MAY 14/JUNE/14 JULY
Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ under investigation by Rome
Vatican threatens Jesuit theologian in India with censure
By David Gibson, Religion News Service, May 12, 2014
The Vatican is investigating a Jesuit theologian from India for allegedly espousing unorthodox beliefs, raising new questions about whether Pope Francis — the first Jesuit pope — is in fact moving the Catholic Church in a new direction.
News of the threatened censure of Fr. Michael Amaladoss, whose best-known book is The Asian Jesus, follows on the heels of a blunt warning on orthodoxy and obedience (http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/head-vatican-doctrinal-congregation-confronts-lcwr-noncooperation) that the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, delivered to a group of nuns who represent most American sisters.
Müller’s April 30 speech to sisters from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was seen as an unexpected setback in negotiations over a Vatican investigation of the nuns that began a year before Francis was elected. Müller’s hard line also seemed out of step with the new style of openness and flexibility that has marked Francis’ young papacy.
Church sources say that Amaladoss, a highly regarded expert on interreligious dialogue and Christology, first came under scrutiny by Müller’s office a year ago. They said Amaladoss believed that his initial responses to questions about his views on the uniqueness of Jesus and the Catholic Church had answered Vatican objections.
But in January, Müller’s office returned with a demand that Amaladoss write an article publicly endorsing the Vatican’s views or face silencing. For decades, that level of severe sanction was a hallmark of the hard-line treatment of theologians under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.
In early April, Amaladoss met with Müller and other officials from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and he “agreed to rework … those issues in the light of the dialogue,” Fr. Edward Mudavassery, who oversees the Jesuits in India, wrote in an email.
“I understand it was an open and honest meeting trying to clarify objectionable issues,” Mudavassery said. “We all know that Pope Francis is a man for dialogue. It seems to me that the CDF, too, may follow this path to sort out differences because these men under the scanner are genuine and loyal to the Church and to the teachings of Jesus.”
Francis reportedly knows about the investigation but does not seem overly concerned that it will end in punishing Amaladoss, according to Jesuits familiar with the case.
Francis knows Amaladoss because of his long and distinguished career as a Jesuit, both as a theologian and author of hundreds of books and articles, and also as a longtime assistant at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.
Amaladoss is traveling abroad, Mudavassery said, and the theologian did not respond to emails sent to him at the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religion that he heads in Chennai.
Mudavassery said he did not know of any restrictions placed on Amaladoss. But Amaladoss has pulled all speaking and writing commitments as he tries to address the Vatican’s concerns. Jesuit sources said Amaladoss told his U.S. publisher, Orbis Books, to halt work on a planned collection of his writings; Orbis officials declined to comment on the status of any project with Amaladoss.
The priest also canceled a lecture at Union Theological Seminary in New York, scheduled for April 8, titled “Is Theology in India Really Different than Theology in the West?” A note on the seminary’s website reads: “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Vatican has forbidden Dr. Amaladoss from speaking and publishing until a process of examining his thought has been successfully completed.”
“Amaladoss has asked us not to comment on the specific reasons for this cancellation, and we respect his wishes,” added Union spokesman Jeff Bridges.
Investigations by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are conducted in secret, and targeted theologians often don’t know that they are under scrutiny until the investigation is well underway. They also typically do not know who lodges complaints or who in the doctrinal congregation is conducting the investigation.
Theologians have long complained that such secrecy and the limited opportunities they have to answer charges in person have led to a coercive system that reflects poorly on the Catholic hierarchy.
During the quarter-century that Ratzinger ran the office under St. John Paul II, Jesuits were often the targets of doctrinal congregation probes, in part because Jesuits have a missionary focus and seek to translate traditional beliefs for modern believers and to other religious cultures.
The process of engaging cultures is especially advanced in Asia, where Christianity is a minority and where Jesuits have established a beachhead for Catholicism. But that also means that theologians working there often use nontraditional formulations to try to communicate the faith to Hindu or Buddhist audiences who have little understanding of Western views of God and Jesus.
Amaladoss’ own teacher, the Belgian Jesuit Jacques Dupuis, faced a long and grueling investigation by the doctrinal congregation over his views on religious pluralism. The stress of the probe, led by Ratzinger, is said by colleagues to have contributed to Dupuis’ death in 2004.
Vatican investigating Indian Jesuit’s work, but has not silenced him
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, May 14, 2014
VATICAN CITY – A leading Indian Jesuit theologian specializing in mission, dialogue and inculturation, has been engaged in a dialogue with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but has not been censured or silenced by the Vatican.
Jesuit Father Michael Amaladoss, 77, is director of the Institute for Dialogue with Cultures and Religions at the Jesuit-run Loyola College in Chennai, India.
Jesuit Father Joe Antony, acting provincial of the Madurai province to which Father Amaladoss belongs, told Catholic News Service May 14: “There has been no condemnation or censure, but for nearly two years there has been a dialogue between Father Amaladoss and the doctrinal congregation.”
In April, Father Amaladoss was scheduled to lecture at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Advising people that the lecture was canceled, the seminary’s website said, “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Vatican has forbidden Dr. Amaladoss from speaking and publishing until a process of examining his thought has been successfully completed.” However, Father Antony told CNS by telephone from India, Father Amaladoss “himself wants to be quiet in order to reflect during this period. But he was not ordered to do so.”
The unique and essential role of Christ in salvation and approaches to interreligious dialogue are at the center of the congregation’s discussions with Father Amaladoss, Father Antony confirmed.
From 1983 to 1995, Father Amaladoss served in Rome as a special assistant to the then-superior general of the Jesuits, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach. Father Amaladoss has special responsibility for matters dealing with evangelization, inculturation and ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.
Since 1999, he has been at the institute in Chennai. Previously Father Amaladoss studied under and then worked with Belgian Jesuit Father Jacques Dupuis, whose book, “Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism,” had been the subject of a doctrinal congregation investigation.
Father Dupuis died in 2004. After three years of investigation, in 2001 the congregation backed away from its initial finding of “serious doctrinal error” in the book, but said there were “ambiguities and difficulties on important points which could lead a reader to erroneous or harmful opinions.”
Father Amaladoss is author of more than 20 books, the best known being “The Asian Jesus,” which uses traditional images from Asian religions and culture — including from Hinduism and Buddhism — to look at aspects of Jesus’ identity from an Asian perspective.
What the Jesuits call “dialogue” between Fr. Michael Amaladoss and Rome is a euphemism for “investigation”.
His mentor, “Fr. Jacques Dupuis SJ, a (Belgian) Jesuit who worked and taught in India for 35 years, had imbibed Indian concepts to an extent that his Christian basics were seen as shaky by authorities when he returned to Rome. His belief that the relationship between Christianity and other religions can’t be viewed in terms of opposition and much less as ‘absoluteness on one side (Christianity) and only potentialities on the other’ was found offensive, for it went against the belief of Christ as the only saviour.
Dupuis was suspended from teaching at the Gregorian in 1997
and died in 2004, but he cherished his Indian experience. In one of his last interviews, he said: ‘I consider my exposure to Hindu reality as the greatest grace I have received from God in my vocation as a theologian.’ The Vatican won’t officially comment on the special grace Indians bring, or their blending of Hindu practices into Catholic rituals, for to acknowledge would be to concede. And Rome resists dilution—practical or philosophical.“ Source: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?233563
January 1, 2007
Preceding Fr. Michael Amaladoss was “Anthony De Mello, an Indian Jesuit who wrote wildly successful best-sellers, still sold in dozens of languages, who was condemned ‘post mortem’ on June 24, 1998, under the accusation of having dissolved God, Jesus, and the Church into a cosmic, somewhat New Age spirituality with an oriental flavor.”
Fr. Michael Amaladoss’ colleague,
Fr. Felix Wilfred SJ,
head of the Department of Christian Studies of Madras University, was castigated by Rome for holding similar positions:
“Cardinal Castrillón, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, also took aim at Indian Fr. Felix Wilfred, considered a leading Catholic expert in India on dialogue with other religions. He criticized Fr. Wilfred for saying that other religious traditions contain divine revelation. He also criticized the theologian’s idea that Christian revelation represents only one part of divine revelation.“ Source: (CNS news)
Petrus magazine, November 2002.
I was his student when I joined the Master of Arts post-graduate programme in Christian Studies. I found his views to be heterodox, especially on the unicity of Jesus, ecumenism, inculturation, and interfaith dialogue.
In all the above cases of investigation and censure by the CDF, fellow Jesuits rallied around the liberal priests in their defense and lambasted Rome. True to form again, “The head of 4000 Jesuits in South Asia, Fr. Edward Mudavassery, has denied reports that the Vatican has threatened to silence one of his confreres for allegedly espousing unorthodox beliefs. According to him, Pope Francis wants to sort out controversies and conflicts through dialogue… He said David Gibson of Religion News Service had alerted him earlier that some Jesuits in the US were upset to learn that the CDF had apparently barred Fr. Michael Amaladoss from writing or speaking pending an investigation into his writings. The notice on the seminary’s website read: ‘The lecture of Michael Amaladoss S.J. Is Theology in India Really Different than Theology in the West?‘ has been cancelled. Cardinal Müller’s office demand(ed) that the priest write an article publicly endorsing the Vatican’s views or face silencing.”
Make no mistake, if Dr. Fr. Michael Amaladoss is under scrutiny by Rome, Catholics must beware of him. Lay people feel secure when they learn that this or that priest studied or taught at the Gregorian or the Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome believing that such theologians must be conservative and loyal to the Traditions and Faith of the Church. But that is not always the case. Fr. Amaladoss spent 12 years in Rome under the “Black Pope” and yet — possibly because of that— he is a danger to orthodoxy.
According to the Cardinal Newman Society, Fr. Amaladoss has been asked to “endorse Church teaching” which means that he has either strayed from it or contradicts it:
“The investigation by the CDF into the writings of Father Michael Amaladoss is led by Cardinal Gerhard Müeller, reportedly started a year ago. He has reportedly acquiesced to a Vatican order to write an article endorsing Church teaching following investigation into his writings by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
In 2001, the National Catholic Reporter wrote a piece about Fr. Amaladoss’ controversial invitation to speak at the Catholic Theological Society of America. The article stated:
Amaladoss upheld the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, but rejected the notion that other religions must be seen as simply leading up to the fulfillment of Catholicism. This idea does not match the Asian experience, he said. Rather, Amaladoss argued that the divine-human dialogue has led to the emergence of many religions. It is the task of believers, he said, to work for reconciliation finally leaving it to God to gather up all things… “Noting that many Asians, including Gandhi, have been deeply influenced by Jesus yet reject the Church and its creeds, Amaladoss said evangelization does not necessarily require teaching Church dogma . . .”“
Conservative Catholics like me have been observing Pope Francis’ unique style of functioning with trepidation. See the QUO VADIS PAPA FRANCISCO series of reports at this ministry’s web site. But the apparent censure of Fr. Amaladoss, a Jesuit like the Pope, is now
“raising new questions about whether Pope Francis — the first Jesuit pope — is in fact moving the Catholic Church in a new direction. Müeller’s hard line also seemed out of step with the new style of openness and flexibility that has marked Francis’ young papacy. For decades, that level of severe sanction was a hallmark of the hard-line treatment of theologians under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.” Source:
But Fr. Amaladoss has many more supporters than there are Catholics who are loyal to Rome.
“This story about Michael Amaladoss, SJ, the Indian theologian, and the Vatican’s response to his writings, is now out in the general public. I had not posted anything since Fr. Amaladoss had recently been visiting our community, and the story was not yet public. The Catholic News Service story is below.
Here is David Gibson’s take at RNS:
Here is the response from the head of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia, Edward Mudavaserry, SJ, in New Delhi:
Please do keep in your prayers Fr. Amaladoss, who is a distinguished theologian and was one of the assistants to Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, during his time as Superior General of the Society of Jesus.”
The great majority of the sharing on the post of Fr. James Martin is critical of Rome and in solidarity with Fr. Amaladoss and other liberal theologians who have been disciplined by the CDF.
One post even elevates the leading (according to the 2003 Pontifical Document on the New Age) New Ager Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit, to sainthood! The same post lauds feminist theologian and women’s ordination activist Sr. Elizabeth Johnson of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) which is also under investigation by the CDF under Cardinal Gerhard Müeller.
To appreciate even more thoroughly the theology and spirituality of those who bat for Fr. Amaladoss, let us examine Fr. James Martin since he figures already in a dozen of my reports.
has criticized Pope Benedict XVI for equating abortion and same-sex marriage and mentioned that a gay friend of his had recently left his position at the U.S. Conference of Bishops for the reason that “‘abortionsamesexmarriage’ had become one polysyllabic word among some of his bosses.” He was “the culture editor of the infamous America Magazine, a Jesuit publication not known for its faithfulness to Church teaching.”
At the blog
Francis X. Clooney, SJ, he wrote, “I look forward especially to your reflections on what it means to be Christian in today’s multi-religious world.” Fr. Clooney is a rabid yoga enthusiast. I have just succeeding in getting Fr. Clooney’s yoga articles pulled from a Catholic magazine. See http://ephesians-511.net/docs/VISHAL_JAGRITI_MAGAZINE_PULLS_YOGA_SERIES_OF_FR_FRANCIS_CLOONEY.doc.
A column for the Jesuit magazine America, in which Rev. James Martin, S.J. criticized Pope Benedict XVI’s pro-life and pro-family message in Portugal as “bizarre,” and implied it was contrary to the Gospel, has been revised to omit the strongest language…- May 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com)
Yet another liberal theologian, the Vietnamese-American Fr. Peter C. Phan, wrote to the Pope on behalf of Fr. Amaladoss: Indian theologian deserves support, not CDF censure May 13, 2014.
Dear Pope Francis,
I have never imagined that I would one day write a letter to the pope. But because you yourself, after your election as bishop of Rome and therefore as the universal pastor of the Catholic church, have written to and phoned individuals, Catholics as well as those who belong to other faiths and no faith, I am emboldened to address to you personally, albeit publicly. I thought of sending you a private letter but was afraid that it would never reach you. I also did not want to start a letter-writing campaign canvassing for signatures since I do not want to organize a political movement. I hope that this open letter to you will be read at least by those who are your close collaborators who may then offer you appropriate advice regarding the matter I am bringing to your attention.
I am sure that by now you are aware that your election to the papacy has brought new hope and a breath of fresh air to a lot of people, though of course not all, in the Catholic church and even outside the church. I am also cognizant of the fact that you are dealing with huge problems such as the clergy sex abuse, financial scandals and the reform of the Roman Curia. The matter I am bringing to your attention seems small in comparison. I refer to the fact that recently, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has required the Indian theologian Jesuit Fr. Michael Amaladoss to write “an article publicly endorsing the Vatican’s views or face silencing.” It was also reported that he had been told to cancel lectures and to halt the publication of his work. I am quoting a news source since generally all the dealings with the CDF are shrouded in secrecy. I am writing partly because I want to show support for Fr. Amaladoss, who is a friend of mine and who, I suppose, is not at liberty to defend himself publicly. But there is a much more important reason for my writing, and that is the future of the Catholic church in Asia and its theology. As you know well, the Catholic church is a tiny minority in Asia. Its mission is to proclaim the Good News of God’s love — or as you put it, “the joy of the Gospel” — to all the people of Asia in a way that they find it understandable and believable. The Catholic church in and of Asia, through the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, has proposed to fulfill the Christian mission of evangelization through a triple dialogue with the poor people of Asia, its cultures, and its religions.
Through his long years of teaching, numerous writings, and international lectures, Fr. Amaladoss has made an enormous and lasting contribution to the elaboration of a genuinely Asian theology. But as you know, theologians in Asia do not enjoy the kind of institutional support, academic freedom of research and publication, and legal protection as theologians do in Europe and in the United States, especially if they teach at non-pontifical, non-Catholic, or state universities. Asian theologians are almost all priests and religious teaching in seminaries and church-controlled institutions. They are not protected by due process and academic freedom and can be fired at will by their religious and ecclesiastical superiors. I think that the CDF knows this well.
I am not a knee-jerk defender of “academic freedom” understood as the license to teach anything according to one’s conscience and intellectual lights. I am convinced that Christian theologians must be responsible to the truth of God’s revelation, the episcopal magisterium of the church, the magisterium of the faithful, and in Asia, the magisterium of the poor, as well. As a theologian, Fr. Amaladoss has fulfilled his responsibilities in teaching and writing in an exemplary fashion, in humility, kindness, and holiness.
There are only a very small number of Asian theologians working in the West and enjoying academic freedom and immunity from fear of ecclesiastical censure of any kind and from any source. We thus have both the opportunity and the duty to raise our voices in defense of our colleagues in Asia. But more than defense of and solidarity with our friends, it is the future of the Catholic church in Asia that is at stake. Without a robust theology that can arise only in an atmosphere of academic freedom, intellectual creativity, moral integrity, and personal courage, the Catholic church in Asia will be deprived of an effective tool to fulfill its mission.
Dear Pope Francis, you will soon visit Asia. Please take this opportunity to say a word of deep appreciation to Fr. Amaladoss for his theological work and a word of strong encouragement to the younger Asian theologians. Please tell them that they should not be discouraged by what they see happening to their predecessors and that they should continue their theological work with creativity, courage, and the “joy of the Gospel.”
Fr. Peter C. Phan who wrote that letter to Pope Francis is himself under investigation by Rome!!!
Vatican investigating Georgetown theologian
Rome, September 13, 2007 (CWNews.com) – The Vatican is investigating the work of an American Catholic theologian, according to John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. Father Peter Phan, a professor at Georgetown University and former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, is being questioned by both the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
US bishops’ conference, Allen reports.
The focus of the investigation is a book published in 2004 by the Vietnamese-born theologian, entitled Being Religious Interreligiously. Doctrinal officials in Rome and at the US bishops’ conference are reportedly questioning Phan’s views on religious pluralism, and his apparent belief that the Catholic Church is not essential to salvation.
For several years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has shown a special concern for the work of theologians who seem to question the unique role of the Catholic Church in the economy of salvation.
That topic was the subject of a recent statement from the Congregation, released in July, re-affirming the teaching of Vatican II that the Church founded by Christ “subsists” in the Catholic Church and offers the only sure hope of salvation.
The reader has seen the type of priests who support and defend Fr. Michael Amaladoss. The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) (see story on page 1) which has been called a “rag” and named the National Catholic Fishwrap by conservative Catholics (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704586504574654282563939764.html?mod=googlenews_wsj and
http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/03/liberals-will-soon-turn-on-pope-francis/) is the voice of all dissident-liberal-leftwing priests. Fr. Peter Phan’s letter to the Pope was published in — where else — the NCR. The following is also from the NCR:
Fr. Michael Amaladoss: NCR appearances across 20 years
By Mick Forgey, May 14, 2014
Fr. Michael Amaladoss, the revered Indian Jesuit theologian currently under Vatican investigation, has been featured in several stories by National Catholic Reporter throughout the last 20 years.
NCR‘s John L. Allen Jr. reported on Amaladoss and four others whose views were widely believed to be addressed by Dominus Iesus, the Vatican’s document assailing religious pluralism. In a September 2000 cover story, “Five Catholic experts in world religions,” Allen reported:
Indian Jesuit Fr. Michael Amaladoss believes the most pressing religious challenge today is defending the oppressed. He supports development of countercultural communities as alternatives to values and assumptions of global capitalism. “Such countercultural communities may not always carry the label ‘Christian,’ ” Amaladoss has written. “In the past our mission has often targeted the followers of other religions. The supposition then was that ours was the only true religion. Our evaluation of other religions and at least of some of their followers is more positive today. Besides, faced with the threat of global disaster brought about by radical modernity, we see in all those committed to an alternate world allies rather than enemies.”
This tendency to see collaboration on behalf of justice as more important than religious affiliation has alarmed Vatican officials. Amaladoss is the author of Making All Things New: Dialogue, Pluralism, and Evangelization in Asia (Orbis, 1990).
Thomas C. Fox, NCR publisher, wrote about Amaladoss in his book Pentecost in Asia: A New Way of Being Church. Fox included an excerpt from Amaladoss about “the call to be countercultural”:
We realize that the only effective way of witnessing to and promoting the Reign of God in this situation is to adopt a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand we have to show in practice that people can meet their needs through alternative technologies and alternative economic and commercial practices. On the other hand the people must progressively gain participative control of the systems that govern their lives and, in this manner, humanize and socialize them. This strategy has to be pioneered by small groups of people who link themselves into networks, nationally and internationally, to put pressure on the powers that be so as to bring about progressive change. I would like to suggest that such a strategy will not be effective unless it is accompanied by a cultural transformation, namely a change in people’s world-views and systems of values. The roots of such a cultural transformation will be a spirituality that motivates, inspires and enables people to search for a fuller life for all. Any spirituality today, in a world of religious pluralism, can only be human and global, cutting across religious frontiers. The mission of the Good News in such a context requires counter-cultural communities who do not believe in the power of money or numbers or even of truth, perceived in the abstract, but in the power of the Spirit and in their own call to serve.
Here are excerpts of some previous NCR coverage featuring Amaladoss:
Oct. 11, 2012: “The controversies of post-conciliar theology,” by Bradford E. Hinze:
In Asia, theologians have given special attention to the reality of God’s activity amid the diversity of religions, represented in the works of Jacques Dupuis (who taught for more than 36 years in India), Peter Phan and Michael Amaladoss. These attempts to wrestle with the complexity of historical reality — personal, social, cultural and religious — were officially criticized by Ratzinger during his career as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. To Ratzinger, they represented the negative repercussions of modernity’s embrace of secularity, liberation, cultural relativity and religious pluralism.
Nov. 25, 2009: “India is a rising Catholic power too,” by John L. Allen Jr. Allen’s NCR Today post discusses the importance of India for Catholicism. He writes that “Indian Catholicism also faces three major headaches,” saying that “India has acquired a reputation for some of the most adventurous theology in Catholicism today, especially in ‘religious pluralism.'” He continues:
Thinkers such as Michael Amaladoss, Felix Wilfred, Raimon Panikkar, Aloysius Pieris and Jacques Dupuis, all of whom are either Indian or influenced by India, have been controversial because of the various ways in which they try to give positive theological value to non-Christian religions. That’s a logical development given India’s religious diversity, but it has raised alarms in quarters of the Church identified with evangelical Catholicism. Catholic leaders will want to encourage theological exploration that can open up dialogue, but without transgressing doctrinal limits.
Oct. 19, 2007: In a cover story from Allen titled “China & India: The emerging Asian superpower,” Allen wrote about the significance of the rise of India and China for Catholicism. Allen referenced Amaladoss in a section titled “Doubts about dialogue”:
Yet at precisely this moment, identity pressures within Catholicism itself are driving the world’s most influential Christian body toward new doubts about dialogue. (See related story on Page 14.) For example, virtually all of the Catholic theologians targeted by the Vatican for recent investigations of their work are concerned with how Catholicism should understand and relate to non-Christian religions, many significantly influenced by the Asian context. These include the late Belgian Jesuit Fr. Jacques Dupuis, who lived in India for 36 years; Indian Jesuit Fr. Michael Amaladoss; and Vietnamese-American theologian Fr. Peter Phan. In various ways, all these writers argue that religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism are part of the divine plan — in other words, that God doesn’t necessarily intend for everybody to be Christian.
June 29, 2001: “Perspective: U.S. theology meeting signals broader vision,” by Fox. Fox wrote a perspective piece on the appointment of Fr. Peter Phan as the new president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and Phan’s invitation to Amaladoss to serve as a keynote speaker at the 2001 Catholic Theological Society of America:
It was within this Catholic debate over mission thinking that Phan invited Indian Jesuit Fr. Michael Amaladoss, a former assistant to the superior general of the Society of Jesus and one of Asia’s most respected theologians, to be a keynote speaker at this year’s gathering of the Catholic Theological Society of America. Phan calls Amaladoss a “bridge builder.”
Speaking before the society, Amaladoss echoed the thinking of the Asian Catholic leadership. He embraced mission theology and the building of inculturated churches in dialogue with other Asians. “Our starting point is that salvation is now understood not merely in terms of individuals being saved but in cosmic terms made familiar to us by Paul,” he said.
Amaladoss upheld the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, but rejected the notion that other religions must be seen as simply leading up to the fulfillment of Catholicism. This idea does not match the Asian experience, he said. Rather, Amaladoss argued that the divine-human dialogue has led to the emergence of many religions. It is the task of believers, he said, to work for reconciliation finally leaving it to God to gather up all things.
Again echoing ideas widely held by the Catholic Asian bishops, Amaladoss said the Spirit and Word have been present throughout history in all religions. Asian evangelization begins, he said, with contemplating this reality and then attempting to learn from other religions. This approach opens the church to true dialogue, he said.
While other religions have the Word, the Christian gift is to know the Incarnate Word. Sharing our knowledge of Jesus’ message becomes the Christian task. “We do not proclaim and prove Jesus is the Son of God. We do not preach a creed. We announce the good news that the kingdom of God is here,” Amaladoss said.
Through dialogue Christians can finally live in harmony in Asia with the other religions. Asian bishops continue to form a vision of life based on harmony, a value deeply treasured in Asia, he said.
Noting that many Asians, including Gandhi, have been deeply influenced by Jesus yet reject the church and its creeds, Amaladoss said evangelization does not necessarily require teaching church dogma.
By several accounts, Amaladoss’ talk was well received. Furthermore, his appearance represented another step in the call for a truly universal Catholicism, with local churches networked together, learning from and inspiring each other. Although under attack, the Asian theologians seem to speak out with greater confidence, stressing their unique gifts.
Could it be that their experiences contain lessons for the West? And perhaps for all local churches struggling to secure better footing in the shifting, multi-ethnic soils of the 21st century?
Dec. 3, 1999: “Proclamation vs. dialogue: Mixed reactions to pope’s call for conversion of Asia,” by Fox, NCR staff and UCA News. NCR covered a variety of reactions to Pope John Paul II’s call for the conversion of Asia in the third millennium:
The pope made a 62-hour stop in New Delhi where on Nov. 6 he unveiled his long-awaited response to the April 1998 Synod for Asia. He boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ as humanity’s “only savior” and called upon the church to bring Christianity to Asia during the third millennium. “There can be no true evangelization without the explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord,” the pope emphasized. …
Jesuit Fr. Michael Amaladoss, an Indian, called Ecclesia in Asia “a document for Asia but not from Asia.” He said its tone and style “are very un-Asian.” The method, he said, “is a priori and from above.” The former Jesuit assistant general, who now teaches at the Jesuit-run Vidyajyoti College of Theology in New Delhi, said that the document is broad enough, however, that “one can pick up encouraging quotes to support any activity in which the church is engaged.”
Oct. 1, 1999:
NCR ran a world brief, “Theologians welcome guidelines on de Mello,” on how “Jesuit theologians have welcomed Indian bishops’ guidelines for taking a ‘balanced’ view on the writings of Fr. Anthony de Mello, their Vatican-censured confrere, who died 12 years ago.” The brief included a quote from Amaladoss:
Pastoral guidelines from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India ‘nowhere condemn [de Mello] nor discourage people from reading his books,’ said Jesuit Fr. Michael Amaladoss, a Delhi theologate lecturer.
Feb. 19, 1993: “Religious Orders: A close look at Jesuit order uncovers a rich history and challenging future,” by Arthur Jones and NCR staff. In a story featuring Jesuit general assistants, Jones mentions Amaladoss:
Periodically, the four general assistants (the others are Fathers Michael Amaladoss, Simon Decloux and Joao MacDowell) meet to discuss the health and actions of their boss, Jesuit Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, but otherwise their work comprises administration and travel, meetings and projects.
John L. Allen Jr was senior correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter; he is now with the Boston Globe.
An Indian theologian in trouble
By John L. Allen, Jr., May 17, 2014
A colleague asked me this week if I thought the story of the Vatican’s doctrinal inquiry into an Indian Jesuit theologian named Fr. Michael Amaladoss will have any legs, by which she meant whether it could reframe perceptions of Pope Francis as a kinder, gentler, less censorious sort of pontiff.
My answer was “no,” but before coming to that, here’s a brief bit of background.
Amaladoss, 77, is a former senior official in the Jesuit order who was a key adviser to the former Jesuit superior Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach. His academic interest is in what experts call the theology of religious pluralism, meaning how Christianity understands the other great religions of the world.
In broad strokes, Amaladoss is part of a movement in Catholic theology that tends to see non-Christian religions as legitimate vehicles of salvation in their own right, perhaps inspired by the Holy Spirit and associated in a mysterious fashion with Jesus Christ, but without explicit reference to Christianity.
Amaladoss and other Asian theologians often argue that this way of seeing religious diversity reflects a distinctively Asian perspective and experience.
The Vatican has long worried that this tendency is at odds with orthodox Christian belief in Christ as the lone and unique savior of the world, which was the impetus for a controversial 2000 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger titled Dominus Iesus. It was also the motive for a series of doctrinal investigations against several theologians listed above, including a process against the Belgian Jesuit Fr. Jacques Dupuis that led to a critical Vatican notification in 2001.
In that context, it’s not terribly surprising that the Vatican’s doctrinal office has kept its eyes on Amaladoss. Yet there are two reasons why this may not put much of a dent in public perceptions of Francis.
First, it’s not clear that there’s any disciplinary edge to the Vatican’s interest. While Amaladoss himself has not commented on the story, the top Jesuit official in South Asia told reporters that Amaladoss has not been threatened with any reprimand, but instead was asked to come to Rome in early April for a “friendly” dialogue about evangelization and how to proclaim Jesus in an Asian context. He made it sound less like an inquisition and more like a professional consultation.
Even if that benign dialogue were to morph into a disciplinary process, the Vatican’s doctrinal office has been considerably more restrained about these things in recent years, rarely imposing punitive measures such as restrictions on teaching or publishing. At most, it generally issues critical notices on specific works, which amount to little more than bad book reviews. Theologians and their supporters may be irked, but it’s hard for outsiders to get worked up over such relatively anemic measures.
Second, even if Amaladoss is hit with a sanction, it probably wouldn’t change much about Francis’ public image because it runs up against the power of the broader narrative.
Under Benedict XVI, a crackdown on a theologian would get widespread media play because it fit the narrative of a stern, conservative leader cracking heads. Francis, however, isn’t framed in those terms. Instead, he’s seen as a maverick populist and a reformer. Calling a theologian to task doesn’t fit the storyline, and therefore probably wouldn’t draw the same level of coverage and commentary.
In terms of media reaction, in other words, the Amaladoss situation hints at a key difference in perceptions. Under Benedict, the working assumption was that everything people didn’t like about the Church was because of the pope; under Francis, it’s that everything they don’t like is in spite of the pope.
More on Fr. Michael Amaladoss extracted from my previous reports
He is a leader of the heretical and New Age Catholic Ashrams movement:
Ashram Aikiya (AA) is the Federation of Ashrams of Catholic Initiative in India formed in 1978.
From the 24-page AA News Letter 45 of Christmas 2004:
Fr. Michael Amaladoss
SJ, a theologian who has denied the existence of devils and received regular coverage for his erroneous views in The New Leader writes, “I am glad to learn that my talk does touch a few hearts… Hope it will keep the ashram people open. Otherwise they may get lost in structures“
[he means the structures of organized religion].
Fr. Amaladoss’ contribution to Vandana Mataji‘s highly occult work (ed.) Shabda Shakti Sangam is ‘My walking together with Hindus‘ in which he relates the influences on his life of ashram figures Fr. Ignatius Hirudayam, Fr. Bede Griffiths, Le Saux, Jyoti Sahi and Raimundo Panikkar. He was a frequent visitor to Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam. He contributed to the occult book at the time when he was Assistant in Rome to the Superior-General.
Fr. Amaladoss was the ‘theological consultant’ to Swami Sachidananda Bharathi’s Dharma Bharathi movement which is New Age. See DHARMA BHARATHI-NEW AGE IN CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Extracts from my Dharma Bharathi report:
Fr. Michael Amaladoss “is one of the best known Indian theologians at the international level.”
To the question, “what are the lessons life has taught you?”, his reply is:
“Almost a Buddhist sense of accepting life in its flow… an experience of the relativity of everything: there is only one Absolute that pervades everything.” Jivan, July 2000, page 30
“Jesus’ saving us from sin consists in showing* us how to turn away from sin.”
‘Jesus and Sin’, The New Leader, August 1-15, 2003.
*Only ‘showing‘? The error is subtle!
In the ‘Theology and Life’ column in The New Leader, September 1-15, 2000, one of his numerous articles titled ‘Spirits and Ancestors‘ was published. Some extracts:
“Death is not the end of human beings. They continue to live in a different way… It is not helpful to imagine them in bizarre ways when we do not know how they are! That is why it is more helpful to think of them as ancestors, people who have gone before us, but who are related to us…
“(At the time of death they) do not simply disappear. They are somehow with us, interested in how we are and what we are doing. They want to guide and protect us in some way. They communicate with us through dreams…
“They do not disappear to some far away place. The idea that our ancestors do not simply disappear, but are near their loved ones need not shock us. We can take it for granted…
“Some spirits are more threatening. If we have seen people who are possessed, they are often possessed by people who are dead. People who die an untimely death through accident or disease are said to be wandering around the place of their death and possess people who pass that way…
“Once dead, they do not look at life and at other people in the same way as they did when they were alive…
“A popular exorcist… said that he had no reason to believe that any spirits were involved…
“How many of us pray to a parent… or even to a child who is alive… I know some people who do.”
Fr. Amaladoss believes that there are no spirits, only ‘ancestors’. But the Bible (Hebrews 9:27) and the Catechism teach clearly that people who are dead do not wander around and cannot possess anybody. They teach that there ARE spirits. There is no such thing as “an untimely death”.
And Christians certainly DO NOT pray TO the living on earth.
In an earlier issue, The New Leader, August 1-15, 2000, asking us ‘Do devils exist?’ he explains:
“Is it not strange that a loving God (may have) created… a category of beings to whom repentance and forgiveness do not seem to be available ?…It is (the) conflict between a loving God and devils who remain evil and unforgiven forever that makes me wonder whether devils are simply playing a role in our own worldview. We should not then rush to conclusions about their existence…
“Humans are given a chance to repent and be saved but devils do not seem to have such a chance. The Bible
seems to indicate that God almost ‘needs’ such evil spirits…
“Why is God condemning a group of God’s creatures, namely the devils, to hell fire forever without any hope of redemption? Does not this fact tarnish somehow the image of a loving God? I wonder whether devils are necessary projections of our concerns? …
“The devils are objects on which we can project all the evil… in ourselves… Do we not… hurt the image of God as loving and good, if God needs unredeemed spirits to ‘run’ the universe and eventually hell as the place for punishment? Perhaps we need to explore other answers.”
Fr. Amaladoss believes that the Bible teaches that God created devils and that he seemed to have a ‘need’ to ‘create’ them into existence. He teaches that devils are ‘objects’, a figment of our own imaginations and concerns. If there are no evil ‘spirits’, obviously there can be no devils. Like many other liberal theologians he projects the love and mercy of God to the exclusion of his righteousness and justice and our inevitable judgement by a holy God. Responding to Fr. Amaladoss‘
article, two readers wrote in The New Leader, September 1-15, Letters to the Editor:
‘Christians believe that devils
exist because it is taught by Scripture and formulated as dogma by the Church.’ – H. R. T. Roberts
‘(The article by Amaladoss) proves to what extent Satan has succeeded on making even theologians of such repute doubt, or even deny, his existence.’ – Sr. M. Johanna, Goa
Are we spirits?, his sequel to the first article (above), in The New Leader, October 1-15, 2000,
is nothing less than
a manifesto on the paranormal, the occult, holistic health and New Age Alternative Medicine.
“Reiki and Pranic Healing speak about energy fields that surround our bodies… Sickness and health are reflected in these energy fields, and one can act on and heal the body through them. This seems possible even at a distance. Our ancient yogis mapped such energy fields also, in relation to our human bodies. Contemporary science and medicine are quite materialistic. They are not bothered about energy fields because they are normally not visible and they cannot be measured in the usual way. Their point of view is limited and need not be accepted as the whole truth. Some religious leaders, especially the charismatics, say that such healing practices are superstitious. They themselves deal with many para-normal phenomena but claiming what they do is right and what others do is wrong. Such narrow judgements can be ignored. In Reiki or in charismatic phenomena it is significant that the energy, in order to heal, must be directed by someone. There is an element of human will here which transcends physical or energy forces.” (The priest then writes about
extra-sensory perception (ESP), clairvoyance, mind-reading, telepathy, etc.) “Such powers can be used by people consciously or unconsciously to do good or evil. In Vipassana meditation for instance, people are asked to send good vibrations to others and to the world. In the same way evil vibrations can be sent too.’ In the same way, evil vibrations can be sent too… I think that the phenomenon of the so-called ‘evil-eye’ belongs to this order…“
In keeping with the basic premises of the ‘New Science’ and New Age Alternative Therapies, Fr. Amaladoss denies the reality of the ‘spirit’ and of spirits, and asserts “the ‘spirits’ in phenomena of possession are ‘thought forms’ constructed by the mind…“
In unity with all New Age theory, Fr. Amaladoss agrees with the existence of “energy fields that surround our bodies… as in Alternative Healing practices like Reiki and Pranic Healing… Our ancient yogis mapped such energy fields.” He criticizes “some religious leaders, especially the charismatics who say that such healing practices are superstitious… Such narrow judgements can be ignored.”
Amaladoss expresses his belief in
“many paranormal phenomena like Extra-Sensory Perception, Clairvoyance, Mind-reading, Telepathy… prediction of the future by genuine clairvoyants etc.”
Such are the heretical, occult and New Age theological beliefs of Fr. Michael Amaladoss, the ‘Theological Consultant’ to the ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’ of Swami Sachidananda and Dharma Bharathi.
Remember that he is one of the Indian Church’s leading theologians.
Korean-born Maryknoll priest Father Kim Alfonso Hak-boum and the congregation’s Vocations Director credits Fr. Michael Amaladoss with helping him to learn Kundalini yoga:
“Thanks to the great help and support of Indian Jesuit Father Michael Amaladoss, I went to India and practiced yoga in Chennai 2000-2001. Though the Indian government did not extend my visa, fortunately I could finish studying Kundalini (energy) Yoga and healing yoga, two different kinds of yoga, and got certification to teach yoga.
Fr. Michael Amaladoss was involved in the formation of the Indian Rite Mass, promotes Carnatic music and composes songs for
“I studied vocal music. Although originally I began also playing the violin, I couldn’t continue too long. As a Jesuit, given all the other commitments, I had not much time to practice, so I gave it up. After the ordination, I began composing liturgical songs. I must have composed over 200 songs and bhajans. I ran for some years a liturgical music publication with the title Isai Aruvi (“Fountain of music”), which also brought out discs and cassettes.
I have also published a small “teach yourself” book with lessons in Karnatic music – Isai Elithu (“Simple music”) – introducing 60 ragas to beginners. More recently I have composed some songs with Christian themes for Bharata Natyam (South Indian classical dance)…
I also got involved with his [Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass‘] work at the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) in Bangalore. I used to lecture in the many courses there regularly, till I moved to Delhi. I was present at all the major research seminars tackling the problems of the Indian Church and Indian theology like the one on the Inspiration of Non-Christian Scriptures, the Ministries, the Indian Church in the Struggle for a New Society, etc. I was involved with the group that prepared the “Indian Rite” for the Eucharist…“
Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta was an epitome of simplicity, purity and humility. The closing of her death centenary was commemorated by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary-Chennai Province, with the release of an audio cassette and a CD titled Pavazha Malli on the 7th July 2006 at 5.30 pm in St. Francis Hall at Stella Maris College… On this wonderful occasion Dr. Sr. Annamma Philip FMM, Principal, Stella Maris College, extended a warm welcome to the gathering.
Fr Michael Amaladoss S.J.,
the Director of the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions at Loyola College… to a great extent, has been instrumental in the production of the cassette…
In his felicitation, he extolled the endeavours of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in promoting Indian culture and music in Christian worship. He made special mention of Sr. Esther Rani, FMM and her accomplishments in Carnatic music. He also appreciated Sr. Rita Susai, FMM who works in the villages to promote folk music.
He suggested that religious sisters could also excel in Indian dance, Bharatnatyam, as a means of self-expression. He pointed out that there are a few Jesuit priests who are versatile classical dancers. Besides, he emphasized that Bharatnatyam is an art form that is more suitable for women than men.
*What’s the problem with these categories? See
DANCING AND BHARATANATYAM IN THE MASS
THE TWELVE POINTS OF ADAPTATION FOR THE INDIAN RITE MASS-WAS A FRAUD PERPETRATED ON INDIAN CATHOLICS?
In the following NCR article, more aberrations in the name of interreligious dialogue; Fr. Amaladoss figures:
Pruning pride and prejudice: Dialogue in India
National Catholic Reporter Online (USA), Global Perspective 1/16, July 16, 2003, by
Francis Gonsalves, S.J.
The Church in Asia has been a trailblazer in interreligious dialogue. However, Indian religious, laity and clergy whose work involves interreligious dialogue say stagnancy has swamped Church efforts to effectively encounter other religions.
In India, some say we have not progressed beyond the “institutional model” or “ashram/dialogue center model” of dialogue. The people of India expect more. And they want more.
The period after Vatican II, roughly 1967 to 1987, was a golden era of
dialogue with a proliferation of kaleidoscopic forms of worship, ashrams and dialogue centers, and saffron swamis chanting naamjaps laced with Om incantations. Raimundo Panikkar and Jesuit Tony de Mello were revered gurus of the time. […]
To be effective, dialogue must cut institutional binders.
Feminist theologian Dr. Astrid Lobo
and her Hindu husband, Dr. Kalpesh Gajiwala of Mumbai point out that
“the greatest obstacle to interreligious dialogue is religious conditioning which does not allow one to see beyond what is taught by the religious hierarchy.” “People are afraid to think for themselves, to trust their own God-experiences, to define their own perception of Truth,”
they added. […]
Sebastian Painadath, a Jesuit theologian, hopes to see the church change its language. “The Indian psyche resonates with mystical and exploratory language,” he said, but
“Our theological language is too dogmatic, not exploratory, too conceptual, not mystical, too analytical, not symbolic.”
Bananas in Liturgy
Our meeting in Bangalore showed how much we have progressed in religious dialogue, but it also showed how far we have to go. At the meeting,
Jesuit theologian Michael Amaladoss
stressed the need for a deeper understanding of dialogue and the openness to encounter the other(s) unconditionally. We all agreed. But something strange happened.
I was surprised when we had a Eucharist on the very first morning of the meeting. We invited all the participants for the Eucharist. We spoke about all of us being brothers and sisters of one united India. Then at the offertory, the participants offered up the bread and wine, together with a plate of bananas. At communion, the sacred species and the plate of bananas were passed around. Catholics, obviously, consumed the host and wine. But, the people of other faiths were made to feel part of the “eating bit” by giving each a banana! END
At this interfaith Indian Rite “Mass”, the Hindu participants munched on a prasada of bananas
during the Holy Communion service probably laced with incantations of OM!
Jesuit Fr. Francis Gonsalves, the author of the report, is another deviant theologian.
See pages 69 to 75 THEOLOGIANS LAMBAST THE VATICAN DOCUMENT ON THE NEW AGE
Fr. Michael Amaladoss along with other theologians has also
slammed the landmark Vatican document Dominus Iesus on the unicity of Jesus in his article “Stop judging, that you will not be judged“.
Source: Jeevadhara: A Journal of Christian Interpretation, Vol. XXXI, No. 83, May 2001, pages 179-182.
Fr. Amaladoss favours the cause of women priests. I have analysed this on pages 13, 14 of my report NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 15-DEMAND FOR ORDINATION OF WOMEN PRIESTS-FR SUBHASH ANAND AND OTHERS
In his article “The ministerial priest” in the New Leader issue of March 1-15, 2010 he concludes with “This needs to be rethought.” By “this” I understand that he means the traditional role of the cultic priesthood or presbyterate in the Roman Catholic Church.
Asian Church Speaks of Pluralism out of Experience
NEW DELHI (UCAN) April 3, 1997
Jesuit Father Michael Amaladoss, 60, is secretary of the Jesuit Secretariat for Theology and coordinator for new formation policy for South Asian Jesuits. Father Amaladoss has written many books and articles on spirituality, interreligious dialogue, and inculturation and has been a consultant to the Pontifical Councils for Inter-religious Dialogue and for Christian Unity. He spoke on an Asian perspective of Christian theology in an interview that appeared in the March 28 issue of ASIA FOCUS. […]
AF: What are the contributions of the Asian Church to the universal Church?
Fr. MA: Much of the contemporary rethinking in the Church on interreligious dialogue, pluralism and inculturation are part of the Asian contribution. When the Asian Church speaks of pluralism, it is born out of lived experience.
The Asian Church has contributed to a whole new view of spirituality with the usage of Asian methods of prayer such as yoga and zen.
We are also proposing a new way of mission: Church should not be seen, as in the past, as an extension of but as service for God’s kingdom. This is a new view of evangelization.
Like many other Indian theologians, Fr. Amaladoss looks forward to the rising of an autonomous Indian “local” Church (below) independent of Rome. I will not go into the details here; they can be accessed in my other reports.
From the UCAN report that follows, one gets another perspective of his theology and spirituality:
Requires Sensitivity to Others
BANGKOK (UCAN) January 30, 2003
An Indian theologian recommends that the Church in India outgrow its
colonial Church image
by becoming a
with its own identity, for only in that way can Christians resolve tensions with Hindus.
Jesuit Father Michael Amaladoss
recently offered this counsel at
a symposium organized by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate
to discuss “Searching for Deeper Relationships among Believers.”
About 70 participants, mostly Oblates from Asia and Oceania, attended the January 19-21 conference in Sam Phran, some 30 kilometers west of Bangkok. Father Amaladoss, who works with the
Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions in Chennai, 2,095 kilometers south of New Delhi,
asserted in his symposium talk that Church authorities block serious efforts at inculturation.
…The refusal of Christianity to become fully Indian culturally and administratively, in spite of all the talk about inculturation, plays into the hands of the Hindutva forces. In recent years some Hindu groups have indulged in violence against Christians and their churches in different parts of the country. The Hindu-Christian encounter in such a context is more violent than dialogical.
Dialogue becomes difficult, if not impossible…
The riches of the Upanishadic reflection or of the Bhakti tradition or of the Yogic techniques…
is the dimension of interiority and concentration that seems to attract many Western Christians to oriental methods of prayer like yoga and Zen.
It would be a mistake to equate these oriental methods with the Western methods of prayer and contemplation. Because in the oriental traditions there is an effort to integrate the world and the body with the spirit. Yoga is a good example. There is an effort to live in harmony with nature and the cosmos. Through breathing and posture there is an attempt to integrate the body with the spirit. When the person concentrates on a visual or aural or verbal image it is the whole person that is involved, not merely the intelligence. The experience looked for is one of total integration. The Absolute itself is experienced not as an “Other” but as the deepest centre of oneself.
Hence the Upanishadic phrase: the Atman is Brahman: the centre of my self is the centre of the universe. One realizes one’s rootedness in the Absolute. One loses one self, one’s ego. It is an advaitic relationship… Yogic: Pertaining to yoga, a Hindu system of contemplation for effecting the union of the human soul with the Supreme Being. END
My reports provide ample evidence that the Indian Church is already fairly Hinduised. But theologians like Fr. Amaladoss are far from satisfied (see below). He and his cohorts will not rest until a church is virtually indistinguishable from a temple from its outward appearance to its rituals. After all, don’t they believe that Jesus Christ never intended that all peoples be baptized, and haven’t they rejected Ecclesia in Asia and jettisoned the Great Commission with its mandate for evangelization for indifferentism and religious pluralism?
On the previous page, we have seen that the ‘new evangelization’ as envisaged by the leftist theologians and the Ashramites is with “Asian methods of prayer such as yoga and
God cannot be ‘imported,’ God must be ‘incarnated’
By Janina Gomes, May 6, 2004
According to Fr. Michael Amaladoss, a leading Indian theologian and an expert on inculturation, though the official church in the name of liturgical reform has cleared away accretions that accumulated over history, substantial creativity has not been encouraged apart from some local external decorative elements permitted in India and the Congo.
Amaladoss makes a case for a church presence in public festivals and for a more conscious exploration of the possibility of using scriptures and symbols of other religions and interpreting them in the Christian/Catholic faith context. Amaladoss says: “For me, Hinduism is not another religion. It is part of my own heritage. It is the religion of my ancestors. God has reached out to my ancestors through it. So I do not look at its scriptures, symbols and methods as something foreign to me. I have the right and the liberty to integrate them as part of my spiritual tradition.”
Again, this is from the “Fishwrap”.
Also see The Eucharist and the Christian Community
by Michael Amaladoss, S.J. East Asian Pastoral Review 2005, Volume 42 (2005) Number 3, http://eapi.admu.edu.ph/content/eucharist-and-christian-community
The investigation of Fr. Michael Amaladoss apparently commenced after the following visit of a Vatican delegation to India in January 2011 which occurred during the tenure of Pope Benedict XVI.
Vatican group looks at role of Indian theologians
Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore, January 20, 2011
A Vatican delegation is in India to discuss the role of Indian theologians in the context of global theology.
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on January 16 began a seven-day closed door colloquium in Bangalore with 28 bishops and 26 leading theologians from India.
“We are discussing the role of the Indian theologians as responsible theologians,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
The basis for the discussion is Donum Veritatis, the 1990 Vatican instruction on the role of theologians in the Church, the cardinal explained. He said their discussions included topics such as inculturation and pluralism.
All bishop participants have theological backgrounds, said Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona, a participant and head of the commission of doctrine and theology of India’s Latin rite bishops. The program ends on January 22.
A theology professor said the Vatican delegation would first meet with bishops and theologians and later discuss the outcome with the bishops alone.
Another theology professor, who is not attending the colloquium, says globalization of culture in the modern world has led to the emergence of a global theology. “The pluralistic theologians have begun to dilute Christianity as one of the many religions to go to God. In this context, such a colloquium could become an alerting occasion,” he told
on condition of anonymity.
Another theologian says the colloquium also is to discuss Agendi Ratio Doctrinarum Examine (regulation for doctrinal examination), another document from Cardinal Levada’s congregation. This document aims to protect “true doctrine from the deviated theologians,” the priest told ucanews.com.
Among the theologians at the meeting are
Jesuit Father Michael Amaladoss, a retired theology professor and Fransalian Father Jacob Parappally, president of the Indian Theological Association. END
This ministry trusts that Pope Francis will put an end to the menace of this aberrant theologian and his Jesuit confreres.
A Mumbai Jesuit defends his confrere:
Locking horns over ‘The Asian Jesus’
By Myron Pereira*, May 21, 2014
Why was a respected Indian theologist called to the Vatican?
Mumbai: Father Michael Amaladoss, one of the most respected theologians in India, is said by some to be under suspicion from the Vatican’s watchdog on doctrinal orthodoxy, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He was summoned to Rome for a series of “conversations” with the CDF, although reports differ over how cordial these conversations were.
The scrutiny of Amaladoss stems from a book he wrote, The Asian Jesus, which grapples with an issue that has bedeviled Christians in Asia for centuries: how to present Jesus Christ as a genuine fellow Asian to the millions of our countrymen, who often see him as a white European import.
This is not just a matter of visual iconography, but of theology as well: What has Jesus Christ to say to the world religions of India? This is what Amaladoss tries to answer.
The Asian Jesus explores diverse images of Jesus from the Asian context, for after all, ‘Jesus was born, lived, preached, and died in Asia’. The images Amaladoss selects include Jesus as the Sage, Guru, Satyagrahi (seeker of truth), Aavatar (incarnation), and the Dancer. Amaladoss explores how these images of Jesus are relevant to Asian Christians.
He is not the first to make the attempt. Other Christian theologians, like V. Chakkarai, in Jesus the Avatar (1932), and Thomas Thangaraj in The Crucified Guru (1994), have also experimented with understanding the mission of Christ across cultures.
There are many aspects to the question. For one thing, as many Asian leaders have said, Jesus, as he appears and speaks in the Gospel, is not so much the problem as the Church, and the peculiar form of Roman Catholicism which it gave birth to. For many of our contemporaries, ‘mission’ is seen as an expansionist program with Western overtones and political ramifications. It is bitterly resented because of these colonialist connotations. So proclaiming Christ is seen as an attempt to convert others.
While drawing on images from the Asian context, including the Hindu tradition and Buddhism, Amaladoss does not offer a comparative theological study. Rather, he explains how the various images of Jesus are perceived. This is reflected in both the images selected for the book and the subsequent reflections offered within each chapter. Certainly the images presented in the book provide an insightful and thought-provoking glimpse into the diverse perceptions of Jesus in Asia, opening up new and dynamic questions for theological discourse. Indeed, these images cannot be excluded when entering into Christological and theological reflection in Asia.
However, one may also ask which ‘Asia’ and which ‘India’ Amaladoss refers to, for India (and Asia, too) is a wide and diverse cultural space, and The Asian Jesus does not touch on every symbol there is. The emergence of Dalit voices in the Indian context, for example, offer distinctive images relevant to this discourse, which are out of the scope of this study. So are Adivasi (tribal) concepts of religious leaders and holy men.
The whole issue needs to be seen in the context of the Church’s attitude to the world’s great religions. This is an area that has changed considerably over the last 50 years, and some remarks on where Catholics stand today would not be out of place.
To start with, it would be true to say that no educated Christian today holds the medieval view that the non-Christian religions are evil, and the Church alone offers salvation.
Fifty years ago, the Vatican Council taught that Jesus Christ is indeed the savior of all, and the fulfillment of all the religions of the world. The mission of the Church is to take what is holy and true in other religions, and show its fulfillment in Christ. The Council’s view is that all religions should gradually recognize the unique place of Christ within their own faiths. This view is Christ-centric, and not Church-centric.
Post-conciliar theology, however, holds greater respect for the autonomy of each religion, and in view of the steady numerical growth of so many of them, tends to accept religious pluralism as part of the divine dispensation. This pluralistic view accepts that God has revealed himself to others, and that Jesus’ salvation is meant for all and decisive. However whereas Jesus is the indispensable and normative way to God for Catholic Christians, it is less so for others. This view is God-centric rather than Christ-centric.
In this context, the Church evangelizes (or proclaims the Gospel) when it urges people to accept their God-given humanity, and to treat others justly and lovingly as their brothers and sisters – the values of the ‘Kingdom’, in other words. “The Church evangelizes by promoting the human,” as Paul VI said in Evangelii Nuntiandi.
Many theologians in Asia have a greater acceptance for religious pluralism, living as they do in a multi-religious society in which Christianity is usually a feeble minority. In this, they are different from their European or American colleagues, for whom the conciliar position is the final word.
As one can see, theological opinion is not an abstraction, but very much a matter of socio-religious environment.
Would this be the reason for the difficulties which the Roman office of the CDF has with the likes of Dupuis, Balasuriya and Amaladoss? It would seem so, and only the future will reveal just how successful these “conversations” have been.
*Fr Myron Pereira is a Jesuit priest and media consultant based in Mumbai.
Inquisition a good thing
By Teddy Locsin Jr., July 13, 2014
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—heck, the Holy Inquisition—has cracked down on Fr. Michael Amaladoss, a Jesuit theologian from India. The Huffpost Religion report about it makes it seem as if the Catholic Church is shutting down the open minds of Jesuits, like it did with Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin*.
The Church is doing no such thing; it is not closing any mind, let alone its own, but, rather, refocusing it on the truths that this Jesuit was ordained to pass on and not improve upon. He might try to improve the medium, but not the message; and where the medium is integral to the message, he cannot mess around with that. He might use papadam, rather than unleavened white bread, but he cannot liken God to Brahma, or substitute Vedic chants for the Psalms as readings for the Holy Mass.
Amaladoss’ specialty is missionary work, and global theology is his approach. It seeks to adapt the truths of our religion for lukewarm—which is to say, lazy—Christians and for those not born into Christianity, but in other faiths in China, Africa, India and Japan, whose ideas of the holy, to borrow from Rudolf Otto, are derived from those older religions.
The challenge is: How much of Christian truth can be expressed without any distortion in the words and with the images of other religions? This is the mission of global theology. East is east and west is west; can the twain meet without distorting or diluting the saving Christian message?
The exterior rites and the interior techniques, say, of meditation and prayer of other religions might be adopted. For example, the monastic life is more elegantly lived in Zen-like surroundings. Call it new wine in other finer skins, but there are limits to integration and synthesis. Confucius did not teach free will, but sycophancy; you cannot be a Confucian Christian. If you equate the good life with hard work, discipline and organization, that is not Confucian, but Prussian German, which the Chinese and the Japanese adopted after the new Germany beat the old France in 1870. The Second Reich, which emerged from the anarchy of small German princedoms, was the model for the Meiji Restoration in Japan.
Buddha cannot pass for Christ. He neither led as good a life as Jesus, nor claimed he was God. He did not come to save the world, but to wake us up from a world that he said is just a dream. In fact, the world is real, like Auschwitz; evil is not a misunderstanding, but the deliberate work of Satan and his acolytes among the powers-that-be.
The idea that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to save it is hard for the Japanese to take. They are more driven by honor than love. Well, they will just have to transform from samurai to saints.
Where the message says love saves, honor won’t do it. Where obedience is demanded, you cannot be your own authority; obedience is submission to someone other than yourself. The Inquisition sometimes went overboard, but it never mistook the false for the true. Christ established the Church to teach succeeding generations the same saving truths that He entrusted to His apostles without feel-good commentary or infantile simplification, like New Age thinking, if you can even call it that. He wanted the truth to be passed on the way He told and lived it: hard to take and harder to live by, but the only way to be saved. Most of us will fail at this, but the hard message cannot be softened for the weak.
*The February 3, 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age names Teilhard de Chardin as the world’s leading New Ager.