Pets at Holy Mass at the National Shrine of St. Thomas in Madras-Mylapore


FEBRUARY 8, 2013


Pets at Holy Mass at the National Shrine of St. Thomas in Madras-Mylapore


The pictures below appeared in the local weekly tabloid, Mylapore Times, Chennai, in the October 10-16, 2009 issue. The editor-publisher is a Catholic, Vincent D’Souza. On Sunday, October 4, 2009, the mid-day [12 noon] English service accommodated a number of animals during the celebration of Holy Mass.



Top: Fr. Jerry Rosario, SJ; Above: Fr. Kanikairaj, parish priest


This is what the Mylapore Times staff reporter had to say:

The noontime Holy Mass last Sunday at Santhome Cathedral was a special one. The rear of this magnificent place of worship was reserved for people who planned to bring their pets. Blue Cross, an NGO which works on issues related to animals and birds, had suggested to parish priest Fr Kanikairaj that it would be a nice gesture if pets could be blessed in the church campus. The priest agreed and welcomed Blue Cross and owners of pets in this neighbourhood to attend Mass.

Fr. Rosario, the main celebrant at the Holy Mass, in his Sunday sermon touched on the need to care for animals.

He then invited Chinni Krishna, who heads Blue Cross, to walk up to the altar with his pet dog that was on a leash, and share his thoughts with the packed congregation.

Save for the odd bark and growl from the rear, the Mass progressed smoothly and at the end of it, the priests walked down the aisle, blessed the dogs and cats and a lone parrot and sprinkled holy water on the pets and their owners.

Churchgoers who had camera cellphones on them quickly took pictures of this unusual event while others admired the dogs who took in the large crowd. Said Fr. Kanikairaj, “We had no hesitation in agreeing to the Blue Cross idea. It was a symbolic event but the message was shared.” Earlier, the same ceremony was held at a Hindu shrine.



Message from animal lover substitutes for homily

A symbolic event“? Symbolic of what? Of the new low in liturgical standards in the Archdiocese? Of the complete disregard for the rubrics and for the right of the faithful to attend Masses that do not degenerate into circuses?

What “message was shared” by the priests at their cat-and-dog Mass? The messages I got were that they have appropriated the liturgy of the Mass for themselves, converting the Holy Sacrifice into entertainment, becoming manipulators of the liturgy and not its servants, while being completely insensitive of those whom the Church has entrusted to their pastoral care, and thus placing themselves in open defiance of Rome.

That the reporting of the event was pre-meditated is evidenced by the presence of the Mylapore Times reporter at the Mass.

Frs. Jerry Rosario and Kanickaraj permitted a non-Catholic lay man “to walk up to the altar with his pet dog … and share his thoughts with the packed congregation” in lieu of the homily. This is an aberration.

Not even a Catholic lay man or lay woman may deliver the homily.

In the section on LITURGY AND LITURGICAL ERRORS at this ministry’s web site, there are more than two dozen articles that will enlighten the reader about the liturgy of the Mass and its abuses*.


The main celebrant of the Mass was
Fr. Jerry Rosario, a liberal Jesuit theologian who preaches on a regular basis to the Bishops and teaches at seminaries. He is notorious for his innovative Masses.

Years ago, when the present Bishop of Trichy, the Most Rev. Antony Devotta was the Vicar-General of Madras-Mylapore, my wife and I had submitted to him a written complaint about this renegade priest who had invited Hindu priests to speak to the assembly one Sunday and Muslim mullahs on another occasion, at Our Lady of Guidance Church, Raja Annamalaipuram. The mullahs taught us about Islam and that Mohammad was God’s final prophet. Both times, the speeches of the visiting guests replaced the Sunday homily. Incensed by this outrage, the Vicar-General summoned the priest and hauled him over the coals. Since his departure from this archdiocese, liturgical aberrations have become the order of the day.

On February 4, 2013, under the subject “Aberrations, errors and other problems in the Liturgies of the Sunday Holy Masses at the National Shrine of St. Thomas“, I had written to our Archbishop, “At one Mass a few months ago, Fr. Jerry Rosario SJ was the celebrant. During the homily, he attempted to initiate a dialogue with the congregation failing which he left the altar and came right down the main aisle going up to people and asking them questions. I immediately went to Fr Kanickaraj and apprised him of what was going on, and that was when he asked me what was so wrong about that when the people “liked it” and “want it”.

Concerning the indulgent parish priest Fr. Kanickaraj, I had written, “The celebrant greets the assembly with “Good morning” after making the Sign of the Cross, and the people respond with “Good morning, Father.”
Applause during Holy Mass has become standard procedure. Obviously, it is always invited by the celebrant. The reasons vary from a priest’s birthday to an appreciation of someone [like, say, the choir]. Recently, applause has been a standard feature of EVERY Sunday Mass that we attended.

Things get worse, if that is possible. The 9:30 am Mass has degenerated into a theater show. I have approached the person directly responsible for that, Deacon Charles, and met with hostility and rudeness. Characters dressed in costumes, role-playing accompanied by information over the microphone, etc. have been incorporated either with the homily or at the offertory procession. In addition to that, the celebrant unfailingly solicits applause from the faithful in appreciation of the Deacon and his helpers. One such show was put up by the Santhome Communications Centre people whom I found laughing and chatting outside the sacristy with the Deacon immediately after their role play and while Mass was still going on. At other Masses during the following weeks, two families per week have been inducted into the arrangements and they are applauded during every service.

On February 3, at the 12 noon Mass, the entire congregation joined the choir in singing “Happy Birthday” to
Fr. Kanickaraj after which the celebrant invited the audience to applaud the beaming parish priest.






The blessing of animals by a priest is done on January 17, the commemoration of the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot [who lived from 251 to 356 A.D. in Egypt], the patron saint of animals and against infectious diseases. In Rome, the annual event takes place just outside St. Peter’s Square, after Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, not inside a church building. The practice is prevalent in Spain and there have been news reports of animals occupying the pews along with their owners, during Mass. But the blessing of animals always occurs after Mass and outside the church. However, as per the news story, the priests at the Santhome Cathedral have “walked down the aisle” and sprinkled the animals with holy water inside the church.

While the intention of the priests was to bless the animals, it appeared that the dog and its non-Catholic owner at the altar in substitution for Fr. Jerry Rosario‘s homily were instead blessing the congregation.

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  1. Aizawl bishop Stephen Rotluanga with his nude paintings | THE LAITYTUDE

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