THE ERRONEOUS ST. PAULS’ NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE: NOT THE FIRST OF ITS KIND?
As I type out Fr. P.K. George‘s twelve-year old exposé into my computer, the objectionable commentaries of the New Community Bible [NCB] published by St Pauls in June 2008 with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from two Bishops have not been withdrawn despite our having pointed out serious errors in the said commentaries through two reports sent to St Pauls, all the Bishops and Executive Commissions of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India [CBCI] and the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, a critique of eight pages in July 2008 and a thirty-eight page report in September 2008.
We have emailed copies of these two reports to the Holy Father, to the Vatican Secretary of State, as well as to the Prefects and Presidents of all Congregations and Pontifical Councils of the Holy See.
This ministry has written somewhere in the region of 1,000 letters to the Church authorities on the NCB issue.
But the NCB is still found on the bookshelves of Catholic bookstores throughout the country.
One of the problems with the commentaries is that they quote Hindu religious texts and name Hindu deities, even drawing unacceptable comparisons and parallels between them and Biblical characters and events, making it more of an interfaith book and an apology [not in the sense of apologetics] for Christian doctrine and Biblical revelation.
Earlier this month, we have sent a letter to all the Bishops pointing out that the NCB teaches that the Angel Gabriel did not really appear to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since then, we have found other similar problems with the commentaries on the Infancy narratives in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew and we will shortly be writing again, bringing these details to the attention of the Bishops.
If one is amazed that a Bible with such commentaries was officially approved by the Bishops, apparently this is not the first time that it has happened in the Indian Church that officially approved error has been imposed upon the faithful.
And that is the subject of this report.
In my letter of July 27, 2008 to Bishop Valerian D’Souza of Pune [who has publicly defended the NCB], point no. 12, I had written [and received no response]:
“In regard to the NCB, the Tamil Catholics have a precedent or should I say precedents. The details can be found in a twenty-six page booklet titled, “Ongoing Robbery of Faith” authored in 1996 by Fr P K George, SJ.
It makes some startling and fearful allegations of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ deceit in matters of Faith.
Fr George analyses 3 issues:
a) The newly translated Tamil Missal, 1993
b) The new translation of the Holy Bible in Tamil, 1995
c) A Tamil book titled “Yar Intha Yesu?” [“Who is this Jesus?”] by theologian Fr Paul Leon, 1995; it has the Imprimatur of a Tamil Nadu Bishop. [Fr Paul Leon is apparently currently teaching at a seminary in New York.]
Fr George documents the serious errors in these books, including the new Tamil Bible, which have been perpetuated on the ignorant faithful. The priest insists that a fraud has been perpetrated on the Tamil Church, and more precisely, that Tamil Catholics have been blatantly lied to.
The fraud or lie that he mentions is that the Bishops of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council [TNBC] have stated that the contents of the new Missal were approved/authorised by Rome whereas they were not. I am producing a soft copy of this booklet and will send it to you as soon as my correspondence regarding the NCB slows down –which does not seem likely for some time. Your Grace will have to wait for the details as I do not want to quote out of context in this delicate matter.
Tamil Catholics whose children now use existing English Bibles fear that the same fate awaits them with the NCB.“
It is 15 years and 13 years respectively since the Tamil Missal and Bible were released. As in the case of the NCB, they do not appear to have approval from Rome. My enquiries reveal that Fr. George, some Catholic individuals and lay groups in Tamil Nadu, and the traditionalist Society of St Pius the Tenth [SSPX] had strongly objected.
Today, these Tamil Bibles and Tamil Missals are the only ones available to the faithful in Tamil Nadu.
We fear that this will be the case with the NCB unless Catholics unite to make their voice heard. So, join in this crusade.
I now reproduce the contents of Fr. George’s exposé. I submit it to the Bishops, most of whom would not even be aware of this issue, to evaluate Fr. George’s report and do the needful in case he is correct.
ONGOING ROBBERY OF FAITH
Fr. P.K. George, S.J., St. Therese Convent, Shoranur 679 121, Kerala.
Published as a 26-page booklet, October 1, 1996
Robbery as normally understood means unjustly taking for oneself what belongs to another. It is in a way a compliment to the object thus taken. Nobody will think of taking what is worthless. In the case of robbery of faith there is a difference.
It is not a compliment or a sign of appreciation but an expression of dislike and opposition. The robber of faith is no lover of faith; he does not take it away for himself.
This special kind of robbery is not effected all on a sudden. It is a gradual process on two levels. On the level of ideas, clear enunciations of dogmas are carefully avoided and cleverly substituted by ambiguities. On the practical level, all external expressions and helps of faith are suppressed one after another. What happened and still goes on happening to the Blessed Sacrament will be the clearest example.
Such a faith-demolition process has been recognized as a universal symptom of deterioration in the post-conciliar Church.
The present booklet is an attempt to draw attention to that process in its advanced stage in a particular geographical area of the Church which comes within the author’s direct knowledge and experience. As evidences of the advanced stage just referred to, three landmarks have been chosen, and they will be briefly dealt with below. They are
- a new Missal translation
- a new (ecumenical) Bible translation
- a new theological book
This publication is aimed at those who really treasure their Catholic faith and therefore cannot remain unconcerned while it is being robbed in a progressive and systematic manner. Needless to say that the writer claims to be of that category: otherwise he wouldn’t have a reason to publish this knowing the heavy odds that are against him.
I. THE NEWLY TRANSLATED (CORRECTED) TAMIL MISSAL
In March 1993, the Catholic Bishops of Tamil Nadu brought out a new Tamil Missal under the title THIRUTHIYA THIRUPPALIPUTHAKAM (meaning “Corrected Missal“).
It carries the signature of all the Tamil Nadu Bishops, and its main features can be outlined as follows.
1. Approved by Rome?
In the letter of promulgation, the Bishops speak of a change made in the words of Consecration, for which they claim considered agreement among themselves, and also the approval of the Holy See. A Latin document from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is reproduced to substantiate the second claim.
To be noted very specially is that this document purporting to authorize a change made in the new edition of 1993, was signed by Jacobus R, Cardinal Knox and Archbishop Antonius Innocenti in 1977, prior to the publication of the earlier Missal.
As regards the hundreds of other serious changes, most of which are in the orations (Collect, Offertory, Post Communion), the Bishops’ letter of promulgation says nothing.
Apart from the above-mentioned obviously invalid Latin document, there is no sign of any approval of Rome.
Asked repeatedly about Rome’s approval, the Bishops are consistently silent on the point, but give only the irrelevant answer that the New Missal has been approved by the Tamil Nadu Bishops, a fact obvious from their very signatures in the Missal.
2. Suppression and Dilution of Catholic Doctrines
Differing from the Latin text of the Missal given by Pope Paul VI as well as from the earlier Tamil version, the new Tamil version has in most cases either suppressed or made vague and ambiguous
- expressions of a life after death
- the sacrificial aspect of the Mass
- references to repentance, forgiveness, judgement, punishment, reparation
- the resurrection of the body
- the devil as an evil spirit
- devotion to the passion and death of Christ
- God-given authority in the Church
3. Avoidance of Traditionally Accepted Words
Several traditional words having a precise and specifically Christian meaning as well as well as an aura of sacredness have been replaced by vague, commonplace, secular terms.
Two printed criticisms of the new Missal, one in Tamil and one in English, both by the present writer, amply explaining and substantiating [the problems with] all the above-mentioned changes were sent to every Bishop more than a year ago.
A personal letter and a copy of a Papal instruction concerning the translation of liturgical books were also sent.
The letter contained the following four questions.
- Does the new Tamil Missal have Rome’s approval?
- Do the Bishops of Tamil Nadu have the power to publish a new translation, especially a corrected edition, of the Missal of the Catholic Church without Rome’s approval?
- Do the Bishops take responsibility for the changes in the new version?
- Do the Bishops want to make the use of the new Missal mandatory?
These questions were later repeated by a group of priests and lay persons in a letter addressed to each Bishop individually.
The questions remain unanswered as of writing.
A point of interest is that five among the Tamil Nadu Bishops are common signatories to both the earlier and the present editions of the Missal, editions which differ between them very much.
What can one think of the Bishops’ position that both editions are correct translations of the same original?
II. COMMON TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE
A new translation of the Bible under the title THIRU VIVILIYAM (POTHU MOLIPEYARPPU)* made conjointly with the representatives of some of the Protestant sects was released by Marianus Arokiasamy, Archbishop of Madurai, on 26th November 1995, with much fanfare and publicity. *HOLY BIBLE (COMMON TRANSLATION)
Some of its salient features are given below.
1. The Deuterocanonical books downgraded
The Deuterocanonical books are introduced and printed separately, excluded from the list of Old Testament books.
An unmistakable impression is created by statements in the introductions tat the Deuterocanonical books as part of the Bible enjoy a status inferior to that of the rest.
2. The New Vulgate ignored
Neither in the document of promulgation nor in the introductions nor in any one of the publications explaining and extolling the Common Bible does one find even a mention of the New Vulgate published by Pope John Paul II in 1979 as the “editio typica” to be used in Sacred Liturgy and as a reference edition for vernacular versions (cf. Apostolic Constitution Scripturarum Thesaurus).
3. At variance with the New Vulgate
There are a good many places where the Common Bible is at variance with the existing Catholic Tamil Bibles.
The differences seriously affect such vital doctrines as
- Christ’s divinity
- Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament
- The institution of the Blessed Sacrament and priesthood
- The dignity and perpetual virginity of Our Lady
- The prerogatives of Peter
4. Traditional words changed
Several traditional words, which on account of their precise meaning in Christian usage, have become technical terms in theology, have been systematically avoided in the Common Bible in preference to less precise and poor substitutes.
The substitutes for words meaning adoration, prayer, peace, apostle, sanctity, soul, eternal life are striking examples.
The pretext is purity of language. But the conclusion forces itself upon us that there is a calculated move against doctrinal clarity, Christian identity and sense of sacredness.
5. Mischievous changes of titles galore
The existing Catholic Bibles are blessed with appropriate titles within chapters, many of which have gained currency and familiarity even outside Christian writing and parlance. They easily bring to mind dearly cherished Biblical events and passages. To a vast extent these titles have been changed, and some of them dropped, in the Common translation.
The new titles clearly reflect the ideology of the translators. They seem to have found an easy way of imposing their own interpretation. Translators have become commentators. Here are some samples.
Catholic Bible Common Bible
Christ born of a Virgin (Mt 1:8) Birth of Christ
Miracles (Mt 4:23) Service to many people
Miracles by the lakeside (Mt 15:29) Christ healing many sick
Multiplication of Loaves (Jn 6:1) Sharing of Bread
Peter’s profession of faith (Mk 8:27) Peter’s statement about Christ
Instituting the Blessed Sacrament (Lk 22:19) The Lord’s sacred banquet
A sinner forgiven (Lk 7:36) A sinful woman applying perfume
The Lord’s Prayer (Lk 11:1) Teaching how to pray to God
Messiah, David’s son and Lord (Mt 22:41) Explanation about David’s son
Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11) Parable of the lost son
Many representations have been made to the Bishops, bringing to their notice these and other objectionable aspects of the Common Bible. But they are all the more bent upon imposing the new Bible to the exclusion of existing Catholic versions.
It is a queer fact that the same Bishop who had approved the existing Catholic edition saying ‘concordat cum originali’ (agrees with the original) is the same person who has given the imprimatur to the Common Bible – so different from the others – and is its most zealous propagator.
III. A NEW BOOK ON CHRISTOLOGY
A Tamil book entitled “YAR INTHA IYESU?” written by Fr Paul Leon, Professor, St Pauls Seminary, Tiruchirapalli, was published in March 1995.
The Tamil title literally means “WHO IS THIS CHRIST?” But interpretatively it is given in English as “THE RELEVANCE OF JESUS TODAY”. The book is based on the English book “Jesus before Christianity” by Albert Nolan.
The Tamil work carries the imprimatur of Leon A. Tharmaraj, Bishop of Kottar, and is also highly recommended by him.
If I have singled out this particular book to form, along with the new Missal and the new Bible, a trio as an index of the faith crisis in Tamil Nadu, it is by no means implied that this is the only book of its kind. There is no dearth of faith-eroding cereberations in print emerging from new-fangled theologians. But my choice of “Who is this Christ?” has reasons.
It is the work of a seminar professor.
It bears the imprimatur of a Bishop who has also given a laudatory Introduction.
Its affinity to the new Missal and consanguinity, as it were, with the new Bible, are significant.
The author, in his Foreword, says that ten months before the birth of the new Bible, he decided to follow the Common Bible in writing his book.
There are several instances in the book which show how some of the slants and changes in the Common Bible can be made subservient to a deviant theology. It is beyond the scope of this booklet to illustrate the point, though two or three instances will be touched upon as we proceed.
A detailed criticism of the book is not intended here. It is not needed. To find out whether someone is going in the right direction or not, there is no need to examine every step he takes. It is enough to see the direction of his first step, provided he makes no right-about turn.
Having read the book a number of times, critically and as carefully as I could, I think I can make a few general observations without fear of any honest contradiction.
The Christ presented in the book is not the Christ of the Catholic Church, namely the Christ
- Who existed from all eternity as a Divine Person
- Who came to earth with a definite plan and purpose
- Who proved His Messiahship and Divinity by miracles
- Who promised eternal life to those who believed in Him
- Who died for our sins and rose up on the third day
- Who ascended into heaven
- Who will come again to judge the living and the dead
- Who is really present in the Blessed Sacrament
None of these Christological doctrines finds an unequivocal affirmation in the book.
There is much, very much, against all of them, some of them directly, and some by strict logical implication.
In fact, the denial of any one doctrine of faith will lead to the denial of all.
The author’s Christ and Christianity are completely earth-contained. If he is consistent with the unmistakable thrust of the book, he will not be able to subscribe to the fundamental theological statement that man is created to know, love and serve God, and by so doing, to gain life eternal.
According to our author, life after death, if at all there is one, is not to be aimed at as the all-important and ultimate goal.
God’s Kingdom, the object of Christ’s preaching, is shown ultimately as nothing more than the rule of the poor and the down-trodden here on earth. This is what we pray for when we say “Your Kingdome come”. Jesus is denied divine power, authority and knowledge. The author does not admit Christ’s miracles as proving His divinity. He denies that Christ had any intention of establishing His divinity or Messiahship by His deeds.
Much ingenuity is exercised to explain away some of the miracles and to give new meanings to sin, forgiveness, faith, resurrection, etc., and also to many a Biblical text.
The only miracle which the author believes, belongs to the future. It is the disappearance of all social evil once the poor and the oppressed come into their own. Such a belief he attributes to Christ also. Marxism promises an earthly paradise which is called the rule or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Our author calls it the Kingdom of God. According to him, Jesus never promised or spoke about anything on the other side of the grave. Christ and the religion he founded – this expression the author would not accept – are closed within this world from beginning to end. His Kingdom of Heaven is an earthly one.
Straight from the horse’s mouth
We are now going to see some passages from the book under discussion, translated as faithfully as possible, with some comments given here and there.
1. “Today’s Bible research is the life-breath of this book.” Page vii
COMMENT: What about the Magisterium? There is actually not a single citation or reference to Magisterial teaching to be found in this book, let alone the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church.
2. “Let us set aside all prejudices… We should not start our study of Jesus with the preconceived idea that he is divine, messiah and redeemer of the world… The study of Jesus should begin with an open mind.” Page 2
COMMENT: Is not the author equivalently saying?: “You get rid of all that you have learnt about Jesus so far. Listen to me. Believe me. For my credentials, see the back cover of this book.”
Of course the author will not appeal to the teaching authority of the Church and her tradition. He has the ‘latest research’ to quote as the ultimate authority.
3. “In Christ’s time, the Jews were much perturbed by the fear of an impending calamity that would spell destruction. The reason why Jesus started his ministry was the anxiety he felt about that calamity. How to avert the impending destruction? Is there no way? he thought. He devised and gave a practical rule. Page 10
4. “It is possible that certain events which had nothing wonderful about them in the beginning were later called miracles. Jesus walking on water, the multiplication of the loaves, cursing the fig tree and the changing of water into wine could be cited as examples.” Pages 53, 54
COMMENT: Let us remember that the word “miracles” has been removed from the subtitles in the Common Bible and that the subtitle “multiplication of loaves” occurring in six places all have been removed, and in one place (Jn 6:1) been replaced by “Sharing of bread”. Similarly, the subtitle “Jesus walking on the sea” (Jn 6:16) has become “Jesus crossing the sea” in the Common Bible.
5. “Jesus closely associated only with John the Baptist. He did not join others. He joined John.” Page 13
“The only person in society who deeply influenced Jesus must have been John… Jesus believed the message John announced. He joined the group of those who had accepted the words of John. He received Baptism at the hands of John. Jesus accepted John’s basic message (about the impending disaster)”. Page 25
“In imitation of John, Jesus too must have baptized people in the Jordan.” Page 27
“The first important decision Jesus took was to receive baptism from John.” Page 29
COMMENT: Does not the author make Jesus inferior to John, nay, his disciple? The same was done in an earlier poetic account of Jesus in Tamil approved and praised by the Bishops.
6. “The paralytic whose sins were forgiven seems to have been suffering in body and mind from a disorder caused by an intense sense of guilt.” Page 37
COMMENT: The author has his own meaning for sin and forgiveness as can be seen elsewhere in the book.
7. “The dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees regarding the paralytic could have been formulated by Mark the Evangelist or by an early Christian writer. The purpose of that dialogue is to show that healing could be an external sign of forgiveness. So we should not conclude that the purpose of Christ’s healing of the paralytic was to prove his power to forgive sins.” Page 65
COMMENT: What an effort to make Christ’s words ineffective! To be noted in this connection is the way Our Lord’s words, “And now to convince you that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins while he is on earth (and here he spoke to the palsied man:) I tell thee, rise up, take up thy bed with thee and go home.” (Mk 2: 10-11) are reproduced in the Common Bible. In the new Tamil rendering, the sentence is split up in such a way as to remove the connection between Christ’s healing action and his power to forgive sins.
8. “Christ did not think of proving anything.”
9. “On no occasion and in no context did Jesus either directly or indirectly show himself or claim to be the Messiah.” P.210
COMMENT: Then why should we follow Jesus? The author will say, if he chooses to speak clearly and precisely, “because Jesus preached God’s Kingdom, namely the kingdom of the poor and oppressed here on earth.” Does the author insinuate that Messiahship and divinity were wrongly attributed to Jesus later on by his enthusiastic followers?
He does it more plainly elsewhere in the book.
10. “The power of healing comes from faith (confidence?), the power to forgive sins also comes from faith (confidence). What appeared wonderful to the people is not that such power and authority were vested in Christ but that such power and authority were given to men. (Mt 9:8) Anyone could have done it if he had deep faith (confidence).” Page 64
11. “Jesus firmly believed that God forgave sins unconditionally. This belief produced the same [belief] in the woman also. How did it happen? It is not possible to give a clear answer.” Page 64
COMMENT: So, according to the author, as regards to forgiveness of sin, Jesus and the sinful woman (cf. Lk 7: 36-50) were alike. Both believed that God forgave sin unconditionally. Is not repentance a necessary condition to have sins forgiven? Is it not significant then that the episode of the sinful woman as given by Luke has in the new Bible a title different from the one in the existing Catholic Bible?
The new title is “Sinful woman applying perfume” whereas the old title is “Sinner forgiven”.
12. “They (those who associated with Jesus) did not learn faith from Jesus. Faith caught them (as a contagion).” Page 49
COMMENT: Did not Jesus teach anything to be accepted on faith? Of course the author does not mean by faith the acceptance of a truth on the authority of God revealing.
13. “What Christ desired was that the disciples should remember him in the context of a banquet. ‘Do likewise (thus) in memory of me’.” (1 Cor 11:24, 25). Page 60
COMMENT: It is to be noted that the author is quoting from the Common Bible where ‘Do this in memory of me’ has been changed into ‘Do likewise (thus) in memory of me’. Would it then not mean that the Mass is not the same sacrifice of Calvary but only something similar to it?
14. What was the purpose of Christ’s healing the sick? Was it for proving his messiahship by his wonderful deeds? No.
The only purpose of Christ’s healing action was his sympathy and mercy for the people. What Jesus wanted was that people should be given liberation from suffering, that they should be freed from the grip of fatalism. He firmly believed that this could be surely achieved. This belief was the basis of the wonderful effects of his actions.” Page 55
COMMENT: What a perverted interpretation of Christ’s miracles!
15. “The people were wonderstruck at the sight of Jairus’ daughter healed in a wondrous way.” Page 41
“Jesus had pity on the widow of Naim weeping for the loss of her only son. He consoled her, saying ‘Do not weep’.” P. 41
COMMENT: Why to blackout the real miracle? There is no mention anywhere of the raising of Lazarus either.
16. “Jesus did not say that it was he who healed the sick. He did not claim to have effected healing by his will power or by the close intimacy he had with God. He did not even say explicitly that it was God who healed. He said, ‘Your faith (conviction, belief) has healed you.’ Page 46
COMMENT: So according to the author, the healing power was not in Jesus but in the sick person himself.
17. “Jesus quoting from Isaiah explained that his work was to bring liberation to the poor and the oppressed.” Page 68
“It was quite right that Luke chose those passages for explaining the nature of Christ’s work.” Page 69
COMMENT: Is there nothing else in the Bible showing the purpose of Christ’s coming and the nature of his work?
18. “The temple that Christ said he would build in three days, i.e. in a short time, was not one built by hands. It meant a new society… So the saying of Jesus that he would build a new temple was the announcement of a new society he was going to create.” Page 75
COMMENT: The author wants us to believe him and not John the Evangelist (cf. 2: 21, 22)
19. “The Pharisees accepted resurrection. Jesus too along with the Pharisees might have believed in resurrection.” P. 231
“Jesus might have foretold his resurrection… He could not have foretold that his resurrection would take place before the last day… Christ considered himself as a prophet, as a sufferer. In this background, his foretelling could have only meant that he would rise up on the last day.” Page 231
COMMENT: We have had enough from the horse’s mouth, enough to see what danger, to say the least, the book “Yar Intha Iyesu” spells for the Tamil Nadu Church. Further effort to point out what is wrong with it will be like standing on the garbage dump and looking for trash.
By now the reader must be convinced that what the book deserves is not criticism but condemnation.
But, who is to condemn it? One member of the Bishops hierarchy has approved and lauded the book. All others connive with their silence. Wonderful Episcopal solidarity!
BY WAY OF SUPPLEMENTS TO THE ABOVE
The forces of evil, under the guise of renewal and updating, have not spared anything in the Church.
I. Religious life made ‘meaningful’
As I am writing this, I have on my desk the 1996 March issue of a priest-edited Tamil periodical NANTHA VANA NADHAM. It emanates from an institution called Thiyaga Deepam situated in the diocese of Tiruchirapalli. It has a consulting body consisting of a Bishop and the vocation directors of Tamil Nadu dioceses. What follows is an honest translation of page 23 of the above-mentioned issue.
“NEW MEANING FOR POVERTY, CHASTITY, OBEDIENCE
A way has been made for a meaningful consecrated life, with new meaning given to religious vows.
Poverty. To share the poverty of those driven to a state of poverty and also its consequences: to make the ‘riches’ of one’s congregation theirs and share those riches with them, thus to tread the path of liberation in solidarity with the oppressed.
Chastity. Transcending blood and caste relationship and all natural affinity and connection, to accept in a heartfelt way the oppressed people as brothers and sisters and as the friends of the congregation and to live accordingly.
Obedience. For the individual religious and the congregation, obedience will be to listen to God who reveals himself and speaks in history through the oppressed people, and to become servants of the people.
In the place of the meaning hitherto given to religious vows, a new meaning is given which finds its place also in the documents of religious profession. Such attempts may look like putting new wine into old wineskins, but no one can deny that these attempts are paving the way to radical changes and outlooks.”
COMMENT: Such an attempt to change the meaning of religious life, discarding all tradition and Church teaching, has already succeeded quite considerably as can be seen from the life of modern religious as well as from their advertisements for vocations.
II. A travesty of the Rosary
The April 1993 issue of THOLAN, a Tamil monthly published by the Tamil Nadu Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (TNBLC), bears the title, “The month of the Rosary”.
The contents were originally in Portuguese. The original publication was meant to be used in a Latin American diocese by the Basic Christian Communities there. The Tamil version is the work of the Basic Christian Community movement active in Kottar diocese of Tamil Nadu. Fr G. Arokiasamy, the editor of Tholan, gratefully welcomes the work and recommends it for use among family groups every day during the month of May.
The whole thing is nothing but a travesty of the Rosary.
“The rosary movement should adjust itself and expand according to the changing needs and ever new spiritual challenges.
When the educated and the religious made use of Psalms and Bible passages, the rosary became the prayer movement, the liberation cry of the ordinary people.” Thus says the Kottar group responsible for the translation.
Some special features of the new rosary
1. For each day of the month of May, the rosary is given a new name, for example,
May 1 Worker’s rosary
May 2 Rosary of creation
2. Before every decade, the new mystery and the Bible passage proper to it must be read, for example,
May 1 The first mystery. Let us meditate on the worker’s rights.
Bible reading, The labourer has the right for his food (Mt 10:19)
3. Some points of thought are proposed after the fifth decade, for example,
May 1 Point no. 1. Why did God choose a carpenter as the father of Jesus?
Point no. 2. What are the causes of the sufferings of today’s labourers?
Point no. 3. Will it be useful if the workers form themselves into associations and unions in order to obtain their rights and to build up a just society and the Kingdom of God? In what ways can it be done? Page 6
4. “In every liturgy of the rosary, questions for thought are given. The group-discussion based on these questions is the most important party of this (rosary) liturgy.” Page 4
5. “When there is not enough time, certain parts like the litany of Our Lady may be omitted.” Page 4
6. “The prayer of the faithful is an item introduced in this new rosary…”
Anyone can see to what distractions and deviations such prayers can lead.
For the whole of May, 155 mysteries (31 X 5) are given. What about the 15 Mysteries of the REAL Rosary?
Only three of them find a place as such, namely the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
All the Sorrowful Mysteries are missing. Among the Glorious Mysteries, all except the first have disappeared without a trace.
Even that, the Resurrection, is not asserted but only referred to in a tangential way so that the mystery to be meditated upon is not the Resurrection of Christ but his apparition to Mary Magdalene, to Thomas and to the disciples.
In order to fill the list of 155 mysteries and as many appropriate readings, the author has made his choice of Biblical events and passages. The title for the rosary of the third day is “Rosary of the Last Judgement”. It is rather strange that there is nothing in the mysteries or the readings for the day to indicate a life after death either as reward or punishment.
The rosary for the twenty-fourth day is called “Rosary of Forgiveness”. But neither here nor anywhere else is any mention of Christ’s forgiving sins though there are suitable occasions for such a mention.
Though the title for the eleventh day’s rosary is “Rosary of Christ’s Birth”, there is no mention of Christ’s Virgin Birth.
Having decided to leave out Mary’s Virginity, Assumption, and Exaltation and Coronation, those responsible for this new rosary have given two new ‘Marian mysteries’ as follows:
Ninth day, third mystery. “Let us meditate on the social revolution shown by Mary.”
Ninth day, fourth mystery. “Let us meditate on the economic revolution shown by Mary.”
Now, a few samples of the points given for thought:
1. “How are the patients looked after today in the private as well as government hospitals?” Page 12
2. “What can we do to improve the health of the people who live in our slums?” Page 12
3. “Why is it that so many deeds of violence are committed against poor boys and girls?” Page 15
4. “Suppose we become blind, what will we do?” Page 31
Let us remember what we are told on page 4, namely that “The group-discussion based on these questions is the most important party of this (rosary) liturgy.”
Indeed, a wonderful manner of praying the rosary, recommended by the TNBLC.
Is this the Rosary that Our Lady asked for in Fatima?
II. The Way of the Cross without the Cross of Christ
During the past quarter of a century, roughly, the season of Lent has come to be associated more with the slogan “Fight against hunger and disease” than with the passion and death of Christ, and the repentance for our sins that caused them.
There is no denying the fact that we cannot love God without loving man and there is a special appropriateness in thinking of our suffering brethren and coming to their succour during Lent. But the right order and priority should always be observed. Man has existence and his life’s meaning not from himself but from God.
A man-centred liturgy, then, is a disorder and a contradiction. Unfortunately this disordered tendency is very much in evidence in many a form of modern liturgical and para-liturgical practice. There are many recent compositions of the Way of the Cross in Tamil which are clear examples of the perversion of putting man in the centre. Some such compositions have appeared in the priest-edited monthly, Tholan, coming from the TNBLC. The focus is on human suffering shown as the direct consequence exclusively of social and economic disparity. Often the congregation has to put up with the extempore rhetoric of the leaders who take their cues from the published compositions. With closed eyes one could easily imagine one was attending a political meeting. Some unidentified intellect has decided, and succeeded in getting the decision accepted, that during the half hour or so spent in the name of the Way of the Cross, Christ and His Cross should have no place.
No need for one more supplement for what passes for hymns in liturgy. Having no competence absolutely to judge music, I confine myself to one remark, namely that some invisible agent, certainly not the Holy Spirit, seems to have carefully strained out all the doctrinal content from the hymns.
Prayers are no exception. There is a prayer called “Puthu Vazhvu Jepam” (meaning New-Life Prayer). Listening to it, I cannot help wondering sadly why not a single Catholic dogma gets mention or reference; why the final petition stops with this world as if there is nothing more to ask from God than a society of justice and love and as if such a society could be brought about ignoring the final goal of man’s life. Yet this prayer is to be recited by the congregation at the end of Mass.
There is no arguing against facts, and in the foregoing pages we have a good many of them regarding the present-day Church in Tamil Nadu. As to my comments, you are free to rate them as not worth a curse. But, what about the facts?
They force upon every honest mind the conclusion that this part of the Lord’s vineyard, planted by an Apostle and watered by two canonized saints, has gone pretty far and is still going along a path leading away from Orthodoxy and from Rome.
The saddest part is that this is so with hardly anyone raising a loud enough cry of alarm. The muteness can be attributed to reasons ranging from blissful ignorance to downright perfidy.
Between the two, there are indifference, indolence, sense of helplessness and frustration, worldly wisdom, misplaced obedience, lack of knowledge, fear of offending the higher-ups, even fear of their vindictive reaction (a sad commentary on both sides), or all these in varying degrees and combinations.
There is also the orchestrated bluff.
“Now at last there is life and growth in the Church. Now the faithful have begun to esteem the Word of God and to love and read the Bible. Now the people really pray, especially in groups and using new forms.” And so on and so forth.
As evidences of growth and development, of course new churches and parishes, magnificent buildings, new institutions, pastoral centres, teams and commissions, etc., will be pointed to. No dearth of things that money can bring, things not really connected with real growth of people’s faith and holiness.
There is the area of communication, with new media instruments and techniques. There are foreign-returned clerics with qualifications in the art and skill of communication. It is high time that our Church leaders paid attention to the stuff that is skillfully communicated. An efficient and extended water supply system is extremely dangerous when the water supplied is all contaminated.
Finally, the all important question remains: What is to be done?
Two things must be realized.
First, that the Faith is under very serious threat from within the Church as never before. A realistic admission and a careful analysis is already half the remedy.
Second, that a great battle is to be fought, and that it is God’s battle, hence to be fought primarily with supernatural weapons. The words ‘prayer and penance’ may sound commonplace, but it not a reality. The combination of the two seems to have become a rarity. Let us listen to Our Lady, the heaven-sent messenger of Fatima, who in anticipation of the present-day crisis, asked for prayer and penance, especially the prayer of the Holy Rosary.
Let us, in the local [Church in Tamil Nadu] context. Have this as a concrete object of prayer, namely, that the fourteen-strong hierarchy [the Tamil Nadu Bishops] does not act urgently and in union to stop the ongoing robbery of faith, at least one be chosen by God to boldly break away from the stick-together-solidarity of the Episcopal Conference, and as the first step, to admit to his flock that he is aware of and concerned about the crisis, its nature and source.
The primary duty of the pastor is towards the flock entrusted to him and not towards any association of pastors or its leader. Think of a mother who would not give suck to her baby but feeds it only with the baby food advertised by the president of the mothers’ union.
A story is told of a rich man, thus. He converted all his wealth into a lump of gold of a certain shape and size. He wrapped it in costly silk, then put it into a nice wooden case specially made for it. He pasted a label on the case with an inscription beautifully written in his own hand. The case was kept in a safe under lock and key. He felt assured of financial security.
When it was time for his daughter’s marriage, he decided to use part of the gold. He was shocked and shattered to find that the lump of gold had been replaced by a lump of a base metal. The shape, the size, the silk cloth, the wooden case with the label, everything remained unchanged as if untouched.
A clever robbery by one of the household.
Let us do all we can, using means both spiritual and natural, to prevent such a robbery in the Church. Her wealth is the faith, the dogmas, more precious than any gold. Let not the next generation, calling themselves to be Catholics, be thrown adrift on the waves of twenty-first century Modernism, robbed of the Faith of their fathers, and having nothing Catholic to believe or practise.
O GOD, AVERT THIS. MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH, WE CRY TO THEE. Sd/- Fr. P.K. George, S.J. 1.10. 1996
MY CLOSING COMMENTS
I cannot vouch for the exactness of Dr. Fr. P K George’s report* because I do not have sufficient knowledge of the Tamil language to make my own examination of the Tamil Missal, the New Tamil Bible, or the Tamil book by Fr Paul Leon.
But I see no reason to disbelieve his findings or doubt his integrity unless proved otherwise.
*including his charges against the Tamil Nadu Bishops as I could not find any documentation on this old issue
Now we have a revised version of the Bible in the Kannada language**. I leave it to the learned, higher authorities of the Church in India and in Rome to make a diligent study of these new revised versions, translations, commentaries, etc. that are being prepared by our theologians and scholars and which are being awarded the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat by the Bishops despite theological errors and deviations from orthodoxy in these publications.
Conscious of my own limitations of expertise in such areas of Biblical exegesis and doctrinal understanding, I admit to experiencing moments of doubt that I might be wrong when learned priests and Bishops apparently teach what I believe to be wrong. But in my records I have dozens of letters from priests of major religious congregations from all over India and overseas, who include a Doctor in Canon Law and a summa cum laude theologian, and all of them agree with me on these issues. Surely they all cannot be wrong? They are all neither traditionalists nor liberals nor fundamentalists. They are regular priests who stand on the traditional teachings of Rome. We pray that Rome will stand by us in our crusade to preserve Catholic orthodoxy, the Faith of our Fathers, and loyalty to the Holy See in the Indian Church. –Michael Prabhu
**Revised Kannada Catholic Bible Released 20-02-2009 By SARNEWS
BANGALORE, Karnataka (SAR NEWS) –The revised Catholic edition of the Kannada Bible was released February 19 by Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore at a function here.
The translation of the revised Bible has been done by Catholic and Protestant biblical scholars and published by the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops’ Council and the United Bible Societies of India.
President for the publication, Bishop Gerald Lobo, said, “Earlier, we were told every family should have a Bible, but now, every Christian should have one and read it. The Bible is the light to our lives – for Christians and everyone.”
This is the third edition with 25,000 copies. The earlier two editions had 10,000 copies each…
The function was attended by all the bishops of Karnataka. FEBRUARY 24, 2009
TAMIL COMMUNITY BIBLE
Tamil Community Bible Released December 13, 2009
Hats off to Claretian Communications, Chennai, India, on the occasion of the releasing of Tamil Community Bible
It was joyous moment for the Pastoral Bible Foundation
to learn about the publishing of the Tamil Community Bible, as the Foundation had the opportunity to be associated with the Tamil Bible project in its initial stages. After the releasing of the Bible, Fr. Michael Francis, the Director of the Claretian Communications, Chennai, had sent the following message to Fr. Rossa:
“It is indeed a matter of great joy” that the long awaited TAMIL COMMUNITY BIBLE is released on 13.12.2009 at Our Lady of Fathima Church, Tambaram, Chennai India . Four Bishops, Superior Generals from a few Congregations, Provincial Superiors, Bible Scholars, Priests, Nuns, Seminarians, Leaders from other Churches and around 1300 lay people gathered to solemnize the function.
“We are deeply indebted to Tamil Nadu Bishops who gave the definite approval. We thank Dr. Soosaimanikam, D.D, the President of Tamil Nadu Bible Commission, whose support was praiseworthy. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Fr. Dr. C. Hieronymus, the editor of the Bible. This Bible is the fruit of the hard work put in by many Bible Scholars who deserve our special thanks.
“We gratefully remember Fr. Bernard Hurault, the author of the Pastoral Bible Commentaries. We thank Fr. Ralph Berg, the then Provincial Superior and the Claretian Western Province for their partial financial support. We immensely thank Fr. Alberto Rosa for his valued patronage. We thank MISSIO for their partial financial assistance. CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR WISHES FROM CLARETIAN COMMUNICATIONS, CHENNAI”
Fr. V. Michael Francis, CMF, Director, Claretian Communications
Holy Bible is the most leading book in the entire world and is ennobled as the largest selling piece of work. As a matter of fact, there have been so many bibles of various versions launched throughout the World.
Likewise, the Bishops of Tamil Nadu in collaboration with Claretian Community Solicit have worked on an innovative conceptuality on this Holy Bible.
‘Tamil Community Bible’ has the pictorial representation of what every chapter of Holy Bible is all about (for illustration, Genesis is symbolized with the image of ‘World Creation’).
‘Tamil Community Bible’ was launched last evening (December 14) at our Lady of Fatima Church in Tambaram.
The ‘Tamil Community Bible’ was released by Most Rev. Dr. Peter Fernando D.D., Ph.D (Archbishop of Madurai and Diocese President of TNLBC)
while the first copies were received by following:
Rt. Rev. Dr. Susaimanickam D.D. (Bishop of Sivagangai Diocese)
Rt. Rev. Dr. Neethinathan D.D., (Bishop of Chengalpattu Diocese)
Rt. Rev. Sr. Rita Michael FSJ (Superior General, Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph)
Rev. Fr. Dr. Stanislaus Swamikannu SDB (Salesian Provincial Superior of Chennai Province and TNPCRI President)
Most Rev. Dr. A.M. Chinnappa SDB, D.D., Ph.D and priests from Claretian Community felicitated the scholars involved in the production of ‘Tamil Community Bible).
Mr. Robert, a film critic by profession (Sun TV Top 10 Movies)
has rendered a wonderful piece of art by drawing the pictures… ‘It was a great experience, working on this project. Perhaps, we’ll be coming up with such creative thoughts in mere future as well…’ says Robert, who was responsible for the well-organized ceremony that took place last evening.
Fr. Michael Francis extended his vote of thanks to all special invitees and scholars responsible for this endeavor.
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India