INDIA: THE ST. PAULS’ NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE [NCB]. LETTER TO THE CDF
To, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Kind Attention: Archbishop Luis Ladaria, S.J.,
Secretary to Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect, CDF
Your Grace, Archbishop Luis Ladaria,
Along with this letter, I am reaching a copy of the NCB to you through a priest coming to Rome.
The St. Pauls’ New Community Bible [NCB] was released in India on June 28, 2008.
The NCB bears the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat of two Bishops, including the Chairman of the Bishops’ Doctrinal Commission.
Cardinals and Bishops released the NCB at major functions in their respective dioceses.
Our team of priests and laity found many problems with the commentaries, etc., and we wrote to the publishers, St. Pauls, and to the Nuncio, who did not respond, and to all the Bishops of India, requesting that this confusing and erroneous “Bible” be withdrawn.
While two Cardinals and several Bishops have responded to our letters in their personal capacities, giving us assurances that the NCB was being examined by a Committee appointed by the Bishops, we have not received a definitive official admission of the errors and their proposed course of action from the directly responsible and concerned officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI] or CBCI Commissions even after months of reminders.
We are apprehensive that any revision of the commentaries will be superficial, and our anxiety is confirmed by the contents of a letter — in the form of a response to our eight-page critique — written by Bishop Agnelo Gracias to the other Bishops, a copy of which is in our possession.
Meanwhile the “Bible” with all its errors continued to be sold in Catholic bookstores across the nation. After a futile wait, we finally wrote to Rome:
On October 15, I had sent you by email an attachment with an eight-page critique of the NCB.
CALL FOR WITHDRAWAL OF THE NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE [NCB]
The critique is available at:
http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/A NEW AGE BIBLE THE NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE.doc
On October 22, 2008 I had sent you a second email. The attachment to this letter was a thirty-eight page follow-up report to the original critique, noting the dangerous trends in a powerful section of the Indian Church, connected with the Catholic Ashrams movement and teaching at our seminaries.
Our intensively researched report on the “New Age, blasphemy, heresy and sacrilege” and open rebellion against Rome in the Catholic Ashrams movement is available at our ministry’s website at: http://ephesians-511.net/articles_doc/CATHOLIC%20ASHRAMS.doc
There are a number of other similar reports on our website. The above is one example only.
We find a connection between the priests [liberal theologians] and bishops behind the new approach, the Hindu-isation [as opposed to a genuine Indianization or inculturation which we would support] of the Church, and the demand for a greater autonomy of the Indian Church, in effect, freedom from Rome to do what they please [see the Catholic Ashrams report].
This is a worst-case scenario, but it might become a reality if the present trend is unchecked.
Again I had written to your Congregation on February 28:
firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 6:28 PM Subject:
THEOLOGICAL ERRORS IN THE COMMENTARIES OF THE NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE [NCB]
There are similar errors in
a) The newly translated Tamil
language Missal, 1993
b) The new translation of the Holy Bible in the
A senior priest, Dr. Fr. P.K. George SJ., has analysed some of the problems in his twenty-six page booklet titled, “Ongoing Robbery of Faith” authored in 1996. The priest’s report was attached for your perusal: http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/ONGOING%20ROBBERY%20OF%20FAITH_NEW%20COMMUNITY%20BIBLE_4.doc
After almost fifteen years, these defective and erroneous Tamil Missals and Bibles are the only ones now available to the faithful. If Rome does not intervene in the case of the NCB, the same will be the situation for English Bibles.
Apparently, the NCB is part of a larger problem, one of an incorrect exegetical approach and historical-critical method of interpretation of Scriptures by our Indian scholars and theologians, something that most ordinary lay Catholics will unfortunately be unable to perceive when they read the commentaries.
From the contents of the eight-page critique and the thirty-eight page attachment which I have sent you, there is no doubt that the NCB is not only reduced to an inter-faith book which compares Biblical persons and events to mythical figures and deities of pre-Christian religions like Hinduism, but its commentaries are not true to orthodoxy, tradition and Church teaching.
THE NCB: THE ANGEL GABRIEL DID NOT APPEAR TO THE VIRGIN MARY
Please see the report by a Benedictine French theologian on the NCB: http://www.ephesians-511.net/documents/FRENCH%20THEOLOGIAN%20DENOUNCES%20ERRORS%20IN%20THE%20NCB%20COMMENTARIES_NEW%20COMMUNITY%20BIBLE_3.doc
The commentary on Luke 1 [page1796 of the NCB] denies that the angel Gabriel literally appeared and spoke to Mary. The commentator, the late Fr. George Soares Prabhu SJ teaches 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.”
A theologian who is faithful to tradition and Church teaching might be better able than me to explain 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 had 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 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, the Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay, and all others who defend the NCB, print and publish it and promote its sale are in agreement with this teaching that is contradictory to tradition [e.g., the writings of St. Gregory, Bishop of Neo-Cæsareia,
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf06.txt; the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas,
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.TP.ii.TP_Q30.TP_Q30_A1.html etc.] and not in any catechism or in any other Catholic study Bible.
But, the above 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 lay person like me who has made a scholarly study of the Bible from a Catholic perspective [in Catholic Bible colleges] 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.
Bp. Agnelo Gracias of Bombay wrote an internally-circulated response to my critique on the NCB. I have obtained a copy of it. It is not encouraging. If that response is any indication of the Bishops’ minds and what corrections or revisions are going to be made, we can only be pessimistic and very skeptical. The Bishop took so much of pains to study the commentaries of the NCB to write a detailed defense of the NCB in response to my critique. Apparently, he has completely missed the errors pointed out by the French theologian.
We will send you a copy of the Bishop’s response and our detailed answer to it, in due course.
This “Bible” also includes comparative references to yoga, prana, etc. which are intrinsically part of Hindu religious philosophy and practice. This infers that the Church has no moral judgement against them. We want those New Age references removed.
Please also read our report: http://ephesians-511.net/articles_doc/IN%20PRAISE%20OF%20SHIVA_A%20CD.doc, where a Catholic priest owns Hindu temples and spends Rs 15 million to produce a music CD honouring the Hindu deity Shiva; this priest went public on this issue once again recently and we are updating the report.
There are several similar scandalous reports either already on our website, or to be posted shortly. They reflect the current trend in the Church in India.
The deviations in the new commentaries and translations are a symptom of a deeper malaise:
i) an “inculturation” gone awry; a syncretistic, pluralistic and relativistic approach, leading to “Hindu-isation”
ii) a modernistic and liberal theological approach which conflicts with the teachings of the Church.
[I have supported these arguments with information in the reports sent to your Congregation.]
The news of our opposition to the NCB was reported in the leading English dailies in many cities as well as in the vernacular press. We were interviewed by UCAN, the Catholic news agency: “New Community Bible Criticized For Causing Confusion“ by Leo Fernando
Several secular reports claim that Rome is behind the NCB, but this has not been refuted by the CBCI or by the publishers of the NCB. I reproduce just three of the many such reports:
“The New Community Bible is part of an attempt by the Vatican to attract more converts…”
Vatican banks on sari-clad Virgin Mary
“The Vatican is hoping to attract more people into turning to the Catholic church in India…”
3. Vatican banks on Indianised Bible Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, July 27, 2008 PTI
“As congregations decline in West, the Vatican hopes to attract more believers to its fold with an “Indianised” Bible…”
We will eventually send you the compiled letters [which continue to come in], from dozens of priests and hundreds of lay Catholics and Catholic lay ministries from India and overseas, who have joined this initiative asking for the NCB to be withdrawn. We are confident that Rome will help us in our battle to preserve the orthodoxy of the Faith in India. Pro Pontifice et Ecclesia,
Michael Prabhu April 2, 2009
LETTER RECEIVED BY POST FROM THE SECRETARY, CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
May 9, 2009
This will acknowledge receipt of your recent letter, which you addressed to Cardinal William Levada.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Sd/- Archbishop Luis Ladaria, S.J., Secretary to the Prefect
prabhu; Fr. François Dupre
Sent: Sunday, April 12, 2009 9:59 PM Subject: Fwd: LETTER TO THE CDF, ROME
Dear Michael, Below you will find the email sent by his Eminence Archbishop Luis Ladaria, (below which you will find mine to him as well), in which he wants me to let you know that he thanks you for all the documents and be assured that everything will be studied with care and attention. Happy Easter.
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: 2009/4/10 Subject: Re: LETTER TO THE CDF, ROME
Caro [PRIEST, Name Withheld] ho ricevuto tutta la tua documentazioine. Da parte mia puoi dire al Sig. Michael Prabhu che tutto sarà studiato con attenzione. Tanti auguri di buona Pasqua!
—– Original Message —– From:
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 8:58 AM Subject: LETTER TO THE CDF, ROME
Mons [Luis Ladaria],
Trova allegato la lettera di Signore Michael Prabhu. Il suo email è firstname.lastname@example.org
Fino a 9 Aprile lui sarà fuori di casa per una conferenza, allora potrà rispondere al email solo dopo 9 Aprile. Cari Saluti,
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India