The Golden Sheaf
“The Second Publication in the Cardinal Gracias Memorial series – A Collection of articles from The Laity monthly dealing with current ecclesiastical aberrations and written by Indian and international writers of repute” edited by
Dr. A. Deva, published by Elsie Mathias for the [Cardinal Valerian] Gracias Memorial publications of the ALL INDIA LAITY CONGRESS [AILC], released at the Inauguration of the Fifth Annual Convention of the A.I.L.C., May 14, 1980 at Tiruchirapalli.
NOTE: I will use blue or
color or change the
font type and
size to indicate emphasis. -Michael
A year ago, the AILC issued its first booklet in the Cardinal Gracias Memorial series. That booklet was named “The Banyan Tree” and its author was the world famous theologian, Fr. Prof. Dr. J. P. M. Van der Ploeg, O. P.
Father Van der Ploeg exposed, in that book, the doctrinal aberrations emanating from the central Catholic teaching institution of India, The National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC], Bangalore. He was eminently successful in pointing out to Indian Catholics the pitfalls of indigenisation and paganisation lying in their path and his exposé was widely acclaimed in India and abroad.
The late Cardinal Valerian Gracias’ last public address was his key-note speech at the AILC’s third annual convention at Madras in May 1978. He insisted or fulfilling this engagement although he was in great pain and his edifying and important address is recorded for posterity in the AILC Souvenir-for that year. The theme of that convention was “The Hour of the Laity’, and this was also the subject of the late Cardinal’s speech. His speech was a challenge to the AILC not to resign itself to being just another lay organization, but instead, to undertake an active intellectual apostolate, in other words, to spread the Faith, and to strengthen the Faith, through the written and spoken word. The AILC accepted His Eminence’s challenge, and it is a pity that he did not live to see the first fruit of that acceptance, Father Van der Ploeg’s booklet “The Banyan Tree”.
The church has, throughout its two thousand year history, always been subjected to attacks aimed at trying to force it to dilute its unchanging stand on Faith and on Morals. The church has weathered all those storms, but it is universally agreed that the forces of evil have never be; so strong, nor so successful, as during the last 15 years, and the attacks are continuing. The attacks are on a wide front, the most fiendish being against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and against the seven Sacraments. Thus, in the West, successful attempts are made to convert the Sacrifice of the Mass into an occasion of fun and jollity “enlivened” by profane music. The Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is sought, to be debased by being given in the hand of the recipient, any particles left over being then thrown away instead of being consumed by the Priest. The remaining six Sacraments are also under diabolical, and partly successful, attack.
In India, it is worse. The tragedy of the Church in India is that the attacks against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and against the Sacraments originate from, and are led by, the central Catholic teaching institution of the country, the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC], Bangalore. This institution is owned and financed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. In our country, the attack against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is by paganising it, the paganised mass being named, “The Indian Rite Mass” or “An Order of the Mass for India”. This mass has originated from, and is propagated by, the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre, Bangalore. At this Centre, the Blessed Sacrament is desecrated by placing the Consecrated Species practically on the floor during Mass and by inserting the Tabernacle into a phallic pillar for adoration.
The Laity monthly, whose editor is V. J. F. Kulanday*, has played a notable, albeit lonely, part in exposing and condemning these and other attacks made against Faith and Morals, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Sacraments. The-articles concerned span several years and the time has now come to collect all some of these into one book. The “Golden Sheaf” contains material of great importance and perennial value, as a glance through its contents will show. It is almost impossible elsewhere to obtain this valuable material in one volume and every Catholic in India should be in possession of a copy. This booklet will further the AILC’s intellectual apostolate and it has most appropriately been chosen as the second in the Cardinal Gracias Memorial series.
Elsie Mathias, Publisher, Joint Secretary, AILC, 43, Richmond Road, Bangalore
April 28, 1980
*See THE PAGANIZED CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA-VICTOR J F KULANDAY
FOREWORD 1 Elsie Mathias
1. Are Catholics becoming Protestants? 3 Fr. M. Hering, O.P.
2. Liturgical and Liturgical Aberrations 11 Dr. Fr. J. P. M. van der Ploeg, O.P.
3. Inculturation 17 Fr. Peter Lobo
4. Experimentation in the Liturgy 21 Dr. Fr. P.K. George, S.J.
5. Matters Liturgical 23 Fr. Anastasio Gomes, O.C.D.
6. Adaptation – Indigenisation – Utilization 28 Dr. Paul Hacker
7. Letter from George M. Moraes 34
8. Bede Griffiths and Indianisation 41 Moti Lal Pandit
9. Modernism as imported in India 44 Dr. Fr. J. P. M. van der Ploeg, O.P.
10. An Answer to Critics 49 George M. Moraes
11. A Hindu Convert Writes to India’s Hierarchy 50 M. Rajareegam
12. Communion in the Hand Should Be Rejected 52 Dietrich von Hildebrand
13. Communion in the Hand 54 Owen T. Roberts
14. Christian Marxism: Sacrilegious Demagoguery 57 Fr. Vincent P. Miceli, S.J.
15. Salvation in Non-Christian religions 62 Fr. Anastasio Gomes, O.C.D.
16. Opinion Poll verdict is against Communion in Hand 66
17. Communion in the Hands – Why? What for this sacrilege? 67 Fr. Antony S. Fernando
18. The Right Hand 68 Dr. Fr. P.K. George, S.J.
19. The Lord and Giver of Life 69 Dr. W.T.V. Adisesiah, M.A. Ph. D.
20. The Agony of Indian Catholics 73 Dr. A. Deva
1. Rome Speaks – CBCI Bows 80 A Letter from Cardinal Knox
2. Valerian Cardinal Gracias on Culture and Experiments 81
3. Important Clarification 82 Congregation for Divine Worship
4. Third Instruction for the Correct Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 84 Congregation for Divine Worship
5. The Twelve Points 90 C.B.C.I./Rome
6. The 12 Points – “May a Mistake be Corrected?” 91 An “Observer”
7. The Indian Mass – An example of Interreligious Syncretism 94 Dr. Fr. J. P. M. van der Ploeg, O.P.
8. An Order of the Mass for India [The Indian Rite Mass] 97 C.B.C.I.
Are Catholics Becoming Protestants?
Father M. Hering, 0. P.
The author of this article is a Swiss Dominican, former Professor at Angelicum Rome (35 years) and Freiburg (five years). Presently he has retired from teaching but continues to write for Theology journals. This article appeared in 1974 both in French and Italian. It has been translated into English by one of own collaborators, and is published by kind permission of the author. Readers should keep in mind that throughout the article the author has in mind the situation of the Church as is found in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany and Holland. Hasty application to other areas of the world should be avoided although it will be conceded that many of his observations apply to other countries- Editor.
For over ten years now, the Church is passing through a very serious crisis, which is a source of anxiety and suffering for the Pope, Bishops, priests and the faithful. As a result of Vatican II, we expected a spiritual springtime, whereas what has actually come is a tempest: a terrible storm seems to threaten the bark of Peter.
The crisis involves all fields of Christian life: the faith, morals, liturgy and discipline. It strikes particularly the clergy and consecrated souls: lack of docility to the Magisterium, disobedience to the Pope and the Bishops, defections of thousands of priests and religious. Paul VI has referred plainly to “self-demolition of the Church” for the process of destruction does not come from the outside (enemies of the Church) but from the inside, especially from the clergy. Seminaries are getting empty and vocations are on the decrease. Among the faithful, there is confusion, at times division and abandonment of all religious practice.
The causes of this crisis are many: changes brought about science and technology, desacralization and secularization of society, the prevailing hedonism (eroticism, sexual freedom, pornography), tendency to contestation and criticism, penetration of the spirit the world into Catholic milieux thanks especially to audiovisual means; radio, television etc. It would seem, however, that one the main causes (the mention of which is generally avoided) is the false irenicism (or false ecumenism), which is translated into Protestantism, under the influence of some theologians of progressivist and modernist tendency.
The ecumenism that tends to unite all the believers is certainly an excellent movement which has produced consoling results: a better understanding between Catholics and Protestants, a greater mutual esteem and charity, efforts to smooth the road to unity, joint help to underdeveloped countries. But certain theologians (and members of the clergy) have at times gone too far, without showing due docility to the Magisterium of the Church and directives from Rome. Protestant views and practices are being introduced increasingly among Catholics, and the unity runs the danger of being achieved at the expense of the faith and truth. This Protestantization of the Church is so evident (especially in the countries of Diaspora) that one hears it often said: the Catholics are becoming Protestants, the Church identifies itself with the religion of Luther.
Articles have appeared bringing into focus this disaster. In the review La pensee catholique one can read the following article. “In order to remain a good Catholic, must one become a Protestant?” (N. 125-127, p.9-19) And again: “Towards a Lutheran Catholicism” (n. 134)
Paul VI himself has acknowledged more than once the influence of Protestantism on Catholic doctrine: “Anyone can see that everywhere (among Catholics) there is a little of that Protestant and Modernist mentality that denies the need and the legitimate existence of an intermediary authority in the relationship between the soul and God” (Speech, Nov. 4, 1964). And again: “It should be noted that interest in renewal has in many cases taken the form of insistence on the exterior and impersonal transformation of the ecclesiastical edifice, and of acceptance of the forms and the spirit of the Protestant Reformation, rather than the essential and principal renewal desired by the council, moral personal and interior renewal” (Speech. 15, 1.69). (1).
We shall, pinpoint then this fact showing how the sliding of the church into Protestantism is seen in the faith, morals, discipline, and liturgy, and then point out the duties arising therefrom for us, Catholics.
The infiltration of Protestant mentally into the Catholic Church is seen, first of all, in doctrinal field, in the truths of faith. A certain number of priests and faithful (especially in Europe: France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland) seem not to judge any longer according to the norms of Catholic faith, that is, in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church. They judge according, to the criteria and viewpoints proper to Protestants – free examen and personal interpretation of the Bible. Hearing them, one would think at times that one is hearing Protestant pastors rather than Catholic priests. Essential notions concerning say the rule of the faith, church, liturgy, original sin, Eucharist, are expressed in ambiguous, even false terms indicating a strong influence of the Lutheran and modernist doctrine. One can judge about this from the following examples concerning fundamental questions (especially in the ecumenical field): the notion of the proximate rule of the faith, and the notion of the Church.
(a) The proximate rule of the faith
For all Catholics (priests and the laity) the proximate rule of the faith is the Magisterium of the Church – the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Pope and the Bishops, and the extraordinary magisterium: the solemn definitions of Councils and of the Pope speaking ex cathedra. If the sources of Revelation (originated from the Word of God accepted by faith) are the Scripture and tradition, the proximate rule of the faith has always been the living magisterium of the Church. Have we not always had the following definition of the faith – “a supernatural virtue by which we believe what God has revealed and the Church proposes for our belief”? And this magisterium is infallible in all matters that are necessary for our salvation, that is to say, in all questions concerning faith and Christian life.
For Protestants, the only rule of the faith is the Bible (sola Scriptura) interpreted with a free examen. Rejecting the magisterium of the Church and Tradition, they believe only what is found in the Bible. Each one interprets it as he thinks best, which issues almost fatally in doctrinal pluralism and multiplication of sects. Let it be recalled that sola Scriptura (excluding the magisterium of the Church) is a fundamental and constant principle of Protestantism.
What do we presently see among Catholics? The Bible is read and studied much more than it the past, which is a definite gain. But among certain authors does not one notice a certain contempt for the Church magisterium, and as a consequence, a tendency to interpret the Bible freely and to make it in practice (as the Protestants do) the only rule of the faith? How many theologians are not there today who, without taking into account the magisterium and interpreting the Scripture their own way, hold views that are clearly contrary to the official and traditional teaching of the Church! Think for instance of certain false and dangerous theories about original sin, divinity of Christ and His resurrection, the priesthood the sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence, angels, virginity of Our Lady, hell, conjugal morality etc. — theories that are found for example, in the New Dutch Catechism, which has been translated into many languages and adopted in many countries.
We may note moreover, that in, many Catholic churches the Bible is exposed publicly (as in Protestant temples), whereas one has difficulty in finding therein the place of the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament. Similarly at the Mass, the readings have increased considerably: the liturgy of the word similar to the Protestant worship) is often longer than the liturgy of the sacrifice (rejected by Luther) and looks more important. Are these not as many signs of a Protestant mentality in the Catholic Church?
(b) Nature of the Church
According to Catholic doctrine, the Church is a visible and hierarchical society, founded upon Peter, head of the twelve Apostles. The hierarchy comprises the supreme Pontiff (who governs the universal Church) and the Bishops (and priests) who are subject to him and owe him obedience. The Church is endowed with two powers: the power of orders (to consecrate the Eucharist and forgive sins) and the power of jurisdiction (to rule the faithful through laws). The faithful, therefore, are distinct from the clergy (the Bishops and priests) and this by divine will as is stated explicitly in the Code of Canon Law (c. 107). The Pope is also the (visible) principle of the unity of the Church: it is he who (with the help of the Holy Spirit) keeps united together the bishops, priests and the laity in the unity of the faith and Christian morals.
For Protestants, the Church is a communion of the faithful, the congregation of all those who believe in Christ; it is charismatic and democratic (not hierarchical). In their Church all are equal; all participate equally in the royal, priestly and prophetic dignity of Christ. Their Pastors are laymen (usually married) who are designated and delegated by the people: they preside over the eucharistic the sacraments (baptism and supper). This doctrine of the common priesthood of the faithful and of the equality of all Christians (which excludes a ministerial priesthood and the sacrament of Orders) is a proper and fundamental teaching of Protestantism (we shall return to it below in the section on the liturgy).
What do we find nowadays among many Catholics? There is a tendency to view the Church in a Protestant way: it is regarded especially as a communion; its charismatic and prophetic character is emphasized (at the expense of the hierarchical aspect). It is maintained that all (priests and laymen) are equal in dignity; hence no difference among them. A priest is a man like any other: he must work and have a job, found a home, get himself involved in politics, labour movements etc.: he has lost his identity. Demands are made and pressure is exerted, especially through Synods (Holland, Spain, Germany, Switzerland) that ever greater democratization be accepted in the Church. In fact, the democratization is increasingly infiltrating into it: it is the people (with their majority) that should decide questions of faith, morals, liturgy and discipline. Are not perhaps all equal and all responsible? Hence all must have a say in the government of the Churches, including the election of bishops and parish priests.
It is often stated that the principle of the unity of the Church is the Holy Spirit. This is true, but it is through the pope (His vicar on earth) that Christ brings about and preserves this unity. One hears more about local and national churches than about the One and Catholic Church (Credo unam Catholicam Ecclesiam). One hears also about different Christian churches (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant). Did not Christ found only one Church? Without willing to deny the happy results of ecumenism, one must admit that among many Catholics, the idea of the Church is limited up with its Protestant conception.
The notion of the Church hierarchical and marvelously one (which is a “great and perpetual motive of credibility” according to Vatican I) is thus attenuated and obscured: the Church no longer attracts souls and no longer makes numerous and outstanding converts as it once did.
This new way (Protestant) of considering the Church causes confusion and bewilderment among the people with the ensuing danger of diminishing confidence in the hierarchy, of believing all religions to be equally good and ol abandoning all religious practice.
Under the influence of Protestantism and with a view to pleasing our separated brethren, other truths of faith as we hinted above are de-emphasized or given a wrong interpretation. The divinity of Christ and His redemption, the Real Presence and Transubstantiation, the Sacrifice of the Mass. hierarchical priesthood, original sin, virginity of Our Lady, baptism of children, the cult of the B. V. M. and the saints, purgatory and hell: these truths are at times questioned by certain theologians who are strongly tempted by neo-modernism and rationalism. Efforts are made to arrive at the unity of faith but through wrong methods, passing over in silence certain truths or explaining them in a new and wrong way. As Paul VI has said, the intention may be good but the method is wrong.
Protestant influence is seen also in the Catholic morals; too easily, views and practices of our separated brethren are accepted. A few examples: According to the teaching of the Catholic Church the rule of morality of human acts is right reason enlightened by faith. Catholics regard the Church as the custodian and teacher of faith and morals. They know that through a special assistance of the Holy Spirit, the Church is infallible in rebus fidei et morum, that that is in all that is necessary for salvation. Hence the Church can not go wrong when she teaches truths of faith and Christian life, including the precepts of natural law (the observance of which is necessary for salvation).
We may recall that the revelation of religious and moral natural truths (existence of God spirituality and immortality of the soul, precepts of natural law) and their teaching by the Church are morally necessary (and unfortunately this is forgotten often nowadays), that all the faithful may know them easily, certainly and without any danger of being deceived (Vatican I, D. 3005). Without the authoritative teaching of the Church few could arrive at the knowledge of these truths, and even these few would not be free from many doubts and would be exposed to the danger of being deceived about essential things.
Thank to the magisterium of the Church, Catholics know for certain what they have to believe and do in order to live as disciples of Christ and gain heavenly blessedness. They have confidence in the Church (Pope and the Bishops), who have been entrusted by Christ with the task of teaching the faith and -Christian life: “He who hears you, hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me” (Lk. 10, 16).
Catholics accept this teaching even if they do not always see its reasons. This teaching is true, objective, immutable, founded on the word of God and on the nature of things; and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit the Church hands it on to us always in its purity and integrity. Hence the primordial duty of Catholics is to form their conscience according to the authentic teachings of the Church, and not according to the false maxims of the world. Otherwise they may fall into subjectivism, relativism, situation morals and other similar errors.
But the Protestants do not have this precious help of uninfallible magisterium. Thus they do not have an authority that might teach them with certainly the way of salvation. Each one forms himself and follows his conscience as he understands, and does what he thinks to be good. Hence they are exposed to the inevitable danger of subjectivism and moral relativism. It is the individual conscience, often obscured by prejudices, passions and false maxims of the world that becomes the rule of good and evil. And we know that the world (as opposed to Christ) follows principles that are incompatible with the Gospel, and is unable to understand the exigencies of the Christian faith and morals.
Again, what do we see today in the Church? How many theologians, priests and laymen, judge questions of morality with a Protestant mentality, without any regard for the authoritative teaching of the Church, nay even with a certain contempt of this magisterium! Blinded by pride, and puffed up by their conscience, even in this is in error and suggests them a behaviour that the Church has condemned. After all, are they not free and adult, capable of judging and determining for themselves the norms that they are to follow? In their self-sufficiency, they forget that conscience cannot be a valid rule of action unless it is right and certain; a false (that is, in error) or doubtful (doubting whether something is good or bad) conscience can lead to the worst kind of deviations. Daily experience teaches us that in practical questions of morality men often err. “Men easily persuade themselves in such matters that what they do not wish to believe, is false, or at least doubtful” (Pius XII, Humani Generis). With a view to forming a right and certain conscience, Catholics must listen to those who speak in the name of Christ, and thus conform their judgment with that of the authentic magisterium of the Church. Only this humble submission to the teaching of the Church can give them the certainty of being in the truth, and keep them in order and peace.
For Catholics natural law is a participation in the eternal law imprinted on human conscience. Written in the heart of each individual, this law shows what is good and what is evil, and dictates the principles of moral life (with the help of Revelation and the magisterium of the Christ).
For the majority of the Protestants natural law does not exist: it is a near heresy to admit its existence. And this opinion denying the existence of natural law is widespread nowadays among Catholics. Some of our theologians doubt its existence, others exclude it from the teaching authority of the Church or deny that the Church can interpret it authoritatively and give its certain and authentic interpretation. Sin and justification: In this field too the Protestant and neo-modernist influence is felt in the Catholic Church. Some Catholics deny the original sin, or else they give it a new interpretation. It is no longer considered the sin of the first man, Adam, transmitted to his descendants by way of generation, but merely the sin of the world, that is, all the sins of men of all times, taken together.
Personal sin itself is no longer conceived as an offense against God, but a fault against the Church and society (obviously under the influence of horizontalism). Hence the duty to ask forgiveness to the Church and to reconcile oneself with her rather than with God. With this end in view, a question is asked: is not the general absolution given at the Mass sufficient?
The notion itself of sin is being increasingly lost. In the current climate of eroticism and licence that oppresses us, everything becomes licit. Experience also reveals an increasing disaffection for the Sacrament of Penance: the number of confessions goes on decreasing, and certain priests do not like to sit in the confessional and hear confessions.
Who can still tell us for sure what is the sanctifying grace and justification? Who still thinks of saving one’s soul or gaining heaven through good works? Are we not all saved in Christ? He alone is our Saviour; it is enough to have faith and trust in Him, as Luther taught.
According to the Catholic teaching marriage is an indissoluble union of man and woman with a view to founding a family. Raised to the dignity of a Sacrament, it has as its principal goal, the procreation and education of children. Sexual relations are permitted only in marriage, and then, again only if they are had as nature and their proper ends require. The use of contraceptives is an intrinsically and gravely immoral act, contrary to natural law. Hence the Church, following her traditional teaching, condemns “every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, imposes whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation, impossible” (Humane vitae, n. 14). Protestants hold often much broader views on conjugal morality; they allow easily premarital relations, use of contraceptives, abortion and marriage among divorces. This mentality (the fact is obvious) is now accepted by a few Catholics and some members of the clergy.
As any other visible and perfect society, the church (a hierarchical society) has necessarily legislative power, by which she can determine the exigencies of both the natural and evangelical law, in view of the eternal salvation and sanctification of souls. These ecclesiastical laws determine further the rights and duties of the faithful, clergy, bishops and the religious. They are collected in the code of canon Law. Rejecting an hierarchical church, the Protestants logically do not accept ecclesiastical laws: no precept of the church, no juridicism. They admit only a charismatic Church where the Holy Spirit guides the faithful, imparting to each one his prophetic charism, and leaving everyone the holy freedom of the children of God. There is hardly any need here to emphasise how much these ideas, are today spread among Catholics. Everywhere and at all level we find a growing disobedience to the Pope and the Bishops, a generalized contempt for laws and for any sort of juridicism. Who is still bold enough to speak of the precepts, of the church (and even of the commandments of God)? The Sunday Mass, one hears at times, is no longer obligatory. If you do not go to it willingly, you better don’t go: let us be sincere, without formalism, and without pharisaism. And why impose celibacy on priests? Is this not something against nature? The priest is a man like any other; why should he not marry as the protestant pastors do? And the liturgical laws concerning the sacred places, sacred vestments, eucharistic prayers, ceremonies and rites how many superfluous prescriptions! Do we not live in a climate of freedom, ecumenism and pluralism? A meal (the Eucharist recalls rather the idea of supper) may be taken anywhere, and anyone may preside over it, even a lady.
If on the one hand, some Catholics today no longer understand the need of certain ecclesiastical laws, on the other hand each one recognises his own charism and claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, even when his behaviour is openly contrary to the prescriptions of the Church. If a priest is unfaithful to his priesthood and marries, he performs “prophetic gesture”, he is a “sign of the times”.
We saw the sliding of the Church into Protestantism in matters of faith and morals as a result of false irenicism. The same holds true also of the liturgy. If ecumenism tends to unite indeed all Christians and to ensure their collaboration in welfare programmes (aid to the third world, fight against disease and war, etc.) it also seeks to draw them closer in the practice of religion and worship.
The less the difference between the Catholic Mass and Protestant worship, the greater the similarity between the religious ceremonies of the two groups allowing to pray in common and to offer to God the same Eucharist, the easier will be the road to unity of all Christians. Why, then, not to allow, even not to recommend, especially for certain occasions, inter-communion, i.e., inter-celebration at which Catholics and Protestants share the same Blessed bread, and priests and pastors celebrate the same eucharist?
To be sure, ecumenism is an excellent movement: it fosters rapprochement of Christians belonging to different Confessions, and it has already improved considerably their mutual relations. Now they know and understand better one another, love one another, and help one another. Efforts are also made to pray together and to celebrate together the Eucharist, which is the great Sacrament and symbol of unity.
But it is precisely here that there are fundamental doctrinal differences which divide Catholics and Protestants. These differences concern the Eucharist, Real Presence, Mass and Priesthood. With a view to arriving at unity of Christians, what a danger do the Catholic theologians incur of passing over whatever is proper to them, and of underlining only such elements as are common to both sides! We shall thus again on essential notions (real presence, priesthood, ministry) giving the impression that there are only accidental differences between the Catholic Mass and the Protestant worship. And this will lead to the justification of inter-communion and even inter-celebration.
By means of vague and ambiguous words, of concessions and compromises, of reticences about this or that aspect of dogma, one can come to a certain accord, but this will be an accord on confusion and error. In the writings and conferences of certain theologians well as in certain facts (in liturgical ceremonies) these dangers have not always been avoided: it has been stated that the Catholics and the Protestants have already reached agreement on the Eucharist and consequently the hospitality of communion is lawful. And, how many instances of this kind have not been repeated these recent years especially in the countries of diaspora: Germany, Switzerland, Holland, USA, and also in France and Belgium), where communion has been given to Protestants and Lutheran Pastors have concelebrated with Catholic priests!
Hence it is opportune to, examine in detail how regarding certain essential truths, some Catholics are about to adopt a Protestant mentality, thinking and behaving like our separated brethren. This is seen in the doctrine and practice concerning the Eucharist-sacrifice: real presence, priesthood, church (place of worship) and different pious practices. Everywhere one notices a gradual sliding of the Catholic Church into Protestantism. Our separated brethren themselves realize it and at times they say with some satisfaction: “Catholics are drawing near to us, abandoning many things: don’t they thus admit that they were wrong?”
According to Catholic teaching, of the seven sacraments, the Eucharist alone is both sacrifice (to God) and Sacrament (for men). Essentially and above all, the Eucharist is a sacrifice offered to God, a sacrifice in the proper sense of the word, which is the Sacrifice of the Cross, in an unbloody manner and applies to us its merits. Only a priest (validly ordained) has the power to consecrate the Eucharist, that is, to make Christ present under the species of bread and wine, and to offer Him to God in the name of Christ. The Holy Communion by which the faithful are nourished with the immaculate victim (Eucharist-Sacrament) is an integral part of the sacrifice. Before being a community – meal for the spiritual nourishment of the faithful (gathered around a table) the Eucharist is a sacrifice offered for the glory of God (on an altar) The sacrifice is identical with that of the Cross, on the altar as on Calvary, we have the same victim and the same celebrant, our Lord Jesus Christ. The differences are only accidental the Sacrifice of the Mass is not bloody: it is offered by a minister of Christ, and it applies to us the merits of the Cross.
As taught by Luther, Protestants no longer regard the Eucharist as a sacrifice but only as a meal commemorating the Supper of the Lord. This meal is taken around a table over which a pastor (man or woman) presides. The people participate in this worship standing or seated (never kneeling); hymns are sung: the Bible is read; and (quite seldom) they distribute only Blessed bread which each one receives in his hand.
What do we see nowadays in the Catholic Church? Just like among the Protestants, the Eucharist is often reduced to a community-meal (one does not hear any more about sacrifice) and the altar has been replaced by a table. In many places, the faithful no longer kneel, but remain standing or seated. The New Order of the Mass has even taken over several protestant elements: the priest “presides” over the Eucharist, “recites the memorial of the supper”; a large part is given to the “liturgy of the word” whereas the liturgy of the sacrifice (essential part of the Mass) is carried out in a matter of few minutes.
In connection with this New Order of the Mass, it is known that two Cardinals – Ottaviani and Bacci – wrote a letter to the Pope (this should have remained secret) apprising him of a certain sliding of the Catholic doctrine into Protestantism. But this sliding can be seen in not a few official documents, and this is noticed specially by those who live in diaspora and know the doctrine of Luther and Calvin: in these countries one realizes better which are the parts of worship and Mass in which some protestantization of the Church is noted. Instances of intercommunion are increasing. Communion is given to Protestants, and even to non-baptized persons (Boquen). We have seen Protestant Pastors celebrating the Eucharist together with Catholic priests. 7.
The Pope has often deplored these abuses, and so have some Episcopal Conferences: allusion was made to the Bishops of Latin America who on the occasion of the Congress of Medelin (Bogota) in Colombo (1968) admitted to Holy Communion Protestant and Anglican Pastors.* Mixed couples (Catholic and Protestant) have been advised to alternate Sunday with the Catholic Mass and the Protestant service. Meanwhile, attendance at Sunday Mass in decreasing in many parishes, and one hears it said at times that there is no obligation to go to Mass on Sundays.
In its Declaration (24-6-1973) about certain current errors, the Congregation for Doctrine had to recall that the Eucharist celebrated by a layman (not ordained) was not only illicit but also invalid.
*In India, we understand that an Anglican Minister was given Holy Communion at the daily concelebrated Mass at the all India Seminar of 1969
According to Catholic teaching, the Eucharist (Sacrifice and sacrament) is a real and permanent presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine. This Presence occurs by transubstantiation, effected by a priest by virtue of the power received through ordination. After the consecration, there is no more bread and wine on the altar: there is Christ himself truly, really and substantiality present under the species of these two elements. This Real Presence lasts as long as the species are not consumed. Hence the custom, of keeping the consecrated hosts in the tabernacle, to bring Holy Communion, to the sick, and also to give it to faithful who are not able to attend the Holy Mass. This custom also affords the opportunity for the faithful to come and adore the Blessed Sacrament.
The Protestants on their side admit a certain presence of Christ in the Eucharist, symbolised by the Supper. But this presence is a result of the faith of the faithful; since he is not ordained (in the proper sense of the word), the pastor has no power to consecrate. This type of presence of Christ, however, does not last beyond the Supper (or gathering of the faithful), and consequently ceases once the ceremony is over. Hence there is no point in adoring the Eucharistic bread after the worship is over: Christ is no longer present. Has not Jesus said? “When two or three are gathered together in name, I am in their midst?”
In our days, this Protestant interpretation has penetrated some Catholic circles. Undoubtedly, their, intention is good (unity all Christians) but their method is to be condemned: unity cannot be brought about at the expense of truth. Imbued with a protestant and neo-modernist mentality certain Catholic theologians do not accept transubstantiation, and speak of transfinalization and transignification. They no longer believe in the presence of Christ in consecrated hosts, and so after the Mass is over, they mix them up with the non-consecrated hosts. They are only ordinary bread, and consequently would it not be a sacrilege to adore them? The tabernacle is at times relegated to an obscure place of the Church; one has to look for it, and one is not always sure of finding it. Then, visits (private or common) to the Blessed Sacrament are becoming rarer and rarer. Even the solemn procession of the Feast of Corpus Christi (a public witness of our faith) has been abolished in places, in order not to offend our separated brethren!
The Catholic religion which has its centre in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass has always acknowledged and taught that the priest alone has the power to consecrate the Eucharist. Imprinting on soul an indelible character, Ordination gives him this power (sacramental, supernatural and instrumental) to bring about the change from bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, renewing thus in an unbloody manner the sacrifice of the Cross. By means of this sacrament, the priest becomes another Christ – alter Christus – and a priest forever. He is therefore endowed with a dignity and powers that set him apart from the other faithful.
Since according to the Protestant doctrine the Eucharist is not a sacrifice, there is no need to have a priest-sacrificer, endowed with the power of consecrating. Hence Protestantism rejects categorically sacrament of orders and hierarchical priesthood. It admits only the power of consecrating. […] As all share in the same manner the royal, prophetic and priestly dignity of Christ, all the faithful are priests. This doctrine about the common priesthood of the faithful (excluding the hierarchical priesthood) is proper to the Protestants and constitutes the main difference between them and the Catholics. A protestant pastor is only a layman, and is often a married man. He is chosen out of the community in order to preside over the worship, that is Supper and the liturgy of the word.
Well, what do we see nowadays in the Catholic Church? There is a great confusion in this matter: priests no longer know what they are, and what they are meant for. They have “lost their identity”. It is thought that all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ, that all of them are equal among themselves. While in days gone by little was said about the royal priesthood of the faithful and this was prudent in order not to confuse it with our priesthood) today no occasion is missed to speak about it. We hear about it in season and out of season, as if this were an essential truth and a lot is said about its greatness. But, is there no danger here? Do we not see its sad consequences? If all the faithful share the dignity of the priesthood, what is the use of an ordained priest? And in what way is he different from the other members of the people of God? Why would he be bound to the law of celibacy? If he is just a man like any other, why should he be denied the right to work, to enter politics and to marry?
With a view to pleasing Protestants, the common priesthood of the faithful (which they admit) is extolled, the hierarchical priesthood (which they deny) is passed over. Then, if these are two priesthoods (royal and ministerial; are acknowledged almost as being equal, then should it not be said that the royal priesthood is superior to the ministerial priesthood as a king is superior to his minister? It would seem so.
This is a complete confusion, issuing from a false irenicism against which the Church (Pius XI, Pius XII and Paul VI) have always warned us. But it would seem that we have not always listened to the voice of the Church. Hence the sad consequences that we are witnessing today: the bewilderment of the people, ignorance about the hierarchical priesthood, which is confused with the common priesthood of the faithful, defection of thousands of priest who no longer know what they are, and who marry and scandalise the people of God. Seminaries are getting empty, and vocations are on the decrease. The faithful are suffering: they lose their confidence in the Church, abandon the Sacraments, and in the end they lose even their faith. We do not wish to generalise, but in many places all these results of false irenicism are sad realities.
Places of Worship
Our Catholic churches have always been different from protestant temples. Our churches always contain an altar for the sacrifice, and the faithful attend it on their knees in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Then there is moreover a tabernacle where consecrated hosts are kept in order to bring them to the sick and give, Holy Communion to those who were not able to attend the Mass. As the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle is permanent, the faithful always have the possibility of spending some moments to adore the Lord, to thank Him for this great gift, to find in his presence encouragement and comfort in their trials. How salutary is this atmosphere of silence and recollection of our churches! How is one happy to find oneself far away from the tumult of the world and the bustle of life, to remain some minutes in the company of the Divine Friend, in familiar conversation with him! And have not millions of Christians found peace and comfort in their difficulties at the foot of the tabernacle? One feels there a sweet warmth that pervades one’s soul and sanctifies it. Entering our churches or chapels, the Protestants themselves realise at times that there is here a real presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, which they do not feel in their temples. Add to this the statues and pictures of our Lady and the Saints arouse devotion in souls raise minds towards heaven.
The Protestant temple, on the other hand is cold; there is no alter, no tabernacle, no real presence, no statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, no statues of the Saints, no via Crucis. But we find there a big Bible publicly exposed and a table for the Supper. They come together there to pray, to sing and to hear the word of God, and at times also to participate in the Supper. The faithful are mostly seated, never on their knees.
Well, what do we see today in some of our churches? What a disappointment! How difficult it is to find out the place of the tabernacle, where one sees at once a large Bible exposed for all to see. Statues or Pictures of the Sacred Heart. Blessed Virgin Mary 3rd the Saints are gone; so also the Via Crucis. And the warm and silent atmosphere of former days, which helped souls so much towards God and things spiritual, seems to have melted away. And then, if a liturgical function is going on, one asks if that is the sacrifice of the Mass or a Protestant service. As in Protestant temples, the faithful are seated from the beginning and some do not kneel even at the moment of Consecration.
A certain sliding of the Catholic Church into Protestantism is then seen in all fields: truths of faith, morality, discipline, and liturgy. lf one or another practice taken over from the Protestants may be justified (even if with reservation and giving it correct interpretation) all these practices taken together reveal a constant process of obscuring the Catholic doctrine on essential points (the Eucharist, sacrifice, ministerial priesthood, hierarchical authority, infallible magisterium, objective morality).
Infiltration of protestant mentality into the Catholic Church (under the pretext of ecumenism and under the influence of certain neo-modernist theologians) is then evident, and very serious. And may not this be the main cause of the crisis of the Church and of the great bewilderment of so many faithful, and priests? Is this not the source of the sufferings of so many millions of Christians who no longer know what to believe and what to do?
They are pained to see that priests and bishops do not always agree even on important matters, and their trust in the Church is weakened. Is it a new doctrine that is preached today? But then has not the Church always taught the truth? If in the past she has erred on an important point (say, the use of contraceptives, as so some have the audacity to say) may she not be wrong on other essential points of Christian life? And in such a confusion, when fundamental truth of faith and morals are questioned, where to find the truth in which one can place one’s trust?
It is then easily understandable why the Pope, the majority of the bishops, priests and faithful are aware of the gravity of the crisis, and are endeavouring to find a solution for it. But neo-modernist theologians (progressivist and often rationalist) are found everywhere and are well organized. Since many years they are trying to spread their doctrines through all sorts of means (books, conferences, radio, television) sure as they are of possessing their own charism and of working under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It seems that they feel that by the side (if not above) the Magisterium of the Church, they make their own “scientific magisterium”. 9.
Moreover, one can see in some bishops a kind of abdication of their authority and fear to intervene in order to recall the truth of, faith and to condemn errors. It seems that they are afraid of not following the blowing wind and of not understanding the signs of the times. Don’t they allow themselves to be influenced a bit too much by the worldly mentality, by the news-agencies and by theology commissions, by democratic processes and by diocesan or national synod as if truth were a question of numbers?
It was not without reason that the Holy See had to intervene in the question of the national Council of Holland and to remind that every bishop ought to keep his own personal responsibility his diocese.
The crisis goes on and is getting worse. These years, defecting priests, religious and sisters can be counted by the thousands. This has scandalized and upset the faithful. Many, especially among the youth, lose all confidence in the Church, abandon the Sacraments, become indifferent and even reach the point of losing their faith. The numerous conversions of former days are over: the Protestants no longer feel attracted to the Catholic Church on account of the unity of her faith and splendour of her liturgical ceremonies. Moreover why change one’s religion? Are they not also part of the Church of Christ?
In this painful situation the bishops and priests, have the grave duty of safeguarding the sacred deposit, of preserving the faith in its purity and integrity, of defending it against any danger of adulteration and false interpretation. While working for the unity of all Christians, let us beware of the dangers of a false irenicism: “Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false conciliatory approach which harms the purity of Catholic doctrine and obscures its assured meaning” (Vat. II, Ecumenism, no. 11).
Similarly, it is also necessary that today all Catholics (priests and faithful) show an indefectible attachment to the Vicar of Christ and a perfect docility to the magisterium of the Church. It is on Peter that Christ has founded His Church. Peter alone has received the keys of the Kingdom, has been constituted universal shepherd of the Christians, and it is he who must confirm in the faith his brethren By will of Christ, the Pope is and will always remain the Teacher of the faith, the visible principle and foundation of the unity of the Church.
Whither the Catholic Church?
The (Catholic) Church, for inscrutable reasons of its own, has decided to have a reformation just when the previous one, Luther’s, is finally running into the sand.
I make no judgement about what, as a non-member, is no concern of mine. It is very difficult for me to explain that the more enchanted I become with the Person of Christ, the farther away I feel from this particular institution, which, I consider, is now racing at breakneck speed, to reproduce all the follies and fatuities of Protestantism, and will surely, before long, arrive at the same fate, with crazed clergy, empty churches, and total doctrinal confusion. –Malcolm Muggeridge
Liturgy and Liturgical Aberrations
Prof. Dr. J. P. M. van der Ploeg, 0. P.
Nijmegen University, Holland
In the Oct.-Dec. 1972 issue of the Indian Journal of Theology (Calcutta 17) an article was published by A.M. Bermejo, S.J. entitled, “Growing Convergence on the Eucharist” (pp. 195-222). The Nov.-Dec. issue of Jeevadhara (Alleppey, Kerala) was wholly on “Liturgy and Life”. Without date, Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadas published, “Towards Indigenisation in the Liturgy” (Bangalore, P.B. 577). All of these publications came to the knowledge of the present writer, who feels that they require comment. I have been hesitating very much to give it, not being an Indian priest and living far away, though I have been visiting India from time to time and I love the country and her people. When European priests came to Kerala in the 16th century and onwards, they interfered with the local Christians in an often very unhappy way, especially in matters of liturgy. The East-Syriac liturgy, in which these Christians celebrated the Sacred Mysteries of the Body and Blood of the Lord was one of the outward signs of their identity and even one of the elements of it. It should have been left intact; but unfortunately it was not. This is a warning for non-Indians not to take Indian liturgical matters into their hands.
But what do we see? Without a very strong influence from abroad, the above mentioned publications would not have been written. The impact from the West, i.e. from Western Europe and, perhaps, the United States of America, is only too clear in the above writings. In countries like Holland, and in a minor degree also in France, West Germany, the United States, not to mention other, an unfortunate liturgical revolution is going on, dominated by ideas which are also found in the above mentioned publications. This critical revolution is at the same time a kind of Protestantisation. The sacrificial character of the Mass (denied by all Protestant reformers of the 16th century) is now again by pushed to the background in “Catholic” Eucharistic celebrations or being allowed to fall into oblivion. The “celebration” becomes a community meal, in which human brotherhood and unity are stressed and “celebrated” and which the needs of the community, or its supposed needs; come the fore or even become central. In these celebrations it is essential that the “President” faces the congregation the whole time and that he often addresses it. The element of adoration of God is very much reduced, often to a minimum and there are hardly any humble prayers offered to God with a contrite heart. The attention is focused on the community and its needs, very often the celebration has a “leading idea”, e. g. – the liberation of man, the war in Vietnam, etc. not the adoration of God and supplication. In a Protestant “service” the person is mostly the staple dish and may easily determine its leading idea. In a true Catholic Mass this is impossible, though certain “ideas may be of secondary importance (in the celebrations of feasts, in the liturgy for the dead etc.)
One also now witnesses that, at the moment of communion, all go forward to receive communion in their hand, without any preparation by confession and reverence. Hardly anybody realises that he is coming in contact with the Holy of Holies, the Almighty who gives His grace to those who love Him and do His will, but who also condemns sinners, especially those who receive Him in a state of mortal sin. The present writer speaks of what he has only too often seen in Holland. To attract young people, jazz and ye-ye had to be brought in, which have nothing to do with liturgy and for which the church is not the proper place, as young people very quickly feel. All this is connected with a loss of the idea of the sacred, as consequence of the loss of living faith. Standing in great awe before God, kneeling before him and bowing down in profound reverence asking His Grace, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, union with God and through God with one’s fellowmen are conspicuously absent. These alone make possible true worship and liturgy. Where these are absent, the cult of man may take their place. That is what is happening already in many places (here I do not speak of India), to higher or lesser degree. It will not last for long, since it makes liturgy void of meaning and therefore superfluous.
Catholics are Protestantising
“The “growing convergence” on the Eucharist about which Bermejo wrote his article means convergence between certain Catholic theologians and Protestants. Since the Protestant outlook on the Eucharist does not show signs of developing in the Catholic direction, it follows that Catholics are protestantising. Bermejo speaks of the so-called Windsor agreement (1971) between Catholics and Anglicans. The first group of Catholics and Protestants carefully selected so as to be almost certain about the outcome: “convergence”. The essential points in the Windsor statement were criticised in the Osservatore Romano. Recently some outstanding Anglo-Saxon Roman Catholic theologians published a devastating analysis entitled: “The Eucharist, Unity or Trust. The Windsor Statement Analysed” (Faith, Keyway Publ., 6 Benton Road, Illford, Essex, IGI 4 AT, Great Britain). It is clear that the Windsor Statement did not reach “substantial agreement on the doctrine of the Eucharist” as it purports to do but fails in doing so on the doctrine of the Eucharist as a sacrifice and on transubstantiation (or total conversion of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ).
Fr. Bermejo concedes that the Eucharist can be called a sacrifice but he denies (against Trent but with the Anglicans) its propitiatory character: “The Eucharist is, strictly speaking, not a sacrifice of propitiation, but the memorial of a sacrifice of propitiation” (a.c. p.204, P 202-203). He quotes Anglican divines calling the Eucharist a sacrifice (but never a “verum et proprium sacrificium”, a true sacrifice in the proper sense if the word as Trent says); it is called by them “a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving”, “a commemorative sacrifice”, “a memorial of the sacrifice of the Cross”, “a representative sacrifice”. 11.
Bermejo: In perfect agreement with the above, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer speaks of “our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” and refers to the faithful as “a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice unto thee” (p 203). Therefore, Bermejo thinks, the commission exercised “excessive prudence” in dealing with the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist. This may well mean that Bermejo is satisfied with the pronouncements of Anglican divines quoted above. This satisfaction, however, is insufficient as Pope Paul’s Credo shows.
Bermejo tells his readers that “the only patriotic tradition is almost entirely silent about any propitiatory nature of the Eucharist, the Oriental liturgies being an exception” (p. 204). To treat “the Oriental liturgies” as a negligible “exception”, instead of as a witness of the Faith of the Church oversteps the mark. One of these liturgies should be peculiarly dear to India; it is the liturgy of “the Church of the East” or East-Syriac Church, historically of Nestorian denomination. In its Eucharistic liturgy, called qurbana (obligation, sacrifice) priests and ministers are not tired of proclaiming, its truly sacrificial and propitiatory character, though (according to Scripture) it knows that it is also a dukhrana, a memorial, not only of the passion and death of Our Lord, but also His Resurrection. Besides the word qurbana, they even used dekheta “bloody sacrifice” to indicate its unity with the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Many texts may be quoted but the following prayer may suffice:
O Lord our God, regard not the multitude of our sins and let not your Majesty turn away with disgust from the weight of our evil deeds; but may our Lord Jesus Christ, through your ineffable grace hallow this sacrifice (debkheta) and impart to it the virtue and power to blow out our many sins. . . . (prayer before the Canon.)
True, the East-Syriac liturgy developed in the course of time. It did not develop strange and uncongenial ideas, even though it developed rather independently from very early times. It is a most precious witness to the faith of the Church.
The Mass is a Sacrifice
The West-Syriac liturgy, introduced in Kerala in the 17th century, making headway until the 19th century and of most ancient origin, is less emphatic on the sacrificial and propitiatory character of the Eucharist, but the fundamental ideas are the same. It is a “memorial” of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. But it is also a sacrifice which takes away sins and purifies the soul. I may quote here the beautiful prayer of James of Sargu, said by the priest in secret after the fraction (replaced in the later Jacobite rite by a prayer of Dionysius Bar Salibi). It begins thus:
Father of Truth, behold your Son, a sacrifice of propitiation for you! Accept Him who died for me, that I may obtain pardon through Him. Receive this sacrifice from my hands and be reconciled with me. Do not remember the sins which I have committed against your Majesty.
In this hymn, taken from a longer one which the present written translated into French for the Melanges Tisserant Vol. III (1964 pp.395-418) the unity of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacrifice on the Cross is stressed, James died in 521, and was a most prolific poet who besides writing thousands of verses, knew also to express himself in a beautiful way. In one of his poems he says:
Who would be able to sacrifice the Son before his father, if He had not sacrificed himself by his own hands before His passion? (Mel Tisserant. O.C p. 397)
I do insist: the article of Faith that the Eucharistic celebration is a propitiatory sacrifice, is an old heritage of the Church and well at home in India since the most ancient times. It should by no means be diminished or denied.
On p. 206 Fr. Bermejo shows his aversion to the term “transubstantiation”, “by and large no longer favoured even by Catholic theologians” he says (1.c.) With his permission we mention against him our Holy Father Paul VI in his Encyclical “Mysterium Fidei” and his Credo. He is followed, no doubt, by a great multitude of Catholic theologians, worthy of that name.
When “theologians” reject the word “transubstantiation”, it is not just because of linguistic reasons, or because they would like to replace it by another word which, dogmatically, means the same. The word is rejected because of its dogmatic implications. This is certainly the reason why Bermejo does not like it, with all the Reformers of the 16th century and their followers, the modernists of today included. According to Bermejo, “one of the clearest and most emphatic statements in the document, the Windsor statement, is that concerning Christ’s real presence in, the sacrament” (p. 204). We disagree, with Fr. Charles Boyer, S. J. in the Osservatore and the authors of the above mentioned critical study. Bermejo speaks of the reality of the Eucharistic conversion implied in the doctrine of the real presence” (p. 206); for the Catholic only the reverse is true: the real presence is a consequence (and not only implied in’) of and effected by the real and total conversion’; “which the Church most aptly called TRANSUBSTANTIATION” (Trent; Paul VI). By this conversion the bread is no longer bread and the wine no longer wine, but the body and blood of our Saviour. In the liturgy of the “Church of the East”, in spite of a Nestorian explanation by Nestorian theologians, after the consecration there is only question in them Mass of pagra and dma, not of “bread”, not even of “sacred bread” or “heavenly bread” (the latter being a term which has been the cause of great concern among the Jacobites, in the prayer. “We break the heavenly bread” see Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis Vol. II, p. 341-342).
Speaking on the French Dombes statement, Bermejo even calls transubstantiation “that obnoxious term”, (p. 211). The adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as specially developed in the Middle Ages in Europe, is called by Bermejo a “development of doubtful value” (p. 212) “and benediction, procession, public adoration, all forms of “popular piety”, which the Rev. Father deplores. Every true Protestant also, abhors the adoration of the Eucharist, this being for him impious idolatry. It is because of this reason that in Holland the Calvinists emptied all the Catholic churches they occupied, taking away altars and tabernacles and everything which was even a small reminder of the Eucharist. 12.
There are in the above article other more deplorable statements e.g. on the ministry of the Church, where the author makes inadmissible statements. According to him, Anglican orders may be recognised as valid even in the absence of the proof of the Apostolic succession, merely on the ground of the “present reality of the Anglican Church” (p. 220). He forgets, however, that the Sacrament of Holy Orders is intimately connected with the Eucharist: whoever destroys the former destroys the latter.
In the Jeevadhara issue on the Liturgy (Vol. II, Nr. 12, 1912) one finds articles which are of a much lower standard than Bermejo’s, which though unacceptable, are undoubtedly coherent and well written.
Completely unacceptable is a statement by K. Kunnumpuram, S. J. (holds Doctorate from Innsbruck, Austria): “To be meaningful in a secular world our worship must be eminently humanistic” (p. 461). “It should give expression to our appreciation of man and values of human life. Most likely the thought of a humanistic liturgy will make some people feel uncomfortable” (1 .c.). The last remark is correct; many feel most uncomfortable and rightly so. The article goes on in this style and with extraordinary statements such as this one: “To worship God does not of course mean just to sing his praises. The Glory of God, as Irenaeus so happily expressed it (where? vd. P1 ) is man fully alive” (p. 462). This means – if it means anything – that, hence-forward, man is to be the centre of liturgy, a theory adopted by many, though few will express it; as crudely as Kurian Kunnumpuram, S. J. He many have learnt this in Austria; but certainly not from Indian Christian tradition or from the Indian sages.
Imposing Ideology on the Faithful
There is an article by Paul Puthanangady S.D.B. (studied in Rome, Anselmianum), “Renewal through adaptation”, which, how ever, is not as bad as that of Kunnumpuram. He too advocates what might be called the “humanisation” of liturgy, but he is much more cautious in his wording and also in his ideas. We read the false accusation (heard also in Holland) if “a reluctance to take the humanity of Christ seriously (p. 475). Nowadays, as already in the days of Erasmus, the humanity of Christ is taken by some as a pretext for “humanising” religion and liturgy. “Christ assumed all genuine human values at the moment of His incarnation” the author says (I c), but what does this mean and what are the (eventual) practical consequences? We know that Jesus first of all taught that the Kingdom of God is not of this world and nowhere do we read that He did anything just to promote human cultural values. What he did was infinitely more than that.
The author stresses and advocates the growth of the personal element in liturgy (p.471). This is a wide-spread idea of Protestant origin, or betraying affinity with it. Actually the liturgy belongs to the Church and not to the individual. The priest at the altar has no name, he is functioning in the name of Christ and representing the community. This makes possible personal and even intimate contact of the faithful with the Divine Mysteries and with God himself, who is celebrated in them and present in them, in a much better way than when the liturgy becomes “personal”. This “personal” liturgy, indeed, draws away the soul from God and directs it to itself. I shall never forget the words of a convert, who lived many years ago in Amsterdam and for whom Holy Mass was the means far excellence to commune intimately with God. Coming back recently and going to church, she found a “man on the altar, talking”.
What the author says is all in the same spirit. p. 471 below: “A Christian act of worship is not merely an act done by the church. It is an act by which the Church is realised (according to some, the Church is no institution, but an “event” vdP1).
Therefore when the church celebrates her reality in the liturgy (the Church, only celebrates -God, vdPI) she also celebrates therein all human aspirations”. The author asks that the Liturgy be changed and “adapted” according to the wishes and ideology of a group of modern liturgists. He knows that this cannot be done without resistance by the faithful: “Many do not, and some cannot penetrate beyond the thick layers of a tradition which has become part and parcel of their existence. Here, what is needed is gentleness and tact, charity and the spirit of understanding coupled with a gradual process of re-education” (p. 477). Here in many other areas in the world the faithful are not asked what they wish, but a small group theoreticians tries to impose their ideology on them. This is done in Holland where the churches are becoming more and more empty or are being closed, a post Vatican II phenomenon. One asks for statistics? Here they are (as given by KASKI Institute, The Hague). In 1956 still 64% of the Catholics of the Netherlands went to church on Sundays; in 1970: 55%: in 1972: 40%; 1973: 371/2%; Jan. 1974: 35.1%. These numbers are eloquent; let the Indian Hierarchy beware!
The worst article in the whole issue was written by the Dutch Franciscan
Gerwin van Leeuwen, Bangalore. It is on “Youth and meaningful worship”. According to him, liturgy must be “the event which a group of believers create, a ‘happening’ to which they contribute and which they undergo at the same time, an experience which they make and live as a group or community of believers” (p. 482). Van Leeuwen has a very strange idea of God; young people he says, “cannot believe in a God who is unable to read the signs of the time… they can only worship of God who is wholly involved in the struggles of their nation and who is keen to give meaning and hope to their personal lives” (p. 479). It sounds like blasphemy and proves that, for Fr. Van Leeuwen, God has to serve man and not in reverse. His idea on liturgy is wholly built on this preamble. He asks for the creation of “work groups” (alter the Dutch model) “boldly and freely” creating liturgy (see p. 495) not hampered by all those miserable regulations and laws of the Church.
In another article two reverend sisters* of Sophia College, Bombay, ask for creativity and spontaneity in liturgy, which should be “the expression of the life of the group” (p. 502). In another article it is advocated to have special liturgical forms for Muslims inquirers and converts (p. 528; 532); the author seems to be a Lutheran from the USA. *RSCJ nuns
All the articles have in common the idea that liturgy should become more personal, more individual, not so much belonging to the Church or to a “rite” as a whole, but to groups, communities, families. The fatherland of this thought is not the East or the Middle East, but Protestant. Europe. When a true Catholic enters a Church to participate in the Holy Mass or other liturgical ceremony, he wishes to come into contact with God as a means of salvation and to direct his personal prayers to Him, when he is in need and desires a favour from God. He has no need of prefabricated “group-prayers”. He wishes to worship God as a member of the Church along with other members of it. The more the forms of liturgy are traditional, the better the time Catholic knows them and also the better they bring him into contact with God. In his latest book, “The Recovery of the sacred” (1974) the young American layman J. Hitchcock expressed it in the following words:
“Within Catholicism, subjective and spontaneous person devotion has been given play primarily in non-liturgical worship”, while liturgical worship “is impersonal and objective” (p. 52). “One of the greatest advantages of an established worship and a preaching which bases itself on the beliefs of the whole Church is that it enables even the poorest of priests to give his people something more” (o.c. p.53).
One more quotation from the same book:
“In Catholic ritual the participants seek to articulate primarily their immediate to subjective sentiments but what might be called their true selves” – the habitual, ingrained attitudes of faith which endure through doubts and crises, the highest expression of worship toward which the individual aspires” (o.c. p. 51). Nowadays, the individual is often substituted by “the group”, as a means of depersonalization, which may even cut off all personal contact of the believer with God. God is relegated to the background; (sometimes he may even disappear), man and his personal or group needs come to the fore”.
Fr. Amalorpavadas’ book on “Indigenisation of the Liturgy”, or rather, as it happens to be, on Indianisation, is partly inspired by the same ideas as described above, but for him the group level is the national one. What he wants is a national liturgy. It is a part of a triad: “theology, liturgy and spirituality (p. 12/13) which all should be national or should have strong national features. For the author the three are interconnected but for practical purposes he wants to start with liturgy (p.13). In his final address to the members of the Synod of Bishops in Rome on October 26, 1974 the Holy Father gave a severe warning to those bishops and theologians who are eager to develop “national theologies“. It is not safe and not free from perils” he said, “to speak of theologies which should be as many as the continents of the- earth and its cultures”. The reason is clear: “The contents of faith are catholic or they are not. We all received the faith through a continuous and constant tradition. Peter and Paul never covered the faith with a foreign vestment to accommodate it to the old world of Jews, Greeks and Romans, but they were most vigilant in their care for its authenticity, i.e. for the truth of the Message which was one and the same” (Osservatore Romano 27-10-1974, p. 2).
We are grateful to the Holy Father for having stated it so clearly. What applies to “national theology” (an absurdity) applies also though in a lesser degree, to “national liturgy” (a danger). True in the search for truth, several “theologies” were born in the Church as a result of the weakness of the human intellect and understand ing the meaning of faith. It is also true that no one call speak of Eastern and Western theology as two different types of it, which developed as a result of the growing separation between East an West. The ideal is of course, to have one Catholic theology on which all the elements of truth, elaborated by theologians, are incorporated. Indian wisdom may contribute its part to the integral perfection of human wisdom in the service of the understanding of the meaning of faith. Indian expression and language may be used in India to explain the faith to those who are outside the Church and to a certain extent even to its educated Indian members. Bur the idea of creating Indian, Chinese, African, Australian, American “theologies” is a foolish one, as long as theology is to be an objective truth. It would only be raising subjectivism to a higher level; from individual consciousness and “experience” to the status of a nation one. Theology is concerned with God, who is the same for all men, therefore it cannot be national. Existing theological schools were never based on “national” idea.
Mutatis mutandis (changing what has to be changed) this applies also to liturgy. The idea that it should be reshaped or recreated on national lines is a new one, a false one and a very dangerous one too. It is not born in the mind of the common body of the faithful, but, in the brain of a few theoreticians and or ideologists under western influence. It promotes the disintegration of the Church into national churches, a process which is already in the making. The Holy Father had to remind the bishops of tire Synod that he is the head of the universal church as much and even more as the bishops are the heads of their diocese: he is not the honorary president of a union.
This does not mean at all that local characteristics are to be excluded from public worship. It means that one cannot apply to it the principle of a nationality. The call for “Indigenisation” in liturgy is quite a modern phenomenon. It implies an under-estimation of the objective value of the liturgy of the Church in which all the nations are equal and also an over-estimation of national values in the service and worship of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. 14.
Not long ago I asked an Indian priest who came to visit me what he thought of the need of introducing a national liturgy. Let us first pray, he said, and then we may ask ourselves if there is any need to adopt our prayers to Indian needs, or ways of thinking; some Indian liturgists, he added, do the contrary and sometimes do not pray very much or cannot induce others to pray. There are, alas, liturgical theoreticians (I do not speak of Fr. Amalor) who have no personal experience of prayer but would like to prescribe to others how to pray, often making personal prayer impossible during Mass.
When Cyril and Methodius converted the Slavs, they were not even dreaming of giving them a “national” liturgy; they literally translated the Byzantine one into the language of the converts, who found it magnificent and for whom the ”divine liturgy” remained the firmest support in their religious life. This even holds true of Russia today.
The Latin liturgy was introduced into many countries, whose people never asked for a “national” one. The Muslims of the whole world everywhere on earth worship in the same way, in Arabic.
Muslim culture adapted itself to the culture of other countries (as one can see in India), but never Muslim worship, though very simple in form.
It has always been felt that Christian Liturgy is a sign of Christian identity, as Muslim worship is a sign of Muslim identity and a part of it. Identity individually, means also separation, it means not to be like others. This holds especially true for a religion and therefore also for its worship. Therefore, it was never felt that a supranational religion, like Christianity and Islam, should resemble in its worship the culture of a nation, thus becoming national.
Strife and Disunion
If the idea is propagated nowadays, it may have more than one reason or root. There may be found an inferiority complex of a minority, which wants to be, as much as possible, similar to the ruling majority. There is also the new western subjectivism in religious matters even in worship (as explained above) coupled with nationalism. There may also be the desire of liberating oneself of unnecessary forms of worship which bear a foreign stamp and were developed in the West, under the influence of a western cultural environment. There is no need in India to build churches in Gothic styles, a style which even in Europe belongs to the past. Let them be raised in local style (how? here the problem starts) but not necessarily as Hindu temples. Let the art with which it is adorned be Indian, let the songs of the people be Indian. Let other things which are contingent to the liturgy, like going barefoot, praying with folded hands, be Indian if the people agree. But let nothing be changed which really needs no change. In determining the need several questions should be asked:
1. Will a new liturgy make better Catholics and more converts? Or is there only a theoretical, ideological need?
2. Will the change not disintegrate the community, bringing strife and disunion?
3. Do the majority of the faithful desire a change? Or have they first to be “educated” (brainwashed)?
4. Is not the change to be introduced harmful for the catholicity of the Church?
The Catholic Church is not simply a union or a sum of local churches, but it exists in each “particular church” being everywhere the same. These and similar questions should be asked, bur everywhere on earth, they are avoided by theoreticians who have their own ideas and only one wish, to push their ideas through at all costs.
Fr Amalorpavadass and others advocate also the taking over of Hindu religious ritual, language, expressions, ideas, objects, so the “Indian Mass” begins with the ceremony of arati, a Hindu ritual formerly performed by married women and courtesans to counter-act the influence of the evil-eye and the looks of ill-intentioned persons.
“Indianising yes, Hinduising no” was rightly written in this journal (The Laity). Taking over ceremonies from a non-Christian religion is certainly blame-worthy if the reason is to minimise existing religious differences. This would not be honest nor would it be fair to the votaries of other religions to which these ceremonies etc. lawfully belong and in which they have their full meaning.
Indifferentism (“all religions amount to the same”) cannot be suggested and promoted without endangering the faith or making it disappear.
For those who are already true and convinced Christians and Catholics, there is no need at all to “Hinduise” the liturgy, to say the least. Will Hindus be attracted by it, so that conversions are facilitated? It is really difficult to see that those who clearly perceive the profound and essential difference between Christianity and Hindu religion will more easily become Christians because of some minor concessions. I do not feel competent to say more. One must always keep in mind that Christianity is not and can never be a national religion; it is not even international but supra-national.
The liturgy of Kerala, the oldest one in India, if properly celebrated, is a most beautiful one and wonderfully adapted to the Eastern mind and mentality. It has been at home in India during many centuries and cannot be called un-Indian. But I am not pleading for it either. I am questioning the principle of a national liturgy.
Last year I witnessed in Rome the celebration of an “Indian Liturgy” I had the impression of a mixture of Catholicism, Hinduism, Protestantism, modern liberalism. A “theme” was announced, “the liberation of man” (not very original), much attention was focused on the person of the priest. There were several Sanskrit exclamations in the beginning! Happily there was no lecture from the Vedas (only Holy Scripture, i.e. the books of old and New Testament may be read). The priest was squatting before a small table, facing the congregation all the time. Instead of the “Sanctus” common to all rites of the Church, one could hear, “Hail to the Supreme reality Being, Knowledge, Bliss. Hail to the eternal Being, the fullness of all perfection”.
The Holy Spirit was asked “to fill these gifts of bread and wine with his divine power, and to make present among us the great mystery of our salvation,” followed by an acclamation (word of dubious value, no mention being made of the activity of the Holy Spirit making the bread the body of Our Lord, as in the Byzantine liturgy, the Syriac Liturgy of St. James etc; the word “this is the bread that came down from heaven etc. to be pronounced by the celebrant are in the rubric called a “prasada mantra“. Only in Hinduism, “mantra” has its true meaning; a magic word.
The congregation received Communion in the hand and dipped it in the chalice with the Holy Blood (in this Indian or a recently imported practice from abroad?)
Completely new forms of liturgy may only be justified if the old and usual ones are insufficient. This should be borne in mind by everyone who wishes to introduce changes. Let us not break the unity of the Church. Being human beings this unity needs visible signs; it would be a tragedy to reduce them to a minimum.
Rev. Fr. Peter Lobo, Goa
The Church of Christ is a Missionary Church, i.e. a perfectly organised Society, with its membership, its governing body, its aim, its faith, morals, disciplines and worship, and a unique mission entrusted to her by her Divine Founder, who in his turn was sent to this world with the special mission of redeeming and saving mankind. Hence his clear and unmistakable words to show the identity of the mission he received and of the mission he passed on to his Church: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you. Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always: yes, to the end of times”.
Faithful to the mission received, the Apostles and their successors went all over the world and made disciples in all the nations, baptized them and made them members of the Church. The 732 Million faithful we have today are the result of the efforts the Church made to fulfil her mission along the 20 centuries of her chequered existence.
Nearer home, we know that St. Thomas the apostle, and probably St. Bartholomew, brought Christianity to India. After them thousands of missionaries like St. Francis Xavier and others less known or unknown heroes carried on the same mission and wrote with their sweat and blood many a glorious page of that immoral epic which is responsible for the 13 million faithful we have today in our vast subcontinent.
Many are the reasons why the missionary efforts did not produce the results we would have been delighted to see after 20 centuries of Christianity in India. Just to mention a few: The small number of labourers in a very vast harvest like ours; the ancient philosophies and religious systems and mythologies; schismatic and other Christian sects working alongside of Catholic missionaries and causing confusion in the minds of the Indian masses by lack of uniformity of Faith and behaviour; the unfortunate Padroado Propaganda scandal, the slow growth of the much needed native clergy; the inadequate supply of foreign missionaries and their understandable shortcoming; and to crown if all, the pitiful diversion and waste of huge resources in manpower and money into side-tracks activity which instead of being used as indirect means of conversion are turned mostly into business propositions and into ends in themselves. As the missionary spirit decreased and the craze for material gains increased, the Church was gradually discredited in the eyes of the prospective converts, who, while taking full advantage of the opportunities offered to lift themselves up in every sphere considered these activities as so many social welfare schemes, better perhaps than those offered by other similar agencies in the field, nevertheless nothing more than that.
This diversion of activity had, moreover, the fatal result of throwing the whole burden of the propagation of the Faith on much fewer shoulders, already too busy and weighed down by the heavy task of minding and of catering to the needs of the existing Catholic communities, and consequently with little or no time to extend the Church any further, leaving the growth to natural multiplication and to statistics, about which somebody said: There are lies, damn lie and statistics.
That is why evangelization has been foremost in the minds of recent Popes. from Pius XI, the Pope of the Missions, to our late lamented Pope John Paul I, who in his very first public talk on the day following his election, burst out into these encouraging words “We salute the entire Missionary Church and we extend to all men and women, who in their outposts of evangelization dedicate them selves to the care of their brothers, our encouragement and our most loving recognition. They should know that among all who are dear to us, they are the dearest; they are never forgotten in our prayer and thoughts, because they have a privileged place in our heart”
A Shameful Ruse
Instead of recognizing in all sincerity and humility that all the above mentioned factors are the root cause of the slowness of evangelization in India, and instead of trying to do something practical and positive to remedy the situation by redoubling the work of propagating the faith, the only work for which the Church exists, the so called Indianizers, sitting comfortably in their ivory towers, financed by the foreign money, claim to have discovered that the foreigners of the Church is responsible for the slowness of its progress in India, and consequently have developed the funny theory that the Church needs to wear Hindu garb to be able to exist and expand in our country.
This very idea is foreign in its origin. It has been borrowed from those older foreign missionaries, who, disappointed with the poor results of their efforts, thought that an adaptation of the social customs of the prospective converts, like dress, food and mode of life, might help bring them to Christ. Experience proved it to be a mirage and a well-known failure. Their method of evangelization has gone down in history as masquerading and a shameful ruse to deceive the people, as the Trojan horse did. Here is what Prof. G. B. Kanitkar, vice-president of Jan Sangh, said in reply to a question put to him on the adaptation of Catholic ritual to Indian condition: I am afraid history may repeat. A Catholic, posing as a Brahmin, has deceitfully converted many high class Hindus who fell into his trap, only to regret it later. He preached an unknown Veda, called himself Jagurvedi, and used the sacred thread of the Hindus*. If this is the objective now in view, we cannot conform ourselves with the Pope. If it is more conductive to the spiritual salvation of its own adepts, we have no objection that the Church in India may become Indian. But the loyalty of Catholics to the Country must not thereby be called into doubt”. *Robert de Nobili S.J.
Instead of following the method adopted by St. Francis Xavier, the model and patron of the mission of the world, who put into his direct approach all his intellectual attainments, his saintly life and his never ending prayers and sacrifices to win thousands of our countrymen to the Church, the so-called Indianizers, unwilling to give up their comfortable, but sterile desk and chair occupations, and turning a deaf ear to the stringent call of the Apostle of Indies still ringing from his sacred relics, namely “leave your chairs and come to the missions”, are wasting their time and talent in schemes doomed to failure, because they are not in line with the method proposed by the Founder himself which is to “go and preach” since no servant is greater than his master and no disciple better than his teacher.
But what is inculturation after all? Even those who have concocted the term and are using it so lavishly, those self-styled experts in the so called Indian Theology and Indian Liturgy of a would-be Indian Church, give it so many connotations, that it can mean anything: Assimilation, or adaptation, or indigenization, or Indianisation, or Hinduization. To keep up appearances and to save the skin, its protagonists swear, of course, by everything under the sun that it is not Hinduization.
Yet the famous Fr. Bede Griffiths, one of the highest exponents of inculturation, said in The Examiner of 9-10-76: “As soon as we begin to reflect seriously, it becomes clear that Indianization must involve at least some degree of Hinduization”. While Balasaheb Deoras, chief of the RSS, says: “Hindu tradition means the tradition of India, Hindu and Indian are synonymous. There is no difference between the words”. (Indian Express of 22-2-78)
Those who, like me, oppose inculturation, do so precisely be cause they have not only begun to reflect seriously, but have finished doing so, and have come to realize that the so-called inculturation bound to destroy the identity and uniqueness of our Religion, by diluting it and finally merging it into Hinduism, which will mean the end of evangelization, i.e. of our right to propagate our Faith so well guaranteed even by the Constitution of India. We hold that the direct preaching of the Gospel, besides being the centuries-old way of fulfilling the mission given us by Christ to win members for his Church, is the best service we can render to our Country, as heretofore, since past history and experience, acknowledged by Hindu themselves, bear plain witness to the all-round advantages, intellectual, moral, social, educational and medical, that have accrued to India through her religious encounter with Christ, without any dialogues, seminars, inter-faith prayer meetings, sadhu clothes, ashrams, inculturations, transcendental meditations, yogas, oms, kalasams and all such gimmicks, that have made the present-day innovators the laughing stock, not only of the followers of other faiths, but more so of the majority community, whose religious beliefs, symbols and forms of worship they are so slavishly trying to ape.
To quote Vatican II right and left in favour or against this and that has become more fashionable today than what it was to quote the Bible yesterday. Inculturation is rather the unacknowledged outcome of the inferiority complex that has possessed those who forget that we are meant to be, in the words of Christ, the fearless little flock, till the time comes when there will be flock and one shepherd, and that our divine Founder, who claimed that all power in heaven and on earth has been given him, has said: “Know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time”, which means that we need not try to walk on stilts borrowed from anywhere, less still from Hinduism, to fulfil the mission he gave us.
It is therefore, preposterous to present inculturation as something imposed by the council, dishonestly quoting truncated passages from its decrees. It is true that the Constitution of Liturgy says that the Church respects and fosters the genius and the talents of the various races and, peoples; that anything in these people’s way of life, which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact; that the substantial unity of the Roman Rite must be preserved; that the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority must carefully and prudently consider which elements from the tradition and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship; that the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the Apostolic see, and, as laws may determine, on the Bishop, and within certain defined limits, in virtue of the power defined limits, in virtue of the power conceded by the law, on territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established; that no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority; that finally there must be no innovations, unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new form adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.
From all these carefully worded regulations it is clear that the Council was rather safeguarding the Liturgy against possible abuses from overenthusiastic and unscrupulous elements within the Church. Yet, let it be noted, it speaks only about “the genius and the talents of the various races and peoples”, of their “way of life”, their “‘traditions and Culture” and not about their religious beliefs, their religious symbols, their religious books and their religious worship, which are outside the scope of adaptation. Despite all that has been quoted from the Vatican Council Constitution on Liturgy, we know what inroads Hinduism has been allowed to make into our Faith, morals, discipline and worship, on the please of the ill-boding inculturation. Yet not all Catholics know about it because unfortunately very few of them subscribe to and read Catholic newspapers and magazines, and even those who do, know mighty little of it, because not all Catholic journals are faithful to their mission and many of them sail their boat according to the winds that are favourable to them, and steer their course most diplomatically, evading the issues, discouraging controversial articles on them even suppressing information on what is happening all over the country, specially in institutions of education, even in centres of ecclesiastical studies, and in places of worship other than parish churches. There are very few journals, like The Laity, that courageously speak out the truth; but truth is hurtful to those are on the other side of it, and such journals become the victims attacks, invectives and slurs, even from the powers that be, just as Christ was in his days.
One of the arguments repeatedly put forth in favour of inculturation is that Christ must be “incarnated” in every culture, so that the Church may really be Catholic or universal. When we studied and taught Theology the terminology used was clear and simple, because it was meant to clarify; whereas the one chosen nowadays is intentionally obscure and complicated, because it is meant to mystify. The great Pope Paul VI often deprecated this modern trend among the theologians. What is meant by saying “Christ needs to be “incarnated” in every culture”? Has not that actually happened when 732 million people, who represent the largest religious following of every possible culture throughout the world, accept him, are converted to him and are baptized into His Church? When Christ said “Go, make disciples of all the nations and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you” did he mean, to “incarnate”, be born, and grow in their intellects and in their hearts, or in their various cultures? Since cultures and civilizations are indefinite in number, and they change from time to time and from place to place, and may be many cultures in the same place, as it happens here in India, does it mean that Christ, who in the words of the great Apostle of the Gentiles “is the same yesterday and today and forever” must keep on multiplying himself and changing coats indefinitely to suit every possible culture, or should it be the other way around? But first and foremost what has culture to do with religion? Are they one and the same thing? They are not; so much so that among people of the same locality, clan or family, having, naturally, the same culture, some are Hindus other are protestants, still others are Catholic and the only thing that distinguishes them is their faith and
the place and the mode of worship, as everybody knows and as I have seen during my 30 years of missionary work in Madras.
Waited Too Long
Another argument: why so much hullabaloo around inculturation nowadays, since there has been adaptation of Hindu traditions among the Christians of India along the years? It is true that there has been a natural and gradual process of assimilation of the surrounding milieu, i.e., of “the genius and the talents, the way of life, traditions and culture”, of which the Council speaks, because the Church “assimilates all the riches of the nations given to Christ as his inheritance”, as the same Council says in the Constitution of the Missionary Activity of the Church, n. 22. For instance, just as the Hindus go to Tirupathi and other temples and shave their heads in fulfilment of their vows, so the Christians go to Vailankanni and other shrines and do likewise. The thali is used by both Hindus and Christians in their wedding ceremonies; so is coconut, betel and arecanut, sandal paste, rose water and the like. Vernacular names used by Hindus are used by Christians as well. So, answering the question posed, I would ask in return: Is there any quarrel with anybody over weed that grows in our field from seed brought by the wind? But what will our reaction be if we found some busybodies sowing it there and spoiling our harvest? So every action has its reaction. Those who are loyal to the Church of Christ cannot sit back and say: Well, let us wait and see. We have already waited too long. We have seen enough. Now it is high time for action. The love of Christ urges us, as St. Paul would-say.
From the fruit you know the tree, said our Lord. Examine some of the fruits of inculturation and you will know what kind of trees it is. The cross, about which St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said: “As for me the only thing I can boast about is the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and which has been the age-old sign of Christianity, fittingly expressing, as it does, the principal mysteries of our Faith, namely Blessed Trinity, Incarnation and Redemption has been sacrificed to and replaced by dancing Shiva, Teen Murthy, Kalasam and Om, all of them having Hindu-mythological meaning and some of them even erotic significance!
Notorious 12 Points
The sad story of the notorious 12 points of inculturation is too well-known to deserve repetition. Yet I shall summarize it from the letter of Bishop Gopu of Visakhapatnam in the New Leader 9-7-78 [see pages 73, 75, 91]:
The 71 members of CBCI were consulted by post at the introduction of those 12 points into the Liturgy, but only 34 Bishops approved them. Despite the need of having two thirds majority for major decisions like this one, an application was forwarded to Rome on the 15th April 1969 and within 10 days Rome’s approval was obtained, and the 12 points were imposed on the country, says the Bishop; and he adds:
This approval was based on a misunderstanding, even at this late hour this mistake can be corrected.
I would rather say: It must be corrected. The CBCI must acknowledge its mistake and assuage the hurt feelings of millions of the silent Catholics of India by withdrawing altogether the 12 points so craftily introduced.
Here is what some bishops feel about the 12 points: Bishop Mathias of Chikmagalur and Archbishop Angelo Fernandes of Delhi want the Liturgy Committee of the CBCI to obtain information from Rome to make sure whether it is still allowed to carry on such experiments or not. Bishop Arattukulam of Alleppey is vehement in his stand all experiments ought to have stopped on 3-9-70, as ordered by Rome. Bishop Patrick Nair of Meerut does not want any experiments with the Mass. Bishop Thumma of Vijayawada expresses his concern about the confusion caused among the people over the change in the Liturgy. Voicing the same anxiety, Bishop D’Mello of Ajmer wants the people to be consulted before any changes are introduced. Bishop Visuvasam of Coimbatore found the 12 points objectionable and forbade them in his diocese. Archbishop Patriarch Raul Gonsalves of Goa allows only two of these points in his archdiocese, and so on and so forth. If these are the fruits of inculturation and this is how men, who are hand-in-glove with those in key positions in our hierarchy, impose them in our country by hook or crook, by round-the-clock and round-the-year indoctrination and brain-washing of young people, specially of priests and nuns, what credit can one give to the fanatical campaign that has caused so much confusion and scandal, so much animosity and division among the children of God? Surely it cannot be the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth and light, of unity, love and peace.
To mention just one of those points and to show the damage it has done, it is enough to say that the bending of one or both the knees, with which the whole Catholic world acknowledges the divine presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, has been replaced in India by a mere bow (Anjali Hasta), leveling the Son of God to any Indian, who is greeted likewise, despite St. Paul’s inspired words:
“All beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld should bend the knee at the name of Jesus” (Phil. 2, 10). If the mere mention of the name of Jesus deserves a genuflection, what does his Real Presence deserve?
Pope Paul’s Words
I shall close this rather long dissertation with the words of Pope Paul, from the [document] Evangelization of [sic] the Modern World, which explodes the argument that Christianity must be Indianized to be relevant to us: “The Gospel and therefore Evangelization are certainly not identical with culture: they are independent of all cultures. Though independent of all cultures, Gospel and Evangelization are not necessarily incompatible with them; rather they are capable of permeating them all, without being subject to any of them. Therefore every effort must be made to ensure a full evangelization of culture, or, more correctly, of cultures. They have to be regenerated by an encounter with the Gospel… Evangelization risks losing its power and disappearing altogether, if one empties or adulterates its content under the pretext of translating it; if, in other words, one sacrifices and destroys the unity, without which there is no universality, out of a wish to adapt universal reality to a local situation. Only a Church which preserves the awareness of her universality and shows that she is in fact universal, is capable of having a message, which can be heard by all, regardless of regional frontiers”.
The above speech was delivered at the A.I.L.C. Goa Regional Unit’s conference held at Immaculate Mary High School, Panjim, January 7, 1979.
Experimentation in the Liturgy
Dr. Fr. P. K. George, S.J.
When someone has become very familiar and friendly to us we feel it delicate to ask him plainly what his name is. Somewhat in a similar way when some words and phrases have become very popular, we do not feel like asking ourselves what their real meaning is. One such phrase, in my opinion, is ‘Experimentation in Liturgy’. Any shocking aberration in the realm of liturgy is sought to be justified by saying that it is only for experiment. Once an expert has pronounced the word ‘experiment,’ you are not expected to say any thing further. At the mention of experiment all disputes shall end and all tongues shall be silenced. Not even dogmatic definitions (of which the new theology is silent) seem to have as much finality about them as the word ‘experiment’ in matters liturgical.
An experiment in any field is a search for truth; an attempt at arriving at a conclusion. Concerning our experiments in the liturgy, I have not heard of any individual expert, or group of experts or liturgical centres, having clearly stated first the objective and then the result. ‘We hear about experimentations here and experimentations there; experimentations in centres and experimentations by wandering experts. But we hear nothing about the results. Has the NBCLC [National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre, Bangalore] ever made a statement like the following? “We have found out, after experimentation that such and such change in liturgy is not conducive to the increase of faith and devotion. Therefore we suggest that it be given up.” Or, “such and such a practice has been found to be helpful and acceptable to the people and therefore we recommend (yes, recommend, and nothing more) that it be included in our liturgy”. Such should be the language of those who sincerely conduct experiments. But we never hear such language from the NBCLC.
Experiments normally have a definite purpose. It is not very scientific to conduct an experiment just to see what happens. Certainly such a vague sort of purpose has no place in liturgy. Has any of our experts ever told us, what exactly they want to find out by such experimentations as asking the faithful to take Holy Communion by themselves*, or any of the novelties introduced in the name of Indianisation? The aim of an experiment should be to find out something and to come to a conclusion. But the strange thing about our experiments in liturgy is that the conclusions had been already arrived at, long before the experiments were started. *self-communion
I know that our dogmas cannot be decided upon by a majority of votes. To extend democracy into the field of dogmas of faith is to deny the teaching authority of the Church, as well as the definitive and historical character of Christ’s revelation. But when it is a question of making changes in liturgy, especially in order to suit local culture, through safeguarding or promoting any culture not even the local culture is the aim of liturgy, it is highly important and even necessary that the mind of the people at large be taken into account. Concerning any particular item of Indianization, the experts could have easily ascertained the mind of the people, if they really wanted. They could have declared to the faithful at large, the changes they propose to bring about, and could have asked for their opinion.
Even some ‘experiments’ could have been conducted open to all and in an impartial way in some of our important Catholic centres. These and similar procedures could have been followed if the experts really wanted to care for the opinion of the people of God, and if what they wanted to conduct were experiments, not propaganda, indoctrinisation and brainwashing.
Now it is as plain as potatoes that what our experts and liturgical centres want is not to find out the mind of the people, but to thrust down their gullets innovations already decided upon. As to what their reason for doing it can be, we shall try to see in a subsequent article.
Far From It
When I say what procedures should have been followed in experimentations, I should not be taken as meaning that everything in liturgy should be decided after experimentation. Far from it. The scope of experimentation in liturgy is very limited, not worth even one tenth of the expenditure that has been incurred in terms of time energy, and money, as well as the big fuss and propaganda that is still going on. Do we need experiment to find out whether innovations such as the following would increase or decrease our faith and devotions, namely
1) relegating the Blessed Sacrament to a less prominent place in our churches?
2) allowing everybody to take the Blessed Sacrament in the hands?
3) stripping the altar of all that gave it beauty and dignity, and reducing it to a plain table, across which the priest and the laity face each other during Mass.
4) removing the communion rails and making people receive Holy Communion standing, on the same level as the priest (sorry, the “president of the commemorative meal”) so on and so forth.
Again is it to be decided by experimentation whether the cross or the kalasam is the proper symbol of Christ. (Readers please note what K. Amirtharaj of the NBCLC asks, “Over the Kalasam (pot) which is the symbol of Christ, is there need of another symbol of Christ i.e. the cross?” (Cf. Thondan, August special issue, 1975) Is it a matter to be settled by experiment whether images of Nataraja, Thrimurthy and Buddha should be placed in our Churches or not? Similarly whether the Cross, Crucifix and the altar should be retained or thrown out?
Where on earth are we? Where has our reason fled: and the elementary Christian sense too? I am at a loss for words, and I can’t help calling the much-trumpeted experimentation in liturgy a huge bluff — the biggest of the century in the ecclesiastical affairs of India. If it were not in a sphere touching our faith and devotion I would have enjoyed it as a joke. But the bluff as it stands is not a joke to be enjoyed, but a calamity to be lamented. 21.
The story is told of a chemistry teacher who holding in his hand a test tube containing some solution said that he was going drop his gold ring into it, and asked his class whether it would dissolve. The bright student began to think about the properties of gold and also of the solution.
Suddenly one of the back-benchers not known to be very bright answered, “Sir, I know it won’t dissolve.”
“How do you know?” asked the teacher.
“Otherwise you would not dare to experiment with your gold ring,” came the answer.
Usually we don’t make experiments with things that are dear to us. Students of medicine use only dead bodies or guinea pigs for experimentations. I haven’t heard of people who are ready to eat or drink for the purpose of experimenting. Many have jumped from the tower of Pisa; but their purpose was not to experiment but to end their lives. Those who wanted experimentation dropped stones instead of themselves. Yet we hear of liturgy experts making experimentations in Holy Mass and even with the Blessed Sacrament. Every real experiment is an attempt at drawing a conclusion and therefore presupposes a certain uncertainty and indecision. In the case of experimentations in liturgy in our country one is at a loss to understand what the experts are aiming at, where their uncertainty lies, what they want to decide and on what they have to make up their minds. Worship follows belief and belief means conviction not uncertainty. It is important then to assign the right place to experimentation in liturgy.
Whether it is more convenient to have an altar four feet high or four and half -feet high may be found out by experimentation. Much can be left to experimentation in the matter of acoustics, location of lights, arrangements of pews, structure of confessionals etc. Even the right size of the crucifix in proportion to the size of the altar or the Church may be left to experimentation. But the question of having or not having altars, confessionals and crucifixes in not a matter of experimentations but of principles. Similarly the relevance or irrelevance of the kalasam (pot) in the place of the Cross on the top of a Church or of images of Nataraja, Teenmurthis. Buddha etc. in the place of Christian images on Church windows is not to be decided by experimentations. Those who need experimentation in order to choose between Kalasam and the Cross or between the image of Nataraja and of Christ are experimenting not with liturgy but with religion,
What then if the choice has already been made in favour of kalasam and Nataraja? Such experts may very well write books on the right or wrong methods of choosing between or amalgamating religions but should not write and publish (at the expense of the Church books on theology and liturgy for Catholics, who believing in one God and one Redeemer know it to be their duty and privilege to accept, practise and propagate the one religion of Jesus Christ. In this connection, readers are invited to consider the following sentence of the NBCLC Bangalore staff, published in the August 1975 issue of Thondan (Tamil bi-weekly) at his own request. “Above the kalasam which the symbol of Christ, is there need for the Cross which is a symbol of Christ?”
I belong to that group of Christians who believe that the connection between the Cross and Christianity is due to divine choice manifested in history on Mount Calvary. As to the kalasam which the NBCLC experts speak of as the symbol of Christ, I have no knowledge. No expert, not even an angel, from heaven shall make me accept the kalasam in the place of the Cross on which hung the Salvation of the World.
Kalasam is an earthen pot. The deity enters into it and resides there, following suitable invocations by a pujari.
Fr. Anastasio Gomes OCD
During one of my frequent travels throughout the country, I happened to be sitting near an important Church dignitary in a flight from Calcutta to Madras. The 1974 CBCI biennial meeting had just concluded. As liturgy – I mean, the liturgy of the Roman Rite – happens to be one of my personal interests, our conversation turned to this topic. While discussing it, I was told about a certain interpretation of the Instruction* of September 3, 1970 given to the Bishops by their top liturgy expert to justify the continuance of
meddling with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
without obtaining the required prior authorization of the Holy See. I asked him if he had read the text of the instruction, especially n. 13. And the answer was: No.
Yet, I thought that this was an exceptional case. How can we, simple priests, even imagine that heads of “local” churches do not read and study what the head of the universal Church teaches, orders and desires? How else can they fulfil their obligation to implement Vatican orders or desires? I must now change my view after reading about the answer given by the Liturgy Commission of the CBCI at its meeting of 1972, which is reported in The Examiner (26-1-76).
Cardinal Parecattil in his inaugural address, quoted from a letter of Archbishop Arokiaswamy, Chairman of the CBCI Liturgy commission, dated October 26, 1973, in which among other things, it was stated “the Indian Anaphora can be used ad experimentum in places declared as experimentation centres”. Reporting the explanation of the Archbishop after the speech of the Cardinal (3-1-76) the Examiner tells us further that the archbishop stated that “at its Madras session in 1971 the CBCI had decided that experimentation should continue in spite of the Third Instruction* of the Congregation for Worship which said that the time for experimentation was over”. Thank God and all honour to His Grace the Archbishop of Bangalore who now confesses that the recent letter of Cardinal Knox* said that the CBCI’s interpretation was “wrong”. *See page 84 **See page 80
The Liturgy Commission justified in Madras this “wrong” interpretation with the following principle: “The Vatican Council’s Constitution on Liturgy had given the green light for experimentation to go on and what the Constitution had given, no instruction can take away” starting from this incorrect principle, the CBCI was wrong in deciding that “experimentation could go on, but only the National Liturgical Commission could authorize such experimentation, with the agreement of the local Ordinary”.
It must be said for the honour of the CBCI and the Church India that this wrong decision was not unanimous there were many bishops who voted against it as they must have realized that it went beyond the powers of the CBCI. And yet, it will remain as a dark chapter in the history of the Church in India for the majority of her bishops, with the best of intentions, did the very thing about which Paul VI had complained as early as Oct. 1968. Addressing to what was known then as Constitum Liturgicum, the Holy Father said: “We cannot pass over in silence some ways of acting which We have noticed in various parts of the Church and which are causing us no small grief and anxiety. This refers in the first place to that frame of mind which takes amiss anything emanating from ecclesiastical authority or legitimately prescribed. It has happened in liturgical matters that even Episcopal Conferences have sometimes followed their own ideas more than they should (quandoque proprio marie plus aequo procedant). It has also happened that experiments have been made in arbitrary fashion, and rites introduced which are clearly repugnant to norms established by the Church. Anyone can see that type of action is not only grave offence against the conscience of the Christian faithful; it is also injurious to the carrying out of an orderly liturgical renewal which requires from all prudence, vigilance a especially discipline” (end of quote) (14-10-1968).
Without judging anybody’s intention – the road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions – you could illustrate every one of the abuses mentioned by Paul VI with examples of our Indian church’s “official” liturgical renewal until the historic intervention of Cardinal Knox (1975)*. This writer had called attention to them on several occasions, but his was a vox clamuns in deserto – a voice in the wilderness. *See page 80
I know an official of the NBCLC (Bangalore) who said last April (1975) to priests gathered for a Seminar on Prayer:
“If bishops do not permit experiments in the liturgy, then celebrate an underground liturgy”. The quotation is from memory. Again this same expert some time ago – he was an official of the NBCLC at that time also – celebrated Holy Mass during a seminar organized by a priest who is now elected president of a new association. The Indian Theological Association, and the participants (sisters, laymen), were holding the particle of the Host in their own hands and he himself was consecrating from the altar. At the time of Holy Communion, each of the participants went to the altar, dipped the particle in the chalice and helped himself to communion. I doubt if anywhere in the world such a Mass has been celebrated. Recently, answering a question at a meeting at which he gave a talk on liturgy, and life, this same priest stated that the recent Letter of Cardinal Knox (1975) was written because of pressure from some groups, especially The Laity. Charity prevents me from revealing his name here, but I am prepared to supply it to any authority if requested, In the meantime with a heavy and sad heart I can only say: when key positions on such sensitive areas as the Liturgy are entrusted to “experts” of this kind, one never knows where the Church in India, now sought to be made and already called the CHURCH OF INDIA will end. 23.
I said above that the Madras decision of the CBCI is logical if the explanation given by the Liturgy commission is accepted. But that explanation – everybody in India knows who is its real author* — is factually wrong and theologically unsound.
“The Vatican Council’s Constitution on Liturgy has given the green light for experimentation to go on” the CBCI was assured by its Commission. This would be a revelation to all those who have read the Council’s Constitution. *Fr. Amalorpavadas
There are three articles of the Council’s Constitution that must be read and understood for nowadays there are too many people who read and do not understand. They are: no. 22, no. 39 and no.40.
No. 22: 1. Regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority the church that is, on the Apostolic See (pope and Roman Curia) and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.
2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.
3. Therefore, absolutely no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything on his own authority.
Please note: Para 1, speaks of Rome and the individual bishop whose power in the matter is determined by the law. A number of things which before Vatican II were reserved to the Holy See may now be done by the individual bishop. We need not go into details here. Para 2, refers to various kings of territorial bodies this generic expression is used because at the time of Vatican II, Episcopal conferences did not exist everywhere. Now this territorial body is the Episcopal Conference for the Latin rite whereas for Oriental Rites it is their Synod or any other similar institution. Episcopal Conferences have no power over the liturgy of Oriental Churches. Para 3, is quite clear. Here in India, Father Amalorpavadass and his two hands Fr. Puthenangady, S. D. B and Amirthraj – absolutely have no power of their own to suppress even the sign of the Cross before the Mass when there is an Entrance Song. Let there be no mistake about this.
No. 22 gives us the general principles concerning the authority over the liturgy. But the question of adaptation and experimentation is dealt with in nn. 39-40. No. 39 refers to local variations and adaptions that could be called “minor” for their adaption preserves the substantial unity of the Roman Rite.
Substance of the liturgy is one thing, substance of a Rite another. While the former is same in all Catholic rites, the latter differs from rite to rite. It is this special feature of a rite that determines it specific contribution to the variegated beauty of the Church. Commenting on no. 50 which directs that in the revision of the Roman Mass due care be taken to preserve its substantial unity, Theodore Schnitzler writes in a book edited by Bugnini soon after the promulgation of the Constitution: ”Due care being taken to preserve the substance” so that “both Pius V and Gregory the Great, if they came to earth again, would recognize their Mass” (Commentary, p. 139). Whether this solemn and wise directive has been respected in the New Order of the Mass, is more that what this writer can say. I believe that it is doubtful whether even Pius XII and John XXIII would recognize the present Mass as their Mass. But Paul VI has the power to do it, and there the matter should end, even if one may prayerfully hope that mistakes if any, be eventually corrected. I see that I have digressed a bit.
Returning to our subject, I give here no. 38.
No.38: “Within the limits set by typical editions of the liturgical book, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Article 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals, processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution”.
As is obvious from the text itself, this conciliar ruling could come into effect only after the revised liturgical books of the Roman Rite were published, which has since been done. Thus for example in the new Missal, General Instruction (nn. 20:56) provides for such local variations which are to be decided upon by the Episcopal Conference. As the typical edition of all the books is already published the implementation of n. 38 should not create any special difficulty. After taking their decisions, the Episcopal Conference must submit them in Rome for confirmation – they may not put them into practice before getting Rome’s placet.
No. 40, which entails special practical difficulties, reads. “In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy (profundior liturgiae adaptation) is needed, and entails greater difficulties. Therefore the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Article 22, 2 (Episcopal Conference) must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and genius of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should then be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced” (end of quote).
Prudent and careful consideration is equivalent to what no. 23 calls a theological, historical and pastoral investigation. Theological! in our context where Hindu rites (mistakenly called Indian or indigenous) are sought to be introduced into the liturgy, as Cardinal Gracias put it well, we must “make sure of the specific Hindu ideology underlining”, these rites. Then we must ask ourselves whether this ideology as it stands in Hinduism is acceptable to the Catholic faith – faith, that is, in its objective content as proposed by the Magisterium, not just some emotional reactions of nationalistic minded local or foreign “experts”.
lf the investigation shows that before being adopted, these rites have to be given a Catholic meaning a further question is to know whether – the Church in her present condition (1% of the total population) is in a position to change this meaning and GET THIS CHANGED MEANING ACCEPTED not only by the re-educated nuns, priests and laity, but also by the overwhelming majority of the population of the country, who are Hindus. 24.
Genuine Scholars’ Views
It is never too much to reflect on the historical and theological wisdom of what Father Cyril Papali O.C.D. recently wrote:
“Another thing to be borne in mind is the great difference between the conditions prevailing in the West at the time when the Church adopted philosophies and religious rites from the pagan world, and those obtaining in the East today. The Aristotelian philosophy she adopted was in no way committed to any religion, while the religions from which she borrowed rites and symbols were long dead or dying. She could therefore freely modify the significance of those symbols and formulae to fit her doctrines”.
And in this connection, the Indian theologian quotes no less an authority (scholar) than Don Botte who writes: “All the evidence we have of the first Christian writers present them as determined to avoid any compromise with paganism, even in their language; these writers insist on what divides and separates Christianity from paganism. IT WOULD BE WRONG THEREFORE TO THINK THAT THE PRIMITIVE CHRISIANTY WAS IN A HURRY TO CHRISTIANIZE PAGAN USAGES. Nevertheless, as the menace of paganism gradually waned, and the Catholic Liturgy developed, the Church adopted rites that were in use in all religions: holy water, blessed salt, candles, incense.
It should be noted however that some of these usages could be traced to the Old Testament itself.” (Chiesa in Preghiera, Rome, p. 46) (end of quote) Moreover what little things the Church adopted after paganism was dead “concern only the peripheral elements of Christian worship“. The idea of composing an Eucharistic Prayer with the concepts and symbols of pagan worship did not even occur to the early Church – the idea was too obvious and absurd.
Father Papali continues: “But such is not the condition to the East today. Their philosophy is part of religion, and the great religions, comparable in human terms to the Church herself, are a living force dominating every aspect of life.
An insignificant minority of Catholics cannot presume to give a new meaning to the theological formulae and religious rites of the non-Christian majority and make it prevail“, (National Theologies in the Living Word, 78 (1972 p. 406).
The duty of the Bishops
Before proposing these “radical adaptations” the Episcopal Conference must be satisfied that these changes are useful or necessary – in no. 23, the Council had told us that “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them“. In India, this good is threefold – pastoral, ecumenical and missionary. Obviously, the primary, concern here should be the salvation and sanctification of the faithful, not of the non-Christians.
Can it be honestly claimed that this was the case of those famous 12 points? The vote was taken by post, only 51 of 71 Latin Bishops who alone had a right to vote on them, returned the ballot paper – they were to do it within two days of receipt. And two thirds majority was obtained only of the two thirds that voted. Where was then the required theological, historical and pastoral investigation which the CBCI was expected to do?
In his celebrated Open Letter to Indian Bishops, Fr. P. K. George, S.J. put a humble and relevant question: “Your Grace Excellency: May I ask by way of conclusion: “What good do you hope for the Church in India in terms of faith, devotion and apostolic efficiency, by the introduction of the so-called Indianised liturgy, proportionate to the confusion, division, scandal and justifiable annoyance and irritation which it is sure to cause?” (Cf. The Laity, 111(1975) His question is simply based on no. 23 of the Council Document. Will it ever receive any answer?
No. 42, 2 “To ensure that adaptations are made with all necessary circumspection, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a deter-mined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose”.
Here is clearly stated that even the preliminary experiments which may be necessary before deciding in these “radical adaptations”, may be carried out only with the faculty granted by Rome. At the level of the universal Church, before revising the liturgy, Rome itself promoted experiments in several parts of the world, granting Indults to certain groups. The Rite of Concelebration was a typical case in this regard- over 700 experimental concelebrations were conducted, if my memory does not fail me. With regard to local adaptations of substantial nature whether in the Mass or other parts of the liturgy, the procedure has been, always the same.
Hence it is wrong to think that the Instruction of September 1970 took away what the Council had given. The Instruction merely declared no longer valid those faculties which had been granted for conducting experiments in view of the reform of the rite of the Mass. As the new Rite of the Mass was already promulgated, the period of experimentation was declared closed as far as the universal Church is concerned. Yet if some further adaptations were deemed necessary the Episcopal Conference was empowered to permit “some practical experimentation” for one year. If this principle applies also for the Mass, then we are now in 1976, not 1971. This experimentation further had to be carried out “with clearly defined limits” – by well prepared groups, under the direction of judicious men specially appointed for the task, and were not to be made with large congregations nor given publicity. The experiments had to be few in number and carried out for periods no longer than one year, after which report had to be made to the Holy See. Certainly, seminaries and novitiates are not places for experimentation, otherwise the young seminarians and novices and young Sisters will become used, not only to seeing disrespect for law and discipline practiced by others, but also to promoting it themselves. 25.
For any experimentation in the Mass or in other liturgical that involves a change “in the structure of the rites or in the order of parts as given in the liturgical books” or introduction of “actions differing from the traditional ones or of “new texts”, a complete outline and programme of the modifications should be proposed to the “Holy See before any experiments are begun”. This provides that the Vatican Instruction of 3 Sept. 1970 took away nothing from what the Council had given. It merely further clarified the matter of experimentation as this was necessary at the stage at which the liturgy was in 1970, that is five years after the new liturgy had begun to take shape.
Archbishop Lourdusamy’s Intervention
At time of the preparation for the All India Seminar of 1969, unlawful liturgical Masses were celebrated in several parts of the country – the most notorious case was an experimental Mass in Poona, the available top-theologians and top-liturgists had prepared it and had convinced the local bishop that he could authorise it, which in fact he did. A stormy debate followed, in the Bombay Examiner for several months. As Chairman of the C. B. C. l. Liturgy Commission, Archbishop Lourdusamy issued a long statement declaring the unlawfulness of that Mass. The Poona Bishop admitted that he made a mistake. The statement of the Archbishop was carried in the Examiner (10-1 1 -1968) and latter in the Roman Notitiae. There is no space to give even the gist what His Grace wrote. Anyone can see it in that issue and one will realize that the interpretation of No. 40 given here by me is the same as given by His Grace in 1968.
According to the Vatican Council there are four stages in the procedure laid down in No. 40:
(a) Study and research; (b) proposal by the CBCI to the Apostolic see for approval; (c) preliminary experimentation with the authorization to experiment received from Rome; (d) Final approval by the Hierarchy and Rome.
Hence you see, the green light for the experimentation to go on supposed or purported to be given by the Council, is non-existent.
Before concluding, Archbishop Lourdusamy quoted from Pope Paul VI whose statement is still relevant to our “Indian Context”.
“Rites and prayer formulae should not be considered as a private matter, or as parochial matter, or as a diocesan affair or even as a national affair; they really belong to the universal church for they are expression of her living voice of prayer. Hence no one has the right to change these formulae, to introduce new ones, or to substitute others in their place. This is forbidden by the dignity of the sacred Liturgy itself which assists men to communicate with God. It is forbidden also for the good of souls and by efficient pastoral activity which is placed in jeopardy by this kind of action” (Speech, Oct. 14, 1968).
An Expert Reacts
As could be expected the forthright statement of the Chairman of the Liturgy Commission did not please everybody. But what was disturbing was that one of the experts of the Liturgy Commission dubbed it “a drastic and purely legalistic statement”. And revealing further his own attitude to Rome, the same expert wrote: “Not one of those who where appointed on the sub-commission for studying the possibility of creating an Indian Mass would ever accept to chart out a new liturgy as a blue print to be sent for approval to the Roman Consilium, after being scrutinized by the CBCI”. (The Examiner, 7-12-1968) And then, he went on advocating squatting, Sanskrit reading, introduction of non-Christian Scriptures in the Mass. There is no need to recall here the idea of this expert but for the fact that he was, I understand, one of the three-member commission who selected the so-called 12 points. His good intentions are not questioned. But the mentality, the mentality! No one will be surprised to read that no less a person than the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Bishop’s Conference, Archbishop Diraviam bluntly told the CBCI in Hyderabad (Jan. 1976) : “People who Indianize have no respect for the Hierarchy or the Holy See. They are members of the Church who are out to destroy the Catholic Church”. (The Examiner, 24-1-76)
The premise on which the CBCI vote in Madras was based is moreover theologically unsound. The CBCI Liturgy Commission told the Bishops that what the Council gave, no instruction can take away. We saw already that the Council never gave the green light for experimentation without reference to the Holy See as the Commission claimed. But even granting that it had given it, it is theologically and historically wrong to affirm that “no instruction can take away”. Theologically: in matters of discipline and of non-infallible doctrine of a council, the Catholic Theology, of the primacy of the Pope teaches that the pope has the power to suspend, change and even abrogate Conciliar decisions, even when he himself approved them at the close of the Council; Historically: there are many points of the Liturgy Constitution which Paul VI has actually changed through Instructions. The most obvious case is the vernacular in the Canon and the Breviary as permitted by the Second Instruction (May, 1967). Did any expert protest against this Instruction?
Truth and Numbers
It is becoming a widely spread practice to decide matters of doctrine or interpretation by vote. The CBCI at Madras accepted the factually wrong and theologically unsound explanation of its Liturgy Commission. It decided to apply it by a majority vote – I suppose, two-third majority [required]. All liturgical decisions whether definitive or “ad experimentum” require a two-third majority by virtue of the Motu-Proprio Sacram Liturgiam (No. 10) and the First Instruction Inter Oecumenici (N. 8). As both these Documents concern only the Latin Rite, one can understand that some non-Latin Bishops are not quite clear in their mind about this necessity. 26.
Now, Archbishop Arokiaswamy of Bangalore who was the Chairman of Liturgy Commission admits that the CBCI interpretation was wrong. Fortunately for the prestige of the Church in India, that interpretation was not unanimous. The minority dissent was voiced by one of the senior members (Bishop since 1952) of the CBCI, Mgr. M. Arattukulam of Alleppey, a theologian and canonist in his own right. Repeating what he had said in Madras he stated in Hyderabad: “Obedience is most important in the life of the Church, especially obedience to the Holy See. I said in Madras that the time for experimentation was over. The Holy See can set a limit to experimentation. I said, permission should be got from the Holy See, but, instead the Liturgy Commission took its mandate from the CBCI, which gave it. The CBCI including the General Secretary thinks it can act independently of the Holy See.”
This incident reminds me of other similar incidents of the council, which proved that truth is not necessarily on the side of the majority. The question of collegiality (Nota-Praevia) Ecumenism (19 Papal amendments) condemnation of Communism – in all these matters Paul VI intervened on the side of the minority. After the Council, we had Humanae Vitae again proving the same thing.
A Humble Plea
I am old enough in age (53), and older still in mentality. And yet, l believe that even after Vatican II, genuine Catholic renewal will still require that all – laymen, priests, religious and bishops – carry out not only the mandatory injunctions but also the least wishes of the Holy Father. It is now nearly two years since Paul VI sent a personal gift to all Bishops, a little booklet Jubilate Deo, containing the minimum repertory of Latin Chants to be introduced into all parishes of the Latin Rite. A covering letter of Cardinal Knox explained its purpose. And yet, the Indian Dioceses that have implemented the papal wishes can be counted with the fingers of two hands. In some places, the Bishops did not even inform their priests about it. And the people and priests who have read the Vatican Document, and who see the reception that was given to it by their Bishops are, or should be rightly scandalized.
Is it too much to expect that at least now that everybody knows about it, our respected Bishops will do, something to carry out the desires of Pope Paul VI. Will not this act of obedience on their part be blessed by God and enhance their moral authority to get their own orders and wishes better accepted by their own subordinates?
Some may feel that I have been a bit blunt, even aggressive, in this long article. If in this land of ours there is a person that has supported the pope his magisterium and directives, and Bishops in union of mind and heart with him, that person is the present writer. And in spite of all post Vatican developments (new concept of obedience, freedom of the children of God, charisms of the Holy Spirit and other such ideas that are invoked to justify what in pre-conciliar days used to be called disobedience), I have not changed my basic attitude in this matter. Please read all that is said in this article in the light of that attitude, and do not see any offence, let alone disrespect, for anyone whether in authority or not.
Another passage from the speech of Paul VI quoted at the beginning of this writing is a fitting conclusion to bring out the spirit which I try to live myself, and which I would like to spread around more effectively than my limitations permit:
“We want to place before you something which we most earnestly recommend to your special attention. Take great care that your labour (in the liturgical renewal) does not depart too much from the usage and institutions of the Roman tradition where the liturgy had its origin in Latin, and there in found its growth and reached its highest peaks. In recommending this to you we are impelled not so much by reasons of history or geography nor by any desire to increase authority rather are we inclined to it by the careful consideration of theological teaching and of the very constitution of the Church which in this dear City has centre of unity and the fortress of the Catholic faith.”
“On this point instead of using Our own words you may hear the words of two men who are well known as outstanding promoters of the liturgy. The first of them, Fr. Gabriel M. Braso, of the Benedictine order, has this to say: He who does not feel himself to be a Roman will find it difficult to be fully imbued with the breath and spirit of the liturgy. The spirit of Rome (Roman-itas) safely protects the incorruptible genuineness of the liturgical spirit. Deviations in the field of the frontiers of the liturgy, as also in pattern of thought and in the usages of Christian life, have their primary cause in this fact: lack of the Roman spirit (Roman-itas). He has a very narrow-minded out look who, as a result of misplaced patriotism considers Rome to be a rival, look upon her norms as incomprehensible and judges her laws to be a manifestation of an insensate love of power. The spirit of Rome is the foundation of our Catholicity.” (Liturgy and Spirituality, pp. 307-308)
And after quoting the second liturgist (E. Bishops) Paul VI concluded: “There, beloved sons, let not Rome inspire you with feelings of diffidence or fear. On the contrary, she knows how to receive your labour with a willing heart, how to judge them wisely and how to make them truly and lastingly Catholic, not for her own glory but for that of the Church and for the glory of Christ our Redeemer” (Speech, October 14, 1968, L’Osservatore Romano, 24-10-1968).
LIFE IS GOD — A PRAYER
God be in my head, and in my understanding
God be in my eyes, and in my looking
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking
God be in my heart, and in my thinking
God be in my end, and in my departing
– Old English Prayer
Adaptation – Indigenization – Utilization
(Late) Dr. Paul Hacker
Professor of Indology, Muenster, W. Germany
There has been much discussion on “adaptation” among missionaries and missiologists even before the Vatican Council II. Starting from results of historical research and trying to get at a comprehensive view of the Universal Church, we find that nowhere on earth is there any form of Catholicism in which Christianity has not assimilated conceptual, ritual or simply linguistic elements which originally belonged to pre-Christian religions or were part of profane usage. But such assimilations have not disfigured the essential nature of the Gospel, nor have they as such split the Church into independent groups restricted to individual countries. On the contrary in the course of history there have been several cases in which adaptations guided by the Holy Spirit, arose in one country but eventually spread to the universal Church. On the other hand, there has been what may be called spurious adaptation, that is, assimilation of local habits or individual preferences without the guidance of the Spirit. Examples would be Gallicanism, the “German Christians” of Protestantism during the National Socialist period, and a number of schisms and heresies in the course of history. The existence of local forms of popular piety does not nullify the fact of adaptations of universal validity, because they neither involve a claim to general adaptation, nor do they question the authority of the Hierarchy nor do they have any specific dogmatic implications.
However, the term “adaptation” itself does not seem to be felicitous. It is even susceptible to serious objections. After all, it is not the Gospel which has to be adapted to the world, but according to St. Paul’s diamond-like words, the Gospel demands that the world or rather (since evangelization and proclamation is neither a sort of universal conquest by force nor psychological warfare) man, the individual man in, the world, has to adapt himself to the Gospel : this is why, in St. Paul’s language, faith is almost coterminous with obedience (Rom 1 : 5, 6 :16f, 15 :19, 2Cor. 10:5; Phil. 2 :11 ; compare also Heb. 2 :1-4). Thus, one may feel jarred by terms like “adaptation” because they remind one of the Apostle’s exhortation (Rom. 12:2): “Do not be conformed to this world”. On the other hand, terms like “indigenisation” even more hurt the Catholic’s religious feelings, because they remind him of so many deplorable developments in the course of the history of the Church, recalling as they do quite a number of schisms, most, of which included heresies right from their beginning.
Thus both terms, adaptation and indigenization would seem to be questionable. But how to tackle the task of making Christian doctrine known in foreign countries, and how to explain such evangelization theologically, and by what term to give a brief expression or indication of the theological explanation? Such theological reflection and its expression in a brief term are by no means unimportant. For the term chosen evokes the theology that gave rise to it and this theology inevitably influences the style or even the content of the actual evangelization.
Certain changes or modifications are inevitable if we are to carry out the precept of the Risen Lord: “Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19f). For this entails teaching the Gospel in different languages; but there are not even two languages whose concepts totally coincide. Thus it would seem that adaptation is quite legitimate in the sense of a means of making ancient texts understandable to people of other nations and of a later time, living in a different situation but is simply to be rejected if it mars the substance of the Gospel. The criterion for deciding whether what is described as adaptation is constructive or destructive is of course the Magisterium and, above all the doctrines as defined by Oecumenical Councils and Popes. But an ambiguity regarding tlre meaning of “adaptation’ would remain. Is this merely an outcome of linguistic awkwardness on the part of those who coined the term or is the unsatisfactory nature of the term “adaptation” an indication of a theology that fails to take account of the essence of evangelization?
It does not seem to be of great relevance to decide, this question. Both awkwardness or lack of proper reflection and a certain misconception may have played a part in this matter. The misconception that can disfigure evangelization is perhaps best illustrated by a reference to a saying of Our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says: “Seek first his kingdom” (i.e. the Kingdom of the heavenly Father) “and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt.6:33). Now there seem to be certain priests, especially in the missions, who seem to think that one can never be sure whether the other things will really be added and that, therefore. it seems safer first to see to it that other things are instituted and organized in mission fields – schools, social work medical care, etc. – and that all this will be a good starting basis for “making disciples of the nations”. However, there are examples to the contrary which show that such a calculation is wrong. A case in point are the Cistercians who worked in East Germany and in other countries of Eastern Europe in the Middle-Ages. Our secularized schools taught us that those monks deserved well of their country because they laid the foundation of civilization. But such a thing as civilization was entirely outside the purview of the monks work. The contents of their life were prayer and penance, and their bodily labour was part of their penance. In this way the “other things”, in this case civilization (and what is today called economic “development” !) turned out to be among the things that were “added” to the monks’ fervour for the Kingdom, of God (“added” is the old translation, here more literal and more to the point than the Revised Version).
Indian View Distorted
In India today social, economic and political activities are represented as a form of evangelization (“Evangelization in India which is in the process of liberation and development should necessarily take the concrete form of man’s total liberation and integral human development”, Report of the General Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’ January 1974 Appendix p. 50) This gross misunderstanding of the Kingdom of God and the modish concept of “adaptation” have one tendency in common: the predominantly materialistic and anthropocentric bias (to which, obviously to uphold the semblance of Catholicism, a few protestations of the existence of the spiritual are added). We must be grateful to our Holy Father for rectifying, in his Adhortatio “Evangelii Nuntiandi“, this grave distortion of our religion in saying (I translate from the Latin original no’ 8-9): “Before all, Christ… announces… the Kingdom of God, and he attributes to it such importance that in comparison with it, everything else becomes “other things”, namely things that are to be added to it. Therefore, the kingdom of God is to be regarded as something absolute. Christ the Lord chose to describe the bliss of belonging to this Kingdom in various forms a bliss that consists of certain marvellous things which the world disdains. As the culmination and the centre of His good news Christ announces salvation, which is a great gift of God, to be regarded not only as liberation of man from all oppression but above all as liberation from sin and from the Evil One, and this is conjoined with that joy whose fruition is bestowed on him who knows God and is known by Him, who sees Him and rests with confidence in Him…” (Christus NN primum omnium . . . . annuntiat Dei Regnum, cui tale attribuit momenturn ut prue illo omnia fiant “cetera”, duae videlicet, adictantur Quare Regnum Dei absolutum quiddem est habendum… Christo Domino placuit multiformiter felicitatem ad hee Regnum pertinendi describere, quae quidem felicitas ex miris quibusdam tebus constant, quas mundus respuit . . . . Tamquam Boni sui Nunti caput et veluti centrum, Christus salutem annuniat, scilicent mangoum Dei donum, quod habendum est non solum Xiberatio ab iis omnibus- quibes homo opprimitur, sed potissimum a peccato et a maligno liberatio cum gaudio conjuncta, quo quis fruittur, cum Deum cognoscit et ab Eo cognoscitur, Eum videt, in Eb fidenter quiescit . . . ) In these words of the Adhortatio, the supernatural dimension, totally neglected in the Indian documents, and generally neglected today in West, is brought out with clarity and firmness.
The words of the Apostolic Adhortatio are a ray of light in the gloomy confusion of our day. The document itself quotes Holy Scripture rather frequently, thus encouraging us to seek further light from scripture and Tradition, tradition as testified in the writings of Holy Father and Doctors of the Church.
The Fathers of the first centuries lived at a time when to be a Christian involved the daily risk of being put to death, of being sent to jail or being forced to hard labour in mines or being subjected to tortures. In such a situation, they nonetheless sought to defend and even propagate their faith. Yet, amazingly enough, they did not devise such a procedure as adaptation in order to make their religion more acceptable to their pagan environment. The faith of many of them as informed with holy exultation, most of all “they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name” (i.e. for the name of Jesus Christ, or for being Christians – Acts 55: 41), because such suffering joined them most closely to their Lord; “lf we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him ” (2 Tim.2: 11f). How, then, did Christians who expressed the self-understanding of their religion in such words, interpret their activity which they called “to evangelize”, that is, to make known the teachings of Jesus and the doctrine about Jesus the Messiah and Son of God?
The answer to this question seems to lead us back to the notion of “adaptation”, though the ancient Christians had no word to denote such a concern. Is it not a fact that the Fathers of the Church and the early hierarchy did practise on a large scale what we today are inclined to describe as “adaptation”? The Fathers assimilated quite a number of concepts that were originally non-Christian, pagan or profane, and the hierarchy of the early Church adopted and reinterpreted quite a number of gestures and other symbols that had been in use in non-Christian cult. A superficial evaluation might come to the conclusion that, if judged from the point of view of history, there is no essential difference between those “adaptations ” introduced by the early Church and most of the cases of “indigenization ” in present-day India – except those which involve idolatry or syncretism, such as the setting up of idols of Hindu deities or the decoration of windows with pictures of them, in Catholic churches, or the praying of a Christian in a Hindu temple. Such a positive evaluation would refer to all the twelve points of adaptation granted on April 25, 1969, by the “Consilium ad exsequendum Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia” Report of the General Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Ernakulam, January 7-16. 1970, pp. 192 ff). None of these twelve points of adaptation in itself includes idolatry. However, as I said, the positive evaluation is superficial and ultimately, false.
Model of Adaptation
To understand this, let us first consider the model of all “adaptation” in Antiquity, namely St. Paul’s speech on the Areopagus as recorded in Acts 17: 22-31. On the one hand the Apostle criticizes the idolatry and polytheism of the Athenians (Acts 17-16. 24f). Even here, the practice of the Apostle sharply differs from the “dialogue” which present day Indian progressives strongly recommend as the way Christians should converse with Hindus – “dialogue” which carefully avoids criticism and mainly consists in what is innumerable times described as “sharing spiritual experience”, with one’s non-Christian friends. On the other hand, St. Paul appreciates the Athenians’ religiosity calling them “very religious”, (17: 22). He even makes use of more than one pagan idea in his short speech. But does he cite certain Hellenic writings philosophical, poetical, hymnic or liturgic – explaining that Christ is already present in them though in a hidden form? No.
His procedure radically differs from that of Indianized ascetics like Le Saux (Abhishiktananda) and Bede Griffiths as well as from that of theorists such as Dupuis, Amalorpavadass, Raimundo Panikkar and others. To put it in plain terms: the modern Hinduizers speak of Hinduism; the Apostle, however, speaks of Christ when St. Paul says that God wills that man should “feel after him” (17:27), he is using a Stoic idea, but the every fact that he utilizes it in his proclamation, frees it from the pantheistic system to which it had belonged. The sentence “In him we live and move and have our being”, is probably inspired by a Stoic author, but the Christian idea of God’s omnipresence and of his keeping everything in being is certainly quite different from stoicism. Again, the statement, which St. Paul himself expressly attributes to a (pagan) poet, “For we are indeed his offspring”, also expresses a Stoic idea; it is taken from the Phainomena of Aratos, who lived in the third century B.C. (17: 8) One of the many altars in Athens St. Paul found the inscription, “To an unknown God”, and he remarked, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (17: 23). This is nowadays almost invariably explained as indicating that the Athenians already worshipped the one true God without knowing it.
Karl Rahner himself, in his famous essay has interpreted St. Paul’s remark as indicating that even the Apostle virtually confirmed the theory of Anonymous Christians (K. Rahner, Schriften zur Theologie, vol. 5, 1962, p 158; Engl, transl by K. H. Kruger: Theological Investigations, vol. 5, p. 124). But this interpretation is an obvious blunder. We have to take due account of the data of sound textual criticism and of grammar. The oldest and most reliable manuscripts have the text which I quoted above (“What therefore…”) and which is the text of the Latin Vulgate as well as of the English Revised Standard Version (the King James Version, on the other hand, follows later, revised manuscripts, “Whom therefore ye better ignorantly worship, him I declare unto you”). The difference between the neuter and the masculine gender, characteristic of the older and the lacer group of manuscripts, is of theological relevance. The neuters gender (“what”) expresses an indistinct feeling on the part of the Athenians that there might be a deity that they did not know, and in order not to incur its disgrace they erected an altar to it. It is this notion of the unknown which the Apostle takes up in a positive sense, saying, as it were, You are right, there is indeed something (again the neuter gender!) which you do not yet know. Only in the following sentence does St. Paul begin to speak of the one God, the Creator. Thus the passage can in no way be used to substantiate Rahner’s private ideas (according to which the Athenians already had a “transcendental” know-ledge of God which the proclamation merely transposed to the level of the “categorical” if such a translation of Rahner’s German neologism “kategorial” be possible).
A Special Theory
We now begin to understand that there is a chasm between the notions, modish in our day of “adaptation” and “indigenization”, on one hand, and, on the other hand, the practice of the Doctor Gentium, the Teacher of the Gentiles, the greatest Missionary of all times. St. Paul does not adapt the Gospel to the ways of thinking of the pagans. He acknowledges that all nations can and do know God, but he adds that “they did not honour him as God” (Romans 1:21). His speech on the Areopagus shows that he even recognized partial truth in the thought of the gentiles. But the peculiar way in which he culled this truth from contexts which he could by no means approve called for a special theory. This theory was evolved by the Fathers of the Church.
The Fathers used a very sober term (which I have already made use of above), in speaking of “utilization” (Greek Chresis). Today, at a time when the Fathers are little known and still less appreciated, it is impossible to use that term without incurring the accusation of presumption or even of offending non-Christian. But this is a fatal misunderstanding, emanating from a corrupt theology.
Only from a purely anthropocentric point of view is it possible to bring these accusations against the early Church. They would make sense if both paganism and the Church were human institutions, comparable, for instance, to two political parties. In such a case it would indeed be presumptuous to claim achievements of the rival group for one’s own community, and it would be offensive at the same time. The Church, however, is in her essence a supernatural entity. She is the Bride of Christ and at the same time – since no human word can bring out her mystery adequately – the Body of Christ who is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity having assumed human nature. Now all truth, no matter where it is found, proceeds from God who is Truth Itself. Consequently, since the Church through Christ is intimately linked to God, to the Trinity. It is not only the right but the duty of the Church – not as a natural but as a super-natural entity – to put to her use all that is true and good though it may be found outside her. This idea was first expressed by St. Justin Martyr, though without the trinitarian implications. It is the exact opposite of Rahner’s Anonymous Christians theory which has been devastating the Church in our day. For the discovery of truth outside the Church led the Christians to claim it as their property in so far as all that is good and true rightfully belongs to the Church whose members the Christians are on the contrary, Rahner acknowledges paganism as legitimate religion on the ground of the truth found in it, though this truth is distorted by demonic influences. In paganism the supernatural truth cannot shine forth because it is constantly vitiated by such influences. This is why documents of Vatican II say that all that is good and true in non-Christian religion needs to be “illuminated”, to be “healed”, to be “elevated”. and to be “brought to perfection” and that such activity of the Church confounds Satan, that is to say, precludes further influences of the Evil One (Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, n. 3 g 1 ; Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 17).
We can observe this process of “healing” or “illuminating” even in the short speech on the Areopagus. The very proclamation of the elements of Christian doctrine gives an opportunity for reorienting a number of sayings of poets and ideas of philosophies, and it seems that the sense intended by the creator who made poets or thinkers compose their formulations or conceive their ideas, could shine forth only after the demonic admixture of paganism had been cleared away by the Christian context. Thus, the re-orientation within the act of evangelizing is a form of that illumination, healing and elevation which the Council speaks of. This is obviously quite a different thing from the reading of, and meditation on, non-Christian religious texts as practised by catholic indigenisers in India today.
Neither can it be said that the method employed by St. Paul was “adaptation”, if this word is to denote what is commonly meant by it in missiology today. Rather, it could be called adaptation in a sense exactly opposite to what this word stands for in present-day missiology. For the evangelical purity of the Apostle’s teaching is unimpeachable, but he utilizes non-Christian ideas and sayings precisely to expound the Gospel, and thus he “adapts” them, as it were, to the Gospel.
But is it not adaptation when the Apostle, as he declares 1. Cor. 9: 22, seeks to “become all things to all men”? This is indeed an important question, which leads us to the core of the issue. The answer is indicated by St. Paul himself, who says (1. Cor. 9: 23; I quote the King James Version, which is more literal here than the Revised Version): This I do for the gospels sake, that I might be partaker thereof with (you)”. This means that adaptation in things that have no bearing on holy doctrine is quite unobjectionable and sometimes even advisable. But of the purity of the Gospel is jeopardized, or if Christians are scandalized, then the bounds of the admissible have been transgressed. It seems that these teachings of the Apostle provide some criteria for judging the experiments, doctrinal and liturgical, that are being carried an in India today. Both Progressives and Conservatives testify that these experiments scandalize Catholics exceedingly.
Christians of Antiquity wrote Apologies for their own religion; ideologists of our day, though professing Catholicism, produce apologies for paganism. The most famous of these, known in all countries of the world, is Karl Rahner’s Anonymous Christians theory. I cannot enter here into the abstruse ideological foundations of this theory. The principal blunders which disqualify it as entirely un-Christian, are the total absence of the notion of conversion, which is the very goal of all evangelization. Rahner’s ignoring the reality of the devil, his minimizing of the notion of sin, and a peculiar association of religion and society. According to his theory, society receives a religious dignity which it has no where in Christianity. Rahner insists that man remains in his society, in which certain religious beliefs and rites are obligatory, until he is psychologically overwhelmed by the proclamation of Christian doctrine. This theory is so totally alien to Christian thinking that ours must really be a time of utmost confusion because a man advancing such opinions can hold the position of a teacher in the Church. In contrast to Rahner’s teaching, the New Testament states in quite, a number of passages that a man who wishes to follow Christ must be ready to sever bonds with natural societies in which he lives, and this with the small society that consists in one’s own family as with the larger religious society of the Synagogue (see Mt. 10: 37 and other passages: Mt: 17 f, 24: 9 and similar passages). The Fathers of the Church do not in the least differ from the ideas expressed in such passages. Furthermore, it is one of the traits that unmask the radically un-Christian character of Rahner’s philosophy (in spite of his Christian terminology), that martyrdom, the culmination of Christian spirituality, finds no place in his system. From the preceding it should be clear that a theory of “adaptation” can easily be based on his philosophy because according to Rahner every human being is already a Christian, whether he wishes to be one or not. So paganism can be represented as implicitly containing Christianity. Under such circumstances idolatry, the gravest sin in early Christendom and still today, can become a grace bestowing sacrament in the speculations of a follower of Rahner. In a word, the very core of Christianity has undergone mutation. Degraded Christianity of this sort is bound to become in India one of the innumerable sects of Hinduism – if it is not, which is more probable, absorbed into materialism and Marxism, which are making headway every day.
But what to do in order to prevent a complete shipwreck? It need hardly be said that the initiators of the heresy and apostasy (syncretism, if seen from the point of view of canon-law, coincides with apostasy) ought to be tried and, if they refuse to recant, excommunicated. When will our Bishops muster courage as their predecessors did in the past? But disciplinary measures alone will not heal the wound. We must see that we in the West have elaborated the theories which priests and Bishops in India now feel obliged to put into practice, and that this practice is apt “to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (Rom. 14:13) and “to wound the conscience” (1 Cor. 8: 12) of Indian Catholics.
The present situation has taught us a lesson which we could not foresee at the time of Pope Pius XII’s death. We now see that our learned schemes were Utopian and illusory or at least needed much differentiation and modification. Adaptation, in the sense of “becoming all things to all men”, is possible and can in certain situations even become imperative, provided the integrity of Christian doctrine is not impaired. In other situations it can be a serious offence to those who are already Christians. The light that can give us orientation is supernatural love or charity (it is deplorable that the Revised Version has replaced ‘charity” in 1. Cor. 13 with “love”) It seems that the theories of adaptation – all of Western provenance – did not take due account of the fact that this method cannot be practiced in all situations.
The Church in India, though forming only a small minority of the total population (between 1 and 2 per cent), is extremely variform in her ethnic, historical, and even ecclesiastical conditions: for besides the Latin rite there are the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites. The Catholics of the two last-named rites form a comparatively large group which has been Christian ever since Antiquity. Other Indian Christians stem from people who were converted since the 16th century. Few of the converts were formerly caste Hindus, the majority came from among the adivasis (i.e., pre-Dravidian aborigines) and low-caste people or out-castes (Harijans). It is quite natural that these people should have learned to believe and hope in God and to love Him in the forms that were prevalent at the time of their conversion. These forms were and are to them a ladder leading them up to the Triune Majesty. They had no idea that their conversion was an outcome of “colonialism”, that their churches imitated European styles and that many of the statues and implements of cult were, if seen from the viewpoint of art, trash, and none of them felt that the sooner all these things were replaced by things similar to those used in Hindu ritual, the better. No such aesthetic and nationalistic considerations were and are foreign to them. There were – and I hope, there still are many Indian Catholics whose faith was joyful and fervent, and they were well aware that they, while professing the true, namely the Catholic religion, lived among an overwhelming majority of non-Christians. It is quite natural that the very fact that their cult with its symbols, gestures and implements, and even the form of their church buildings, differed from all that was known to be characteristic of Hinduism, was for them a profession of their faith and a constant reminder to remain faithful to the Church.
lf we keep this is mind, it is easy to understand that attempts at “indigenization” as pushed ahead by Amalorpavadass, Dupuis, Griffiths and others – and favoured by the Indian Bishops’ Conference have roused vehement opposition. As I said, Progressives and Conservatives are agreed on the fact of this opposition. Catholics rightfully feel the sanctuary threatened, the sanctuary that made possible their union with God. Religion, after all, strives for union with God; it is not a manifestation of social togetherness or national feeling.
In an incomparably higher degree than in the liturgical reforms that are being carried on in the West, the fundamental law of Christianity, which is charity, seems to have been violated in India in a higher degree, because Indian Catholics feet paganism penetrating into the Church and thus the First Commandment infringed. One may argue that all the twelve points of adaptation as granted by Mgr. Bugnini (but forbidden by one Indian Bishop for his diocese!) are in themselves quite innocent, that they have no necessary association with Hindu worship and that their difference from the gestures, implements etc. as used till now consists only in the fact that they are of Indian origin whereas all the symbols that were in use before stemmed from the West. But this argumentation misses the point. In the first place, in the Universal Church it is relatively indifferent in what country a certain symbol was first used. Otherwise Germans would have to relinquish Roman Catholicism, as fanatical National Socialists actually did, because there is so much in this religion that is not “indigenous” to our country.
Violation of Charity
In the second place, we have to heed St. Paul’s teachings, which refer to analogous cases. In the cases to which he refers in his Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 14, and in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 8, the issue concerns meat of animals that had been immolated to idols: may a Christian eat such meat? The Apostle decides the problem entirely on the basis of charity. If a Christian knows that meat has been immolated to an idol and if his conscience is hurt when he sees others eat such meat or is himself if expected to eat it, them it would be a sin to “wound his conscience” and “put a stumbling. I block in his way”. Now all the things enumerated in the twelve points of adaptation granted by Mgr. Bugnini have a much closer association to cult than meat. Every Indian knows that they are part of Hindu worship (whereas meat need not necessarily stem from an immolation). Therefore the religious offense perpetrated on Indian Catholics by Amalorpavadass and Bugnini (to mention only the two only the two main initiators – the Bishops proved to be obedient servants) is really a very grave violation of charity.
Therefore, we, Catholics of Europe and America, supplicate and implore the Indian Bishops Conference, especially His Eminence Cardinal Picachy, to prohibit immediately the practice of the “twelve points”, to stop, without exception, the reading of non-Christian texts in the Liturgy of the Hours as well as in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and, above all, to disestablish and dissolve the pretentious and pernicious institution which Father Amalorpavadass runs in Bangalore. If the Bishops will not heed this brotherly advice (correotio fraterna), the Indian Church is bound to lapse into socialist atheism earlier than one generation has passed. On the other hand, It would be desirable to go ahead with a careful translation of the whole Roman Missal into the principal languages of India but to stop speculation with a view to composing an “Indian Anaphora”.
I say this not without experience but as a man who loves India more than his own country, who highly appreciates the achievements of pre-Christian Indian thought, but whose love for Our Lord and His Church ranks first, before all the rest.
Under the impact of Rahner’s Anonymous Christians theory it is virtually impossible today to adjust to the achievements specific to the Indian mind the method that the Fathers had evolved in dealing with pre-Christian religious and philosophical thought. I mean the method they called “utilization” (chresis) and whose theological justification I briefly delineated above.
I have treated of it more elaborately, referring to representative Fathers, in a study that appeared in a learned journal. I will add here only one more reference, and this to the greatest of all the Fathers of the Church, namely to St. Augustine.
I am doing this because St. Augustine, in elucidating the God-centered nature of “utilization”, at the same time indicates the biblical foundation of this method. In Book VIII of his famous Confessions, Chapter IV, the saint reflects on the significance of the conversion of Marius Victorinus, a famous pagan philosopher. He interprets conversion as a victory over the Evil One. He says (I quote E.B. Pusey’s translation): The enemy is more overcome in one of whom he has more hold; by whom he has hold of more. But the proud he has more hold of, through their nobility; and by them, of more through their authority. But how much the more welcome then the heart of Victorinus was esteemed, which the devil had held as an impregnable possession, the tongue of Victorinus, with mighty and keen weapon he had slain many: so much the more abundantly ought Thy sons to rejoice, for that our King has bound the strong man (cp. Mt. 12 : 29), and they saw his vessel taken from him and cleansed, and made meet for Thy honour, and become serviceable for the Lord, ready for any good work,, (cp. 2. Tim. 2: 21). Here the objective notion of utilization is reduced to its subjective basis. Victorinus, heart, i.e. his faculty of thinking, and his tongue, i.e. his faculty of speech, had been the devil’s vessels, i.e. instruments; now Christ the King took them from him and cleansed them so that henceforth they could be used for His honour, that they became serviceable for i.e. useful to the Lord. The “vessels”, that is, Victorinus” talents and knowledge, once at the devil’s service, could now be “utilized” by him for the Lord’s honour.
The passage I quoted from St. Augustine shows with all desirable clarity that the “utilization” was understood by the Fathers primarily as an action of God (appropriated to Christ or to the Holy Spirit). Only after the cleansing of Baptism and the liberation from the power of the devil, could a man become an “instrument” (the Greek word translated by “vessel”) of God actively employing the knowledge he had acquired in his pre-Christian period and his intellectual abilities in the service of God.
Modish theories of our day have eliminated all the key concepts that describe the process of a man’s becoming a Christian in the works of the Fathers. There is no devil, no conversion, no cleansing from one’s sins. In the documents published in the Report of the General Meeting of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India in January, 1974, spiritual concerns are verbally upheld, but the emphasis is clearly, on one hand, on social, economic and even political activities (all described as belonging to evangelization), on the other hand, what is called “dialogue”. This “dialogue” is in the documents as follows: “Interreligious dialogue is the response of Christian faith to God’s saving presence in the religious traditions of mankind and the expression of the firm hope of the fulfilment of all things in Christ” (p. 147, similarly p. 140). “The relation between the Church in India and the other religions of India should not (!) be understood in terms of truth and error… salvation and damnation, and by way of contrast and opposition. . . . It must be a positive relationship of mutual understanding… (Appendix, p. 56) “Dialogue” conducted with non-Christians, but also with materialists and atheists, is a mutual communication and sharing of religious experience, of spiritual and moral values, enriching both the partners (p. 140f, nos 52 and 54; also p. 147).
It is clear that such CBCI ideas, entirely foreign to Christianity, are bound to ruin the Indian church in a few decades. We must, therefore, be grateful to the Holy Father for the clarifications he has given in his Adhortatio Apostolica “Evangelii nuntiandi”. A number of his admonitions seem to be directed precisely to the Bishops and the theologians of India. For instance, while the Council had unfortunately omitted to declare that pagan religions, not withstanding all that is good in them, are no means of salvation in the sense of eternal beatitude, the Adhortatio of 1974, at a time of extreme menace to the Church, does fill up this gap and this implies a clear check to Rahnerism.
The text says (no. 53: 4; I translate from the Latin original): “If compared even with the most excellent forms of natural religions, the Church holds that she possesses something proper to her alone, namely that in virtue of the religion of Jesus… man is really united with God’s plan, with His living presence and His action; and that the same (religion) brings it to pass that one encounters the mystery of divine Fatherhood, who bends down to mankind; in other words, that through our religion communion with God, real indeed and living, is actually established, while other religions cannot bring it about, though they seem, so to say, to lift their arms up to heaven”. (Ouare, etiam agitru de religionum naturalium formis, vel praestantissimis, Ecclesia hoc sibi proprium habere putet: vi religionis Jesu revera hominem hjungi con Dei consilio, cum viva ehjus praesentia cumque ejus actione; earrdem efficere, ut quis occurrat divinae mysterio Paternitatis, quae ad humanum genus inclinet; aliis verbis, per nostram religionem reapse cum Deo instituti commercium, verum nempe vivumque, quod aliae religiones instituere nequeunt, etiamsisua. ut ita dicamus, bracchia ad caelum attollere ipase videantur).
There is a long way from such a declaration to an actual reinstatement. Nevertheless, the Adhortatio, in giving an authoritative interpretation of, or addition to, certain Council documents, presents a priceless clarification.
Christian and Culture
It is in the light of history I view the position of the Indian Christian today and his attitude. Is he true to his tradition vis-a-vis the state and society, or is he showing signs of exchanging the glory of immortal God for the image of mortal man, out of fear? … culturally too, the Indian Christian must be more positive. But the Indian Christian is only contributing to the permanence of the religious complexion by joining in the Holi and the Diwali. By so doing he is helping neither his Christianity nor the professed Secularism of the Government of India. -Nirad C. Chaudhuri, in Foreword to “The Catholic Community in India” by Ka Naa Subramanyam. 33.
LETTER FROM GEORGE MORAES
Professor George M. Moraes, President, All India Laity Congress
Jasville, 9 New Marine Lines, Bombay-400 020, Telephone 297048
Date: 7th Oct. 1979.
Rev. Fr. Cassian Parichha
Nitya Jivan Niketan
Phulbani (Orissa) 762 001.
Dear Rev. Father,
Praised be our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ now and for evermore.
I received your kind letter of the 14th inst., when Satan was calling it a day what (as reported in the New Leader of the 9th inst.) with the decision of the Liturgy Commission to introduce its proposal of Communion in hand on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) he could be hopeful of achieving a further denigration of Our Lord.
Communion in Hand
Communion in hand, I hardly need remind you, was a rule in the early centuries when the Church suffered under grave civil disabilities and grievous persecution. Mass could then be celebrated only in private houses with the result that it was not practicable to reserve the Blessed Sacrament for public veneration.
During the peaceful times that followed, with the deepening understanding of the truth of the Eucharistic mystery and the compelling desire to reverence the Most Holy Sacrament, the custom established that the minister himself should place the sacred article on the tongue of the communicant.
In modern times the earlier practice has been revived by certain dissenting sects after breaking away from the Church. They ceased to believe that at Mass the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Our Blessed Lord. They gave up the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. And they abandoned the Mass introducing communion by hand instead, sitting or standing.
In our day the Holy See has been compelled to permit Communion in the hand in places where, having been illegally introduced it has become an established practice, or so it was maintained, difficult to remove.
But the experience gained in these places should discourage the CBCI from opting for Communion in hand. Evidence is mounting of the sacrilegious use of the consecrated Host. Not only have the children been observed playing with it, but adults have been seen to pass the Blessed Sacrament from one to another in the queue not unoften to be carried off for availability at satanic rituals.
Moreover, when Communion in hand was in vogue in the Church, as in early centuries, for taking the sacred Particle in hand, a special cloth called the Dominicale (Lord’s cloth) was supplied to cover the hand to prevent direct contact with it. It will be needlessly expensive to revive this practice as also to provide facilities for washing the hand as an alternative.
We pray that our Pastors, assembled at their forthcoming meeting, The CBCI General Meeting held in October 1979, will profit from this bitter experience, and take a warning from the disastrous failure of the Government of India whose Prohibition policy introduced by setting at naught the calamitous experience of countries like the USA, has destroyed almost a whole generation of our people.
The Chairman of the Liturgy Commission, Bishop M. Arokiaswamy is reported to have said that if the CBCI favoured the proposal, its decision should be binding on all dioceses, the faithful being given the option of receiving Communion on the tongue if they so desired.
I beg to differ from this opinion. Holy Communion on the tongue is the sole universal law in the Church, and only the Holy Father can change it. No episcopal Conference of itself, no individual bishop, has the authority to repeal it or alter it. On the contrary, all bishops are obliged, in virtue of their office, to uphold this venerable practice and to resist attempts to administer the sacrament in hand (cf. Pastoral statement of the Australian Bishop Bernard D. Stewart, News letter of Catholics United for the Faith, December 1977, p.1)
Communion in hand is therefore the exception to the rule, namely: Communion on the Tongue.
The only reason worth considering in favour of the innovation is that “manual touch would increase the faith and adoration of the individual”. But it should also be borne in mind that familiarity breeds contempt.
Nor is there demand for communion in hand anywhere. Then why introduce it?
It is sad and melancholy to trace the steps by which, of set purpose, the respect for our Lord is lowered in the Church. Can you in all conscience agree that the powers that be did away with kneeling at the reception of Holy Communion with a view to enhancing the respect due to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? And was it not a mere pretext that, in requiring the congregation to queue up, they were saving its time, while in their heart of hearts, they wished to lower the respect due to Our Lord?
Close on the heel of this innovation came the instruction which dispensed with the elaborate process, when a sacred particle was inadvertently dropped, of wiping the spot with water so as to make sure that no piece of the Particle adhered to the spot lest it be trodden under foot and desecrated.
This was an ocular demonstration, calculated to reinforce our belief in the Real Presence, to detract from which, this desirable practice, it seems to me, was deliberately stopped. When a sacred Host falls, it is now picked up with no more ado than if it were a mere wafer.
The Tabernacle has been removed from its place of honour on the high altar in infringement of the decrees of the Council in Trent, which abolished the usage that came down from the Middle Ages of consigning the Blessed Sacrament to a side chapel, while installing, on the main altar, the image of the saint to whom the fane was dedicated
The tabernacle is now perched on a tapering column, or lodged in a hole after demolishing, as at the cathedral in Bangalore, the altar, its crowning glory.
In the first fury of their ‘reform’ in the 16th century, the protestants had consigned to the flames, as at Nimes, Paris, and other places, the images and crucifixes, and committed the most revolting crime in Catholic eyes of breaking open the tabernacle and burning the sacred Host which they trampled under foot. (L. Pastors, History of the Popes, vol. XVI, p. 180)
The difference is only of degree and not of kind between the Protestant sacrilege and the slights subtly aimed at the Blessed sacrament in the suspected Vatican decrees, unquestioningly implementation like the dumb, driven cattle by the Church leaders the world over even when they were unsigned and undated like the Notification, from the Congregation for Divine Worship conferring on Episcopal Conferences the right to impose the exclusive use of the vernacular in the New Ordo once the translation had been approved. (Houghton, The Muddle of the Mass, p. 10)
Other wholesome practices then fell by the wayside as a result of further decrees of the innovators, emboldened by the absence of protests on the part of the clergy and the faithful. For instance a ukase from Rome was faithfully obeyed, abrogating the age long rule of genuflecting when the words referring to the Incarnation were pronounced while reciting the Nicene Creed at Mass: ET HOMO FACTUS EST.
And lastly, the recitation of the Nicene Creed itself was stopped, yielding its place to the Apostles Creed; apparently because most people know it by heart.
Now the Nicene Creed had been formulated in the fourth century as a counterblast to the Arian heresy, pinpointing the consubstantiality of Christ, and signifying that Our Lord is really one with the Father and eternal. That heresy denied that He was both God and man, and the Apostles Creed had proved powerless to combat this wrong proposition.
There is a revival of Arianism on the part of the some Catholic theologians of our times such as Hans Kung, Holsbasch, Piet Schoonenberg, Jacques Pohier, Pierre Marie Beude, Ramon Guerrero, John Sobrina et al (Time, Feb. 27, 1978).
The replacement of the Nicene Creed with the Apostles Creed can have but one object: rapid spread of Arianism in the Church.
Erroneous thinking makes strange bedfellows. In the denigration of our Lord the neo-Arians found unexpected but welcome allies in the protagonists of inculturation (Twelve points) who have replaced genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament with Anjali Hasta or folded hand, a form of greeting each other among our people, excepting the Muslims and among the Hindus of reverencing the minor gods as well. Latria or supreme homage due to God alone, which among Christians is rendered by genuflection, is performed by the Hindus in doing sashtanga namascar, by prostrating before their god of gods. Anjali Hasta does not even amount to dulia, the veneration paid to the saints and angels as servants of God.
Consequently, in the dioceses where the Twelve points have been enforced by the ordinaries; the Indian Church has already become Arian de facto. It will be professedly Arian when the clergy trained under professors imbued with this heresy or worse, shall have returned to the seminaries and substituted the orthodox priests who are ageing.
We have an, inkling into what future generations of Catholics will learn from their pastors in the opinion which the latter’s teachers hold of Christ. To give only a couple of instances:
In the estimate of Fr. Kappen, SJ, Christ is indistinguishable from his contemporaries, being “limited” and conditioned by his times and the ideas of his Jewish environment. He lives buried “under the layers of rituals, rubrics, laws, concepts, legends, myths, superstitions and institutions. . . .His voice is smothered, his spirit is stifled. If he still acts and makes his presence felt in history, it is less through the official church than the honest dissenters among Christians”.
Miracles are pronounced impossible by Soares-Prabhu, S.J., Professor of Scripture at the De Nobili College, Pune. Reports of miracles are, therefore, “like the rest of the gospel material, sediments of theologically loaded tradition, considerably touched up while being transmitted orally in a community before the Gospel were written”. And then the sequitur: “The miracles of Jesus (understood as divine interventions in the order of nature) were built up into unassailable credentials of his divine mission, if not irrefutable, proofs of his Divinity.” (Jeevadhara, May-June 1975, Special issue on Jesus)
An Indian theology formulated on some such lines has been in the offing for some time. In his review of Nirmal Menz’s Mahatma Gandhi and Indian Christian Dialogue (Madras, Christian Literature Society, 1970) Fr. G. Gilbert-Sachau S.J., one of the theoreticians, observes, apparently in agreement with the author, that “in the life of the Father of the Nation we well have the truest pattern of the Indian Christianity of the future”. (The Clergy Monthly, November 1970, p. 457) 35.
In the intimate thoughts of Christ and Christianity which Mahatma expressed to a body of Evangelical Christians (1893) and his address to Christian Missionaries (Calcutta, July 28, 1925) we have possibly the guidelines on which the swadeshi theology is being built up. These thoughts, expressed in Gandhi’s own words, are as follows:
(1) “It is more than I could believe that Jesus was the only incarnate Son of God and that only he who believed in him would have everlasting life.”
(2) “My reason was not ready to believe that literally Jesus by his death and by his blood redeemed the sins of the world”.
(3) “I accept Jesus as a master, an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, not as a most perfect man ever born.”
(4) “Philosophically there is nothing extraordinary in Christian principles. It was impossible for me to regard Christianity as a perfect religion or the greatest of religions.”
(5) Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find a solace in the Bhagvadgita and Upanishads that I miss in the Sermon on the Mount.”
(6) “I can say that Jesus occupies in my heart the place of one of the greatest teachers who have made a considerable influence on my life.”
(7) “Those who no matter to what faith they belong, reverently study the teaching of other faiths, broaden instead of narrowing their own hearts.”
(8) “According to Christianity only human beings had souls, and not other living beings, for whom death meant complete extinction. I had a contrary belief.” (Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Mahatma Gandhi, pp. 335-47).
The last article of the Gandhian creed evidently means beliefs in Re-birth. And it is significant that it is already accepted in the circle of Indian catholic theologians. The Vidyajyoti, which aims at updating the Catholic clergy, is committed to it, considering that its columns are open to a priest who has been proclaiming it from the housetops. Fr Anastasio Gomes reports in a recent article in The Laity magazine that at a seminar he attended prayers were offered for a better station in life at in next birth.
Uniqueness of Christ and Christianity is also a thing of the past. It would appear from the memorial articles by Sister Vandana* and others, published in the Vidyajyoti, not long ago, on the late Fr. Saux (Abhishiktananda), the latter ceased to believe in these, as it also the case with these writers themselves. *Vandana Mataji, RSCJ, Ashram founder
Belief in Re-birth is of the essence in any school of Indian philosophy and religion, including the atheistic Charvakas. Struggling as it is doing to be in the main stream of the Hindu ideas, Indian Christian theology could not free from the tentacles of an abominable doctrine which is responsible for all the cruelties Indian society has inflicted on its weaker sections.
Indian theology will thus be eclectic like Mahatma Gandhi, its pattern, with predominantly Arian and pagan elements.
Of the latter element we already have a foretaste in the 12 points, an effort to adapt Christianity to the Hindu view of life.
For the moment, however the Twelve points have not the force of law for reasons, in addition to those pointed out by knowledgeable persons like Bishop Gopu [pages 19, 91].
The fact is that for the confirmation of the Twelve points the CBCI applied to the Consilium (cf. Word and Worship, August-September 1969, p. 564; Clergy Monthly 1969, p. 522-23), whereas it should have approached the Congregation of rites. This was on 15th April 1969 when the congregation was still in existence. It was only 28th April that Paul VI announced that “he had decided to split the workload of the 404 year-old congregation of Rites between two new congregation”: viz., Congregation of Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. (The Examiner, May 10, 1969, p. 295) Of course the Consilium had by now become a law unto itself. It confirmed the Twelve points by its reply dated 25th April 1969(Cf. Word and Worship, as above), and in doing so it acted ultra vires. The Consilium was a conservative body (with an ‘s’ in the middle) and not a ministry, and therefore had no power to legislate. Confirmation should have come from the Congregation of Rites, which should have issued a notification to that effect.
The Twelve Points are therefore null and void
I am not hair-splitting. There is such a thing as rule of law in the Catholic Church, to which every one is subject, not excluding even the Holy Father. We have no Louis XIV on the papal throne The Pope is in fact the most constitutional monarch of all time, not in the sense of the British monarchy which is a cypher, but because he has to operate within a very narrow sphere which is limited by Revelation, by defined dogma, and by the consistent ordinary magisterium of his predecessors. Within these limits, however, the Pope is a very real monarch who is subject to no human person, institution or organisation, not even an oecumenical council of the universal Church. (Cuthbert Butler, “Papal Infallibility, Yes, Despotism, No,” Approaches, May 1978, p 96)
What the Pope is in the universal Church so is the Bishop in his diocese. His action cannot be cabined, cribbed and confined by any Bishops Conference. In a thought-provoking article, Hans Urs Balthasar notes that today in France there is “a regular reign of terror due to a permanent bureaux established by the Bishops Conference. These lord over the Bishops through a couple of men who appear under various pseudonyms”. (The Remnant, June 30, 1979, p.9)
The layman does not know the inner working of the CBCI. But the imperious tone of the language used by Fr. Amalorpavadass the all powerful Director of the NCBL Centre is a sufficient index to similar trouble brewing in the CBCI. He said at the recent meet ing of the Liturgy Commission, “A sense of sadness was experienced by many at the amount of time and energy which had to be expended at meetings of the Commission in the attempt to dispel what appears to be a certain distrust by the CBCI of the Commission and its consultors” (New Leader 9-9-1979). It looks as if, in the NCBLC, the CBCI has given life to a Frankenstein monster over which it has no power of control.
It is almost always a failure to elicit public opinion through a questionnaire on the Twelve Points. It served the purpose of the experts when the expected happened. They could now say that “the Liturgy Commission had given full opportunity to every one to express opinion, and also given ample time for those interested to send in their replies” (Ibid.) Yet if they sincerely wished to know the people’s mind, there was another source of ascertaining it. The issues had been discussed threadbare in our journals and newspapers. The experts, however, chose to turn a blind eye to this important source, because opinion was overwhelmingly against what they had made up their minds to impose on the Church.
There is of course no place in the church for tyrants. There is the Canon Law governing the affairs of the Church. And we have the law courts to fight the excesses. But eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and we must beware lest we reckon without the host. For one thing, the Hinduizers will raise an out cry that we are undoing their efforts at national integration. Secondly, Rasputins though rare, do make their appearance from time to time. And there may be one who is seen lurking on the horizon. He may have been cultivating political parties, and assuring them that in the event of his promotion to the episcopate, with their assistance, he would bring about the paganization of the Church within a lustrum.
Theology of Incarnation
Inculturation also proved a sandy sheet-anchor to the theology of Incarnation, a school productive of results when tried on a small scale but which bares its feet of clay when put to a more severe test. According to this school, the church becomes incarnate like Christ in space and time, and making herself one with her milieu she adopts its manners, customs and customs speaks its idioms, and participates in its fasts, feast and pilgrimages.
It is however to be feared that in identifying herself with her environment the Church will soon be working at cross purposes, making herself all things to all men in cities like Bombay and most places in India. She may even come to grief when confronted with endemic culture conflicts as between Hindus and Muslims, and may well lose her identity in effecting, as she must, a close union, with a religion like Hinduism with a totally different ethos.
It is maintained in support of the theology of Incarnation that it traces its origin to Vatican II, and in proof thereof AG 10 is cited. According to this decree: “In order to be able to offer all of Church must become part of all these groups for the same motive which has led Christ to bind Himself, in virtue of His Incarnation, to the definite social and the cultural conditions of those human beings among whom He dwelt”.
But it is also the teaching of the Council that Christians should cherish the treasures of wisdom and learning which “a bountiful God has distributed” among non-Christians, but which need to be illuminated “in the light of the Gospel” (AG 17), having been vitiated by demonic influences (AG 17), and further that these treasures be scrutinized in the light of scripture and tradition with a view to knowing “how the customs, outlook on life and social order can be reconciled with the manner of living taught by divine revelation”(AG 22).
This is Christian dynamism which touches nothing which it does not adorn, and whereby in the delightful language of LG 17 ”whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also healed, ennobled and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil, and the happiness of man”.
This noble and generous sentiment is miles away from, nay the very opposite of, the romantic adulation of the simplicity of the Indian character on the part of writers of the ilk of Bede Griffiths who sees idyllic beauty even in the detectable habit of some of our people, to use his own words, “going out into the fields or by the roadside to relieve themselves”. (Griffiths, Return to the Centre, London, Collins, 1976, P. 10) It is possible that Griffiths is inspired by AG 10 we cited above the word -“Incarnation” suggesting, as Fr. F. X. Rocca, S.J. , has rightly remarked, “the idea of a “deep plunge” into the new culture, an idea which is not quite correct; whereas the traditional words used in Scripture and Tradition and repeated also in Vatican II (Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium; Ad Gentes n. 22) i.e., assuming, taking up incorporating, adapting etc., express the fact of a selection of what is taken up, of adapting, changing if necessary what is not congruous with Christianity and the faith of the Church. (Rocca, “Inculturation, Religion, Incarnation”).
Rahner’s theory of anonymous Christians insisting that man be left undisturbed in his society in which certain religious beliefs and rights are obligatory, until he is psychologically overwhelmed by the proclamation of Christian doctrine, runs counter to the attitude of St. Paul who took the Athenians severely to task for their idolatry and polytheism (Acts 17: 16:34f). He would have gone in sack cloth and ashes if a Christian theological conference were to adopt resolutions, as was done at Nagpur, that the pagan religions can be a means of salvation, while adding a salvo, to soothe consciences which would otherwise be disturbed, insisting on the urgency of missions; and openly admit that Christ was present in these religions, albeit hidden, and believe in consequence that the dialogues with non-Christians “were not to be understood in terms of truth and error … salvation and damnation, and by way of contrast and opposition, but for mutual understanding and sharing of religious experience, of spiritual and moral values, enriching both the parties”. (CBCI Report, Calcutta; Appendix p. 78 and p. 140) 37.
It is therefore encouraging that a timely corrective was administered to such views by Pope Paul in his Adhortatio Apostolica Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975). “Notwithstanding the good they contain” the Pope said, “they can at best be preparation for the Gospel”.
And he went on to observe that “if compared even with the most excellent forms of natural religion, the Church holds that she possesses something proper to her alone, namely that in virtue of the religion of Jesus … man is really united with God’s plan, with His living presence and His action; and that the same religion brings it to pass that one encounters the mystery of divine Fatherhood, who bends down to mankind; in other words, that through our religion communion with God, real indeed and living, is actually established, while other religions cannot bring it about, though they seem, so to say, to lift their arms up to heaven”. (No. 53: 4) Translated from the Latin original by Dr. Paul Hacker, “Adaptation – Indigenization- Utilization“)
I think Pope Paul II now gloriously reigning, has brought once for all to an end loose-thinking on Vatican II, the weakest of the synods, being merely pastoral, by his counsel that its decrees be understood in the light of what was decided on self-same matters by earlier Councils, and therefore by the greatest of them all – Trent. It naturally follows that not only the decrees which contradict the latter but also those which have lent themselves to aberrations should be straightaway rejected.
Now, no decrees of Vatican II have been so much abused as SC 37, 38 and 40.
In admitting that “the church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity on matters which do not involve the faith or the good of the whole community”, SC 37 has thrown the gates wide open to an unrestricted and heedless pluriformity which will bring about the eventual dissolution of the Church. The fissiparous tendencies have been already let loose by the virtual abolition of Latin, which like English/Hindi, binding the federal units of the Indian Republic, each using its own medium, could have served as a bond of unity among the local churches, each using in the liturgy its own vernacular.
SC 38 also is subversive of the unity of the Church. It states that “provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is maintained, the revision of the liturgical books should allow for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands”, and in doing so it pounds one more nail into the world-wide character of the Catholic liturgy which is a forceful manifestation of the unity of the Catholic Church already impaired by the disappearance of Latin.
What is worse, it has encouraged tampering with the Mass so much so that the translation of “pro multis”, meaning “for many” into “for all men” has all but invalidated the Novus Ordo in English and the Indian vernaculars, our translations having followed the English rendering instead of the Latin original. Of course you don’t expect theologians and liturgy experts to commit howlers proper to schoolboys. The error is deliberate, and the mistranslation is intended to serve as a groundwork for a new theory of justification which, in promising salvation for all, seeks to lay a flattering function to the soul of a permissive society which would otherwise be tortured. Itself the pathological reflex of the promiscuous society of our times, the theory out-Herods Luther’s theory of justification which stressed the, sole necessity of faith in opposition to the Scriptural Catholic doctrine, based on James II:24, 26: “Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only? For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith works is dead”. According to the above theory, in order to be justified, there is no need of either faith or works. To be saved it is enough to be born.
Finally, SC 40, without defining “substantial unity of the Roman rite” and “legitimate variations and adaptations”, permitted “even more radical adaptation of the liturgy” in the event of circumstances of time and place demanding these variations and adaptations. Here was an opportunity for the liturgy experts to exercise their ingenuity. And not to speak of the plethora of underground liturgy instanced by the marijuana mass, mass with biscuits and whisky used as the elements for consecration, “Teen-age” masses with Coca-Cola and hot dog buns, liturgy has been changed to suit different cultures. There is thus the “black liturgy” which proposes to replace the liturgy of the new Roman Missal, allegedly found unsuitable for blacks. The papal legate rightly refused to attend a celebration of the “black liturgy” by one of its architects at the recent Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia. The Indian or “squatting mass” with “Bhajan style prayer and singing” is of a piece with the black liturgy”, and is open like the latter to serious objection. For one thing, the demand for the liturgy to be adapted to different ages and different peoples is a modernist proposition condemned by St. Pius X in his Pascendi Gregis. He explains that the Modern concept of the evolution of worship – and for the modernist everything should be continually evolving – “consists in the need of availing itself of the value which certain acts have acquired by usage”. (The Examiner, 9 Nov. 1907, p. 448) The proposition fact is posterior to need is unacceptable.
Even Myles M. Bourke in his chapter on the Liturgy in Toward Vatican II (New York, Concilium, 1978, p.238) is not impressed by the need to accommodate to circumstances of time and place. He pertinently observes: “It is illusory to think that all who belong to groups purportedly in need of a rather different liturgy than that now officially set forth by the Roman Church – black, the young, “intellectuals”, etc. – would agree either on the need or on what form the suitable liturgy should have. Before one takes the easy way out of that fact, namely writing off the dissenters as “medieval men” or by some equally pejorative designation, it would be well to recognise that diversity of needs and tastes cuts both ways, not only out of traditional moulds but out of the most “meaningful” forms devised”. De gustibus non est disputandum. 38.
The progressives when they speak of accommodating to needs cannot be understood as voicing the feeling of the ordinary believers for whom they have nothing but contempt, describing them in their writings as “a herd”, “a superstitious caterpillar” and so forth. What they mean is that (as Prof. Hitchcock has shown in his Decline and Fall of Radical Catholicism) “their assumption that their own needs, their own sensibilities, their own insights have a priority and a superiority which the Church must recognise”. “When the progressives speak of the Church’s insensitivity to human needs and rigidity,” he says “they mean exclusively its insensitivity to their own needs”. (Michael Davies, Pope John’s Council, p. 85)
Secondly, the “squatting mass” would be an abomination of abominations if it means that the congregation remains sitting throughout the Mass. It is common etiquette, when a person who is superior to us comes, to signalize our respect for him by standing. It follows therefore that when the Creator of heaven and earth comes to us at Consecration He should be honoured with kneeling and adoration, and we should continue kneeling till Holy Communion during the rest of the Mass. Again, the proper place to celebrate the Mass is the altar and not a footstool or a suitcase, as is reported to have been done by some Jesuits, and never the floor, as would be the case in a “squatting mass”. A seat on the floor is for the lowest of the low and the highest of the mountains, Meru, in Hindu society and mythology. This was how Kalidas, poet laureate who had been deputed as his ambassador to the Kadamba court at Banavasi (now in North Kanara, Karnatak) by the Gupta Emperor of the times consoled himself when he was not given a place befitting his rank but was made to take his seat on the ground, comparing himself to Meru which stands on bare earth. It is also an ancient practice to stand at the Gospel. This was restored by Theophilos the monk (A. D 354) when he noticed that among other abuses it was the custom among the Indian communities to sit at the reading of the Gospel. The powers that be in the Church should not reintroduce such abuses. The question also arises: who gave the permission for the ‘squatting mass’? It is ultra vires if it is celebrated only “with the blessings” of the Archbishop. Permission had to come from Rome.
This is the way the devil is spreading abuses in the Church to start a practice illegally, and then apply to Rome for condonation of the abuses and its continuation. Communion in hand was surreptitiously introduced in the diocese of Ahmedabad. And now we are threatened with its compulsory introduction all over India.
The same may be said with regard to the Bhajan songs. Speaking from what I saw during my term of office at the Elphinstone College (corresponding to the Presidency Colleges at Calcutta and Madras) where the students come of a cross section of orthodox Hindu families (hailing from different linguistic and cultural regions all over the country), there was far better appreciation of western music at the festive gatherings than of the Gujarati, Marathi, and Hindi items painstakingly prepared by the respective languages departments of the College. When asked the reason for this discouraging factor by my colleagues of these departments, the only explanation I could think of was that, attuned as it was to percussion instruments for the most part, Indian music remained where it stood hugging the latter, while Western music, lifting itself by its bootstraps left the percussion stilts behind and advanced to a stage when it could be accompanied by infinitely better instruments like the majestic organ and the violin. Obsolete and archaic, Indian music was the judgment of the youth, out of step with the all-round progress of the age. It was anachronism.
But be the explanation what it may, the point I wish to make he introduction of Bhajan songs will needlessly impoverish our liturgy, besides embroiling it with problems with which it should not in the least concern itself.
Last year in my address to the General Body of the All India Laity Congress at its Third Convention in Madras (Souvenir, pp. 115-14) I expended some thought on the report in The Examiner (4th Feb) of the CBCI meeting at Mangalore. It struck me that, reported, the Adivasi Bishops had gone further than the National, Catechetical, Biblical, and Liturgical Centre, Bangalore, in adapting the liturgy to the genius of their people, these Bishops were doing disservice to the flocks. I observed that these latter will for ever be kept in the primitive rut, not knowing the sublime Gregorian chant, let alone the great masters, as they will not learn the use of Latin for the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, as Pope Paul has rightly exhorted the Catholics to do the world over. It is worthy of note, I went on, that the Goans owe their celebrity as the most musically gifted people in the East to the age-old parochial schools where children were taught to sing these parts of the Mass, following the notation of the great masters like Palestrina and Mozart.
It is for the Adivasi Bishops to bring about a similar development of their people by cultivating among them a love for music, an accomplishment which will add a new and rich dimension to their culture. But if they choose instead to spurn this incomparable Christian heritage, they will inevitably be led to the next steps, in keeping with the programme of inculturation championed by their mentors, and be left to stew in their own juice by adapting Christianity itself to the tribal genius. The result is a foregone conclusion. There will be no nurturing into maturity of this young, unsophisticated and ingenuous people, won over for Christ by the tears, blood and sweat of our missioners of old.
Concluding, I repeat what I said in my welcome address at the AILC Convention at Madras (Souvenir, p. 20) that the Hierarchy is a divine institution. I have nothing but the highest esteem and respect for His Grace Archbishop Henry D’Souza, as successor of the Apostles and member of the Hierarchy. But Amicus Socrates, sed magis amica veritas.
He wrote: I had to reply. It is serious injustice to me to say that I distorted his letter, which I took care to publish in full. I entertain high appreciation of the Indian achievement in the realms of philosophy and religion. I am proud and happy to belong to a race which composed the Mahabharata and invented chess – two works which, it has been nobly said, bear in them something of the eternal and the infinite. True, when vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, the post of honour is a private station. But I cannot remain indifferent when I am convinced that with the adoption of the “Twelve Points” the Church will be Hinduized, and eventually sink to the position of a Hindu sect. And I firmly believe that, in willing to be misled in order to preserve our standing with the so-called periti, we – the clergy and the laity, the bishops and all – will be putting ourselves in the unenviable place of the Emperor in the oft-told tale of Hans Andersen – “The Emperor’s Clothes”.
sd./- George Moraes
Bede Griffiths and Indianisation
Moti Lal Pandit
Fr. Bede Griffiths
of Shantivanam, one of the leading supporters of Indianisation of Liturgy in the Church in India, has through his sentimental and subjective writings done much harm both to Hinduism and Christianity. His interpretation of Hinduism, particularly of the Vedanta of Sankara, has been guided by one principle: to interpret any Hindu doctrine in accordance with his own subjective norms, thus floundering all objective and logical principles of evaluating truth. This we can see by reading his booklet: Sachidananda Ashram, Silver Jubilee.
He starts this booklet by quoting the Vatican council* to the effect that the “Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.” The crux of the problem lies in this very statement. What principle or methodology does he adopt in making a distinction between what is holy and true and what is unholy and untrue? His methodology speaks for itself when he mars the distinction between the Hindu concept of liberation and the Christian concept of the presence of God. To him both the terms mean one and the same thing. A person who has even a little acquaintance with Hinduism knows well that the Hindu idea of “liberation” or “salvation” is not at all guided by the idea of divine eschatology, but by an inherent motion of getting rid overtly or covertly, from the cycle of rebirth. The origin of rebirth is beginning-less in the sense that creation is ‘cyclic’ rather than linear. In cyclic notion of history the very term “God” becomes useless precisely because history does not move towards some purposeful goal but rather moves, without knowing the reason, in revolvetory fashion. In other words, God does not create the world out of nothing; the world exists eternally, When there is dissolution of the universe, it recedes back into an unmanifest condition. After some period, it again comes into manifestation. This so-called law is inherent in matter itself. Hence God has no power to alter this situation. It is in this endless cycle of movement that man is caught. Man does not come into the world because God creates him. He has to suffer this endless coming and going in so far as he is operating under the law of Karma. *Nostra Aetate #2
A Helpless God
Under such a situation God too is helpless. It is not the compassion or mercy of God which can save man from this harsh and deterministic law, that is, Karma, it is rather one’s effort which enables man to transcend the state of action, so that dimension is reached in which inaction is achieved. Hence “techniques” have been invented. It is the “technique” rather than God who is responsible for liberating man from the cycle of samsara. A Hindu never thinks of salvation in terms of meeting his own creator. He is dominated by one idea: how to escape from this world. Liberation, whether it is propounded by Sankara, or by Buddha, or by Ramanuja, ultimately turns out to be a form of escape from the human facticitv. It is travesty of truth to identity Hindu concept of liberation with the search for God. Moreover, Hindu’s concept of God is not only divergent from Christian God, but even in Hinduism every sect has its own notion about the reality or nature of God.
In the system of Sankara, whom Fr. Griffiths extol, God has no place. Personal God (Isvara), according to him, is an illusion, since he is a super-imposition on the difference-less Brahman. What is this difference-less Brahman? He is not a Being who self discloses himself to humanity; he is an IT, that is, a metaphysical principle devoid of any distinction or attribute. In other words, this Brahman is the void of Nagarjuna. It is for this very reason that Madhava called Sankara as a crypto Buddhist.
I do not understand how Fr. Griffiths reconciles this difference-less Brahman with the Biblical God. And yet he persists in saying that there are truths in Vedanta which Christians must adopt. Does he mean that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is lacking something? His contention seems to be so. If it is so, then I feel he is undermining the very truths which the Church holds.
Fr. Griffiths further writes that this presence of God in Hinduism is “fostered by contemplative silence and the practice of Yoga and Sannyasa”. It is very sad to find the use of such expressions as, for example, “contemplative silence”, which has no meaning in relation to Hinduism. Now-a-days Yoga is being much extolled by our Christian monks. Is Fr. Griffiths here speaking of Yoga as a system of thought or as a way of “techniques”. It is very naive and sad to think of Yoga as a suitable means for the practice of meditation. What is the ultimate aim of Yoga philosophy? It is not to achieve union with God. The classical treatise on Yoga by Patanjali does not even have a clear notion of God. For him it is the technique which will deliver man from the vicious circle of rebirth rather than God’s grace. Or course, in one place the mention of Purusha is made. Does this Purusha resemble in any manner the Christina God? The answer is negative. The aim of Yoga is to enable man to achieve the state of “isolation”, which is characterized by total “rest”. The whole philosophical basis of Yoga is derived from atheistic Samkhya. I fail to understand how this Father finds that the presence of God is being fostered through the practice of Yoga. He may, of course be having his own Yoga philosophy.
Who is a Sannyasi?
As far as Sannyasa is concerned, we have to consult some treatises on Sannyasa, which give us the correct perspectives on the origin and development of Sannyasa. Who is a Sannyasi? A person who has renounced the world?
But is it as simple as that? Christ’s priesthood has absolutely nothing in common with the Hindu Sannyas precisely because the latter renounces the world not because he wants to consecrate to God but because he wants to find that mode of existence in which he can transcend his humanity. A Sannyasi is not in search of God, because he does not need God. To him the world as well as its Creator are just terms; they mean nothing to him. The fundamental basis of Hindu Sannyasa is the realization that by negating the world one can achieve liberation from the cycle of samsara. The philosophy of sannyasa as it is practised today has its modern source in the Philosophy of Sankara.
As far as a Christian priest or monk is concerned he does not renounce the world in order to achieve liberation from a cosmic wheel. Christian renunciation is not something negative: it is positive in every respect. A Christian priest by renouncing the world consecrates everything to God. He is not in search of liberation for we have all been liberated not from the world but from sin which alienates us from God. He renounces the world so that he may be able to serve humanity in the same manner as our Lord did. He wants to preach the love of Christ, so that man may be able to participate in the love of God.
It is not difficult to see the error Fr. Griffiths has been committing by identifying Christian priesthood with the Hindu Sannyasa. I can even substantiate my point of view not only from the Hindu manuals, but from recorded conversations. Fortunately, I was able to tape the conversation on this very topic with leading Sannyasis. They in no uncertain terms told me that a Sannyasi is not at all concerned with prayer or God, as a Christian understands. It is a function of a “karmakandi” Prayer and God are meant for those people who are tethered by ‘maya’ to the cosmic wheel. A true sannyasi transcends God, since he knows that God as a person is illusion, because there is only the difference-less Absolute. This Absolute and the self of man are identical and the liberation consists in recognizing this very fact. Where on earth does the question of God arise for a sannyasi?
In order to understand the whole idea of Hindu spirituality, it is necessary to find out what conception of man Hindus have. A Hindu never thinks of man as a contingent being. His conception of man is dualistic in the sense that he finds a dialectical polarisation between soul and body. Man is not a unity of mind, body and soul; to say that man is fundamentally somatic is the indication of “ignorance”. Man’s soul, somehow or the other, gets imprisoned in matter. Hence, every attempt is to be made in separating this soul from the body. One who succeeds in this finally achieves salvation in this very life. In other words salvation of man consists in realizing the fact that the soul is dissimilar to body and, therefore, must be detached from it.
However, it should be kept in mind that, according to Hindu philosophy, the soul is uncreated by God. If the soul is eternal and uncreated, then where does the necessity of God for the salvation of man arise at all? The term God or religion has a sort of psychological function: it satisfies the inherent need of man for religion and God. But when we are concerned with the Hindu philosophy, we soon discover that a highly sophisticated Hindu has quite different notions about religion than that of a common man. An ordinary Hindu has nothing in common with a Hindu who is educated, Hindu religion, if I am allowed to use the term religion, does not revolve around God: it revolves round man. I, too, can establish my own religion. Modern Godmen are the best examples.
Fr. Griffiths further writes: “At our prayer we have from the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagvadgita”. I do not know what is the purpose of Fr. Griffiths in reading these texts.
lf one studies all these texts with on open mind, one soon discovers that there is nothing which can help one, as an authentic Christian, in one’s faith. Then what purpose does the reading of these texts serve? Here below I may give a short account of all these texts.
The religion of the Vedas is inspired by the belief in the efficacy of gods. A Vedic hymn in a ritual act is always utilised with the purpose of accomplishing some material gain. In the hymns of the Rigveda we find a naive belief in the destructive potency of the gods who unless invoked and propitiated would pour down wrath upon the helpless creatures in form of death, disease, famine, and so on. These hymns, as Max Muller points out, are the “native songs of simple herdsmen extolling mighty nature around them.” The belief in the magical power of the hymn is uppermost in the minds of the people. The belief in magic is such that some scholars think of the Vedas as the books of magical techniques.
Vedas and Efficacy of Sacrifice
The religion of the Vedas is inspired by the belief in the efficacy of sacrifice. It is a religion of the priest who, through sacrifices, barters with the gods of nature. These gods are the personification of the forces of nature. The Vedic religion is utility oriented combined with, and based on, the belief in the terrible potency of gods. The poets of the Vedas conceive these gods as mighty, terrible and full of devastating strength.
These gods are praised and extolled in so far as they prove helpful to the priest in obtaining material benefits. It is a polytheism in which no true reverence is shown to the gods. It is around these gods that the institution of sacrifice is developed the point is this: What sort of inspiration or revelation does Fr. Griffiths find in the Vedas? Is the Holy Scripture lacking in sacrifices? I want to know where does he draw the line of distinction between the natural revelation and the revelation of God in Jesus Christ? 42.
As far as the Upanishads are concerned, we cannot, in the words of S. Dasgupta, find any coherent system of thought or doctrine in them. We find in them magic and esoteric mysticism, nihilism, pantheism and monism. The early speculation is materialistic in the sense that the ultimate reality is identified with breath, water, food, etc. There is even a tendency to transcend morality.
In the Vedas the fear of God is prevalent; in the Brahmanas the fear of gods is subdued through sacrifice, whereas the Upanishads teach to ignore gods in order to become God.
The philosophy of the Upanishads is permeated with deep pessimism. The world and human life have no value in themselves. The main thesis of the Upanishads is: myself is not different from the difference-less Brahman. Hence the conclusion: nothing exists apart from my own self. This theory is expressed in the following statements:
Thou art that; This individual soul is the absolute: I am Brahman, and Consciousness is Brahman.
In conclusion we may give the brief summary of the philosophy of the Upanishads:
(1) This would is not ex nihilo created by God. It emanates from the absolute. The absolute itself is not aware of this fact. The world is a sort of deceptive magic.
(2) The absolute and the soul are identical
(3) There is neither sin nor goodness. They are relative terms.
(4) Everything is a reflection of the absolute. Nothing is real.
I am astonished at the fact Fr. Griffiths, knowing all these things yet persists in Hinduising Christianity. Finally I would like to know whether he has obtained the permission of his local Bishop in practising Hinduism in the garb of Christianity especially now that the Sacred Congregation of Worship has explicitly forbidden any experimentation. Let him be honest. He cannot serve two masters in one breath.
Information on Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB, Shantivanam Ashram and the Catholic Ashrams Movement:
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS AND THE CAMALDOLI BENEDICTINES
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS AND THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS-LETTERS FROM BISHOPS IN RESPONSE TO THE REPORT
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS-SUMMARY IN FRENCH
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS-SUMMARY IN SPANISH
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS-SUMMARY-MARIA LAURA PIO
Modernism as Imported in India
Fr. Dr. Prof. J. P. M. Van der Ploeg O.P.
In the January 1975 issue of The Laity, (pp. 14-17) I criticized an article published by Father A. M Bermejo S.J. on the Holy Eucharist. It was not a pleasure having to write these things; it was to discharge what the present writer felt as an obligation of charity towards Christian readers in India. “It would be misery to me not to preach” (I Cor 9, 16) and this applies also to not correcting the error in matters of faith. The reader should keep this in mind while reading this article.
In “One in Christ“, a Benedictine publication from London, Father Luis M. Bermejo of the Pontifical Athenaeum, Poona 14, published an article “Rome and Canterbury on the Ministry” (One in Christ, XI, 1975, pp. 145-181) which is even worse than the article mentioned above (A. M. Bermejo is the same as Luis M. Bermejo, cf. the article just quoted, note 1). This time he discussed the so-called Canterbury Statement on “Ministry and ordination”, a document published by the same Anglican/Roman Catholic Commission which previously issued “An Agreed Statement on Eucharistic Doctrine,” The Cambridge Statement (Sept. 1973) is of the same value as the Canterbury one: it was accepted by Protestant Anglicans and Catholics, without any conversion of the former to the Catholic doctrine, which speaks for itself. The text was published by the Information service of the Secretariate for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome, no 23, 1974/1 66-19, without any comment. In a post-scriptum the commission remarks that it “will be glad to receive observations and criticism made in a constructive and fraternal spirit”. In a note at the end (note 4) it also observes that according to the 39 articles of the Anglican Creed only two out of seven sacraments can be said “ordained by Christ”. The five others are only “commonly called sacraments”. This means that the Anglican doctrine of priesthood is fundamentally different from the Catholic as proclaimed by Trent. It is perhaps in accordance with this that the commission claimed Anglican-Catholic consensus “on essential matters” (nr 77), not telling whether some equally essential matters were left out. Nothing was stated on the validity of the present Anglican ordinations.
The International Theological Commission (Rome) also issued a document on the Apostolicity of the Church and the Apostolic Succession (French text to be found in Documentation Catholique 7 July 1974, pp.613-6L8). It is explicitly contains the Catholic doctrine that the “apostolic succession” of the ministers of the Church is received “by a visible and efficacious sign of the Gift of the Spirit an act which has as instrument one or more ministers, themselves included in the Apostolic Succession”. In other terms: the Apostolic Succession of the “ministry” is a Sacramental one and supposes sacramental ordination.
Fr. Bermejo is very critical of this. The idea of “the absolute necessity of sacramental ordination to have a valid and genuine ministry”, the “central thesis, one could say” of the Roman document (a.c., p. 148) is, according to him, “open to criticism” (p. 149). According to the author a text like Acts 15, 6-13 “renders the theory of apostolic-episcopal succession extremely unlikely” (p. 159). He is quite sure that “the fundamental absolutely normative criterion to which all others, no matter how valid, have to yield” is to New Testament, not the CHURCH (p 163/4). The Roman Commission considers the Catholic Church as “the supreme criterion of judgement, but this is wrong; “No Church should consider itself as the supreme norm of orthodoxy; rather, all Christian Churches, acknowledging their humble dependence on the Lord, should let themselves be judged and if need be corrected by the searching light of the New Testament” (p 164). This is pure Protestant doctrine and one asks with astonishment why Bermejo still calls himself a member of a religious Order of the Catholic Church, especially of a society which did so much to stem the tide of Protestantism in the 16th century and afterwards.
There is even more: since we only find bishops at the heads of Churches in the beginning of the 2nd century, Bermejo contends, St. Peter could never have been Bishop of Rome (p. 156; p. 159): “Very likely Peter did not reach Rome until approximately . . . somewhere in the early 60s . . . and it is only in the second century that a local bishop, distinct from and superior to, the college of presbyters emerges in the church of Rome”. Fr. Bermejo not only upholds the Protestant sola scriptura, “the Bible only” doctrine, in a modernistic version, of course but he goes even so far as to conclude from the silence of the New Testament the non-existence of institutions which according to Catholic doctrine, ever were in the Church (p. 151, 160 161). This equals to the denial of the Catholic doctrine of Holy Tradition as a source of faith. (Trent and Vatican II)
Bible alone Supreme
Bermejo resumes his criticism of the Roman document by calling it (critical) “a strongly Catholic document which many are likely to find particularly unhelpful for the furtherance of the ecumenical dialogue”; the Commission is “firmly entrenched, in the Catholic fortress of the past”, its “overriding principle, having been “the multi-secular tradition of the Church rather than its apostolic origins as recorded in the New Testament” (p. 163). Bermejo does not approve of all this. Then follows the passage quoted above that the Church is not the supreme criterion of judgement, but the Bible.
It is one of the oldest objections of Protestantism to Catholicism that the Catholic Church, being an institution established on earth; is wrongly pretending that its authority can override that of the Bible: the word of God Himself.
But this is only a caricature of Catholic Doctrine. No authority is higher than God’s, no word is of more authority than the word of God in Holy Scripture. But, as also Vatican II, teaches, the Bible comes to us a part of a living tradition and the church has divine authority to explain it, where necessary. A court, especially a high-court, is never above the law it has to apply, but in doubtful cases explains the law. Fr. Bermejo’s argumentation and conclusions are completely Protestant and it would only be honest for him to leave the church if he is unwilling to acknowledge his errors and do penance.
The Canterbury statement finds more favour with him. Here too he is critical. According to him “one should not forget that the Eucharist is primarily the Lord’s gift to the whole church and hence it is not inconceivable that when she finds herself in extreme frontier situations and deprived of rightly ordained ministers, she should entrust the celebration of the Eucharist to an unordained member of the community” (p. 168/9) . This is a heretical view, for which the author quotes Kung and others. The Japanese Catholics of Nagasaki, converted by St. Francis Xavier, did not think like Bermejo when they kept the Catholic faith during three centuries, without any priests, they did not presume to celebrate the Eucharist without priests and they were right.
Doctrine of Trent
Bermejo blames the Anglican-Roman commission for not having mentioned “with an eye on non-episcopal Churches, that ordination, is only one of the various possibilities even if now the most widely practiced of creating ministers and that other ways of inducting into the ministry are, not thereby excluded, (p. 166). The “Sacrament depends on the Church, not the Church on the Sacrament”, he contends (p. 169), followed up by the startling assertion: “One cannot brush aside as insignificant the fact that the New Testament nowhere demands the presence of a minister, ordained or unordained, for the right of the Eucharist” (p. 169). The doctrine of Trent “that at the supper Jesus made the Apostles priests” is a “contention, exegetically incorrect” (p. 170, note 45) …p. 173: The fear which seems to be always lurking in the Anglican mind, of conceiving the minister as a ‘sacrificing priest’ performing a eucharistic sacrifice could have been dispelled by a resolute adoption of a scriptural vocabulary, since the New Testament presents its ministers in the light of functions other than cultic” (p. 173). Thus Bermejo’s article page after page abounds with statements of this kind. They prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that the author ceased to be a Catholic theologian and is propagating liberal, Protestant doctrines. I am sure that not all the Bishops of India are unaware of what is happening. What are they doing? Bermejo may continue to teach, but not in a “Pontifical Athenaeum” or in the Catholic Church.
Jeevadhara’s Jesus Today
Still worse, are a number of articles which one finds in the May-June, 1975 issue of Jeevadhara, published at Alleppey, all on “Jesus Today”. Five of them written by members of the famous Society to which also Fr. Bermejo belongs and which has once rendered such immense services to the Church of India. From a Catholic point of view, some of the articles are simply repulsive, in the midst of them a few pages written by a sister are refreshing, but we do not intend to speak of them here.
Most of the five articles omit clearly to state that Jesus is the Son of God, the eternal and Personal Word of the Father, which became Flesh. Not only that, but one can only conclude from the texts that not all the authors admit this Christian doctrine, without which Christianity is to be put on one level with other religions, if it does not become a kind of humanism, as some would prefer. No one of the five authors, most of them well known (Samuel Rayan; Seb Kappen; K. Kunnumpuram; Soares Prabhu; Xavier Irudayaraj) is telling anything new; they are importing into India the mentally and spiritually corrupt modernism with which we have been saturated in Europe already so many postconciliar years.
This is no exaggeration: there is not a single original statement in more than fifty pages of their articles. Except for the pages written by Irudayaraj it is all foreign import and the worst kind. Jesus was a man like the others, limited and conditioned by his time and the ideas of his Jewish environment; after his example we may now preach political and social revolution. To quote: “For he (= Jesus) was a product of his culture, and his thinking bears the mark of the world that bore him” (p. 175): “He lies buried under the weight of accumulated layers of rituals, rubrics, laws, concepts, legends, myths, superstitions and institutions. He lies bound hand and foot by innumerable cords that tradition has cast around him. His voice is smothered, his spirit is stifled. If he still acts and makes his presence felt in history, it is less through the official church that through honest dissenters among Christians” (p. 174)….’…. it was natural for the early Christians to raise Jesus to the status of a mythical person” (p. 177; all the quotation from Kappen, S.J.) Jesus had undying faith in the human person”….”he believed that human beings can live together in love (p. 181), he had “enormous faith in man” (sic! Jesus never had any “faith”, being the Son of God and he certainly had no “enormous faith” in his opponents who condemned him to death). Jesus was “a product of a particular culture” (p 187), he was “deeply concerned that people should be masters of their destiny and not mere playthings in the hands of the State” (p. 188). All this, and other startling declarations too, is from Kunnumpuram S.J., who nevertheless states that Jesus “proclaimed” the forgiveness of sins by God, but forgets to say that Jesus himself forgave sins (he also forgets to say that Jesus is God and “who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mark 2: 7) On p. 185 the author says that Jesus “laid stress on love for one’s fellowman rather than on love for God”, a Lutheran idea, unacceptable for the Catholic Christian.
The article “The miracles of Jesus Today”, by Soares Prabhu S.J. is the worst of all, blasphemous for one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, who created heaven and earth. It is the author’s idea that miracles do not happen and never happened. You wish to know why? Here it is: “The vast success of science is due to its long experience….in regard to the absolute regularity of nature” (p. 199); without this regularity one “could scarcely put a man on the moon” (1.c); therefore “it is increasingly difficult to conceive of exception to the laws (as a miracle would be defined today). . .” (1.c) But (in the modernist fashion) the author is willing still to speak of “miracles”, which “do not create faith but presuppose it” (p. 197).
“Nowhere, indeed, does the New Testament attempt a miracle-based apologetic”. This is in complete contradiction with John 20, 23-31: “Many other signs (miracles) therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. But THESE ARE WRITTEN. THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE THAT JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, and that believing ye may have life in his name”. The 1st Vatican Council has the following canon “If one says that miracles cannot happen and that, for this reason, all the stories of them even those related in Holy Scriptures, are to be relegated among fables or myths, or that miracles can never be known with certitude and that the divine origin of the Christian religion cannot rightly be proved by them: he be excommunicated (anathema sit) (canon 4 on the Faith: Denzinger-S. 3034).
Father Soares Prabhu, De Nobili College, Pune knows all this perfectly well, but writes “The Gospel miracles do not authenticate Jesus but are authenticated by him!” (p. 198). He admits that there is “a solid historical nucleus of the Gospel miracle tradition” (p. 200), but he says, the reports of the miracles are “like the rest of the Gospel material, sedimentations of a theologically loaded tradition, considerably touched up while being transmitted orally in a community before the Gospels were written” (1.c.). Some facts, therefore, are being the stories, this should be admitted, but what the reverend Father refuses to admit, is, that Jesus performed real miracles. This belief according to him, goes back “to the miracle-based apologetic of traditional theology the defensive, over-abstract, largely unbiblical theology of the ‘siege years’ from Trent to Vatican II, in which the miracles of Jesus (understood as divine interventions in the order of nature) were built up into unassailable credentials of his divine mission, not irrefutable proofs of his divinity” (p. 301).
All this nonsense is in flat contradiction with Catholic faith and with the history of theology as well. Faith cannot be proved in the proper sense of the word, but it can be proved that it is reasonable, most reasonable indeed, to believe. The divine interventions of God in his creation are the convincing proofs of this credibility, as the 1st Vatican Council (held in “those bad ‘siege years’ between Trent and Vatican II”) teaches.
Demons, Have Departed
It goes without saying that Father Soares Prabhu does not believe in the existence of demons: “Demons have departed from our world, drummed out by the relentless march of a ruthlessly rationalist science” (p.202) he says, adding however in a note the startling words that this “does not necessarily mean the denial of Satan, a personal power of evil. But Satan too is increasingly in theological trouble.” . . . Or rather Father Soares Prabhu?
Concluding, the reverend Father asks, his reader, whether Jesus, appearing among us today would “come as a healer and, exorcist, competing with the doctors and psychiatrists who have adequately, assumed these functions?” No, would he not rather open the eyes of this hearers “to the grim realities of injustice and oppression” etc? (p. 203). In Europe we are accustomed to this kind of senseless talk which is largely destroying Catholic faith among us with the terrible consequences we see every day. Fr. Soares Prabhu, S.J. is now doing the work for India.
In a following article Fr. Irudayaraj would “re-read the scriptures in an Indian context” (209 – 218). He wants to read the Gospel of St. John in the light of the life of Mahatma Gandhi (p. 214), a reading, he says, which “offers us certain challenges and invites us to concrete response in liberating the Indian church (p. 214). Who, I ask, oppresses the India church? From whom had it be “liberated”? The writer asks several times for the creation of a national “Indian church” (p. 216). In the whole article (“Jesus Means Truth that Sets Men Free) there is no reference all to the true Christian freedom Jesus, the son of God, brought us. The whole consideration is biased, as the following words prove. It is the same God who, in the fullness of time, sends his son in the flesh so that he may liberate all men from all slavery to which sin has subjected them: hunger, misery, oppression, and ignorance, in a word, “injustice and hatred which have their origins in human selfishness” (p. 212). Of course it is a duty of every Christian to fight the evil in this world, by doing something against it and by self-sacrifice (not by writing revolutionary articles from behind a writing desk in a comfortable armchair). Jesus came to preach the Kingdom of God which is not of this world. He came to give us eternal life after this life. He told us to seek first the kingdom of God and the rest only afterwards (Matthew 6, 33). It is perverting the right order when we are told that Jesus came to preach earthly justice, not mentioning at all, or at most as something secondary, the goal of eternal life he set before us.
The remarks made above apply even more to Ryan’s article. ‘The Price He Paid’ (pp. 218-224). It is the custom of modernists to make caricatures of the Catholic or Christian faith they have given up. Such a caricature is found p. 219 where a “Classical theology” is described, according to which “a conflict raging (sic) in God’s own heart between his mercy and his justice” would have had as an out come the idea of “a God whose justice is a Shylock demanding his pound of flesh, and knowing no mercy”, because according to it Jesus was delivered to death for the sins of men. 46.
“No wonder Ryan adds such a God died in due time and was disowned by men” (p. 219). In the words quoted, Ryan willfully distorts the doctrine of St. Paul and of the Church that Christ died for the sins of men in obedience to his Father. Sure, this doctrine is denied in the so-called Dutch Catechism, under the influence of P. Schoonenberg S.J., but the commission of Cardinal which had to correct the numerous mistakes of this fatal book, also emphatically corrected this heresy (Nr IV of the Report). The article continues to speak on “the liberation of men” as preached by Jesus, not mentioning at all the liberation of sins. It was for this liberation Jesus came down from heaven. Salvation is first of all of sins. This is not even mentioned in Ryan’s article. The writer also tells us that God and Jesus want us to be more “human” to have “complete humaness”. In those bad former times in which the Council of Trent was still a light for the Church, and also in the Middle Ages and long before that, we were told that we have to be more perfect. Now we are told we should be more “human”. This way of speaking came into use, no doubt, because of the denial of original sin. Sin is very “human” we experience it every day. To be more “human” may also mean to be more sinful, not even to exclude more criminal. “I am a man, old Terentius said, and I think that nothing human is alien to me”
This includes good actions as well as bad ones, virtues as well as vices. “Humaness” (Ryan, p. 221) can never take the place or Christian perfection, especially not where “the Camillo Torreses whose brood fills the chalices they laid aside for a gun” (p. 223) are hailed as perfect examples of that humaness which should be the Christian ideal. To sum up. Fr. Ryan gives a very distorted and “humanised” idea of the ideal Christian and of the work of Jesus Christ as well,
Church in India
The Catholic Church of India is predominantly the Church of simple people, many of whom have great faith. I witnessed it a year ago at Goa, at the occasion of the exposition of the body of St. Francis Xavier. Lakhs of faithful had come there even from the most distant parts of India, after long journeys, spending all the money they had spared from their meagre earnings. It was a testimony of their Catholicity. Now this faith is threatened by members of the teaching clergy, teaching modernism wholly imported from Europe (and the U.S.A.). It threatens to destroy the Church in India in the same way it already did in Europe.
Not a few have called it “la trahison des clercs”, the treason of clergymen. If professors in seminaries and in pontifical athenaeums are permitted to teach wholesale modernism, priests and nuns will very soon be shaken in their faith, common faithful will begin to doubt, others, many others will give up the faith altogether, there will be a struggle in the Church and evangelisation will stop. All these things happen in Europe, especially in a small country like Holland where one can witness it every day. They are now threatening India. In the January 1975 issue of The Laity we noted (p. 18) that in 1974, as compared with 1956, about half the faithful who used to visit the church in Holland on Sundays, ceased to do so. One Church after another is closed and broken down, many empty on sun days. The worst of all is that nearly all the youth have lost their faith. The Nijmegen “Catholic University” is now a breeding place of Marxism; sexual immorality may be freely propagated there and recently one could see in the university, weekly an announcement of a meeting of “red-homosexuals” (for the last term a very vulgar word was used) in the parish house of the catholic student’s church. And let, no one think that these are exceptional aberrations. They are not; some years ago a congress of homosexual students was held in Church itself.
Let the Catholic Church in India beware! If her theologians lose the faith and if the Hierarchy allows them to teach modernism, the Catholic Church of India will soon meet a most severe crisis, if not destruction.
JEEVADHARA [www.jeevadhara.org] is a “Journal for Socio-Religious Research”, published every month alternately in English and Malayalam from Kottayam, Kerala. From the year 2004 information that I have with me, the General Editor is Joseph Constantine Manalel. The Editor – Book Review is J.B. Chethimattam.
There are four on the Sectional Board of Editors:
Swami Vikrant, Thomas Manickam, Joseph Thayil.
They are followed by eleven Section Editors:
Sebastian Painadath, Kuncheria Pathil,
Felix Wilfred, Augustine Mulloor, John Padipurackal, Sunny Maniyakupara, Mathew Variamattom, Jose Panthackal, George Karakunnel, and Mathew Paikada.
Since they do not use the prefix “Father” one can only presume that all of the above-named are priests, and many of them, if not all, are theologians.
Out of the seventeen priests, four of the editorial staff are contributors to Vandana Mataji’s infamous occult book Shabda Shakti Sangam belonging to the Catholic Ashrams movement; they are Paul Puthanangady SDB,
Swami Vikrant SDB, Sebastian Painadath SJ and Kuncheria Pathil CMI.
Again, four of the seventeen editorial staff are contributors to their own dissenting production: “Theological Response to the Vatican Document [New Age]”*, Jeevadhara, Volume XXXIV No. 201, May 2004, 88 pages. Their names: Paul Puthanangady SDB,
Sebastian Painadath SJ, J.B. Chethimattam, and P.T. Mathew.
Painadath, Swami Vikrant, Mathew, Puthanangady, etc.
are leaders in the Catholic Ashrams movement.
*See THEOLOGIANS LAMBAST THE VATICAN DOCUMENT ON THE NEW AGE
Jeevadhara: New Age
Theological Response to the Vatican Document edited by Fr. Sebastian Painadath SJ
is a collection of articles by liberal theologians trashing and rejecting the February 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age.
“Stop judging, that you will not be judged” is the title of Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ’s article in response to
Dominus Iesus. He and many other theologians attacked Rome’s stand on the unicity of Jesus in the landmark Document.
See Jeevadhara: A Journal of Christian Interpretation, (Vol. XXXI, No. 83, May 2001), p. 179-182.
The Asian Church in Dialogue with Dominus Iesus
By Edmund Chia, FSC
This brings me to the final part of my presentation, namely, to discuss the response of the third Magisterium of the Institutional Church, namely, the academic Magisterium of the theological community. As alluded to earlier, in general, the response of the theologians of Asia to Dominus Iesus was mainly critical and negative. In fact, an entire issue of the Jeevadhara theological journal from India was dedicated to these responses. The various articles, written by scholars from across Asia, dismissed Dominus Iesus for its incompatibility with the experience of Asian Catholics with religious pluralism.
An Answer to Critics
Professor Dr. George M. Moraes
All India Laity Congress
Your Eminence /Your Grace/Your Excellency
It is with grievous pain & deep sorrow that Catholic India must have received the news of the decision of the Liturgy Commission to place on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the CBCI its proposals for compulsory introduction of distribution of Holy Communion in hand and of the Vedic rites into the Holy Mass.
I was busy with some urgent work when I read this disconcerting news in the New Leader of 9th September, and was biding my time to prepare a representation to the Hierarchy after I had finished the work I had in hand. The receipt about 20th September of a rejoinder to my reply (9th May) to His Grace Archbishop Henry D’Souza by Rev. Fr. Cassian Parichha, a priest of the archdiocese served as an incentive to apply my mind forthwith to the grave issue raised in the rejoinder, which partly coincided with the proposals the Liturgy Commission had inserted in the agenda of the CBCI meeting.
I accept Fr. Parichha’s reasons for sending his comments on my reply to the Archbishop so late in the day. But it so happens that his rejoinder appears on the eve of the CBCI meeting when it is not improbable that the points I made against inculturation etc., in my reply may not be fresh in the mind of the Hierarchy. I therefore beg to be permitted to circulate my thoughts on Fr Parichha’s comments among the members of this august body together with what I deem to be the response of the layman to the proposals made by the Liturgy, Commission. And I pray that the Hierarchy be pleased to give a favourable consideration to our humble submission.
Imploring your blessings
Sd- George M. Moraes
A Hindu Convert Writes to India’s Hierarchy
M. Rajareegam, M. Sc., B. Ed, Madurai
To, The Most Rev. Archbishops and Bishops of India, C.B.C.I.
Your Eminence, Your Excellency,
With heavily distressed mind and languishing heart I pen this letter you beseeching you all to consider the matter seriously and take necessary actions.
I am a convert to Christ from an orthodox Hindu family and I value my Faith more than anything on earth. I beg to add that I do innately perceive the inner meanings of Hindu symbols and gesture more than a born Catholic would do. Hence, I wish to speak plainly and state that the innovations brought into Liturgy in recent years amount to, to speak the truth, a deplorable profanation of the Holy Name of God. Let me substantiate my statement.
(1) Introducing Anjali Hasta in the place of Genuflection is too poor an expression of adoration. Please consider the Hindu Sastra which I quote hereunder. “Thus shall Anjali be made to god and others: Men folk shall make Anjali to Thirumurthi by raising the folded hand 12 inches above the head, to other gods by placing the folded hand over the head, to gurus on the forehead, to Kings and Pitha (Father) on the mouth, to Brahmins on the chest, to Madha on the stomach”.
“To Pitha, Madha and Devas, men folk shall make the anjali by Ashtanga Sashtangam”. But the womenfolk shall make the anjali to all persons cited above and to husbands by Panjanga Pranam”.
A careful reading of this Sastra will disclose to any ordinary man that the anjali due to gods and men very only in grade because all entities we perceive are God in different forms. This is the faith of the Hindus. There is no question of Creator and creature which is the fundamental truth for us Christians. To make use of a Sastra that is built on pantheistic philosophy is tantamount is subscribing to that faith. Can we Christians do that? The Creator must be honoured by the Creature by a unique gesture of adoration, which is genuflection as accepted by the Church.
The consideration that we give a new meaning to anjali hasta is fantastic. How can Christians who count only two percent venture to alter the meaning all along existing and upheld by 98 percent of Hindus? This does not stand to reason.
(2) The question of Communion in hand, in the context of Hindu practices, is either a renouncement of our Faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord or a blatant desecration of the Holy Eucharist. I explain it. When a Hindu goes to the temple to worship, he, or she is given the Theertham (Holy Water which is nothing but the water used to bathe the idols). As per Hindu Sastra, the recipient of the Theertham must cover the left palm with a cloth over the cloth place the right hand palm facing up. The Theertham is served and the devotee drinks it with great reverence.
The clean cloth in between the hands is used in order to prevent the spilling of holy water on the ground, that much of reverence a Hindu has for the Holy Water. Now the Bishops are proposing to introduce the same service sans cloth, for the reception of the Lord, God of all creation. Can we ever imagine that, in the context of Hindu practice, such a mode could be proposed by a Catholic Bishop? When a Hindu gives such a great veneration to mere Theertham, what supreme reverence must be thought of and accorded to the Holy Eucharist? Is there any point of comparison between the Theertham and Incarnate God in the Blessed Sacrament? And to introduce a service that will, in theory and practice equate both, it is not a horrible profanation?
[Reverence to the Real Presence]
(3) A further point to show the Indian spirit of veneration is this: When a Hindu devotee goes on pilgrimage to the Ayyappa Temple in the fag end of his journey, he has to ascend eighteen stone steps to reach the foot of the temple. And after paying homage to the deity he has to return. But how? He should not show his back to the deity and so has to step down all the eighteen steps backward only, all the time facing the temple. We speak of Indianisation, of Indian spirit. If so what reverence should the Catholic show to the Almighty God, the Incarnate Lord and Master who is in the Tabernacle. Yes, we want to ape the Hindus, without their spirit.
To be frank, can any Hindu come to know of the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament from all the insertions of Hindu symbols and gestures in addition to the way we behave in the Church? We honour HIM only by a nod of the head which is done to any friend in the street. The people come in and go out without their being consciously aware of the Presence of God, the Priests deal with the Blessed Sacrament slovenly, carelessly and irreverently, completely under distraction: the administering and receiving of Holy Communion do not appear to be dealing with the Holy of Holies. What is the Indianizing we talk about, when the Indian spirit is totally wanting?
OM is Krishna
(4) The New Leader reports in its issue of 17-9-79 that the CBCI is going to discuss on “OM before the Blessed Sacrament”. Pardon me. I am reminded of the famous Nero playing the fiddle to enjoy himself when the whole town of Rome was on fire. To discuss on OM please consider what Krishna speaks in the Bhagavath Geeta: “Arjuna, I am the sapidity in water and the light of the Moon and the Sun; I am the sacred syllable OM in all the Vedas” (BK. VII.8).
Leaving aside all other meanings of OM, I take this one meaning that OM is Krishna. If OM and Krishna are identical, and if that is what the Hindus believe, how can a Bishop dare place OM before the Blessed Sacrament? Will it not mean to Hindus that Krishna is enshrined in the Tabernacle? A symbol inseparably connected with error ought to be obviously rejected. What then is the need for discussing this point? Is it to equate Christ with Krishna or to replace Christ by Krishna? I am extremely shocked at the very idea.
[Hinduising the Liturgy]
(5) Another item to be proposed for discussion, as per report of New Leader, is the study of Vedic Sacrifice and agamic puja with a view to introduce them in our Liturgy. “Know what you are to do” is the wise saying. Let me quote two well known and accepted authorities of Vedic studies – Ralph P. H. Griffiths and A. Barth tell us what Hindu Sacrifices mean.
“The Preservation of the whole world according to Vedic view rests on the sacrifice offered by men, as these (sacrifices) give to gods strength and enable them to perform their duties”, (Griffiths’ comment on verse 5 ch. 36).
“In the grossest sense, Vedic sacrifice is a bargain. Man needs things which the gods possess such as rain, light, warmth, health, while gods are hungry and seek offerings from man. There is giving and receiving on both sides. The idea of purely spiritual life of gods in particular that they neither eat nor drink is foreign to these hymns of Vedas” (A. Barth’s Religions of India, pp 35-36).
So we see what the sacrifices of Hindus are. Our sacrifice of Mass is total Immolation of the Incarnate God to expiate the sins of humanity. Can there be any thing common between the two. The notion of adoration and expiation is totally wanting in the Hindu sacrifice. Even the notion of impetration is basically different. If so, when we introduce certain forms of Hindu sacrifice in our liturgy, we will appear to be, for sure, watering down our Faith, equating ours with theirs. Further we fail miserably to impart to the Hindus the Supreme Immolation of the Incarnate God purely out of Love.
By doing all these Hinduising, can we in conscience say that we are preaching Christ? We must be honest and truthful.
In my humble opinion, in the present-day trend of adaptation, I am made to believe that there is a systematic, minutely calculated process, a process that aims at destroying the sacredness of our Sacrifice, the Real Presence of our Divine Lord in the Blessed, Eucharist, a process that has worked the removal of the Tabernacle from the Centre to a negligible corner, the removal of the word Adoration in songs and prayers, the undermining of the Almighty God by Anjali Hasta, the standing posture to receive the Divine Lord of Eucharist, without any adoration as demanded by the church and now it is going to work out its intent by serving Communion in hand, as much as a Hindu receives Theertham.
All these items show clearly that the enemy is within the camp and all those who play the second fiddle, wittingly or unwittingly are serving the cause of the enemy.
Your Eminence, Your Excellency, may I humbly request you not to drive us away from Christ back to Hinduism, but in all Christian love and fairness, help us to live the Faith of our Fathers, the Living Faith.
Craving your Blessings and prayers
I beg to remain.
Your Obedient Child in Christ Jesus
Communion in the hand should be rejected
Dietrich von Hildebrand
There can be no doubt that Communion in the hand is an expression of the trend towards desacralization in the Church in general and irreverence in approaching the Eucharist in particular. The ineffable mystery of the bodily presence of Christ in the consecrated host calls for a deeply reverent attitude. (To take the Body of Christ in our un-anointed hands — just as if it were a mere piece of bread is something in itself deeply irreverent and detrimental for our faith.) Dealing with this unfathomable mystery as if we were merely dealing with nothing but another piece of bread, something we naturally do every day with mere bread, makes the act of faith in the real bodily presence of Christ more difficult. Such behavior toward the consecrated host slowly corrodes our faith in the bodily presence and fosters the idea that it is only a symbol of Christ. To claim that taking the bread in our hands increases the sense of the reality of the bread is an absurd argument. The reality of the bread is not what matters — that is also visible for any atheist. But the fact that the host is in reality the Body of Christ — the fact that transubstantiation has taken place — this is the theme which must be stressed.
Arguments for Communion in the hand based upon the fact that this practice can be found among the early Christians is not really valid. They overlook the dangers and the inadequacy of re-introducing the practice today. Pope Pius XII spoke in very clear and unmistakable terms against the idea that one could re-introduce today customs from the times of the catacombs. Certainly we should try to renew in the souls of Catholics today the spirit, fervor, and heroic devotion found in the faith of the early Christians and the many martyrs from among their ranks. But simply adopting their customs is something else again; customs can assume a completely new function today, and we cannot and should not simply try to re-introduce them.
Exception for Emergency
In the days of the catacombs the danger of desacralization and irreverence which threatens today was not present. The contrast between the saeculum [secular] and the holy Church was constantly in the minds of Christians. Thus a custom which was not danger in those times can constitute a grave pastoral danger in our day.
Consider how St. Francis regarded the extraordinary dignity of the priest which consists exactly in the fact that he is allowed to touch the Body of Christ with his anointed hands. St. Francis said: “If I were to meet at the same time a saint from heaven and a poor priest, I would first show my respect to the priest and quickly kiss his hand, and then I would say: ‘O wait, St. Lawrence, for the hands of this man touch the Word of Life and possess a good far surpasses everything that is human’.”
Someone may say: but did not St. Tarcisius distribute Communion though he was no priest? Surely no one was scandalized because he touched the consecrated host with his hands. And in an emergency, a layman is today allowed to give Communion to others.
But there is a great difference between this case of touching the consecrated host with our un-anointed hands and that of taking Communion in the hand as a matter of course — on all occasions. To be allowed to touch the consecrated host with un-anointed hands is in no way presented to the faithful as an awe-inspiring privilege. It becomes the normal form of receiving Communion. And this fosters an irreverent attitude and thus corrodes faith in the real bodily presence of Christ.
It is taken for granted that everyone receives the consecrated host in his hand. The layman to whom the great privilege is granted for special reasons has to touch the host, of course. But there is no reason for receiving Communion in the hand; only an immanent spirit of paltry familiarity with Our Lord.
It is incomprehensible why some insist on a way of receiving Communion which opens the door to all sorts of accidental and even intentional abuses.
First, there is a much greater possibility that some particles of the consecrated host may fall. In former times the priest watched with great care whether or not some particles of the host fell, in which case he would immediately take greatest care that the sacred particles would be reverently picked up and consumed by himself. And now without any apparent reason, many want to expose the consecrated host to this danger in a much greater degree than before — this at a time when the host is made more and more to resemble bread and to crumble more easily.
Second, and this is an incomparably worse problem, the danger exists that a communicant, instead of putting the consecrated host into his mouth, will place it in his pocket or otherwise conceal and not consume it. This unfortunately has happened in these days of revived Satanism. Consecrated hosts are known to have been sold for blasphemous uses. In London, the price is said to be 30 pounds for one, which reminds us of the 30 pieced of silver for which Judas sold the Body of Our Lord.
Is it believable that instead of applying the most scrupulous care to protect the most sacred consecrated host, which is truly the Body of Christ, the God-man, from all such possible abuses, there are those who wish to expose it to this possibility? Have we forgotten the existence of the devil “who wanders about seeking whom he may devour”? Is his work in the world and in the Church not all too visible today? What entitles us to assume that abuses of the consecrated host will not take place?
The greater our respect, and the greater our love, the greater our realization of the ineffable holiness of the Eucharist — the greater will be our horror of its being abused; and our eagerness to protect it from all possible blasphemous abuses.
Why — for God’s sake — should Communion in the hand be introduced into our churches when it is evidently detrimental from a pastoral viewpoint, when it certainly does not increase our reverence, and when it exposes the Eucharist to the most terrible diabolical abuses? There are really no serious arguments for Communion in the hand. But there are the most gravely serious kinds of arguments against it.
Communion in the Hand
Owen T. Roberts
“Future historians may well conclude that the Church brought upon herself her present unsettled state, not in the first place by any insistence on traditional morality, but by embarking without sufficient consideration on a whole series of relatively superficial, though to many sensibilities drastic, changes in the conduct of public worship”. (Dom Aeldred Graham, O.S.B., The Tablet, 1 March 1969)
The accuracy of Dom Aeldred Graham’s prediction becomes clearer with the passage of time. Mass attendance statistics are not a wholly reliable guide to the vitality of the faith in any country at any time but they are probably the most reliable guide. We have Millions of Catholics who attended Mass at least on Sundays in western countries before the liturgical “renewal” no longer do so now. This trend is increasing. Not only have the officially sponsored reforms manifestly failed to produce the effects which were intended by them, but congregations have been afflicted with a series of unofficial reforms which are not even hinted at in the official document of Vatican II. Prominent among these is the practice of Communion in the hand.
Bishop’s Tacit Consent
There can be no valid objection to the practice per se. Nor is the case against it helped by such arguments as the claim that it is sacrilegious. The manner of distributing Holy Communion is a disciplinary matter which comes within the competence of the lawful authority in the Church, in this case that of the Holy See, without whose consent no change in current practice may be made even by a national episcopal conference. Until such consent has been received, any priest giving Communion in the hand is taking part in an act of public defiance to the Holy See. There are at present all too many priests who are inciting their congregations to adapt this practice, congregations who have never wished, and do not wish, to receive Communion in any but the traditional manner. There are all too many bishops who not only turn a blind eye to this practice thus, giving it their tacit consent, but make their approval of it public. “The Sacred Liturgy is the public worship which our Redeemer, the Head of the Church, offers to the heavenly Father and which the community of Christ’s faithful pays to its Founder and through Him to the Eternal Father, briefly, it is the whole public worship of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, Head, and members.” (Mediator Dei) The public worship of the Church should not be celebrated according to the personal whims of individual bishops, priests and laymen. This point is so obvious and so reasonable that it should be able to command general agreement among those who still accept Pius XII’s definition of the liturgy and have not wrongly come to regard it simply as a means of self expression.
It cannot be disputed that Holy Communion was administered in the hand for a number of centuries. Bede’s celebrated account of the death of the poet Caedmon provides a most moving example from English history. A well-known passage from St. Cyril insists on the need for care and reverence in receiving the Host. “To let any of it fall would be like the loss of one of your limbs. To me, if someone gave you gold dust would you not take care to ensure that you suffered no loss? Should you not therefore take for more care that not the tiniest crumb is lost of that which is far more precious than gold or jewels?”
St. Cyril’s evident preoccupation with the reverence due to the Host, every crumb of which IS Christ, is but one manifestation of a developing appreciation of Eucharistic theology, which logically resulted in the priest placing the Host directly onto the communicant’s tongue, and our present giving of altar-bread, which reduces to an absolute minimum the danger that “the tiniest crumb is lost of that which is more precious than gold or jewels”. St. Thomas Aquinas explains how only what has been specifically consecrated to come into contact with the sacred species should be allowed to touch them from the moment of consecration until they are placed in the mouth of the communicant (III, Q .82 art 3.) It is particularly significant that both Eastern and Western Churches abandoned the practice of Communion in the hand and with good reason. Its adaptation by Protestant sects was a natural result of their rejection of the very notion of the priesthood and of the Real Presence. A return to the practice within the Latin Church draws us apart not only from our fellow Catholics of the Eastern rites, but from the Orthodox Church, the Church closest to us in belief and practice and the only one with which hope of corporate reunion is feasible.
The reception of communion in the mouth is characteristic of the type of development under the guidance of the Holy Ghost which is to be expected in a living and dynamic Church. Very careful consideration should be given to the deliberate reversal of such a development, to return to a more primitive practice simply because it is more primitive. This type of liturgical “archaeologism” was strongly, condemned by Pius XII in “Mediator Dei“.
It is also possible for a practice which is unobjectionable in itself to become objectionable from the reason for or manner of its practice. The manner in which communion in the hand has been introduced in our day puts it into this category. It is most certainly not part of the official liturgical reform! At no time during Vatican II was the practice of giving communion in the hand even discussed by the bishops. No mention of the practice can be found in the documents of Vatican II.
It began in Holland as an act of defiance of legitimate authority; it is important to note the practice arose in the very country where satan has been most successful in inciting deviations from the doctrinal teaching and disciplinary practices of the church in regard to the Eucharist. 54.
It was taken to by radical priests in the neighboring countries of Germany, Belgium, and France. In Germany, for example this happened first in the dioceses closest to Holland. It invariably began with an individual or group of radical priests indoctrinating small groups of parishioners, and their more gullible brother priests. Nuns have proved particularly susceptible to propaganda for this and similar aberrations. The radical catholic press then initiates a campaign in favour of the practice and in countries with large population it is well publicized on the radio and television.
While those who initiated the practice no longer accept orthodox catholic belief in the Eucharist, it does not follow that those who have been brainwashed into following their example are necessarily unorthodox themselves. They are frequently priests, religious and laymen who are distinguished neither for their intelligence, imagination, nor capacity for independent thought; the type who prefer to repeat slogans rather than make the effort to evaluate them. The important thing for them is to be up-to-date which means the uncritical implementation of every modern (and probably modernist) gimmick which comes to their attention. Whether the gimmick in question will be of any spiritual benefit to anyone at all does not enter their minds. “If it is newer it must be better!” — that is their watchword “Holy Communion is given to us in the form of food and as we are adults we should not expect to be fed as if we were small children”, is the argument put forward by one basically well-meaning parish priest in his newsletter. This is the most common argument in favour of hand Communion and it is an interesting exercise to ask its proponents when this profound insight first came to them? It is rather pathetic to see priests who have spent as much as twenty or more years in the priesthood without the idea once crossing their minds that there was any need to change the traditional mode of administering Holy Communion, repeating such nonsense. Had anyone suggested it to most of them ten, five even two years ago, most of them would have been indignant at the very idea.
The practice of receiving Communion in the mouth does not make us childish – it is a sign of reverence. In any case, there is good authority for the statement that we must become as little children if we wish to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! There is a most distasteful arrogance about the notion that the present generation of Catholics is so mature that a practice which was good enough for countless millions of their devout brothers and sisters in the faith is not adult enough for them! Are we really so much more spiritually mature than St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis, St. Bernard, St. Theresa of Avila and St. Theresa of Lisieux, the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales? Is it possible to imagine an intellectual giant such as St. Thomas Moore wasting his own time or anyone else’s with such errant nonsense? It is a most instructive exercise to compare those who talk about their own maturity at the need to receive Communion “in an adult manner” with any of the great saints to whom what mattered was not how they received Holy Communion, but WHOM they received. The campaign for communion in the hand is symptomatic of the attitude which is tearing the Church of Christ to pieces today. It is an attitude in which Christ takes second place to man, in which we are more preoccupied with our own dignity than the dignity of our Lord and our God.
Those who advance such arguments in an attempt to spread the practice of Communion in the hand, whatever their rank, demonstrate their complete contempt for the teaching and authority of the Holy See. In an effort to implement the principle of collegiality, Pope Paul decided to consult the bishops of the Latin Church regarding the serious situation which had arisen in this matter. It must be stressed again that up to this point (1969), wherever the practice of Communion in the hand had developed, it was illegal — an act of defiance of the Holy See. Internal divisions among Catholics had become apparent. There were confrontations at the Communion rail between programmed laymen and loyal priests.
Groups of these programmed “progressives” would appear in different parishes for a “confrontation”. This says all that needs to be said about their attitude towards Holy Communion. It is important to note that the priests who refused them – where they had the courage to do so – were not reactionary clergy refusing a legitimate request; they were conscientious priests observing the legitimate norms laid down by proper authority.
The result of Pope Paul’s consultation with the Latin rite bishops was the instruction “Memoriale Domini“, of May 29, 1969. (It was not necessary to consult the Eastern rite bishops among whom the traditional practice had never been questioned.) The Latin rite bishops voted emphatically AGAINST the new practice, and among the points stressed in the Instruction, with regard to the traditional mode of reception, is the fact that: “The practice in no way detracts him the personal dignity of those who approach this great sacrament. It is part of the preparation needed for the fruitful reception of the Lord’s Body”. To state that the traditional manner of reception is childish and that it is “more adult” to receive in the hand is therefore, a clear contradiction of the above teaching.
The Instruction also points out that Communion in the hand could result “in a lessening of reverence towards the noble sacrament of the altar, its profanation, or the adulteration of correct doctrine”. This forecast has proved to be only too accurate!
As for Pope Paul’s position in this matter
“In view of the seriousness of the matter and the importance of the arguments proposed; the Supreme Pontiff judged that the long held manner not be changed. The Apostolic See therefore strongly urges bishops, priests and people to observe this law, valid and again confirmed, according to the majority of the Catholic episcopate, in the form which the present rite of the sacred liturgy employs, and out of concern for the common good of the Church”.
The will of the Holy See could not have been expressed more clearly, and it is astonishing and scandalous, therefore, to find even bishops ignoring this decision and pressing for the new practice. 55.
Unfortunately, the lead given by the Holy See in this respect was far from satisfactory. After listing convincing reasons for retaining the traditional mode of administration and making its will quite clear, the Holy See agreed that, where the practice had already developed by the date of the Instruction, May 29, 1969, it could be made legal as an option, after a two-thirds majority of the national episcopal conference. This has created an unfortunate precedent. A determined minority established a practice in defiance of lawful ecclesiastical legislation. The legislation was then adopted to conform with the practice. The implications are obvious. At though the Instruction “Memoriale Domini” forbade the introduction of the practice wherever it was not established by May 1969 it is not surprising that determined radicals are denying lawful authority in other countries, by introducing the practice, on the assumption that if they defy the law openly enough and long enough, their bishops will act on the principle, “If you can’t beat them join them.” This assessment has proved to be accurate.
At no time has there ever proved to be a majority or even a substantial minority of laymen in favour of the new practice. An extensive survey carried out by the British “Catholic Priests’ Association” was unable to find a parish in which more than 2% or 3% wished to receive Communion in the hand. In some cases there was not a single person wishing for such a change. A poll in the St. Louis archdiocese in the U. S. A. showed an overwhelming; majority against the innovatory practice.
Once introduced it is a cause of division and it is those who oppose the practice who are accused of being divisive. This is typical radical ploy-to demand some change in doctrine or liturgy which is desired only by a handful of cranks and then to accuse those who remain faithful to the teaching and traditions of the Church as being divisive. In many instances the optional nature of the innovations is soon forgotten. It is claimed that two modes of reception constitute “a sign of division” in the parish (which is perfectly true, of course) and it is not hard to guess which manner of receiving is then made mandatory. I have had first-hand evidence, of Communion being refused in some French parishes to anyone unwilling to receive in the hand and standing!
It should also be noted that once Communion in the hand has been established, the radical programme does not halt. Demands are made that laymen should distribute Communion, and then lay women. Ordinary bread is used. It is passed around in baskets or on trays, with the communicants helping themselves. “Paris Match” recently carried photographs of this happening at an episcopally approved “youth Mass”. What happens to any crumbs which fall during such distribution hardly bears thinking about. They are certainly not considered more precious than gold or jewels.
At a time when, in spite of appeals from the Holy see, there is decreasing reverence shown towards the Blessed Sacrament, it seems foolish to adopt a practice which will certainly accelerate this decline. At a time when there is, moreover, such division in the Church, it seems foolish to insist upon the introduction of a practice which will intensify these divisions. Those who are prepared to insist upon its introduction should ask themselves whether the benefits they see arising from it will compensate for the damage it will cause to the catholic community as a whole. Surely the privilege of receiving God in Holy Communion is so great that it can not be counted a sacrifice to continue receiving in the manner of so many saints for so many centuries, and in accordance with the vast majority of Catholics in communion with the Holy See, and with every other Apostolic body!
Christian Marxists, who propose a marriage between Christianity and Socialism, are utopian seducers of the human spirit.
Fr. Vincent P. Miceli S. J.
Author of the best seller “The Gods of Atheism”
The immortal Shakespeare, seeking the source of dreams penned these well-known lines: “We are such stuff as dreams are made of”. Then plunging deeper into man so as to precision the exact power which produces our reveries, the Bard asks: “Tell me where is fancy bred, in the heart or in the head”?
We hope to answer Shakespeare’s question at the end of this essay, But only after we have examined the anatomy of perhaps the most fatal fantasy threatening the faith of Christians today – the dream of Christian Marxism.
Today the long march of certain Catholic groups towards the acceptance of Marxism begun some years ago, has achieved its terminal stage. Physically, psychologically and ideologically Christians are embracing Marxists and vice versa. For it is not a mystery to anyone that certain Catholic groups have accepted Marxism not only in its method of analyzing capitalistic society and adhering to it as a political instrument for the revolutionary change of the existing order, but likewise accepting Marxism as historical materialism they adhere to this as the philosophic instrument for the interpretation of all history, above all, the history of the Church. Thus for these groups Marxism has become the only exegetical key in which one may read and interpret historical facts, especially “the fact of Jesus”. Hence they have recently proposed a materialistic reading of Holy Scripture as well as of the Gospels. All the texts of Christianity, as well as the whole history of the Church ought to be analyzed on the assumption that historical materialism is true, as a science which expresses the exigencies, the needs of the struggle of the proletariat to create a Socialistic society. Recently there was held an international theological convention promoted by the Ecumenical Centre called “Agape”, from July 20 to 28, 1975. Its theme was:
“The Interpretation of the Bible and Historical Materialism”. This convention was held as a continuation and profounder study of the work begun by an earlier Congress held from April 4 to 6- 1975, Senegal, by Christians For Socialism from the region of the Marches in Italy. That Congress too treated the themes: “Towards a materialistic Reading of the Bible”.
The Journey seems fatalistic
It is interesting to recall briefly the steps of this long march Christians towards acceptance of Marxism and above all, to follow the iron logic which unites each face of the journey to the next. This unstoppable, almost fatalistic journey, from one stage to the next right to its logical conclusion — which is adherence to Marxism even as a philosophy — ought to place on their guard those who think they can pick and choose Marxist principles at random and yet remain safe in the faith. For example, some select the Marxist analysis of society and yet reject its philosophic vision” i.e., historical materialism. Others choose historical materialism but reject Marxist atheism which, however, is necessarily connected with its materialism. For, in reality, Marxism is a unified ideology, all its elements hold together and sustain each other reciprocally. It is impossible to separate them, unless one wants to pay the price of torturing himself with intellectual acrobatics and coming up with contradictory theories and chaotic practices.
Can Marxism be baptized?
As is generally known, during the Sixties the posture of the Catholic world in the face of Marxism, and in particular of Communalism, changed radically. It went from eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation to that of dialogue and “fraternization”. Both sides, Catholic all shades of Atheistic Socialism, interested themselves in learning more profoundly the positions of the other. Not only were theological meetings on high Cultural levels held between them for example, the meeting between Christian and Marxist promoted by Paulus-Gesellschaft in 1966 at Monaco in Bavaria and in 1967 at Marianske Lazne in Czechoslovakia – but there was at base a Rich flowering of initiatives that multiplied meetings between Catholic and Marxists. Much more ardently did the Communists show themselves in favour of this dialogue, for they were acting more from political than from cultural interests.
Unfortunately, some Catholic groups did not content themselves solely with dialogue; they seemed more interested in baptizing Marxism. Thus, making a distinction between the Marxist analysis of society and’ historical materialism as it evolves in the dialectic, they thought that a Christian, without accepting historical materialism could, nevertheless, make his own the Marxist analysis of society, both as a conceptual means for understanding the “mechanisms of capitalistic society and as a practical instrument in the political figure for the revolutionary change of that society into a socialistic society. But acceptance in theory and in practice of the Marxist analysis of society, must lead logically to the acceptance also of historical materialism.
In fact, in order to make his analysis of capitalistic society stand up, Marx made use of the means given him by the science of economics in his day as well as of the observations-he made of the conditions of the workers. But he principally made use of an ideological vision of historical reality, that is, of Hegelian idealism turned upside down into a historical materialism. 57.
Thus at the foundation of the Marxist analysis of capitalistic society are to be found some iron clad ideological presuppositions, theories never proven by the tests, of experience, experiments or excogitations. The first and most important of these presuppositions, is that society is fundamentally formed and moulded by its economic forces, so much so that the superstructure (political .and juridical institutions, philosophical and moral ideologies, religion, art, etc.) is determined in the final instance by the economic infrastructure. From this presupposition, which constitutes the nucleus of historical materialism, Marx brought forth other novel principles. First, the historical evolution of society takes place according to the Hegelian laws of the dialectic (affirmation – negation – negation of the negation), and this dialectic takes place with the iron law of necessity. Another gratuitous theory stated that Capitalism contains in itself the very contradiction that will bring it down in ruin so that Socialism will necessarily follow it. Then there is the presupposition that the history of every society right up to our own has been the history of the struggle between the classes. That is why class struggle is the motor, the driving force of history. There is this final theory, namely that the protagonists of the class struggle in capitalistic society are the class of the bourgeois and the class of the proletariats.
Really, the Marxist analysis of society, for all that it is called “scientific”, (it really is not -scientific, for even history has proven it to be false, not even Marx’s scientific predictions have come true!) cannot be neutral in the face of philosophy, but depends essentially on its own school of thought. Therefore, consistency demands that anyone who accepts Marxism and makes his own its analysis of society cannot fail to make his own also its doctrine of historical material ism which is its foundation and forms the very warp and woof, of this ideological system. This explains why many Catholics, having at first accepted solely the Marxist analysis of society, eventually find themselves, without realizing why, accepting also its historical materialism.
Without faith nothing is left
But once having accepted historical materialism, “Christian Marxists” cannot escape a grave enigma. How will they be able to reconcile historical materialism with the Christian faith? There are two possible ways of resolving this problem. The first abandons the Christian faith because it is irreconcilable with Marxism; the second reinterprets Christianity according to the principles of historical materialism in such a way as to save (so it hopes) its valid core, while jettisoning only Christianity’s “anti-revolutionary’ aspects”.
Some Christians followed the first procedure. Diverse reasons have moved them to take this course; for many of them it has proved to be a way of sorrows. In the first place, they claim they were depressed with the inefficaciousness of the Christian faith to achieve reform. They add, moreover, that they were impressed with the vitality of Marxism, finding in it such a fullness of meaning and such a powerful stimulus for political reforms that their faith was rendered superfluous. Unfortunately, little by little these illusions faded in their hearts. Then followed their conviction of the radical opposition between the Christian faith and Marxism. They now not only saw the Church as the natural ally of Capitalism, but they discovered more profoundly in the Christian faith an ideology that sustained and justified capitalistic exploitation. Progressing from this “anti-capitalistic choice”, they concluded that it was impossible to adhere simultaneously to the Church which, in their eyes, sustains Capitalism and to Socialism which fights to destroy Capitalism. It became impossible for them to adhere to a reactionary ideology like the Christian faith and to a revolutionary, progressivist programme like Marxism.
We are thus witnessing the conscious abandonment of the Christian faith, in this group, even of the very name of Christian. And the tragedy is that this betrayal of the faith is motivated by a sincere desire to save mankind from the “sin of the world”, namely economic exploitation. These Christians have some wittingly, others unwittingly-insisted on baptizing Socialism and Communism, accepting even their methods of class struggle and revolution in the quest for man’s liberation from economic injustice. Influenced by the rhetoric of these salvation systems, such well-intentioned Catholics have made it their mission to plunge the Church into the class struggle; they aim at reducing the Church’s apostolate of redeeming men from sin and Satan to an apostolate of liberating men first from poverty and eventually from all forms of domination. Their entrapment in this sterile adventure has been cleverly achieved by their atheistic friends. In dialectics of friendly detente with the forces of atheistic Socialism many Christians have surrendered to the spirit of the world. They have succumbed to the seductions of non-believers and followed false double-minded prophets. Theirs has been a fatal concession, the whole of the deposit of the faith and even the treasury of Christian morality. They have been persuaded to interpret Christianity according to Socialist-Marxist principles. These so-called “Christian Socialists” or “Marxist Christians” are now teaching a new understanding of the faith, of the Gospels, of the Church – a new way of living in harmony with the Marxist vision of history. And so they proclaim insistently that they are liberating the Gospels and the Church from the ideological superstructures of a decadent, capitalistic society. They emphasize that they are returning both the Gospel message and the Church’s mission to their true, original, revolutionary inspiration and vigor.
Unfortunately, ideas have consequences and violent ideas have violent consequences. Thus these Marxist Christians have been infected with more than just the ideology of their atheistic friends. For in a hostile dialectics of confrontation with their fellow-Christians, they do not shun open warfare against the Church and “Christian ideology”. They attack the Church with the animus of a prosecutor accusing a man in the dock of criminal activity.
Only thus can we explain the fact – incredible at first brush – that certain groups of the extreme Catholic left, on the one hand, parade their strict fidelity to Marxism, while on the other, they exhibit ruthless harshness towards the Church and the Christian faith. Moreover, these groups are for the, most part made up of youths who are Catholic in origin and formation. Infected also with the activist dialectics of the class struggle and violent revolution, they go beyond dialogue to distortion and anathema against the faith, “the magisterium, the whole Church. Such is their furor against the Church that, in opposing her teaching they eviscerate the authentic Gospel revelation, demote Christ to the level, of a mere man, the Church to the level of a mere natural institution and render Christianity meaningless.
Now the majority of Christian Marxist attempt to follow a second path, that is, they seek a new understanding of the faith and a new way of living it within the Marxist vision of history and within the evolution of the class struggle. They attempt a reinterpretation of Christianity beginning with the principle of historical materialism. Having done that, they claim it is necessary to liberate the Gospel, from the ideological superstructures which, though mouthing a message of liberation of the poor from exploitation, nevertheless sustain Capitalism the oppressor in the seat of power. They must restore in a Marxist manner alone the revolutionary vigor of the Christian message with its original destructive force. For these reasons, they are convinced they must achieve a dialectical unity between Marxism and Christianity; they actually believe they can be fully faithful to the Gospel and the Christian faith.
The Church is their legacy
But, to what Gospel and to what Christian faith? Not certainly to the Gospel handed-down by Christian tradition, nor to the faith transmitted and still taught by the Catholic Church. In fact, in applying the Marxist analysis to the faith and history of the Church, the Marxist Christians are led to conclude that the institutional Church has developed in history and is still developing today the object function – they prescind from the subjective good will of the Church of sustaining and defending the ideology of the dominating class as found in Capitalism. Thus they arrive at identifying the institutional Church with the enemy of the masses. And again, they come to the conclusion that the Church has read, and is still reading, Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospel, from the viewpoint and interests of the dominating classes. The faith she is propagating, therefore, is in substance an ideology supporting Capitalism; it is, after all, a real “opium of the people”, and “force of alienation”.
If the faith is ever to be liberated from the ideological superstructures of Capitalism and prevented from becoming an instrument for the justification of Capitalism, the Church will have to reread the Gospel from the viewpoint and interests of the proletariat. The poor and the oppressed must re-appropriate to themselves the Gospel stolen from them and made to serve against them. This means that the Gospel must be read with an orientation toward socio-political problems, from a platform favourable to the poor and the exploited, from the project to construct an alternative society to that of the bourgeois model. And in thus reading the Gospel, one must make use of the principle of historical materialism, that is, one must make a “materialistic” reading of the Bible. For the Church’s reading of Scripture cannot be neutral. If it is not a “materialistic” reading, then it must be a “bourgeois” and “idealistic” one.
Now a “materialistic” reading of the Bible is opposed to the “bourgeois” interpretation which is the one the Church has actually been rendering in the interests of the dominating classes. Moreover, the “materialistic” is also opposed to the “idealistic” reading, that is, the: interpretation which begins from the ideal values of the dominating class, and gives special privilege to a “spiritual” sense of the Gospels. For according to the Marxist Christians, first the Fathers of the Church, then the medieval exegetes, finally the modern exegetes and even the progressivists, in their reading of the Gospel, have all fallen into the trap of idealism and spiritualism. Rather, one must read the Gospel and, therefore, interpret the person of Jesus and his evangelical message from an analysis of the social relationship of production and from the influence these exercised on the religious and political life of Israel in the Palestine of the first century
Is the Gospel subversive?
Only thus will one become aware of the subversive and revolutionary character of the political and religious actions of Jesus at war, as he was, with the social and economic organization, with the political power and religious ideology of his times. Jesus, in fact, broke decisively with the ideology of the dominating classes – the high priests, the Sadducees, the Pharisees – and even with the Zealots who wish to better economic and political relationships, but without changing them radically. And even if Jesus did not succeed in transforming the society of his times, he at least opened new vistas of liberty. Thus, today the Gospel must be a subversive narrative for, after the example of Jesus, it should once again aim at sustaining in, believers the drive to break with the ideology of the dominating classes and to construct a classless society. But it can do this on the condition only, namely, if man succeeds in discovering the true nature of the political, social and religious actions of Jesus which were revolutionary. He will do this only by violently removing the “spiritual”, “idealistic” encrustations imposed on the Gospels by the institutional Church, acting as an ally of the powers of Capitalism,
The fruit of such a “materialistic” reading of the Gospel will finally be a new conception of the Christian faith which, the more it recedes from the interpretation presented by the institutional Church, the more will it lose every mark of alienation, thereby be coming efficacious in the construction of a classless society. Then and only then, will Christianity cease to be the “opium of the people”. 59.
Logic Demands leaving
The problems arising from the acceptance of historical material ism and a “materialistic” reading of the Bible are many and serious nor could we pretend to treat them adequately here. In this article however, we will place three questions to our Marxist Christians. Convinced of their seriousness and good will, we know these questions will not leave these Christians indifferent, not if they wish to remain with the faith and continue as members of the Catholic Church.
The first question arises from the fact that Christian Marxist accept as valid Marxism’s analysis of society. Now, this analysis is an unjustified simplification of reality which is infinitely more variegated, complex and unpredictable than the Marxist theory supposes is to be. But to accept the Marxist analysis of society leads these Christians to see in the institutional church and its hierarchy the guarantor of capitalism. Indeed, if it is impossible to be neutral in the class struggle, then, even when the church is pretending to remain above the battle, she necessarily ends up on the side of Capitalism. Well, then, if what the Marxist Christian say is true, we ask: How is it possible for you to stay within the church when you see her as the enemy you must fight with very available means, since as you hold, you cannot make peace with her?
Is it in or out?
To solve this problem some Marxist Christians have created small Christian communities, in more or less open rupture with the institutional church. But in acting this way they fail to solve anything; they only complicate the problem. For either the community, they enter is convinced it is living as part of the universal Church and then the problem of contestation continues to fester within it. Or the new community is convinced it is outside the Catholic Church since it broke its bonds with the essential structures of the church. But then such Marxist Christians must realize in their conscience they no longer belong to the church and cannot coherently pretend they remain within her bosom. Thus, in our judgment, the Marxist analysis of society is an inadequate, misleading means not only for the authentic understanding of society as it actually exists, but also as an inadequate evaluation of the actually existing Church.
Now our second question is: How do you Marxist Christians preserve the transcendent, metahistorical, supernatural origin and destiny of Christianity? Marxist Christian cannot honestly avoid putting this question to themselves for, since they seriously and coherently accept historical materialism, they must also accept that the economic structure determines the superstructure in which religion plays an important part. Thus for historical materialism Christianity is a product of the natural and economic and material structure on one hand, then, Christianity becomes a necessary product because all that is historical for Marxism evolves with iron-called determinism from the dialectic. Yet on the other hand, Christianity is historical product, which suggests that it is subject to changes just as all human events and institutions are. And in particular it is to be expected to change with the change of its economic relationships. Thus we cannot see how Marxist Christians preserve the supernatural, transcendent, metatemporal character of Christianity. They cannot at the same time accept historical materialism and claim that Christianity is a reality that transcends history because of its divine origin and destiny. That is to say, they cannot without falling into a contradiction be true Marxists adhering to historical materialism, and true Christians believing in a Church founded on divine origins. We must conclude then that whoever accepts historical materialism renounces by that very act Christianity, as it is revealed in Holy Scripture and handed down by the living Church.
Now when one works out a reinterpretation of Christianity that is, when one liberates it from all theological, transcendent and spiritual encrustations, and makes of it a human, historical message of revolution favouring the exploited, and when one even introduces into Christianity the new distinction between “faith” and “religion”, rejecting religion as alienating (“religion is the opium of the people”) and accepting faith as a revolutionary, subversive force, how can this hybrid reality be still called Christianity? Has not Christianity been thus diluted into being an ideology in the service of proletarian revolution? Do not the Marxist Christians fall into the same – though opposite – fault for which they attack the institutional Church Their fault is that they too have made of Christianity an ideology, a sign of opposition to capitalistic society. Formerly they accused the institutional Church of making Christianity an ideology, a sign set up for the conservation of the dominating classes.
They make Jesus only man
The third question we put to the Marxist Christians concerns their materialistic” reading of the Bible and the Gospel. When they apply historical materialism to the person, actions and message, of Jesus, are they not forced to deny his divinity? Have they not reduced Jesus to being a mere, simple man and nothing more? Certainly, when reading the Gospel, one must keep before one’s mind the socio-economic and political conditions in which Jesus worked and preached. These help us understand many things about the life and death of Jesus. Nor ought this truth be astonishing, for the Word incarnate is truly man, inserted in real, human history. Thus, one can also make a valid historical reading of the Gospel. But it is a tactic of deception to pretend to establish as the exegetical key for the reading of the Gospel the principle of historical materialism. For this tactic aims at seriously eviscerating the whole of Christianity. It necessarily reduces Jesus to being no more than a simple man who living- merely as a prophet and performing solely messianic, royal duties, instigated the class struggle against the possessors of power the priests, scribes and ancients – who were using religion as an ideological cover for their socio-economic superstructure of tyranny and domination.
Jesus tried, but failed
In other words, the “materialistic” reading of the Gospel makes of Jesus a mere political subversive and his death becomes nothing more than a political assassination. But then, of course, Jesus is no longer the Son of God who died for the redemption of the multitude. His opposition to the possessors of power is no longer situated on the religious realm of the divine, but rather in a purer, natural, more interior orientation. Yet, just such a similar theological reading of the Gospel by the institutional Church is held by the Marxist Christians to be ideological and bourgeois. It seems they want it both ways; their interpretation of the faith must be pure, interior, even theological in their own sense and then it is the true faith. But when the Church teaches a spiritual, interior, pure, theological faith, then she teaches an exploiting ideology. For the Marxist Christians the death of Jesus is only the consequence, the conclusion of the class struggle he instigated – a failure, to be sure, but a noble blow against tyranny.
At this point what is left of Jesus? Nothing, except the tragic image of a courageous man who fought for the liberation of the poor and was defeated. We have in Jesus merely the record of a subversive man to whom we can go for inspiration in the existing class struggle, And, as a mater of fact, from the “materialistic” reading of the, Gospel – so states the conclusion of the document of Senegal this valid hypothesis favouring labour emerges, namely, the indication that Christ was a subversive. “We think”, the document says, “that such an indication about Jesus can create a new richness for the basic communities and groups within the proletarian militia”. This indication that Jesus was a subversive “can also enrich the historical camp of Marxism”, states the same document, And finally, it can enlarge “that utopian horizon for personal and collective liberation towards which we are advancing”. In other words, faith has become a secondary, strengthening force for Marxism, and Jesus Christ becomes a subversive just like so many others in history.
But if such is the case, if that is, Marxism is sufficient to plot an efficacious strategy for the class struggle, capable of creating a new society; if Jesus is only one among so many men who fought for revolution and liberation – then the Christian faith becomes useless, superfluous luxury and the reading of Holy Scripture time wasted.
Marxist Christians, despite their desire to give everything to their poorer brothers, become really seducers of the spirit. For they hold out as a utopian reality or possibility what is simply not realizable – the arrangement of marriage between Christianity and all forms of Socialism, even Communism. But pope after pope condemned this attempt, demonstrating how Christianity and Socialism are hopelessly incompatible, not only psychologically but, above all, ontologically. And no matter how often or expert socialism has its features lifted through the slick art of “new Christianity” surgery. it will never acquire the beauty of a human, much less Christian face. For Marxist Socialism and its milder breeds deny man the dignity arising from his divine origin and destiny; they strip man of the exercise of liberty, initiative creative intelligence in his wonderful words of religion, thought and work. Moreover, Marxist Socialism’s appeals to the masses to revolt against established institutions under a supposed trumpet call from a Christ burlesqued as the Great Liberator and Grand Subverter is sheer sacrilege and religious demagoguery.
The dream of “Christian Marxism” is now seen to be bred in the heads of Christian rebels, though sired by their own godless hearts. For, whereas Saints are such stuff as divine visions are made of, atheists are products of their own demonic nightmares.
Salvation in Non-Christian Religions
Anastasio Gomes O.C.D.
The title itself “Salvation in non-Christian Religions”* tells us that the book treats of an extremely important subject especially to people living in non-Christian countries.
Published in April 1973, the work is the most up-to-date monograph on the subject. Before presenting its contents, a few words about the author may be in order. Born in 1913 in Spain, he started his philosophical studies in Belgium and finished them in India (Bombay-Shembaganur), Professor at the Major Seminary of Suancheng in China (1945-1948), came to Rome and took a Doctorate in History at the Gregorian in 1951, presenting a thesis, Etapas y metodos de penetracion protestante en China.
*Salvation en las Seligiones No Christianas by Damboriena Frudencio, S.J., BAC., Madrid, 1973. pp. 534.
After my article had gone to the Press, I received “Ephemerines Theologicae Louvaniense” La Salvacion en las religiones no christianas nous offre une monogvaphie qui pour le mo: ment n’a pas de paareile len d’autres langule Son autevr, le R. P. Prudencio Domboriena, SJ., expose les odinions des Peeres de l’Eglise, des theologiens catholiques et des principaux theologiens modernes. Dans les quater derniers chapitres, Damboriena equisse lui-meme une solution” (p. 150). This seems to confirm my view that the book should be translated into French and English.
Professor in the Philippine Islands, Bogota, University of St Mary in the U.S.A, and the Gregoriana where he taught in the Missiological Faculty (1954-1963) of which he became even the Dean. Moreover, he had a lot of personal contacts with Protestant theologians and their writings. Hence, Father Damboriena is well qualified to undertake the preparation of this volume for the new theological Monographs of the B.A.C. The work was already in the hands of the commission directing the series when the author was struck with a sudden illness. He expired on 8.7.1972.
Salvacion en las religiones no Christinas is divided into two parts:
(1) The Problem in its Historical Perspective, and (2) The Problem considered in itself.
The importance of the subject is shown in the Introduction – this importance is particularly felt in Missiology for “the missionary ideal depends to a great extent, on the solution that is given regarding the spiritual value of these religions in their relationship with Christianity” (p. 7).
The five chapters of the historical section deal successively with the Fathers and non-Christian Religions, Confrontation of Christianity with Islam, the Era of Discoveries and the new problems raised by it, Protestantism and its evaluation of non-Christian Religions, the current controversy among Catholics about the value of non-Christian religions. The amount of well documented information contained in this section should help correct many one-sided views based on partial or second, hand information. For a correct understanding of the present problem, the study of the Patristic era is exceptionally important as the Fathers were confronted with a religious situation similar to ours in many ways-they too were faced with thriving non-Christian religions-and they are witnesses and fathers of our faith.
There is no uniform view among the Fathers. Their reactions depended on a varity of factors – the situation of the moment, the cultural level of the religions in question, and the intellectual training of the writers and of the people for whom they wrote. Their interpretation of the origin and meaning of non-Christian religious practices may not be wholly acceptable as it depended on the knowledge, often superficial, of those religions”, says De Lubac. “The case is different. In this case we got to accept their views for then they are in direct relation with our faith. The limitations of their empirical knowledge do not alter the universal value of their statements” (Quoted on p. 53). There is unanimity among the Fathers about the unicity of Christian-religion and the necessity for all men to accept this new religion.
Dialogue with Islam
After the conversion of Europe, one has to wait till the appearance of Islam to see the Church again confronted with a non-Christian religion. The Church used many methods to face this confrontation – diplomatic, military, witness, martyrdom, and theological discussion. And yet up to now, the Church has not found an apt method of dialogue with Islam. Three more chapters give us the history of the problem up to our own days: Chapter III (the era of discoveries), IV (Protestants and non-Christian religions) and V (the current discussion among Catholics).
The Chapter on Protestants is particularly enlightening as their discussions bear similarity to our own current controversies. In the nearly 100 pages of this chapter, the author gives a panoramic view of the different schools of the Reformation. The analysis of the mission theology of the W.C.C. is most relevant in this ear of ecumenism. But what this writer found very illuminating was the summary of the views of the so called Left Wing of Contemporary Protestantism (pp. 206- 225). It is a tiny but very influential minority. Soder Blom and Hocking are two big names in the camp. The pastoral and missionary programmes arising from their theory may be put as follows:
(1) Abstain from preaching the Gospel and making conversions;
(2) Substitute for these activities social and intellectual work intended to enlighten non-Christians about much that they already possess, and about what Christianity could bring them;
(3) Since there is no antagonism but complementarity between Christianity and non-Christian religions, the missionary will have to convince them that their religion is, already a genuine way of salvation;
(4) Any mission which, forgetting these principles, intends imposing Christ and the Church as means of salvation is doomed to failure;
(5) The only thing to do is to penetrate the feelings of others, and experience their content as clearly as possible. This was proposed in 1933.In twenty five years later, this is now being proposed by Catholic theologians, remarks the author (Note No. 3; p. 213).
Understandable, the proposals met with enthusiastic approval in some quarters, a downright rejection in others. And this dichotomy still divides the Protestant missiological camp.
Treating Of the current Catholic discussions, Damboriena explains the views of Cardinal Billot, Caperan, Danielou (18 pages) and the theologians of anonymous Christianity. As in the second section his main burden will be a critical evaluation of the views of the last group, the author devotes 34 pages to their exposition in the historical section. Like the left wing of Protestant missiologists, the theologians of anonymous Christians make a very small but influential group Rahner, Schlette, Hans Kung and [Raimundo] Panikkar are the main names One of them, notes the author, is familiar with one of the Asian religions, the other three live far from Asia, and “elaborate their theories from the safe refuge of their professional chairs” (p. 265). If one looks at the countries where these new views are spreading, “my impression is that, outside of Holland the most affected countries are Germany and the U.S.A. And
in the third World the most affected country is India where political circumstances are restricting ever more the possibilities of Kerygmatic preaching” (p.437). We need not go here into the detailed exposition which the author gives of the views of these theologians. It suffices to recall that “Rahner is the father of anonymous Christians. . . The anonymous Christians are a consequence of his theory of transcendental theology. On one hand, Rahner is enamoured of his discovery, and on the other hand he is much concerned about the destructive consequences which it has had in practice” (George May, Quoted on p. 264).
The remaining four chapters (6-9) make the second – Theological Problem Considered in itself. This is the main contribution of the author. He takes a very critical view of the new theories, examining them from all theological angles.
Damboriena studies first what should be the attitude of the Church with regard to all non-Christian religions. A passage from Ecclesiam suam introduces the subject: “We cannot remain indifferent to the fact that each of them (the great Afro-Asiatic religions) in its own way, should regard itself as being the equal of any other and should authorize its followers not to seek to discover whether God has revealed the perfect and definitive form, free from all error in which He wishes to be known, loved and served. Indeed, honesty compels us to declare that there is but one true religion, the religion of Christianity. It is our hope that all who seek God and adore Him may come to acknowledge its truth” (Quoted on p. 305). In fact “all pagan religions contain some doctrines which are incompatible with Christianity, and lack some other doctrines which are fundamental for the very essence of the Gospel” (p. 305). And Damboriena goes on comparing among other points, the teaching on monotheism, and the concept of revelation of Christianity with the tenets of other major world religions.
In the concluding section of chapter 6, the author speaks briefly of official reactions to the theory of anonymous Christians. One of the very first to react was the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, Cardinal Agagianian in an address to a missionary Congress in Burgos (1966). In 1968, Cardinal Marella, President of the Secretariat for non-Christians in a quasi-official statement about what his Secretariat understood by dialogue with non-Christians pointed out certain deviations among Catholic writers. He mentioned four groups: Those (1) “Who state that the meeting of religions takes place beyond categorical differences, on the basis of the immediate and ineffable experience of the ultimate reality” (Bede Griffiths, K. Kloestermaier, H. le Saux); (2) indulge in theorizing about the reality of a Christian mystery, cosmic and omnipresent in which the evolution of history is resolved (R. Panikkar H. le Saux, A. Roper); (3) proclaim the various religion “ordinary ways of salvation and depositaries of a similar, if not identical, revelation” (R. Schlette): (4) declare that “it is necessary to rediscover the essence, of Christianity with a view to adaption” (H. Halbfas) (p. 340 – 341). Going through the names given by Cardinal Marella, one understands why one must say that in the third World “India is the most affected country“.
Theological theories must be judged by confronting them with the data of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. Damboriena does this in the last three chapters (7-9). First, Scripture: the theologians of anonymous Christians have been criticized for “their extraordinarily weak exegetical position whenever one confronts them with biblical passages which determine the kerygma of conversion and the missionary activity of St. Paul, and even of Christ himself” (Thomas la Cruz, quoted on p. 344). Their scriptural proofs are “totally ineffective” (Durwell).
Regarding the Old Testament, some of its aspects were perfected and corrected by Christ himself (p. 3a5). Its vision, which can throw much light on the mentality of the first Christian communities, is described on p. 347-355. With the New Testament, “the perspectives of paganism are radically changed. From now on, far from occupying a marginal place in salvation history, the pagan will take almost as central a place as Israel” (p, 355). The author dwells at length with
St. Paul’s teaching and rightly so. The Apostle “possesses more than one title to give us his authoritative, views on paganism, the pagan and the relationship of both with salvation and propagation of the Church”. Three points of Pauline teaching are particularly important in this connection: What Paul thought of pagans and the possibility of salvation in their religion; his missionary strategy when faced with the higher forms of Greco-Roman religions; the place which faith in Christ and the, preaching of the Gospel had in St. Paul’s scheme of salvation. It is necessary to study these scriptural data for the defenders of anonymous Christians have tried to free themselves from Paul in quite a surprising manner. Thus, for in stance, Rahner writes: “We today have got to acknowledge that we cannot simply and without more ado, adopt St. Paul’s standpoint, Paul is, of -course, an absolute norm for a believing Christian. But as Christians of the twentieth century, living in an age of traditional officially hierarchical Christianity, we have reflected on and arrived at certain insights which Paul did not have. . . As Christians of this century in the Church we can no longer think so pessimistically of the salvation of non-Christians as Paul could within the religious out look of his age and as Christians could still do as late, as the seventeenth century,, For Paul, those who did not receive Baptism were lost. True, he did not propound any dogma about this. But in practice this was, for him, something obvious.
This was tire perspective within which he did his missionary work. Right on to the late Middle Ages and beyond Christians to a large extent derived their missionary impulse from this view” (Quoted on p 360). Rahner often speaks of his views as those of modern Christians, and Damboriena objects that one may not attribute to the whole world “concepciones peculiares de un grupo muy limitado de pensadores” (p. 361). The analysis of Pauline writings, especially of Romans leads one to conclude that Rahner is right when he says that his views are not Paul’s. Our choice is obvious.
Tradition and Magisterium (ch. 7) point to the same direction, Even the most generous Fathers never thought of a peaceful co-existence of Christianity with the non-Christian religions of their time. They recognized the positive values of other religions in order to be Able to win over more easily adherents, to Christianity. The author summarizes the views of the Magisterium in the course of centuries, with a special stress on the missionary encyclicals and Vatican II. There is no space to give his well documented findings. There seems to be only one writer (De Letter in the Clergy Monthly, 1970) to think that, in spite of its silence, the spirit of Vatican II favours the theory of anonymous Christians. The majority of commentators reject this view. And these include such knowledgeable theologians as Ratzinger and Mgr. Rossano. Far from being indifferent to non-Christian religions, the Council documents stress the duty of the Church to proclaim without ceasing Christ as the only way, truth and life (p. 432). The non-Christian religions are not the way, nor one of the ordinary ways of salvation, for this prerogative belongs exclusively to the Church of Christ. Hence the opinion of Father De Letter who sees in the spirit of the Council documents premises with which to build, with the help of other theological principles, a system of non-Christian religions and anonymous Christians is to be rejected as it goes beyond what the Council documents permit.
Damboriena rejects the theory of anonymous Christians as it goes against the entire theological tradition and is contrary to the Church throughout its history. But its defenders proposed it as a theologumenon, based on certain principles and pre-superstitions. The author examines these principles in chapter 6: small flock, extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the offer of grace and its acceptance by man; divinization of the world; theological optimism regarding the salvation of the majority of non-Christians; and the new concept of salvific faith. This chapter analyses the views of the group concerning those various principles. Again we regret our inability to follow the author for lack of space.
The final pages (pp. 508 – 522) collect the, conclusions arrived at in the course of the preceding 507 pages. Damboriena admits that he has not found yet the final answers to all the questions that are being raised. But he feels that the theory of anonymous Christians with all the consequences of its acceptance for dogma and Christian apostolate presents great difficulties for theology and missionary activity.
Perhaps the balanced views of Cardinal Daniel point to the Right way of studying this problem: “It is impossible to regard non-Christian religions, purely and simply, as ordinary ways salvation for those who have not yet known Christ. These religions are as everything else that proceeds from man who has been enlightened and guided by Christ, marked with sin. It would be, therefore, a grave error to think that their votaries are in such a condition of salvation that they don’t have to worry about their fate. It is equally erroneous to base our theology merely on the practical aspect of these religions, for then one would see in them ordinary means of salvation, and relegate the Church to an extraordinary way of salvation. The problem of salvation through non-Christian religions remains always something obscure, and it is not correct to start from this obscurity to clarify the problem of salvation through the Church. It should be the other way, round. Hence the evangelization of non-Christian continues to keep its full actual necessity” (p. 515-516).
The readers who have followed this summary exposition, will have realized the unique importance of the problems treated by, Father Damboriena with such competence. The book belongs to the series, Historio Salutis of the B.A.C. which intends publishing monographs of dogmatic theology – some will be updated traditional theological treatises, other entirely new treatises as current developments may warrant. The work which we have presented belongs to the second category. A few years ago, the B.A.C. had published manuals of theology, which were considered excellent and were, widely used all over the world as text-books even in Faculties. The present series is of a much higher standard as the books are monographs. Unfortunately, unlike the previous series which was in Latin, the present one will be of use mostly in Spanish speaking countries. With regard to the work of Damboriena, this a real pity, for its subject is particularly important to missionaries and seminarians in mission countries and its language is unknown in most countries of Africa and Asia where most missionaries live. Facts like this bring out forcefully that after all, there was some advantage in keeping a common language for text-books in ecclesiastical institutions. Be that as it may, may I suggest that Salvacion en las religions on christianas be considered for translation into English and French so that people who need it most — missionaries might profit by it.
Christ Died for Truth – Dogmatic Intolerance a Duty
When ideas are, in conflict, when truth is fighting against error, and revelation against human ingenuity, there can be no compromise and no indulgence.
If our Lord had exercised such indulgence, He would not have been crucified.
When He called the Pharisees whitened sepulchers and a brood of vipers, and Herod a fox, He was not inspired by any sort of hatred against individuals, but by the tremendous earnestness of truth. It was His defiant and vivid conviction of responsibility for eternal truth that caused Him to use such strong words toward error and its top representatives.
And if we do not fight thus for the truth, then we lose, all moral and spiritual power: we overcome characterless we disown God.
Dogmatic intolerance is, therefore, a moral duty, a duty to the infinite truth and truthfulness.
Karl Adam, The Spirit of Catholicism
Opinion Poll Verdict is Against Communion in Hand
Last year Fr. Antony Fernando of Fatima Church, Valioor, conducted an opinion poll on the question of receiving Holy Communion in the hands. Out of 22,423 Catholics who responded 22,295 were against it and want to receive only in the respectful way on the tongue.
Why should the sacrilegious way of placing the sacred host in the hands of people be resorted to? It’s un-Indian too by the very fact that Indians do not use their left hand to eat anything. Why is the CBCI trying to ape the West? Why is the CBCI Liturgical Commission trying to make Holy Communion just a mere Prasada, laddoo or a banana that is given in the temples? From the manner in which the “Indian Rite” illicit Mass is performed with Sanskrit and OM, it is very clear that those who perform such Masses think of the Bread and Wine as mere meal, another Prasad . . . We Catholics believe that it not a mere meal but the body and blood of the Saviour.
CBCI should not, repeat not, scandalise the faithful by permitting the sacrilege of communion in hand. If unfortunately it does, then the flood gates of Schism, Scandals, Divisions, Revolt etc. will be open. Our shepherds alone can prevent this catastrophe. Please Pray the Rosary and let us win the battle, against wiles with prayers and sacrifices.
Communion in the Hands – Why? What for this Sacrilege?
Fr. Antony S. Fernando
As you all know there is once again much talk about giving Communion in the hands of the faithful. There is even strong propaganda made by certain quarters in the Church in favour of introducing this practice in India. This subject features in the agenda of the CBCI meeting in Ranchi (October, 1979).
The advocates of Communion in the hand adduce the reason that it was the practice in the early Church. We may here pass over the relevant question whether a practice just because it was in vogue in the early church though defunct long since, has to be resuscitated now. The argument from antiquity would imply that the practice of giving communion on the tongue either crept into the Church as an abuse, or was legitimately introduced for reasons which are no more valid. But history shows that this is not the case.
There is no denying the fact that in the early Church there existed the practice of giving Communion in the hand. But already in the fourth Century this was considered an exceptional practice justified only in special circumstances. We have the following date given in the ‘Crusade’ magazine (New Rochelle, N.Y.). “St. Basil (330-379) says clearly that Communicating with one’s own hand is permitted only in times of persecution or — as happened with the monks in the desert — when no priest or deacon was there to administer it. . . St. Basil considers Communion in the hand so irregular that he did not hesitate to consider it a grave fault. . . . Le Clerg (Dictionnaire d’Archeologie Chritienne) declares that the peace conceded to the church by Constantine was bringing the use of Communion in the hand to an end”.
Use Became Exceptional
There is reason to think that already in the third Century Communion in the hand had become exceptional. According to the above-mentioned source, St. Eutychian, (Pope 275-293) “severely warned the priests, exhorting them to themselves take the Communion to the sick and not to entrust this obligation to a lay man or a woman. (Nullus praesumat traders Communionem laico vel feminaced deferendum infirmo) P.L.V., Co., 163-168”
Coming to the fifth Century, there is the testimony of St. Leo I the Great (Pope 440 – 461), “who speaks of receiving Communion in the mouth as that which is in current use”. St. Gregory the great (Pope 590 – 604) testifies to this practice in the sixth Century Council of Rouen (650) enacted the decree, “Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layman or lay woman, but only in their mouths”. Again, the Council of Constantinople (695) “Prohibited the faithful from giving Communion to themselves (which is what takes place when the Sacred Particle is put in the hands of the communicant), and punishes with excommunication for a week those who do so when a Bishop, a Priest, or deacon is present”.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the Church (S.T. 3a. 82, a.3) has the following to say “The Body of Christ belongs to the priests. It is not touched by anything that is not consecrated. . . The hands of the priest are consecrated in order to touch the Sacrament. Accordingly no other person has a right to touch it except in the case of necessity”.
The Council of Trent declared that “The custom of only the priest giving Communion to himself with his own hands is an Apostolic tradition.” (S. 13, c.8)
Coming to our own Century of St. Pius X, called the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, gives this norm for the Communion of the faithful in his Catechism:
“In the moment of receiving Communion, it is necessary to be kneeling, to have the head slightly raised, the eyes, modestly turned toward the Sacred Host, the mouth sufficiently open, and the tongue a little bit out of the mouth, resting on the lower lip. . . .If the Sacred Host sticks to the palate, it is necessary to loosen it with the tongue and never with the finger”. (P.V.C. IV. No. 40)
For 16 Centuries
History shows that the practice of giving Communion in the Hand was given up already in the early Church, and that the present practice of giving it on the tongue has been in vogue for the past sixteen Centuries. This has been legitimately introduced and consistently insisted upon by Councils and Popes. Certainly such a development is a real growth in Eucharistic devotion in the Church and not an abuse. Nor was this change from Communion in the hand to Communion on the tongue due to reasons peculiar to any particular country or period or circumstance. The reason was a universal one, valid always and everywhere, namely greater respect towards this unique and most August Sacrament of the altar – and better safeguarding of the same against possible irreverences and sacrileges.
Nothing has now happened in the Church to call for or justify a reversion to the ancient short-lived long-abandoned practice of giving Communion in the hand. There is no good that could be imagined as resulting from such a reversion. On the contrary, there is sufficient reason to fear, nay to predict, that it would from the very start result in abuses, profanations and sacrileges. If during sixteen centuries Popes, Councils, canonized saints and real theologians thought with reason that Communion on the tongue provided greater safeguard for the unique reverence due to this August Sacrament we should think the same with greater reason, now that in this post-Conciliar period of ours, we see anarchy in liturgy, errors and heresies in Eucharistic doctrine, and irreverences and profanations in practice playing havoc with the Eucharistic faith and devotion of the people.
So now, this being the case, the most relevant question demanding an urgent answer before it will be too late, from the conscience first of every member of our hierarchy and then of every priest in our Country is:
‘Why, Why, What for and for whose profit is this imposition – an imposition it is if it comes, because the people have not asked for it – of this inexplicable anachronism in liturgy which promises no good, but forebodes many evils?” 67.
The Right Hand
Fr. P. K. George, S.J.
During the Ordination ceremony the ordaining bishop anoints the hands of the new priest with sacred Chrism, signifying thereby a priest, in his priestly capacity, has sacred functions to perform which are not performed by non-priests. The human hand has many functions. Among them, touching, holding and carrying may be considered most properly manual. Naturally then the, anointing of the priest hands has reference to the handling of sacred things. Sacredness is a quality that is possessed in varying degrees by persons, places things. In general, things connected with divine worship may be considered sacred. In addition to this connection, certain things acquire a greater sacredness by blessing or consecration. All sacred have to be handled with respect (Sancta sancte tractanda sunt).
Everything sacred is not equally sacred. We need not now go into the gradation of sacred things. But one thing we know for certain: we know what the most sacred thing on earth is. It is the Blessed Sacrament. If, then, anything on earth deserves the special honour of being handled only by anointed hands, it is surely the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Lord. The chalice containing the Precious Blood and the ciborium containing the Sacred Species are not to be touched by hands other than those of priests and deacons. Even the purificator used at Mass, was ordinarily to be washed first by one in major orders. Such restrictions were not always easy to observe. But certainly they contributed to the respect due to and the sense of sacredness towards the Blessed Sacrament.
Nowadays we hear of men and women taking Communion by themselves, and passing the chalice round. The impious phrase ‘Eucharistic self-service’ has been coined. There are mother superiors in convents who along with the celebrant of the Mass distribute Holy Communion. Instances have been reported of sisters distributing Communion with the celebrant remaining solemnly seated. I know one convent which has three Communities and the superior of each Community is superior enough to distribute Communion, even on ordinary days. They claim it is done with permission in order to save time.
Everyone knows that now the time needed for Mass is much shorter than before. Also the practice of making thanksgiving after Mass has become obsolete. The priest has only to say ‘Go; the Mass is ended’. The congregation obeys promptly. Nor is the priest slow to leave the church. In these circumstances, one cannot help wondering if the few minutes saved by the lay and feminine assistance at the distribution of Communion can justify the diminution of the sense of sacredness that the faithful ought to feel towards the Most Blessed Sacrament. Is such a cheapening of the Body and Blood of Christ, necessary for the good of the Church? Do we think that it will contribute to the renewal of the Church envisaged by Vatican II?
When we look at all the recent innovations in liturgy, we don’t find even one which tends to increase our faith in the Blessed Sacrament, and makes us more respectful towards the same. On the contrary they tend to diminish our faith, devotion and respect. Certainly the handling of the Blessed Sacrament by all does not help any ones faith and devotion. Therefore, in my humble opinion (against which learned arguments have been and will be raised) the right (correct) hand to handle the Blessed Sacrament is the anointed hand. My only argument is that Blessed Sacrament is the Body and Blood of the Living Lord, an argument which ought to outweigh all arguments to the contrary.
The Lord and Giver of Life
Dr. W. T. V. Adisesiah, M.A., Ph.D. (Cantab.)
”And every virtue we possess,
And every conflict won;
And every thought of holiness
Are His alone”.
The Forgotten Gentleman
Young Jim approached his parish priest for religious instruction. Finding the young hopeful to be utterly ignorant, the priest started by teaching him to make the sign of the Cross, saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen”. The following week, Jim called on the priest for his next lesson. The priest asked Jim to make the sign of the Cross. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son. . .” said Jim. There was an awkward pause. “Sorry sir,” said Jim, “I have forgotten the name of the third gentleman”. What Jim said unwittingly, applies full well to many a Christian believer. The Holy Spirit is usually treated as a ‘forgotten gentleman’. In the common run of everyday life, people usually address their prayers to Almighty God, and end up with the words, “Through Jesus Christ, our Lord”. Actually, the official prayers of the Church are invariably addressed to Almighty God, concluding with the words, “through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end, Amen”. The Church never forgets the Holy Spirit.
It is a basic tenet of the Christian Faith that God the Holy Spirit is consubstantial and coeternal with God the Father and God the son. The Christian creed explicitly states that the Holy Spirit “proceedeth from the Father and the Son”, and with them is worshipped and glorified. Nevertheless, there is an unconscious tendency to treat the Holy Spirit as if He were less important as compared with the Father and the Son. People celebrate the feasts of Christmas and Easter with great pomp and circumstance. This is quite understandable, because these feasts relate to the birth and, resurrection of Our Lord. But then, what about Whitsunday [Pentecost], which commemorates the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles? It hardly ever receives the attention it deserves. Even so, the liturgy of the Church accords a place of high honour to the Holy Spirit. At every Mass, during the season of Pentecost, the sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus is said, invoking the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the faithful. It is unfortunate that this is not fully understood and appreciated by many people.
What Pentecost Signifies
Speaking of the spiritual significance of Pentecost, Maisie Ward has said: “The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. He has not gone away again. He has filled the whole earth. Ours is the task, as members of His body – the Church to make the world conscious of the Holy Spirit, who has poured Himself abroad in the midst of unconscious humanity. And so we pray, aware of our feebleness, that He will do the task in us – and, first coming into us more fully, make us able to bring Him into all hearts”. This does, beyond doubt, express the role of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual life of every Christian.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that no life, however well lived, can be fully Christian unless it is guided by the Holy Spirit. Of course, the way the Spirit of God activates different people may be different; for it is through ordinary human life, and the things of the hour of every day, that the union with God must come about. Although human nature is the material which God uses for the fulfillment of His will in us, and although human nature is something which we all share despite our efforts to know and love God, we need to achieve our spiritual purposes with the help of the grace and spirit of God. It may well be that no two people have the same personal experience of God. Yet, there are rules of love, like rules of music. Within them, each soul must have a secret code provided by the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Sublime, though these thoughts may be, the stark reality is that people in everyday life hanker after things which turn their minds away from the treasures which the Holy Spirit alone can give them. In his treatise, the Accent of Mount Carmel, Saint John of the Cross has deplored the way in which men set their minds on the things of the world. “Oh, would that spiritual persons knew how they are losing the things of the spirit”, said Saint John of the, Cross, “abundantly furnished, because they will not raise up their minds above trifles, and how they might have the sweetness of all things in the pure food of the spirit, if they would only forego them But as they will not, they shall not have such sweetness. The people of Israel perceived not the sweetness of every taste in the manna, through it was there, because they would not limit their desires it alone. The sweetness and strength of the manna was not for them, not because it was not there; but because they longed for other meats beside it”. How like the people of ancient Israel, many priests and ecclesiastics are today. They hanker after ‘other meats’, to be found in the notions of Mahatma Gandhi, in the texts of the Upanishads or the verses of the Bhagawad Gita, in preference to the living truths of the Bible. “Until the desires cease”, said Saint John of the Cross, “we can never reach the summit, notwithstanding our many virtues; for virtue is not perfectly acquired before our souls are empty, detached, and purified from all desire”.
“It is strange”, observed Miss Caryll Houselander, “that those who complain the loudest of the emptiness of their lives, are usually people whose lives are overcrowded, filled with trivial details, plans, desires, ambitions, unsatisfied cravings for passing pleasures, doubts; anxieties, and fears; and these sometimes further overlaid with exhausting pleasures which are an attempt, and always a futile attempt, to forget how pointless such people’s lives are. Those who complain in these circumstances of the emptiness of their lives are usually afraid to allow space, or silence, or pause in their lives. They dread space, for they want material things crowded together, so that there will be something to lean on for support. They dread silence, because they do not want to hear their own pulses beating out the seconds of their life, and to know that each beat is another knock at the door of death.” (Caryll Houselander: The Need of God)
The richness of spiritual life comes through the influence of the Holy Spirit to the man who is meek and humble. Speaking of this, Thomas A. Kempis said: ‘The meek man Almighty God defendeth and comforteth; to him he inclineth himself; and after his oppression, he lifteth him up to glory. The meek man, when he hath suffered confusion and reproof, is in good peace, for he trusteth in God, not in the world”. (The Imitation of Christ)
Human Tendencies in Spiritual Experience
No one will ever deny that if a person’s life and character are truly influenced by the Holy Spirit, there will be evidence of it in his speech and actions. It is however, dreadfully easy for anyone to persuade oneself that the Holy Spirit is at work, when in reality all that fervour and excitement are subjectively worked up. In any form of Pentecostalism, certain common human tendencies are liable to come into evidence. As such, it is highly important that one should guard against false and misleading impressions being formed as a result of what seems like the influence of the Holy Spirit. Some of these human tendencies ought to be examined in detail.
Heightened Emotionality: There is, first of all, a certain heightening of feelings and emotions, consequent on the thought that one has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is common for some people to pass into a state of ecstasy. In Pentecostal group meetings feelings are easily worked up by singing songs of joy and praise by clapping hands, and sometimes also by dancing. People go over to the preacher and kneel with folded hands, and the preacher places his hands on their heads while they kneel. The preacher utters some words, invoking the Holy Spirit, and declaring repeatedly that the Spirit has descended. By and by the person feels an inward tingling. He quivers and trembles, sometimes passing into a trance.
Many of these so-called religious experiences and their concomitant ecstatic expressions are subjectively induced as a result of suggestion and autosuggestion. It is a notorious fact that when feelings and emotions get the upper hand, reason is shunted out, and the will is weakened. There have even been instances when innocent girls have been seduced by unscrupulous individuals, in the name of religion. When emotions are worked up to a high pitch, finer sensitivity is lost. On such occasions, the state of mind conforms to the principle of Reversed Effort. When the will and the imagination are at war, the imagination invariably gains the day. In the conflict between the will and the imagination, the force of the imagination is in direct ratio to the square of the will. What happens then is that the accepted norms of moral conduct are relaxed, and people may indulge in intimacies which are not normally tolerated. Hugging, kissing and petting are quite commonly indulged in. It is of capital importance to guard oneself against such improprieties, when feelings and emotions are worked up in Charismatic meets.
Group Processes: Another human tendency which is capable of becoming conspicuous in Charismatic meets is the group reaction Charismatic meets do indeed provide opportunities for people of both sexes to get together. These meetings are of course capable of in fusing individuals with new attitudes and interests, of bringing about a ‘revival’. They could most certainly make a person all the better for the experience. The self-centered attitude can and does usually give way to the attitude of partnership in a spiritually oriented, group. Where this occurs, it will be all to the good. Nevertheless, this might not always be the case. It is common knowledge, for instance that feelings and emotions aroused in some individuals tends to spread to others in the group. This ‘spread’ of feelings and emotions is called the sympathetic induction of emotions. Thus, a group of birds might be perched quietly on the branches of a tree. All of a sudden, a few of them take fright and fly away. Almost instantly fear spreads to the rest, and they all fly off in different directions. At the human level, the factor of suggestions may be seen to work in many subtle ways. According to the British Anthropologist Dr. W. H. R. Rivers, suggestion is “that aspect of the gregarious instinct, whereby the mind of one member of a group of animals or human beings acts upon another or another’s unwittingly, to produce in both or all a common content or a content so similar, that both act with complete harmony towards a common end”. The psychologist, William McDougall regarded this phenomenon to be due to primitive passive sympathy. It is the emotional responsiveness of one mind to feelings in some other mind or minds.
According to Ferenczi and Jones, suggestibility is essentially sexual in character. A considerable amount of evidence has been adduced by these writers in support of this contention. They have argued that suggestion is capable of working in two ways — through authority and fear, or through love and persuasion. In either case, suggestibility, developed at the group level, arouses the primitive impulses of man; and the notable feature of this condition is that sexual impulses are aroused.
If these individual reactions are directed into socially useful channels, the outcome is good both for the individual and for society. If, on the other hand, the individual has no true idea of what is going on and cannot deal with it appropriately, the cruder aspects of human nature will prevail. It is therefore necessary to exercise the utmost caution in dealing with this psychological condition set up by the group process and this is applicable equally well to the religious experience.
Personality of Leadership: A third important factor is the impact of the personality of the leader on individuals within the group. The manner in which different individuals relate themselves to one another and to the leader of the group depends to no small extent on the way the leader influences the group. The leader is, in the first place, a source of suggestion. He knows full well that in an emotionally aroused state, people will accept suggestions uncritically, because their critical powers are at a low level. Another common way of getting a grip over the mind of the group is by appealing to their religious sentiments and pet prejudices. In Pentecostal meetings and conventions, for instance, it is common for preachers to give elaborate sermons, expounding portions of the Bible, and, kindling fervour in the minds of their audiences.
Yet another technique is to get people to give witness testifying the radical change which the spirit has worked in them. Experienced and skilled religious leaders make use of a large variety of techniques aimed at working up feelings and emotions of their audiences. From time to time, mass singing, or the shouting of slogans may be indulged in, to intensify these emotions. In these ways, individuals are brought into a state of mind which will make them receptive and responsive to the message of the preacher. The authoritative tone of the speaker, his expert knowledge of the scriptures, the fluency and spontaneity with which he quotes and interprets the texts of the scripture, and the sincere ring in his tone of voice-all these combine to sweep the audience off their feet. As a rule, large groups provide a favourable social climate for this.
In the group situation, the individual loses his sense of personal identity he or she develops a momentary feeling of oneness with the group, setting aside all mental reservations which may be effective while one is acting on one’s own,. Sometimes a climax may be reached, by the shouting of slogans which have a mass appeal. It will thus be seen that such effects are usually characteristic of Pentecostal conventions and Charismatic meets, often leading away from what constitutes the essence of a genuine religious experience. There is no doubt that religious experience sometimes culminates in thrills; but sometimes, these ‘thrills’ may be self-induced, and artificial. If the attitudes and interests set up as the result of such gatherings are not reinforced by repeated experiences at group meetings, they will soon die down; because, like a fire that is not fed with fuel, the glow and warmth of the religious fervour will become extinguished in due course. That is why revivalist preachers insist that the enthusiasms they have aroused ought to be followed up by frequent meetings of groups of interested people.
Some Errors Incident to Revivalism
The factors discussed so far point to the need for great caution in approaching religious revival movements launched in the name of the Holy Spirit. The imminent danger, of course, is that people may lose sight of what is precious in their faith. It is a notorious fact that many Pentecostalist preachers have denounced the Church and its traditional practices, merely in order to make people accept what they advocate. Apart from this, there are certain grave errors which Pentecostalists have propagated; and the unfortunate fact about it is that Catholic Charismatics are liable to be influenced by these errors. These are capable of ruining the spiritual life, and destroying, the movement itself. In a recent leading article, the Editor of the ‘New Leader’ has called attention to some of these aberrations.
Parousia: In the first place, Scriptural fundamentalism, which has had an impact over the Charismatic movement, stems from an exaggerated emphasis on the imminence of parousia, that is the end of the world and the second coming of Christ. Although it may be true that Saint Paul foresaw the end of the world during the lifetime of the apostles, (I Thessalonians 4, 15-17), he eventually taught that preparation for Christ’s second coming should in fact be preparation for death, which would for each individual be the second coming of the Lord (II Thessalonians 2,3). It is of course true that wars, famines and earthquakes occurring from time to time make it look as if the end of the world is near. It is certainly true that no one can predict that the end of the world will occur at a definite point in time. It is however necessary that every person should be prepared for death, which may come at any moment. The Charismatic movement has highlighted parousia, thereby creating a sense of urgency in the individual. This is undoubtedly good, considering that there are so many people in this world, living in_ a state of callous indifference regarding the destiny of their souls. On the other hand, when Charismatics predict of forthcoming parousia, proposing also a definite date which the Saviour will come, and when the predictions turn out to be false, people become disillusioned with the movement.
Justification by Faith: Yet another error, also due to the influence of Protestant Pentecostalism, arises out of the Protestant belief that man is justified by faith. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”. This sounds as if human salvation is the magical result of a simple act of faith. It cannot be denied that faith in Christ is necessary for human salvation, for Christ is the Saviour of mankind. At the same time, a measure of human effort, the attuning of the human will, is a necessary condition of salvation. The idea of justification by faith would make it appear as if mere faith in Christ will wash away our sins, covering us with grace, as with a cloak. It is sometimes concluded from this that sin does not matter as long as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is there. On this token, a man may be simultaneously a sinner, and yet justified by God’s grace. There is, however, no magic about the way the grace of God works in the life of man. Sin alienates man from Almighty God. Christ has reconciled man to God by His death on the Cross: but at the same time, it must be conceded that man should give up sin if the salvation wrought by Christ is to be effective in his life. 71.
Sinproofing by Grace: An even more strange interpretation regarding grace is the idea put forward by some Pentecostals that the man who is endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit cannot sin. Even if he should fall into sin, he does not in fact sin, because he is preserved by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It may be reasonable to claim that the grace of the Holy Spirit will give man the strength not to fall into sin; but even this is not absolutely so. It might act as a preventive, but certainly not as a preservative, just as an onion is preserved by soaking it in vinegar. To justify oneself, and to explain away sin by such specious arguments, is to say the least – highly presumptuous.
The story is told that the Aga Khan was once asked how he justified the drinking of wine, when it has been forbidden by the Quran. One of his apologists replied that when the Aga Khan sips a glass of wine, the wine is instantly changed into water. A very convenient miracle. Let us not argue ourselves into the false notion that the person endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit, can be sinless even if he should commit sinful acts. What the Holy Spirit does is to provide the grace to resist the temptation to sin, a determination of the will to avoid the acts and occasions of sin.
What, then, are we to make of the Charismatic movement and its impact over the spiritual life of the Catholic Church today? Some religious leaders have acclaimed Charismatic Renewal as God’s plan for the youth. It should turn away the minds of youth from the cults and sects which cannot satisfy their spiritual hunger to a deeper and fuller experience of Christ in their lives. Expressing his firm belief in the bright prospects of the Charismatic movement, for achieving true Christian unity and fellowship, Archbishop Arokiaswamy of Bangalore recently declared that the Charismatic renewal is something which may be the real Saviour of our youth, who are the hope of the Church today. The Archbishop was firmly of the opinion that young people would realize that their spiritual hungers can be satisfied only by Christ, who alone gives the gifts of the Holy Spirit — true peace and joy.
The optimistic attitude of the Archbishop of Bangalore will be justified only by the way things work with the Charismatic Movement in the Catholic Church, which ought to steer clear of the errors and aberrations of Protestant Pentecostalism. There can be no doubt that Charismatic Renewal can do a tremendous lot to satisfy the spiritual hunger and thirst of many people today. But how it will achieve this result is a moot question. It should not be forgotten that a healthy appetite for righteousness, kept in due control by good manners, is an excellent thing; but a mere hunger and thirst for it might be a symptom of spiritual diabetes.
We confess to the Holy Spirit as “the Lord and Giver of Life”. If He is to be a reality in our lives, He deserves to be honoured, not merely with our lips, but in our deeds. The first step in this direction ought to be a constant awareness of His living presence in our midst, invoking His aid in moments of weakness, thereby gaining strength courage to, do what is right, and eschew what is wrong. It may that those who cherish a common loyalty to the Holy Spirit find it reassuring to meet, to examine their lives, and to gain strength and confidence by sharing their spiritual experiences. This should not however, be a substitute for actions which lead one along the upward of spiritual advancement. As Thomas A. Kempis long ago said: “Give me instead of all worldly consolation, the most sweet unction of The Spirit; and instead of carnal loves, infuse into me the love of Thy Name”. And the concluding verse of the Sequence for Pentecost points to what the Charismatic ought to look for in seeking guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“Guide the steps that go astray
On Thy faithful who adore,
And confess Thee evermore.
In Thy sevenfold gifts descend
Give them Virtue’s sure reward
Give them Thy salvation, Lord,
Give them joys that never end.
The Agony of Indian Catholics
Dr. A. Deva, Bangalore
A leading Catholic weekly of India recently reported the text of the Holy Father’s address to eleven Bishops of India, from the Bengal and North-Eastern region, who were paying their ad limina visit to him. The Holy Father moreover is reportedly receiving each Bishop in private audience at the ad limina visit. I hope that the President CBCI, Cardinal Picachy, who was one of the 11 Bishops, or at least one of the ten Bishops, reported to the Holy Father the true state of the Church in India.
Briefly, our agony is our knowledge that, every day, an illicit Mass is performed under the aegis of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). This mass is said in the central teaching institution of the CBCI, the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical centre (NBCLC), Bangalore. The Centre’s Director is Father D. S. Amalorpavadass who is a brother of His Grace the Most Reverend D. S. Lourduswamy, secretary, Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples, the Vatican. The Director, NBCLC, has made up his own Mass and has named it the “Indian Rite mass”, or the “Mass according to an Indian order”. He performs his mass squatting on the floor throughout, even during the Consecration.
A Mass or a Mess?
I attended the “Indian Rite mass” on May 2, 1979, at the NBCLC. The-participants were loaned a copy each of Fr. Amalorpavadass hand-book for his mass. As described in the hand-book, the laity self-communicate during the “Indian Rite mass”, the tray and chalice being passed around by the priest among the squatting laity. Although self-communion under both species is known to occur when the group is smaller, it did not occur at the mass I attended. Apart from that, Fr. Amalorpavadass performed his mass exactly according to the hand-book. He consecrated only one large host, about 18 cm in diameter, as large as a chapatti. He later broke this host into fragments and, at communion, placed a fragment on each communicant’s tongue, many fragments and particles remaining on the tray. Towards the end of this mass, a religious sister came forward, took the tray with the particles and fragments, walked to the back of the room and placed the tray on a table there. A perusal of the mass hand-book would leave no Catholic in doubt that the “Indian Rite mass” is illicit. The blasphemy and sacrilege occur when Fr. Amalorpavadass places the consecrated species practically on the floor when he prays to Our Lord at mass with the Sanskrit word “OM”. (OM according to one accepted meaning, is the cry of exultation which the Hindu god, Shiva, and his consort, Parvati, give vent to at the moment of their sexual orgasm), when he squats on the floor and says the words of the consecration, and when he sends the tray containing particles of the sacred species to be placed open on a table at a far corner of the church.
The CBCI established the NBCLC in 1967, Fr. Amalorpavadass being continuously its Director. Initially, the “Indian Rite Mass” was said almost in private, the only spectators being the NBCLC staff and the unfortunate lay people, priests and nuns whom their superiors had directed to attend the NBCLC seminars (which are held throughout the year). For the last few months, however, the NBCLC’s Director Fr. Amalorpavadass has been advertising his mass by means of hand-bills which his representatives distribute at parish churches on Sundays which reveal that Fr. Amalorpavadass claims Vatican and CBCI approval for his “Indian Rite Mass”. This claim is false. A parish priest of Bangalore revealed the falsity of this claim in a letter to Editor of India’s national Catholic weekly, the “New Leader“, which was published in the April 15, 1979 issue.
Fr. F. A. Pinto’s letter follows:
Puzzled by Circular
A circular captioned “Indigenous Forms of Eucharistic Prayer and Meditation” is being distributed to the faithful following Sunday Masses in the parish churches in Bangalore by NBCLC, Bangalore. It has also been published in the New Leader of 25-3-1979.
We are puzzled by this circular because of the statements made in it.
Some of these statements are “The renewal launched by the II Vatican Council includes indigenisation”. This statement confuses us because nowhere is indigenisation mentioned in the Vatican II Council documents. Another such statement is “The renewal … includes indigenisation … in keeping with the incarnation of Jesus Christ…” This looks like a misleading use of the word “incarnation”, which may delude simple Catholics, and, the statement itself is without meaning.
Another such statement in the circular is this, “Celebration of the Eucharist according to Indigenous forms, approved by the Holy See and the C.B.C.I.”
Readers’ attention is invited to the issue of the New Leader dated 9-7-78 wherein Bishop Ignatius Gopu’s letter to the Editor is published [pages 19, 75, 91]. The Bishop clearly points out that the “Eucharist according to indigenous forms” was not approved by the C.B.C.I. The number of Bishops votes for the proposal to introduce this Mass was less than two thirds of the total membership of the C.B.C.I. The proposal, therefore, was mistakenly sent to the Vatican, as having been approved by the Bishops of India, as clarified by Bishop Gopu. Subsequently Cardinal Knox of the Vatican wrote to the Bishops of India requesting them not to proceed with Indianization (see his letter of 14-6-75*). *See p. 80
The use of the word “indigenous” is also puzzling and may be an appeal to nationalism.
We are puzzled more because the Director, N.B.C.L.C. claims the Archbishop of Bangalore’s approval for the distribution of this circular.
Fr. F. A Pinto, Bangalore. 73.
Our agony is due to the lack of any public condemnation, either by the C.B.C.I. or by the Vatican of Fr. Amalorpavadass’ claim that he has their approval for his mass. (I am convinced, however, that the Holy Father is unaware of the “Indian Rite mass” or of Fr. Amalorpavadass’ claim).
Many Catholics are astonished at the coming into existence of the “Indian Rite mass”. The account I shall give is extraordinary though not complete, and its veracity is fully documented. The virus of the “Indian Rite mass” entered the Church in India in 1966, when a small, influential group of Bishops, priests and laymen began discussions on Indianising the Mass and the liturgy. Periodical meetings were held and it was not difficult, under the banner of “renewal under Vatican II” for this group to obtain cognisance of the C.B.C.I. for the Indianisation idea, C.B.C.I. Cognisance, however, is not the same as C.B.C.I. approval, but, as I shall describe C.B.C.I. approval was ultimately secured by the use of devious methods, the year being 1969.
The mistake the Indianisers make is to equate Hindu with Indian and to transfer the religious rites of Hinduism, the living religion of 600 million people, into the Mass and into Catholic liturgy, inevitably, resulting in doctrinal confusion among Catholics, and in Hindus thinking that we at last recognize Hinduism’s truth.
The idea of introducing Hindu rites into the mass and the liturgy would, have been fruitless without powerful advocacy, but, to the misfortune of the Church in India, just such advocacy did exist in 1969. In that year, the C.B.C.I.’s Chairman of its Liturgy Commission was His Grace the Most Reverend D. S. Lourduswamy, Archbishop of Bangalore, who is a votary of Indianisation (We shall hereafter call this process by its correct name, Hinduisation). The NBCLC was established in his Archdiocese and he was instrumental in placing his brother Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass, who is a priest of Salem diocese as director of NBCLC, in 1967. With his assistance, the ideas about Indianisation, referred to, were crystallised and formulated into “12 points“. Please note that the chairman of the sub-committee that selected 12 points has since left the Society of Jesus and priesthood, and married a nun.
CBCI Vote was Falsified
For the 12 points to attain official status, however, they had to receive CBCI approval which meant that the Bishops of India had to vote on them. A substantive matter, like the 12 points, requires at least two thirds of the total number of Bishops to be in favour of it before it can be considered as approved. This rule exists in every Episcopal Conference in the world including the CBCI.
A session of the Episcopal Conference is invariably called when any substantive matter affecting the Church has to be discussed. Such a meeting allows each Bishop to have wide-ranging discussions with his colleagues and it would be improper and highly objectionable not to call such a meeting. In the present instance, the proposal for Hinduisation pertained to the Liturgy and the Chairman, Liturgy commission of the CBCI, ought to have called a meeting of the Episcopal Conference, but he did not. He substituted a postal ballot, (and, on the face of it, such a substitution was mala fide).
Archbishop Lourduswamy carried out a postal ballot on March 15, 1969, among the 71 Latin Rite Bishops of India, on the proposal to introduce the 12 points into the Mass and the liturgy in India. He instructed the Bishops to vote in one of three ways on the ballot paper he enclosed: either ‘placet’ (affirmative) or ‘non-placet’ (negative) or ‘placet juxta modum’ (giving the explanation for the modus).
A proposal to introduce pagan rituals into the Mass and the liturgy is liable to be summarily rejected and many Bishops rejected it. But some Bishops felt the need for consultation with their priests and with the laity which would take several months. But the Chairman, Liturgy Commission, had not made provision for consultation time and by early in April 1969, he was already counting the ballots he received. He has stated that he received only 51 ballots, which would mean that 20 out of 71 Bishops of India did not vote on a matter of crucial importance for the Faith. I am unable to find in the official records any reason why these 20 Bishops did not vote. Had a meeting of the Episcopal Conference been convened even at that stage, it is certain that these 20 Bishops would have voted ‘placet’, or ‘non-placet’ or at least ‘placet juxta modum’.
Did these defaulting Bishops request for an Episcopal Conference meeting to be convened instead of a postal ballot? Did they request Archbishop Lourduswamy for more time for consultations? Did they need any clarification about any aspect of the 12 points? Did these 20 Bishops ever receive the ballot papers or were some ballot papers lost? Did the Chairman, Liturgy Commission send out the ballot papers under Registered Post, acknowledgement due, and did he receive back the postal acknowledgements from these 20 Bishops? Did the Chairman, Liturgy Commission contact these 20 Bishops by telephone, telegram or registered post to ensure whether their failure to reply meant that they desired to abstain from voting? The replies to these questions would indicate whether or not some Bishops were illegally deprived of their vote.
Worse to Follow
No responsible person charged with conducting a poll can ignore the votes of 20 out of 71 voters. He would have to abandon the postal method in favour of a meeting of the voters or risk the, validity of the poll being called into question. Yet, the Chairman Liturgy Commission of the CBCI took into account only these 51 votes and declared the result thereon. Worse was to follow.
We have the figures of 71 and 51 from Archbishop Lourduswamy. Also from Archbishop Lourduswamy are the voting details. Forty Bishops cast affirmative votes (‘placet’) in favour of only some of the 12 points. Thirty-four Bishops voted ‘placet’ for others. None of the 12 points received more than 40 affirmative votes (‘placets’). 74.
The minimum number of votes required for CBCI approval was 47 (two-thirds of the total CBCI membership of 71) and the 12 Points received only 40 votes. Thus even by the postal Ballot, the CBCI had rejected all the 12 points of Hinduisation of the Mass and the liturgy. All that was required now was for Archbishop Lourduswamy, who conducted the poll, to declare the result. He did declare the result but, whether accidentally or intentionally, he falsified it. Whether at the time, any of the voters i.e., the Bishops of India, objected to the falsification is not known. We do know, however, that, in 1978, one CBCI voter publicly exposed the falsification. In his charity, he does not call it a falsification. He calls it Archbishop Lourduswamy’s mistake. He has however, given the widest publicity to this ‘mistake’ by publishing it in the national Catholic weekly, the New Leader of July 9, 1978 and August 20, 1978. This CBCI voter is Bishop Ignatius Gopu [see pages 19, 73, 91] of Visakhapatnam and his letters to the Editor of the New Leader expose the truth. As a result of this mistake, he states, the 12 points have been imposed on the Catholic Church in India. He goes further. He asks for the mistake to be corrected, that is, for the 12 Hindu rites to be removed from the Mass and the liturgy wherever they have unlawfully been introduced. Bishop Gopu’s exposure remains unchallenged but the CBCI and its President have not withdrawn the 12 points. I do not know if this failure to act is due to Archbishop Lourduswamy’s powerful position in the Vatican Curia.
The Vatican was deceived
Through a ‘mistake’, the CBCI “approved”, in 1969, the introduction of the 12 points of Hinduisation into the Mass and liturgy in India. But CBCI approval was insufficient for the Hinduisation to be officially launched. Vatican approval was also required. But Vatican approval for a proposal can only be sought after the Episcopal Conference concerned has approved of it by a majority of at least two-thirds of its total membership. The 12 proposal had not received a two thirds affirmative vote of the CBCI’s total membership. Yet the Vatican was approached for its approval of the 12 points of Hinduisation, Archbishop Lourduswamy himself taking proposal to Rome on April 15, 1969, and himself demonstrating squatting 12-point, Hinduised mass to high Vatican officials undoubtedly after reassuring them that the Bishops of India had already approved this mass.
The perusal of the 12 points reveals that they are mostly pagan. The Vatican, with reason, moves very, very slowly on almost every issue, much more so on a substantive issue, like this. Yet incredibly, Archbishop Lourduswamy was able to obtain Vatican approved of the 12 points within 10 days, the sanctioning letter, Prot. N. 802/69 dated April 25, 1969, being signed by Archbishop A. Bugnini, Secretary, Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de sacra Liturgia, but not by the Consilium President, Benno Cardinal Gut. One reason for the Consilium’s quick sanction was undoubtedly their impression that the Bishops of India had already approved of the 12 points, and the Consilium’s letter Prot. N. 802/69 opens with the following words, “The Cardinal President of the Consilium, His Eminence Benno Cardinal Gut, has accepted the proposals of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India for certain adaptations in the liturgy, according to articles 37-40 of the Liturgical Constitution… Had the Consilium been aware that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India had made no such proposals, they would certainly never have given their approval. Such an approval can surely have no validity.
Yet, on this Vatican approval, the NBCLC has plunged headlong into Hinduising the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the liturgy, A comparison of the 12 sanctioned points with the Hand book of the “Indian Rite mass”, which has now emerged, shows that the present Hinduisation has far exceeded the Vatican sanction under Prot. N. 802/69 dated April 25, 1969. Within 6 years of this, sanction, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, James Cardinal Knox, felt compelled to issue a direction to the President, CBCI, then Joseph Cardinal Parecattil, under Prot. N. 789/75* dated June 14, 1975, to desist from further Hinduisations.
The “Indian Rite mass” is in violation, of Cardinal Knox’s direction, as a perusal of the mass hand book shows, and a clearly illicit. *See page 80
In their desire to imitate the Hindus, our Catholic Hinduisers have made some blasphemous changes, as was inevitable, and, because of the Vatican’s quick approval, these escaped its attention. The Hindus for instance, observe different modes of obeisance in their temples. One of these in performed by bowing from the waist, while keeping the palms of the hands in contact and at chest level This salutation is known as the Anjali Hasta and is rendered to a minor or junior god (there are millions of gods of different ranks in the Hindu pantheon). In the presence of the highest god the Supreme Being, however, the Hindus’ obeisance is different. They then prostrate themselves on the floor that obeisance, before the Creator, being known as the Sashtanga Namaskosra. Our Hinduisers succeeded in abolishing genuflection in church (see number 2 of the 12 points). In order to Hinduise honestly, they ought to have replaced genuflection by prostration (Sashtanga Namaskosra). They however replaced it by a mere Anjali Hasta. Our Hindu friends, therefore, see us Catholics equating Our Lord with a minor or junior god of their pantheon. We have made ourselves a source of ridicule to our Hindu countrymen!
What is even worse is that ninety per cent of Indian Catholics are aware that the anjali haste is the Hindu salutation to a minor god and dislike having to perform this gesture. They Christianise it as much as they can. They do not bow from the waist but only bend the head. They do not perform the hand movement at all but keep the hands by the side or clasped in front. The result is that Our Lord receives an impious salutation in Indian churches. His children in India salute, Our Lord with a mere nod of the head!
The unlawful 12 points have ushered in the paganisation of the Catholic Church in India. One of these points, point number 3, is the Hindu religious gesture, named ‘pranam‘. This gesture is unique to Hinduism. It has only one meaning, that which the Hindu religious and its 600 million adherents ascribe to it. Our Hindu brethren regularly perform the pranam in their worship. By performing this uniquely Hindu gesture, the Hindu renders his obeisance to all the 300 million deities in the Hindu pantheon. It is incredible, therefore for a Catholic priest to perform such a gesture, but he does, at the commencement of his Mass! Catholics now see their priest perform an idolatrous gesture at Mass. The group of activists, who introduced the 12 points, now tries to explain pranam away by stating that they have given their-own private meaning to the gesture, different from the true meaning! This argument is tantamount to the absurdity of a group of people deciding that, henceforth, they would call elephant a horse! Yet the priests’ ‘pranam’ continues giving offence and scandal to the people.
An Illicit Mass
I have already stated that the NBCLC’s “Indian Rite mass” is illicit, because it far exceeds, in its Hinduisations, even the 12 points of 1969, which alone the Vatican (erroneously) approved. I shall give details of another unauthorised innovation contained in the “Indian Rite mass” and gradually being introduced into the liturgy, in some dioceses of India. I refer to the Sanskrit word, “OM“. This word is not found among the 12 points and its use in the Mass or in the liturgy is, therefore, at the very least, unauthorized. James Cardinal Knox, President, Sacred Congregation for sacraments and Divine worship, further, banned the use of any such word by his directive Prot. N.789/75* dated June 14, 1975, addressed to the President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. *See page 80
The mantra, “OM“; expresses the quintessence of Hinduism, and only a Hindu prays to his god with this word. A Catholic praying to Jesus Christ with this purely Hindu mantra, is either mocking God or he considers Jesus Christ one of the deities of the Hindu pantheon; he is an apostate, even if on the subjective level he is not aware of this.
“OM” has somewhat different meanings in the different sects of Hinduism. I have already referred to this word as being the Hindu god, Shiva’s, and his consort, Parvati’s cry of exultation at the moment of their sexual orgasm. “OM” is also identical with Krishna, the Hindu god, Krishna, says, “I am ‘OM’. Bow low and worship me” (see the ‘Bhagavad Gita’). A reference to the “Indian Rite mass” hand-book reveals that Fr. Amalorpavadass and his priest disciples repeatedly pray “OM” at their mass. Such a prayer cannot be to Jesus Christ and can only be to Krishna or Shiva or Parvati. To utter this quintessentially Hindu mantra during mass is a crime committed in a church and is a local sacrilege, as long as Hinduism is around us with its own meaning for OM. To perform such a mass before the people could be to induce others to sin and is a scandal of a most heinous nature.
So influential, however are Fr. Amalorpavadass and his group, that they, managed to introduce the mantra “OM” to the Asian Bishops at their, Federation’s (FABC) meeting, at Calcutta, in November, 1978 (see New Leader, December 3, 1978). During one of the Masses, an Indian religious sister, a disciple of Fr. Amalorpavadass, demonstrated to the Bishops how to intone the mantra “OM” and she falsely implied that “OM” is regularly used by Indian Catholics in their prayers. This bad example was the occasion for much disapproval by the people of the Asian Bishops’ action in permitting the quintessentially Hindu incantation, “OM”, during their concelebrated Mass.
Andhra Bishops True to Jesus
I have now to report a glimmer of hope for the people of God. A group of 9 Bishops has now raised the banner of revolt against the Hinduisation of our Faith. The development is a recent one and the 9 Bishops are members of a provincial Episcopal Council of India, the Bishops Council of Andhra Pradesh a region that leads other regions of India in evangelization. This Bishops Council has issued a statement which they have published in the national Catholic weekly, the New Leader, April 29, 1979. The statement contains instructions on the proper way to say and hear Mass.
The statement is so encouraging that I comment on it in some detail. These 9 bishops jointly state:
“At the reading of the gospel, everyone should stand”. This direction strikes at the root of the “Indian Rite Mass”, because at the “Indian Rite Mass”, priest and people squat on the floor, for the whole mass, including the Gospel. Now no priest can perform the “Indian Rite Mass” in Andhra Pradesh province, unless he does so in secret.
The Bishops of Andhra Pradesh further direct:
“At the Elevation, everyone should kneel”. This statement corrects the disrespectful practice of the priest and people squatting on the floor during the Elevation at the “Indian Rite Mass”.
The Bishops of Andhra Pradesh further direct:
“The main celebrant should wear the vestments – alb, girdle, stole and chasuble.” At the “Indian Rite Mass”, the priest wears no Mass vestments. Instead, he wears a saffron-coloured shawl thrown over his shoulders and an “angavastram” draped over the shawl. The “angavastram” is a length of white, starched cloth about a metre long, about 10 cm. wide and about 1 cm. thick, the thickness being due to repeated folding and a starching along its length. It is a part of South Indian male attire. In any event, the priest cannot squat on the floor in a chasuble. By insisting on full Mass vestments, the 9 bishops have in effect, banned the “Indian Rite Mass” from Andhra Pradesh.
The Bishops Council further directs:
“The Chalice and Paten and Ciborium should not be passed around, except for the celebrants.” This directive corrects the reprehensible practice, at the “Indian Rite Mass”, of the priest passing round the tray and Chalice for the people to self-communicate under both species (see “Indian Rite Mass” hand-book, printed in this issue*). *Page 97
The Bishop’s Council next directs:
“‘OM’ should not be used for our liturgical worship.” This directive again effectively forbids “Indian Rite Mass” in Andhra Pradesh, because Fr. Amalorpavadass and his disciples keep using the mantra, “OM”, during the “Indian Rite Mass”.
The revolt against the “Indian Rite Mass” by a block of 9 Bishops, though welcome, is a matter of the utmost gravity. The reason is that the NBCLC is a CBCI-sponsored institution, and the Director, NBCLC, daily performs the “Indian Rite Mass” in the NBCLC church. The 9 Bishops being members of the CBCI, a quiet split has clearly occurred in that body on the “Indian Rite Mass” and this is good for it will encourage other Bishops to come out into the open in defence of the purity of Catholic worship.
In the delicate stage that the Catholic Church in India has now reached, the position and power of Archbishop Lourduswamy are significant. I have shown that Archbishop Lourduswamy was responsible for the 12 points being introduced into India, by taking the proposal to Rome without proper approval by the CBCI and then erroneously obtaining Rome’s approval. The priest-director of the NBCLC is Archbishop Lourduswamy’s brother. Archbishop Lourduswamy is now Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples as well as President of the Pontifical Mission Aid Society (PMAS) and he has large funds at his disposal. The NBCLC receives annual grants from him. Any single Bishop standing up against the NBCLC’s “Indian Rite Mass” has to reckon with the possibility of PMAS aid to his diocese drying up or being reduced. Such retributive action becomes less likely, however, when the Bishops of a whole region of India stand together, as has now happened in the Andhra Pradesh State of the Indian Union. These 9 Bishops, however, are deserving of early and public moral support from their brother bishops as well as from the Vatican, which I hope they will soon receive.
Bishops worried by Hinduisation
The Andhra Pradesh Bishops have come out in a block against the “Indian Rite Mass”. There are other Bishops who are perturbed at the progressive Hinduisation of the Church in India after the 12 points were introduced. These Bishops voiced their misgivings at the last General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, which was held in Mangalore in January, 1978. The Bishops Conference of India was held in Mangalore in January, 1978. The Bishops’ discussion on the NBCLC and the liturgy is very revealing. An abbreviated report appeared in the “New Leader”, of June 25, 1978 and I shall quote extracts from that paper.
Bishop Joe Rodericks of Jamshedpur said, “We have to give an appropriate and satisfying answer to those people who oppose the changes. We have to give these people the necessary information about the working of the Liturgical Commission (of the CBCI), about the ‘renewal’ movement and about adaptation and Indianisation.”
Bishop Leo D’Mello of Ajmer wanted the people to be consulted before changes are introduced. He added that the people are troubled about some of the changes.
Fr. Francis Rodrigues of the Conference of Religious India [CRI] asked if there was any authorisation for the experiments that are still going on with the liturgy.
Archbishop Raul Gonsalves of Goa wanted a common and the Bishops in all matters affecting “renewal” and adaptation.
Archbishop Angelo Fernandes of Delhi wanted that only the Bishops should decide about “renewal” and adaptation. He also wanted diocesan opinion to be obtained before setting up centers for liturgical adaptation. He wanted information to be obtained from Rome about whether we are permitted to carry on the experiments.
Bishop Michael Arratukulam of Alleppey was vehement in his stand that all experiments had to stop on September 5, 1970, according the Instruction from Rome (The Third Instruction for the Correct Implementation of the Liturgy).
Bishop Thumma Joseph of Vijayawada expressed concern about the confusion caused among the people about the changes in the liturgy.
Bishop Alphonsus Mathias of Chikmagalur said that a communications gap was separating them (the Bishops) from the people and this gap should be closed. He wanted the Liturgy Commission (of the CBCI) to get it in writing from Rome whether the experiments are permitted or not. 77.
Bishop Patrick Nair of Meerut said that any move for “renewal” should originate from the people. He did not want any experiments with the Mass.
The Bishops’ discussion, above, reveals the extent of their agony at the Hinduisation of the Mass and the liturgy in India. A few Bishop desired that Rome be consulted about whether the paganisation of our Faith can continue or should stop, but, to the best of my knowledge, the CBCI General Secretary Bishop Patrick D’Souza of Varanasi has not referred the Bishops’ doubts to Rome, as he ought to have done. In fact, matters have gone much worse in the in the 18 months since the 1978 CBCI meeting, and the “Indian Rite Mass” is being blatantly advertised among the people by means of hand-bills.
I have to make special mention of the Diocese of Coimbatore, in which the 12 points have been totally banned, from their inception, The Bishop, the late Right Reverend Dr. C. M. Visuvasam has gone on record that he knows the true Hindu meaning of the 12 points and they are unfit to be used in Catholic worship. This Bishop has displayed exemplary courage in standing alone, for all these years, in the face of the cowardly silence of the majority of the more than 100 Bishops of India, the CBCI. Now, he is joined by the Bishops of Andhra Pradesh. This small band of Bishops represent the hopes of the people. Their stand should be brought to the notice of all Catholics quickly.
Archbishop Lourduswamy’s presence in Rome restrains the CBCI from taking action against the NBCLC. Another restraining factor is that Archbishop Lourduswamy’s disciple, Bishop Arokiaswamy of Kottar, is Chairman, Liturgy Commission of the CBCI, and the NBCLC works directly under the Liturgy Commission.
Hindu deity presides over NBCLC
A feature of the NBCLC most wounding to the religious sentiments of Catholics is the NBCLC church. This occupies a prominent part of the NBCLC campus. This church receives wide advertisement throughout India because, each year, several hundred Catholics, ranging from simple people to priests and nuns, attend seminars at the NBCLC. It is estimated that about 17,000 people, from all over India, have so far attended these seminars. These people are all being exposed to idol worship and to the illicit “Indian Rite Mass” at the NBCLC church, apart from receiving false teaching in faith and morals at the centre itself.
A glance, at the outside of the NBCLC church shows that it is impossible to tell that it is a Catholic church because there is no Cross on it. But Fr. Amalorpavadass has gone a step further. He has substituted the Kalasam for the Cross. The Kalasam is the inverted earthen pot that is installed on top of his church. The Kalasam is quintessentially Hindu. It is the receptacle into which the Hindu deity enters and resides at the pujaris invocation. Six hundred million Hindus know that the empty inverted pot on their temple is the Kalasam and that the temple deity resides in it. To install a Kalasam over a place of worship, therefore, is to dedicate it to the Hindu god, who of course presides over all worship taking place in the building. To perform a mass in such a building as Fr. Amalorpavadass does every day, is to offer the mass to the deity in the Kalasam. Such a mass is a Black Mass (Satanic Mass). Innumerable representations appeals have been made to the CBCI and its President, Cardinal Picachy to remove the Kalasam, install a Cross in its place, and reconsecrate the church, but they have fallen on deaf ears. Everyday that passes, an “Indian Rite Mass” is said, under a Kalasam, by Catholic priest, in the NBCLC church, Bangalore.
Tabernacle on a stone Phallus
The inside of the NBCLC church is diabolical. There is no altar. A stone placed on the floor. Every day, the priest-director of the NBCLC commits the desecration of placing the Body and Blood of Our Lord practically on the floor. He perpetrates a continuing scandal by placing the Tabernacle in a stone phallus. He fosters idolatry by placing the Hindu god Shiva, in his church, as well as the gods Brahma, and Vishnu. These have now been removed. The Catholics should be made aware of these non-Christian rites conducted in public by a Catholic priest working directly under the Liturgy Commission of the Episcopal Conference of India.
I have stated that Fr. Amalorpavadass holds seminars in the NBCLC throughout the year. Two priests attended such seminars and have complained in writing to the hierarchy that the priest-director of the NBCLC is imparting false teachings in faith and morals, including sexual morals, at these seminars. These two are senior and responsible priests and they have exposed Fr. Amalorpavadass’ attempts to destroy the Catholic Faith. They are Reverend
Father K. D. Xavier, Rector, St. John’s Seminary and Diocesan Director of Catechetics, Sardhana, and Reverend Father T. J. Chacko, Assistant Director, Pastoral Training Centre, Imphal. (Please see The Laity, May 1979) Three months have passed since these two priests’ appeals, yet the Bishops have taken no action, and Father Amalorpavadass has recently published his seminar programme for 1979 (also for 1980).
Fr. Amalorpavadass’ attempts to destroy the Catholic Faith in India are not confined to adults. He is making a systematic and diabolical attempt to corrupt the faith of the children. This he is doing through his Catechism books which he has named the “God with us” series* and I invite a perusal of them.
*See THE ONGOING ROBBERY OF FAITH-FR P K GEORGE
Much more Satanic, however, is his attack on the children’s minds through pictures in these books. He teaches the children to make fun of Our Lord. He teaches the children to regard Our Lady as a common woman. Repeated representations to the Indian Hierarchy against the Catechism have failed and a, Catholic lay organisation of Madras was finally constrained to move the Civil Court against these publications, alleging violation of the religious sentiments of a section of the Indian people. The principal defendant in this case is Father Amalorpavadass. The petitioners prayed for an interim injunction, during the pendency of the case, directing defendant to remove the vulgar picture of Our Lady from his books. The Court, presided over by a Hindu judge, granted the petition and Fr. Amalorpavadass has removed this scandalous picture from Catechism books, wherever they are, in book-shops or elsewhere.
Even new, the Episcopal Conference of India has not moved to ban these reprehensible Catechism books. It is quite certain that Rome has not seen these books and urgent Vatican action, at least now, is called for. Will the Pro-Nuncio in New Delhi please appraise the Vatican of the multi-faced evils in the Church in India?
I have described in this article the tragic condition of the Catholic Church in India. The leading figures in the tragedy are Archbishop Lourduswamy at the Vatican his brother Fr. Amalorpavadass, Director, NBCLC, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) under its President, Cardinal Lawrence Picachy, Archbishop of Calcutta, and its secretary Bishop Patrick D’Souza. It is widely felt among Indian Catholics that Cardinal Picachy does not put a stop to the “Indian Rite Mass”, said under his auspices, for fear of the power of Archbishop Lourduswamy at the Vatican. This is the classic “vicious circle”, which only the competent authority, the Vatican, can break.
This grave danger has been confronting the Church in India for ten years now, and many consider that we are fast reaching the breaking point. Every A.I.L.C. member should spread the message and enlist thousands of more members, and sympathisers. Prayers mortifications and direct action will win the final battle against Satan!
Rome Speaks-CBCI Bows
A Letter from His Eminence Card. Knox
Prefect, Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship
To His Eminence Cardinal Parecattil
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
SACRA CONGREGATIO PRO CULTU DIV1NO
Prot. n. 789/75 Vatican City, June 14th, 1975
I enclose with this letter a report on certain aspects of the liturgical situation in India with particular regard to the use of non-Biblical scriptures and the “Eucharistic Prayer for India”.
This report has been drawn up as a basis for treating of the matter with Your Eminence and the Episcopal Conference. We are confident that this co-operation will be of benefit in this field.
With the intention of ensuring, in a calm disciplined manner, the orderly and harmonious development of liturgical adaptation in India, this Congregation respectfully asks that the Episcopal Conference arrange for the following steps to be taken.
1. That the circulation of publications carrying texts of non-Biblical readings for liturgical use be ended.
2. That the publication and distribution of “New Orders of the Mass” with Indian anaphora be ended.
3. That the Conference make clear by public statement that the use of non-Biblical readings in the liturgy and use of the Ordo Missae containing the Indian eucharistic prayer is not permitted, either in solemn or private celebration.
4. Every future initiative in this field should first be agreed upon with this Congregation. No action should be taken without first having received the necessary written authorization.
I am sure that those measures will help to ensure that the liturgy is truly a part of Indian Christianity, which in its many centuries of tradition has shown such faithfulness to the Church’ and also in which many hopes rest for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom in Asia.
With sentiments of cordial esteem,
Yours sincerely in Christ
(sd.) James Card. Knox, Prefect
(sd.) A. Bugnini, Secretary
Sacra Congregatio Pro Cultu Divino
Valerian Cardinal Gracias on Culture and Experiments
It is absolutely necessary to bear this in mind lest we give the impression to our fellow countrymen, the majority of whom are Hindus, that at long last we are taking on forms of expression more suited to their genius and ideology than to ours.
One of the radical differences between Christian worship and the non-Christian lies precisely in this, that, by and large, ours is a corporate worship. Accordingly, our churches are not built like Hindu temples or Muslim Mosques or Jewish synagogues or Parsi fire temples. Our devotions involve liturgical participation, which demand proper instruction of the faithful on one hand and disciplined ceremonial on the part of the ministers, in which there is no place for the inspiration of the moment.
When the thousands of our non-Christian fellowmen were impressed by our ceremonials on the occasion of the Eucharistic Congress at the Oval, it was so because it satisfied their devotion, even though some of the ceremonies were alien to their own manner of worship their pujas, their mantras, [and] their slokas. Not by idle curiosity but only by reverence they were led to those grounds, as many are led to our shrines.
Being no expert, may I ask the “Experimentalists”:
(a) In adopting forms of expression alien to our Liturgy, Latin or Oriental, have they made sure of the specific Hindu ideology underlining those forms?
(b) Will the Hindus be flattered by these adaptations on our part, or be resentful that we take their manner of worship the shell without the substance?
(c) Will it not be said that we are adapting ourselves to one type of Indian culture that is specifically Hindu?
But, when all is said and done about cultures, we might bear in mind what Nehru said, speaking to the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in April of 1950: “There is, I suppose, no culture in the world which is absolutely pristine, pure and unaffected by any other culture. It simply cannot be, just as nobody can say that he belongs one hundred per cent to a particular racial type, because in the course of hundreds and thousands of years unmistakable changes and mixtures have occurred.”
The following is taken from the Diocesan News Letter [DNL], Madurai, of October 1978, No. 195.
Readers will be happy that His Grace the Archbishop Most Rev. Justin Diraviam is so concerned about matters of faith and morals. Let us in a special way thank God and pray for His Grace.
The Archbishop Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, by the letter dated 23-5-75 (Prot. N. 649/75), in reply to questions submitted by His Grace, Most Rev. Justin Diraviam, Archbishop of Madurai, clarified also certain points regarding liturgical experimentations and the so-called “Indian Masses” (See DNL, June 1975 for the clarification on bination for concelebration). Following are the Questions and the Replies which, as anyone can see, are of no little practical interest:
Q. “Do the norms laid down in n. 1 2 of the ‘Instructio Tertia’ apply to all experimentations in the Liturgy everywhere? As far as India is concerned, does the Commission of the CBCI for Liturgy or the National Liturgical Centre [NBCLC] have any general authorisation to establish experimentation centres and carry out experimentation whatever they find useful to make the liturgy ‘more relevant and creative’? Or can the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, in accordance with n. 45 of the Instruction ‘Inter Oecumenici’ entrust to its Commission for Liturgy ‘studies and experiments to be promoted’, without taking into account the provisions on n.12 of the ‘Instruction Tertia?”
R. “With regard to experimental centres the conditions and limits under which such centres should operate are set out in Notitiae 5 365-374”.
The pages of the Notitiae 1969, referred to in this Reply, contain the decree of the Consilium permitting the Bishops of India to allow, at their discretion, the 12 Points of adaptation of Indianisation’ (pp. 365-366) and a “Commentary prepared by the National Liturgical Centre” on each of these points (pp. 366-374).
The Reply thus makes it clear that no experimentation on the rites of the Mass other than those mentioned in the 12 points (which are concerned only with the Mass) has so far been approved by the Holy See.
Even with regard to the 12 points, it must be noted that the Holy See understood them and approved their conditional adoption in the sense in which they were explained in the said commentary of the National Liturgical Centre. According to this commentary, squatting during the Anaphora is excluded, and is recommended only for the Liturgy of the Word. (Notitiae d. 1969, p.137) And the reason given: “While the padmasana or squatting seems to be the best posture for private prayer, meditation and listening to the word of God, standing seems to be more appropriate for the Anaphora in the context of both Christian and Indian tradition”. (ibid. p. 370)
From the Reply is also clear that, apart from the 12 points of Indianisation (where they have been allowed by the respective Bishops), all experimentations in the Liturgy in India, as well as anywhere else, are subject to the norms given in n. 12 of the ‘Instructio Tertia’, which says among other things: “When liturgical experimentation is seen to be necessary or useful, permission will be granted in writing by this Sacred Congregation alone, with clearly defined norms and under the responsibility of the competent local authority … The liturgical ,changes requested (for experimentation) may not be put into effect while the reply of the Holy See is being awaited. If changes are to be made in the structure of the rites or in the order of parts as given in liturgical books, or if actions differing from traditional ones or new rites are to be introduced, a complete outline and programme of modifications should be proposed to the Holy See before any experiments are begun. Such a procedure is required and demanded both the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium’ (on the Liturgy) and by the seriousness of the matter”.
So, not even the CBCI or its Commission can allow experimentations without the explicit and specific authorisation of the Holy See. And no such authorisation has so far been obtained except for the 12 points.
Q. “Is there one or more ‘Indian Masses’ (with the introductory rites, anaphora and all) duly approved by the Holy See for experimentation at the National Liturgical Centre with any group anywhere at request?”
R. “The situation regarding the Eucharistic Prayer is set out in Notitiae 9 (1973) 77 n. I. The Consilium approved on the 25th April 1969 the proposal of the Episcopal Conference that such a prayer be prepared. The note from Notitiae, of which I enclose a copy, will explain the situation to date”.
The answer to this question is, in a general way, included in the Reply to the earlier question. Hence the Anaphora alone because of its peculiar importance, is dealt with in this Reply.
The “note 77 n. 1” in Notitiae 1973 that is referred to in this Reply, shows that the text on an “Indian Anaphora” which was discussed at the General Meeting of the CBCI at Madras (April 1972) did not get the support of the required two thirds majority of the bishops belonging to the CBCI and right to vote (and consequently was never submitted to the Holy See approval). The “note” further pointed out that, according to the letter of the Consilium (25-4-1969), which welcomed the idea of preparing an Indian Anaphora, “the text of Anaphora, before being proposed to the CBCI for approval, should have been sent to the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. This does not seem to have been done till now.”
And the present Reply says that is the situation “to date”(23-5- 1 975).
The obvious meaning of the Reply, therefore, is that no Indian Anaphora has ever been even submitted to the Holy See for approval or has in anyway been accepted or “approved by the CBCI.
And so, the “New Orders of the Mass for India” published by the National Centre “for private circulation and experimentation and widely used in many communities and groups, both before and after publication, have no authorisation of legitimate ecclesiastical authority and their use is unlawful anywhere, including the National Centre and other “authorised centres of experimentation.”
Third Instruction for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
[ Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India
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