NEW WEBSITE: www.ephesians-511.net 14 NOVEMBER, 2006, UPDATED JULY 30, 2008, APRIL 2012
email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media – Goa ; email@example.com
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 10:09 AM
LETTER TO HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL PAUL POUPARD
President, Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue
Through, The Secretary, Father Bernard Ardura, O. Praem.,
And, The Undersecretary, Father Fabio Duque JaramiIlo, O.F.M. [firstname.lastname@example.org]
SUBJECT: YOUR VISIT TO THE PILAR SEMINARY, GOA, INDIA, 21-24 NOVEMBER 2006
My name is Michael. I serve fulltime in a Roman Catholic ministry in Chennai, India.
This ministry creates awareness among Catholics with regard to New Age errors that are infiltrating the Church, and also the many serious aberrations that are accompanying the experimentations of the Catholic Ashram Movement in India, inculturation, inter-faith dialogue, and last but not least, the Bangalore-based NBCLC or National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI] in its experiments with the “Indian-Rite Mass”.
My thoroughly researched and documented reports are duly sent to all of the Bishops and Commissions, and I have continued to receive letters of support from a fair number of them, including the Cardinals. Letters have also been sent to the Apostolic Nuncio [who has long ceased responding], and to most dicasteries of the Vatican including that of Your Eminence. While I am pleased to say that I have so far received three responses from Rome, including one from your dicastery, it is my perception that they have not been taken very seriously.
Many of the referred reports have been posted on my website www.ephesians-511.net which I request you to please visit. Particularly examine the report on CATHOLIC ASHRAMS.
There are also about 20 such reports in different stages of updating and completion which will be posted on the websites over the next 3 months.
Four such reports are INCULTURATION OR HINDU-ISATION?, INDIA: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS, THE N.B.C.L.C., and THE PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE. They will contain extensive documentation on the abuses of inculturation, inter-religious dialogue and liturgical innovations, and also record the erroneous beliefs, teachings and practices of leading priests and theologians in the ashrams and seminaries in India.
I am attaching one such almost-complete report- INDIA_THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS, which will give Your Eminence an idea about the Pilar fathers of Goa, with special reference to Dr. Fr. Seby Mascarenhas. The Lotus on the Cross is about a film made in collaboration with the Pilar Fathers. The report will also give you an idea of the manner of inculturation and inter-faith dialogue that is being carried out.
I am greatly encouraged by Your Eminence’s awareness of the inroads that New Age has made into the Church. While I have been crusading against New Age since 1999, this ministry has been able to benefit greatly from the February 3, 2003 Provisional Report on the New Age issued by your Councils, as also your June 2006 analysis of ‘Non-conventional Spiritualities’ wherein you outlined “New-Age challenges” and the growth of the sects in Latin America. I myself am personally and painfully aware of hundreds of good Catholics who have left the Church to join these sects here in India because of the very reasons that I have mentioned in this letter.
I end with the prayer that this letter will be of assistance to your Council during your visit to India. Yours obediently,
Sd/- Michael Prabhu
Copies to: His Grace, Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa : email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; The Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Pedro López Quintana firstname.lastname@example.org ;
Selected Chairmen-Archbishops and Bishops of the concerned CBCI Commissions [Doctrine, Culture, Dialogue] email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com etc.
[NO RESPONSE RECEIVED FROM ANY OF THE ABOVE]
The Pilar Seminary “teaches their students methods of quieting their mind with Hindu Yoga and Buddhist Vipassana meditations to help them deal with their vows of celibacy”.
The Pilar Fathers chant “OM” and promote a Hindu-isation of the Faith.
SOURCE: GOA PLUS, the supplementary to The Times of India and The Economic Times’ Goa edition of 11-17 March 2005
Read more about this in a separate report: INDIA_THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS
GOA: CARDINAL PAUL POUPARD TO PRESIDE AT CATHOLIC CULTURAL CENTRES MEET
PANJIM, Goa, November 13, 2006 (KonkaniCatholics blog): The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council of Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard will preside at the meeting of the Catholic Cultural Centres of India to be organized by the same council at the Pilar Theological College, Pilar, Goa, from November 21st to 24th, 2006. The meeting, which will be hosted for the first time by the Church in Goa, will have for its theme: “Catholic Cultural Centres: Cultural Resources for
Living the Christian Faith in Dialogue with the Traditional Cultures in the Context of Evolving Cultures,” and will be attended by over forty Cultural Centres from all over India, nearly 30 of which are based in the South Indian state of Kerala. Catholic cultural centres are public forums that help develop a dialogue between faith and cultures.
In his address of 14 March 1997, the late Pope John Paul II who created the Pontifical Council for Culture in 1982, under-scored the “tragedy for culture, which is undergoing a deep crisis because of the rupture with the faith” and called upon the Pontifical Council of Culture “to help the Church achieve a new synthesis of faith and culture for the greatest benefit of all.”
In an interview with Catholic News Service, March 13, 2006, the 76 year old French Cardinal who has headed the dicastery from its inception in 1988, described culture as being key to interreligious dialogue and said that the Council for Culture has already been promoting interreligious dialogue on a local level through Catholic cultural centers.
Around the same time, on March 11 this year, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to temporarily merge the Pontifical Council for Culture with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue “in order to favour a more intense dialogue between men of culture and exponents of the various religions.” The Pope retained Cardinal Poupard at its helm. Over the years, the role of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue has gained in importance, and especially so after some misunderstood references from the Pope’s Speech at the Regensburg University during his home visit trip to Germany last September sparked off angry reactions in some parts of the Muslim world.
The Cardinal… is also scheduled to visit the Bom Jesus Basilica and inaugurate a Christian Art Gallery, promoted by the Archdiocese, in the old Archbishop’s Palace at Old Goa, that evening.
On 23rd afternoon, the Church dignitary will preside over a Special Symposium on “Globalisation and Indian Cultures: towards Harmony among Peoples,” organised by the Pilar Theological College. He will also be present at the evening’s special cultural programme organised by the Society of Pilar with the Governor of Goa as the Chief Guest.
Accompanying the Cardinal to Goa will be his Secretary, Fr. Bernard Ardura and the Official for the Asia Desk, Dr. Theodore Mascarenhas, a priest of the Society of Pilar who also teaches at various Universities in Rome.
Apostolic Nuncio to India, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, will also be attending the three-day cultural centres meet.
The Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao and the Superior General of the Society of Pilar, V. Rev. Fr. Tony Lopes, will accompany the distinguished guest during his six-day stay in Goa before his departure to Rome on the 24th to be part of the entourage accompanying the Pope to Turkey on November 26.
Cardinal Poupard appreciates rich culture of Goa
Panaji, November 19, 2006: The head of the Pontifical Council for Culture and for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Paul Poupard was warmly welcomed by the Archbishop Patriarch, Rev Filipe Neri Ferrao and the Superior General of the Society of Pilar, Fr Tony Lopes. The Cardinal is accompanied by the secretary to the Council, Fr Bernard Ardura and Fr Theodore Mascarenhas, the official of the Council. The Cardinal visited the Apostolic School and the orphanage at Pilar. He also visited the Pilar monastery, seminary and the museum.
In the evening, the Cardinal visited Mangueshi temple and was taken around by the priests of the temple. He also visited the family of Kalpana Behre at the Vamaneshvar temple in Davlli. His interesting visit was the visit to the mutt [math] at Kavllem.
The Cardinal said that the entire day was an honour to the two departments he is holding — of culture and Inter-religious dialogue — seeing the rich culture of Goa. He also appreciated the family values during his visit to different families.
The Cardinal will be the main celebrant at the death anniversary mass of Fr Agnelo at Pilar on November 26. In the evening he will be inaugurating an exhibition at Old Goa in the old Archbishop’s palace. The Cardinal will be presiding for three days over the meeting of cultural centres of India at the Pilar Theological College. Forty representatives from all over India are expected. Besides, the Cardinal will preside over an all-India symposium on globalisation organised by the Pilar Theological College. The Governor will be the chief guest at a cultural programme on November 22 at the college.
[Also, November 20, 2006 Cardinal Poupard arrives to head Goa meet
Cardinal Poupard lauds harmony in Goa HERALD NEWS BUREAU http://oheraldo.in/node/20628
PANJIM, November 21, 2006 – President of the Pontifical Council for Culture Cardinal Paul Poupard on Tuesday lauded the harmonious co-existence of different faiths and cultural backgrounds in the State.
Cardinal Paul Poupard was addressing delegates after inaugurating the Meeting of Cultural Centres of India in the Pilar Theological College. Others present at the function included Apostolic Nuncio Pedro Lopez Quintana, Archbishop-Patriarch of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao and the Superior General of the Society of Pilar Fr Tony Lopes.
The senior Vatican official had a word of praise for the progress India is making and a very special word for Goa.
“This land of great variety, with its many Christian places of worship as well as temples and tulsis, has a deep religious ambience. Though the people of Goa are of different faiths and from different cultural backgrounds, this tiny land is marked by a peaceful harmony and respect for each other,” Cardinal Poupard said.
Exhorting all to live and witness the Christian faith in charity and forgiveness, Cardinal Poupard quoted Gandhi who said that the greatest hindrance to Christianity were Christians themselves. “We have to lead by example of our lives. The role of the Church in India would be to continue to be Christ’s compassionate face to the poor, the youth, the indigenous peoples, the suffering, as it has been so wonderfully doing down through the centuries,” said the 76-year-old cardinal.
Fr Bernard Ardura, secretary to the Council, stressed the need of establishing Catholic cultural centres to dialogue with various ideas and trends, specially in the era of globalisation. Touching a personal note, the official of the Council, Fr Theodore Mascarenhas explained how the faith had indeed found roots in Indian culture. “It is not mere superficial touches that are needed, but a deep rooted value system that forms the ethos of our country that should be preserved,” he said.
The conference will continue with presentations from each of the 40 delegates present with themes varying from social commitment towards cultural values or education and its values.
On the first day Fr Paul Palipadan, director of Mass Media and Communications, Sagar, Fr M T Joseph of the renowned Indian Institute of Culture, Mumbai, Fr Victor Ferrao, Professor of Rachol Seminary, Dr Mathew Chandrankunnel of Dharmaram University, Bangalore, Reginald Mascarenhas of Palloti Institute of Theology and Sr Theresa of Mater Dei presented their papers and the work their respective centres were doing for culture.
On November 22, the cardinal will preside over a cultural programme with Governor S C Jamir as the chief guest.
Vatican-organized cultural centers’ meet in Goa
PANAJI (ICNS) November 22, 2006 – A conference of officials of Catholic cultural centers began in Goa yesterday stressing the Church’s respect for cultures and the need to build communities that respect cultures. The conference is organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture with its president Cardinal Paul Poupard attending it full time.
The meeting, first time held in Goa, will be devoted to efforts to help Christians form “a coherent life centered on Christ,” said a press release from the council. The four day meeting will end on Nov. 23.
The Pontifical Council said it decided to have the meeting in India “to bear testimony to the particular reality of India, cradle of thousand-year-old cultures and fatherland to some of the world’s most important religions.”
The world of culture, the release noted, offers an ideal “platform for inter-religious dialogue.” Cardinal Poupard is also head of Vatican department for interreligious dialogue.
Speakers at the meeting now underway at Pilar Theological College, Pilar, outlined the Churches respect for cultures and the need to build faith-based communities respecting and accepting positive elements of diverse cultures. Representatives of about 40 cultural centers are attending the meeting. “Catholic Cultural Centres: Cultural Resources for Living the Christian Faith in Dialogue with the Traditional Cultures in the Context of Evolving Cultures” is the theme of the meet.
According to the organisers, Poupard is also the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
Challenge of Witnessing the Faith in Indian Cultures : Address by Cardinal Poupard in Goa
GOA, India, December 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the keynote address that Cardinal Paul Poupard gave Nov. 21 to a meeting of directors of Catholic Cultural Centers in India.
Your Excellencies Archbishop Pedro Quintana López, Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao, Reverend Father Tony Lopes, and dear Sisters and Brothers,
1. I am extremely happy to be here today among you, to preside over this meeting of the directors of Catholic Cultural Centers in India. May I start my address with a word of gratitude to Father Tony Lopes, the superior general of the Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, also called the Society of Pilar, and the members of this missionary society for their immense generosity to the Pontifical Council for Culture. You had already shown us your greatness of heart, by gifting to the Holy See, the services of your member Father Theodore Mascarenhas. Now by offering to host this meeting, all at your own cost, you have once again given us a sign of your extraordinary commitment to the universal Church and the Church in India. May the Good Lord bless you and your Society. May it grow and flourish and reap a rich harvest for the Lord.
2. What a delight to be in India, this Ancient land, the land of the Rishis, the habitat of the gurus, the birthplace of very old religions, the cradle of ancient civilizations and deep rooted millennial cultures! The Catholic faith itself in India goes back to apostolic times. Tradition has it that after the ascension, St. Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Eusebius, in the second century after Christ, mentions that Pantaenus, the master of Origen, while evangelizing India, was told that the Apostle had preached there before him and had given to his converts the Gospel of St. Matthew written in Hebrew, which was still treasured by the Church.
From various sources, and especially from the Apocryphal Acts of St. Thomas, we know that St. Thomas brought the Gospel to South India and founded communities of local Christians. So Christianity is very ancient to India and has taken deep roots here. The coming of the Portuguese and the missionaries from the West gave a great impetus to the spread of the faith. But like every other culture in the world, Indian cultures are subjected to continuous evolution and adaptation.
I recall my beautiful visit to Bangalore, India, over 20 years ago, in March 1986, to be exact. As the then president of the Secretariat for Nonbelievers, and president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, I had the privilege to preside over a consultation on atheism and religious indifference in India organized by the Commission for Proclamation, Ecumenism, Dialogue and Social Communications of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
At that time, I had said, “Your country is making colossal efforts to industrialize and modernize it. India has made remarkable scientific and technical progress, even in the fields of nuclear energy and space research.”
In Europe, we have been reading about the gigantic strides being made by this great country. But on my arrival in India I have realized how those words which I spoke 20 years ago are even more of a reality today. I was astounded to see how much India’s landscape has changed with new infrastructure rapidly replacing the old one and with visible signs of development everywhere. Of course, the strides of development and advancement also bring with it winds of profound change leading to rapid and intense sociocultural changes.
3. What a joy to be in Goa, the land of sun, sand and song, where the Catholic faith has been nurtured and cherished over the centuries. The plethora of churches, chapels, and roadside crosses and altars which we see around indicate that the Catholic faith has become the very bedrock of the Goan culture and a part of the Goan daily life. Goa has also been blessed with the mortal remains of the great Apostle of the East, St. Francis Xavier, whose example many Goan missionaries have tried to emulate by engaging in evangelizing work, and has produced its own saints: the martyrs of Cuncolim, Blessed Joseph Vaz, whose missionary exploits in Sri Lanka are remembered with gratitude in that country, and the Venerable Agnelo D’Souza. Yesterday, I had the honor of presiding over the Eucharistic Celebration to mark the death of the remarkable Father Agnelo and I saw for myself the fervor and admiration his devotees have towards him. This land of great variety, with its many Christian places of worship as well as temples and tulsis, has a deeply religious ambience. Though the people of Goa are of different faiths and from different cultural backgrounds, this tiny land is marked by a peaceful harmony and respect for each other.
4. It is wonderful to be to be here on this beautiful little hillock of Pilar which has its own missionary and cultural history. As I was being driven up the hill yesterday evening I recalled Jesus’ words in the Gospel, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). The Monastery of Pilar dates back to the early 17th century and is a witness to the contribution of the Spanish Franciscan Missionaries to this part of the world.
The Society of Pilar ever since it was transferred here in 1891 after being founded in Agonda, Canacona, has been a worthy inheritor of this missionary tradition, working today as I am told, in over 25 missionary dioceses mostly in India and Nepal. Pilar has a very special cultural importance too. In the words of two of Goa’s renowned historians, this small hill is culturally very significant. Father Cosme Costa tells us, “Long before Old Goa was the capital of the Portuguese Empire in the East, the present day Pilar hillock was part of the city of Govapuri, the erstwhile capital of Goa from where ancient Goan dynasties, the South Konkan Shilaharas (A.D. 765-1020) and the Goa Kadambas (1050-1345), held sway over vast territories in Western India. It was connected to the sea through a 5-kilometer-long stone built port.”
And according to Nandkumar Kamat, Pilar and the areas surrounding it, “have seen the footprints of the Neolithic man; the saffron robes of the Buddhist monks; the rickety ships of the Greeks, Romans, Persians and Arabs …; the horses of the Gulf, slaves from Abyssinia; the copper of Cyprus; the pearls of Ceylon; the silk of Kalyani and the cotton and sandlewood of Banavas.” Given this cultural relevance, it is therefore significant that this meeting of the directors of the Catholic Cultural Centers in India is being held here.
5. In this keynote address, I would like to reflect on the closing words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, which as I have noted, was according to tradition the first to be brought to India. The Matthean Gospel ends on a mountain with Jesus exhorting his disciples with these words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you all the time, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). On reading the words one immediately notes the strong accent on universality with the repetition of the word “all” four times in this text which is traditionally called the “commissioning” text.
The words are crucial if we wish to speak of living the faith and proclaiming Christ in a multicultural and pluralistic religious country like India. The Gospel of Matthew itself is the product of a community that is very much in the minority within the Jewish faith, itself a marginal religion in the midst of the pluralism and syncretism of the pagan beliefs characteristic of the then dominant Greco-Roman culture. The spread of the Gospel throughout the world therefore represents and is indicative of a process of assimilation and inculturation. On the one hand, the Gospel shows how Jesus keeps all that is truly Jewish, the “Law and Prophets” (Matthew 5:17-20; 7:12) in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, proclaiming justice and compassion for the poor and oppressed as the Jewish prophets also did (Matthew 25:31-46). But the Gospel of Matthew also includes Jesus’ commissioning of his disciples to move beyond the Jewish world to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God and the Lord’s teachings and thus portrays a new view of God’s people. The number of times the word “all” is used also emphasizes the four important elements of the text, namely, that Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth; that the mission he entrusts to his followers is designed for all nations; that the purpose of the mission is to spread Jesus’ teaching and its observance in its fullness and, finally, that Jesus will always be with his followers to assist them when they undertake that mission. Jesus thus identifies the authority given to him as the source or foundation of the mission, the people to whom to whom it is to be directed, its purpose and the person — himself — who is the guarantee of its success.
6. Jesus has been given all authority on heaven and earth. This authority which comes from the Father (cf. Matthew 21:22-26) is the source of the mission command. Jesus comes into the world on a mission from his Father. As the Gospel according to St. John will remind us, it is an authority that Jesus had from the beginning (John 1:3), but as my patron saint, the holy Apostle St. Paul will call to mind, Jesus Christ, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-9).
St. Paul will go on to explain that for this very reason God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, to the extent that, at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus’ authority therefore is established through his incarnation, passion, death and resurrection. At the moment of the incarnation, when God’s Word takes flesh, to be like us in all things but sin, God truly enters into the human family with all its diverse and varied cultures.
In the suffering, passion and death of Jesus, our Divine Savior teaches us how to deal with the infirmities and imperfections of human cultures. By his resurrection he ensured that his victory would be an enduring victory over sin and death, which will lead St. Paul to cry out, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, said in his last Easter Vigil homily, “the Resurrection was like an explosion of light, an explosion of love which dissolved the hitherto indissoluble co-penetration of ‘dying and becoming.’ It ushered in a new dimension of being, a new dimension of life in which, in a transformed way, matter too was integrated and through which a new world emerges.”
The authority of Jesus through the paschal mystery thus transcends and supersedes cultures by the very fact that in his earthly life he assumes human culture and purifies it. Therefore, we can boldly say, “Jesus Christ is Lord: He possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, for the Father has put all things under his feet. Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are ‘set forth’ and transcendently fulfilled.”
7. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus birth, death, resurrection and ascension are the unfolding of the divine love overflowing from the Triune God. Jesus’ mission in which the Triune God is at work, is the same mission that the disciples are asked to carry on in the name of the same Triune God. The Holy Trinity works in unison in the creation, redemption and renewal of humanity.
In the beginning, we have the Spirit moving over the face of the waters and the Father creates the world by speaking the Word, who becomes the foundation and purpose of every creature (John 1:3). In the creation of man, again God speaks the Word, and breathes his Spirit into the nostrils of lifeless man. The incarnation and the paschal mystery which bring to climax the story of humanity’s redemption sees the Triune God in action: the Father sends the Son, who is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) and takes human form.
At the inauguration of his ministry with the baptism at the Jordan, the Son while being baptized, is proclaimed by the Father to the world, with the Spirit appearing in the likeness of a Dove (Matthew 3:16-17). In the scene of the crucifixion, Jesus will cry out to the Father and give up his Spirit (Matthew 27:50). And when finally Jesus has to return to the Father, he sends the Spirit at Pentecost. This event permits each one to listen to the Good News in his own tongue. The Triune God, through the mission entrusted to the Son therefore enters humanity and consequently human cultures, to transform them, renew them and sanctify them.
It is this same mission that is assigned to the Church, who is called to be the “leaven in the dough” (Matthew 13:33) carrying on to humanity the power of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit to transform and restore all human cultures that have been affected by sin. The command to go to all nations implies that all boundaries are surpassed. As “Ad Gentes,” the decree on the mission activity of the Church explains, “[…] by manifesting Christ the Church reveals to men the real truth about their condition and their whole calling, since Christ is the source and model of that redeemed humanity, imbued with brotherly love, sincerity and a peaceful spirit, to which they all aspire. Christ and the Church, which bears witness to Him by preaching the Gospel, transcend every peculiarity of race or nation and therefore cannot be considered foreign anywhere or to anybody.”
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, recently on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the conciliar decree “Ad Gentes” elucidated, “Today, the Church is called to embrace new challenges and be ready to enter into dialogue with different cultures and religions, seeking with every person of good will to build peaceful coexistence between peoples. Thus, the area of the ‘missio ad gentes’ appears to have been considerably extended and cannot be defined solely on the basis of geographical or juridical considerations; indeed, the missionary activity of the People of God is not only intended for non-Christian peoples and distant lands, but above all for social and cultural contexts and hearts.”
In my keynote address to the pan-Asian meeting of the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture from Asia and the presidents of the Commissions for Culture of the national episcopal conferences, held at Nagasaki, Japan, from 15th to 17th October 2002, I focused on the aspect of the Trinitarian action of transforming cultures. I had then said, “Jesus has not left us orphans. He gives us his Spirit to help us understand what he has taught us. His Spirit enlightens and empowers the Church and makes us intrepid messengers of the Gospel. … ‘Christ renews all cultures through the creative power of the Holy Spirit, the infinite source of beauty, love and truth’ (“A Pastoral approach to Culture,” § 39). The Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus himself. He is the Spirit that beautifies bringing the cosmos out of chaos; the Spirit that unifies bringing together what is scattered; the Spirit that vivifies infusing life into what is dead and defunct; the Spirit that sanctifies rendering all things pleasing to God. He is the finger of God’s right hand putting the final touches of perfection to God’s creation.”
The raison d’être of the Church is to be the Body of Christ in the world in order that the whole world might hear the Gospel and that persons, lives and cultures may be transformed. By its witness in word and deed to the living Triune God, the Church works for this transformation, for the benefit of humanity. The purpose and mission of the Church then, is to witness to God and the joy of God’s gracious good news, so that peoples to the ends of the earth might know God and might experience his saving grace in Jesus Christ.
8. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. The mission entrusted to the Church necessarily consists in teaching all peoples to observe what Jesus has commanded summed up simply in the ‘commandment of love.’ For he taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. …You shall love your neighbor as yourself. … On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
The commandment of love is two dimensional. In its vertical movement, it is the love that man shows towards God in response to the love that God first showed him. God’s love spills over to create heaven and earth, and continues to create and shape the world. Because of the disobedience of our first parents, who were created as the image and likeness of God, humanity and human cultures were marred by imperfection, blemish and deficiency, corrupting what God made good.
The love of God comes through the incarnation of his only Son, Jesus Christ, to humanity and to its cultures to heal them. God became human in order to redeem the confusion and destructiveness of human beings. In this the love of God was made manifest to a humanity that had been affected by sin and imperfection, and to human cultures that were broken and blemished, “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
This love heals and transforms humanity as Jesus declares, “as the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s Commandments and remain in his love” (John 15: 9-10). Jesus Christ, whose entire life, but especially his passion and death, stand as the epitome of complete self-gift, teaches what this love means: complete self-giving.
This is best interpreted by the mystery of the Cross, which Jesus accepts in obedience to the will of his Father. The open stretched arms on the cross while glorifying the Father, invite humanity into an embrace of love. The love that Jesus teaches is full of compassion. He himself is moved with compassion at the sight of the crowds, who were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). This compassion leads him to heal the sick (Matthew 14:14), to feed the hungry (Matthew 15:32), leads him to console and help the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-16). His disciples will be judged at the end on the basis of being moved by this compassion or not (Matthew 25:31-46).
The self-giving love naturally transcends enmities and racial or social differences. It breaks the cycle of violence of the law of vengeance (Matthew 5:38-40). It reveals that “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17, cf. John 12:47). And therefore this love does not hesitate to approach “sinners” (Matthew 9:10-13, 11:19, 21:31; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:30, 7:34) in spite of protests from the “righteous.” Being a self-gift, it essentially involves forgiveness (Matthew 6:12; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:37; 15; 23:34).
Jesus thus lived and taught a love for the neighbor that went beyond cultural boundaries, to all peoples including the Gentiles (e.g., Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30, Luke 10:25-37, John 4:1-39). He was recognized as the servant of God who will bring justice and light to all including the gentiles (Matthew 12:18; Isaiah 42:6).
9. I am with you always, to the close of the age. The mission entrusted to the Church is essentially the mission of Christ. The Lord and Master, to whom all authority is given in heaven and earth, and who invites others to follow him, gives them grace for a new life and asks them to participate in his mission. He is always present and at work in our midst as he himself has promised. Christ’s relevance for all peoples at all times is shown forth in his Body, the Church.
For the Lord is present through the Holy Spirit, as he himself said, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). Jesus Christ continues to accompany his Church in the holy Eucharist. As the Servant of God, our beloved Pope John Paul II told us, “in the humble signs of bread and wine, changed into his body and blood, Christ walks beside us as our strength and our food for the journey, and he enables us to become, for everyone, witnesses of hope. If, in the presence of this mystery, reason experiences its limits, the heart, enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, clearly sees the response that is demanded, and bows low in adoration and unbounded love.”
10. The Church in India, as elsewhere, is called to live and witness its faith in Jesus Christ. As I said earlier, India’s rich and diverse cultural heritage offers both a challenge and an opportunity to live and proclaim the faith in Jesus Christ. It calls for an evangelization of cultures and the inculturation of the faith.
Let me recall the impressive words written by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, “My thoughts turn immediately to the lands of the East, so rich in religious and philosophical traditions of great antiquity. Among these lands, India has a special place. … In India particularly, it is the duty of Christians now to draw from this rich heritage the elements compatible with their faith, in order to enrich Christian thought.”
The mission of Christ fundamentally involves the evangelization of cultures.
To evangelize cultures, one must first be conscious of the fact that culture is a human reality to be evangelized. Evangelization must be understood in its total individual and social meaning. If it is true that only persons can make an act of faith, be converted, receive baptism, adore and contemplate God, the act of evangelizing must also reach the heart of cultures through persons. Faith is called to make a real impact on all areas of common life. While respecting the proper autonomy of the order, Christians by their witness incarnate the Gospel to the point of effectively transforming individual and social behavior. They thus evangelize the very ethos of their own human community.
Inculturation of the faith is the other side of the coin. In the words of Pope Paul VI, “the kingdom which the Gospel proclaims is lived by men who are profoundly linked to a culture, and the building up of the kingdom cannot avoid borrowing the elements of human culture or cultures. Though independent of cultures, the Gospel and evangelization are not necessarily incompatible with them; rather they are capable of permeating them all without becoming subject to any one of them.”
The evangelization of cultures and the inculturation of the Gospel go hand in hand, in a reciprocal relationship which presupposes constant discernment in the light of the Gospel, to facilitate the identification of values and countervalues in a given culture, so as to build on the former and vigorously combat the latter. In this inseparable pair, the inculturation of faith and the evangelization of culture, there can be no hint of syncretism or relativism. “In the face of all the different and at times contrasting cultures present in the various parts of the world, inculturation seeks to obey Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to all nations even unto the ends of the earth. Such obedience does not signify either syncretism or a simple adaptation of the announcement of the Gospel, but rather the fact the Gospel penetrates the very life of cultures, becomes incarnate in them, overcoming those cultural elements that are incompatible with the faith and Christian living and raising their values to the mystery of salvation which comes from Christ” (“Pastores Dabo Vobis, 55).
11. I would here like to draw upon the apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia” which points out the key areas of Inculturation. Referring to Asia, the words of the document are definitively relevant to India. In Christology, it noted that the theologizing is to be carried out with courage, in faithfulness to the Scriptures and to the Church’s Tradition, in sincere adherence to the magisterium and with an awareness of pastoral realities.
The document stressed the need to ensure that the liturgy becomes an ever greater source of nourishment for their peoples through a wise and effective use of elements drawn from the local cultures. But it reminded that liturgical inculturation requires more than a focus upon traditional cultural values, symbols and rituals. There is also a need to take account of the shifts in consciousness and attitudes caused by the emerging secularist and consumer cultures which are affecting the Asian and Indian sense of worship and prayer.
Nor can the specific needs of the poor, migrants, refugees, youth and women be overlooked in any genuine liturgical inculturation in Asia. The document directed that an effective biblical apostolate be developed in order to ensure that the sacred text may be more widely diffused and more intensively and prayerfully used among the members of the Church in Asia. The apostolic exhortation stressed that the key aspect of inculturation upon which the future of the process in large part depends is the formation of evangelizers. It called for a solid grounding of seminarians in biblical and patristic studies, so that they acquire a detailed and firm grasp of the Church’s theological and philosophical patrimony. On the basis of this preparation, they will then benefit from contact with Asian philosophical and religious traditions. The Synod Fathers also encouraged seminary professors and staff to seek a profound understanding of the elements of spirituality and prayer akin to the Asian soul, and to involve themselves more deeply in the Asian peoples’ search for a fuller life.
“Ecclesia in Asia” emphasized the need to ensure the proper formation of seminary staff and expresses a concern for the formation of men and women in the consecrated life, making it clear that the spirituality and lifestyle of consecrated persons needs to be sensitive to the religious and cultural heritage of the people among whom they live and whom they serve, always presupposing the necessary discernment of what conforms to the Gospel and what does not.
Finally the document points out that since the inculturation of the Gospel involves the entire People of God, the role of the laity is of paramount importance. It is they above all who are called to transform society, in collaboration with the bishops, clergy and religious, by infusing the “mind of Christ” into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the secular world in which they live.
India has had examples of great man like Roberto De Nobili, St. John de Britto, Father Camil Burke and others who tried to find ways and means to inculturate the Gospel in the lands where they evangelized. St. John de Britto, established himself as an Indian ascetic, a Pandara Suami, lived as they lived, dressed in saffron cloak and turban, and held retreats in the wilderness in southern India where interested Indians could visit him; Robert de Nobili, who within a year of his arrival in Madura acquired a complete mastery of Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit to the extent of being able to write in each of these languages and to leave behind commendable literature in these acquired languages.
De Nobili saw that, to make any impact on a highly sophisticated culture, he not only had to learn the language but also to find ways of adapting himself to the way of life of the people. He wrote many treatises in Tamil, Telegu and Sanskrit. After a lifetime spent in prayer, study and dialogue, he died, almost blind, in Mylapore in 1656.
Three years later, his principles became official Roman policy — in 1659 the office of Propaganda Fide echoed de Nobili by stating unequivocally that European missionaries were to take with them not “France, Spain or Italy, or any part of Europe” but the Faith “which does not reject or damage any people’s rites and customs.”
Father Camil Bulke, a Belgian, India’s most famous Christian Hindi scholar, enriched the Hindi and Sanskrit languages by his writings. He was an authority on the Rama theme and a well-known lexicographer. Thus in the face of all the different and at times contrasting cultures present in the various parts of the world, inculturation seeks to obey Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to all nations even unto the ends of the earth. Such obedience does not signify either syncretism or a simple adaptation of the announcement of the Gospel, but rather the fact the Gospel penetrates the very life of cultures, becomes incarnate in them, overcoming those cultural elements that are incompatible with the faith and Christian living and raising their values to the mystery of salvation which comes from Christ.
12. In a country like India which is home to millennial traditional cultures and a cradle of World Religions, one cannot but insist on intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Our Lord Jesus Christ in his earthly life carried out his mission in constant dialogue with all men of good will. The aim of this dialogue was to make known to others the divine love revealed in his person. He was not afraid of talking to those considered outcastes and sinners in his society (Matthew 9:12) or to eat with tax collectors like Zaccheus (Luke 19:5), or have social interactions with religious leaders with whom he often had serious disagreements, as seen by his dinner at the house of Simon, the Pharisee (Luke 7:39).
He did not hesitate to engage a Samaritan woman in a dialogue which concludes with her recognizing Jesus as the Christ (John 4:9-29) even though Samaritans were considered schismatics and heretics by the Jews. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, from the start of his pontificate has continuously insisted on this dialogue. While addressing the delegates of other churches and ecclesial communities and leaders of other religious traditions a day after the inauguration of his pontificate, he said, “I assure you that the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole.”
Recently, he told the bishops taking part in the formation update meeting organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, “More and more, you are feeling the need to inculturate the Gospel, to evangelize cultures and to foster a sincere and open dialogue with one and all in order to build together a more brotherly and supportive humanity.” The Holy Father also cautions, “But this path of dialogue, while so necessary, must not make us forget our duty to rethink and to highlight just as forcefully the main and indispensable aspects of our Christian identity. Moreover, it is essential to keep clearly in mind that our identity requires strength, clarity and courage in light of the contradictions of the world in which we live.”
Since Vatican Council II, dialogue with all people has been a regular duty of the universal Church and local churches. One should hold dialogue with people of culture, followers of other religions and nonbelievers; dialogue about existential questions: sense of life and death, inner freedom of man, human problems that have religious dimensions, and even faith itself.
Dialogue should also concern serious problems of social life: upbringing of young people, poverty, solidarity, foundations of relationships in multicultural societies, values and human rights, religious and cultural pluralism, common good, ethics in economy and politics, beauty, ecology, biotechnology and bioethics, peace, etc. through an intercultural dialogue we try to help those who live and suffer, and seek sense and beauty of life every day. The Catholic Cultural Centers that you head form part of the grass-roots level of society. You are in constant dialogue with the common man. Dialogue initiated and promoted by your Centers can go a long way in proclaiming the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ. This dialogue has to be however conducted with mutual respect and reciprocity.
13. A witness of life. My dear Brothers and Sisters, once Mahatma Gandhi affectionately called the Father of the nation by you, was asked by someone, “What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in India?” His reply was, “Christians.” Jesus’ command is loud and clear: We are to proclaim him to all nations. If we are to teach others to observe the commandments which he has taught us, then it is imperative that we teach by the example of our lives so that no one can again say like Gandhi: Christians are a hindrance to the spread of the faith in Christ.
The Church represents and continues the life of Christ in the world. As the Lord himself says, “And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world” (John 17:11). Therefore the life of the Church on earth cannot but be a reflection of the life of Christ. He has asked his disciples to be the “light” and the “salt” of the earth. This means that by its very presence the Church proclaims Christ. Witnessing is much more than just telling others about Christ. That is definitely part of it, but more than that, it is “being” a witness for him.
The best way to teach others about Christ and to make them desire to have Jesus in their own lives is to live a consistent, loving, Christ-centered life amongst them. In a deeply spiritual country like India, a life of prayer is the first witness to Christ. Jesus himself has promised us that Wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he is there among them (Matthew 18:20). A life of prayer accompanied by the coherence of right living provides evidence to the fact that he is the vine and we are the branches, the source of all grace without which nothing fruitful can be achieved.
The spirituality-filled cultures of India breathe the thirst for God and extol the men of God. Mother Teresa would exhort her listeners, “Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet especially your family. Be holy — let us pray.” It is from this very union with the Triune God in prayer that we become instruments of God’s love in this world. To quote Mother Teresa again, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”
As Christ was sent by the Father, so is the Church sent by Christ. Christ came as God’s incarnate love. The Church continuing the mission of Christ is similarly called to be a self-gift. Through his humility, poverty and lowliness, he could identify himself with the marginalized, the poor, and the oppressed of society. Walking the way of the cross which is crowned by the reward of the resurrection, he gave a new meaning to human misery and suffering.
I would like to encourage the Church in India to continue to be Christ’s compassionate face to the poor, the youth, the indigenous peoples, the suffering, as it has been so wonderfully doing down through the centuries. For as Jesus said, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). An important element of our witness of love and life is the concern for social justice. All our societies and cultures are marred in some way by division, injustice, exploitation and marginalization.
Here in India, you too face these evils in various forms: the caste system, even untouchability in some places, child labor, exploitation of the poor, discrimination against the girl child in some regions of the country and grave difficulties for ethnic, religious and other minorities. With globalization which without doubt brings a lot of progress and development, there is also great danger that the poor and the marginalized become the victims of this progress.
The Church is not required to be involved directly in politics, as the Holy Father reminded us in his encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” “Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.”
Even in this area you have examples in India. Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, the first tribal cardinal from Asia told the Asian Mission congress in Chiang Mai, Thailand, recently how Father Constant Lievens took helped the tribals in fighting injustice and won over their confidence thus leading them to Christ. He said, “Lievens taught the people to present their cases truthfully and honestly, took down the facts and proofs, put them in contact with trustworthy pleaders, and convinced them that justice could be obtained. Following his guidance and encouragement, they began to win their cases. They regained confidence in themselves, in their rights, in God. … And so, the people eagerly listened to Lievens as gradually he also began to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ the unique and universal Savior, who could liberate, transform and empower them through baptism in water and the Holy Spirit.”
My dear brothers and sisters, the Catholic Cultural Centers which you head are placed at the heart of humanity. I do not want to dwell much on these centers because Father Bernard Ardura will give you a talk on this. But I want to remind you that the Catholic Cultural Centers are public forums, places where people meet and reflect, study and learn, exchange ideas and develop the dialogue between faith and cultures. In the broad context of globalization, they offer Catholics, and anyone else interested in culture, opportunities for useful contact and conversation about the world and history, religion, culture and science, all of which helps to discern those values that can throw new light on existence and give meaning to life.
Through these centers, you have the ability to touch the very core of the human person, to dialogue with those belonging to various cultures and religions so that we may be able to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and may find new ways to witness to this faith. I am looking forward to listening to your rich experiences and will keenly await your suggestions so that the input we get here may be helpful not only for the Church in India but for the whole world.
I think it would be fitting to conclude this talk with the words of one of your own Indian brothers, Cardinal Ivan Dias, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, “We must acknowledge and respect the precious treasures of the cultural and religious heritage which, like the three Wise Men who adored the child Jesus, all people carry in their bosom, as also the sincere efforts they are making to discover Truth by following their respective scriptures and saints as guiding stars. Just as the Wise Men were restless until they found Jesus and placed their treasures before him and adored him, so also the peoples of Asia, with their varied and rich cultures and religious heritage and traditions, will be restless until they find and adore him who alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You’ (St Augustine)”.
 Cfr. Robert P. Gwinn et al., “Bartholomew Saint,” in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica 15, Vol. I, Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1985, 924; cf. also Roman Martyrology and Roman Breviary.
 A.F.J. Klijn, “The Acts of Thomas: Introduction, Text and Commentary,” Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2003.
 Cosme Costa, The Heritage of Govapuri, Pilar, Goa: Pilar Publications, 2002, 1-3, 21.
 Nandakumar Kamat, “Gopakapattana through the ages,” Seminar Papers, Goa University and Directorate of Archives, published by BS Shastry, Panaji, 1987, 266.
 Cf. Pontifical Council for Culture, “A Pastoral Approach to Culture,” Vatican City, 1999.
 Benedict XVI, Homily in the Easter Vigil, April 15, 2006.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 668.
 Second Vatican Council decree “Ad Gentes,” § 8.
 Paul Poupard, “Proclamer le Christ aux cultures Asiatiques: promesse et realization,” in Pontifical Council for Culture, “Proclaiming Christ to Asian Cultures: Promise and Fulfillment,” Nagasaki Sunshin Catholic University, Japan, Oct. 15–17, 2002, Vatican City 2003, 27-47. See also Pontifical Council for Culture, “Christian Humanism: Illuminating with the Light of the Gospel the Mosaic of Asian Cultures. Proceedings of the Convention,” Bangkok, Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 1999, Bangkok 1999.
 John Paul II, encyclical letter “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” §62.
 John Paul II, encyclical letter “Fides et Ratio,” §72.
 Cf. Paul Poupard, “L’Eglise au défi des Cultures, Inculturation et Evangélisation,” Desclée, Paris, 1989; Id. “The Church and Culture: Challenge and Confrontation,” English translation by J.H. Miller, New Hope, KY, 1994, 22-24.
 Paul VI, apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi,” §20.
 Cf. “A Pastoral Approach to Culture,” §5.
 John Paul II, postsynodal exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia,” §22.
 Cf. “A Pastoral Approach to Culture,” §5. Cf. also John Paul II, postsynodal exhortation “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” §55.
 Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops taking part in the Formation Update Meeting Organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Rome, Sept. 23, 2006.
 Benedict XVI, Catechesis in the General Audience, Rome, Oct. 11, 2006.
 Cf. P. Poupard, “Mère Teresa, le Christ pour les pauvres,” in “La sainteté au defi de l’histoire. Portrait de six témoins pour le 3ème millénaire. Conférences de Carême de Notre-Dame de Paris,” Presses de la Renaissance, Paris 2003, pp. 51-93.
 Benedict XVI, encyclical letter “Deus Caritas Est,” §28.
 Pontifical Council for Culture, “Catholic Cultural Centers,” 4th Edition, Vatican City, 2005; Id., “Guide to Catholic Cultural Centers. Why? What Are They? What to Do?” Vatican City 2006.
 Cardinal Ivan Dias, homily of the Asian Mission Congress opening Mass, Oct. 19, 2006. [ZENIT: ZE06120901]
The Cardinal says that through dialogue, Christians must not lose our sense of the mission, given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18 -20, and “The mission of Christ fundamentally involves the evangelization of cultures”. To know what is actually going on in Catholic centres like those managed by Pilar, please read other reports on this ministry’s website.
THIS IS WHAT THE PILAR FATHERS BELIEVE:
Priest Says Allowance For Salvation Outside Church Not Diminished
July 17, 2003 PANAJI, India (UCAN) An Indian priest who studied a controversial Vatican document on Christ’s uniqueness says it does not deny that salvation outside the Church is possible.
According to Father Lyndon Bartholomeu Rodrigues, “Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church” is in line with other Vatican documents that speak positively about various religions. It is “an excellent confession” of Christian faith, though its effectiveness in the context of religious plurality and interreligious dialogue is doubtful, says the priest, who in June earned a doctorate in theology from Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
The claim that the document presents salvation outside the Church as not possible is a misreading, he wrote in his 304-page doctoral dissertation, “The Declaration Dominus Jesus and the Indian Theological Reflection.”
Father Rodrigues belongs to the Society of St. Francis Xavier, or Pilar Society, an indigenous congregation based in the western Indian state of Goa. He spoke with UCA News July 9 at the congregation’s headquarters in Pilar, 1,925 kilometers southwest of New Delhi.
The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued “Dominus Iesus” in September 2000.
In stressing that Christ has a unique and universal role in salvation, it declares that seeing the Church as one way of salvation amid “complementary” or “substantially equivalent” other ways would be contrary to Catholic faith.
At one point it states: “If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.” Leaders of various Christian denominations and other religions criticized the document, saying it presented Christ and the Catholic Church as the sole means of salvation. This was true in India as well as elsewhere, but some Indian theologians also felt the document was directed partly at them and their work.
In Father Rodrigues’ view, the document’s “generalized statements” do not take into account the specific nuances of various Christological approaches rising out of deep commitment to Christ. “Instead, it creates an environment of confusion and insecurity in theological circles in context of positive thinking manifested in recent Church documents,” he said.
His dissertation cites documents of the Second Vatican Council as well as later papal encyclicals and exhortations in support of his claim that Church teaching allows for the possibility of people of other religions attaining salvation through their religion. This gives “a fillip to the contextual Indian Christological reflection,” the priest said.
Citing the Indian “advaita” (non-dualistic) philosophical tradition, which he explained views God as “an inexhaustible mystery,” Father Rodrigues suggested a multi-pronged contextual approach for proclaiming Christ in India. Such an approach, he said, would include theological exercise, witness of life through lived Indian spiritual models, social action and dialogue among religions.
Father Rodrigues points out that people of other religions may not join the Church because they do not know Christ, through no fault of theirs, or because of following the dictates of their conscience.
“The salvific effects of life, death and resurrection of Christ are made available to them by God in ways known to Himself,” he wrote in his dissertation, scheduled to come out in book form later this year.
Father Rodrigues said “Dominus Jesus” only reinforces previous Church teaching in an effort to promote authentic interreligious dialogue. It was written, he explained, not for people of other religions but to make clear for Catholics what they must “keep in mind while engaging in dialogue.”
The scholar maintained that the document “primarily meant for Catholic bishops and teachers in seminaries” triggered a heated debate because it emerged during the Jubilee Year 2000 “under the glare of the media.”
Such a document became imperative during the jubilee, he continued, because of various positions taken by theologians worldwide, some of them having deviated from Church teaching and others having created confusion.
A few terms could have been recast, he said, noting that though the document was for the universal Church, it failed to take into account particularities of regions. Its implications thus became difficult, he noted, especially in the Indian context where Christians are a small minority among people belonging to almost all the world religions.
He suggested that if some theologians in India have “slightly deviated” from the Church’s “stated position,” it happened because of their “hard struggle” to make Christ meaningful to people of their country.
Interreligious Dialogue Continues As Vatican Restores Dialogue Office
NEW DELHI (UCAN) July 12, 2007 EXTRACT:
Father Seby Mascarenhas, rector of Pilar Major Seminary, told UCA News that his fourth-year theology students visit 10 colleges in the state and invite people of other religions to explain their religious tenets.
Father Ivan Almeida, who leads the seminarians, added that people attending such sessions do not pray to any specific God, but “if needed, names of all gods are used.”
I QUOTE FROM MY REPORT ON THE DVD TITLED “INDIA: THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS”:
1. FR. SEBY MASCARENHAS [FR. SM] : THE PILAR FATHERS, GOA. AN INDIAN RITE MASS1
[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 before Holy Mass.]
NARRATOR: “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.
Rangoli is created by Hindu girls as their contribution to the Christmas decoration at Pilar.]
All this, Indian musical instruments, bhajans, agarbati incense sticks, shawl-draped priests, and yet the concelebrants, including the main celebrant use CHAIRS for sitting on during the Pilar Indian-rite Mass.
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.”
2. 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…“
NAR: “Inculturation by drawing on similarities seems to be bringing home Christianity’s original message of love and peace.“
CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE ARCHBISHOP OF GOA ON PILAR/ THE LOTUS & THE CROSS
I wrote to the Archbishop of Goa. Letter posted on 19th; emails of 19th, 23rd, 25th and 31st October, 2005:
firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
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 NO. 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 25th. 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 of the “India: The Lotus and the Cross report”, 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.
I quote: From: firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com ; “Loiola Pereira, Father Joaquim” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “Joe, Pereira”
email@example.com; etc. etc.
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 [Fr. Loiola], 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.
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.ephesians511.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.’
NOTE: FR. SEBY MASCARENHAS, RECTOR, PILAR SEMINARY, GOA, DID NOT RESPOND TO ANY OF MY LETTERS.
BACKGROUND OF PILAR:
The Society of Pilar was established in response to the clarion call of Pope Leo XIII, “Your own sons, India will bring to you the message of salvation”. The official name of the Society that took birth in Goa in 1887 is:
The Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, Pilar. [Konkani Catholics Digest No. 1461 May 7, 2008]. It is popularly called the Pilar Society because it is headquartered in Pilar, a village southeast of Panaji [Panjim], Goa.
Split In Religious Congregation Looks Set To End After Three Decades
October 25, 2006 PANAJI, India (UCAN) A split that has lasted 29 years within a men’s Religious congregation founded in India appears to be coming to an end, but some people doubt whether reconciliation really is at hand.
Some priests of the Missionary Society of St. Francis Xavier, popularly known as the Pilar Society, broke off in 1977 and formed a splinter group, but officials of both factions expect unification by the end of the year.
“We expect a concrete decision by December, even the end of November,” said Father Tony Lopes, superior general of the society based in Porvorim, on the outskirts of Panaji. The city, capital of Goa state, is 1,910 kilometers southwest of New Delhi. It is “not proper to speak at this juncture on the terms of the unification,” he told UCA News Oct. 18, “but we positively expect an announcement in the coming weeks.”
Father Diniz Rodrigues, the dissident faction’s superior, based in the western Indian city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), also told UCA News they expect an announcement by the end of the year.
The date is set for December, Father Rodrigues said. He explained that Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, the Holy See’s ambassador or apostolic nuncio to India, “has gone on leave and will be back only in December.”
According to the priest, no formal agreement will be signed but some sort of temporary agreement can be worked out. “This unity will predominantly be based on faith and goodwill,” he added.
Father Rodrigues said the unification process has been going on for five years, facilitated by Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Agra as apostolic visitor. An apostolic visitor, usually a bishop, is appointed by the pope to investigate a particular problem in a local Church or Religious community.
Archbishop Gracias told UCA News Oct. 5, before being transferred Oct. 14 to head Bombay archdiocese, that he was “not pushing anybody and things are going at a pace that is comfortable.” This, he said, “is the Holy See policy.”
Church people who asked not to be named told UCA News a unification announcement had been scheduled for Oct. 12, and its postponement triggered speculation that some problems might remain.
Differences over administration of property and funds belonging to the society prompted 16 members under the leadership of Father Menino Conceicao Rodrigues to form their own group, known as the Ashram Fathers, in 1977. Two earlier reconciliation efforts failed, reportedly because of the Ashram faction’s desire to maintain some kind of separate identity in the society with a charism focused more on education and social service.
A priest said the agreement to end the split was reached only after the current governing body of the society made a “goodwill visit” to the Ashram group soon after the board’s election about five years ago.
Several other priests, who also spoke with UCA News on the condition they not be identified, expressed doubts that the agreement would last, citing the failure of earlier attempts.
Church sources say a plan to allot a specific working area for the dissident faction is being pursued. But some also fear the group may influence younger members from the parent society if no civil or canonical agreement is signed.
On the other hand, members of the society who sympathize with the Ashram faction say the priority of the Church should be unification and reconciliation, without stressing property matters.
Of the 16 Ashram Fathers who split off in 1977, only nine are living today, and no other priest has joined them. But they manage an engineering college and some educational institutes and homes for destitute people in Verna, south of Panaji. They also have educational projects in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.
The parent society was founded in 1887 for evangelization and retreat work in Goan parishes. It currently has about 300 priests working in its four provinces of Delhi, Goa, Kolkata and Mumbai. The process to beatify Venerable Agnelo De Souza, one of its members, was initiated in 1969.
Bible Course in Pilar, Goa KonkaniCatholics Digest No. 1547 July 20, 2008 “Robin Viegas” firstname.lastname@example.org
PANAJI: The Centre for Faith Education of the Pilar Theological College will be organizing a Bible course for the laity, on the first five books of the Bible which are called the Pentateuch. The five books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The course will be held on six consecutive Sundays, beginning on July 27 and continuing on August 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31. The classes will commence at 9.30 a.m. and end at 12.30 p.m.
This will be followed by the Sunday Mass and later lunch will be provided. The Venue is Pilar Theological College. Those desiring to take part may contact Mr John Serrao on e-mail: email@example.com
Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2008 9:55 PM Subject: Bible Course in Pilar Seminary
Dear Mr John Serrao,
What are the fees for attending the course? May we also know whom it is organized by, and who are the teachers for the five Books? Thanks, Michael
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 9:49 AM Subject: Re: Bible Course in Pilar Seminary
Course fee is Rs. 300 per head. It is organised by Pilar Theological College, the course will be conducted by fr. max gonsalves, he is a doctor in biblical Theology
To: KC moderators
Austine J. Crasta ; Rohit D’Souza ; RUPERT VAZ
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 8:35 PM Subject: Bible Course in Pilar, Goa
I don’t recommend any Catholic to attend teaching at Pilar. When you read my forthcoming report on the Pilar Seminary, you will understand why I say this, Love, Mike
Pope raises Pilar Society to status of Pontifical Right
HERALD NEWS BUREAU PANJIM, November 30, 2010 – In a significant decision, Pope Benedict XVI has given his approval to the Goa-based Society of Missionaries of St Francis Xavier, Pilar (Society of Pilar) as a Society of Apostolic Life for mission Ad Gentes of Pontifical Right. To commemorate the event, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay will preside over a Eucharistic Celebration at 4 pm, on December 4, in the Pilar Seminary Chapel, Pilar.
His Eminence Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, Archbishop-Patriarch Filipe Neri Ferrao and Archbishop Emeritus Raul Gonsalves, of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman will concelebrate at the Mass.
The official decree of the approval of the Society of Pilar as Society of Apostolic Life for mission Ad Gentes of Pontifical Right will be read during the celebration.
Students from Nampong, Arunachal Pradesh will present a special one hour programme in the Seminary Annexe Hall, Pilar.
An exhibition of the activities of the Society of Pilar will be inaugurated and special issues of Fr Agnelo’s Call – a monthly magazine and Vavraddeancho Ixtt – a weekly tabloid will be released on the occasion.
Canon 593 of the Code of Canon Law explains the meaning of Pontifical Right as, “institutes of pontifical right are immediately and exclusively subject to the power of the Apostolic See with regard to internal governance and discipline”.
Father Theodore Mascarenhas, a Pilar Father in charge of the Departments of Asia, Africa and Oceania at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, stated that “the Society has to now gear up to its new role and new status.”
“The missionary charisma is to be further strengthened and new ways should be found to exercise it. The constitutions have to be amended to incorporate the changes ordered by the Congregation for the Evangelization for Peoples.”
“These changes will be more regarding governance in order to reflect the new powers, rights and responsibilities of the major superiors in the society and about the relationship of the Society to the Holy See and to the other bishops,” said Fr Mascarenhas.
Goa priests learn to grow old gracefully
February 3, 2011 Some priests in Goa say a renewal program “on aging gracefully” has helped them become less materialistic and more Indian. “My age was making me feel useless, but now, after listening to the talks I have received a new zeal and renewed vigor,” said Father Bosco Rodrigues, one of the 38 priests who attended the 10-day program.
The Society of Pilar organized the January 18-27 program for members who were ordained during 1949-1971 and have completed more than 40 years of priesthood.
Father Tamaturo Pais, another participant, said the program convinced him not to hanker for authority, but do whatever possible in one’s capacity. “We ought to surrender our position of power, go on with life in whatever level, and be a witness to be united with the Lord,” he added.
Father Ubaldo Fernandes, a priest based in Mumbai, said the program helped him understand that the key to good health is not to carry grudges and ill will.
The encounter saw priests undergo a neuro-linguistic program. It also provided various techniques in self-healing and relaxation.
Redemptorist Father Eric Rodrigues, a speaker, urged participants to remain happy, adopt a sense of humor and forgive others. The neuro-linguistic program helped a priest who limped to walk normally. “All I did was to press my fingers at the right points,” he said.
Father Ivan Almeida, who coordinated the program, said it recognizes the importance of the seniors to lead their society “since they have the wisdom and rich experience.” The program, he said, helped the seniors to understand life. “It is the approach to life that makes the difference. Aging gracefully in the Indian approach is vital,” he added. According to him, the materialistically-oriented West makes people to peak at middle age, whereas the life graph always go upward in India, with the goal to reach God. “Our march peaks as we grow old, whereas the Western concept destroys life,” he added. The program asked the participants to be in tune with God in silence so that they can face life’s problems that come in succession, Father Almeida said.
Neuro-linguistic programming or NLP is New Age. See
Categories: new age
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