romans’ and as religion is a living thing it has to evolve even when it goes back to the roots as it seems to be doing.
Rita Mathur, associate producer, writer and researcher points out some relevant historical facts; she says, ‘Jesus came from the Middle East. The early Christians did not light candles, they used incense sticks. The ritual of kneeling was adapted from the barbarians who genuflected before their king…’
We also hear the radical views of the Indian clergy on issues like celibacy, conversion, freedom of the Human Will. They strongly believe that
Catholicism, as practiced by the Vatican, has to adapt and change if necessary to the needs of people in the context of today’s world.
Like Fr. Joe Pereira of KRIPA, Goa who asserts, ‘Leave the choice of birth control to the conscience of the people’. The documentary has already been shown in Canada where Mathur lives, and last month in Goa at Xavier Historical and Research Centre at Porvorim [a Jesuit institution].
says, ‘The place was packed with people and many were surprised at what they saw. Clergy members and even the Archbishop said* that the documentary was done well‘. *see pages 12, 13
We also see the new trends in Indian Christian Art where ‘Jesus is an Easterner’ and Mary, a bejeweled Indian woman, in the astonishing wash colours of Fonseca and the intensity of the Goan artist Ganesh Navelcar.”
The following information is provided on another page of the newspaper: “A documentary not to be missed. Moving Images and International Centre, Goa will be presenting a documentary film by award-winning film director Vishnu Mathur. The 92-minute long film is India: The Lotus and the Cross which will be followed by a discussion. The documentary will be screened
on March 11, 2005 at the International Centre at 6:30 PM. This will be followed by a discussion chaired by Vishnu Mathur, Jason Fernandes and Sammit Khandeparker. The screening is open to the public.”
The above was the third screening. To the best of my knowledge, the film was first screened publicly in India on Sunday, January 30, 2005 in Bosco Hall, St. Andrew’s Parish, Bandra, Mumbai.
I was informed that a DVD copy of the film was given immediately to Bishop Bosco Penha of the Archdiocese, but no response was received by the people concerned till the time of my writing this report.
THE INVITATION TO THE SCREENING IN GOA
The second screening was at Goa on February 12, 2005
as per this invitation:
Subject: Invitation for a Documentary Film
“From: “Vishnu Mathur” <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 11:07 AM
To: “rudolf yolanda” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “rudolf Ludwig” <email@example.com>;”mascarenas, seby” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com>; “Loiola Pereira, Father Joaquim” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “Joe, Pereira” <email@example.com>; “Collaco” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “christabelle” <email@example.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “bcollaco” <email@example.com>; “Ana Maria, De souza” <firstname.lastname@example.org>;”Albu, Vero” email@example.com; “andrade, juliet” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “noel sheth” <email@example.com> etc. etc.
“XAVIER CENTRE OF HISTORICAL RESEARCH cordially invites you to the screening of the documentary
INDIA : THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS by
at Xavier Centre of Historical Research,
B. B. Borkar Road, Alto Porvorim
Saturday, 12th February 2005,
7. 15 pm
Tel: 2417772 ; 2414971
firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
[Producer/Director Mathur independently works for the CBC, WGBH, Discovery Channel, BBC & Channel Four networks.]
SYNOPSIS OF THE FILM
[as per the invitation]: In this 92 minute film we will see the phenomenon of ‘Inculturation’ – how Hindu rituals and symbols are intermingling
into the practice of Christianity in India.
Today Indian Catholic
priests openly admit that they feel more comfortable celebrating the
‘Mass’ sitting on bare floors in simple shawls – and have devotional
songs sung and dances to praise the Lord, and rich sweets distributed
as in Hindu temples during the Eucharist – than conducting rigid
ritualism. [all emphases mine]
The documentary also presents a short history of
Christianity since the arrival of the apostle St. Thomas on Indian
shores in 52 AD. The film goes on highlighting the important
institutional and field work of some dynamic Christian priests and
nuns who, inspired by Mother Theresa and Christ’s message of peace and
love, have devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the alleviation of
poverty and diseases in India. An “Indian Rite Mass” more appealing
to simple village folk, which incorporates their songs and dances, is
shown; we also see the Indian classical music and dance converted
into Biblical stories for stage dramas; we can appreciate the new
trends in Indian Christian Art, where “Jesus is painted as an
easterner” and Mary a bejeweled Indian lady.
Finally, we hear the
views of some Indian priests on issues like celibacy, conversion,
freedom of the Human Will. They strongly believe that Christianity
has to adapt and change if necessary to the needs of people in the
context of culture and modern trends.
Vishnu Mathur has produced and directed films independently for the
CBC’s Nature of Things programme for the last 20 years. Most of these
films have been shown on Discovery Channel, as Nature of Things and
Discovery have co-production arrangements. He has also worked for BBC,
London, for prestigious shows like Panorama and Disappearing World.
Furthermore, he travelled extensively around the world for the NBC
network, New York, for which he made films on political and cultural
subjects. One of the best and most entertaining being Hollywood of
Asia for their Weekend show.”
From the synopsis and the ‘Goa Plus’ news story, it is evident that the priests are left-wing liberals, calling for radical ‘reform’ in the Indian Church, on issues like priestly celibacy [always allied with the ordination of women], pro-choice [which is the opposite of pro-life] – Fr. Joe Pereira wants freedom for Catholics to choose contraception, etc.
And, when they speak of “adaptation” or “inculturation” they mean Hindu-isation, distribution of prasad along with Holy Communion as against the “rigid
ritualism” of the Church’s liturgy, imposing the practice of vipassana and yoga on our seminarians –our future priests, mind you, studying the scriptures of pre-Christian religions when they have very little knowledge of the Word of God in the Bible, and a rebellion against the ‘patriarchy’ of Rome: “We are Indians, not Romans“, “Catholicism, as practiced by the Vatican, has to adapt and change.”
THE CONTENTS OF THE DVD:
Lay Catholics and a priest in Goa who were seriously concerned about the contents of this documentary purchased a DVD [produced by SilverTouch Productions Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, Canada] for Rs 2000.00 and sent it to me for evaluation.
The major participants in order of appearance are:
Prof. Dr. Noel Sheth [Fr. NS], President/Principal/Rector, Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth [JDV or Papal Seminary], Pune; Vishnu Mathur forwarded to Fr. NS a copy of an email from me to him [Vishnu Mathur], in which I requested some clarifications about this film, informing Mathur that I was preparing a critique and report to send to the Catholic Bishops, and enquiring from him if he would like to have a copy of my report.
Fr. NS replied to me, under copy to Mathur, answering one question [concerning the symbol for Jainism] while ignoring the others. Neither of them expressed interest in knowing what my report contains, despite a reminder.
Sr. Christobel [Sr. C], Founder, Mother Theresa’s Roses, Mumbai. Sr. C is doing social work- bathing, clothing, medicating and feeding the destitute on Mumbai’s streets. Members of her organization inform me that when she was interviewed and filmed, she was completely unaware of the other details that the film was to include. Now she greatly regrets the inclusion of her ministry to promote the forms of inculturation that the film propagates.
Fr. Hilary Fernandes [Fr. HF], Our Lady of the Sea Church, Uttan, Archdiocese of Bombay;
Sr. Joeyanna D’Souza [Sr. J], Daughters of St. Paul, Bandra, Mumbai
Fr. Joe Pereira [Fr. JP], KRIPA Foundation, Mumbai-Vasai-Goa. Please refer my separate report of 96 pages on the New Age in CATHOLIC ASHRAMS, out of which the last 10 pages are devoted to KRIPA FOUNDATION.
Rev. Dr. Seby Mascarenhas
PILAR FATHERS [Fr. SM], Rector, All India Mission Seminary, Goa.
Narrator [NAR], Rita Mathur
Mrs. Ivy da Fonseca [Mrs. I da F], widow of artist Angelo da Fonseca, Goa
Fr. James D. Redington SJ [Fr. JDR], Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California, USA
SWAMI AGNIVESH, a Hindu social activist and preacher who regularly lectures at the JDV seminary, Pune.
Fr. K. M. George [Fr. KMG], Principal, Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, Kerala.
This seminary hosts the Mar Gregorios Foundation. The late Bishop Paulose Mar Gregorios, author of The Cosmic Man 1988, was one of India’s leading Christian New Agers. [Mar Gregorios is discussed in detail in my earlier reports.]
He published a book titled ‘Healing- A Holistic Approach’ in 1995 from that seminary. In this book, the Bishop deals with alternative therapies like pranic healing, jo-rei, reflexology, chiropractic, homoeopathy and acupuncture; eastern meditations like T.M. and yoga [he was a practitioner of several of these], and quotes heavily from leading
New Agers like Fritjof Capra, Deepak Chopra, C.G. Jung, David Bohm, Sri Aurobindo etc.
Dr. Fr. Charles Vas SVD [Fr. CV], Director, Sangeet Abhinay Academy, Andheri, Mumbai.
In my ASHRAMS report I have already briefly discussed the other centres of the SVD Fathers in the Sacred Heart Parish of Andheri, Archdiocese of Bombay: Gyan Ashram, Atma Darshan, Institute for Indian Culture etc. where several New Age practices like Enneagrams, Vipassana, Yoga etc. are taught at ‘retreats’ which are advertised in the Archdiocesan weekly THE EXAMINER. A separate detailed report is under preparation. This is the same place, I am informed, from which Fr. Gilbert Carlo SVD propagates Yoga, and one Fr. Francis Barboza SVD, an acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer operated till he got married after leaving the priesthood. Bharatanatyam is a Hindu temple dance.
The following is the transcript of the main contents of the film:
Fr. NS: “I as an Indian, somehow or the other have within my psyche this Indian-ness, and I notice that when I squat on the floor and pray, it’s true, somehow I am more devotional, I am more attentive, whereas if I am sitting on a chair and praying, I am not so concentrated.”
Sr. C: “I would prefer that in India we adopt a lot of the Indian ways, like the flowers and the incense, colour and all that which makes you feel that you are an Indian…”
Fr. HF: “Till today, Roman vestments were being used. That time I said why Roman vestments. I don’t want to look like a Roman. I don’t want to be called a Roman Catholic. I am an Indian Christian.”
Sr. J: “It is necessary that we understand people of all cultures. The various faiths, the Muslim faith, the Hindu faith, the Sikh faith, I have been brought up with those students in my school and I don’t need to be different. I need to be an Indian. At the same time I believe in Christ.”
Fr. JP: We are first Indian and then Christian and therefore we have to take the entire Indian culture along with its spiritual practices and inculturate that into our faith.”
Fr. SM: What makes the prasad different from Holy Communion? What we believe is that we have the wine and the bread that is really become the body and Blood…”
NAR: “At the Indian Rite Mass, not only Holy Communion but small sweets are distributed as in Hindu temples.”
Fr. SM: “The prasad is something offered. It does not become God. For us that is the big difference. These are things offered to God and come back from God to us.”
AT THIS POINT, THE FILM’S TITLE IS DISPLAYED OVER THE PICTURE OF A STATUE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY STANDING ON A LOTUS THAT IS MORPHED INTO ONE OF THE HINDU DEITY SARASWATI, THE GODDESS OF LEARNING AND WISDOM STANDING ON THE LOTUS.
NAR: “This coastal region of Goa was once known as the Rome of the East. India has a grand architectural legacy of churches and a healthy strata of believers ranging from the very rich to the meekest fisherman and the poorest untouchables. St. Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, landed here in the 16th century and converted 700, 000 people into the Catholic faith in the short span of 10 years. On his feast day, people flock to the Cathedral of Bom Jesus in Old Goa to worship and honour his memory. Thousands attend Mass and novena services in the Konkani language.
St. Xavier is known as the patron saint of Goans who think no harm can come to them as long as his remains are kept here in the silver casket. Bishops and the Archbishop come to celebrate Mass, and the throngs are seated on the wide lawns outside as the church building cannot hold such numbers.”
Fr. SM: “The percentage of Indians to the total Indian population is going down. Also in real terms of numbers, the growth rate of Christianity is the lowest compared to other religions. There are hardly any new Christians being [unclear] in India. In former times there used to be four or five children. Perhaps today it is just nuclear family with one or two children… Christianity is about 22 million people, just about 2% of the Indian population is such a big mixture of so many different tribes, customs, cultures… Goa thinks it is very westernised though in heart of heart in our gestures, in our way of thinking, in our way of moving around, we are very, very Indian.“
TO THE PICTURES OF HINDU PUJA CEREMONIES BEING CONDUCTED IN TEMPLES:
NAR: “The population of India is 1 billion, of which approximately 80% are Hindus.”
Fr. HF: “As I used to visit mostly the temples, Hindu temples, the philosophies of the Hindu religion impressed me very much. That time all services, religious services, were in Latin. I said what type of worship we are having it which is not being understood by us. I was thinking that the Church has been eliminated from our own culture, and how can we go on like this, this something western which has been imposed on us. The first time in 1964 the Pope Paul VI was supposed to come here, they said Let us have a vernacular Mass.
“So that was the first time I translated the Latin Mass into Marathi, and I composed one song there and that song was used with the Marathi Mass. In the western way when we were there they used to use violin and the organs and things like this. They said No that does not fit in our culture, let us use tabla, let us use sitar, also the harmonium. So this is the way we started using this. Unfortunately not everybody was happy about it. Anyway, my tabla was also stabbed by some people and my harmonium was thrown out and all because they were not prepared. One good thing happened like this. Because inculturation we are talking about it, talking about it, we are doing it in a small way, because of this like that a shock treatment it was to everybody, everybody wanted to know What is inculturation?” Fr. NS: “The officials in the Church are interested in what we call inculturation. That is the religion has to be in a particular culture, in a particular soil. Otherwise it is going to be something artificial. The people of the place should experience God through their culture.”
Fr. SM: “You see our stained glass windows. You see Mary with earrings. Revolutionary in the ’50s. If Our Lady appears in Lourdes like a French lady and in Fatima like a Portuguese lady, why can’t she be depicted as an Indian lady in India?”
Mrs. I da F: “An Indian lady- she looks very bare without jewellery. She must have some type of jewellery.”
Fr. SM: “Obviously the basic things remain the same. The reading, the Bible, the words of the Consecration, those we will not change. That is what unites all of us. The whole point of this is, be at home while celebrating. Celebrate what you live, not something artificial and theatrical, at the same time with awe, with wonder, with sobriety, because finally we are in the presence of God.
Fr. NS: “The process of inculturation involves adoption of a particular culture, but not necessarily everything. But then certain other things may have to be adapted. So the first point is adopting, the second is adapting. You make certain changes because of the situation in which you are as a Christian. In the Indian tradition there is something called arati. This arati was originally the waving of lights, but nowadays we wave not only lights but also incense and flowers. The Christian Mass itself has gone through various phases, adopting and adapting different things in the different religious cultures and traditions that it went to. So it’s not something new in India.
Unfortunately what happened for many centuries really it got crystallized and fixed or ossified.
For example if a person comes and celebrates Mass in India with all those vestments- some of them are very thick- they will not really fit the climate. Now it is alright for a country that is cold, but why impose it on everyone?“
TO THE FOOTAGE OF FR. NOEL SHETH DURING ONE OF HIS INDIAN RITE MASSES CHANTING “OM SHRI BHAGAVATE SAGUNA NIRGUNAYA NAMAH, OM SHRI BHAGAVATE SACCIDANANDAYA NAMAH….“:
“If you go back in the history of Christianity, many of these things were taken from the culture of people. Even the candles that are lit in the regular Mass, there were no candles for the first 1,000 years of Christianity. It was taken from somewhere.
“One example of this is genuflection, where people, when they go into the church, touch the knee to the floor as a mark of respect, adoration, to the presence of God. This custom was borrowed by Christianity from barbarians. They had the custom of genuflecting in front of their king.
“So therefore there is nothing sacrosanct in that particular action because it’s not there from the very origins of Christianity. The Bishops of India, somewhere in the ’60s, already made a decision that there is no need to genuflect in India. We shall adopt the Indian cultural way of joining the hands and bowing before the presence of God. If you want to ask forgiveness and express your humility, then you touch the lowest part of the body, the feet.”
Fr. JDR: “I have studied and taught Hinduism in the USA for something like 25 years. I and six students from our Jesuit School of Theology are touring India with the idea in mind of learning about Hinduism, about Hindu-Christian dialogue, about inculturation. Some of the Hindu ideas like the atman, and the atman-Brahman identity that is the identity with God deep inside, are expressed in a way that I have not found expressed in my Christian faith, and it’s helpful to relate to God in that way.”
FR. NOEL SHETH: JNANA-DEEPA VIDYAPEETH, PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE
Fr. NS: “We shall now perform what is called the panchang namaskar. This gesture evokes the emotion of unworthiness… We shall also distribute these flowers, and also this sweet…
“My father was a convert from Hinduism to Christianity. My mother was a Catholic from some generations. But from childhood I have a good deal of Hindu cultural influence. My father used to be present with his friends for different Hindu religious celebrations and that makes a tremendous difference to the way in which I look at life.
And when I look at other people, at other religious traditions, it’s more open.
“This is the emblem of our institution which is called Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, the Light of Wisdom University.“
AT THE CENTRE IS THE FIGURE OF A MAN SQUATTING IN THE PADMASANA YOGA POSTURE
“The earlier name was Papal Seminary and the reason why it was called Papal is because it is recognized by the Pope for giving degrees.
“And it is an institution meant for the training of Catholic priests and Christian leaders but it is open to everyone. We believe that the Christian leader especially the priest should be an all-round person, be able to communicate and deal with people in all walks of life. Buddhism has many things to teach us, especially now in our modern age. I will give you some idea of some of the characteristics of Buddhism which will be very beneficial to us Christians. Here in India we have not only different religions, we have different cultures, different languages, we have a wealth of variety and there-fore it is impossible for any religion not to take into account this particular pluralism or variety. You cannot live in your own ghetto. There is a chant which is recited by the Buddhists on various occasions- something like the Our Father.“
THIS IS IN A CLASSROOM SITUATION AT THE SEMINARY. FR. NS GOES INTO A BUDDHIST CHANT
“And at the end there is ‘sadhu, sadhu, sadhu’ which is the Buddhist way of saying ‘Amen, Amen, Amen’.“
WE ARE NEXT SHOWN A MULTI-TIERED WATER FOUNTAIN IN THE SEMINARY
“You see, each one of these pots is emptying into the other pots and into this trough, but each one is full. That is the spiritual characteristic that God never becomes empty. That is fullness. This is fullness. From fullness, fullness proceeds, which is a very famous verse in the Hindu tradition. We pause in silence and listen to the falling water. It can help one to get into a meditative mood.” [One wonders why, in a Catholic seminary, Biblical metaphors or allegories such as The Living Water of John 4 are not used instead of Hindu verses to convey Life-giving messages.]
NAR: “Spiritual leaders like Swami Agnivesh are often invited for talks and discussions.”
SWAMI AGNIVESH IS WELCOMED IN THE SEMINARY CLASSROOM. NOTE THAT
HE CALLS GOD AN “IT” AND THAT GOD’S NATURE IS MADE EQUAL TO HIS CREATION:
“God is one and we are all its equal children and God is not being partial to Christians or Hindus. God can never be partial just as the sun is never partial… creation is never partial, the earthquake is never partial [laughter, the camera pans to some nuns in the class shown enjoying the ‘joke’]. We have to understand that this whole game of partiality is a game of the religions, a religious mindset, a discrimination.“
Fr. KMG: He talks about the coming of the apostle St. Thomas to Kerala in 52 AD, the history of the Orthodox Church in India, the coming of the Portuguese in the 16th century, the inquisition launched against them etc. He affirms that they respect the Pope but can never accept his spiritual leadership over them.
FR. JOE PEREIRA: KRIPA FOUNDATION, MUMBAI, VASAI, GOA
Fr. JP: “I started KRIPA Foundation as a vocation within a vocation. I was a Catholic priest from 1967…“
[Fr. Joe explains the development of his work of rehabilitation of alcoholics and drug addicts].
VISUALS ARE OF FR. JOE SITTING IN MEDITATION IN A PADMASANA YOGA POSTURE ON A PEW IN CHURCH.
“…we found that it was necessary to integrate a lot of Indian ethos in this thing, and mainly the Indian spirituality. We are a land of spirituality where we have such beautiful teachings of great masters. We have the world’s most renowned meditation practice. And when I came into the parish life, pastoral life, I realised that I had done a lot of intellectual work, even spirituality was all left-brain work. I got into activity. I got into service. I was a busybody going from one activity to the other and prayer just went out of my life and when I realized that, I wanted to pray but I could not pray. Then I went to the guruji that I had known when I was studying in Poona. Fortunately he had classes in Bombay, so I joined up for yoga classes and ever since then my whole life changed. The integration of yoga at different stages of recovery is a creation and recommendation of guruji B.K.S. Iyengar. In Iyengar-yoga, you awaken the inner being. Basically guruji has given us a methodology of loving our bodies back to life…“
Erson Vegas, Yoga Instructor, ex-alcoholic, KRIPA Foundation, Goa: “Addicts and alcoholics- we have a racing mind, that is like the mind racing into the past or future. So yoga helps to relax the mind and the body. For the seven years I have stopped, and one of my main tools of recovery is yoga.”
Fr. JP: He explains the programme for AIDS-HIV afflicted persons, while the visuals pan to the commemorative plaque of KRIPA’s Vasai centre which reads: FUNDS PROVIDED BY THE COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY, BRUSSELS, THE LUXEMBOURG MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AIDE A L’ENFANCE DE L’INDE LUXEMBOURG, BLESSED BY BISHOP [NAME WITHHELD] ON 17TH APRIL 1994, INAUGURATED BY MOTHER TERESA ON 15TH MAY 1994. “As a yogi, as a practitioner of yoga, I truly believe that you have to take a human approach to sexuality. Condoms, with regard to people who are infected, it’s a matter of life and death. I come out as a very controversial priest in this respect when I say that please leave this first and foremost to the individual conscience…“
FR. SEBY MASCARENHAS: THE PILAR FATHERS, GOA. AN INDIAN RITE MASS
Fr. SM: The visuals are of the Pilar Fathers’ social activities while Fr. Seby tells us about the mission school which has produced 2 doctors, 2 engineers, 40-45 teachers, and 4 priests. “The percentage of Christians would be 3 or 4 or 5%, not more, hardly anybody has become a Christian. Maybe in their hearts they became Christians, that would be nice“ [laughing]. This is followed by an adivasi dance performed by Pilar-trained girls for an ordination ceremony at the commencement of a Mass.
NAR: “The Indian Rite Mass, still in its infancy, is celebrated once a week and forms the leading edge of change.“
THE PERFORMING OF ARATI, THE APPLICATION OF KUMKUM ON THE FOREHEADS OF THE CON-CELEBRATING PRIESTS, AND THE CHANTING OF THE OM MANTRA FOLLOWS THAT ANNOUNCEMENT.
All this, Indian musical instruments, bhajans, agarbatti incense sticks, shawl-draped priests, and yet the concelebrants, including the main celebrant use CHAIRS for sitting on during the Pilar Mass.
Rangoli, the intricate Indian art form, is created by Hindu girls for their Christmas decoration.
Fr. SM: “Elements of Indian culture are taken in, like the arati, the kumkum for greeting, the purification rites which are very important in Christianity because Christianity is an oriental religion, not a western religion.“
FR. CHARLES VAS SVD: SANGEET ABHINAY ACADEMY, MUMBAI
NAR: “Fr. Charles Vas is a Ph.D. in Indian classical music and wrote his thesis on East-West trends in music.”
Fr. CV: “The SANGEET ABHINAY ACADEMY was started with the aim of spreading the message of love through music and dance. I have in my troupe, people from all denominations [he probably means all faiths]. I consider the one point that God loves us without any preconditions. It’s a different kind of dancing in the church and in the halls. We raise our hearts and minds to God through very devotional gestures. It’s not jumping around.“
WE ARE SHOWN, IN ELEGANT DANCE FORM, A DEPICTION OF THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE BY GOD.
“With devotional gestures and
mudras… we show the creation. Dance and music form is the best form of portraying our ideas, and the religious ideas also can be portrayed and depicted… Biblical ideas can also be depicted…“
[What about using music and dance for EVANGELIZATION, Father Charles?]
“We have started singing bhajans in the church. A few years back it was considered as paganism, but now we praise and thank the Lord through bhajans. It helps to pray better…“
WE WATCH A DANCE DEPICTING THE FALL OF MAN AND HEAR THE COMMENTATOR SAY THIS ABOUT ADAM AND EVE:
‘AND THOUGH THEY SINNED, BUT GOD WAS SO GENEROUS AND KIND THAT HE PARDONED THEM‘.
THERE IS NO MENTION IN ENGLISH, FOR THE BENEFIT OF POTENTIAL VIEWERS, OF ORIGINAL SIN, REPENTANCE FROM SIN, THE NEED OF A SAVIOUR AND REDEEMER IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD.
JNANA-DEEPA VIDYAPEETH, PUNE
Fr. NS: “Jesus Christ is an easterner. Now the western art developed in a particular way because that was and is the culture of that area. But there is no need for me to depict Christ as a white. Here in India people have come to realize already for some years now, maybe for some 50/70 years, that we need to develop an Indian way of looking at Christ, an Indian approach to Christ which would make more sense to us as Indians… These stained glass windows were designed by Agnelo da Fonseca. You can see Indian scenes over there… When designing this he wanted to give it an Indian flavour.“
Mrs. I da F: “My husband was completely devoted to Indian art… He didn’t want art to be like those sweet-looking pictures that were coming from outside India. He said I want art to be just like our own Indian people…”
We are shown footage of Fonseca’s and others’ art featuring Jesus and other brown-skinned, dark-eyed gospel figures wearing dhotis and saris, etc.
Fr. NS: “In this prayer room [at the JDV ] it so happens that we have five windows depicting the five basic elements of the material universe according to Hinduism- earth, fire, air, water, ether. It is an inculturated prayer room… [An explanation is given by Father against each window]. Here, on the mural, we have different symbols of some of the Indian religions… [Father explains them, the drum representing tribal religions, the dharma wheel of Buddhism, the symbols of Sikhism; I notice the Parsi fire symbol and the Jewish 7-branched candlestick which Father glosses over, but first he said this:] The swastika with these three dots and the crescent moon on top- that is the symbol of Jainism. Here we have the OM symbol which is the symbol of Hinduism.“
We have Jesuit Father Noel Sheth admitting that the OM is the symbol of Hinduism!!!!!
Cut to an Indian Rite Mass where the priest intones, ‘A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew’.
Fr. NS: “When people are praying here, we are not praying just to some Christian deity as it were, but they are praying to THE deity who is understood and experienced in different ways in different religious cultures and traditions.“ Note that the priest makes this remark directly succeeding footage of the Liturgy of the Word!
Fr. HF: “Anybody who comes into your place of worship, the people have been welcomed by putting the kumkum. Putting on the forehead means that may God give you light. This kumkum symbolise the five elements out of which the whole universe has been created. [I am under the impression that Christianity teaches that God created the whole universe out of NOTHING!!] So now
when I put this I say you are the part of the universe. That symbolises that God has blessed you.“ [So when I realize my identity as part of the universe, I will be blessed by God!!]
Fr. NS: “These elements bread and wine are from nature. For example the soil in which the grain of wheat was planted, the water that has nourished the plant, the air, the sunlight, all this is present in this wheat, this bread that we have before us, and the same with regard to the wine. So we have to realize that nature is very much present in the Eucharist that we are offering… and this realization has got to come to us more and more precisely because of our encounter with such religions as Hinduism and Buddhism which have this closeness with nature. In Christianity, somehow or the other God created human beings to rule over nature and that has had its consequences with regard to ecology and so on.”
FR. HILARY FERNANDES : THE ELEPHANT GOD GANAPATI AND JESUS
Fr. HF: [laughing heartily] “By being [words unclear] inculturated idea was that I have installed Jesus in the form of a Ganapati [laughs]. [Pictures of Ganapati and the Sacred Heart of Jesus shown side by side on a wall altar].
“We call elephant-god. People understand, no, elephant-god. Achcha, similarity between Christ and Ganapati: Ganapati is Lord of the community, and Christ is called Lord of the community.“ [Cut to picture of Jesus Christ next to one of Shirdi Sai Baba].
“The elephant had a big head, okay, and he had a big brain, so he would have wisdom. Christ is called the God of wisdom. His [Ganapati’s] stomach was the big stomach. That means that it takes all your sins and forgives you, and Christ takes away all the sins of the world. And these are several things I saw so similar. [Father continues to laugh] But people got shocked to their life and said How can you, eh, compare Ganapati with the Christ? Ganapati is a language through this statue and through all this symbols to express the concept of Almighty God.“
SO, WE SEE A MEASURED PROGRESS, OR IS IT A RAPID DOWNSLIDE, FROM GENUINE INCULTURATION LIKE USE OF THE VERNACULAR, INTRODUCTION OF FOLK DANCING TO WELCOME THE CELEBRANT AND THE GATHERING, THE USE OF BHAJANS AND INDIAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, INDIANISATION OF CHRISTIAN ART, REPLACING OF LITURGICAL VESTMENTS WITH INDIAN DRESS LIKE THE SHAWL, ETC. THROUGH THE ADOPTION OF THE ‘OM’ MANTRA, ARATI, KUMKUM , THE DISTRIBUTION OF PRASAD DURING HOLY COMMUNION AND TEMPLE-DANCES LIKE BHARATANATYAM AT MASS, AND OTHER ABERRATIONS [a separate study on these issues is under preparation], TO DOING YOGA IN CHURCH, RECOMMENDING THAT THE CLERGY PRACTISE RAISING OF THEIR KUNDALINI, MORPHING THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY INTO THE GODDESS SARASWATI, EQUATING THE ELEPHANT-GOD GANAPATI [a.k.a. GANESH, VINAYAKAR] WITH THE LAMB OF GOD AND FOUNTAIN OF ALL WISDOM, JESUS CHRIST, ETC.
FREEDOM AND PRIESTLY CELIBACY
Fr. KMG: “The ancient tradition of Christianity if you go through the Scriptures and the early Fathers of the Church, there is a lot of emphasis on human freedom, and they say human beings are created in God’s image, and God’s major attribute is freedom. God is free and God has given that freedom to his creation. So human beings are free, so we should exercise that freedom as children of God, that is our understanding.“
Fr NS: “One of our Cardinals in India made a public statement that Rome should allow us more freedom to make our own decisions. So questions are being asked and there is hope that things will change [God forbid]. But you know the Church goes very slowly. But suddenly things have changed from earlier times.
TO THE LOUD CHANTING OF OMMMMMMM……….
“Celibacy for the priests is a hot topic in the west but it is not a hot topic in India. The early disciples of Jesus, some of them were married, the first Pope, St. Peter was a married man. It’s only some centuries later that they introduced this discipline in the Roman Catholic Church or the Latin Rite but not in the eastern Christian rites. So it’s not something essential. Now the Indian tradition, celibacy is extolled tremendously, very highly.“
Cut to visuals of Fr. Sheth delivering his homily at Mass:
“The body is very much part [words unclear]… Here in India we have YOGA, VIPASSANA, so many different things. When the body is not part of us and yet it is used… [the audio-visual is terminated].“
IN PLACE OF THE BREAKING OF THE WORD OF GOD, YOGA AND VIPASSANA MEDITATIONS ARE BEING PROPAGATED DURING THE HOMILY- IN A LEADING CATHOLIC SEMINARY.
Cut to visuals of Fr. Joe sitting with a group of his patients, all in yoga padma-asana pose, OMMMMM……….
Fr. JP: “I really feel that celibacy is a gift to a person who is wholly dedicated to God, and the yogic way of life really teaches us to sublimate the sexual urge [someone forgot to tell that to the saints of the Church for the last 2000 years]. SO RAISING THE KUNDALINI IS A VITAL THING FOR A PRIEST.”
TO A BACKGROUND OF YOGIC MANTRA CHANTING: “In yoga, a person who goes into a lifestyle of self-denial and sacrifice has to learn the technique of moving the energy at the base of the spine upwards.
At the same time, there is the energy of the intelligence which has to be dropped down [Fr. Joe points to the area of the ajna chakra or ‘third eye’ between his eyebrows], both the energies of life and intelligence meeting at the heart plexus, to create the prayer of the heart.“
So, genuine prayer involves, yoga, meditation, mantras, chanting, techniques, postures, belief in the existence of tantric and psychic energies- of life, the kundalini at the base of one’s spine, and of intelligence in the forehead chakra. Traditional Catholics have to work hard to revise their antiquated understanding of what prayer to God from the heart really means! And the best way for an avowed celibate, like a priest, to sublimate sexual desire is to learn to raise his kundalini. By extension, kundalini yoga should be introduced in all our convents and seminaries.
[For more information on these issues please refer to my CATHOLIC ASHRAMS and other reports.]
[NON-] CONVERSION AND [NON-] EVANGELIZATION
Sr. C: “If somebody says you have to convert, you are living a life of evil, you are worshiping false gods, you are hurting their sentiments. I would never force my views on that person who is helpless, who is needy, who is starving, who is hungry and thirsty. It would be so wrong of me to do that.”
Fr. SM: “Conversion is a personal relationship. No one can convert anybody, nobody can stop anybody from getting converted. 400 years ago when the colonial people came they might have brought their faith with the sword. We accept history. It happened. But it is no longer the case today. For instance if a person says that he wants to be a Christian we are not going to baptize him immediately. There would be at least a year’s preparation to know what Church is about so that he really intellectually accepts what we are thinking about.
Fr. KMG: “We Christians are very fortunate in Kerala to have a very deeply spiritual cultural heritage behind us so it is very easy for us to practice our Christianity. So we never felt the need to go out and evangelize somebody and change their religion.”
SOME SCENES FROM A PLAY PUT UP BY THE PILAR SEMINARIANS, AN EXTRACT:
Actor: “As for me, if there is a Hindu, let him be a good Hindu. If there is a Muslim, let him…” And so on.
Fr. SM: “The message is very simple. Finally we all believe in the same God…”
CUT TO SHOTS OF FR. HILARY FERNANDES CHANTING OMMMMM………. before the tabernacle in a chapel. There are several women praying there before the Blessed Sacrament.
NAR: “Inculturation by drawing on similarities seems to be bringing home Christianity’s original message of love and peace.”
ARCHBISHOP OF GOA
SHIVA TEMPLE, SINQUELIM, GOA
DE NOBILI COLLEGE, PUNE
Etc. etc. including the names of the institutions already mentioned earlier.
WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO, CANADA
The presenters and the priests interviewed admit to practising or recommend the following:
Yoga [Hindu] and Vipassana [Buddhist] meditations are taught at seminaries to ‘help’ seminarians deal with celibacy;
‘Hindu rituals and symbols are intermingling into the practice of Christianity‘;
The practice of Kundalini Yoga would benefit our clergy; OM chanting is part and parcel of the lives of these priests;
Freedom is required from Rome towards decisions concerning issues like inculturation and priestly celibacy and from the ‘rigid ritualism‘ in the present liturgy;
The Church in India is not any more concerned with conversion or evangelization.
These attitudes cut across all congregations, with eminent Jesuits, SVD and Pilar Fathers, and diocesan priests speaking out in this short presentation. By extension one can estimate the sad condition of the Church in India.
In the space of six weeks, the film was screened three times at Catholic venues. No one seems to have raised any official objection to the contents of this most dangerous documentary. I am aware that many leading priests were present on all occasions.
Fr. Joe Pereira himself reports that the Archbishop of Goa attended the first screening in Goa and approved of it. A month later there was the second screening in Goa. In October 2005, I sent an email four times to the Archbishop, asking for his
comments and clarifications, along with a letter by post. For the response, see pages 12, 13.
THIS DOCUMENTARY MUST NOT BE SCREENED AGAIN. THE BISHOPS MUST SPEAK AGAINST IT, AND TAKE STEPS TO ENSURE THAT IT IS NOT MADE AVAILABLE FOR MASS DISTRIBUTION.
MY CORRESPONDENCE ON THE DVD “INDIA: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS”
1.] To: Vishnu Mathur Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 4:34 PM Subject: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS
Dear Vishnu and Rita, You will recall my earlier correspondence with you on the DVD. [This was regarding the poor audio quality of the DVD for which we had paid him Rs 2000. Mathur’s relies were rather hostile and non-cooperative.] I would like to point out to you that there is an error in the presentation. Fr. Noel Sheth says this: “The swastika with these three dots and the crescent moon on top- that is the symbol of Jainism.” Father has combined the two symbols, one of Jainism and the other, the crescent moon, of Islam. My critique on the same is almost ready except for a few minor touch-ups. [In my earlier correspondence I had informed Mathur about my proposed assessment of the DVD and that it would be sent to the Bishops]. Maybe you could help me out.
1. Can you tell me the date and venue of the presentation when the Archbishop attended, as was reported in a Goa newspaper?
2. When was the DVD filmed in India? To me it seems to be in the period November/December 2004
3. When and how is the DVD expected to be released in India?
PLEASE INFORM ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A COPY OF THE TRANSCRIPT AND REVIEW THAT I HAVE MADE. IT RUNS INTO ABOUT EIGHT PAGES. Thank you. Yours sincerely, Michael Prabhu, CHENNAI
The Mathurs forwarded my email to Fr. Noel Sheth SJ.; Fr. Sheth responded:
Dear Vishnu and Rita, Thanks for forwarding to me the e-mail of Michael Prabhu. I am afraid I have to say that the Jain symbol depicted in our (Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth) Prayer Room is indeed the Jain symbol, used by the Jains (Jainas) and also printed in many books on Jainism. For an explanation of the symbolism of the different parts of this Jain symbol, including the crescent moon, see John E. Cort, Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India, p. 17. (The svastika alone, without the dots and the crescent moon is a symbol of Hinduism.)
Noel, S.J. Prof. Dr. Noel Sheth, S.J. President/Principal/Rector Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth Institute of Philosophy and Religion Ramwadi, Pune 411014, India.
I CAN SEE THAT NO ONE SEEMS TO BE INTERESTED IN REPLYING TO THE QUESTIONS THAT I ASKED, OR IN THE CRITIQUE THAT I AM SUBMITTING TO THE BISHOPS’ COMMISSIONS. Regards, Michael
Dear Michael, It was so nice and thoughtful of you to send me a reply, thank you. I do hope you will receive replies from the people concerned. We are going to be very busy this week as we are celebrating 50 years since our 112-year old institution was transferred from Kandy to Pune. In the Lord, Noel, S.J. [Fr. Sheth has not acknowledged any later letters]
Neither the Mathurs nor Fr. Sheth were interested in the contents of the report which I was to send to the Bishops!
Next I wrote emails to all those whose addresses were in the list of invitees for the Goa screening [see pg. 3]:
2.] Sent: Sunday, October 23, 2005 11:47 AM Subject: INDIA: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS
Dear friend, I am preparing a critique on Vishnu Mathur’s film referred to above. Could you please give me your brief comments on its usefulness in terms of inculturation etc., along with your name and your field of work or service. I will be greatly obliged to hear from you. Yours sincerely, Prabhu
The Father Secretary to the Archbishop of Goa was on that invitation list. I received only these responses:
how did you get to me? is it by chance? Rudolf Ludwig,
Art Chamber, Gauravaddo 115/A, Calangute Goa, India www.goa-art.com ph: 0091-832-2277144 mobile: 3117435
I wrote to Rudolf Ludwig, explaining how I got his address, but received no response, despite a reminder.
Hi. The film focuses on what is for me an endlessly captivating issue, namely, the way in which cultures intersect and yield something that is richer and even more magical than any solitary impulse. That is to be seen repeatedly
in South American literature — where languages that were transplanted soared to become distinctive and unique art forms. The film demonstrated this process in a highly dramatic fashion. [I replied asking her religion.]
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2005 7:36 AM
Hi. I am a lapsed Catholic; greatly attracted to Buddhism but not an official adherent. Maybe one can say that I am a student of religions in the sense that it is interesting to know how other cultures have addressed the imponderables.
Dear Prabhu, Since I am one of the characters depicted in the documentary, I wonder if my opinion will be of objective value. Anyway, briefly I just wish to state that Vishnu Mathur came at a time when the fundamentalist wave in India tarnished the secular image of India. Narendra Modi became an embarrasement not only to his own party but to the Human Race, bringing to mind only persons like Hitlar. This documentary has redeemed the image of India.
The ignorance of the Popular event hungry Media need to be dispelled by the truth about the beautiful land of Mother India where all religions feel at home. Christianity has been in India even before it came to the west and before the populare religious movements of Hinduism itself. The Educational Foundation of many Languages in India owe it to the Chrisian Missionary. And yet in this age and space we have to cope with martyrdoms of Rev. Grayham Steins! Mathur’s documentary makes Truth prevail. Regards, Fr.Joe
MY REPLY OF OCTOBER 30 TO FR. JOE PEREIRA:
Dear Fr. Joe, Thank you for your response. I have watched the DVD five times, and made a transcript of the same, but I do not find any connection between what you have written here, and anything that I heard or saw on the DVD, referring to the political overtones, I mean.
The DVD content concerns only the inculturation of Christianity, or to be more specific, of Catholicism, which is a good thing. Though I cannot agree with most of the recommendations, philosophies and practices that the DVD propagates. I will be sending my completed report next week to the concerned people in the Church as I usually do.
I had also published a report last month on the ASHRAMS MOVEMENT, and which contains one section devoted to your ministry through KRIPA Foundation. I am not sure that you would like to have it or read its contents.
For one thing, it is about 100 pages long, and the other is that our points of view are very different, opposing in fact.
With kind regards, Michael Prabhu
Dear Michael, All that I have said is on contexual. The Documentary was done while Narendra Modi was at his game. Hence my comments that many NRI who were supporting Hindutva and RSS could get the real picture of the Chrisian community. In what way are your views opposing? As for your report, please send me a copy. YOu could do so by VIP post. I shall pay for it. I AM interested in every puplication that speaks about Kripa.
By the way, where are you based? India or abroad? Regards, Fr.JOe
Dear Fr. Joe, I thank you for your kind and prompt reply.
From the different winter & Christmas scenes in the DVD, I got the impression that the film was made in November/December 2004. But from what you say it must have been documented the previous year, 2003.
Is that right?
Father, I do not take any money against my literature, but it will be my privilege to send you a laser-printed photocopy at once. However you forgot to tell me which address I should post it to. I send them free of cost to anyone who asks them and there are a few hundred on my mailing list. I also send them as Word docs. to several hundred people across the world. My website is also presently under construction and will have all information in a couple of weeks. I will be grateful if you give me the e-addresses of the other prominent persons (see list below) who were interviewed for the documentary so that I can send all of you soft copies together on receipt of your reply… Thanking you, Michael
Dear Michael, After my north american tour, I am now visiting my centers in India. I will try and get some of the email ids for you. But most of them I do not have. My postal address is
Kripa Foundation, Mt. Carmel's Church, 81/A Chapel Road, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050 India. Joe
For one thing, it did not go over well with the spectators (it was an outdoor screening at St. Xavier’s Institute of Historical Research at Porvorim, Goa). Many were uncomfortable about the Indianisation of the Mass with special reference to the aarti and puja type service. On a personal note I understand that the Christian Church uses inculturation to spread its doctrine.
Hinduism however may have the last laugh because it may ultimately absorb Christianity in its vast spectrum and Jesus Christ may one day become one more avatar of Krishna. If I am not mistaken there was some talk years ago about how Krishna and Christ could be one and the same entity. Bevinda Collaco
Dear Bevinda, I thank you for your very useful reply.
But to appreciate your comments better, may I know if you are a practising or lapsed Catholic, and if you were comfortable with the presentation or not? There are many opponents of this type of inculturation. May I have your opinion? Would you like me to send you a copy of the critique when it is completed? Thanking you again, Prabhu
Dear Michael, I was disappointed with the presentation. I presumed there would be more questioning of reasons why the faithful had accepted the Indianisation of Christian ritual. I was disappointed because the inculturation dealt with ritual not spiritualism. I showed Mathur the Hanuman shrine at Panjim Market area which has an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus prominently displayed in it. This is not inculturation. This is a respect and tolerance of the tempo drivers for each other’s religions. I was born Roman Catholic. I enjoy the philosophy and scriptures of different religions but the concept of God is I firmly believe, a creation of Man, as an answer to the inexplicable. Hope this answers your queries. Regards, Bevinda Collaco
So, the responses were from one very suspicious person, two lapsed Catholics, and Fr. Joe Pereira. Remember that these addresses were taken from the invitation list!!!
CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE ARCHBISHOP OF GOA
I wrote to the Archbishop of Goa. Letter posted on 19th; emails of 19th, 23rd, 25th and 31st October, 2005:
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 7:34 AM Subject: URGENT AND IMPORTANT
KIND ATTENTION : MOST REV. FILIPE NERI FERRAO, ARCHBISHOP OF GOA AND DAMAN
A DVD, INDIA : THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS THAT WAS SCREENED IN GOA AND USES YOUR NAME
1. Earlier today I have sent you a report on the NEW AGE in the CATHOLIC ASHRAMS in India. I have sent you similar reports on several occasions, both by post as well as by e-mail, but I have not received a single acknowledgement till date. These reports are widely circulated among Catholics in India and abroad, and to most of our Bishops, and are now being posted on several Catholic websites, including my own which is under construction.
2. As informed to you in the covering letter of my earlier email this morning, I have completed another report after a close study of the said DVD. If you have viewed the DVD, you would be aware that it contains statements and practices that are incompatible with Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxis.
In particular, the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS at the end of the film mentions ‘ARCHBISHOP OF GOA’, and I quote from the ‘GOA PLUS’, the supplementary to The Times of India and The Economic Times’ Goa edition of 11-17 March 2005: “The documentary has already been shown in Canada where Mathur lives, and last month in Goa at Xavier Historical and Research Centre at Porvorim. [Fr. Joe Pereira] says, ‘The place was packed with people and many were surprised at what they saw. Clergy members and even the Archbishop said that the documentary was done well‘.”
3. Your Grace, before I publish my report, I would like to have your comments. I would be very happy not to include the references to you in the report, if you would kindly explain to me your position on the said DVD. My intention is to create awareness among Catholics so that these errors do not gain popular acceptance among the faithful. May I request you to please reply at the earliest.
Yours obediently, MICHAEL PRABHU, CATHOLIC EVANGELIST, CHENNAI, www.ephesians511.net
AFTER REMINDER 3, RESPONSE From:
Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media – Goa
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 7:10 PM Subject: URGENT AND IMPORTANT
Dear Mr. Prabhu,
Since the 25th of this month, I have been trying to send you an email message written to you by His Grace Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao. I have had no success. I am sending it now through the email ID of our Social Communications Centre and I hope it goes through. Also find here below a specimen of the delivery failure notice we have been consistently receiving since the 25 th. In the meantime, we have received today yet another forward of your original email. The unintentional delay in getting back to you is sincerely regretted.
Kind regards, Fr. J. Loiola
Secretary to the Archbishop of Goa.
Dear Mr. Prabhu,
I write to thank you for your various mails sent, as you mention, over the last three years, prompted by your concern for the Church. Right now, I have in my hands your e-mails of 19th and 24th of this month.
Let me start with the last ones: thank you for your greetings on my 26th priestly ordination anniversary. I appreciate it and I reciprocate with sincere wishes for God’s abundant blessings on you, your family and your work. Regarding the attachment on New Age in Catholic Ashrams, while thanking you for it, I must say that I have not had the time to go through the lengthy material.
Coming to the DVD The Lotus and the Cross, the only information I have is that, many months ago, Mr. Mathur, the producer of the film, had informed our Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media of his intention to do a film on Christianity in India. He even got a clearance from that Centre to capture some footage of a Mass celebrated in one of our churches. But when he actually did the film, it was with the collaboration of Pilar Seminary, Goa, among other institutions in the country. Frankly, I have not seen the film and the report that “even the Archbishop said that the documentary was well done” is evidently false.
With kind regards and every good wish, Sincerely, +
Filipe Neri Ferrao Archbishop of Goa and Daman
I noted that the Archbishop’s Secretary Fr. Joaquim Loiola Pereira was one of those on the Mathur’s email invitee list of page 3, to whom I had written along with the others on October 23, and received no response.
I now wrote to him, October 31, 2005, copy to the Archbishop of Goa:
Dear Rev. Fr. Loiola Pereira, I thank you for your kind email on behalf of Archbishop Filipe which I received a few minutes after you sent it to me this evening. I will be writing to His Grace separately in the context of his letter to me…
Please refer to the following email.
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 11:07 AM Subject: Invitation for a Documentary Film…. Unquote.
Father, I believe that the address above highlighted in red colour is yours, and, in this connection, I wrote to you and several of the other addressees [some of whom figure prominently in the Documentary] as follows.
I quote: From:
To: Nn Sent: Sunday, October 23, 2005 11:47 AM Subject: INDIA: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS
Dear friend, I am preparing a critique on Vishnu Mathur’s film referred to above. Could you please give me your brief comments on its usefulness in terms of inculturation etc., along with your name and your field of work or service. I will be greatly obliged to hear from you. Yours sincerely, Prabhu. Unquote
However I did not receive a response from you. I am now pleased to know that you are Secretary to the Archbishop, and I am sure that hereafter all my correspondence will be attended to by His Grace and faithfully acknowledged through your good self. God bless you. Yours obediently, Michael Prabhu
I also sent this letter to the Archbishop, through Fr. Secretary, October 31, 2005:
KIND ATTENTION : MOST REV. FELIPE NERI FERRAO, ARCHBISHOP OF GOA AND DAMAN
Your Grace, I thank you for your long-awaited response.
Archbishop Emeritus Raul Gonsalves, your predecessor, had regularly written very encouraging letters to this ministry in response to the various communications and reports that I used to send him.
My report on the CATHOLIC ASHRAMS: May I submit to Your Grace that the situation is so serious that it warrants a careful examination of the contents of my report, despite its lengthiness? In my covering letter I have noted the four pages which will summarise the contents. I have also provided a helpful index to the contents.
I am confident that the Bishops need to look into the Ashram Movement which is doing incalculable harm to the Faith.
The DVD, INDIA: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS: I believe your word when you say that you did not watch either of the two public screenings of the DVD of the film in Goa. Which means, as you agree, that Fr. Joe Pereira’s statement that you did, and his quoting you, are false statements. I
trust that it will not be a problem for you if I mention that, and your denial, in my report which will be ready in a few days time.
I myself had observed that the Pilar Fathers played an important role in its production, and have highlighted that in my report. There is some footage of a Bishop or Archbishop celebrating Mass in a Goan Cathedral, but as I do not know what you look like, I could not decide who the Bishop in question is. In the list of ‘Acknowledgements’ at the end of the film, your title appears first, probably alphabetically [Archbishop of Goa]. The DVD assumes greater significance in the light of the Seminar held last week at the Pilar Seminary*, and the press reports on the direction that the Indian Church is pointed to. We lay Catholics are very, very concerned. We understand that 5 BISHOPS and 400 priests have taken certain decisions at this Seminar, and these happen to be in line with what is happening in the ASHRAMS. So my forthcoming report on the DVD will include some information about this Seminar, and will be in some way an extension of the earlier ASHRAMS report. *this is an error on the part of this writer. It should read as Papal Seminary, Pune.-Michael
I am glad and much relieved to know your position as stated by you in your letter of today, and I hope and pray that you and our other Bishops will exercise your authority as the corrective and teaching function of the Church.
If you have anything to say to me, I will be glad to hear it from you. Meanwhile the ASHRAMS report has reached over 75% of our Bishops and the CBCI Commissions, and this ministry has received several letters of encouragement as always. It is also just uploaded on my website: www.ephesians-511.net. Yours obediently, Michael Prabhu
I took the decision to reproduce in the above pages my correspondence with the Archdiocese of Goa because I have not received a response to two reminders to my letter [above], and in view of the recent seminar held at the Papal Seminary, Pune, which has a bearing both on the ASHRAMS report as well as the documentary ‘India: The Lotus and the Cross.’
This report has been updated and published finally only after the publishing of the St Pauls’ ‘inculturated’ and Hinduised New Community Bible, and its continued availability despite requests to have it withdrawn.
SEPARATE REPORTS ON FR. JOE PEREIRA/KRIPA FOUNDATION, THE JESUITS, THE JDV/PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE, AND THE PILAR SEMINARY, GOA, AVAILABLE AT THIS MINISTRY’S WEBSITE
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India