Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Interreligious dialogue

DECEMBER 8, 2014

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Interreligious dialogue

Reproduced below are images that represent the efforts made by the Indian Catholic Church in Interreligious or Inter-Faith Dialogue.



They are omnipresent… on the covers of “Catholic” books and on letterheads, in pamphlets, banners and “Catholic” periodicals like The New Leader and the Examiner, are used by “peace”-promoting organizations like Dharma Bharathi, etc. and even by the “Ecumenism Desk” or “Commission for Religious Harmony” of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the C.B.C.I. (see further below) as their “emblem” or logo.


This is nothing but a compromise with pagan pre-Christian and man-made post-Christian-revelation religions, even of religions that deny that ‘Jesus is the Christ’ (1 John 2:22), a denial of the unicity of Jesus (Dominus Iesus, pages 10-14) & the fullness of His Gospel of salvation, a form of syncretism (pages 17, 47).

Ours is just one of many roads to the Divine or Absolute or Universal Truth or Creator, one of many faiths that are destined to co-exist in man-made peace and harmony, each one understanding and respecting the other’s beliefs, and engaging in “dialogue” towards that goal.

(I believe that if someone in the CBCI knew that New Age spirituality had a symbol, the rainbow is one of them, they would have incorporated it too into its “emblem” or logo.)

The sacred Cross of our redemption is reduced to an empty and meaningless symbol that shares equal space with occult symbols such as the “OM” of Hinduism and the Yin-Yang of Taoism.


What happened to the Great Commission of Matthew 28: 18-20 (see page 10)?

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (New American Bible)


The following extract is from the web site of the CBCI OFFICE FOR DIALOGUE AND DESK ECUMENISM (whatever they mean by that). Note that on a Catholic site of a national Catholic episcopal agency, the Cross of Christianity is NOT central. The Hindu “OM” and a tree are, despite the pre-emptively defensive statement of the CBCI that “Their being placed randomly in the logo rules out any consideration in terms of superior and inferior positions in life.” Randomly? Randomly in a metaphorical sense? Is that the best excuse that our Bishops can think up? An immense amount of planning and deliberation by priests and bishops must have gone into the logo or emblem before it was given the all-clear. The Cross was deliberately placed where we now see it.


The CBCI explanation of the symbol of the “tree” is a masterpiece of relativist language.

By the CBCI’s own admission, the combination by them of the different religious symbols “rules out any consideration in terms of superior and inferior positions in life“. Christianity is NOT superior to Taoism or Hinduism or Islam or any nature religion.



The mission of the Catholic Church in India as highlighted by this particular executive of the CBCI is NOT evangelization: “The ‘celebration of communion’ among them explains the vision and mission of the organization.

Wherein arises the need or necessity to evangelize (preach the Gospel to all nations, make disciples, baptize) when our Faith is not unique or exclusive and our vision and mission is “The ‘celebration of communion’…“?


What is the “the vastness of the unknown wisdom yet to be sought” by Catholic Christians? My Catechism tells me that the FULLNESS of divine revelation (in the Holy Bible and Tradition) is with the Catholic Church, not even with any Protestant denomination. That divine wisdom, elaborates the CBCI, is “to be fathomed by all faith traditions, irrespective and in spite of their own special provisions for spiritual attainments“; that includes me, and you, dear Catholic reader. In effect, we don’t have it all with us; we have got to outsource it from pagan religions.


There’s more. Through dialogue, we Catholics must exhibit a “‘Willingness to unlearn’ and ‘go beyond the already known’” which, we are told “is the sure way to ‘learn the yet to be known’.” These are deceiving words.

If the apostles to India St. Thomas, St. Bartholomew and St. Francis Xavier had believed any of that rubbish, there would have been no Church in India and no CBCI. They would have established dialogue centers for the ‘celebration of communion’ with other indigenous faiths.




Emblem of the Commission


The tree symbolizes the mystery of life on earth. Its roots that run deep into the heart of the mother earth, both vertically and horizontally, speak of life ‘being rooted in the divine’. Its trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits stand for the immense diversities of human life, in the ethnic, social, cultural, religious and other spheres. It refers to the natural inclination of human life to reach out to all directions for ‘being related to the other’. Its centrally basic position in the emblem emphasizes the comprehensive meaning of life, along with its implications for all forms and dimensions. The tree, along with its roots, branches and all their contents, represent the eternal reality in its entirety, with all its manifestations and mystical delicacies.

Symbols of Religions
Diverse Religious Symbols with different shapes and colours affirm the ‘identity and singular character’ of each religious tradition. Their being placed randomly in the logo rules out any consideration in terms of superior and inferior positions in life. They have a common origin and a common destiny. They belong to the Creator together. They belong to each other. They live with each other. They exist together. The beauty of their diversity is in their ‘spirit of togetherness’. The ‘celebration of communion’ among them explains the vision and mission of the organization.

White-Blue Background and White Glow at the Centre
The sky blue background represents the colourful universe around us. The space outside refers to the ‘infinite’ beyond us and to the vastness of the unknown wisdom yet to be sought. The white glow depicted at the centre stands for the depth of the divine wisdom to be fathomed by all faith traditions, irrespective and in spite of their own special provisions for spiritual attainments.

The Rays Emanating To and Fro
The rays emanating to and fro refer to the dynamism of yearning for enlightenment as well as of the quest for wisdom that lie beyond the ordinary perceptions of all faith traditions. They refer to the ‘spiritual dynamics of interaction and mutuality’ as well as to the ever-emerging divine energy, in the ‘inter-natural’, ‘inter-human’, ‘inter-faith’ and the ‘human-divine’ dimensions.



Harmony of Faiths
Harmony of Faiths, Religions, Ideologies, Perspectives and Ways is the sublime rationale and common goal of human life. A ‘dialogical process’ is the means to achieve that goal. ‘Willingness to unlearn’ and ‘go beyond the already known’ is the sure way to ‘learn the yet to be known’. A ‘culture of cross-cultural relations’ and the ensuing ‘walking together in life’ is the way forward for the humans. Commitment to newer insights, deeper experiences and broader implications is the spiritual path towards further heights in celebrating the ‘oneness of humanity’ amidst the diversities of communities. This is the way that leads the humans to their eternal destiny that merges with the transcendent and all-encompassing presence of the divine, in response of the laborious search of the human heart.


The Commission for Dialogue and Ecumenism‘ was established in January 1973 following the national seminar on ‘Church in India’ held in 1969 and as a follow-up of Vatican II. Initially it was one among the cluster of concerns known as ‘Commission for Proclamation, Ecumenism, Dialogue and Mass Media’. Later, it was made an autonomous department with the name ‘Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue’. The focus of the Commission then included ‘inter-denominational dialogue, inter-religious dialogue and dialogue with non-believers’.

The Commission was known as ‘Commission for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism‘, in line with the decision of the CBCI General Body meeting in Jalandhar in 2002, which erected three Commissions for Ecumenism at the level of the three Ecclesial Bodies ‘CCBI (Latin), SMBS (Malabar), SMES (Malankara). After that, the Commission was using titles ‘Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue’ or ‘Commission for Inter-faith Dialogue’ and ‘National Desk for Ecumenism‘ for functional reasons. The Office now takes care of coordinating ecumenical matters at the national level and inter-religious concerns at national, regional and diocesan levels.


The CBCI Office for Dialogue and Ecumenism is rooted in the values of Jesus. In response to the context of our times, it envisions the emergence of a society, in which religious, racial, ethnic, cultural, ideological and other identities and traditions of India are accepted and promoted through creative interaction for the promotion of harmony and wellbeing of all.

Foundational Perspectives

The Office for Religious Harmony is grounded in the spiritual aspiration of Jesus the Master ‘that all of them may be one’ (Jn 17.21). It relies on the maxim of harmony: ‘we have to look at what unites people rather than what divides them’ (Pope John XXIII). It professes in the ‘common origin, common existence and common destiny’ of the diverse affiliations of faiths and ideologies. It upholds ‘belonging to one another’ and ‘belonging together to the Divine’ as the combined ethos of the various denominational, religious and social traditions. It believes in celebrating ‘beauty in diversity’ in the colloquium of faiths and traditions. The Commission looks forward to ‘walking together’ with people of all communities in the spirit of shared pilgrimage to the same Divine and ‘working together’ with them to usher in a human society that is harmonious and integrated.


The Commission attempts a tuning of perspectives among Christian communities and with other communities of religious faiths and secular faiths, in view of promoting cordial relations and peaceful co-existence among them. It avails itself of most opportunities for ‘building bridges of understanding’ across all human-made borders of faith. It remains alert to responding to the ‘current concerns’ of the Christian community and the society, especially those that arises in the name of faith.

Areas of operation

  • Dialogue within the Catholic community / Intra-denominational dialogue
  • Dialogue among the Christian communities / Inter-denominational dialogue
  • Dialogue with other religious communities / Inter-religious dialogue
  • Dialogue with non-religious traditions and ideologies / Religious-non-religious dialogue
  • Dialogue with the civil society / Religious-secular dialogue
  • Dialogical intervention on occasions of communal disturbances and conflicts

Networking and collaboration

  • Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID), Vatican, Rome
  • Office of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs (OEIA, FABC), Bangkok
  • National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), Nagpur
  • National United Christian Forum (NUCF), New Delhi (NCCI and EFI)





The reader will have observed that the term “ecumenism” crops up several times in this particular CBCI site.

Interreligious dialogue and ecumenism go hand in hand.

In this report and in a following one (INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE 02), I intend to show that the ecumenism and interreligious dialogue that is being conducted by the Church in India is anything but that which is envisioned by Rome, even in the much cited documents of Vatican Council II.

What is actually taking place is a travesty of the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ.


The current office bearers (2014) of this particular CBCI commission are:

Most Rev Felix Anthony Machado,
Archbishop-Bishop of Vasai
, Chairman:

Most Rev. Raphy Manjaly, Bishop of Allahabad, Member:

Most Rev. Mar Joseph Perumthottam,
Archbishop of Changanacherry, Member:


Sr. Teresa Joseph FMA, Mumbai, Secretary:
secretaryde@gmail.com; terejoseph@gmail.com;


An emblem used by the World Conference of Religions for Peace


Below is a picture taken on February 8, 2009, at the dedication of a new church to St. Gonsalo Garcia in Vasai when Most Rev. Thomas Dabre, Chairman of the CBCI’s Doctrinal Commission was Bishop. There were other bishops in attendance. St. Gonsalo Garcia was CRUCIFIED to death, like his Lord Jesus, for his faith. So, how was he honoured at this dedication of the new church building to his memory? By relativising Christianity, the faith he died preaching — juxtapositioning the Cross between the Hindu “OM” and the Islamic crescent.

(From the placard being presented at the altar, do we get the message that the Saint need not have died so horribly had he engaged in interreligious dialogue instead of proselytization?)

On November 20, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI had appointed
Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai
as member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue!!!!! And this is what he oversees!!!!!





But it gets worse. There appears to be no crucifix on the altar at the dedication Mass. And there’s no crucifix on the wall behind the altar. There’s the “Risen Christ” or “Resurrexefix“, except that they’ve gone whole hog at this church and completely done away with the Cross (instead of a Risen Christ on a cross).

See THE RISEN CHRIST ON A CROSS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/THE_RISEN_CHRIST_ON_A_CROSS.doc





From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (G.I.R.M):

#117: Also on or close to the altar, there is to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified.


#308: “There is also to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, either on the altar or near it, where it is clearly visible to the assembled congregation. It is appropriate that such a cross, which calls to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of the Lord, remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations.”


From the Catholic Encyclopedia, Altar Crucifix:

“The crucifix is the principal ornament of the altar. It is placed on the altar to recall to the mind of the celebrant, and the people, that the Victim offered on the altar is the same as was offered on the Cross. For this reason the crucifix must be placed on the altar as often as Mass is celebrated (Constitution, Accepimus of Benedict XIV, 16 July, 1746). The rubric of the Roman Missal (xx) prescribes that it be placed at the middle of the altar between the candlesticks, and that it be large enough to be conveniently seen by both the celebrant and the people (Cong. Sac. Rit., 17 September, 1822). If for any reason this crucifix is removed, another may take its place in a lower position; but in such cases it must always be visible to all who assist at Mass (ibid.)”



So, for the Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI, who was also at that time the diocesan Bishop, to have celebrated Mass with a crucifix neither on the altar nor near it, visible to all, was a flagrant violation of the rubrics of the GIRM.


(Thanks to Ancy Paladka (Salvadore D’Souza or Salu Soz, salusoz@yahoo.co.in,
ancyds@gmail.com) of Mangalorean Catholics yahoo group for providing us with these photographs and information, including “The Bishop was then welcomed with the Aarthi and a Bindi.“)

See at our web site the series HINDU RELIGIOUS MARK ON THE FOREHEAD 01
19, and




During his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI had frequently warned his flock of what he described as “the dictatorship of relativism“:

1. Here is one of Benedict XVI’s most startling yet accurate readings: “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goals one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” … Let us answer our new Benedict’s clarion-call to topple the dictatorship of relativism and help usher in a new civilization of love under the reign of God in these new—and perhaps last!—dark ages. Perhaps you have been chosen to become one of the philosophical doctors and spiritual healers our diseased and emaciated culture desperately needs.

Source: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/a_new_benedict_for_a_new_dark_ages/, July 14, 2009


2. “Otherwise”, the Holy Father concluded: “we would end up with what John of Salisbury defined as the ‘tyranny of the prince’ or, as we would say, ‘the dictatorship of relativism’, a relativism which, as I said some years ago,
‘recognises nothing as definite and has as its ultimate measure only the self and its own desires'”.

Source: Vatican Information Service, December 16, 2009


3. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the U.N. offices in Geneva … recalled Benedict XVI’s thought on the dictatorship of relativism: “A good part of contemporary philosophy states that man is incapable of knowing the truth. And, as a consequence, the man who is incapable of [truth] does not have ethical values.”

“The United Nations aspires to create a new international order and to do so it creates a new anthropology…”

This “alliance between ideology and pragmatism” challenges Christian wisdom, he affirmed, even if in the long run “they will not be able to underestimate or simply ignore the anthropological realism of the Christian tradition.”
Asked how these strategies come about, Archbishop Tomasi said it is a complex process, beyond the proponents themselves. He traced it to the
dictatorship of relativism.

Source: http://www.zenit.org/article-31783?l=english, February 18, 2011

It is (this) Christian wisdom that the CBCI Desk for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism wishes to replace with “the vastness of the unknown wisdom yet to be sought“. See ‘White-Blue Background and White Glow at the Centre’ above.


Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI breaks his retirement silence of 18 months by speaking of all things on what subject? On “relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith”” in connection with interreligious dialogue.

Retired pope says interreligious dialogue no substitute for mission

http://www.catholicregister.org/faith/faith-news/item/19040-retired-pope-says-interreligious-dialogue-no-substitute-for-mission, http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/10/24/pope-emeritus-says-interreligious-dialogue-no-substitute-for-mission/

By Francis X. Rocca, Vatican City, October 23, 2014

Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.”

He also said the true motivation for missionary work is not to increase the church’s size but to share the joy of knowing Christ.

The retired pope’s words appeared in written remarks to faculty members and students at Rome’s Pontifical Urbanian University, which belongs to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household and personal secretary to retired Pope Benedict, read the 1,800-word message aloud Oct. 21, at a ceremony dedicating the university’s renovated main lecture hall to the retired pope.

The speech is one of a handful of public statements, including an interview and a published letter to a journalist, that Pope Benedict has made since he retired in February 2013.

“The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people,” retired Pope Benedict wrote. “‘But does that still apply?’ many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. ‘Is mission still something for today?

Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?’ The counter-question is: ‘Can dialogue substitute for mission?’ In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality,” the retired pope wrote.



“The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world. It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine,” he wrote.

Pope Benedict wrote that some religions, particularly “tribal religions,” are “waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ,” but that this “encounter is always reciprocal. Christ is waiting for their history, their wisdom, their vision of the things.” This encounter can also give new life to Christianity, which has grown tired in its historical heartlands, he wrote.

“We proclaim Jesus Christ not to procure as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power,” the retired pope wrote. “We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us.”


2 out of 6 comments

1. At last a condemnation of “dialogue”.

“Go forth & teach all nations” Christ said. He didn’t say “go forth & dialogue”.

I have long held that ecumenism & dialogue are useless.

One can’t come to a consensus on Truth. Truth stands alone.

“Will you also leave me?” Our Lord said. He didn’t concur with error.

2. Too little too late, Emeritus Holy Father. You should have never retired in the first place. You will always be loved. –Fr. James


Benedict XVI sent text of talk to University: relativistic dialogue and “lethal ideas”


Posted on 24 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

From CNS:
(with, in black and red, Fr. Z’s comments and emphases) Green, here, is mine -Michael


Retired pope says interreligious dialogue no substitute for mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation for missionary work is not to increase the church’s size but to share the joy of knowing Christ.
The retired pope’s words appeared in
 written remarks to faculty members and students at Rome’s Pontifical Urbanian University,
 [Urbaniana] which belongs to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household and personal secretary to retired Pope Benedict, read the 1,800-word message aloud Oct. 21, at a ceremony dedicating the university’s renovated main lecture hall to the retired pope.
The speech is one of a
 handful of public statements, including an interview and a published letter to a journalist, that Pope Benedict has made since he retired in February 2013.
“The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people,” retired Pope Benedict wrote
. [Watch this…] “‘But does that still apply?’ many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. [Classic Ratzinger.  He brings up a theme and then asks a question.] Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?’

The counter-question is: ‘Can dialogue substitute for mission?’  [No!]
“In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality,” the retired pope wrote. [Do I hear an “Amen!”] “The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems [“seems”] realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.
“It is nevertheless lethal to faith.
  [How I have missed you.] In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine,” he wrote.
Pope Benedict wrote that
 some religions, particularly “tribal religions,” are “waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ,” but that this “encounter is always reciprocal. Christ is waiting for their history, their wisdom, their vision of the things.
[Inculturation takes place at this intersection of Christ and cultures.] This encounter can also give new life to Christianity, which has grown tired in its historical heartlands, he wrote. [He has a special preoccupation about Europe.]

“We proclaim Jesus Christ not to procure as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power,” the retired pope wrote. “We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us.” [He has a book entitled “Minister of Your Joy” about priestly formation and spirituality.   It is also, perhaps, a nod to… someone else who – contrary to some – didm’ invent joy.]


I wonder if, in this age, the communication of our joy will take care of the numbers questions. I have always been of the mind that, as a priest, it is part of my job to keep as many people out of Hell as possible (get as many to Heaven as possible). How to do this?



There are a few things that don’t help very much, including the communication of joy’s opposite. Yes, there are times that we have to blend in even the stern, even the unsettling message of the Four Last Things*. But we must never stint on the Heaven part of the Four Last Things even as we do not avoid the other three.  Even preaching the Four Last Things also includes the expression of joy. *Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell

I have lots of other ideas stemming from this brief account of his talk.  

In the meantime, I may just review the Regensburg Address.

It has been a while since I have written this: Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.


4 out of 34 responses

1. I miss the great clarity of Pope Emeritus Benedict. I would not doubt if one day he is declared a doctor of the Church.

Wow. No way to misinterpret what +Benedict is saying. Makes me realize how much I miss clarity and plain, un-nuanced statements.

3. I understand if this comment comes across as too harsh. It’s more about public perception than the men themselves.

Benedict XVI submitted himself fully to the teachings of the faith, defended it vigorously, has written 66 books promulgating the faith, chose for himself a simple and restrained Papal name, advanced the restoration of the Usus Antiquior, brought in Anglicans with a liturgy that hearkens more to the Usus Antiquior than the Novus Ordo, worked to restore dignity to the Novus Ordo with his suggested arrangement of the altar, and honored several of the traditions associated with the office of the Papacy. He was constantly criticized in the press for being hard nosed, arrogant, and uncharitable.

Francis was the first to the name Francis, overturns papal traditions in the name of humility, has acted at times against the Usus Antiquior, expressed at times lukewarm comments about the Anglican Ordinariate, and shown himself to be a bit squishy and exploitable by others on the church’s social teachings. He’s considered humble.

Why is someone who serves the faith, defends it, and advances it considered arrogant and hard-nosed? Why is someone who upturns traditions (which makes the conversation about the individual, rather than the traditions for the office), who is repeatedly critical of those trying to uphold the faith once handed down, and who constantly lets his words be exploited by others to the detriment of Catholic social teaching considered to be humble and charitable? I begin to think the press doesn’t know the difference between modesty and humility.

A typically clear and profound observation from Benedict XVI.


Pope Emeritus Breaks Silence to Support Truth over Dialogue



October 28, 2014

Simply agreeing, even if to promote peace, is dangerous to the Faith

When Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation in February of 2013, he said he would continue to serve the church “through a life dedicated to prayer.” He has made few public appearances since he left office, and has said and written even less.
His relative silence was broken Oct. 21, when his longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, read a1,800-word speech written by Benedict on the occasion of the dedication of the Aula Magna at the Pontifical Urbaniana University to the Pope Emeritus.
 The university belongs to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. It dedicated the hall as a “gesture of gratitude” for what Benedict “has done for the Church as a conciliar expert, with his teaching as professor, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, finally, the Magisterium.” 
In the speech, the Pope emeritus said that dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.”  He also said the true motivation for missionary work is not to increase the Church’s size but to share the joy of knowing Christ.
“The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people,” retired Pope Benedict wrote. “‘But does that still apply?’ many inside and outside the Church ask themselves today. ‘Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?’ The counter-question is: ‘Can dialogue substitute for mission?'” “In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality,” the retired Pope wrote. “The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.”
“It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine,” he wrote.
Pope Benedict wrote that some religions, particularly “tribal religions,” are “waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ,” but that this “encounter is always reciprocal. Christ is waiting for their history, their wisdom, their vision of the things.” This encounter can also give new life to Christianity, which has grown tired in its historical heartlands, he wrote.
“We proclaim Jesus Christ not to procure as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power,” the retired Pope wrote. “We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us.”

1 out of 18 comments

The phrase ‘false irenicism’ comes to mind. It’s the idea those who promote ‘the Spirit of Vatican II’, have conveniently overlooked?




What Cardinal Ratzinger Was Thinking in 2002

Vatican City, April 22, 2005 (Zenit.org)

The proclamation of Christ and his Gospel in a relativist world was for the future Pope Benedict XVI one of the main challenges of the Church.
This is how Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained it on November 30, 2002, in this interview with journalists, among whom were several of ZENIT’s writers. The interview took place at St. Anthony’s Catholic University of Murcia, Spain, where the cardinal was attending an International Congress on Christology. We offer this long interview which reflects some of the characteristic features of the new Pope, considered one of the most important contemporary theologians.

Some interpret the fact of proclaiming Christ as a rupture in the dialogue with other religions. How can one proclaim Christ and dialogue at the same time?

Cardinal Ratzinger: I would say that today relativism predominates. It seems that whoever is not a relativist is someone who is intolerant. To think that one can understand the essential truth is already seen as something intolerant. However, in reality this exclusion of truth is a type of very grave intolerance and reduces essential things of human life to subjectivism. In this way, in essential things we no longer have a common view. Each one can and should decide as he can. So we lose the ethical foundations of our common life. Christ is totally different from all the founders of other religions, and he cannot be reduced to a Buddha, a Socrates or a Confucius. He is really the bridge between heaven and earth, the light of truth who has appeared to us.
The gift of knowing Jesus does not mean that there are no important fragments of truth in other religions. In the light of Christ, we can establish a fruitful dialogue with a point of reference in which we can see how all these fragments of truth contribute to greater depth in our faith and to an authentic spiritual community of humanity.


Q: What has Cardinal Ratzinger learned that theologian Ratzinger did not already know?
Cardinal Ratzinger: The substance of my faith in Christ has always been the same: to know this man who is God who knows me, who — as St. Paul says — has given himself for me. He is present to help and guide me. This substance has always continued to be the same.
In the course of my life I have read the Church Fathers, the great theologians, as well as present-day theology. When I was young, Bultmann’s theology was determinant in Germany: existential theology. Then Moltmann’s theology became more determinant: a theology of Marxist influence, so to speak.
I would say that at the present time the dialogue with the other religions is the most important point: to understand how, on one hand, Christ is unique, and on the other, how he answers all others, who are precursors of Christ, and who are in dialogue with Christ.


Q: You are the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly called the Inquisition. Many people are ignorant of the Vatican dicasteries. They think it is a place of condemnation. Of what does your work consist?
Cardinal Ratzinger: It is difficult to answer this in two words. We have two principal sections: one disciplinary and the other doctrinal. The disciplinary must be concerned with problems of offenses of priests, which unfortunately exist in the Church. Now we have the great problem of pedophilia, as you know. In this case, above all, we must help the bishops to find the adequate procedures. And we are a sort of court of appeals: If someone feels unjustly treated by the bishop, he can appeal to us.
The other, better known section is the doctrinal. In this connection, Paul VI defined our task as “promoter” and “defender” of the faith.

To promote, that is, to help dialogue in the family of the theologians of the world, to follow this dialogue, and encourage the positive currents, as well as to help the less positive tendencies to be conformed to the more positive ones.
The other dimension is to defend: In the context of today’s world, with its relativism, with a profound opposition to the faith of the Church in many parts of the world, with agnostic, atheist, etc., ideologies, the loss of the identity of the faith takes place easily. We must help to distinguish authentic novelties, authentic progress, from other steps that imply a loss of the identity of the faith.

We have two very important instruments at our disposal for this work, the International Theological Commission, with 30 theologians proposed for five years by the bishops; and the Biblical Commission, with 30 exegetes, who are also proposed by the bishops. They are forums of discussion for theologians to find, so to speak, an international understanding, including among the various schools of theology, and a dialogue with the magisterium.
For us, cooperation with the bishops is fundamental. If possible, the bishops must resolve the problems. However, it is often theologians of international renown [who resolve them] and, therefore, the problem goes beyond the possibilities of a bishop. So it is taken to the congregation. Here, we promote the dialogue with these theologians to arrive, if possible, to a peaceful solution. Only in very few cases is there a negative solution.



Q: If we made an evaluation of Pope John Paul II’s extraordinary activity, what would be this papacy’s most important contribution? How will Christianity remember this Pope?
Cardinal Ratzinger: I am not a prophet; that is why I do not dare say what they will say in 50 years, but I think the fact that the Holy Father has been present in all areas of the Church will be extremely important.
In this way, he has created an extremely dynamic experience of catholicity and of the unity of the Church. The synthesis between catholicity and unity is a symphony — it is not uniformity. The Church Fathers said it. Babylon was uniformity, and technology creates uniformity.
The faith, as seen at Pentecost where the apostles spoke all languages, is symphony: It is plurality in unity. This is manifested with great clarity in the Holy Father’s pontificate, with his pastoral visits, his meetings.
I think some documents will be important forever: I want to mention the encyclicals “Redemptoris Missio,” “Veritatis Splendor,” “Evangelium Vitae” and also “Fides et Ratio.” These are four documents that will really be monuments for the future. Lastly, I think he will be remembered for his openness to the other Christian communities, to the other religions of the world, to the secular world, to the sciences, to the political world. In these areas he has always made reference to the faith and its values, but at the same time he has also shown that the faith is able to enter into dialogue with everyone.

What is John Paul II’s contribution to interreligious dialogue?
Cardinal Ratzinger: The Holy Father sees his own mission as a mission of conciliation in the world, a mission of peace. Whereas in the past, unfortunately, there were religious wars, the Holy Father wishes to show that the right relation between religions is not war, nor violence, it is dialogue, and the attempt to understand the elements of truth that are found in the other religions.
The Holy Father does not want to relativize the uniqueness of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but he wants to show that this truth about Christ cannot be proclaimed with violence or with human power, but only with the force of truth. And for this, a human contact of dialogue and love is necessary, as the apostles showed in the great mission of the early Church: without making use of worldly power, using the force of conviction.
The testimony of suffering, of charity, and of dialogue, convinced the ancient world. The Holy Father simply tries to nurture this force of dialogue and love of the first centuries in the relation with the religions.


Q: How can one maintain fidelity to the Church and favor communion, while remaining open to the Spirit to lead us to the fullness of truth? In other words, how is it possible not to fall into the extremes of rigidity or rupture?
Cardinal Ratzinger: I think that it is, above all, a question of the maturity of personal faith.
To all appearances, fidelity and openness seem to exclude one another. However, I think that authentic fidelity to the Lord Jesus, to his Church, which is his Body, is a dynamic fidelity. The truth is for everyone, and all are created to go to the Lord. His open arms on the cross symbolize at the same time for the Church Fathers maximum fidelity — the Lord is nailed to the cross — and the embrace of the world, to attract the world to himself, and make room for all.
Therefore, an authentic fidelity to the Lord participates in the dynamism of the person of Christ, who can open himself to the different challenges of reality, of the other, of the world, etc. However, at the same time, he finds his profound identity there, which does not exclude anything that is true; it only excludes falsehood.
To the degree that we enter into communion with Christ, in his love that accepts all of us and purifies all of us, in the measure in which we participate in communion with Christ, we can be faithful and open.

What is the present state of the
communication of the concept of Church? In the wake of the instruction “Dominus Iesus” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, there were criticisms among the representatives of the Evangelical churches, because they did not accept or did not understand well the statement that, rather than churches, they should be considered as Christian communities.

Cardinal Ratzinger:
This topic would call for a long discussion. In the first place, we were told that if in “Dominus Iesus” we had only spoken about the unique character of Christ, the whole of Christianity would have been delighted with this document, all would have joined in applauding the Congregation. “Why did you add the ecclesiological problem that has resulted in criticisms?” we have been asked.

However, it was also necessary to talk about the Church, as Jesus created this Body, and he is present throughout the centuries through his Body, which is the Church. The Church is not a hovering spirit. I am convinced that we [in “Dominus Iesus”] have interpreted Vatican II’s “Lumen Gentium” in a totally faithful manner, while in the last 30 years we have increasingly attenuated the text. In fact, our critics have said to us that we have remained faithful to the letter of the Council, but we have not understood the Council. At least they acknowledge that we are faithful to the letter. The Church of Christ is not an ecumenical utopia; it is not something we make; it would not be the Church of Christ. This is why we are convinced that the Church is a Body, it is not just an idea, but this does not exclude different ways of a certain presence of the Church, even outside the Catholic Church, which are specified by the Council. I think it is evident that they exist, in so many hues, and it is understandable that this generates debates within the Church. […]

Does the CBCI’s web page fulfil Pope Benedict XVI’s vision and call for “The proclamation of Christ and his Gospel in a relativist world“? -Michael



Benedict XVI: The Pope and His Agenda


By Sandro Magister s.magister@espressoedit.it,
ROMA, April 20, 2005

Joseph Ratzinger re-proposed it in his last homily before the conclave: “being adults in the faith,” and not “children in a state of guardianship, tossed about by the waves and carried here and there by every wind of doctrine.” Entry by entry, the open questions of his pontificate

They called him a conservative. But Joseph Ratzinger revolutionized even the conclave which, on April 19, made him pope, Benedict XVI, “a humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord.”
Never in the past century has the choice of a pontiff been spoken in a language so clear and sharp. And it came with a build-up which became more impressive as the hour of truth drew near. Until his last lecture on the state of the world, which Ratzinger gave on the last day of the deceased pope’s life. Until, even more importantly, the last homily he proclaimed in Saint Peter’s at the mass “pro eligendo romano pontifice,” a few hours before the closing of the doors of the Sistine Chapel. As a cardinal, Ratzinger put nothing “on sale” in order to be elected pope. The votes and consensus landed on him one after the other, month after month, scrutiny after scrutiny, attracted only by his agenda, hard as a diamond. At the last mass in Saint Peter’s he re-proposed this with the words of the apostle Paul: the goal is that of “being adults in the faith,” and not “children in a state of guardianship, tossed about by the waves and carried here and there by every wind of doctrine.”
Because modern times are leading precisely toward this, he warned: to “a dictatorship of relativism which recognizes nothing as definitive and leaves as the ultimate standard one’s own personality and desires.”

Against this “deceit of men,” Ratzinger opposed the principle that “we have, instead, a different standard: the Son of God, the true man,” who is also “the standard of true humanism” and “the criterion for discerning between the true and the false, between deception and truth.”

The plain conclusion: “We must foster the maturity of this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith.” And it doesn’t matter if “having a clear faith according to the Church’s creed is frequently labeled fundamentalism.”

Over the years, accusations of fundamentalism have been scattered against this German theologian who today is the new head of the Catholic Church.
During the 1960’s, the young Ratzinger followed the second Vatican Council as an expert consultant for the cardinal of Cologne, Joseph Frings. He launched his first darts against the Holy Office, “out of step with the times and a cause of harm and scandal,” which he would direct many years later. But very soon after the end of the council, he began to denounce its effects, which were “crudely divergent” from what was to be expected.
The path he took was parallel to that of two other first-rate theologians of the time, his friends and instructors Henri De Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar, both of whom also became cardinals, both of whom were also accused of having turned aside from progressivism to conservatism. Ratzinger never paid any attention to the label that was applied to him: “I have not changed; they are the ones who have changed.”
His was a strange conservatism, in any case. It was apt to disturb, rather than pacify, the Church. One of his favorite models is Saint Charles Borromeo, the archbishop of Milan who, after the Council of Trent, did nothing less than “reconstruct the Catholic Church, which was almost destroyed in the area around Milan as well, without returning to the Middle Ages to do so; on the contrary, he created a modern form of the Church.”
Today the transformations in civilization are no less epochal, in his eyes. The culture that has established itself in Europe “constitutes the most radical possible contradiction, not only of Christianity, but also of the religious traditions of humanity,” he argued on April 1 at Subiaco, at his last conference during the reign of John Paul II. And therefore the Church must react with all the courage it can muster, not conforming itself to the times, not falling to its knees before the world, but “bringing, with holy consternation, the gift of faith to all, the gift of friendship with Christ.”
Benedict XVI does not dream of the mass conversion of whole peoples for the Church of tomorrow. For many regions, he foresees a minority Christianity, but he wants this to be “creative.” He prefers the missionary impulse to timid dialogue with non-believers and men of other faiths. Pessimism and angst have no place with him, and here also he breaks with the labels currently applied to him. He ended his homily-manifesto on April 18 at Saint Peter’s by invoking a world “changed from a vale of tears to the garden of God.”
He has been this way since he was a child: “The Catholicism of the Bavaria in which I grew up was joyful, colorful, human. I miss a sense of purism. This must be because, since my childhood, I have breathed the air of the Baroque.” He is distrustful of theologians who “do not love art, poetry, music, nature: they can be dangerous.” He loves taking walks in the mountains. He plays the piano, and favors Mozart. His brother Georg, a priest, is the choirmaster at Ratisbonne, one of the last pockets of resistance for the great tradition of sacred polyphony and Gregorian chant.
And this has been for years one of the points on which he has collided with novelties in the postconciliar Church. He has had harsh words for the transformation of the mass and liturgies “into spectacles that require directors of genius and talented actors.” He has said similar things about the dismantling of sacred music. “How often we celebrate only ourselves, without even taking Him into account,” he commented in his meditations for the Stations of the Cross last Good Friday. Here, “Him” refers to Jesus Christ, the one forgotten by liturgies changed into convivial gatherings.
Benedict XVI has never hidden his reservations even about the mass liturgies celebrated by his predecessor. No one in the curia of John Paul II was more free, or more critical, than he was. And Karol Wojtyla had the greatest respect for him for this reason, too. “My trusted friend”: this is how he defined Ratzinger in his autobiographical book “Arise, Let Us Be Going,” praise he never bestowed on any of his other close collaborators.
As prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger criticized John Paul II on many points, even the ones that most distinguished his pontificate.


He didn’t even go to the first interreligious meeting in Assisi in 1986.

He saw in this an obfuscation of the identity of Christianity, which cannot be reduced to other faiths.

Years later, in 2000, a document came to dissolve any sort of equivocation, the declaration “Dominus Jesus,” published with his signature.

It unleashed a storm of controversy. But the pope defended it completely. And in 2002, Ratzinger attended the meeting at Assisi in its modified form.

Another point on which the new pope did not agree with John Paul II was the “mea culpas.” Many other cardinals disagreed with these, but said nothing in public, with the sole exception of the archbishop of Bologna, Giacomo Biffi, who set down his objections in black and white, in a pastoral letter to the faithful of his diocese. Ratzinger voiced his criticism in a different way: in a theological document that responded, point by point, to the objections that had been raised, but in which the objections were all elaborately developed, while the replies appeared tenuous and shaky.

As a cardinal, Benedict XVI also criticized the endless succession of saints and blesseds that pope Wojtyla raised to the honors of the altar: in many cases, these were “persons who might perhaps say something to a certain group, but do not say much to the great multitude of believers.” As an alternative, he proposed “bringing to the attention of Christianity only those figures who, more than all others, make visible to us the holy Church, amid so many doubts about its holiness.”

He has always ignored politically correct language. In 1984, in a document against the Marxist roots of liberation theology, he delivered a deadly series of blows to the communist empire, labeling it “the shame of our time” and “a disgraceful enslavement of man.” During that same period, American president Ronald Reagan was speaking out against the “evil empire.” The news was spread that Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican secretary of state and the architect of a policy of good relations with Moscow, had threatened to resign in order to distance himself from the prefect for doctrine. It wasn’t true. In any case, five years later the Berlin Wall came down.
Ratzinger has always distinguished himself as a man of great vision, not as a manager. He would love to see a Church that is simpler in terms of bureaucracy. He doesn’t want its central and peripheral institutions – the Vatican curia, the diocesan chanceries, the episcopal conferences – to become “like the armor of Saul, which prevented the young David from walking.” Partly for this reason, he reacted strongly in 2000 when another talented archbishop and theologian, his friend and fellow German Walter Kasper, charged him with wanting to identify the universal Church with the pope and the curia, with wanting in effect to restore Roman centralism. Ratzinger replied, confuting Kasper’s thesis. The latter spoke again, provoking another public reply.
At the center of the dispute, which was fought on the terrain of advanced theology, was the relationship between the universal Church and the particular local Churches. This was the same question that the progressivist wing was discussing in more institutional and political terms during those same years, promoting a democratization of the Church, a balance of papal primacy with greater power for the college of bishops.
The controversy over the balance of power in the Church was also involved in the conclave that elected Benedict XVI, and a rejection of a greater role for collegiality was attributed to him, a rejection that would also create an obstacle to dialogue with the Orthodox and Protestant Churches. But the reality is different. It was Kasper himself, whose motives are not suspect, who gave the name “the Ratzinger formula” to the thesis maintained by the present pope on relations with separated Christians, and called this “fundamental for ecumenical dialogue.” One written form of this thesis maintains that “in regard to papal primacy, Rome must demand from the Orthodox Churches nothing more than was established and practiced during the first millennium.” During the first millennium, the college of bishops carried much greater weight. It will be, perhaps, a conservative pope like Benedict XVI who will clear the way for this reform.

A Concise Agenda of the New Pontificate

Just having emerged from the election, pope Benedict XVI really does have the conclave behind him. Nothing is binding him anymore. Very strict rules forbid his electors from imposing upon him the decisions that they want, or the nominations that they prefer. And this is one more reason for the hyperactive attention with which we will study his first moves as head of the worldwide Church. All of a sudden a tremendous, limitless agenda opens up before the new pope. It is the agenda that John Paul II left to him as an inheritance. Here is a list of entries, in alphabetical order.
This is an unforgettable symbol of the pontificate of Karol Wojtyla: the representatives of the world’s religions praying side by side in the city of Saint Francis. But it is also one of the more destabilizing symbols: if every religion is itself a path to salvation, the Catholic Church can close its missions throughout the world for lack of reason to exist.

The correction for this conclusion is found in the declaration “Dominus Jesus” of 2000, which reaffirms faith in Jesus Christ as the only savior of all men of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The new pope will therefore continue interreligious dialogue, but will hold firm the irreducible identity of Christianity and Jesus’ commandment to preach the Gospel to the whole world. “That includes the Dalai Lama and the Muslims,” Cardinal Giacomo Biffi once said. […]

The immense country of Gandhi is an important frontier for the Church in Asia, and preoccupies the Roman papacy for at least three reasons. The first is that the Christians who live there are frequently the victims of extremist Hindu aggression and the intolerance of the civil laws themselves, which in many states forbid proselytism, or the missionary activity of the Church, and punish it severely.



The second fear is connected with the foreseeable rise of India as a great power. Contact between the Christian West and Indian culture and religious belief, which are markedly polytheistic and inclusive, instead of strengthening Christian identity, will tend to weaken and absorb it, analogously to what is feared will happen in the case of contact with Chinese culture. The third concern is more internal.

A broad section of India’s Catholic Church, including some of the bishops, promote an idea of dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism that places the two religions on the same level, and thus renders meaningless the proposition of baptizing new Christians, since the Hindus’ faith is already enough for them. “Dominus Jesus,” which stresses that Christ is the only way of salvation for all, was written in part as a reaction to what is happening in India.

Benedict XVI will need to decide what practical consequences he should draw from this.


What useful insights do we gain from the above article?

The Indian Church’s Commission or Desk for Dialogue and Ecumenism is being what Pope Benedict describes as “politically correct“; we can conclude that from reading its web site.

Succumbing to a dictatorship of relativism which recognizes nothing as definitive and leaves as the ultimate standard one’s own personality and desires”
eventually obscures one’s “discerning between the true and the false, between deception and truth“.

It is immensely worth the while to reproduce the following paragraphs in toto:

As prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger criticized John Paul II on many points, even the ones that most distinguished his pontificate.

He didn’t even go to the first interreligious meeting in Assisi in 1986.

He saw in this an obfuscation of the identity of Christianity, which cannot be reduced to other faiths.

This is an unforgettable symbol of the pontificate of Karol Wojtyla: the representatives of the world’s religions praying side by side in the city of Saint Francis. But it is also one of the more destabilizing symbols: if every religion is itself a path to salvation, the Catholic Church can close its missions throughout the world for lack of reason to exist.

The correction for this conclusion is found in the declaration “Dominus Jesus” of 2000, which reaffirms faith in Jesus Christ as the only savior of all men of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The new pope will therefore continue interreligious dialogue, but will hold firm the irreducible identity of Christianity and Jesus’ commandment to preach the Gospel to the whole world. “That includes the Dalai Lama and the Muslims,” Cardinal Giacomo Biffi once said.


What Does the Pope-Theologian Teach? First of All, the Truth


By Sandro Magister,
ROMA, February 23, 2006

It can be gathered from this that being the head of a Vatican office does not automatically clear the way to becoming a cardinal. It seems likely that with Benedict XVI, the purple will be associated, in the curia, with a few important dicasteries. And that some offices will be scaled down, or even suppressed.
Another of the candidates for the purple predicted by the media, Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, not only was not designated a cardinal, but was removed from his office and sent to Egypt as a nuncio.
The decision was made public on February 15, and came as a surprise even to Fitzgerald himself. In reality, Fitzgerald’s promotion as a cardinal was entirely unlikely, given the strong disagreement between him and Benedict XVI on crucial topics in the dialogue among religions, and in particular between Christianity and Islam. Fitzgerald is a convinced representative of the “spirit of Assisi” of which Ratzinger has always been critical.

Program: Restore to the Truth Its Splendor


Ten months have passed since the election of Joseph Ratzinger. Is it possible to identify a clear and coherent direction here? My answer is, yes. […]

Benedict XVI has addressed severe reminders to bishops he believes to be timid, doubtful, reticent in teaching true doctrine.
For example, he said to the Austrian bishops: “There are some topics relating to the truth of the faith, and above all to moral doctrine, which are not present in the catechesis and preaching of your dioceses to a sufficient extent, and which sometimes are either not confronted at all or are not addressed in the clear sense understood by the Church.

Perhaps those who are responsible for the proclamation [of the truth] are afraid that people may draw back if they speak too clearly. However, experience in general demonstrates that it is precisely the opposite that happens. Don’t deceive yourselves! Catholic teaching offered in an incomplete manner is a contradiction of itself and cannot be fruitful in the long term”.






Significantly, Benedict XVI entitled his first message for the World Day for Peace In truth, peace.”

The pope wanted to express, right from the title, “the conviction that wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace.”
In this message, and then in his speech to the diplomatic corps, he brought all of international politics beneath the scrutiny of the truth:
“Those who are committed to truth cannot fail to reject the law of might, which is based on a lie and has so frequently marked human history, nationally and internationally, with tragedy. The lie often parades itself as truth, but in reality it is always selective and tendentious, selfishly designed to manipulate people, and finally subject them. Political systems of the past, but not only the past, offer a bitter illustration of this. Set against this, there is truth and truthfulness, which lead to encounter with the other, to recognition and understanding.”
Terrorism was also placed beneath the same scrutiny:
“Nihilism and the fundamentalism of which we are speaking share an erroneous relationship to truth: the nihilist denies the
very existence of truth, while the fundamentalist claims to be able to impose it by force.”

In short, the primacy of the truth appears to be truly the common thread since the beginning of this pontificate.


On Benedict XVI and peace:

> Finally, the Truth. What the Pope Said to the Diplomatic Corps (10.1.2006)
> “In Truth, Peace” – The First Lesson of Benedict XVI on Peace, War, and Terrorism (14.12.2005)

Truth. Peace. Peace through Truth. That is the repeated refrain of Pope Benedict XVI even and especially in the context of interreligious dialogue. Not compromise, not putting all religious faiths on the same pedestal.

But by witnessing to the world the Truth of the unicity of Jesus (“Dominus Iesus“).


Benedict XVI Says Church’s Dialogue with Culture Is Vital – Sees Challenges for
New Evangelization


Castel Gandolfo, Italy, September 15, 2005 (Zenit.org)

Dialogue between the Church and culture in the postmodern era is “vital” for evangelization, insists Benedict XVI. The Pope expressed this conviction when meeting today with a group of bishops from central and northeastern Mexico who were on their five-yearly visit to Rome. “As missionary Church,” the Holy Father said, “we are all called to understand the challenges that the postmodern culture poses to the continent’s New Evangelization.” “The dialogue of the Church with the culture of our time is vital for the Church herself and for the world,” he told the bishops who visited him at the papal summer residence south of Rome. In particular, Benedict XVI insisted that it “is an urgent task” to form “in a responsible way the faith of Catholics, to help them live with joy and daring in the midst of the world.” “Because of this,” he said, “catechesis, together with the teaching of religion and morality, must be the foundation of an ever better experience and knowledge of Jesus Christ through the living testimony of those who have encountered him, in order to foster the yearning to follow him and serve him with all one’s heart and soul.”

A time of activism

This endeavor of evangelization of culture requires a prayer life, as “ours is a time of constant movement, which often ends in activism, with the easy risk of ‘doing for the sake of doing,'” noted the Pontiff. “All this implies the need to revise our mentalities, attitudes and conduct, and to enlarge our horizons, committing ourselves to share and work with enthusiasm to respond to the great questions of the man of today,” he urged the Mexican prelates. The formation of Christians and the evangelization of culture will also serve as a response to the expansion of religious sects, a phenomenon mentioned by the bishops in their reports to the Holy See. To this problem the Pope said: “The activity of the sects and of the new religious groups in America, far from leaving us indifferent, should stimulate your particular Churches to offer the faithful more personalized religious attention, consolidating the structure of communion and proposing a purified popular religiosity, in order to make the faith of all Catholics more alive.”


The New Curia of Benedict XVI Looks toward Asia
http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/60561?eng=y EXTRACT

By Sandro Magister, Roma, May 26, 2006

The new prefect of “Propaganda Fide” comes from India. And the new secretary of the congregation for the liturgy is from Sri Lanka. His first public address was the presentation of a book. And it was revealing

On his first anniversary as pope, Benedict XVI asked God “to grant that I may be a gentle and firm Pastor.” He is already gentle and firm, to judge by his recent actions.
What this pope preaches is a natural decalogue, which is valid for men of all faiths.

And in fact, he applies it to all: to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and to the non-religious secularists of the West.

In the Vatican curia,
he took away the autonomy of what was formerly the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, merging it into the Pontifical Council for Culture.



He maintains that there is nothing to be negotiated among the revealed faiths, but that peaceful coexistence among the religions should proceed, instead, from a dialogue of culture and civilization.

For example, whenever he talks to Muslims, Benedict XVI places at the center the question of the person and his freedom.

He does not refer to the Bible or the Qur’an, but to the message “conveyed to us unmistakably by the quiet but clear voice of conscience.”
The decapitation of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, with the sending of its former president, English archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, to Cairo as a nuncio, is not the only novelty introduced into the curia by Benedict XVI.

With some other well-aimed moves, pope Ratzinger has already obtained much more.

The last one, which took place on May 20, was the replacement of the “red pope,” a slang term for the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

This prefect, in effect, has enormous power concentrated in his position. He oversees more than a thousand dioceses in mission countries, which are found in Asia, Africa, Oceania, and part of Latin America. He designates the new bishops of these dioceses. He visits them. He helps them financially, with a large budget at his disposal.

As the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the pope has called an Indian, cardinal Ivan Dias, 70, who has been archbishop of Bombay for ten years…

He has learned many languages, speaking eighteen fluently having some familiarity with others.
But even though this skill is very much adapted to his role, it is not the only reason why Benedict XVI chose him as the new prefect of “Propaganda Fide.” Much more influential was the fact that Cardinal Dias, who has an excellent understanding of the Eastern religions, has
never surrendered to that “relativism” of faiths that Ratzinger condemned in 2000 with the most important of his actions as the cardinal custodian of doctrine, the declaration “Dominus Iesus.”
As archbishop of Bombay, Dias has on a number of occasions complained of the fact that the Jesuits, excessively enthusiastic supporters of interreligious dialogue, play the master in the seminaries of India.

His goal was to evangelize and convert, and each year he administered many baptisms. Before the last conclave he was listed among the candidates for the papacy, but in reality he was one of Ratzinger’s most resolute supporters.
> Cardinal Dias tells fundamentalists: “Conversion is between man and God”

Christ and Religions, According to Cardinal Poupard, New President of Council for Interreligious Dialogue


Vatican City, March 17, 2006 (Zenit.org)

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who has been president of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 1982, now wears a second hat. Benedict XVI recently named the 75-year-old cardinal him president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. That additional appointment, according to the note of the Vatican press office, is in response to the desire “to foster more intense dialogue between the men of culture and distinguished members of different religions.” Cardinal Poupard shared with perspective on the change with ZENIT.
Q: Your Eminence, could you explain the
relationship between interreligious dialogue and intercultural dialogue?

Cardinal Poupard: “Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a vital necessity for today’s world,” the Pope said in Cologne, when receiving representatives of the Muslim community, in the framework of WYD [World Youth Day]. For those who are very familiar with Benedict XVI’s thought, this choice is logical. In fact, when one speaks of interreligious dialogue, one often thinks of a reflection of a doctrinal nature on common religious topics, such as the idea of God, sin, salvation, etc. However, this doctrinal dialogue calls for a common foundation, and this is not always the case with other religions. For a Buddhist, for example, God is not a person; for others, salvation consists in the dissolution of the “I,” while for a Christian it is always the salvation of his own person. Thus dialogue is very difficult.
Doctrinal dialogue is meaningful among Christians of various confessions with whom we share faith in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, with believers of other religions dialogue is always possible on the basis of culture. This is the intuition that is the foundation of the Pontifical Council for Culture: Culture is a common terrain in which believers and nonbelievers or believers of diverse religions can dialogue. The common topic that unites us, John Paul II said in UNESCO, is man; about whom we certainly can dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI therefore wishes to lead the dialogue with believers of other religions to the terrain of culture and of relations between cultures. The culture of the People of God, which exceeds national, linguistic, regional, etc., limits, enters into dialogue with other cultures, vitally permeated by other religions. In this dialogue there is mutual enrichment, and the Gospel, incarnated in a concrete culture, can heal and fertilize new cultural expressions.
In keeping with what was explained earlier, what are the answers Christianity can give on this topic?



Cardinal Poupard:
Jesus Christ is the answer, the definitive answer, to man’s important questions.
The [Second Vatican] Council said it with very beautiful words: “Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.”
However, this message does not fall directly from heaven. It comes through very specific men and women, with a concrete history and culture, who engage in communication with other religions. In the Christian way of living, there are essential and accessory elements. The former are immutable, while the latter are contingent. Among these essential elements, which have found their philosophical and theological expression, is the concept of the person, in the image of the Trinity, the idea of communion, of subject, the principle of freedom and responsibility, the survival of the “I” after death, solidarity among men, common dignity, etc. These are the values that can be, that must be shared with believers of other religions in the measure that is possible. We can also receive much from believers of other religions — not in regard to the content of the faith, of course, as the fullness of revelation is found in Jesus Christ, but in the way of living it.

Q: The work you wrote in 1983, “Dictionary of Religions,” is an obligatory study text in the history of religions. Do you think it will be helpful to you in your new post?
Cardinal Poupard: Indeed! To direct the elaboration of this dictionary was a great intellectual venture and publishing enterprise. As coordinator, I had to read all the articles being sent by authors who had a say on the matter, among whom were the best specialists. All that gave me a general picture on religions in the world and, in addition, a more profound understanding of the religious event in man. Something of this I have written in another little book, “Les Religions,” published in the well-known collection “Que sais-je?”, translated into more than 10 languages, among which are Russian, Turkish, Vietnamese and recently Chinese, published by a publishing house in Beijing. In the heart of every culture is found an approach to the mystery of God and man. There is no culture that is not essentially religious. The sole exception to this universal rule seems to be the present Western culture, as Pope Benedict XVI frequently points out and, already before, as Cardinal Ratzinger did.

Q: In 1992 you went through a similar process to the present one when Pope John Paul II fused the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Secretariat for Nonbelievers. What is the difference on this occasion?
Cardinal Poupard: In fact, there are similarities, but also differences. As you know, it was John Paul II who called me to preside over the Secretariat for Nonbelievers in June 1980, with the intention of studying the creation of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which took place in 1982, and of which he also appointed me president. From 1982 to 1993, I was president of the two dicasteries, which, however, kept their respective autonomy, exactly as is now the case. In 1992, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of Communist regimes in Europe, it did not seem to make sense to maintain the Secretariat for Nonbelievers — which in the meantime had been transformed into the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Nonbelievers — and thus, on March 25, 1993, the Pope decided to forge the two dicasteries into one, retaining the competencies of both.

Q: Do you think that with this step the Pope hopes to reduce two Vatican dicasteries to one?
Cardinal Poupard: We don’t know that. What is important, in any case, is not the structures but the spirit that animates them. The structures of the Roman Curia are only means to help the Pope carry out his mission as universal Shepherd. What is clear is that there will have to be a greater collaboration between the two dicasteries which the Pope has requested me to preside over “for the time being.”

Apostles Proclaim Christ, Not an Idea, Says Pope
Explains Relationship between Jesus and the Church


Vatican City, March 22, 2006 (Zenit.org)

The first apostles, like today’s, were not heralds of an idea but rather witnesses of Christ before the world, says Benedict XVI. The Pope delivered that message today in his second general audience address dedicated to explain the relationship between Jesus and the Church. In an address before 35,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father focused on Jesus’ call to the Twelve Apostles. In particular, the Pope recalled the dialogue recounted by John the Evangelist on the banks of the Jordan, when John the Baptizer presented Jesus as the Lamb of God. To the question: “What do you seek?” the future apostles replied with another question: “‘Rabbi’ — which means Teacher — ‘where are you staying?'” Jesus replied “Come and see.” “Thus, the apostles’ adventure began as a gathering of persons who open to one another reciprocally. A direct knowledge of the Teacher began for the disciples,” Benedict XVI explained.
To “be” “They saw where he lived and began to know him. They would not have to be heralds of an idea, but witnesses of a person,” he added. “Before being sent to evangelize, they would have to ‘be’ with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him,” the Pope continued. Therefore, “evangelization is no more than a proclamation of what has been experienced and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ,” added the Holy Father. “An apostle is someone who is sent, but even before that he is an ‘expert’ on Jesus.” After his passion and resurrection, Christ “would send the apostles ‘into all the world,’ and to ‘all nations,’ ‘and to the end of the earth,'” indicated the Pope. “And this mission continues,” he said. “The Lord’s commandment always continues to gather the nations in the unity of his love. “This is our hope and this is also our commandment to contribute to that universality, to this true unity in the richness of cultures, in communion with our true Lord Jesus Christ.”




Pontiff Exhorts Jesuits to Heed Ignatius’ LegacyIn an Address to Participants in a Pilgrimage


Vatican City, April 24, 2006 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI encouraged members of the Society of Jesus to be faithful to the legacy of their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Pope made that request Saturday when meeting with 8,000 Jesuits and friends who were participating in a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter. […] The Jesuits and friends who came to the Vatican celebrated the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Francis Xavier and of Blessed Peter Faber, which occurred, respectively, on April 7 and 13 of 1506, as well as the 450th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius of Loyola, on July 31, 1556.


And among the most urgent needs that the Jesuits must address, the Pope pointed out “cultural commitment in the fields of theology and philosophy, traditional realms of apostolic presence of the Society of Jesus.” At the same time, he stressed the “dialogue with modern culture, which although on one hand shows wonderful progress in the scientific field, is strongly marked by the positivist and materialist scientific spirit.” In this endeavor to promote “in cordial collaboration with the other ecclesial realities a culture inspired in the values of the Gospel,” the Holy Father noted the need for “an intense spiritual and cultural preparation.” “Precisely for this reason, St. Ignatius wanted young Jesuits to be formed for long years in the spiritual life and in studies,” Benedict XVI said. “It is good that this tradition be maintained and reinforced, given also the growing complexity and extent of modern culture,” he explained. […]

Pope asks Jesuits to focus on teaching, research, dialogue


By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service, Vatican City, April 24, 2006

Invoking the Jesuits’ special vow to fulfill missions assigned by the pope, Pope Benedict XVI asked the Society of Jesus to concentrate on teaching and research in theology and philosophy, dialogue with modern culture and the Christian education of future generations.
Pope Benedict met with hundreds of Jesuits and their collaborators April 22 in St. Peter’s Basilica after a Mass honoring three of the first members of the order. The Mass commemorated the 450th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the order’s founder, and the 500th anniversary of the births of two of his first companions: St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Peter Faber. Pope Benedict called the three “men of extraordinary holiness and exceptional apostolic zeal.” […]


Pontiff’s Address to Jesuits“A Precious Spiritual Legacy That Must Not Be Lost”


Vatican City, May 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered April 22 in St. Peter’s Basilica to the Jesuits on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter.
Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Jesus,

This ecclesial characteristic, so specific to the Society of Jesus, lives on in you and in your apostolic activities, dear Jesuits, so that you may faithfully meet the urgent needs of the Church today. Among these, it is important in my opinion to point out your cultural commitment in the areas of theology and philosophy in which the Society of Jesus has traditionally been present, as well as the dialogue with modern culture, which, if it boasts on the one hand of the marvelous progress in the scientific field, remains heavily marked by positivist and materialist scientism. Naturally, the effort to promote a culture inspired by Gospel values in cordial collaboration with the other ecclesial realities demands an intense spiritual and cultural training. For this very reason, St. Ignatius wanted young Jesuits to be formed for many years in spiritual life and in study. It is good that this tradition be maintained and reinforced, also given the growing complexity and vastness of modern culture.


Pope Notes Conditions for Interreligious Prayer MeetingsA Testimony of Fraternity, Which Must Avoid Syncretism, He Says

Vatican City, September 4, 2006 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI confirmed the importance of interreligious prayer meetings for peace and emphasized that, to be coherent, they must respect the various religious traditions while avoiding syncretism.
The Holy Father explained this in a lengthy message sent to Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi-Nocera, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Interreligious Prayer Meeting for Peace, which Pope John Paul II convoked in the city made famous by St. Francis. To commemorate that event, the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, in cooperation with the Diocese of Assisi, organized a two-day meeting of leaders of various religions, whose theme is “For a World of Peace — Religions and Cultures in Dialogue.” The meeting ends Tuesday. In his message, Benedict XVI recalled that, with the Assisi meeting John Paul II “underlined the value of prayer in the building of peace.”
Of importance to build peace, the papal message acknowledges, are “ways of a cultural, political and economic character. However, in the first place, peace must be built in hearts.”


“Here is where the sentiments are developed that can encourage it or, on the contrary, threaten, weaken and suffocate it,” Benedict XVI wrote. “Man’s heart, in fact, is the place where God acts.
“Therefore, together with the ‘horizontal’ dimension of relationships with other men, of fundamental importance in this matter is the ‘vertical’ dimension of each one’s relationship with God, in whom everything finds its foundation.”
That is why, he recalled, John Paul II “appealed for an authentic prayer, which would involve the whole of existence. For this reason, he wanted it to be supported by fasting and expressed through pilgrimage, symbol of the journey to the encounter with God.” Such a prayer, “entails on our part conversion of heart,” clarified Benedict XVI. “In this way, the worshippers of the different religions were able to show, with the language of testimony, that prayer does not divide but unites, and constitutes a determinant element for an effective pedagogy of peace, based on friendship, mutual acceptance [and] dialogue between men of different cultures and religions.”
This lesson, Benedict XVI stated, is essential today, when “many young people, in areas of the world characterized by conflicts, are educated in sentiments of hatred and vengeance, in ideological contexts in which the seeds of old resentments are cultivated and spirits prepare for future violence.”
However, so as not to betray the spirit of John Paul II’s prayer convocation in Assisi for peace, it is necessary to recall the importance he gave to avoiding “syncretistic interpretations, founded on a relativist conception,” contended Benedict XVI.
According to these conceptions, in which there is no absolute truth, all religions are valid, so that no essential differences exist among one another.
No concession The Bishop of Rome clarified that interreligious prayer meetings do not seek “a religious consensus among ourselves or negotiation of our convictions of faith.” Rather, they manifest that “religions can be reconciled at the level of a common commitment in an earthly project that exceeds them all.”
Thus they are not “a concession to relativism in religious beliefs,” contended Benedict XVI. He noted that “it is a duty to avoid confusions. … When we are together to pray for peace, it is necessary that prayer be developed according to those different ways that are proper to the different religions. This was the choice made in 1986 and this choice cannot but continue to be valid also today. The convergence of diversity must not give the impression of being a concession to that relativism that denies the meaning itself of truth and the possibility to attain it.”


Benedict XVI Has Become a Franciscan


By Sandro Magister, Roma, September 11, 2006
A true Franciscan. Against all the environmentalist, pacifist, and syncretistic distortions. Rebuilding the Church was the task Jesus assigned to the saint of Assisi. The pope has made him his own, and is re-proposing him as a model for today
In the span of just a few days, Benedict XVI has turned twice to the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi. He did so on August 31, speaking to the priests of the diocese of Albano, whom he received at the pontifical residence of Castel Gandolfo. He did so on September 4, sending a message to the bishop of Assisi, Domenico Sorrentino, on the occasion of the eighth centenary of the saint’s conversion.
The pope said about Saint Francis to the priests of Albano: […]
And in the message to the bishop of Assisi, he continued his reflection as follows, taking as his point of departure the interreligious meeting for peace held by Karol Wojtyla twenty years earlier, in 1986, in the city of Saint Francis: […]

Restorations also underway for the interreligious meetings

Apart from Saint Francis, Benedict XVI’s message to the bishop of Assisi – dated September 2 and released on the 4th – also dwells upon the interreligious meeting for peace held by John Paul II in Assisi twenty years ago, on October 27, 1986.
He did this in part to dispel the “misunderstandings,” “confusion,” and “concessions” born from that meeting and its later recurrences. The latest of these meetings, organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio, was held in Assisi last September 4-5. The bishop of Assisi had invited Benedict XVI to participate. But the pope had declined: “I intend to visit the city of Saint Francis, but not on this occasion.”

Ratzinger’s reservations over the abuses connected to the interreligious meetings inaugurated by pope Wojtyla had been known for some time, and he made them explicit in this message.

But it is interesting that, in criticizing the abuses, Benedict XVI uses statements made by John Paul II himself, who was already raising his guard against concessions to syncretism and relativism
Here is the “ad hoc” passage from the message:

“In order not to misunderstand the meaning of what John Paul II wanted to accomplish in 1986, and what, in his own words, is described as the ‘spirit of Assisi’, it is important not to forget the attention that was paid at that time to prevent the interreligious prayer meeting from being subjected to syncretistic interpretations founded upon a relativistic conception.
Precisely for this reason, from the very outset John Paul II stated: ‘The fact that we have come here does not imply any intention to seek out religious consensus among ourselves, or to negotiate over the convictions of our faith. Nor does it mean that the religions can be reconciled at the level of a shared commitment to an earthly project extending over all of them. Nor is it a concession to relativism in regard to religious beliefs…’ (Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, 1986, vol. II, p.1252). I want to restate this principle, which constitutes the prerequisite for the dialogue among religions that Vatican Council II called for in the declaration on the Church’s relations with non-Christian religions (cf. “Nostra Aetate,” 2).




I gladly take this occasion to greet the representatives of the other religions who will take part in one or another of the commemorations in Assisi. As do we Christians, they also know that in prayer it is possible to have a special experience of God, and to take from this effective encouragement in the dedication to the cause of peace. It is nonetheless obligatory, even in this, to avoid inopportune confusion. For this reason, even when we gather together to pray for peace, this prayer must be carried out according to the distinct approach that is proper to each of the various religions. This was the decision in 1986, and this decision cannot but remain valid today as well. The coming together of those who are different must not give the impression of a concession to that relativism that denies the very meaning of truth and the possibility of attaining it.”


Be Firm in Your Catholic Identity, Says Pope
Reflects on Contributions of Two Apostles


Vatican City, October 11, 2006 (Zenit.org)

The path of
with other confessions

must not make us forget our Catholic identity, says Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father said this during the general audience today, attended by 35,000 people, held in St. Peter’s Square.
In his catechesis, Benedict XVI continued to meditate on the Twelve Apostles. On this occasion, he chose the figures of Simon the Cananaean and Jude called Thaddaeus, and prayed that they might “help us to rediscover always anew and to live tirelessly the beauty of the Christian faith, knowing how to give both strong and serene witness.”
Regarding Jude Thaddaeus — not Judas Iscariot — the Bishop of Rome said that the apostle is attributed the authorship of one of the letters of the New Testament called “‘catholic,’ inasmuch as they were addressed to a very large circle of recipients.” “Central concern of this writing is to put Christians on guard from all those who give as pretext the grace of God to excuse their own licentiousness and to lead astray other brothers with unacceptable teachings, introducing divisions within the Church, ‘under the influence of their dreams,'” the Pope added. St. Jude compares them to “fallen angels, and with strong words says ‘they followed the path of Cain,'” the Holy Father said.
The Apostle called them “clouds without rain blown away by the wind, or trees at the end of the season without fruits, twice dead, uprooted,” which is why they are cut down, said the Pontiff.
Identity Benedict XVI continued: “Today we are no longer in the habit of using such controversial language, which nevertheless tells us something important: That in all the existing temptations, with all the currents of modern life, we must preserve the identity of our faith.”
It is true, that “the path of indulgence and dialogue, must be continued with firm constancy,” but “this path of dialogue, so necessary, must not make us forget the duty to rethink and to witness always with as much force the guidelines of our Christian identity that cannot be given up,” said the Holy Father. At the end of the audience, the Pontiff blessed the statue of St. Edith Stein (1891-1942), co-patron of Europe, to be placed in an exterior niche of St. Peter’s Basilica.


A Guide in an Age of Religious Pluralism –
Interview With Father José Galindo Rodrigo


Valencia, Spain, October. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org)

Christianity does not belong to Christians, but rather is the property of Christ, “who wills to save everyone,” says the author of a book on religious pluralism.
Father José Galindo Rodrigo, an Augustinian Recollect, wrote “The Powerful Saving Force of Christ: A Guide for Christians Given the Present Religious Pluralism,” published by the Trinitarian Secretariat of Salamanca.
The priest, who teaches theological anthropology at the University of Valencia, shared some of his insights with ZENIT.

Q: Does present-day religious pluralism blur the saving power of Christ?
Father Galindo: Present-day religious pluralism exactly as it is often conceived, indeed blurs the saving power of Christ. If one thinks that all religions save, then Christ is diminished. But to equate, when things are not equal, is an injustice and an error.

Other religions are also God’s instruments of salvation. How are they reconciled with Jesus Christ, sole personal cause of salvation of the whole of humanity?
Father Galindo: Other religions are also God’s instruments of salvation, because having truths and values, according to several documents of the Church, they can serve, and in fact serve so that God can save faithful of those religions though always through the merits of Christ, who is the only Savior of all. The founders of the great religions are teachers, and in a certain measure, models for humanity — Lao-tzu, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, etc. But solely and exclusively,
Christ, in addition to supreme teacher and perfect model, is the savior of the whole of humanity in general and of each and all human beings in particular.
Religions, no matter which they are, and Christ are not on the same plane. Religions, including the Christian, are means or instruments, whereas Christ is the personal cause of salvation. It is the individual, the person whom he saves — salvation is the action of a personal being — making use of those means or instruments which religions are. The one who saves is unique, Christ, while the means of which he makes us, some better than others, can be and are several and different, and the different religions are these means. Both truths are reconciled if we speak of religions and of Christ with precision.


Religions don’t save — none of them — but rather are instruments of which the only personal agent, Christ, makes use to save. However, it is not correct either to say that religions are foreign to the event of the salvation of human beings, as they are means or instruments of it, given their truths and values.

An equalitarian religious pluralism — “All religions are valid” — is as dangerous as an absolute exclusivity — “Only Christianity is right and other religions don’t contribute anything.” How do you think a balance can be found?
Father Galindo:
An equalitarian or undifferentiated pluralism is erroneous, as
it is obvious that not all religions are equal. Moreover, this would imply falling into the error that Christ, being the Son of God, has not founded a religion that is superior to the others, which implies that Christ either was not serious in founding Christianity or that he is not God. The former is absurd, while the latter is a heresy for a Christian.
Absolutism is not correct either in affirming that only Christianity is right, because the great religions coincide in some things — truths and values — with Christianity. …

Q: Might the new name of “interreligious dialogue” be to consider other religions as “valid” in promoting values?
Father Galindo: As Benedict XVI is highlighting, and John Paul II also did, religions must be allies in many important things for the good of humanity. In time, I hope that Christ will be ever more known by very many people who will end by being better followers of his then those of us who now say we are Christians.


Now, this is a very remarkable interview. To underline the purpose of this compilation, I reproduce some key phrases of Fr. Galindo:

1. Christianity is unique. All religions do not “save” the way Christianity does, and all religions are not equal.

If one thinks that all religions save, then Christ is diminished. But to equate, when things are not equal, is an injustice and an error… An equalitarian or undifferentiated pluralism is erroneous, as
it is obvious that not all religions are equal.

2. Christ is unique. The human founders of other religions cannot be equated with Christ.

Religions, no matter which they are, and Christ are not on the same plane.


The Ecumenical Adventure
Interview with Expert on Interreligious Affairs


Washington, D.C., February 23, 2007 (Zenit.org)

Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue doesn’t mean that Catholics have to compromise their beliefs, actually, quite the opposite is true, says Father James Massa, the executive director of the U.S. episcopal conference’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

In this interview with ZENIT, he discusses the particular challenges and benefits of ecumenical dialogue in the United States. […]
Q: On January 30, Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, met with U.S. ecumenists in Virginia. He said one of the main challenges in ecumenism is getting to the local level and making the spirit of ecumenism form part of the daily life of pastors and faithful, something he referred to as “reception.” Could you explain more of what that is?
Father Massa: The last 40 years, since the Second Vatican Council, have produced an abundance of ecumenical statements that are the fruit of the Catholic Church’s bilateral and multilateral dialogues with our partners in the Orthodox Churches and in the ecclesial communities of the 16th century Reformation.
Many Catholics and other Christians have scarcely any awareness of the progress that has been made in these dialogues, which have sought to resolve doctrinal disputes and to find new ways of expressing in common our faith in Jesus Christ. Ecumenism must be about more than issuing statements; it must be lived at the local level where Catholics and other Christians gather for worship and witness to the Gospel.
Q: Benedict XVI said in his Angelus address January 21: “I hope that the longing for unity … will spread ever more at the level of parishes….” What do the U.S. bishops recommend to their priests so that this longing for unity can be nurtured?
Father Massa: Pope John Paul II has called spiritual ecumenism “the soul of the ecumenical movement.” The Catholic faithful and their pastors have ample opportunities to engage the multivalent tasks of spiritual ecumenism. I would name three key areas: prayer, study and witness to justice.
As for prayer, we should keep in mind what the John Paul II said in his magnificent 1995 encyclical, “Ut unum sint,” no. 22: “If Christians, despite their divisions, can grow ever more united in common prayer around Christ, they will grow in the awareness of how little divides them in comparison to what unites them.
“If they meet more often and more regularly before Christ in prayer, they will be able to gain the courage to face all the painful human reality of their divisions, and they will find themselves together once more in that community of the Church which Christ constantly builds up in the Holy Spirit, in spite of all weaknesses and human limitations.”
Then there is dialogue, which requires that all the participants be knowledgeable and fully committed to the tenets of their own religious tradition. If the Catholic participant is conflicted about this or that particular teaching of the Catholic Church, then he or she is not an adequate representative of the tradition. Dialogue becomes a farce. I have been in attendance at such meetings, and they are not terribly edifying.


I keep in mind no. 36 of the John Paul II’s encyclical: “With regard to the study of areas of disagreement, the council requires that the whole body of doctrine be clearly presented. At the same time, it asks that the manner and method of expounding the Catholic faith should not be a hindrance to dialogue with our brothers and sisters. “Certainly it is possible to profess one’s faith and to explain its teaching in a way that is correct, fair and understandable, and which at the same time takes into account both the way of thinking and the actual historical experiences of the other party.”
Finally, there is the work of justice.
As followers of Christ, we must defend the dignity of every human being who has been “remade in the image of Christ” irrespective of that person’s race, ethnicity, religious convictions, or way of life. Once again I draw on “Ut unum sint,” no. 74: “Social and cultural life offers ample opportunities for ecumenical cooperation. With increasing frequency Christians are working together to defend human dignity, to promote peace, to apply the Gospel to social life, to bring the Christian spirit to the world of science and of the arts. They find themselves ever more united in striving to meet the sufferings and the needs of our time: hunger, natural disasters and social injustice.”
Q: During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke at a press conference regarding division in the Anglican church over ordaining women and homosexuals as bishops. This debate was sparked by moves made by the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion. Cardinal Kasper mentioned that the U.S. bishops maintain contact with the U.S. branch of the Anglicans. How is that going? How are these conflicts affecting ecumenical dialogue?
Father Massa: Well, as you can imagine, the problems facing the dialogue with the Episcopal Church in the United States are formidable. As Cardinal Kasper has indicated, we are perhaps further apart from the Anglican Communion than we were at the onset of the journey of reconciliation that began in 1966 with the famous visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury to Pope Paul VI.
It is not only sad, but quite baffling, that the Anglicans have chosen to move in this direction of ordaining openly gay bishops even if this means the dissolution of their own communion. What happened this very week [Feb. 12-19] in Dar Salam in Africa, with the meeting of the Anglican primates, may produce that very result of tragic fragmentation. Yet, the dialogue continues because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I have heard the argument that the greater the divide, the more reason for dialogue. Perhaps there is some truth in this statement. I would very much like to see the dialogue between the U.S. Episcopal Church and the U.S. conference of Catholic bishops take up some of the foundational
issues in moral theology that lead us to taking such divergent positions on matters of human sexuality and the sanctity of life.
Q: This year the idea of “spiritual ecumenism” was often mentioned in Rome during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Given the Protestant roots of the United States and the prevailing Protestant Christian culture, do you think that the United States has a special role to play in ecumenism, perhaps especially in this “spiritual ecumenism”?
Father Massa: Yes. Let me just mention that at the National Workshop on Christian Unity here in Arlington, Virginia, our office sold over a hundred copies of Cardinal Kasper’s new text, “Handbook on Spiritual Ecumenism.” I recommend that book highly to all of our priests, deacons, and religious educators here in the United States.
Q: Is apologetics a key element of ecumenism? Do Catholics have to be better formed in their own faith before engaging in ecumenical dialogue with Protestants? Or does ecumenism come “from the top down,” for example, through agreements made among Church leaders like the document on justification signed some years ago by Lutherans and Catholics?
Father Massa: That’s a very interesting question. Let me refer you to my answer to the second question. I would also say, however, that while being informed about and committed to one’s own faith is essential for participation in ecumenical work, apologetics is not the same as ecumenical dialogue.
If the Catholic’s contribution were to be cast in overly polemical terms, then the dialogue breaks down. John Paul II said that ecumenism is about “the sharing of gifts,” and unless we are prepared to receive a “gift” from the other-whatever that might be — we are not suited for this type of engagement.
How does the growing popularity of New Age-related practices or spiritualities — things like yoga, transcendental meditation, etc. — affect the ecumenical movement? Do these trends unite Christians to defend common beliefs?
Father Massa: I think that Evangelical Christians and Catholics might have the strongest reaction to what might be called “syncretism” in this regard. I would be hesitant to lump all forms of Eastern meditation with the New Age movement.
Through interreligious dialogue with the ancient religions of Asia, we as Catholics have encountered spiritual practices that merit our respect and interest. As with everything, the standard by which we Catholics discern the value and truthfulness of these religious practices is Christ and his teaching Church. If we stand on the ground of Catholic orthodoxy, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue can be an adventure worth pursuing.


Germany: Cologne Cardinal’s directive stirs inter-faith dialog debate


By Dagmar Breitenbach, December 9, 2006
A directive by Cologne’s Roman Catholic Cardinal Joachim Meisner for Catholic school teachers in the region to stop participating in multi-religious events has triggered a heated debate on religious dialog in Germany.

While German politicians across party lines have criticized the cardinal, the North Rhine-Westphalia education ministry has said it respects the directive, pointing out that multi-religious events are always a voluntary part of the school year. Religious education is a part of the German school curriculum.



However, Lale Akgün, the Social Democratic parliamentary group’s Islam commissioner, has called on all teachers to ignore Meisner’s directive, saying it comes as a slap in the face to all those who are working for integration and who are trying to create a dialog between the religions.

Akgün pointed to Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Turkey, where, she said, the pontiff presented himself as a builder of bridges and made a huge effort toward better understanding between Christianity and Islam. Meisner, the German politician warned, is thwarting the signals the pope sent in Turkey.

Mounir Azzaoui, spokesman for the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said the council is opposed to mixing Christian and Muslim religious services, but that “We don’t believe all inter-religious events should be banned.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany also reacted to the cardinal’s remarks. Spokesman Michael Fürst told German television that it wasn’t easy for Jews to pray with Christians either. “We pray to one God,” Fürst said, “but we don’t pray to the holy trinity … there are differences in opinion.”

And these differences between the religions should not be blurred, Cologne’s Vicar-General Dominik Schwaderlapp said in Meisner’s defense on Thursday. He said the Catholic Church is open to encounters with other religions, but not to holding joint religious services in schools.

Green party politician Reiner Priggen called on Cardinal Meisner to go ahead and throw out the Shrine of the Three Kings, a reliquary said to hold some of the remains of the Three Wise Men which is housed in Cologne Cathedral. The Three Magi are believed to have been Persian astrologers.

In a newspaper editorial Friday, Cologne’s Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger commented that Cardinal Meisner deals with Christianity like a landlord who bolts the door as soon as the bell rings — without first checking who’s outside.


Benedict XVI Warns of SyncretismDialogue Doesn’t Imply All Religions Are Same, He Says


Vatican City, March 30, 2007 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI says that dialogue between cultures and religions is fundamental, but it must not fall into syncretism, which puts every sort of belief on the same level.

Lasting peace and development depend on this, he said today in an audience with the new Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, Tetiana Izhevska. The Holy Father stated: “In our world, evermore conditioned by the urgencies of globalization, a deep and demanding dialogue is necessary between cultures and religions. But this is not to diminish them with an impoverishing syncretism; rather, it is to enable them to develop in a climate of reciprocal respect so that each one works, according to its own charism, for the common good. This perspective surely will permit the lessening of ever possible causes of tension and disagreements between groups or nations, and guarantee for all the conditions of lasting peace and development.”


Holy See Says Interreligious Dialogue a Must

Paris, May 4, 2007 (Zenit.org)

The Holy See told a UNESCO conference that interreligious dialogue is a basic need for promoting peace in the world. Monsignor Francesco Follo, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said this on April 24 at the conference. The Vatican press office released the text of his discourse, in French, on Thursday. “In a world exposed to conflicts that run the risk of provoking acts of violence, the exchanges between cultures offer the possibility, more than ever, for meeting, dialogue and peace,” Monsignor Follo said.
Citing Benedict XVI’s Aug. 20, 2005, address in Cologne, he added: “Intercultural and interreligious dialogue is a basic need.” “We must recognize,” Monsignor Follo added, that “religions have unfortunately been factors of violence in human history and this situation risks repeating itself in new ways.” Therefore, “it is necessary to underline that religions have contributed, and still can, to favoring social unity, reconciliation and peace,” he asserted.
The Vatican representative explained that dialogue does not imply “undervaluing the differences among world religions,” because they can “offer a great contribution in promoting cultural exchanges that, without hiding their differences, can serve to further justice and peace.”


Benedict u-turns on inter-religious dialogue


May 28, 2007
A year after Pope Benedict merged it into the Vatican Council for Culture, Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has announced that the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue will be restored in its own right.
Last year, Pope Benedict merged the department with the Vatican’s culture ministry and removed its president, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, News.com.au reports. Fitzgerald, a Briton who is one of the Catholic Church’s most experienced figures in dialogue with Islam, was sent to Cairo in what was widely seen as a demotion. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told Italian daily, La Stampa, that the council would now be reinstated as a department in its own right.
“The change highlights the importance of inter-religious dialogue,” he said.
It is rare for the Vatican to reverse its decisions, and even rarer for it to do so in such a short period of time.
SOURCE Vatican reaches out to Islam (News, 27/5/07)



Benedict XVI Praises Bishops’ DialogueSays Christians in North Africa Key for Cultural Exchange

Vatican City, June 12, 2007 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI says there is an absolute need for dialogue between religions and cultures and expressed his joy that this interchange is part of daily life for North African bishops. The Pope received the bishops of the regional conference of Northern Africa, comprising Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, at the end of their five-yearly visit on Saturday. In these countries, small Catholic communities live amid a majority of Muslim faithful.
The Holy Father told the prelates: “We have an absolute need for an authentic dialogue between religions and cultures — a dialogue capable of helping us to jointly overcome all tensions with a spirit of fruitful understanding.”
The Pontiff expressed his joy upon hearing “that through initiatives aimed at dialogue and meeting places, such as study centers and libraries,” the North African bishops are “decisively committed to the development and deepening of relation ships of esteem and respect between Christians and Muslims, which promote reconciliation, justice and peace.” “Through the sharing of everyday life, Christians and Muslims can find the basis for a better mutual knowledge,” he affirmed.
Authentic solidarity Benedict XVI continued: “Through a fraternal participation in each other’s joys and sorrows, particularly in the most important moments of life, and also through multiple collaborative efforts in the fields of health, education, culture and service to the poor, you show an authentic solidarity that strengthens the bonds of trust and friendship among individuals, families and communities.”
The Holy Father presented North African Catholics with the example of Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), who was slain in the Sahara and whose charism has inspired 10 religious congregations and eight associations for apostolic life.
The Pope urged: “May Christians in your countries be faithful witnesses to the universal fraternity that Christ has taught his disciples!”


Pope names French Vatican official to head interreligious council


By John Thavis, Vatican City, June 26, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI named a French cardinal with extensive diplomatic experience as the Vatican’s new coordinator of interreligious dialogue.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, 64, will become president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican’s main liaison agency with Islam, Sept. 1.
Cardinal Tauran, a 28-year veteran of the Vatican’s diplomatic service, is known as a savvy and sometimes outspoken specialist in international affairs. For 13 years, he was Pope John Paul II’s “foreign minister,” the official who dealt with all aspects of the Vatican’s foreign policy.
Pope Benedict announced the appointment during a June 25 visit to the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archives, two institutions Cardinal Tauran has headed since 2003.
In his new role, the cardinal will be responsible for overseeing the Vatican’s dialogue efforts with representatives of other faiths, including Muslims.
Last year the pope placed the interreligious council under the wing of the Pontifical Council for Culture, leading to speculation that he intended to downgrade the Vatican’s interfaith efforts.
By placing Cardinal Tauran in charge of the dialogue council, the pope has instead raised its profile.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Tauran said he considered his appointment “a sign of the importance Pope Benedict gives to dialogue between religions, in particular with Islam.”
“Therefore, he wanted the council to recuperate its autonomy in order to be a more effective instrument in the service of this dialogue,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Tauran said he thought the controversy in 2006 over the pope’s lecture in Regensburg, Germany, had a “decisive influence” on the pope’s decision to restore autonomy to the council. The pope’s remarks on Islam in that speech prompted negative reaction across the Muslim world but were followed by important bridge-building encounters with Muslim leaders.
Cardinal Tauran said his diplomatic experience, including knowledge of the Middle East and the Arab world, was also an important factor in his appointment.
Although most of his diplomatic work was behind the scenes, Cardinal Tauran is perhaps best remembered in the United States for his pointed criticism of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. During the buildup to the invasion, the cardinal criticized the concept of preventive war and said a unilateral war against Iraq would be a “crime against peace.”
Over the years, Cardinal Tauran was called upon many times to spell out the Vatican’s position on the Holy Land, which is home to Christians, Muslims and Jews. In 1998, he miffed Israeli leaders when he said Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem was illegal and a matter of “manifest international injustice.”
More recently, in 2004, Cardinal Tauran addressed a conference on Muslim-Christian dialogue in Qatar. He told participants that political leaders have nothing to fear from true religious believers.
“Believers who are recognized and respected for who they are will be more inclined to work together for a society of which they are full members,” he said.
Born in Bordeaux, France, April 5, 1943, the cardinal was ordained in 1969 and in 1975 entered the Vatican’s diplomatic service. He worked in apostolic nunciatures in the Dominican Republic and Lebanon from 1975 to 1983, then was called to work in the Secretariat of State.


He was a representative to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe from 1983 to 1988, pressing the Vatican’s position on human rights at a time when the Soviet-bloc regimes of Eastern Europe were weakening. He was named undersecretary for relations with states in 1988 and became secretary of the department in 1990.
Pope John Paul II ordained him an archbishop in January 1991 and named him a cardinal in 2003.
Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald headed the interreligious council until February 2006, when Pope Benedict made him apostolic nuncio to Egypt. At that time, the pope asked French Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, to do double duty as head of the interreligious council.
Cardinal Poupard, who turns 77 in August, is expected to retire soon.
LINKS Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Vatican.va)

Spirit of Assisi Is Not Syncretism, Affirms PopeSays It Is “Evangelical” to Unite Acceptance and Faith

Assisi, Italy, June 18, 2007 (zenit.org)

Benedict XVI clarified that the spirit of peace among religions promoted by St. Francis and Pope John Paul II is not religious syncretism. This was one of the main messages during the German Pope’s pilgrimage on Sunday to the city of the saint. The pilgrimage marked the 800th anniversary of Francis’ conversion.
“I cannot forget, in the context of today’s celebration, the initiative of my predecessor of holy memory, John Paul II, who in 1986, brought together here the representatives of the Christian churches and other religions of the world, for a meeting of prayer for peace,” said Benedict XVI at the end of his homily during the Mass celebrated in the lower square outside the Basilica of St. Francis.
He continued: “It was a prophetic intuition and a moment of grace, as I mentioned a few months ago in my letter to the bishop of this city on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of that event.
“The decision to celebrate that meeting in Assisi was inspired by the witness of Francis as a man of peace, who is looked upon with admiration, even by those of other cultures and religions.
“At the same time, the light of the poor man of Assisi which shone upon that event was a guarantee of its Christian authenticity, given that his life and his message clearly show his choice for Christ, refuting a priori any temptation to religious indifference, which has nothing to do with authentic interreligious dialogue.”
Benedict XVI said that the “spirit of Assisi” continues to spread throughout the world since the 1986 event. He called it a spirit “in opposition to the spirit of violence, the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence.”
The Pope added: “Assisi tells us that faithfulness to one’s own religious conviction, faithfulness above all to Christ crucified and risen, is not expressed in violence and intolerance, but in sincere respect for the other, in dialogue, in a message that calls out for freedom and reason, in working for peace and for reconciliation.
“It would not be evangelical, nor Franciscan, to be unable to unite acceptance, dialogue and respect for all with the certainty of faith which each Christian, like the saint of Assisi, is called to cultivate, proclaiming Christ as the way, truth and life of mankind, the one and only savior of the world.”


Interreligious Dialogue Continues As Vatican Restores Dialogue Office


NEW DELHI (UCAN) July 12, 2007

During the 15-month period when the Vatican’s office for interreligious dialogue lost and then regained its independent status, Church groups in India never ceased reaching out to people of other faiths.

On June 26, Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, thereby reversing a decision he made on March 11, 2006, to merge the council with the Pontifical Council for Culture, under the presidency of the latter.

All the while, Indian Church initiatives for interreligious dialogue carried on a process the Catholic Church in India inaugurated after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). A permanent commission for interreligious dialogue that the Indian bishops set up in 1973 still conducts seminars and workshops all year long to help religions understand and appreciate each other.

Father M.D. Thomas,
the commission secretary, recently told UCA News that its journal Fellowship has more than 9,000 subscribers of various religions.

The dialogue intensifies at the grassroots, as shown by some seminarians in Goa, western India, who have organized regular interreligious dialogues for the past five years.

Father Seby Mascarenhas, rector of
Pilar Major Seminary, told UCA News that his fourth-year theology students visit 10 colleges in the state and invite people of other religions to explain their religious tenets.
Father Ivan Almeida, who leads the seminarians, added that people attending such sessions do not pray to any specific God, but “if needed, names of all gods are used.”

To the north, Bombay archdiocese’s interreligious commission organizes regular meetings with leaders of other religions. Father S. M. Michael, the archdiocesan commission secretary, told UCA News this helps maintain goodwill.

The Divine Word priest said other religious leaders claim that all religions are the same, but he insists they differ. To make dialogue meaningful, he said he wants the dialogue to address each religion’s distinguishing tenets.

Vasai*, a suffragan diocese within the Church province led by Bombay archdiocese, has set up committees with members from various religions.



Father Michael Rosario, head of Vasai diocese’s interreligious dialogue commission, told UCA News the committees have fostered “good relations” among Christians, Hindus and Muslims, and spared the region from sectarian violence.

Good interreligious relations have grown in eastern India’s Bihar state, where a Church-inspired interfaith forum has been active since 1998. It is based at Bodh Gaya, 1,030 kilometers southeast of New Delhi, where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The forum was established with the Dalai Lama as patron and local leaders of various religions as members.

One member, Jesuit
Father Jose Kariakatt, told UCA News that associating with the Dalai Lama has made the forum “really viable and widely embracing.” The Tibetan spiritual leader has attended some of its programs and funds its activities. Such interest from the Dalai Lama has made the forum “one of the most respectable organizations here,” said the Jesuit, who heads the dialogue center called
Jeevan Sangam (confluence of life).

Venerable Priyapal, a Buddhist monk who is vice president of the forum, pointed out to UCA News that local religious leaders seldom interacted before the forum began. The inspiration came from Jesuit priests, he said.

The monk admitted that many of his confreres had been skeptical when the Jesuits opened Jeevan Sangam, but now Buddhist monks from overseas appreciate the forum and promise to set up similar groups in their countries.

An all-religion peace festival, first organized by Franciscan-run Assisi Shanti Kendra (peace center) in 2002, is now an annual event in Karukutty, a village in Kerala, southern India. The one-day program, which promotes peace, justice and harmony, allows people of various religions to pray and celebrate together, Franciscan Father Leo Payyappilly explained to UCA News.

For the past three decades, a Jesuit center in Bangalore, capital of neighboring Karnataka state, has gathered people on the second and last Sunday of each month for sharings. About 100 Christians, Hindus, Jains, Muslims and Sikhs people normally attend the meeting that Ashirvad (blessing) organizes. The program includes interreligious praying and discussion on various topics.

A Carmelite theological college in the same city recently opened a department to conduct research on interreligious dialogue and now offers master’s degrees in religious studies.

Mangalore diocese in Karnataka state has opened interreligious dialogue units in its schools, to help teachers and students learn about various religions and appreciate them. Father John Fernandes, who launched the units, explained to UCA News that “harmony has to grow as a culture and get integrated in people’s life.” In his view, dialogue never threatens others, but only helps people understand and cooperate with one other.


Interreligious dialogue is big business in the Indian Church, mostly led by the Jesuits as Cardinal Ivan Dias is greatly concerned about, see page 15. In the latter part of this file as well as in its sequel 02 we will see exactly what goes on in the interreligious dialogue engaged in by the Indian Church.

*We have seen the result of interreligious dialogue in Vasai, pages 4 ff.


Cardinal Poupard Links Culture and Religion
– Says Pope a Key Player in Both Kinds of Dialogue

Aranjuez, Spain, July 26, 2007 (Zenit.org)

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue are linked, and Benedict XVI has been a key figure in both, says Cardinal Paul Poupard. The president of the Pontifical Council of Culture said this on Tuesday when speaking on “Benedict XVI and Dialogue Between Cultures and Religions” at a summer course on the thought of the Pope organized by the King Juan Carlos University Foundation. Cardinal Poupard, formerly the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue as well, reflected on the importance of culture as a crossroads between religions. He then detailed the way in which the Pope, both now and as a cardinal, showed the essential continuity between interreligious dialogue and intercultural dialogue.
Cardinal Poupard showed the original input of the Holy Father in bringing about a more intense encounter and dialogue between people of culture and representatives of various religions. He contended that it is possible — despite apparent antagonism and the challenge of religious pluralism — to arrive to common ground on questions like “the global sense of one’s existence” and the “dynamics of moving past the material to the beyond.”
The relation with the transcendent is a common patrimony for all cultures and religions, the 76-year-old cardinal affirmed.
“There cannot be authentic interreligious dialogue if it is not founded on culture, and vice versa, every instance of intercultural dialogue is, in the end, dialogue about the great religious questions,” the cardinal said.
He emphasized that the Holy Father has been key in leading to a focus on what is universal to all religions, for example, “human rights, and especially, the freedom of faith and being able to profess it.”


Benedict XVI: Have Confidence in the TruthSays Proclaiming Faith Isn’t Arrogance

Mariazell, Austria, September 9, 2007 (Zenit.org)

The origin of the current crisis of the West is a loss of confidence in the truth, says Benedict XVI. The Pope said this Saturday during the open-air Mass he presided over at the Marian shrine of Mariazell in Austria, which commemorated the 850th anniversary of the founding of the pilgrimage site.



In his homily, the Holy Father told the tens of thousands who participated in the Mass near the shrine’s basilica that Jesus alone “is the bridge
that truly brings God and man together … the one universal mediator of salvation, valid for everyone and, ultimately, needed by everyone.” Saying this, the Pontiff explained, “does not mean that we despise other religions, nor are we arrogantly absolutizing our own ideas.”
Proclaiming the Christian faith, he added, means only that we are “gripped by him who has touched our hearts and lavished gifts upon us, so that we, in turn, can offer gifts to others.” “In fact,” Benedict XVI said, “our faith is decisively opposed to the attitude of resignation that considers man incapable of truth as if this were more than he could cope with.”
The Bishop of Rome expressed his conviction that an “attitude of resignation with regard to truth” is “at the heart of the crisis of the West, the crisis of Europe.”
The Pope continued: “If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil.
“And then the great and wonderful discoveries of science become double-edged: They can open up significant possibilities for good, for the benefit of mankind, but also, as we see only too clearly, they can pose a terrible threat, involving the destruction of man and the world.
“We need truth,” said the Holy Father. “Yet admittedly, in the light of our history we are fearful that faith in the truth might entail intolerance. “If we are gripped by this fear, which is historically well-grounded, then it is time to look toward Jesus as we see him in the shrine at Mariazell. We see him here in two images: as the child in his mother’s arms, and above the high altar of the basilica as the Crucified.”
Contemplating him, said Benedict XVI, we can see that “truth prevails not through external force, but it is humble and it yields itself to man only via the inner force of its veracity. Truth proves itself in love.
“We need this inner force of truth. As Christians we trust this force of truth. We are its witnesses.”
The lack of confidence in truth likewise implies a lack of confidence in the future, a sentiment that, according to the Pope, explains the demographic winter of the old Continent. […]

Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly appeals to dialogue with other faiths to be conducted in truth, which for Catholics means that believing in Jesus, they present Him to the religions of the world.


The way to dialog is through truth, charity and freedom

By Giampaolo Mattei, L’Osservatore Romano, November 8, 2007
Interview with Archbishop Angelo Amado, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
“Dialogue is not an absolute that can take the place of truth and the announcement of Christ. To be faithful to one’s religious identity is the best passport for entering the religious territory of others and to dialog“, using Catholicism’s spiritual ‘weapons’ and its own modalities.
Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reaffirmed the coordinates for bearing witness to Christ in today’s world, in a society which, as he says, presents itself paradoxically as both post-modern and multi-religious.
In proclaiming Christ, he believes, there is no place for syncretism or a so-called ‘religious UN’. He further said that no one can be a ‘dilettante’ in the ecumenical or inter-religious dialog or when addressing non-believers. Amato expressed these views in an address Tuesday to the 47th General Assembly of Italian Superiors-General underway in Castellaro (Imperia province). Archbishop Amato then gave the following interview to Osservatore Romano:
L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO: In a pluri-religious society, how does one bear witness to Christ as the only Savior of the world?
ARCHBISHOP AMATO: On the one hand, the weak thought prevails that everything is relative and therefore, there is no one truth about anything but rather many opinions that are more or less plausible. This results in religious agnosticism and ethical relativism, which do not allow reference to moral norms shared and written in the heart of every human being. The consequence is that usually, anything legal is considered ethical, like divorce or abortion.
On the other hand, in today’s multi-religious society, we have the strong views promoted more than ever by the different religious convictions – Christians refer to the Gospel, and non-Christians to their sacred texts and beliefs. Christian witness today should be seen and understood not only the nihilist and the post-modern relativist, but also by those who do not know or do not share or directly oppose both the Catholic vision of the faith or the Christian faith in general.
Catholics, through the Magisterium, have a clear orientation for a strong identity. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is most useful in this respect. One cannot minimize this question of identity, otherwise we would lose the very sense of having dialogue with other religions.

L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO: What does it mean to bear witness to Christ?
ARCHBISHOP AMATO: It means harmony between word and truth, to the point of placing one’s own life in play in order to remain faithful to the truth. Bearing such witness for Christ was the primary activity of the Apostles after the Resurrection. Apostolic testimony is a confession of faith and personal involvement. The Apostles were not communicating an ideology, but bearing witness to a Person – Jesus, their Savior.
Think of all the martyrs, including the contemporary ones. A testimony given with one’s life becomes a reason for credibility and for attracting those who live outside the Church. Such testimony works discreetly but exercises an undeniable fascination. It draws attention to itself without violence. To contemporary man – who is technologically wealthy but morally fragile and confused – a credible witness comes across as a person with a strong Christian identity who lives his faith well and emanates serenity, peace, joy, understanding and mercy.


L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO: Does the ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue have special characteristics?
In the ecumenical field, there is a double-sided dialogue: one of charity and one of truth. The first consists of recognition, communication, respect, friendship, reciprocal welcome, and overcoming reciprocal prejudices with cultural, psychological and historical origins. But the dialogue of truth cannot be generic – it has to be bilateral [with one confession at a time] and carried out attentively and carefully by specialists.
Inter-religious dialogue is very different because it is based on the fact that all believers belong to a common humanity and that the believer is open to the ascetic and spiritual dimensions of being. But here, too, one must distinguish between the dialogue of charity and the dialogue of truth.

Inter-religious dialogue – whose aim is peace among peoples – cannot and should not exclude conversion to the truth and therefore to the Christian faith, while fully respecting the freedom and dignity of every individual.

Paradoxically, however, according to a certain universal theology among religions – and even in a certain pastoral praxis – inter-religious dialogue, unlike ecumenical dialogue, seems to have arrived at a terminal station, with the peremptory statement that all religions are similar ways to salvation.

L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO: And so we are facing the great task of the ‘missio ad gentes’ as it was yesterday and as it should be today and tomorrow.
ARCHBISHOP AMATO: Certainly. The evangelizing mission of the Church remains intact. It is not absolutist and fundamentalist preaching, but a respect for the truth of the redeeming mystery of Christ and obedience to his command to announce the Gospel to all creatures and bear witness to it.


Equality, as an indispensable condition for dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the participants, not to the quality of what they say.


The Christian engaged in dialogue cannot hide or keep quiet about the truth of his faith based on the mystery of Christ.

L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO: But there are schools of thought that believe human cooperation is all we need, without inviting to conversion.
ARCHBISHOP AMATO: It’s true. Not a few today think that the missio ad gentes is a sort of deception towards other religions and therefore, they do not believe that Christ’s missionary command is practicable any more. But the example of St. Francis is always valid. One can never dissociate freedom from truth. The fact that there are different religious propositions does not mean that de jure, all are equally true. Of course, the truth of the Christian revelation received with faith cannot be imposed by force, but only in freedom and absolute respect of individual conscience. But one cannot prejudicially prevent a Christian from testifying to his faith, to explain it and offer it with charity and freedom to his neighbor. It is a legitimate offer, and a true service that a Christian can do for his neighbor.

On this anthropological basis, then, the ‘missio ad gentes’ responds not only to a right understanding of the nature of inter-religious dialogue, but also to a correct understanding of individual freedom and respect for others.
Evangelization is an opportunity for the non-Christian to learn and to open himself freely to the truth of Christ and his Gospel. This has been the attitude of the Church since the first Pentecost.
L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO: You spoke about these to the assembly of the superiors general. What are the prospects for the consecrated life?
ARCHBISHOP AMATO: Consecrated life is one of the oldest interpretations of ‘sequela Christi’ (following Christ) in history. Notwithstanding a culture that is postmodern, indifferent and nihilist, which denies certainties and truth, the consecrated life – especially in Europe – can be compared to a forest where, next to dying plants, there are young new trees which flourish to take their place. It is the parable of life itself, which has its seasons that come and go and then return.
And so, I don’t propose so much lamenting the aging clergy or the lack of vocations as much as the certainty that Jesus continues to call on the young people around the world to follow him.

Let the spirit of Regensburg enter inter-faith dialogue, says Mgr Dabre

By Nirmala Carvalho November 21, 2007
The bishop of Vasai, who yesterday was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious by Benedict XVI, talks to AsiaNews about the importance of the Pope’s Regensburg ‘lectio’ in which he laid down the bases for a true and fruitful dialogue between religions. This is especially fundamental in Asia where 95 per cent of the people are not Christian.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Inter-faith dialogue “has to be an urgent priority for the Church,” above all “since the Second Vatican Council earnest efforts have been made by the Episcopal conferences.” This is true especially in Asia where 95 per cent of the population is not Christian, but where the “Church plays a fundamental role in the areas of health care and education,” said Mgr Thomas Dabre*, bishop of Vasai, who yesterday was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious by Benedict XVI.


Speaking to AsiaNews, Bishop Dabre said that the Pope made it a “key principle of his pontificate” as clearly demonstrated in his famous ‘lectio magistralis’ in Regensburg. His “speech was a clarion call for dialogue between religions and faith on the one hand and reason and science on the other.”
For the Pope, “Western intellectuals [. . .] should be open to other civilizations and the societies who believe in God.” In turn, “[r]eligion must be open to reason and reason must be open to faith. Religion must be reasonable and reason must be open to faith.”
Instead, “[s]ome in the West have exclusively emphasised the role of reason, science and technology neglecting the positive contribution that religions and faith can make to humanity. In fact [in his Regensburg speech] the Pope was telling Western intellectuals that they should be open to other civilisations and the societies who believe in God.”
Benedict XVI described religion as “a fundamental ingredient for dialogue in which faith is open to science and science to faith. Unfortunately some did not correctly understand the intention of the author (the Pope) and its great meaning.”
Yet, the Pope’s visit to Turkey was proof of its effectiveness. A pontiff visited a Muslim place of worship in “a spirit of openness and respect” with positive results.
Interfaith dialogue is very important from the perspective of globalisation since it places all confessions on a same level with the same challenges like materialism, “hedonism, profit making and earthly prosperity. The needs of the soul are not in focus in the globalisation of today” and this harms everyone. “Religions can work together to solve these problems which often cause violence and tensions.”
Lastly according to Bishop Dabre, to live in peace we are called to collaborate and engage in dialogue. “A spiritual guide, of whatever religion, must understand the value of introspection, ask questions and offer answers. Only this way can we reach true peace, which rests on recognising that God is the author of man’s dignity.”

*Once again scroll back to pages 4, 5 to recall what took place during Bishop Dabre’s watch in Vasai.


The Pilgrimage of Interreligious DialogueInterview with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

Vatican City, February 13, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Interreligious dialogue isn’t a business deal or a political negation, but rather something more similar to a pilgrimage of going out of yourself to meet persons of other faiths, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. The cardinal was appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue last June. In this interview with ZENIT he comments on the challenges and goals of this dicastery, and particularly, advances in dialogue with Islam.
2008 has been declared the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Could you comment on this initiative and the role of the Church in the event?
Cardinal Tauran: A month has passed and we have not yet perceived the amplitude of the initiative, but the important thing, what the European leaders have emphasized, is that more than a third of Frenchmen are in daily contact with people who belong to another race, another religion or another culture, and they are therefore “doomed,” so to speak, to dialogue, in order to know each other and live together. Therefore, I think that there are many efforts to be made in order to progress in this dialogue, and personally what I am going to propose is perhaps a joint initiative between the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue to see how we can help our contemporaries to progress in this mutual knowledge that is a question of respecting the other, as well as respecting the identities of one another.
Q: Regarding interreligious dialogue, as president of the pontifical council, what are your expectations and hopes for this year?
Cardinal Tauran: I have been in this post since the month of September, and I consider myself still in a period of novitiate. Therefore, for me this year is going to be a year of discovery. What appears very interesting to me, above all, is that interreligious dialogue is not something new. Since the [Second Vatican] Council much has been done, much of the path has been traveled.
For example, something I discovered and which appears splendid to me is the interreligious dialogue between monasteries, between contemplatives. Catholic monks and nuns are meeting with Buddhist monks and sisters, for example, or even with representatives of Sufism. This is something that appears important to me; it is what I call the “dialogue of spiritualities.”
There is talk of the dialogue of life, of theological dialogue, but the dialogue of spiritualities is the dialogue among people for whom prayer is the reason of their life, who make the monastic profession of a radical life, either in the Christian world, or in the Asian tradition or in Islam. I think a deepening in this dialogue between spiritualities is needed. In fact, when man prays he is greater. Therefore, we try to go out to meet him, here where he is at the height of his dignity.
Q: Interreligious dialogue is very close to the politics or the positions of some states. Is it possible to remain on a religious level without being manipulated by these latter factors, regardless of who they are?
Cardinal Tauran: Manipulation is always possible. But I think that one has to be careful both with sealing off religion from politics and with confusing the two areas. I think that one has to reflect on the concept of separation. The Church can be separated from the states, without a doubt, but the Church cannot be separated from society — that is impossible, we experience it so. Therefore, the important thing is that there be separation and collaboration since, ultimately, the government and the religious leader deal with the same person, who is both citizen and believer. Therefore, cooperation, distinction of competencies, but a cooperation for the common good and for the good of this person necessarily occurs.



Pope’s Q-and-A Session with Roman Clergy, Part 7 –
On Sharing the Gift of the Gospel


Vatican City, February 18, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Following a Lenten tradition, Benedict XVI met Feb. 7 with parish priests and clergy of the Diocese of Rome. During the meeting, the participants asked the Pope questions. Here is a translation of one of the questions and the Holy Father’s answer. ZENIT began this series of questions-and-answers Feb. 11.

Father Paul Chungat, Parochial Vicar at the Parish of San Giuseppe Cottolengo:

My name is Father Chungat. I am from India and I am currently the parochial vicar at the Parish of San Giuseppe in Valle Aurelia. I would like to thank you for the opportunity that you have given me to serve for three years in the Diocese of Rome. This has been a great help for me, for my studies, as I believe that it has been for the priests who are studying in Rome. The time has come to return to my diocese in India, where Catholics are only one percent of the population and the other 99%is non-Christian. The situation of evangelization in my homeland has been something I have been thinking a lot about in recent days.

In the recent note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith there are some words that are difficult to understand in the field of interreligious dialogue. For example in section 10 of the document the words “fullness of salvation” are written, and in the introduction one reads of the necessity of “formal incorporation in the Church.”

These are things that it will be difficult to explain when I bring them to India and I must speak to my Hindu friends and to the faithful of other religions. My question is: Is “fullness of salvation” to be understood in a qualitative or in a quantitative sense? If it is to be understood in a quantitative sense, there is a bit of a difficulty.
The Second Vatican Council says that there is a glimmer of light in other faiths. If in a qualitative sense, other than the historicity and the fullness of the faith, what are the other things that show the unicity of our faith in regard to interreligious dialogue?

Benedict XVI:
Thank you for this intervention. You know well that your questions are big ones and an entire semester of theology would be necessary! I will try to be brief. You know theology; there are great masters and many books…

Let us come to the questions that you posed to me. I do not have the exact words of the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before me at this moment; but in any case, I would like to say two things. On one hand, dialogue, getting to know each other, respecting each other and trying to cooperate in every possible way for the great purposes of humanity, or for its great needs, to overcome fanaticisms and to create a spirit of peace and of love — all of this is absolutely necessary. And this is also in the spirit of the Gospel, whose meaning is precisely that the spirit of love that we have learned from Jesus, the peace of Jesus that he has given us through the cross, become universally present in the world. In this sense dialogue must be true dialogue, in respecting the other and in the acceptance of his alterity; but it must also be evangelical, in the sense that its fundamental purpose is to help men to live in love and to make it the case that this love expand throughout the world.

But this dimension of dialogue, which is so necessary, that is, the respect of the other, of tolerance, of cooperation, does not exclude the other dimension, that is that the Gospel is a great gift, the gift of great love, of great truth, that we cannot only keep for ourselves, but that we must offer to others, considering that God gives them the necessary freedom and light to find the truth.
This is the truth. And this, then, is also my road.

Mission is not imposition, but an offering of the gift of God, letting his goodness enlighten people so that the gift of concrete friendship with God be extended and acquire a human face. For this reason we want and we must always bear witness to this faith and the love that lives in our faith. We will have neglected a true human and divine duty if we have left others to their own devices and kept the faith we have only for ourselves. We would be unfaithful even to ourselves if we were not to offer this faith to the world, while always respecting the freedom of others. The presence of faith in the world is a positive element, even if no one is converted; it is a point of reference.

Exponents of non-Christian religions have told me: The presence of Christianity is a point of reference that helps us, even if we do not convert. Let us think of the great figure of Mahatma Gandhi: Despite being firmly committed to his religion, for him the Sermon on the Mount was a fundamental point of reference that formed his whole life. And thus the ferment of the faith, although it did not convert him to Christianity, entered into his life. And it seems to me that this ferment of Christian love that shows through the Gospel is — beyond the missionary work that seeks to enlarge the spaces of faith — a service that we render to humanity.

Let us think about St. Paul. A short time ago I reflected again on his missionary motivation. I also spoke about it to the Curia on the occasion of the end of the year meeting. He was moved by the word of the Lord in his eschatological sermon. Before every event, before the return of the Son of Man, the Gospel must be preached to all nations. The condition for the world reaching its perfection, the condition for its opening up to paradise, is that the Gospel be proclaimed to all. All of his missionary zeal is directed at bringing the Gospel to all, possibly in his own time, to respond to the Lord’s command “that it be proclaimed to all nations.” His desire was not so much to baptize all nations, as it was that the Gospel [be] present in the world and thus the completion of history as such [also be present in the world].

It seems to me that today, seeing how history has gone, one can better understand that this presence of the word of God, that this proclamation that comes to all as a ferment, is necessary for the world to truly arrive at its purpose. In this sense, indeed we desire the conversion of all, but let us allow the Lord to be the one who acts. It is important that those who wish to convert have the possibility of doing so and that there appear in the world for all this light of the Lord as a point of reference and as a light that helps, without which the world cannot find itself. I do not know if I have made myself clear: dialogue and mission not only do not exclude each other, but the one requires the other.



Traditionalists find interreligious dialogue and ecumenical efforts to be self-defeating:

Dialogued to Death –
Catholics Support Suspension of Inter-Faith Dialogue


Michael J. Matt, Editor,
The Remnant, April 7, 2008

One positive fallout from the brouhaha over the Good Friday prayer is that “inter-faith dialogue” was inadvertently exposed for the wobbly house of cards it has always been. The moment Peter brought Christ the Savior of all men back to the table, his “dialogue partners” began packing up their goodies in disgust, and down went the card house. What does that tell us about inter-faith dialogue?

It’s amazing to consider here in 2008 that grown men and women on both sides of this aisle can with straight faces still claim that a “better understanding” is just around the corner so long as inter-faith dialogue continues unabated. Exactly how long is this process supposed to take? 

For forty years they’ve been gabbing about this ill-defined “dialogue” and yet things have only gone from bad to worse. After all, unearthing fundamental religious differences isn’t exactly rocket science: He says Christ was merely a rabbi; she says Christ was only a prophet; they say He is whatever they want Him to be; and we say He is the Son of God.
How is a lot of inter-faith palaver going to cause any of these contradictory beliefs to suddenly gel, unless, of course, “divisive” dogma is deep-sixed?  And once that happens how is a “better understanding” of anything ever going to be achieved? It would be like trying to understand what’s wrong with a car while refusing to open its hood. But such contradictions no longer register with the enlightened dialoguers. They remind me of those lunatical sex “educators” in public schools calling for still more sex education after veritable epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases began spreading among vigorously sex-educated teenagers. “Just because it isn’t working doesn’t mean we need to stop using it!”

Madness, they say, is manifested by those who repeat the same action over and over again but expect different results. It would seem that ecumeniacs and sex “educators” have something in common.

Bottom line: Inter-faith dialogue hasn’t worked. Tensions between the religions are getting worse every day. Why? Because inter-faith dialogue doesn’t serve truth—it buries it! And a world without truth quickly descends into barbarism.

Dialogue seems to be premised on a certain unspoken willingness on the part of the Catholic Church to downplay her own doctrine, if not actually renege on her claim to be the one true Church. If there was ever any doubt of this before, there isn’t any now. The Pope revised one prayer to be said once per annum by a minority of Catholics and what did his “dialogue partners” do? As the Bible puts it, they rent their garments. Why?  Because the fundamental rule of dialogue was violated by 9 words written by the pope: “acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior of all mankind.” Anathema sit!  He has blasphemed! Dialogue be damned!

Clearly, this sort of dialogue isn’t really about achieving a “better understanding” of anything; our “dialogue partners” understand perfectly well the theological differences that abound.  What they evidently want is for the Church to modify her teachings to say that Christ is Savior but only for Catholics and those who believe in Him–not for all men!  Evidently, this has been the ultimate goal of inter-faith dialogue all along.

Thus Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told Reuters Television she couldn’t imagine that this “German pope could impose such phrases upon his church.” Impose what phrases? That Christ is the Savior of all men? Yes, who does he think he is—the POPE? No wonder Alan Brill of Seton Hall concluded that the Pope’s prayer marks “the end of the era of John Paul II, the era of reconciliation.”

The “party crasher” here is Christ, of course. If Benedict were to hold up Mickey Mouse as the Savior of all men, the dialoguers would no doubt hail his intellectual courage and continue doing whatever it is that dialoguers do. Which brings up an interesting question: What exactly do dialoguers do?  What is their point and purpose?  How often do they dialogue? Can one watch them dialogue on YouTube, for example? What was going on behind dialogue doors all these years to leave poor Mrs. Knobloch convinced that Popes are no longer permitted to pray that all men might acknowledge Christ as savior? Obviously, they weren’t talking about Him in there. One word about the Savior and the dialoguers stormed off in a holy huff. “The inter-religious dialogue has suffered an enormous setback,” Mrs. Knobloch sobbed to Reuters, “because of this version [of the prayer] and I assume that one will find a way very soon to continue the dialogue, but at the moment I don’t see it happening.”

Aside from assuming things will continue that she doesn’t see happening, does Mrs. Knobloch actually imagine anyone gives two hoots about dialogue setbacks when they’re losing their sons and daughters in Iraq, their jobs in India, and their homes in America? What has inter-faith dialogue done for you lately? As the world plunges into universal warfare (without precedent in human history!), terrorism and economic collapse, is there a single shred of evidence that inter-faith dialogue has been anything other than part of the problem? Cardinal Kasper has devoted his life to it, Mrs. Knobloch thinks it’s the bomb, but what does it mean for folks with real jobs, mortgages and mouths to feed? I can’t imagine!

Has there ever been a clearer indication of the sheer pointlessness of “dialogue” than that the Catholic Church is now expected to set aside her foundational teachings on salvation even in her own prayers and inside her own churches, in order to sit across the table from Mrs. Knobloch and talk about—WHAT? What in thunder does this woman want to talk about? After a while it begins to seem like flat out kibitzing:

As long as the Catholic Church, that is to say Pope Benedict, does not return to the previous wording, I assume that there will not be any further dialogue in the form that we were able to have in the past.

Yes, and what a shame, but have a nice day!



In the meantime, the Muslim convert to the Catholic Faith who was baptized by Pope Benedict on Holy Saturday, made a comment that could formulate the caption beneath this whole tragic picture. Shortly after Magdi Allam, 55, had been baptized into Christianity – taking the name “Christian” as his baptismal name – he asserted that the “Catholic Church has been too prudent about conversions of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries”. 

Welcome to the Titanic, Magdi! The Catholic Church since Vatican II has been “too prudent” about most things, especially teaching her own doctrines to her own children. Want proof?  Ask a Catholic sixth grader what the hypostatic union is, or the beatific vision, or even the Fourth Glorious Mystery.  Better yet, ask him to give you the Ten Commandments.  At best, he’ll hand you a DVD of a Charlton Heston film.

The Church has been pro-life, yes, but, honestly, she’s the Catholic Church—of course, she’s pro-life!  Isn’t it time she became outspokenly pro-Catholic again and maybe—just maybe!—started reaching those little girls before they get themselves so bollixed up and confused that abortionists, rather than Catholic priests, seem their best bet?

Our best bet is that the sheer folly of inter-faith dialogue will be fully recognized by the hierarchy before any more of the Catholic Church is swallowed up whole by the Novus Ordo Seculorum. Pope Benedict speaks often and eloquently about reclaiming Catholic identity—what better way to do just that than to suspend this pointless exercise in futility and get back to the business of preaching the Catholic Faith, whole and entire, to all the nations of the world.

We would, therefore, like to make common cause with our Jewish dialogue partners who in recent weeks have suspended dialogue with the Catholic Church over the revised Good Friday prayer.  This, it seems to us, is wise beyond words and we urge our Catholic leaders to support this initiative without delay.


Pope Says Dialogue Has a Purpose: Finding Truth


Washington, D.C., April 18, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI says that interreligious dialogue has a purpose beyond establishing a peaceful society: The point of this dialogue is to find the truth.
The Pope affirmed this Thursday in a meeting at the U.S. capital with interreligious leaders. The theme of the meeting was “Peace Our Hope,” and it was held at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
The Holy Father spoke to the religious leaders about religious freedom, lauding the United States for the way in which people of many religions co-exist there.
“May others take heart from your experience, realizing that a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples — ‘E pluribus unum’: ‘out of many, one’ — provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right,” he said.
The Pontiff also emphasized the value of faith-based education: “These institutions enrich children both intellectually and spiritually,” he affirmed.
Benedict XVI then noted, “There is a further point I wish to touch upon here.”
He expressed his approval for a “growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. These are praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom, interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace.”
He continued: “The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth.”
And the Pope went on to mention the questions interreligious dialogue should engage: “What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence?”
“Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for ‘wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace,'” he said.

The Christian proposal
The Bishop of Rome described what the Catholic Church offers to interreligious dialogue.
“Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth,” the Pope said. “He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue.”
He added: “Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth.
“In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God. As we have seen then, the higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets. In this regard, colleges, universities and study centers are important forums for a candid exchange of religious ideas.”
“Dear friends,” the Holy Father concluded, “let our sincere dialogue and cooperation inspire all people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny. May the followers of all religions stand together in defending and promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task — through dialogue and countless small acts of love, understanding and compassion — we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family.”



In respect of the above, my post in the Mangalorean Catholics yahoo group Digest no. 902, April 23, 2008:


Many Bishops, priests, nuns and lay leaders are protagonists of an interreligious dialogue of their own fantasy and which has no basis anywhere in the Catholic Church’s continuous teaching by interpretation of Biblical revelation.

Benedict XVI has repeatedly explained what genuine dialogue is for a Catholic, and confirms it once again in this Zenit news report.

Such inter-faith dialogue is essential for the promotion of understanding, tolerance, peace and harmony among peoples in a multicultural milieu in the global village and cultural melting pot that is now the earth.

But, like it or not, the point of this dialogue is to find the truth“. The truth about the origin and destiny of man…

This truth is inextricably linked with the birth, life, death, resurrection and Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus proclaimed “I am THE Truth” (John 14:6).

When we dialogue with representatives of other faiths, we are left with only one alternative as Catholic Christians — to suggest as the Pope does, Jesus of Nazareth as what the world needs most. -Michael Prabhu


The refrain is encored by Vaticanista Sandro Magister:

The Pope’s Third Day in the U.S. –
With Catholic Educators, Other Religions, Jews

In regard to interreligious dialogue, Benedict XVI says that the main objective is not peace, but “to discover the truth.”
Which is Jesus, who said that “salvation is from the Jews.”

By Sandro Magister, ROMA, April 18, 2008
The key passages of this important address are presented below, developing topics already enunciated by Benedict XVI in his memorable lecture in Regensburg and for the University of Rome.
Finally, toward the evening, the pope met with about 200 representatives belonging to five religious communities present in the United States: Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains.

To them, Benedict XVI said that interreligious dialogue “aims at something more than a consensus for advancing peace.” The greater objective of dialogue is “to discover the truth” and keep the deepest and most essential questions awake in the hearts of all men.

And so,
Benedict XVI continued: “Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue.”

And he added: “Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. […]
The higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets.

Benedict XVI gave special confirmation of how he understands religious dialogue immediately after this, meeting with representatives of the Jewish community, just two days before their celebration of the Passover.
In the message that he delivered to them – addressed to the Jews all over the world – pope Joseph Ratzinger repeated the unique closeness between Christians and Jews, both of which have grown from the same trunk, both “prisoners of hope” in the same salvation offered by God.
And he continued: “This bond permits us Christians to celebrate alongside you, though in our own way, the Passover of Christ’s death and resurrection, which we see as inseparable from your own, for Jesus himself said: ‘salvation is from the Jews’ (John 4: 22). Our Easter and your Pesah, while distinct and different, unite us in our common hope centered on God and his mercy. They urge us to cooperate with each other and with all men and women of goodwill to make this a better world for all as we await the fulfillment of God’s promises.”
Here are the salient passages of the words addressed by the pope to the Catholic educators, to the representatives of the religions, and to the Jews…


To the representatives of other religions
by Benedict XVI

Washington, John Paul II Cultural Center, Thursday, April 17, 2008
[…] Religious freedom, interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace. The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for “wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace” (Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3).
We are living in an age when these questions are too often marginalized. Yet they can never be erased from the human heart. Throughout history, men and women have striven to articulate their restlessness with this passing world. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Psalms are full of such expressions: “My spirit is overwhelmed within me” (Ps 143:4; cf. Ps 6:6; 31:10; 32:3; 38:8; 77:3); “why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?” (Ps 42:5).



The response is always one of faith: “Hope in God, I will praise him still; my Savior and my God” (Ps 42:5, 11; cf. Ps 43:5; 62:5). Spiritual leaders have a special duty, and we might say competence, to place the deeper questions at the forefront of human consciousness, to reawaken mankind to the mystery of human existence, and to make space in a frenetic world for reflection and prayer.
Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth.

He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue (cf. Luke 10:25-37; John 4:7-26).
Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity.
While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth. In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God. We are able to perceive that peace is a “heavenly gift” that calls us to conform human history to the divine order. Herein lies the “truth of peace” (cf. Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace). […]


Hindu gifts flaming “Om” to Pope; our dialogue should continue, says Pope
Rome, April 22, 2008, 09.20 hrs (SAR News)

March 6, 2008
Dr. Ravi Gupta, a professor of Hinduism
at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia (USA), and
an initiated Brahmin priest of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON),
presented a gift of an elaborate OM symbol to Pope Benedict XVI
at an interfaith gathering in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Hindu American community April 17, reports ISKCON News, April 19.
The interfaith meeting where Dr. Gupta met the Pope was organised by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and was held at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. Approximately one hundred and fifty interfaith leaders attended the session, including representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain traditions.
“It was a great honour to meet His Holiness Pope Benedict on behalf of the Hindu community in America,” said Dr. Gupta. “I was impressed by the intimacy of the gathering, and the Pope’s genuine interest in meeting with us. It was my feeling that the Pope — as both a holy man and a scholar — wished he had more time to spend with his guests, and to be able to know us all better,” Gupta said.
The meeting entitled “Peace Our Hope-An Inter-religious Gathering with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI” concluded a diverse and event-filled day for the pontiff, including his celebrating Mass in the local sports stadium with 45,000 faithful and Washington elite.
Dr. Gupta, 26, whose devotional name is Radhika Raman Dasa, was one of five young representatives of religious traditions who were invited to greet the Pope and offer him a gift from their respective traditions. Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON’s Minister of Communications and a Governing Body Commissioner (GBC), also attended the private event on behalf of the Hare Krishna society.
After brief welcoming remarks, the Pope spoke for twenty minutes on the importance of interfaith dialogue and cooperation. He quoted former President Franklin Roosevelt who said, “No greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of faith.”
The Pope invited the group to bear “witness to those moral truths which they hold in common with all men and women of goodwill” and thus, as religious people “exert a positive influence on the wider culture.”
“I greeted the Pope with our traditional Hare Krishna greeting,” reported Gupta. “Then I said, ‘Your Holiness, you are well aware of the richness within Hinduism, including a strong tradition of monotheism and religious tolerance. I hope these can be a foundation for a strong and continued dialogue with the [Catholic] Church.”
The Pope responded positively, “Yes, our dialogue should continue to grow,” accepted the OM symbol, and held Dr. Gupta’s hand warmly before the next representative came forward.
“It was a historical occasion,” said Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON GBC Member. “The tensions on the world stage call for religious leaders to understand each other better and to teach their respective congregations to not only respect, but to learn from one another.
The Pope, while careful to not minimize his own tradition’s values and faith commitments, opened the door wider for increased cooperation with the Church.”
Both Gupta and Dasa are also in Washington this week to attend the 11th Annual Vaishnava-Christian dialogue, which coincided with the Pope’s visit.


An analysis of the above news story by moderator Austine Crasta in Konkani Catholics digest no. 1447 dated April 23, 2008:

The impression I received was that the reception of the ‘flaming Om’ by the Pope was the high point of the inter-religious meeting. And so I did a quick search on Google News to be returned with only 4 stories on Dr. Ravi Gupta’s presentation. Doesn’t bear much of a proportion to what the story portrays, does it?


As a matter of fact, toward the evening of April 17, the pope met with about 200 representatives belonging to five religious communities present in the United States: Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. And I’ll tell you what the Pope said in just a little while.
After the Pope’s speech, five young adults presented Pope Benedict with symbols representing peace, while a harpist played 16th- and 17th-century Italian and German music.
David Michaels, director of intercommunal affairs at B’nai B’rith International, the oldest Jewish humanitarian organization, presented the pope with a
silver menorah, symbolizing the validity of God’s covenant of peace.
For those of you who don’t know this, the “Menorah” or the a seven-branched candelabrum is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith, the instructions for construction of which, is found in the Bible itself (See Exodus 25:31-40.) Various symbolisms are attributed to the Menorah. Lit by olive oil in the tabernacle of the temple, the menorah is said to be a symbol of the nation of Israel and their mission to be “a light unto the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6). It is also said to symbolize the burning bush as seen by Moses on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3). Sometimes it is seen as representing the creation of the universe in seven days, the center light symbolizing the Sabbath. The seven branches are the seven continents of the earth and the seven heavens, guided by the light of God. The Zohar, an important mystical commentary on the Torah says: “These lamps, like the planets above, receive their light from the sun”. [Also See Biblical References: Numbers 3:31, 8:2, Revelation 1:12, 2:1] The menorah that was used in the Jerusalem Temple of Jesus’ day was carried off in triumph to Rome carried after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans prophesied by Jesus in the Gospels (This is recorded by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus). A depiction of this event is preserved on the Arch of Titus that still stands today in Rome. Alright, we move on with our story.
The second representative was Saman Hussain, a Pakistan-born Muslim and student leader, who gave the pope a silver-bound edition of the Quran, the holy book of Islam that Muslims teach proclaims God’s message of peace.
On behalf of the Jains, Aditya Vora, gave Pope Benedict a metallic cube. The cube represents the Jain principles of respect for diversity of viewpoints as the way to peace through self-discipline and dialogue.
Representing the Hindu religion, Ravi Gupta, an assistant professor of religion at Centre College, Danville, Ky., gave the pope a gilded brass incense burner with the sacred syllable Om. If it is not already obvious, I must point out here that Gupta’s presentation was not the only presentation at the event, or the high point of it.
Finally, Masako Fukata, a Buddhist youth leader, gave Pope Benedict a Korean monastic bell. In several Buddhist cultures, the bell’s sound invites meditation, which they believe leads to inner peace.
10 Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain leaders were introduced to the pope by Bishop Sklba and each interfaith representative received a small gift from the pope.
Clearly the presentation of these symbols representing peace cannot be reconciled with the negative impression one gets in zooming in on Ravi Gupta’s presentation alone, the details of which have been picked up from the ISKCON website which obviously sees the event from its own perspective.

To leave out the strong words of the Pope preceding this presentation could be fatal and so I’m going to quote some of the key passages here, straight from the Vatican’s official website. I’ve all ALLCAPPED some important parts.

After speaking of the enormous responsibility that religious leaders have to imbue society with a profound awe and respect for human life and freedom, to ensure that human dignity is recognized and cherished, to facilitate peace and justice and to teach children what is right, good and reasonable, the Pope said:
QUOTE: “There is a further point I wish to touch upon here. I have noticed a growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. These are praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom, interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at SOMETHING MORE THAN A CONSENSUS REGARDING WAYS TO IMPLEMENT PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR ADVANCING PEACE. THE BROADER PURPOSE OF DIALOGUE IS TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH. WHAT IS THE ORIGIN AND DESTINY OF MANKIND? WHAT ARE GOOD AND EVIL? WHAT AWAITS US AT THE END OF OUR EARTHLY EXISTENCE? ONLY BY ADDRESSING THESE DEEPER QUESTIONS CAN WE BUILD A SOLID BASIS FOR THE PEACE AND SECURITY of the human family, for “wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace” (Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3).” UNQUOTE
Now those questions are a blunt challenge in any authentic dialogue between adherents of different religions. Why? Because it keeps the deepest and most essential questions awake in the hearts of all men. It is the pursuit of those questions which set people on a journey of the discovery of the ultimate truth.
Thanks to the gift of divine revelation, we know this truth to be Christ. And anyone who pursues those questions sincerely and without fear will, with God’s grace, inevitably come to the same discovery. Why? Because truth is one!

That is where the Pope is lifting dialogue from being concerned merely with practical concerns and existential realities to the meeting point of God and man in the person of the divine and eternal “Logos” (“Word”), i.e., Christ incarnate. It is this Christ, who the Pope, unashamedly and boldly proclaims in the forum for dialogue when he says:
The Pope couldn’t be clearer. Pope Benedict is painfully aware of the fact that dialogue in many places has become watered down to “points of commonality”, i.e., what we have in common with people of other faiths, which though not wrong ‘per se’ provides us merely with a starting point from where dialogue has to move on.



And he knows very well that while this serves the cause of a peaceful social co-existence it almost altogether misses the opportunity of proclamation of the unique and complete Gospel of Christ which a recent Vatican instruction reminds is the duty of all Catholics.
Such a peace would be something superficial, temporary, and a product of our own doing
, not the “heavenly gift” (cf. John 14:27) which Christ came to give us. What leads to Christ is a candid discussion of our differences which opens up the possibility of listening to the voice of the truth which is the ultimate foundation of true dialogue. Those who are insincere in seeking the truth will fear the truth because they are “bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.” (Dignitatis Humanae, 2). But he who seeks the truth sincerely will find it and will do what is true, and “he who does what is true, comes to the light” (John 3:21); that light is Christ (cf. Jn 8:12), “the light of revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel” (Luke 2:32). The Pope’s words:
If this got you interested, you may want to read the full speech of the Pope (He addressed the Jewish leaders separately).:
Would that Catholics everywhere would imitate the courageous example of the Vicar of Christ!



Hear, hear, Austine Crasta!

Crasta was a conservative Catholic and had many prophetic individuals posting on his yahoo group forum, Konkani Catholics (KC) “Uniting Konkani Catholics for the Faith” launched on Mission Sunday, 23 October 2005. Then he ambitiously went and signed up for a course in theology at a Mangalore seminary… and became “politically correct” as one of his close friends and KC member wrote to me… how could he not become that… and what were the results?

A couple of his benefactors who helped start up KC, including one of his appointed moderators, noticed disturbing new trends in KC and deserted him and the list.

I myself unsubscribed on one email id, and got banned — when discovered by Crasta — on another which was just one of three fresh registrations that I hade made when I too had noticed things going awry and anticipated a ban being imposed on me.

Crasta started moderating and disallowing posts that he earlier had no problems with publishing, and banning people who dissented with his new avatar or who wrote provoking stuff that might put his relationship with hierarchy of the Church in jeopardy. To become popular, he became autocratic.

It was not long before KC was completely bereft of the prophetic role that it had begun to play among Catholics of Konkan origin. There is now little that is useful to read in KC… definitely NOTHING original that one would expect from the mind a very intelligent young man who has also studied theology.

Crasta was also re-posting information from other Catholic sites and news agencies but without giving us the links/URLs from which he sourced his items (giving us fish to eat instead of showing us where and how to fish). If I were the owner-moderator of a Catholic yahoo group, I would have encouraged my readers to subscribe to reputed and reliable news sites and blogs like Zenit, Sandro Magister’s Chiesa, Michael Voris’ Church Militant.TV, LifeSiteNews, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s blog, etc. etc. But then why would people still come to me yahoo group when I’m not providing much original fare? Do you get the drift of my thinking?

He also suddenly started obscuring the email addresses of KC members apparently because he did not want them to associate with one another outside of the forum, which they had begun to do. He rejected the co-founder-benefactors’ suggestions that members would meet periodically in Mangalore or elsewhere.

A majority of the posts are now about liberal and social-justice type (though highly acclaimed) priests like Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, about/from liberal journalists like Allwyn Fernandes and Nirmala Carvalho, from an activist of the Bombay Catholic Sabha (or BCS, which is anything but Catholic), Konkani language-related or culture-related (Goan casino bans, Goan tourism, Goan tiatr, the Goan drink feni) information, job opportunities, buying of property, but very, very little faith-building inputs or faith-related threads as compared to what was seen by me in the good old days of KC.

I re-examined the last 12 months+ of Konkani Catholics emails to me as well as the messages on yahoo.

There’s a forwarded post authored by Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala (KC Digest no. 3534, May 6, 2014) who is the son of Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, a liberal woman-theologian and activist for the ordination of women priests!


There’s another about a nun teaching the martial arts Taekwondo (KC Digest no. 3431, October 16, 2013




There’s one post (KC Digest no. 3420, October 3, 2013 https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/30179?status=verifyfail) praised by Fr. Tom
Mangattuthazhe who is posted at the Bishop’s House in Diphu, Assam. It’s about an Indian Catholic woman named Juliet Christopher getting a Vatican Radio award. The story tells us that “Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi… recalled her dance around the central altar at St. Peter’s Basilica on the occasion of the Synod of Asia in 1998 and added that she is probably the only woman in the world who had done that.

If Fr. Tom posted that story to KC and Crasta approved it for publication, it means that they have no problems with a woman doing a performance, most probably the Hindu dance Bharatanatyam, around the sacred altar in the sanctuary of St. Peter’s Basilica of all places!!!

Not surprisingly all were posted by Robin Viegas, an activist of the BCS, but they were passed by Crasta. As for the martial arts — which is New Age — post, Crasta actually writes a thank you for it to Viegas!

An unprecedented instance of Crasta providing Protestant information to Catholic subscribers:
in the KC digest no. 3556 of
July 16, 2014.

An extract from a post by A. Norbert Fernandes of Goa in the KC digest no. 3565 of July 28, 2014:

It was posted under the caption “I am a hindu christian“.


The enriching Saint Quote of the Day by Rupert J. Vaz has not appeared in the KC Digest for many months.

Considering the tsunami of Catholic Internet and social media coverage of the October 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family, and the stories of the preceding months leading to it, there was little to read in KC.

The old Crasta would have invested a lot of time and space on this issue.

What a fall there has been for the Konkani Catholics forum!

KC is a shadow of its former self. From a large number of members posting every single day without fail from 2006 onwards, there have during the past six months been gaps of up to one or two weeks (June 4/June 17/June 23/June 29/July 2/July 15/August 4-11/November 24-December 2, 2014), even a 30 days gap between two successive digests (November 2-24, 2014, digests 3613, 3614), which means that there are no other moderators to assist Crasta (I knew KC had at least two other moderators and it appears that they have not posted in KC in years); the number of posts per digest is sometimes one, just one. For example, KC Digest no. 3614 of November 3 had only a single post; so did KC 3595, 3605, 3609, 3612 and 3613.

Crasta’s former roommates and buddies, especially Rohit D’Souza (who was a KC moderator) and Deepak Ferrao dropped out when the “changes” started occurring, beginning from towards the end of 2007.

The couple of priests who instigated my banning by Crasta have stopped contributing to KC years ago.

In the good old days, questions were asked by members, and Crasta would respond. None anymore.

His comments on important issues, as above, in the “flaming OM” interreligious dialogue matter in the KC digest of 2008, are now conspicuous by their almost complete absence.

Crasta would regularly bring out excellent quizzes and members would compete to be the first to answer them. Not anymore.

Crasta’s KC yahoo group page shows the same “member count” of 2315 since almost the past 30 months. In June 2012 it was reported as being at 2300. That’s a record of 15 new subscribers in the past 30 months!!!

There appears to be about 40 different individuals posting in KC over the past 15 months, including three or four priests. Maybe around 90% of the posts are shared by four persons, Anne D’Souza from Mumbai, Robin Viegas, an activist of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, Bernhard Thamm… and Austine Crasta himself.


The above section was sent to Austine Crasta under Bcc to several current and former KC members including one former moderator before this report was posted on our web site:

Michael Prabhu
Austine J. Crasta
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 10:25 AM


Dear Austine,

If I am wrong in my comments in green, please let me know.












Cardinal Says Pope Giving New Direction to DialogueBenedict XVI Urges “Crossing Bridges” Built by Predecessors

Nairobi, Kenya, April 23, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI is encouraging the participants in interreligious dialogue to cross the bridges that have been built by decades of focus on friendship and tolerance, contended the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran affirmed this April 16 when he opened a five-day conference in Nairobi on “Formation in Interreligious Dialogue in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
The conference brought together bishops and heads of interreligious dialogue departments of the Church in Africa, as well as representatives of other religions.
Participants examined programs of formation for different pastoral ministers (priests, religious men and women, and the lay faithful) to find out how best to prepare Catholics to relate well with people of other religious traditions.
The cardinal began his opening address by emphasizing that the Church promotes interreligious dialogue: “My dear friends, 43 years ago His Holiness Pope Paul VI, published his first papal encyclical, ‘Ecclesiam Suam,’ in which he underlined the new spirit of dialogue and collaboration manifesting itself in the world.”
Respectful and meek Paul VI, the cardinal explained, noted three categories of people with whom the Church would dialogue: those opposed to faith, non-Christians, and non-Catholic Christians.
“The foresighted Pontiff went further to describe the characteristics of this dialogue,” Cardinal Tauran said. “It must respect human freedom and dignity and be accompanied by meekness. He drew attention to the dangers of relativism of watering down or whittling away of truth.”
The pontifical council president went on to explain the advances in dialogue made with the Second Vatican Council’s “Nostra Aetate,” and the teaching of the Popes since then.
However, he clarified, the Church does not believe that all religions are more or less the same, though all the partners in dialogue are equal in dignity.
“As might be expected, for different reasons, not every person is enthused about interreligious dialogue,” Cardinal Tauran acknowledged. “There are those who think that interreligious dialogue, if not a betrayal of the mission of the Church to convert every person to Christ, is a new method of winning members to Christianity.
“There are those who hold that the drive of the Church for interreligious relations is an effort to control the spread of other religions. It is not any of these. In ‘Nostra Aetate,’ ‘The Church … urges her sons — and daughters — to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture.”
A journey Cardinal Tauran continued clarifying the nature of interreligious dialogue: “Interreligious dialogue is certainly a bridge-building exercise. […] It includes creating harmony in society, encouraging development of friendship and spirit of tolerance. But it goes beyond the niceties of polite conversation which encourages people to stay where they are and avoid talking about the grey areas of disagreement. It is a journey in search of the truth.”
And, he said, it is dialogue “animated and expressed in works of charity.”
Yet, with its now long history, interreligious dialogue is experiencing a new thrust, the cardinal proposed: “My dear friends, as you may know, interreligious dialogue takes different forms. It includes being together: living one’s life as taught by one’s religion. It is working together in projects of common concern. It is reflecting together on the teachings of one another’s religion. It is also sharing together religious experiences. These ideas have been developed over the years by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue as forms of interreligious relations: dialogue of life, dialogue of cooperation, dialogue of theological discourse and dialogues of spiritualities.”
Future is now Cardinal Tauran said that dialogue of theological discourse has often been postponed for the future. But, he said, “in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, that future is now.”
He explained: “Up till recently, discussions and praxis of interreligious dialogue have focused on the common spiritual bonds which Christians share with other believers. By emphasizing these bonds, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, have constructed bridges of understanding between Christianity and other religions. The perceptible direction of Pope Benedict XVI is that, building on what his predecessors have put in place, he is now leading the Church to cross that bridge. Whereas other highlighted the common elements we share, he wants to emphasize, by use of reason, the distinctiveness of the Christian faith.” Thus, Cardinal Tauran proposed that Catholics, together with other believers, are on a path of seeking truth.
And they must be open, he affirmed: “Partners in dialogue must be open to talk about those issues not often put on the table: religious liberty, freedom of conscience, reciprocity, conversion, religious extremism, etc.”


The Church and Interreligious DialogueCardinal Tauran: “It Is a Journey in Search of the Truth”

The entire text can be found on the ZENIT Web page: http://www.zenit.org/article-22396?l=english
Nairobi, Kenya, April 23, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Here is an excerpt of the address Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, gave at a five-day conference in Nairobi on “Formation in Interreligious Dialogue in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
My dear friends, 43 years ago His Holiness Pope Paul VI, published his first Papal Encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, in which he underlined the new spirit of dialogue and collaboration manifesting itself in the world. In explaining the nature of this dialogue with the “world,” he identified the interlocutors as “those human beings who are opposed to the light of faith and the gift of grace” (n.59), “non-Christians” (nn.107-108), non-Catholics/other Christians (nn.109-120).



The foresighted Pontiff went further to describe the characteristics of this dialogue: it must respect human freedom and dignity and be accompanied by meekness. He drew attention to the dangers of relativism of watering down or whittling away of truth. He affirmed: “Our apostolate must not make vague comprises concerning the principles which regulate and govern the profession of Christian faith both in theory and in practice. An immoderate desire to make peace and sink differences at all costs is ultimately nothing more than skepticism about the power and content of the Word of God which we desire to preach.” (n.88).
The key document of the Second Vatican Council on inter-religious dialogue, Nostra Aetate, highlighted the common elements of different religious: All human beings have same origin and same end. God is the creator of all. The same destiny, “namely God” awaits every human being. God’s providence, “evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all men” (n.1). Moreover human beings face the same challenges of searching for answers to some of the profound questions of human existence. The look to their different religions for answers to the unsolved riddles of life:” What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of life? What is upright behaviour, and what is sinful? Where does suffering originate, and what end does it serve? How can genuine happiness be found? What happens at death?” (n.1)
Since after the Second Vatican Council, the Church has been promoting inter-religious dialogue by emphasizing the spiritual bonds that unite people of different religions. This was a constant theme in many of the addresses of Pope John Paul II throughout his Pontificate. For example, here in Kenya on May 7, 1980, addressing the Muslims of Kenya, he said: “On my part I wish to do everything possible to help develop the spiritual bonds between Christians and Muslims. Prayer, almsgiving and fasting are highly valued in both our traditions and are beyond doubt a splendid witness to a world that runs the risk of being absorbed by materialism.” To the Hindus, he said: “The purpose of life, the nature of good, the path of happiness, the meaning of death and the end of our human journey- all these truths form the object of our common service of man in his many needs, and to the promotion of his full human dignity.”
In several documents the Catholic Church expresses her esteem of other religions. In the Nostra Aetate, we read that the Church “has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men.” Of the religions, Pope Paul VI said, “many of these religious possess an impressive patrimony of deeply religious texts. They carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God…. They possess an impressive patrimony of deeply religious texts. They have taught generations of people how to pray.” But the Church insists that she is “duty bound to proclaim. Without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14, 6).
Further, the Church acknowledges that God wills all human beings to be saved and this salvation is extended to all those who are not Christians” nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his wills they know it though the dictates of their conscience.” And includes those “who without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life. And according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “indeed, God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2, 4); that is God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the promptings of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation.” (n.851).
The Catholic Church recognizes partners in dialogue as equal in dignity as human persons.
But this does not mean that “all religions are more or less the same.”
As might be expected, for different reasons, not every person is enthused about inter-religious dialogue. There are those who think that inter-religious dialogue, if not a betrayal of the mission of the Church to convert every person to Christ, are a new method of winning members to Christianity. There are those who hold that the drive of the Church for inter-religious relations is an effort to control the spread of other religions. It is not any of these. In Nostra Aetate,” The Church… urges her sons (and daughters) to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christian’s while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture.”
Inter-religious Dialogue, service to the truth Inter-religious dialogue is certainly a bridge-building exercise. It has to do with the way and means of relating with people of different religions. It includes creating harmony in the society, encouraging development of friendship and spirit of tolerance. But it goes beyond the niceties of polite conversation which encourages people to stay where they are and avoid talking about the grey areas of disagreement. It is a journey in search of the truth. Pope Paul VI explains that the principal responsibility of the Church is service to the Truth- “truth about God, truth about man and his hidden destiny, truth bout the world, truth which we discover in the Word of God and of which we are neither the masters nor the authors but the guardians, the heralds and the ministers” Partners in inter-religious dialogue are fellow pilgrims in the search for truth. It is a task that demands faith. Only people of faith, who are open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, can rightly engage in inter-religious dialogue.
Inter-religious Dialogue, animated by and expressed in works of charity

In Ecclesiam Suam, Pope Paul VI described inter-religious dialogue as “a method of accomplishing the apostolic mission.” (n.8). Several years later, Pope John Paul II inserted it where it really belongs as “part of the evangelizing mission of the Church.” As explained in Dialogue and Mission, the source of this mission is divine love; this love is revealed in Christ; the love is made present through the action of the Holy Spirit; and all activities of the Church are to be imbued with love. It is indeed “the impulse of interior charity which tends to become an exterior gift of Charity.”
Pope Benedict XVI affirms that inter-religious dialogue forms part of the “diakonia” which the Church offers to the world. Caritas-agape goes beyond the confines of the visible Church because it is motivated by Christ’s mission of the Church to every human being without distinction.



Jews, Muslims, Christians. The Latest News from the Dialogue Workshop


In France, a mosque brings in a Jew to collaborate. In Bangladesh, Christians and Muslims meet at a university. The letter of the 138 gets follow-through in Moscow, in Geneva, in Brussels. And meanwhile, Benedict XVI clarifies what he means by interreligious dialogue

Sandro Magister, ROMA, April 25, 2008

[…] this is how Benedict XVI conducts dialogue

During his visit to the United States, from April 15-21, Benedict XVI visited a synagogue in New York and met, in Washington, about 200 representatives of other religions, including Islam.
To the Muslims, he said that interreligious dialogue “aims at something more than a consensus for advancing peace.” The greater objective of dialogue is “to discover the truthand keep the deepest and most essential questions awake in the hearts of all men.
And so, Benedict XVI continued: “Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue.”
And he added: “Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. […] The higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets [underline emphasis added].”
The pope could not have been more clear than this, in explaining how he understands and religious dialogue.

Interreligious Dialogue – a risk or an opportunity?


By Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, May 31, 2008

What exactly is the aim of interreligious dialogue, and what hope does it offer? 

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, argues that if we are realistic about our differences and can respect the beliefs of others without compromising our own faith, believers of different backgrounds can together help to prevent the world from turning its back on God.

We develop in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. To say this is to state the obvious. There is no religiously homogenous society. In Europe, from kindergarten onwards, young children rub shoulders with companions of all origins and different religious affiliations. There is nothing surprising about this if one thinks of what Paul Tillich wrote: “Religion is the substance of culture” [1]. History knows no non-religious cultures!

Nevertheless in Europe from the eighteenth century onwards a conviction began to appear that faith is incompatible with reason. Although he was a believer, Descartes was to apply his methodical doubt to matters of faith. This current of thought was to give birth to the philosophy of the Enlightenment: reason has access to truth on its own. Natural moral standards, tolerance, deism or even, for some, atheism led to the belief that human beings are self-sufficient. After the considerable progress of the sciences (Newton died in 1727), the development of travel (and missions) and unresolved social crises, it seemed to many that Christianity, with its dogmas and moral teaching, did not serve progress. All people were thus considered to belong to a common humanity and, endowed with reason, easily discovered that a natural religion exists, without dogma and without fanaticism. The individual sufficed unto him or herself. There was no need to look to religion to explain the origin of humanity, nor to await a happiness beyond this earth. Thus the human being is placed at the centre of the world and the supernatural is eliminated. At the level of ideas, this vision of things was to lead to Scientism (all that human reason does not justify does not exist) and, at the level of achievements, to the French Revolution (the ordering of society without God), culminating in the twentieth century with the two forms of totalitarianism (Marxism-Leninism and Nazism).


It is very obvious that the Church contested this vision of things and maintained that to exclude the religious from reason was to amputate humanity, created in the image of God. Pope John-Paul II’s Encyclical Fides et Ratio expresses it well: “In God there lies the origin of all things, in him is found the fullness of the mystery, and in this his glory consists; to men and women there falls the task of exploring truth with their reason, and in this their nobility consists. [2]

But this God whom we dismissed in the past is reappearing in public discourse today. News stands are full of books and magazines on religious subjects, esotericism and the new religions. “The revenge of God” (Gilles Képel) has been spoken of. Today, one cannot understand the world without religions. And this – for here indeed is the great paradox of the current situation – is because they are seen as a danger: fanaticism, fundamentalism and terrorism have been or still are associated with a perverted form of Islam. It is not, of course, a question of the true Islam practised by the majority of this religion’s followers. Still today it is a fact that people kill for religious reasons (for instance, the recent assassination of the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul). I read that 123 Christians met with death in 2007 in Iraq, India and Nigeria because they were Christian. The reason is that religions are capable of the best as well as of the worst: they can serve holiness or alienation. They can preach peace or war. Yet it is always necessary to explain that it is not the religions themselves that wage war but rather their followers! Hence the need, once again, to conjugate faith with reason. For to act against reason is in fact to act against God, as Pope Benedict XVI said at the University of Regensburg on 12 September 2006: ” ‘In the beginning was the Logos‘…. Logos means both reason and word – a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason.”  And, “A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion to the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures”.



Thus we are in a world in which – because of material and human precariousness, the dangers of war and the hazards of the environment, in the face of the failure of the great political systems of the past century – men and women of this generation are once again asking themselves the essential questions on the meaning of life and death, on the meaning of history and of the consequences that amazing scientific discoveries might bring in their wake. It had been forgotten that the human being is the only creature who asks questions and questions himself. It is remarkable that Nostra Aetate, the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, should underline this aspect of things in its introduction: “Men look to their different religions for an answer to the unsolved riddles of human existence. The problems that weigh heavily on the hearts of men are the same today as in past ages. What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of life? What is upright behaviour, and what is sinful? Where does suffering originate, and what end does it serve? How can genuine happiness be found?” [3]


Thus we are all condemned to dialogue. What is dialogue? It is the search for an inter-understanding between two individuals with a view to a common interpretation of their agreement or their disagreement. It implies a common language, honesty in the presentation of one’s position and the desire to do one’s utmost to understand the other’s point of view.

Applied to interreligious dialogue, these presuppositions make it easier to understand that in the context of religion it is not a question of being “kind” to others to please them! Nor is it a matter of negotiation (in which I find the solution to problems and the matter is closed). In interreligious dialogue it is a question of taking a risk, not of accepting to give up my own convictions but of letting myself be called into question by the convictions of another, accepting to take into consideration arguments different to my own or those of my community. All religions, each one in its own way, strive to respond to the enigmas of the human condition. Each religion has its own identity but this identity enables me to take the religion of the other into consideration. It is from this that dialogue is born. Identity, otherness and dialogue go together.

My Christian faith proclaims that Jesus “the true light that enlightens all people was coming into the world” (Jn 1:9) This means that in every human being there is the light of Christ. Consequently, all that is positive existing in religions is not without shadows. All that is positive shares in the great Light which shines on all the lights. One then understands better the prologue of Nostra Aetate and the document “Dialogue and Proclamation”: all that is true and holy in every religion is accepted, strengthened and brought to its completion in Christ. It is the logic of the Incarnation: the Logos assumes, purifies and glorifies human nature! But be careful: we do not say “all religions are of equal value”. We say “All those in search of God have equal dignity”!


The aim of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, established by Paul VI on the day of Pentecost 1964, is to apply this vision of things which emerged from the Declaration Nostra Aetate (the Second Vatican Council’s shortest declaration). The Dicastery has three goals:

(i) to further mutual knowledge, respect and collaboration among Catholics and the members of non-Christian religions;

(ii) to encourage and coordinate the study of these religions;

(iii) to promote the training of people destined for interreligious dialogue.

It is important to emphasize that the artisans of this interreligious dialogue are not officials of our Dicastery but members of the faithful and pastors from the local Churches. We only intervene to help them in order to encourage, in a doctrinally correct manner, knowledge and collaboration among believers who are called, in the very first place, to convert, that is, to draw close to God and submit to his will. This type of dialogue is an essentially religious activity.

Our Council is structured as follows: a group of members who are Cardinals and Bishops from various countries, who meet at a Plenary Assembly every two/three years; a group of consultors (about 30 specialists from more or less everywhere); and the staff of the Dicastery.

Together we endeavour to follow the path marked out by Benedict XVI: “to examine God’s mystery in the light of our respective religious traditions and wisdom so as to discern the values likely to illumine the men and women of all the peoples on earth, whatever their culture and religion…. Our respective religious traditions all insist on the sacred character of the life and dignity of the human person…. Together with all people of good will, we aspire to peace. That is why I insist once again: interreligious and intercultural research and dialogue are not an option but a vital need for our time.” [4]

It is always necessary to return to Nostra Aetate, particularly paragraphs 2 and 3: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (Jn 1:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (II Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life” (no. 2). And it is necessary to mention the special relations which unite Christians and Muslims who “worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty… who has also spoken to men” (no. 3), as well as the existing bonds with the Jews, from whom “the Church … received the revelation of the Old Testament” and to whose race, “according to the flesh” Christ and the Apostles belonged (cf. no. 4).

Then one understands better, as the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio [5]
said, that interreligious dialogue “does not originate from tactical concerns or self-interest”, but “is demanded by deep respect for everything that has been brought about in human beings by the Spirit who blows where he wills”. Thus, “through dialogue, the Church seeks to uncover the ‘seeds of the Word’, a ‘ray of that truth which enlightens all men’, these are found in individuals and in the religious traditions of mankind”. Consequently, “the religions constitute a positive challenge for the Church: they stimulate her both to discover and acknowledge the signs of Christ’s presence and of the working of the Spirit, as well as to examine more deeply her own identity and to bear witness to the fullness of Revelation which she has received for the good of all” (no. 56, passim).

One can say that from the end of the Second Vatican Council to our own day, Catholics have moved on from tolerance to encounter, to arrive at dialogue:




– dialogue of life: good neighbourly relations with non-Christians which encourage the sharing of joys and troubles;

– dialogue of works: collaboration with a view to the well-being of both groups, especially people who live alone, in poverty or sickness;

– dialogue of theological exchanges which permits experts to understand in depth the respective religious heritages;

– dialogue of spiritualities which makes available the riches of the life of prayer of both to all, in both groups;

Interreligious dialogue therefore mobilizes all those who are on their way towards God or towards the Absolute.

Believers who carry on this kind of dialogue do not pass unnoticed. They are a society’s wealth. Since citizens who adhere to a religion are the majority, there is a “religious fact” that is essential, to the extent that all religious faith is practised in the heart of a community!  By their number, by the length of their traditions, by the visibility of their institutions and their rites, believers are present and can be identified. They are appreciated or they are opposed, but they never leave one indifferent, which brings their leaders to get on with other communities of believers without losing their identity and to meet each other without antagonism. Civil authorities must only take note of the religious fact, watch in order to guarantee the effective respect for freedom of conscience and religion, and only intervene if this freedom is damaging to the freedom of non-believers or disturbs public order and health.

But more positively, it is always in the interest of leaders of societies to encourage interreligious dialogue and to draw on the spiritual and moral heritage of religions for a number of values likely to contribute to mental harmony, to encounters between cultures and to the consolidation of the common good. Moreover all religions, in different ways, urge their followers to collaborate with all those who endeavour to assure respect for the dignity of the human person and their fundamental rights; to develop a sense of brotherhood and mutual assistance; to draw inspiration from the “know-how” of communities of believers who, at least once a week, gather together millions of widely differing people in the context of their worship in authentic spiritual communion; and to help the men and women of today to avoid being enslaved by fashion, consumerism and profit alone.

To conclude, then, to the question: “Interreligious dialogue: a risk or an opportunity”?  I answer, it is both!

If this is so, you might ask me: “But then why is it that religions frighten people?” I answer that we should not fear religions: they generally preach brotherhood! It is their followers of whom we should be afraid. It is they who can pervert religion by putting it at the service of evil designs. Religious fanaticism, for example, is a perversion of religion, as is the justification of terrorism in the name of religious values. Religious leaders must have the courage to condemn and to excise these “tumours”.

Unfortunately, however, other factors contribute to fostering a fear of religions: the fact that we are very often ignorant of the content of other religions; the fact that we have not met the believers of other religions;  our reticence in confronting other believers for the simple reason that we have not very clear ideas about our own religion! – and then, of course, the acts of violence or terrorism perpetrated in the name of a religion; and, further, the difficulties encountered in practising their faith by believers belonging to minority groups in countries where a majority religion enjoys a privileged status because of history or law.

In order to remedy this situation it is necessary to have a clear-cut spiritual identity: to know in whom and in what one believes; to consider the other not as a rival, but as a seeker of God; to agree to speak of what separates us and of the values that unite us.

Let us take the case of Islam. What separates us cannot be camouflaged:

– the relationship with our respective Scriptures: for a Muslim the Qu’ran is a “supernatural dictation” recorded by the prophet of Islam, while for a Christian, Revelation is not a book, but a Person;

– the Person of Jesus, whom Muslims consider to be only an exceptional prophet;

– the dogma of the Trinity which leads Muslims to say that we are polytheists.

But there are also realities which see us united and sometimes even collaborating in the dissemination of the same cause:

– faith in the oneness of God, the Author of life and of the material world;

– the sacred character of the human person which has permitted, for example, collaboration of the Holy See and of Muslim countries at the United Nations to prevent resolutions that damage families;

– vigilance to prevent symbols considered “sacred” from being made the object of public derision.


I would like to indicate also some concrete areas of life where Christians and Muslims together can contribute effectively to the common good of society:

First, by witnessing to a life of prayer, both individual and communal, recalling that “Man does not live on bread alone”. In our world today it is a must to stress and to show the necessity of an interior life.

Secondly, Christians and Muslims faithful to their spiritual commitments can help to understand better that freedom of religion means much more than having a Church or a Mosque at their disposal (this is obvious and the minimum you can ask) but it is also to having the opportunity to take part in public dialogue through culture (of schools, universities) and also through political and social responsibilities in which believers must be models.

Together Christian and Muslims must not hesitate to defend the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the family, as they did in the framework of recent meetings organized by the United Nations.  They should not refrain from uniting their efforts to fight against illiteracy and disease.  They have the common responsibility to provide moral formation for youth.  Finally, they must be peacemakers and teach the pedagogy of peace in the family, in the church and mosque, at school and at university.

In the Open Letter of the 138 Muslim leaders addressed to the Christian religious leaders, it is opportunely stressed that Christians and Muslims represent 55% of the world population and consequently, if they are faithful to their own religion, they can do a lot for the common good, for peace and harmony in the societies of which they are members.

Such a context is favourable for calmly tackling ancient, “thorny subjects”: the question of the rights of the human person; the principle of freedom of conscience and of religion; reciprocity with regard to places of worship.




Lastly, what engenders fear is above all a lack of knowledge of the other. It is necessary for us to first become acquainted with one another in order to love one another! This is God’s will. As Pope Benedict XVI said in Turkey: “We are called to work together, so as to help society to open itself to the transcendent, giving Almighty God his rightful place…”  [6]

Finally, I should say that Christians and Muslims are heralds of a two-fold message:

1. Only God is worthy of adoration. Therefore all the idols made by human beings (wealth, power, appearance, hedonism) constitute a danger for the dignity of the human person, God’s creature.

2. In God’s sight, all men and women belong to the same race, to the same family. They are all called to freedom and to encounter Him after death.

If I may say so, believers are prophets of hope. They do not believe in fate. They know that, gifted by God with a heart and intelligence, they can, with His help, change the course of history in order to orientate their life according to the project of the Creator: that is to say, make of humanity an authentic family of which each one of us is a member. Anyway, for us Christians, we must always remember Paul’s exhortation in the letter to the Romans: “Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.” (14:19) It is a beautiful roadmap, isn’t it?!

But having said that, we must be humble. We have not explained God!  We have to stop on the threshold of mystery, “…the Mystery of God where man is grasped instead of grasping, where he worships instead of reasoning, where he himself is conquered, instead of conquering.” [7]

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran is President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.  This article is adapted from a lecture given at Heythrop College, University of London on Tuesday 27 May 2008.

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

[1] In Théologie de la culture, éd. Placet 1978 p. 92; [Theology of Culture, 1959]
Fides et Ratio, no. 17
Nostra Aetate, no. 1
Address to the members of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, 1 February 2007
[5] 7 December 1990
Meeting with the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Conference Room of the “Diyanet”, Ankara, 28 November 2006
[7] Karl Rahner


Vatican Writing a Guide on DialogueCardinal Says 10 Commandments would be Inspiration


By Inmaculada Álvarez, Vatican City, June 5, 2008 (Zenit.org)

The time is right for a guide to help Catholics engage in dialogue with other religions, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced plans for the new guide Wednesday at the opening of the dicastery’s general assembly meeting. The meeting will end Saturday with an audience with Benedict XVI.

He said the council’s 10th plenary assembly, whose theme is “Dialogue in Truth and Charity,” will focus on the “elaboration of guidelines for interreligious dialogue.” “After many years of vacillations on its opportuneness, the moment has arrived to offer a guide-document for pastors and faithful,” said the cardinal.

Cardinal Tauran said the guidelines will be inspired by the Ten Commandments, “universal grammar that all believers can use in their relationship with God and with their neighbor.” He noted it is urgent and necessary to prepare the faithful “to understand that all believers have a common patrimony: faith in one only God, the sacredness of life, the need for fraternity, and the experience of prayer, which is the language of religion.”

“We will reflect on the numerous challenges relating to the truth about man, the world and God,” explained the Vatican official. “In connection with interreligious dialogue, we will place particular emphasis on the truth about God, our creator, to whom all things must be referred, and who is the only one who gives definitive meaning to our life and to human history.”

“Jesus has revealed the truth about God and about man and that is why it is the Good News for us,” continued Cardinal Tauran. “We cannot put it under the bushel basket. Our Christian life should illuminate the entire house.” However, he added, it is necessary to “prepare them to share their spiritual convictions, while keeping in mind those of others.”

Also at http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0802983.htm June 4, 2008


Pope Advises Formation Before DialogueSays Knowledge of One’s Faith Takes Priority

Vatican City, June 8, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Interreligious dialogue is nourished by an adequate formation in the faith and by a profound knowledge of the beliefs of others, says Benedict XVI. The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving in audience participants in the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Vatican dicastery, greeted the Pope and explained to him the issues that were discussed during the dicastery’s meeting, which focused on the theme “Dialogue in Truth and Charity: Pastoral Orientations.”




The sessions took into consideration some practical issues regarding interreligious relationships: identity of the dialogue partner, religious education in schools, conversions, proselytism, reciprocity, religious freedom and the role of religious leaders in society. “As Christians,” Cardinal Tauran said, “we are convinced that God alone is the absolute truth and that he has opened the human heart to the desire for truth,” and that “that all men and women are called to know and live such truth.” Nevertheless, he added, “it is necessary to reach a delicate balance between the proclamation of the truth and the respect of the spiritual journey and freedom of conscience of persons.”
Truth and charity “Charity presupposes the welcoming of the other in his diversity,” said the cardinal, “but it also implies the duty of sharing our religious patrimony with him.” He noted that “truth, diversity and dialogue are inseparable.”

Cardinal Tauran informed the Pope that his dicastery is preparing a document containing some “guidelines” for dialogue directed at pastors and faithful who live in multiethnic, multireligious and multicultural societies.
Benedict XVI observed in his address that “all the Church’s activities must be permeated with love,” because it is love “that invites every believer to listen to others and to seek areas of collaboration” without impositions.
Nevertheless, the Pope added, the “great proliferation of interreligious meetings in the world today requires discernment.”
Indeed, he explained, to “be authentic such dialogue must be a journey of faith,” and at the same time “it is necessary that the promoters be well-formed in their faith and well-informed about the beliefs of others.” In light of these necessities and of the challenges posed by an ever more pluralistic society, the Pontiff said that he “had encouraged the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in organizing formation courses and programs for interreligious dialogue on behalf of different groups, especially for young seminarians and people who run institutes of tertiary education.”
“Religious collaboration offers the opportunity of expressing the highest ideals of every religious tradition,” said the Holy Father. “Helping the sick, giving succor to victims of natural disasters and violence, care of the elderly and the poor: These are some of the sectors in which persons of different religions can work together.”


Papal Address to Dialogue Council“Church’s Activities Are to be Imbued With Love”

Vatican City, June 9, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Here is the English-language address Benedict XVI gave Saturday upon receiving participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you at the conclusion of the Tenth Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. To all of you taking part in this important gathering I extend cordial greetings. I thank in particular Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran for his gracious words.
“Dialogue in ‘veritate et caritate’: Pastoral Orientations” — this is the theme of your Plenary Assembly. I am happy to learn that during these days you have sought to arrive at a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church’s approach to people of other religious traditions. You have considered the broader purpose of dialogue — to discover the truth — and the motivation for it, which is charity, in obedience to the divine mission entrusted to the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the inauguration of my Pontificate I affirmed that “the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole” (Address to Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, 25 April 2005). Through the ministry of the Successors of Peter, including the work of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the efforts of local Ordinaries and the People of God throughout the world, the Church continues to reach out to followers of different religions. In this way she gives expression to that desire for encounter and collaboration in truth and freedom. In the words of my venerable Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, the Church’s principal responsibility is service to the Truth — “truth about God, truth about man and his hidden destiny, truth about the world, truth which we discover in the Word of God” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 78).
Human beings seek answers to some of the fundamental existential questions: What is the origin and destiny of human beings? What are good and evil? What awaits human beings at the end of their earthly existence? All people have a natural duty and a moral obligation to seek the truth. Once it is known, they are bound to adhere to it and to order their whole lives in accordance with its demands (cf. Nostra Aetate, 1 and Dignitatis Humanae, 2).
Dear friends, “Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14). It is the love of Christ which impels the Church to reach out to every human being without distinction, beyond the borders of the visible Church. The source of the Church’s mission is Divine Love. This love is revealed in Christ and made present through the action of the Holy Spirit. All the Church’s activities are to be imbued with love (cf. Ad Gentes, 2-5; Evangelii Nuntiandi, 26, and Dialogue and Mission, 9). Thus, it is love that urges every believer to listen to the other and seek areas of collaboration. It encourages Christian partners in dialogue with the followers of other religions to propose, but not impose, faith in Christ who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:16). As I said in my recent Encyclicals, the Christian faith has shown us that “truth, justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty realities” (Spe Salvi, 39). For the Church, “charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being” (Deus Caritas Est, 25).
The great proliferation of interreligious meetings around the world today calls for discernment. In this regard, I am pleased to note that during these days you have reflected on pastoral orientations for interreligious dialogue. Since the Second Vatican Council, attention has been focused on the spiritual elements which different religious traditions have in common. In many ways, this has helped to build bridges of understanding across religious boundaries. I understand that during your discussions you have been considering some of the issues of practical concern in interreligious relations: the identity of the partners in dialogue, religious education in schools, conversion, proselytism, reciprocity, religious freedom, and the role of religious leaders in society. These are important issues to which religious leaders living and working in pluralistic societies must pay close attention.


It is important to emphasize the need for formation for those who promote interreligious dialogue. If it is to be authentic, this dialogue must be a journey of faith. How necessary it is for its promoters to be well formed in their own beliefs and well informed about those of others. It is for this reason that I encourage the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to organize formation courses and programmes in interreligious dialogue for different Christian groups, especially seminarians and young people in tertiary educational institutions.
Interreligious collaboration provides opportunities to express the highest ideals of each religious tradition. Helping the sick, bringing relief to the victims of natural disasters or violence, caring for the aged and the poor: these are some of the areas in which people of different religions collaborate. I encourage all those who are inspired by the teaching of their religions to help the suffering members of society.
Dear friends, as you come to the end of your Plenary Assembly, I thank you for the work you have done. I ask you to take the message of good will from the Successor of Peter to your Christian flock and to all our friends of other religions.


Dialogue among the Religions. The Vatican Prepares the Guidelines


By Sandro Magister, ROMA, June 11, 2008

The plenary meeting that the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue held at the Vatican last week was the first of this pontificate, and took place with a new president – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran – and with experts who were also newcomers to a great extent. And the aim of the plenary session was itself new: to develop new guidelines for the bishops, priests, and faithful in relating to other religions. This objective, Cardinal Tauran said, was decided “after many years of hesitation over its appropriateness.”
On Saturday, June 9, at the end of the three-day meeting, Benedict XVI received the participants in the Sala del Concistoro. He encouraged the publication of the guidelines because, he said, “the great proliferation of interreligious meetings in today’s world requires discernment.” This last word is used in ecclesiastical language to urge critical analysis and the choices that stem from it. In effect, the relationship with men of other religions has been and is being practiced in different and sometimes contradictory ways within the Catholic Church.
In the Muslim countries, for example, the most widespread practice among Catholics is that of the silent testimony of Christian life. There are reasons of prudence that justify this practice. But against those who justify it always and everywhere, the congregation for the doctrine of the faith published a doctrinal note last December 3, presenting instead a thesis previously voiced by Paul VI in “Evangelii Nuntiandi” in 1975:
“Even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not […] made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus.”
The guidelines that the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue is preparing to publish will point in this direction. In introducing the plenary assembly, Cardinal Tauran said:
“We know that the Holy Spirit works in every man and every woman, independently of his religious or spiritual creed. But on the other hand, we must proclaim that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God has revealed to us the truth about God and the truth about man, and for us this is the Good News. We cannot hide this truth under a bushel basket.”
Speaking to 200 representatives of other religions during his recent visit to the United States, Benedict XVI expressed himself no less clearly: “It is Jesus whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue. […] In our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. […] The higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets.”
This does not eliminate the fact that there is common ground for action among men of different beliefs, as the guidelines will insist. Introducing the plenary session, Tauran also said:
“The Ten Commandments are a sort of universal grammar that all believers can use in their relationship with God and neighbor. […] In creating man, God ordered him with wisdom and love to his end, through the law written within his heart (Romans 2:15), the natural law. This is nothing other than the light of intelligence infused within us by God. Thanks to this, we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God gave us this light and this law at creation.”

Next November, a meeting is planned in Rome between authorities and experts of the Catholic Church, and a delegation of the 138 Muslims. Meanwhile, one of the 138, Mustafa Cherif, a former education minister and ambassador of Algeria, has published a commentary on two recent events in his country in the monthly “Mondo e Missione” of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
The first of these events, which took place in early June, was the sentencing of four Algerians for converting from Islam to Christianity. The four are Protestant, but a similar sentence had been pronounced previously against a Catholic priest, guilty of leading a prayer, at Christmas, for a group of immigrants from Cameroon.
Cherif calls “incomprehensible and deplorable” the ways in which the question of proselytism is addressed in Algeria, because “our vision of law is founded on the Qur’anic principle: no imposition in matters of religion.”
And he adds: “Moreover, our Catholic friends in Algeria, who have been here for fifty years, have never tried to convert anyone, although they do have the right to witness to their faith. This, in spite of the fact that the current pope frequently recalls the central nature of the evangelizing mission for the Catholic Church.”
The second event Cherif comments on is connected to this previous observation: the resignation, for reasons of age, of the archbishop of Algiers, Henri Teissier, made official by the Vatican last May 24.


Cherif draws a portrait of the elderly archbishop as “one of those moderate priests who seek the right balance, aware also of the reforms needed within the Church, and not hesitating sometimes to express their disagreements with the Vatican, especially over relations with Muslims.” As evidence of the “right balance” sought by Teissier, Cherif writes:
“Last December, the Vatican published a doctrinal note that reaffirms the mission of evangelizing non-Catholics. […] Sometimes, nonetheless, after leaving to evangelize the world, many priests and pastors have set themselves to learn from the people they have encountered and from their culture, without necessarily seeking to divert them from their original religion. Archbishop Henri Teissier is one of those great men of faith who respect the other.”
Cherif adds that he met Teissier for the first time in Cordoba in 1974, on the occasion of an international Islamic-Christian conference: “It is important to recall that at that juncture, through the personal intervention of Archbishop Teissier with the bishop of Cordoba, our group of Muslim participants was authorized to hold our Friday prayers in the mosque of Cordoba.”
The “mosque” cited here is properly, and has been for centuries, the cathedral church of the city.

The third interesting novelty is the criticism made against Benedict XVI, but even more so against the Islamic world as a whole, by a prominent Muslim intellectual, Mohammed Arkoun.
Arkoun, 80, born in Algeria, has taught at the Sorbonne, at Princeton, and at other famous universities in Europe and America. Today, he is the research director at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, founded by Aga Khan.
Interviewed by John Allen, the Vatican analyst for the “National Catholic Reporter,” during a conference in Lugano, Switzerland, Arkoun took his cue from the lecture in Regensburg:
“Pope Benedict has said that an intimate relationship between reason and faith does not exist in Islamic elaboration and expressions. This statement, historically speaking, is not true. If we consider the period from the 8th century to the 13th century, it is simply not true. But after the death of the philosopher Averroes in 1198, philosophy disappeared in Islamic thought. To that extent the pope was right […]. The fact is today, when one speaks with Muslims, they don’t have any idea about this history.”
And the 138 who signed the letter are no exception, Arkoun continues: “I don’t know any historians of thought among them.”
So the pope is mistaken to choose them as dialogue partners:
“The pope should create a kind of space of debate, instead of all these so-called interreligious dialogues that have been going on since the Second Vatican Council. I’ve participated in so many of them, and I can tell you that they’re absolutely nothing. It’s gossip. There’s no intellectual input in it. There is no respect for scholarship in it. A huge scholarship has already been produced devoted to the question of faith and reason. All this is put aside and we ignore it. We just congratulate one another, saying: ‘I respect your faith, and you respect mine.’ This is nonsense.”
And to the question of whether the young Muslim generations have a real thirst for a new way of expressing their faith, different from that of the “ulema on the television,” Arkoun responds:
“Of course. When [in Egypt] I give a lecture, the turnout is enormous. The interest of people is very strong. Also the older generations are happy, they feel they can breathe. People applauded when I said after this affair with the pope [Pope Benedict’s 2006 lecture at the University of Regensburg] that Muslims should not go to the street demonstrating against him, but they should run to the libraries. They should know what has happened to Islamic thought after the 13th century.”
The June 7, 2008 address by Benedict XVI to the plenary assembly of the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue:
> “I am pleased to have this opportunity…”

And two earlier speeches, in which the pope clearly formulated his vision of dialogue. With religions in general, in Washington on April 17, 2008:
> “I am pleased to have this occasion…”

And with Islam in particular, in the final paragraphs of the address to the Roman curia on December 22, 2006:
> “I meet you today with great joy…”

The December 3, 2007 note of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith:
> Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization

The International Studies and Research Center “Oasis,” of the patriarchate of Venice:
> Oasis

The magazine of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, in which the comments cited from Mustafa Cherif will be published:
> Mondo e Missione

The blog of John L. Allen Jr., with the interview with Mohammed Arkoun:
> Seeking dialogue with “Islam of the people”

All of the articles from www.chiesa on this topic:
> Focus on ISLAM


Pope Questions Interfaith Dialogue


By Rachel Donadio, Rome, November 23, 2008

In comments on Sunday that could have broad implications in a period of intense religious conflict, Pope Benedict XVI cast doubt on the possibility of interfaith dialogue but called for more discussion of the practical consequences of religious differences.

The pope’s comments came in a letter he wrote to Marcello Pera, an Italian center-right politician and scholar whose forthcoming book, “Why We Must Call Ourselves Christian,” argues that Europe should stay true to its Christian roots. A central theme of Benedict’s papacy has been to focus attention on the Christian roots of an increasingly secular Europe.

In quotations from the letter that appeared on Sunday in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the pope said the book “explained with great clarity” that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”



But Benedict added that “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” was important. He called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope’s comments seemed intended to draw interest to Mr. Pera’s book, not to cast doubt on the Vatican’s many continuing interreligious dialogues.

“He has a papacy known for religious dialogue; he went to a mosque, he’s been to synagogues,” Father Lombardi said. “This means that he thinks we can meet and talk to the others and have a positive relationship.”

To some scholars, the pope’s remarks seemed aimed at pushing more theoretical interreligious conversations into the practical realm. “He’s trying to get the Catholic-Islamic dialogue out of the clouds of theory and down to brass tacks: how can we know the truth about how we ought to live together justly, despite basic creedal differences?” said George Weigel, a Catholic scholar and biographer of Pope John Paul II.

This month, the Vatican held a conference with Muslim religious leaders and scholars aimed at improving ties. The conference participants agreed to condemn terrorism and protect religious freedom, but they did not address issues of conversion and of the rights of Christians in majority Muslim countries to worship.

The church is also engaged in dialogue with Muslims organized by the king of Saudi Arabia, a country where non-Muslims are forbidden from worshiping in public.


Jesus Christ among the religions


By Archbishop Denis Hart, November 15, 2009

The Parliament of the World’s Religions will be held in Melbourne from 3-9 December. Several thousand visitors to Melbourne, plus many locals, are expected to participate. Although it is called a “parliament”, this gathering is not in any way a representative body, nor are any votes taken. It will be a very large event with many different programs open to anyone in the public who wishes to register. Many religious communities in Melbourne, Australia, and around the world, including our Archdiocese and other Catholics, are participating and contributing to the Parliament in various ways.

I warmly welcome the Parliament of the World’s Religions to Melbourne. I believe we will benefit from a greater understanding of the rich variety of the world’s faiths – if we approach the experience in a way that leads to a deeper love of Jesus. So I want to take this opportunity of outlining briefly the way the Catholic Church understands the place of Jesus Christ among the religions of the world.

When Jesus came to Israel 2000 years ago, he came to a world in which the faith of Abraham existed as one among many other religions. Almost all of these religions were what we call “polytheist” (believing in many gods) or “traditional” (the various tribal religions).

Only Israel believed in the God who revealed himself to Abraham. They believed that he was the “one God”, the creator of the heavens and the earth. They also believed that this one God of Abraham had been active in their history, bringing them out of Egypt where they were slaves, and bringing them back from Babylon where they were exiles.

When Jesus was born, the Jewish people were expecting a new age in which a king, descended from King David, would bring them freedom and peace. In this new age, they believed that their God would bring his just judgement upon the world, and that finally all nations would be united in acknowledging the God of Israel as the only true God.

The first Christians believed that this new age had begun when Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead and sent God’s Spirit upon them. They witnessed to Jesus and proclaimed the “Good News” (the Gospel) of his Kingdom wherever they went, believing that in this way Israel’s hope would be fulfilled and the whole world would be joined as one worshipping the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was not that they believed that their religion was the ‘best’ religion or a ‘better’ religion than any other; rather they were convinced that what they proclaimed about Jesus was true, that through Jesus people really could come to live holy lives, and that He alone could save people from the coming judgment and bring them into a real and eternal relationship with God. It is this same confident conviction that must characterise our relations with people of other religions today.

Today we live in a world which has, if anything, even more religions than the ancient world. As well as polytheists and traditional religions, today there are also other monotheistic faiths who believe in the one God of Abraham. These include the Jews who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, and Muslims who have their own traditions about the God of Abraham. As the Christian faith spread to all nations, it also came into contact with the ancient eastern traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. These and many other religions will be represented at the Parliament.

The Second Vatican Council set a new tone for the way in which Catholics relate to other religions, by acknowledging that “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions” (Nostra Aetate §3*). In fact, this should not surprise us. Any practice or teaching which the Catholic Church holds to be “true and holy” within its own faith must be acknowledged as “true and holy” even if it is found in a non-Christian religion. As Jesus himself said: “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk 9:40).

*I believe this is an error. The citation is from Nostra Aetate §2 -Michael

For this reason, the Council went on to say that “the Church, therefore, urges her children to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture” (Nostra Aetate §3**).

**I believe this too is an error. The citation is from Nostra Aetate §2 -Michael



We naturally want to engage with and seek to understand people of other faiths in order to ensure that our relationships with them are harmonious and peaceful and that their human right to freedom of belief is respected, just as we wish our rights to be respected.

At the same time, we also always keep in mind that we have been commissioned to give constant witness to our faith in Jesus Christ as the true and unique revelation of God, as our Saviour and as the one who can lead us to true holiness and communion with God.

Where there is truth and holiness in other religions, we acknowledge this, and use it as an opportunity in dialogue to bear witness that wherever truth and holiness exists, it has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ. Our dialogue with people of other faiths will also give us the opportunity for giving account of our hope of salvation in Jesus.

This does not mean that we do all the talking. True dialogue means listening as well as having something to say. Although we must always remain steadfast in the doctrines of our own faith and must guard against anything that contradicts it, we can be open to the possibility that God wants to teach us something through our encounter with those who follow other religious paths, and to acknowledge that, in his divine plan, they also may serve some good purpose.

As a good rule of thumb, we should remember that while the Church always proposes Jesus Christ, she never imposes faith in Christ on anyone. In this we need to have confidence in Jesus himself, that he is indeed “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Others will not be converted to Christ by our efforts, or by the strength of our arguments.

If we believe that Christ is really “the Truth”, we will have the confidence to simply witness to this Truth and to leave the work of conversion to him.
As Pope John Paul II taught in his encyclical Fides et Ratio, “The truth, which is Christ, imposes itself as an all-embracing authority” (§15). Our task is simply to take every opportunity to witness to this Truth, that is to Jesus.

In the same encyclical, Pope John Paul II also taught “From their different locations and traditions all are called in Christ to share in the unity of the family of God’s children… Jesus destroys the walls of division and creates unity in a new and unsurpassed way through our sharing in his mystery. This unity is so deep that the Church can say with St Paul: ‘You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are saints and members of the household of God’ (Eph 2:19)” (Fides et Ratio, §70).

I pray that our participation in the Parliament of the World’s Religions may be an opportunity to engage with those who may seem to be ‘strangers’ to us, and an opening for us to bear authentic witness to the saving and unifying love of Jesus for all people.


Vatican says Assisi meeting will not include interreligious prayer


By Cindy Wooden, Vatican City, April 4, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the world’s major religions will make speeches and sign a common commitment to peace when they meet in Assisi in October, but they will not pray together, the Vatican said.
In fact, Pope Benedict’s formal prayer service will be held at the Vatican the evening before the encounter Oct. 27 in Assisi with leaders of other Christian communities and representatives of the world’s main religions.
The October gathering will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s “prayer for peace” encounter in Assisi. The 1986 event was seen by many as a milestone in interreligious relations but was criticized by some Catholics who said it appeared to inappropriately mix elements from Christian and non-Christian religions.
The Vatican press office issued a statement April 2 giving the theme for the 2011 event — “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace” — and a general outline of events.
“Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness,” the Vatican statement said.
The search requires people to enter into dialogue with others, “believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism” where elements of different religions are used indiscriminately, the statement said.

“To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace. These are the elements that the Holy Father wishes to place at the centre of reflection,” the Vatican said.

The statement said Pope Benedict will prepare for the Assisi gathering by hosting a prayer service with Catholics from the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 26.
Other Catholic dioceses and other Christian communities are encouraged to organize similar prayer services, the statement said.
The Vatican said the pope was inviting to Assisi representatives of other religions, other Christian communities and representatives of the worlds of culture and science who do not profess a religious belief, but who “regard themselves as seekers of the truth and are conscious of a shared responsibility for the cause of justice and peace.” The pontifical councils for interreligious dialogue, for promoting Christian unity and for culture are distributing the invitations.
Pope Benedict and other participants will take a train to Assisi Oct. 27, the statement said.
After speeches in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, there will be a simple lunch, followed by “a period of silence for individual reflection and prayer.”
In the afternoon, participants will go in pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Francis, the saint’s resting place, where they will make “a solemn renewal of the joint commitment to peace,” the Vatican said.


Pope for inculturation, dialogue with religions


May 18, 2011



Pope Benedict XVI stressed on inculturation and dialogue with other religions when two groups of Latin Rite bishops from India on their ad limina visit to Rome met him on May 16.

He said Christian commitment to live and to bear witness to the Gospel has distinct challenges in every time and place.

“This is certainly true of your country, which is home to various ancient religions, including Christianity,” he added.

The pontiff said that Christian life in multi-religious societies always demands honesty and sincerity about one’s own beliefs and respect for those of one’s neighbor.

The presentation of the Gospel in such circumstances, therefore, involves the delicate process of inculturation.

This is an undertaking which respects and maintains the uniqueness and integrity of the divine revelation given to the Church as her inheritance, while showing that it is intelligible and attractive to those for whom it is proposed.

The process of inculturation requires that priests, religious and lay catechists carefully employ the languages and appropriate customs of the people they serve in presenting the Good News.

“As you strive to meet the challenging circumstances of proclaiming that message in the various cultural settings in which you find yourselves, you are called to oversee this process with a fidelity to the deposit of faith which has been handed down to us to maintain and transmit.”

Combine that fidelity with sensitivity and creativity, so that you may give a convincing account of the hope that is within you, the pope added.

He said he is aware of the “challenging circumstances” many bishops face as they dialogue with people of other religions, while encouraging an atmosphere of tolerant interaction.

The pontiff asked the bishops to offer prudent leadership to their people who strive to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors of other beliefs.

He also wanted the prelates to offer leadership to safeguard the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of worship.

The Catholic Church strives to promote these rights for all religions throughout the world, the pope added.

He urged the bishops to work patiently to establish the common ground necessary for the harmonious enjoyment of these “basic rights in your communities”.

Even if Christians encounter opposition, their charity and forbearance should convince others of the rightness of religious tolerance, he explained.

When facing problems of religious tension, the Pope said the model set by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, served as an example of service to one’s neighbor, not just to India, but the entire world

He urged Indian Christians to avoid semblances of syncretism while they dialogue with people of other religions. “Your dialogue should be characterized by a constant regard for that which is true, in order to foster mutual respect while
avoiding semblances of syncretism,” the pope said.




September 30, 2010


The Word of God and Interreligious Dialogue

The value of interreligious dialogue

The Church considers an essential part of the proclamation of the word to consist in encounter, dialogue and cooperation with all people of good will, particularly with the followers of the different religious traditions of humanity. This is to take place without forms of syncretism and relativism, but along the lines indicated by the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate and subsequently developed by the magisterium of the Popes.[376] Nowadays the quickened pace of globalization makes it possible for people of different cultures and religions to be in closer contact. This represents a providential opportunity for demonstrating how authentic religiosity can foster relationships of universal fraternity. Today, in our frequently secularized societies, it is very important that the religions be capable of fostering a mentality that sees Almighty God as the foundation of all good, the inexhaustible source of the moral life, and the bulwark of a profound sense of universal brotherhood.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example, one finds a moving witness to God’s love for all peoples: in the covenant with Noah he joins them in one great embrace symbolized by the “bow in the clouds” (Gen 9:13,14,16) and, according to the words of the prophets, he desires to gather them into a single universal family (cf. Is 2:2ff; 42:6; 66:18-21; Jer 4:2; Ps 47). Evidence of a close connection between a relationship with God and the ethics of love for everyone is found in many great religious traditions.


Dialogue between Christians and Muslims

Among the various religions the Church also looks with respect to Muslims, who adore the one God.[377] They look to Abraham and worship God above all through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. We acknowledge that the Islamic tradition includes countless biblical figures, symbols and themes. Taking up the efforts begun by the Venerable John Paul II, I express my hope that the trust-filled relationships established between Christians and Muslims over the years will continue to develop in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue.[378] In this dialogue the Synod asked for a deeper reflection on respect for life as a fundamental value, the inalienable rights of men and women, and their equal dignity.



Taking into account the important distinction to be made between the socio-political order and the religious order, the various religions must make their specific contribution to the common good. The Synod asked Conferences of Bishops, wherever it is appropriate and helpful, to encourage meetings aimed at helping Christians and Muslims to come to better knowledge of one another, in order to promote the values which society needs for a peaceful and positive coexistence.[379]


Dialogue with other religions

Here too I wish to voice the Church’s respect for the ancient religions and spiritual traditions of the various continents. These contain values which can greatly advance understanding between individuals and peoples.[380] Frequently we note a consonance with values expressed also in their religious books, such as, in Buddhism, respect for life, contemplation, silence, simplicity; in Hinduism, the sense of the sacred, sacrifice and fasting; and again, in Confucianism, family and social values. We are also gratified to find in other religious experiences a genuine concern for the transcendence of God, acknowledged as Creator, as well as respect for life, marriage and the family, and a strong sense of solidarity.


Dialogue and religious freedom

All the same, dialogue would not prove fruitful unless it included authentic respect for each person and the ability of all freely to practise their religion. Hence the Synod, while encouraging cooperation between the followers of the different religions, also pointed out “the need for the freedom to profess one’s religion, privately and publicly, and freedom of conscience to be effectively guaranteed to all believers”:[381] indeed, “respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. Such respect and dialogue foster peace and understanding between peoples”.[382]










































Truth and Sincerity Seen as Keys for a Fruitful Interreligious Dialogue Says Editorial in Civiltà Cattolica


Rome, July 18, 2004

Interreligious dialogue is an imperative but must be based “on truth and sincerity” if it is to be fruitful, says the review Civiltà Cattolica. An editorial in the July 17 edition of the biweekly review pointed out both the problems and the possibilities presented by interreligious dialogue.
Civiltà Cattolica, which is revised by the Vatican Secretariat of State before being published, stated that interreligious dialogue has become “one of the Church’s urgencies.”
Dialogue needs certain conditions to be fruitful, the review said.

First, the idea must be overcome that religion is harmful and damaging. Instead, there is “a desire for dialogue to find points of agreement and extinguish powder kegs of war and conflict,” the editorial stated.
Among religions themselves, “The results are positive: a climate of mutual respect and trust has been created
to put an end to intolerance and the reciprocal ignorance of the past,” it continued.
Yet, whereas “The dialogue of life, agreement, understanding and acceptance has not been difficult, religious dialogue itself, called theological, has met with serious difficulties.”
Among the difficulties in the theological realm, the review said, is “the mutual ignorance of what the speakers believe.” Second, “the persistence of prejudices.”

The greatest difficulty in the Christian ambit, however, lies in deformed views of “the person of Jesus,” it stressed.
The review criticized the attempts of some theologians to reinterpret the Trinity and the incarnation of Jesus because they lead to a negation of the “uniqueness of Jesus Christ.”
Civiltà Cattolica stressed that for a Christian “Jesus Christ is the only Savior of all men.”

“In interreligious dialogue, Christianity does not try to make itself accepted by those who profess another religion, but wishes to make itself known in its true nature,” the editorial emphasized.

“Interreligious dialogue is authentic only if those who are committed to it present their own religious creed in its authenticity and integrity.”


The Acts of the Apostles in India. A Bishop Spurs on the Missionaries and Theologians


Rome, April 24, 2003 by Sandro Magister

“I see timidness and apathy, a sense of guilt, a lack of self-respect…” and the missions are dying.

But the Archbishop of Guwahati gives the remedy: imitate the Apostle Philip with the Ethiopian. 

The text shown beneath has as its author Thomas Menamparampil, the Archbishop of Guwahati, a city in Assam in eastern India. In his diocese there are six million inhabitants and just fifty thousand Catholics: the typical profile of a mission territory. And the missions are the crux of this commentary.
The missions, says Archbishop Menamparampil, 67, a Salesian, have been the first victim of a tendency toward the loss of self-respect that has pervaded Catholic thought for many years. Missionaries and theologians have been paralyzed by it, kept prisoner by internal disputes about interreligious dialogue, inculturation, and the salvific uniqueness of Christ.

The model of the Church as evangelizer should be, instead, that of Philip (in the image) and the Ethiopian eunuch, from the book of Acts.
This Indian Bishop’s commentary is intriguing because he touches upon   themes that are fundamental to the Catholic Church today. They are the themes that produced “Dominus Iesus” in 2001: the most unusual and controversial document from the Catholic magisterium in recent years.


Here are the essential passages: “How can I understand if no one instructs me?” (Acts 8:31) by Thomas Menamparampil.

In the hearts of many believers, there has recently arisen the hidden fear that, in contrast to the Christian teaching that is well accepted in Asia, the person of Christ might be an obstacle. […]
In reality, the problem is not the image of Christ. The difficulties could have another source. There could be unpurged colonial memories of erroneous histories received from countries considered Christian. There could be even now the perception of political and economic threats from these nations. […] But those who evangelize have the responsibility of making it clear that Christianity is more than the collective interest of a society or civilization. It means an encounter with God. […] It means a committed life. It requires an evangelical way of life. An evangelizer is truly effective only when he is himself free from the sense of being offended, in both personal and historical terms. In fact, part of the mission of the evangelizer is to heal the memory of historical wounds in the society in which he lives. Forgiveness is the only way to the future.
If those who bear the Gospel feel like strangers in their own country, they  must not blame anyone else; this happens only because they are far  from the simplicity, sincerity, and immediacy of the Gospel. […]

This is what the people of Asia are now asking, as the Ethiopian did then. It is essential that someone be able to teach. How can people believe “if they have not heard? And how can they hear unless someone preaches?”
(Romans 10:14). Philip began to speak, and beginning from that passage of Scripture, he preached to him the good news of Jesus” (Acts 8:35). The Ethiopian was baptized.



Thus the first important thing is that there be someone who explains.
The second is that this evangelizer should begin from the point at which he finds the person who poses the question: from his passage of Scripture, his problem in life, his state of soul, his level of education, the aspirations of his heart, the nature of his culture, and the limitations of his scope and vision.
In recent years one can note a sort of aversion on the part of many missionaries to assume the role of Philip. We should ask why. We can only guess at the reasons for such timidity or apathy. […]
And something of this is reflected in contemporary theological thought, the echo of which reaches even the field of the missions.  […] Many members of our missionary teams suffer from this “loss of self-respect,”
which derives from a sense of guilt toward their past and from a complex of uncertainty as to their future.
But such attitudes do not come from the Gospel. In fact, only the Gospel can raise up those who have done evil and those who have suffered it. It is the Gospel that permits them to turn their backs on history and move forward with confidence, and to take the future in their own hands.
Today, more than ever, people are waiting for this help from the Gospel.

Misunderstandings about Interreligious Dialogue
(Part 1)


Interview with Ilaria Morali,
A specialist in the theology of grace, and a lecturer in dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University, Morali teaches courses on salvation, non-Christian religions, and interreligious dialogue.

Rome, January 14, 2005 (

The idea of dialogue with other religions needs some clarifications, says theologian Ilaria Morali. A specialist in the theology of grace, and a lecture in dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University, Morali teaches courses on salvation, non-Christian religions, and interreligious dialogue.
In this interview with ZENIT, Morali discusses what the Second Vatican Council stated about dialogue with other religions, and makes distinctions between doctrinal documents and pastoral texts.
A lay Catholic, Morali gives particular importance to the declaration
“Dominus Iesus”,
published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000, to remind mankind that
Jesus Christ is the only valid mediator for salvation.

Q: The first time the term “dialogue” is found in a document of the magisterium is on Sept. 19, 1964. Can we say that, from that moment, a doctrine of dialogue began?
Morali: Paul VI’s encyclical “Ecclesiam Suam” was promulgated on Aug. 6, 1964, and was distributed to the Fathers, who participated in the Second Vatican Council, on Sept. 15.
Note, when we speak today of dialogue we understand it almost exclusively as interreligious dialogue. But in a more complete and balanced view, as proposed by Paul VI, it is only one aspect of dialogue between the Church and the world.
In relation to interreligious dialogue, Paul VI’s encyclical came therefore at a crucial moment between the institution of the Secretariat for Non-Christians, which took place in May 1964, now known as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the promulgation of “
Lumen Gentium,” the dogmatic constitution on the Church, on Nov. 21, 1964.
This occurred one year before the publication of the “Nostra Aetate” declaration on Oct. 28, 1965, and the “Ad Gentes” decree of Dec. 7, 1965. “Lumen Gentium” is, therefore, the first magisterial document that presents a whole number, 16, dedicated to non-Christians.
We can say therefore that a doctrine of dialogue took shape in its essential principles with “Ecclesiam Suam,” promulgated when No. 16 of “Lumen Gentium” was already in the final phase of its writing. There is, therefore, a privileged relation between the teaching on dialogue, proposed by Paul VI, and the doctrine of “Lumen Gentium” on Christians.
To understand the magisterial idea of dialogue in Paul VI, I would mention, in sum, at least three important points.
In the first place: Paul VI believed that reflection on dialogue must be preceded by reflection on the conscience of the Church. The faithful must be conscious of the vocation received at baptism. To forget such dignity acquired by grace means to lose sight of one’s own identity.
In the second place: The paradigm of dialogue that the Church establishes with the world, and therefore also
interreligious dialogue, is the “colloquium salutis” [dialogue of salvation] established by God in Christ with humanity. The Church must allow herself to be inspired by this model in her approach to the world.

In the third place: This interest is translated in apostolic concern and missionary action. Dialogue is precisely the name that Paul VI attributed to the impulse of interior charity, which tends to become an exterior gift of charity.
Historically this is the first definition of dialogue by the magisterium and the Pope presented it immediately after the quotation of Matthew 28:19 on the missionary mandate.
I think, really, that a “doctrine” of dialogue began to exist 40 years ago. Doctrine in the sense of a “normative teaching” of the magisterium that establishes precise limits to the definition and the practice of dialogue and, if forgotten, runs the risk
of entering a view of dialogue that is different from that of those who introduced it in the ecclesial vocabulary.

Q: What must be recalled of Vatican II in this connection?
Morali: The conciliar reflection 16 of “
Lumen Gentium” gravitates around the affirmation that non-Christians can attain eternal salvation and that such salvation is realized through grace that operates in persons.


A careful description is given in this number of God’s action in the innermost conscience of men who are ignorant of the Gospel.
I would like to remind that no mention is made of the other religions as mediations of grace or ways of salvation.
I add that “Lumen Gentium,” 16, remained as constant reference in the writing of the rest of the documents
that subsequently would address the topic of non-Christians: the “Nostra Aetate” declaration and the “Ad Gentes” decree.
I would like to make one final observation, in relation to the value of “Nostra Aetate.”
I think it is not an accident that in an official writing on “Nostra Aetate,” Cardinal Augustine Bea [first president of the secretariat for promoting Christian unity] explained to those who thought of attributing to “Nostra Aetate” the value of a
doctrinal document, that the declaration only gave guidelines of a practical order on the specific relationship between the Church and members of other religions.
Thus, “Nostra Aetate” was conceived as a practical appendix to the lines dictated by “Lumen Gentium” and more generally of conciliar ecclesiology.

Whoever today in the ecclesial and theological realm tends to forget “Lumen Gentium” and to attribute a doctrinal value to the “Nostra Aetate” declaration falls, in my understanding, into great ingenuousness and historical error.

Q: So, then, Vatican II never referred to the other religions as “ways of salvation”?
Morali: In regard to a judgment on the role of religions, the Council spoke of “evangelical preparations” in relation to “something good and authentic” that can be found in persons, and at times in religious initiatives.

In no page is explicit mention made of religions as ways of salvation.
From the historical-theological point of view, the patristic term of “evangelical preparations” used by the Council in “Lumen Gentium” and “Ad Gentes” is imitated by that vein of 20th-century theology that defined religions as preparations for the Gospel, as opposed to the thesis of religions as ways of salvation.
In a study that I will publish shortly, I show how, in the light of the conciliar minutes, it is obvious that the Council in no way wished to favor this last thesis. Someone might object that this reading of Vatican II is already contradicted by the very fact of the institution of the Secretariat for Non-Christians.

Q: Yes, that’s true. One could argue that with the creation of the Secretariat for Non-Christians the Church goes beyond this idea of the Council.
Morali: Indeed, many think that with the creation of this institution the Church would give religions a saving and peer role.
But this is not so, I repeat, recalling a very important historical detail: on September 29, 1964, hence, a few days after the distribution of the encyclical to the conciliar Fathers, the latter received an official Note which explained what the
Secretariat for Non-Christians is not and must not be.
Essentially, this Note stated:
— that the secretariat “is not an organ of the Council,” given that it worked in an environment of “non-Christians,” namely, of persons who “do not have valid reasons to justify their presence in the Council.”
— the secretariat does not tend “to treat doctrinal problems, and much less so to be concerned with the ministry of preaching and grace, or the task of missionaries, but to establish contacts with non-Christians, on questions of a general nature.”
Warning was given of “the dangers, if one was not careful, that threatened the activity of those who worked on the sense of the Secretariat for Non-Christians”: defeatism and indifference.
“By indifference we do not understand the coldness or incredulity of some in regard to the Christian faith, but the attitude of those who see all religions as being the same; in each one of them they see ways that lead to the top of the mountain. Therefore, they say to themselves, that if the guest arrives at the meeting, we should not be worried about the path he
In regard to syncretism, suffice it to know something of the religions of the Far East to realize the force of such a tendency. All the known beliefs come together and melt into one, so long as they present some secondary common aspects. The phenomenon is so strong and general that it has become a principle in the science of comparative religions. We think it opportune to open wide one’s eyes to these dangers.”
This is found in the conciliar minutes [AS III/I, 30-35].

Q: Do you mean to say by this that Vatican II’s documents are doctrinal but those of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the former Secretariat for Non-Christians, are pastoral?
Morali: As we see, this Note explains indirectly the reasons why the “Nostra Aetate” declaration was not written by the secretariat and it reminds us implicitly that the documents of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue are not of a
doctrinal character, but only of a practical and pastoral nature.
In light of what we have just said, we can affirm, therefore, that, in the view of Vatican II, interreligious dialogue has an eminently pastoral and practical role. This is also true for the documents issued by the pontifical council.
Dialogue is a motion that comes from the Christian’s conscience and stems from the desire to communicate the unexpectedly received gift in Christ: the gift of having been constituted children of God.
It also has, according to the view of the Church, an exquisitely human function, of creating premises for an international collaboration oriented to the overcoming of conflicts and the solution of problems.



In Part 2 of the interview with ZENIT, Morali analyzes the meaning and nature of interreligious dialogue.

Rome, January 16, 2005 (Zenit.org)

Interreligious dialogue does not intend to relativize the truth, says theologian Ilaria Morali.
Why can interreligious dialogue not be assimilated to what is happening in the ecumenical
The reason is quite simple: ecumenical dialogue takes place in an intra-Christian context, between believers of different denominations but united in faith in Jesus Christ.

This type of dialogue should aspire to achieve the reconstitution of the unity of Christians — it still does not exist — in the Catholic unity — it already exists in the Catholic Church.
Interreligious dialogue is a relation that is established between Catholic Christians and members of other religions.
There is no unity of certain elements of faith as basis for this type of relation.

The superposition between interreligious dialogue and ecumenical dialogue is a widespread temptation, which depends largely on the lack of clarity of ideas within our communities.

Nevertheless, there is a common condition for the two forms of dialogue indicated by Paul VI: awareness of the same identity. If, as Catholics, we were to ignore the awareness of our identity in face of a Protestant brother, we would fall into the same error of those faithful who, because they want to dialogue with Muslims, are prepared to relativize their own creed.
A Muslim friend recently said to me: “We want to dialogue with true Catholics, not with half-way Catholics. From my point of view as a Muslim, a Catholic who rejects some fundamental aspect of his faith in order to dialogue
would be like a bad Muslim who does not observe the Koran.
One dialogues if one has the courage of one’s own identity. How could we really know your faith if you deny, for example, the uniqueness of Christ?
I think this is a very sensible consideration that would be useful also to recall within some Catholic movements that say they favor interreligious dialogue.

Q: Would it be better to speak of “colloquy” (as in Latin’s “Colloquium”) rather than dialogue?
Morali: The Latin text of the encyclical “Ecclesia Suam” speaks of “colloquium,” term that is translated “dialogue,” and was taken up again by Paul VI in his addresses in Italian. I think that it would have been more opportune and prudent if the original word had been kept, not only because the term “dialogue” has known very different and ambiguous meanings and applications in history, but also because today it is a word that has been inflated; it is often used in politics, philosophy, sociology, etc., at times to relativize or deny truth.
It is the opinion of many that there is dialogue because no one can presume to know the truth. If this reasoning is translated to the Christian realm, the concrete and tangible risk in many publications and speeches is to relativize the unique value of the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ. This is not the teaching of the Magisterium.

Q: Like the declaration “Dominus Iesus,” you speak of two levels of dialogue, the personal and the doctrinal. In what do they consist and why were they criticized when this declaration was published?
Morali: First of all I would like to state a premise: in the present moment, there is no Christianity-Non-Christian religions dialogue. There is no such possibility by the very fact that neither Hinduism, Buddhism nor Islam constitute in each case a unity presided over by a reference authority. There are very different Buddhisms, Islams and Hinduisms among themselves, although united by some distinctive elements.
This diversity, at times radical, would not be taken into account if one of these religions was considered as an indistinct denomination. Instead, there is the possibility to dialogue with individuals who belong to one or another tradition of a specific religion. I don’t believe, therefore, that large-scale interreligious congresses are the real image of interreligious dialogue.

Q: When does interreligious dialogue take place?
Dialogue is built in personal contact, in a climate of friendliness and congeniality, not in an oceanic meeting. This is what I have learned when meeting with Catholics who work in the area of dialogue, when I myself have met with believers of other religions.
Having said this, dialogue between Christians and members of other religions can take place at two levels:
— on political and social topics, for example when we are questioned on the role of religions in the peace process and humanization of the world;
— in topics relating to religious doctrines, for example, the content of salvation according to the corresponding religious doctrines. In this connection, the declaration “Dominus Iesus” clarifies that, although on the level of persons, insofar as persons, those who form part of the dialogue have the same dignity, the same cannot be said on the level of doctrines. If we are Catholics, there is a necessary difference between the Christian message and the non-Christian message.
It might help to give an example. A few years ago I met with some friends in the home of an elderly Japanese Buddhist. After speaking at length on the salvation of the Pure Land proposed in Buddhism and that of Christ, he said: “I am and will continue to be Buddhist, but I must admit that the content of salvation proposed by Christ is of a qualitatively superior level to that proposed by my tradition.



The elevation that is proposed to man by the redemption of Christ is very much above that outlined in Buddhism. Christ poses questions that I can hardly answer in virtue of my tradition.”
In these days, I have heard the testimony of a missionary in Indonesia. He recalled how Muslim journalists affirmed that the cataclysm of Dec. 26 [the tsunami] must be interpreted as a punishment from God.
In the Christian view, God is a merciful Father and natural disasters are conceived as an expression of a nature that has not yet been totally mastered by man. The missionary explained how he encouraged this explanation among some Muslim friends. Once again, the difference is not based on the level of persons but of doctrines.
The fact that “Dominus Iesus” was badly received in some realms of the Catholic world should not surprise us. It was a physiological fact: there would have been no reason to write such a document if large sectors of present-day Catholicism had not lost sight of the beauty and fullness of the Christian message.
“Dominus Iesus” takes up again, in a certain sense, the same warning of Paul VI in “Ecclesiam Suam,” when he put the faithful
on guard against the temptation to lose the meaning and value of the gift received with baptism & the Catholic faith.

Is this why “Dominus Iesus” got bad press?
Behind the rejection of the content of “Dominus Iesus,” is hidden in general the rejection of the doctrinal authority of the magisterium, because of the normative value of the tradition, of the principle of the uniqueness of salvation in Christ. These are the fundamental points of Catholicism.
Interreligious dialogue cannot be understood as an action with which the Christian might get to know aspects of revelation or even of other divine revelations parallel to the Christian. Whoever affirms this, not only goes beyond the definition of dialogue admirably defined by Paul VI’s magisterium, but also does not recognize in the revelation in Christ that unique character that is at the very heart of the Christian faith.

From my point of view, with “Dominus Iesus” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has made a bold gesture, at the cost of a certain popularity, again specifying principles that cannot be put to one side. As a believer, moreover, if I lost sight of who I am and what I have received through grace, I could promote a thousand initiatives of dialogue, but none would reflect the Catholic idea.
All this should lead us to acknowledge that, 40 years after the encyclical “Ecclesiam Suam,” the hour has come to recover the first part of its teaching on awareness of Christian identity. In opening ourselves to the other, we have lost in part this essential aspect of our lives. I am convinced that we must re-establish this balance in ourselves and in our communities to give vigor and meaning to our initiatives and our “colloquies” with persons of other religions.


Theologian Ilaria Morali very thoroughly destroys the false interreligious dialogue and false ecumenism that is being conducted in and by the Indian Catholic Church. And their arguments for the all-religions “emblem”.


The Birthplace of Christianity


December 27, 2001

Called together to devise a common strategy for evangelization on the world’s largest continent, the Asian bishops could not overcome the problems dictated by the diversity of the region.

Early in April, as bishops gathered in Rome to cover the special synod of bishops for Asia, which would open its month-long deliberations on April 19 … The largest Catholic populations can be found in Philippines (60 million), India, (16 million), Vietnam (6 million), Indonesia (5 million), and Korea (3.5 million).


Missionary efforts

Even where Catholicism has not encountered active resistance, the faith has spread slowly in Asia. Cardinal Edward Cassidy, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, remarked that missionaries had often received “a cold and even at times hostile” reception. Why has it been so difficult to convert the peoples of Asia, as opposed to those of Europe? The Asian Synod was asked to answer that question.

Bishop Valerian D’Souza of Poona, India, attempted to answer that question about the “gradual” spread of the Gospel by explaining that in Asia, where many religions gained popularity before the rise of Christianity, it is important to proclaim the message of Christ “without arrogance,” and to avoid “intellectual categories which people do not understand.” It is better, he stressed, to use “Asian categories”– and better still to use the language of the Bible, which reflects the mentality of Asians, and which he pointed out “is how it all started.”

Bishop D’Souza explained that the need to avoid “arrogance” reflects the reality that most Asians are reluctant to accept Jesus as the sole savior of the world; the indigenous religions of the continent, which recognize many deities, inculcate a very different outlook. For that reason, he said, Catholics must avoid judgments and condemnations of other faiths, and emphasize
inter-religious dialogue. He also pointed to the difficult position of “Christians of desire” in some Asian countries–people who want to accept the faith, but fear that they might be disowned by their families (in Hindu societies) or even prosecuted for blasphemy (in Muslim regimes) if they are baptized.

To keep matters in the proper perspective, other bishops pointed out that while the people of Asia owe a debt of gratitude to the missionaries who brought them the faith, the people of the continent have shouldered their own responsibility for the spread of the Gospel. Today, according to the Vatican news agency Fides, there are 5,508 missionaries from other parts of the world ministering to the flock in Asia, but–largely because of the boom in priestly vocations in the Philippines–there are 8,147 Asia missionaries active elsewhere in the world.



Bishop Valerian D’Souza admits that interreligious dialogue must be a tool for the proclamation of the Gospel. –Michael

We now approach a discussion on another bogey — inculturation; here again, my reports have always sought to provide evidence that instead of evangelizing the sub-continent through inculturation, the Indian church is becoming inculturated or Indianized, which is a good thing, except that in reality it is becoming Hinduized.



Since the cultural conflicts in Asia pose the largest single obstacle to the advance of the faith, it was inevitable that the theme of “inculturation” would come to dominate the bishops’ discussions. […]

Bishop Domingos Lam Ka Tseung Domingos of Macao, in his own statement to the synod, insisted that inculturation is a sine qua non for the work of evangelization. If Catholics do not respect the norms of the Asian cultures, he warned, they will be “labeled by Asian people as followers of a foreign religion forever.”

But what exactly does “inculturation” entail? Few Catholics would deny the need to proclaim Christian truths in terms that other cultures can comprehend. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made it clear that the Church could embrace any culture. “The only element necessary for the Church,” he said, “is the one given by the Lord: the sacramental structure of the People of God, centered on the Eucharist.”

Father Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, the Jesuit superior general*, pressed the point much further, insisting that evangelization must be a process of “inter-religious dialogue and inculturalization, free from all calculations.” Only by exchanging views freely with the followers of other religions, he said, could missionary workers overcome the Asian cultural antipathy to the Christian message. Throughout the Asian Synod, the theme of inculturation revealed tensions between Asian bishops seeking greater autonomy and Vatican officials calling for unity.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, represented the latter when he said: “It would be curious today–at the moment when we move toward a larger globalization of society–if the Church does not continually strive toward the rock of unity which is St. Peter and his successors.”

On the other hand, Bishop Francis Hadisumarta, O. Carm., a former president of the Indonesian bishops’ conference, argued that the Catholic Church is not a “monolithic pyramid,” and bishops are not “branch secretaries waiting for instructions from headquarters.” He envisioned a “radical decentralization of the Latin rite,” with several new patriarchates in Asia.

*If one wants to know what the Jesuits are really doing in India (and the world over), read my reports.

See pages 17, 25 and immediately below. See also Cardinal Ivan Dias’ opinion on the Jesuits, page 15.

God forbid that the Asian Bishops (the F.A.B.C) are granted “greater autonomy” to do as they please. -Michael


[…] Shocks from the outside world

The process of a synod is designed to produce consensus. During the first phase, the synod hears individual presentations from each of the participating bishops, as well as from the invited “auditors.” Then the bishops are divided up into smaller working groups, so that they can discuss and refine the themes that have been introduced. Finally the full assembly convenes once again, hears reports from the various discussion groups, and proceeds to set forth a series of recommendations.

That process virtually eliminates the possibility of surprises, and there were certainly no surprises in the final statement produced by the Asian Synod. The bishops stressed the theme of inculturation, but did not specify what that process might entail; they emphasized the need for inter-religious dialogue, but did not set any limits for that effort.

[…] The Papal exhortation

Although the synod adjourned on May 14, the final business of the Asian Synod will not be closed until the Pope issues an apostolic exhortation, summing up the lessons of the assembly. The synod appointed a committee of bishops to collaborate with the Holy Father in the process of editing that document–a process which usually takes several months. […]


The Jesuits actually have their very own…

Jesuit Secretariat for Dialogue


In 1994 the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA) decided to merge two previously existing secretariats, the Secretariat for the Service of Faith and Religion in India (SEFRI) and the Secretariat for Jesuits Among Muslims in India (JAMI) into the new Secretariat for Dialogue (JSD). This Secretariat aims at fostering Interreligious dialogue at various levels. Following the demands of GC 34, this Secretariat attempts to make interreligious dialogue an essential dimension of our One Mission. Translating this on the practical level for most Jesuits, it means that the Secretariat strives to help them, precisely as religiously committed persons, to understand the significance and the need for entering into dialogue with anyone of good will, especially in the context of religious conflicts, and encourage them to work together toward trust and co-operation, peace and harmony of life.



In its practicality, the Secretariat has been urging and helping in establishing Core Group or Commission of Jesuits interested and involved in IRD (Interreligious Dialogue) in all Provinces/Regions in the South Asian Jesuit Assistancy. Many of the Provinces (e.g. Bombay, Goa, Gujarat, Ranchi, Patna, Dumka-Raiganj, Madurai, Kerala, Sri Lanka) have formed Core Teams for this ministry and certain Provinces (e.g. Madurai, Dumka-Raiganj) have formulated Vision Statements on this Ministry of IRD.


Secretariat for Dialogue (JSD)
Fr. Thomas Kuriakose SJ (DEL),
Secretary for Dialogue (JSD)
De Nobili College, Ramwadi, Pune – 411 014, Maharashtra
 Tel: 02692-237603 E-mail id:


Catholic Ashrams

Adopting And Adapting Hindu Dharma; Reconciliation is Underway, but Serious Obstacles Remain in the Dialogue Between Two Great Faiths


December 1986

Vatican II’s new Code of Canon Law offers this
definition of dialogue: “By the witness of their lives and their message, let the missionaries enter into a sincere dialogue with those who do not yet believe in Christ. Accommodating their approach to the mentality and culture of their audience, they will open up the way for them to reach the point where they are ready to accept the Good News [the Gospel of Christ].”

Inculturation has become a very central aspect of the relation of the Church to Asia and Africa and is the basis for the present existence of Catholic ashrams.

A thorough exposition of the idea was made by the Third General Conference of Latin American Bishops
in January of 1978. Here are statements from their report: “The Church must make the attempt to translate the Gospel message into the anthropological language and symbols of the culture into which it is inserted. This is what is meant by inculturation of the Gospel. Yet the Church ought also to regard culture with a critical eye, denouncing sin and amending, purifying and exorcizing its counter-values and overthrowing its idolatrous values. The Church leads people on to abandon false ideas of God, unnatural behavior and the illegitimate manipulation of person by person. The Church inspires local cultures to accept through faith the lordship of Christ, without whose grace and truth, they would be unable to reach their full stature.”


Evangelization is a thing of the past under the present scheme of interreligious dialogue:

Inculturation is the Word for Asian Church


By Anto Akkara, Register Correspondent, New Delhi, January 5, 1997

Zealous missionaries urging non-Christians to forsake their faith to escape eternal doom are a thing of the past in Asia. These days, inculturation and interreligious dialogue are more typical concerns for the Asian Church.

Major Church meetings there tend to end with calls for more harmony with other creeds and greater sensitivity toward native cultures. “We’ve looked down on other religions as agents of evil,” said Bishop John Manat of Ratchaburi in Thailand, head of the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Office of the Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC). “We need to educate our own bishops, priests and others in this respect. Religion and faith should not separate us. Because we built walls, we have lived separately for centuries.”

Summing up the small steps achieved in the more than 25 years of interreligious dialogue by the FABC, Bishop Manat told the Register that “we have to look for the Kingdom of God which comprises all religions. There are still obstacles within the Church. And though some cracks have developed in the old thinking, the wall has yet to fall.”

Understanding and promoting mutual trust with other creeds has been one of the prime concerns of the FABC, which includes 17 national episcopal conferences. The FABC’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has sponsored several series of dialogues under the Bishops’ Institute for Religious Affairs (BIRA). The initial sessions were meant to train Church leaders—including bishops—to conduct effective dialogue within the Vatican II framework.




Prior to the last meeting, held under the banner theme of “Christians in Dialogue with Confucius thought and Taoist Spirituality” in April in Taiwan, BIRA had brought together Muslims and Christians in Muslim-majority Pakistan. An earlier meeting with Buddhists took place in Thailand, where Buddhism is almost a state religion; and the venue for the dialogue with Hindus in Oct. 1995 was India, a nation of more than 700 million Hindus.

When FABC launched the interreligious dialogue process, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of the Diocese of Iba in the Philippines said that “others were skeptical of our efforts. The BIRA series was looked down upon as a ploy to convert others.” “We have succeeded in changing that cynicism,” he added. “Christianity is no longer considered a conquering religion, but we have a long way to go.”

Indeed, the situation of the Church in Asia is unique. The number of priestly vocations in Asia doubled between 1970 and 1994, from 10,074 to 23,943, according to the Vatican’s latest Statistical Yearbook of the Church. Asia also has the most promising ratio for seminarians, with 25.07 for every 10,000 Catholics—compared to 16.65 in Oceania and 10.27 for Europe. The worldwide figure is 10.77. But Christianity has only a nominal presence— 2.83 percent of the population— on the Asian continent, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s population. The Philippines, which includes 55 million Catholics among its 66 million people, is the exception.

‘We need to educate our own bishops, priests and others in this respect. Religion and faith should not separate us. Because we built walls, we have lived separately for centuries.’

A year ago, in an attempt to deal realistically with the Church’s minority position in Asia, the FABC’s Theological Advisory Commission urged Asian Churches to counter “situations that threaten and contradict harmony.” Calling for a theology of harmony “from below” in solidarity with the Asian reality, the Asian Theological Commission noted that Churches in the continent posed a challenge to harmony because of their past failures to assimilate local cultures and traditions.

The colonization of the Philippines, including the imposition of a 16th century-European way of living, was thought of as an almost integral part of the task of evangelization, said Ferdinand Dagmang, professor of Christian Ethics and Popular Religion at Maryhill School of Theology in Quezon City, the Philippines. The dominant Roman Catholic symbols, rituals and practices were expected to supplant native beliefs and practices.

As a result, even in the Philippines, where Christians constitute nearly 90 percent of the population, Christianity is often considered a religion of “foreigners.” In marked contrast, the dominant religions in other Asian countries— Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Islam—are intimately linked with their cultures and woven into their national history. “Only through an inculturated liturgy will the people of Asia recognize [Jesus] as bread is broken in their midst,”
14 leading liturgical experts in Asia declared after the first meeting of Asian Liturgy Forum (ALF) under FABC last spring.

In its discussion of what was referred to as the “relevant and deeply pastoral problem of inculturating the liturgy in Asia,” the forum concluded that the transplantation of a liturgy “made it difficult for [Asians] to experience the depth of the Christian mystery and [that] their participation in worship became in many ways superficial.” If Vatican II’s call for liturgical renewal is to become a reality in Asia, the ALF final statement noted, Churches in Asia need to assimilate the local culture.

Arguing that “inculturation is the manifestation of the urge to proclaim the Gospel to the nations,” the statement said that “only through a meaningful encounter between the Gospel and the culture can the unfolding of the Mystery take place” in Asia.

Salesian Father Paul Puthanangady, an ALF member, stressed that “inculturation is something that Rome itself urges. It was Vatican II that boosted the growing inculturation awareness.” Father Puthanangady, who heads the Indian bishops’ preparatory Committee for Jubilee 2000, cited the Congregation of Divine Liturgy’s “Instructions on Inculturation of Liturgy” to demonstrate the Holy See’s support for the Asian Church’s attempts to render itself relevant to the local culture.

Wherever inculturation has taken place, after proper instruction and periodic scrutiny by Church authorities, the people have accepted it whole-heartedly, he said. When, for example, the Syro Malabar Church in south India decided to celebrate Qurbana (Mass) in the local Malayalam language instead of in Syriac—which is unfamiliar to most of the local people—in late 1960s, there were apprehensions. But the switch to their mother tongue in the end encouraged the faithful to become more active participants in the Mass.

In response to criticism that inculturation sometimes undermines the authority of the Holy See, Father T.K. John SJ, a noted Indology professor at the Jesuit Theologate in New Delhi, said that “inculturation does not and should not mean deviation from the faith or challenging the authority of the universal church.”

Diluting the faith becomes a problem “when over-enthusiasm leads to neglect of the necessary link between the adopted symbol or ritual to Church teaching,” he added. “Each Asian country has its own cultural milieu, and faith should not standardize culture. Christianity should be interpreted to the people in their cultural environment, without deviating from the faith. This is certainly a difficult path, one on which we have to proceed carefully.”


A theology that omits conversion betrays the faith, says John Paul II
Appeals to Indian Bishops to Surmount Relativist Explanations of Religious Pluralism


Vatican City, July 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).

A theology that does not invite conversion to Christ or that considers all religions as equal — empties Christianity of its meaning, warns John Paul II.
“To bear witness to Jesus Christ is the supreme service which the Church offers to the peoples of Asia,” the Pope said today to a group of bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Bangalore, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.
They were ending their five-yearly visit to the Holy See.



Any “theology of mission that omits the call to a radical conversion to Christ and denies the cultural transformation which such conversion will entail necessarily misrepresents the reality of our faith,” he said.
Our faith, the Pope said, “is always a new beginning in the life of him who alone is the Way, and the Truth and the Life.”
“In this regard, we reaffirm that interreligious dialogue
does not replace the ‘missio ad gentes’ but rather forms a part of it,” he said. “It must be noted that relativist explanations of religious pluralism, which state that the Christian faith is of no different value than any other belief, in fact empty Christianity of its defining Christological heart: faith alienated from our Lord Jesus, as the only Savior, is no longer Christian, no longer theological faith,” he said.

“An even greater misrepresentation of our faith occurs when relativism leads to syncretism: an artificial ‘spiritual construct’ that manipulates and consequently distorts the essential, objective, revelatory nature of Christianity,” John Paul II added.
“That which renders the Church missionary by her very nature is precisely the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is the foundation of our faith. It is this which makes Christian witness credible,” he explained. A consequence of this fundamental truth of Christianity is a “correct understanding of the relationship between culture and Christian faith,” John Paul II stressed.
“On your own Indian subcontinent you are faced with cultures rich in religious and philosophical traditions.

Within this context, we see how absolutely essential is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God,” he said. “It is in this understanding of
Christ’s uniqueness as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, fully God and fully man, that our faith must be preached and embraced.
“Living with many people who do not know Christ convinces us ever more of the need for the missionary apostolate.”

“The radical newness of life brought by Christ and lived by his followers awakens in us the urgency of missionary activity,” he added. “This demands an explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord: a bold testimony founded on his command — ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ — and sustained by his promise — ‘I am with you always’.”


In the following National Catholic Reporter article, more aberrations in the name of interreligious dialogue:

Pruning pride and prejudice: Dialogue in India


Francis Gonsalves, S.J., National Catholic Reporter Online
Global Perspective 1/16, July 16, 2003,

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!



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!

Astrid Lobo: Feminist women’s ordination supporting “theologian”; see pages 35, 95-96





Jesuit theologian Michael Amaladoss: See


Fr. Michael Amaladoss, who also
favours the cause of women priests has,

along with other theologians, 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.


Theology outside the temple


Francis Gonsalves, S.J., National Catholic Reporter Online (USA), Global Perspective
1/30, October 22, 2003,

Theology often recognizes the “Big Tradition” but overlooks “little traditions.”Feminist theology
is largely confined to issues of the so-called high-caste women or the educated urban women,” says Presentation
Sr. Shalini Mulackal, who is researching the religious practices of rural Dalit Christian women. “I hope to show that their God-concepts and religious practices enable them to be active agents of their own liberation.”

No dialogue, no theology

Eminent Indian theologian
Felix Wilfred, who heads Chennai’s Department of Christian Studies, emphasizes the indispensability of dialogue in contextual theology. Indian theology is “faith seeking dialogue” (fides quaerens dialogum), stresses he, modifying St. Anselm’s classical definition of theology being “faith seeking understanding.” Dialogue is threefold: with cultures, with religions, with diverse disciplines.

“The cultural context of West Bengal,” says
George Pattery, Director of the Kolkata RTC, “blends the best of goddess Kali and Marx, Tagore and Subhas Bose (nationalist), the minstrel Bauls and the aboriginal Santals who harmonize in a rare mixture of revelation and faith.” Likewise, Vidyajyoti’s cross-cultural celebrations of Karam, Onam and Pongal become wellsprings for theologising, since people’s songs and symbols, dances and dramas mirror that Mystery that every Indian soul savors.

At the Department of Christian Studies, interfaith dialogues continue ceaselessly. Wilfred explains, “Our Department is part of a larger whole, namely, the School of Philosophy and Religious Thought, which embraces five sister departments: Philosophy, Vaishnavism, Saivism, Jainism, and Islamic Studies.” A common program of comparative religion and philosophy facilitates learning about religions from “insiders” (professors-religionists) of other religions during theological education.



Shalini Mulackal PBVM, Professor of Theology, is a feminist theologian who wants women to be ordained.

Felix Wilfred SJ has been censured by Rome for his liberal writings:
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. (CNS news)
Petrus, November 2002

Jesuit Fr. Francis Gonsalves, the author of the above two reports, is another deviant theologian.




Interview with Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald

May 7, 2004 Rome
Interview with Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald (National Catholic Reporter 7/5/04)

By John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter, May 14, 2004

To mark its 40th anniversary, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (successor to the Secretariat for Non-Christians created by Paul VI) is hosting a May 14-19 Plenary Assembly of its members and consultors. Topic areas will be: 1) “Theological Reflection on Religious Pluralism — Developments and Tendencies”;

2) “Bilateral Dialogue Experiences — Developments and Prospects”; and

3) “Multi-religious Initiatives and the Challenges of Alternative Religiosity.”

To talk about the anniversary, I sat down with English Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, head of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on Friday, May 7.

Q: This year marks the 40th anniversary of the decision to create a special organism within the Holy See devoted to dialogue with other religions. What have been the most important fruits over that period of time?
A: One can look both inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly, looking at the church, the creation of this office was a sign of a new vision of the church. It signified a church that was not closed in on itself, concerned only with its own affairs, but as Paul VI said in Ecclesiam Suam, a church that is in dialogue, turned towards the world. That’s a big change within the church, and the mentality of people within the church. It’s something that continues to be important. We need to stress this, to encourage people to have this vision.




Outside the church, I would see that particularly in more recent times a growing awareness of interreligious plurality, intercultural plurality, not only on the part of Christians, but people of other religions and of civil society, coming to grips with this multi-religious reality. I think a symbol of this, both for the church and for the world, was the meeting John Paul II convoked in Assisi in 1986. In a way, that falls in a kind of halfway point in the 40 years of our dicastery, 22 years from its foundation. It’s a very powerful symbol, a watershed I suppose.

Q: How many bilateral relationships with other religions does the Holy See have?
A: If you’re talking about official relationships, we have a liaison committee with Muslims, with international Islamic organizations. We have a committee with Al-Azhar. We signed an agreement of intention with Turkey, with the religious affairs department of Turkey. We also did make an agreement with the World Islamic Call Society of Libya.

But with other religions, with Hindus or with Buddhists, we haven’t any formal agreement we have signed. That’s not to say, obviously, that we’re not doing anything with them.

Q: Is there some reason these formal agreements are all with Muslims?
A: Islam is the most widespread religion in the world after Christianity. I think it has been a concern of the Muslims to have a relationship with us, informal and to some extent formal also.

Q: The desire to formalize these relationships came from the Muslim side?
A: In a number of cases, yes. We have responded to that. One of our concerns, of course, is that when we respond as an office of the Holy See, the dialogue should not just be at the top level. The local church in that particular area should be implicated, should be concerned with the dialogue, and should be brought in so far as it is possible.

Q: Roman Catholicism is unique in having a very clearly identifiable central authority structure. When you want to dialogue with Hindus or Buddhists or another religious tradition, how do you go about identifying who the appropriate ‘opposite number’ should be?
A: Well, there isn’t an appropriate opposite number, obviously. There are Buddhist patriarchs in different places, in Thailand for example. There are Buddhist leaders of movements in Taiwan. There are abbots of monasteries, which have a big network in Japan. But there is this multiplicity of leaders, which makes it difficult in a sense. This is in some ways why we have proceeded a bit differently. With Buddhists, very often we have taken the initiative to invite a certain number of people to the meetings we have organized. But we also respond to some of their invitations.

Q: In terms of these unofficial relationships, how many does the Holy See have?
A: Not really very many. One of the things we try to do is to facilitate contacts between representatives of other religions and other parties in the Catholic Church, not only with us. So the dialogue is not always with us, but it spreads. For instance, in December I was at a Hindu university in Mumbai. This university has a department for the study of other religions and has already been in dialogue with various people here in Italy. It is keen to strengthen its relations with the Urbania but also the Teresianum, for the study of spirituality. We’re very happy to facilitate … we like to back those initiatives. Just the other day an institute of Shariah asked to establish some connection with us. Well, we’re not studying law here, but we can put them in contact
with a faculty of canon law. Or maybe the Society of Canon Law in the United States. Who knows? We have to see, we have to examine this. We consider ourselves a body that is there to facilitate the dialogue, not to dominate it.

Q: Is there a religious body with whom you’d like to have dialogue that has so far proved impossible?
A: I wouldn’t say a “body.” When Cardinal Arinze was called to this office to be the president, the Holy Father asked him to give particular attention to traditional religion. In fact, the dialogue with traditional religion, present not only in Africa but in other parts of the world, is quite difficult. They have no authorities. There’s a local priest, or the head of the family who acts as a priest in his family. Therefore there’s a difficult way of entry into the dialogue, and in fact it becomes more of an inner dialogue of gospel and culture. It’s the absence of leadership that makes it difficult. In answer to your question, there’s no particular body with which we have sought to have relations that we haven’t succeeded.

Q: The program for your upcoming Plenary Assembly suggests that one of the major topics of conversation will be ‘Theological Reflection on Religious Pluralism.’ How do you see that conversation taking shape?
A: We’ve asked an expert to advise us, Fr. Michel Fédou, a Jesuit from Paris, to give his evaluation of the theological progress. I don’t know how he is going to present this, but I would think that he will show how Nostra Aetate has been received, but also some of the difficulties it has encountered, perhaps some of the exaggerations, some of the correctives that have been brought in. I would expect that to be his point of view. Then we are opening it up to our members, who come from all continents and with different experiences. We want them to react, perhaps to see what needs to be done by us in this field of theological reflection. Maybe we will discern certain areas that require further study, and that mayb e they will encourage us to go ahead.

Q: Are there particular issues likely to surface? For example, pneumatology?
A: I think the present Holy Father has made a great progress in that, especially the role of the Holy Spirit outside the visible church. The document that many people consider as negative, Dominus Iesus, in fact opens up fields of research. I’d be interested to see what the bishops want to tell us about that. How do the different religions contribute to the salvation of people? They’re not ways of salvation, but they have elements of salvation in them. Can we study these, can we identify these, can this be a way we can go on? These we would attribute to the work of the Holy Spirit. Pneumatology, Christology, a reflection on the role of the church itself … these would be the three fields that I would see. But we tend to confine our reflection to dogmatic theology, and in a sense it’s not just dogmatics but moral theology as well. I think there is a great field open today for dialogue at the level of humanity and the ethical problems that are presented by life in the modern world. We can perhaps share these in the form of dialogue with people of other religions.


Q: To what extent does theology actually affect the practice of dialogue? Is the dialogue dependent upon how we understand religious pluralism?
A: Theology is a work of reflection. It is a reflection upon reality in the light of faith, thus scripture and tradition. In a sense it’s a sort of second order activity. You don’t get up and theologize. You get up and you wash and you have your breakfast and, okay, you pray as well, one would hope. Then you reflect on what you’re doing. The dialogue in a sense can exist without the theology, but the theology can also orient the dialogue. When you are more reflective on what you’re doing, you do it with greater intensity. If you don’t have that theological reflection, you can neglect this dialogue, because you haven’t foreseen or understood the implications of your faith, which should lead you to this dialogue.

Some would say the theological questions are the most divisive, and we should just set them aside.
Here there is a great difference between our work in the interreligious dialogue and ecumenism. We are not looking for a theological consensus, at all, because we will not achieve a theological consensus. The theology that I’m talking about is a Catholic reflection, which falls upon us as Catholics. I don’t think we should be aiming at a universal theology in any way.

Q: But do we even need that intra-Catholic reflection to make progress in dialogue?
A: Well, they go together, they go hand-in-hand. Do we need it? Of course we need it, because we have to make sense of our faith. We need it from that point of view. Do we need it for the action? Not necessarily, but they go together. Moreover, people have different gifts. We’re not telling people who have a gift for contact and networking with people, “stop, stop, do your theology.” You have to do this together, you have to reflect at the same time. There will be people who are reflective theologically, and some who are more directed at action.

The second topic is ‘developments and prospects in bilateral dialogue.’ Anything particular you’re looking for there?
We will report on what we have been trying to do. Maybe I could respond here to an earlier question, because you asked if there were some bodies with whom we are wanting to relate. Well, in December I was in India with the under-secretary as I mentioned, and we went to see the Sikhs in Amritsar. That is something that we have been wanting to develop, a greater dialogue with Sikhs. Perhaps that is one thing. What may come out of this is suggestions from our members as to the way in which bilateral dialogue and also multilateral dialogue, though that comes afterward, can be conducted, and what they feel our role should be. We have some ideas, but we want to listen to them. It is the plenary assembly so it is the bishop members have to have the chance to give us suggestions.

Q: Coming back to Sikhs, are there concrete plans to augment your relationship?
A: We spoke with the secretary of the community there. We had only a brief meeting, but we said we are willing to take up and pursue relations with Sikhs. That was last December, and we really haven’t done anything since then. I think it something we will take up. We have relations with some Sikhs in other parts of the world, apart from India. Can we do something bilaterally on an international scale? This is something on which we’re still reflecting.

Q: There is no meeting or event presently scheduled?
A: No.

Q: The third topic is ‘Multi-religious initiatives: The challenges of alternative religiosity.’ I confess I’m not sure what either of those terms means.
A: Multi-religious … well, we’ve been speaking about bilateral Buddhist-Christian relations, or Hindu-Christian relations. But we’ve had some multilateral [events], where we’ve had people from a number of traditions coming together. We had this assembly in 1999 for the Jubilee, when we looked towards the third millennium. We followed that up with a smaller meeting in January for last year, on the resources of religions for peace. We want to continue with that, kind of reflecting on the peace goal with the different resources of religions. In fact what we’re going to follow up with is a meeting, a kind of theological reflection with people from the church on the contribution that traditional religion can make to the world. As I said, it’s difficult to have representatives of traditional religions, but we’re going to have a theological reflection.

Q: Will there be representatives of traditional religions?
A: No, not necessarily. There will be Catholics who are knowledgeable about traditional religions, perhaps are working in this field themselves, and can reflect together.

Q: These are the ‘challenges’ the topic has in mind?
A: Well, no. The challenges are that there are many, many, many initiatives around the world, interreligious initiatives, that take place. Some of these, I would say, lack a degree of discernment. Any type of religious movement is put together, even someone who has decided to create his own religion, he’s there. These bodies are in fact quite numerous, so how do we relate to them, what advice do we give, what is the experience of our people around the world? Have they been approached by these movements? Have they not? What is their reaction? We may have something to say to them. It’s also the connection between our work in interreligious dialogue and the work on new religious movements. We have the coordinator for this work in the Roman Curia in this office, and so this comes into the purview of our dicastery.

A: These would be the so-called ‘New Age’ phenomena?
Q: New Age, yes.

Q: Is your conversation on the theology of pluralism going to be coordinated with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
A: Actually, we have Archbishop Angelo Amato, who was a consultor for us before he was made the secretary, and he hasn’t finished his mandate so he is still officially a consultor. But as we’re not at the moment aiming at producing a document from this plenary, we would not have anything to submit. But that’s not to say we don’t consult if there are doctrinal issues that come out. This is the plenary of this office. There are provisions made for joint plenary assemblies, but this was not thought appropriate at this time, particularly because this is not the full aspect of the plenary, it’s only one aspect of it. Evaluating the 40 years is the main point.



Q: How often do you hold plenaries?
A: We have done them every three years. The last one was at the end of 2001. Previous to that was 1998, so we let the Jubilee go by. So it’s normally every two or three years.

Q: How was the idea of holding a public event in conjunction with this plenary born?
A: We felt that 40 years was worth celebrating, so that’s why we decided to give it this form. It’s a sort of academic event, really. Since Cardinal Arinze is no longer, we thought he was the obvious person to ask. He was the president of this office for half of those 40 years. He has a wonderful experience. He accepted. It’s also a kind of tribute. We had last year a tribute to Cardinal Arinze for his 70th birthday, and when we arranged that in conjunction with the volume we published, we didn’t think he would be moving. It turned out to be a farewell gift. I think this is also a very good occasion in which we can express our gratitude to him, and have him help us in this reflection.


Pope affirms value of inter-religious dialogue


May 17, 2004
Meeting at the weekend with members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pope John Paul II has encouraged interreligious dialogue as a “sure basis for peace”. The Holy Father told the members that he predicted that the “coming years will see the Church even more committed to respond to the great challenges of interreligious dialogue”.
Talks with representatives of different religious traditions, the Pope cautioned, must not lead to “any kind of relativism or religious indifference”.

He said representatives of the Catholic Church must speak honestly and openly, he said, “seeking the truth courageously, while cultivating a prophetic thirst for justice and freedom.”
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was founded by Pope Paul VI in May 1964. In this week’s plenary meeting the group – under the direction of Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, its president – is discussing the prospects for more productive interreligious dialogue in the contemporary world.

Link Seen between Evangelization and Interreligious Dialogue

Rome, October 28, 2005 (Zenit.org) Cardinal Arinze Addresses the Opening of a Master’s Program

Dialogue with believers of other religions is part of Christ’s missionary mandate to evangelize, says the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Cardinal Francis Arinze spoke Wednesday on the link between evangelization and Interreligious dialogue at the inauguration of the master’s program on “Church, Ecumenism and Religions” of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University. His lecture was entitled “The Catholic Church Today and the Religions of the World.”
“The moment comes when we must proclaim Jesus,” he said, as “before God we have the obligation to seek religious truth.” His comment came on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Second Vatican Council declaration “Nostra Aetate,” on the Church’s relations with non-Christian religions.
This truth consists in the fact that “Jesus Christ is the only savior of the whole of humanity,” said the cardinal. God’s plan “There is only one God, there is only one mediator between God and humanity,” he added, emphasizing that Jesus instituted the Church as the “ordinary way for salvation.” Salvation is a divine initiative to which we are called, the cardinal said. It is not we who “begin the adventure,” he noted. “Without grace, no one is saved.”
Cardinal Arinze, a former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said that although the divine plan of salvation embraces the whole of humanity and it is possible to be saved being members of other religions, it must not be forgotten that it is “the salvation of Jesus Savior.” Therefore, although those concerned do not know him, when they reach heaven they will meet with this “lovely surprise,” said the cardinal, who turns 73 next Tuesday. The cardinal then posed the question of why a missionary mandate, if salvation is possible outside the Church. It is not enough “to have the possibility of salvation,” he answered, it is also necessary “to receive the means for salvation in their fullness and abundance,” and “only in the Church can we find all these means.”

Dialogue Can’t Allow Relativism, Says Cardinal Kasper


Rome, November 22, 2005 (Zenit.org)

Cardinal Walter Kasper says there is only one dialogue: that of “love and truth.” The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity expresses this in the prologue of his book “Non Ho Perduto Nessuno. Comunione, Dialogo Ecumenico, Evangelizzazione” (I Have Lost No One: Communion, Ecumenical Dialogue, Evangelization), published in Italy by EDB. In the book, the cardinal states that “unity and communion among cultures, religions and churches are only possible on the path of dialogue and reciprocal respect.”

“Dialogue,” he asserts, “represents neither a substitution nor an opposition to the fundamental commandment of evangelization, which the Church received from her Lord and which marks her identity.

“The greatest temptation at present is, in fact, that of pursuing communion and peace through the relativization of the claims of truth of religions, in particular, of Christianity.”



Cardinal Kasper, 72, says that the “attempt to establish communion among people without coming to an agreement on fundamental values and truths — on which it rests — represents a pure illusion which can have no consistency in the long run.” The German-born prelate also addresses such decisive topics as ecumenical spirituality and “Europe’s spiritual drama.”

Over and over and over again, Church leaders emphasize that dialogue and the mission of evangelization cannot be separated, and that on the Catholic side dialogue must be in Truth, the proclamation of John 14:6.

As Cardinal Poupard said, page 16, “Jesus Christ is the answer, the definitive answer, to man’s important questions.


Interreligious Dialogue: Neither Relativism nor Syncretism


Rome, January 23, 2006 (Zenit.org)

Interview with Theologian Carmen Aparicio

Interreligious dialogue is based on the pillars of identity and openness in order to combat relativism and syncretism, says a theologian. This conviction was expressed by Carmen Aparicio, whose book “Diálogo entre Religiones. Identidad y Apertura” (Dialogue between Religions: Identity and Openness) has just been published in Spain by PPC. From 1989-1999 Aparicio worked in the Pontifical Council for the Laity. She has been an assistant professor of theology at the Gregorian University since 1994.
Q: Does interreligious dialogue move necessarily between identity and openness, as the title of your book suggests?
Aparicio: Identity and openness — this is the title of the book because in fact they are two points on which the dialogue rests and which at the same time indicate the surmounting of two dangers: relativism and syncretism. With identity I wish to express a necessary condition to establish an authentic dialogue. It is necessary to know one’s faith, to know the ends — let us not forget that dialogue can move on different levels and therefore pursue different ends — to know from whence I move. At the same time this identity calls for an attitude of openness to what is different, which leads to knowledge of what is new, to a confrontation of the different elements that come into play, to further reflection of what is already known.

Q: Christianity’s relationship with other religions is not something new; in fact, it is constitutive of Christianity itself. Why is dialogue given such pre-eminence now?
Aparicio: Indeed, Christianity’s relationship with the other religions is something that has always been present. It must be specified that in the book I refer to dialogue from its theological approach. This is not new either. What is new are the conditions in which dialogue is carried out. In the new conditions of the world the relationship between individuals of different religions is more frequent, beginning in school. In virtue of respect, this calls for greater knowledge. Also, in virtue of truth, the phenomena of terrorism or similar things call for greater knowledge of other religions that will make us surmount generalized condemnations or too easy identifications. Together with this I would place so many studies that have been carried out by the different sciences on the religious phenomenon and the person. I believe they help us not to trivialize religions; on the contrary, they help us to understand them in all their depth and importance, also to know the person’s inner being.

Q: The last Popes have insisted much on this topic. But there are many Catholics who do not follow them because they fear that Catholic identity will come off badly. What can you advise them?
Aparicio: One cannot generalize but I believe that what is most important is to give a name to fears and analyze their causes. These situations are real and I don’t think that ignoring or ridiculing them will lead to resolving the problem.
The first thing is to realize that this also happens in all religions, it is not only with Christians. I am not keen on giving advice generically, but I believe that one way to overcome fear is to know one’s faith well. When I say to know one’s faith I am not referring only to knowing doctrine, something which is necessary, but also and primarily to be able to give a reason for one’s faith. It is what Peter advised persecuted Christians. To give reason helps to clarify things, to look for the ultimate foundation, to recognize those firm points that are immovable, which does not mean that they cannot be studied further.


Culture is key to interreligious dialogue, says Vatican official

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, March 13, 2006
Vatican City – Culture is the key to engaging in dialogue with people of other religious faiths and those who profess no religious beliefs, said the head of the Vatican’s councils for culture and interreligious dialogue.
Through culture, Catholics can reach out to those in their communities and discuss the importance of basic human values, French Cardinal Paul Poupard told
 Catholic News Service in an interview before he was named interim president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue March 11. The cardinal has been president of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 1988.
Culture is not just about colorful local customs, culinary specialties, or what hair or clothing styles each new generation of young people have adopted; “culture is the soul of a people,” he said.
It includes how people see or define concepts such as “love, suffering, the ‘Weltanschauung'” or the overall perspective from which one interprets the world, he said.


Pope John Paul II created the Pontifical Council for Culture in 1982 with the aim of helping the world’s cultures encounter the message of the Gospel. He named then-Archbishop Poupard head of the new council’s executive committee, then president of the council six years later.
The 75-year-old French cardinal has written hundreds of articles and scores of books on everything from Galileo Galilei to the history of the world’s religions. His works have been translated into dozens of languages, even Armenian and Chinese, he said as he thumbed through the rare editions.
The library and living room walls in his Vatican residence are packed ceiling to floor with books. Souvenirs from his many travels sit on whatever surface is not covered by a book.
The soft-spoken cardinal said cultures have enormous power over people and can either support a person’s faith in the divine, weaken it, or be indifferent to an individual’s religious beliefs.
Communist culture in the Soviet Union, for example, promoted “a culture of opposition in which a whole arsenal of laws were made to destroy faith,” he said.
But cultures that are indifferent to religious beliefs seem “allergic to Christian values,” he added.
The dominant culture may not try to destroy Christianity outright, he said, but it may “promote an image of the world in which there is no place for God.” It may even propose its own set of values to override the beatitudes, so instead of “blessed are the poor and the peacemakers,” it glorifies wealth and violence, he added.
The cardinal said the culture council was established “to help the church realize this reality and to reflect on the fact that (a particular) culture is not something that’s given just once and for all but changes” over time and across communities. He said becoming more cognizant of where one’s values come from can help people adhere to values that uplift human dignity.
Cardinal Poupard said the council for culture already has been promoting interreligious dialogue on a local level through Catholic cultural centers. The centers, run by local parishes, regularly hold cultural initiatives about a new book, film or social problem.
He said there are thousands of Catholic cultural centers in the world — nearly 300 alone in Milan, Italy. The cultural gatherings are enormously popular and draw people from every faith or even no faith at all, he said.
The centers that have had the most impact are those in countries that are predominantly Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist, he said. In these centers, he added, the church has the opportunity to talk about values that are important to Christianity.
He said in many Muslim countries “it’s the Muslim intellectuals who call up the priest, asking, ‘Father, when is the next debate?'”
“This is very important because it means (the center) is seen as a place of free exchange, and this way one participates in an indirect, but deep way,” in discussing how people see the concepts of “man, women, the family, work, culture and Christian values,” he said.
“In every culture, just like in every person, there is a battle” between tendencies that will either help a person or hurt people and “harm human dignity,” he said. Culture should be what “helps man live with more humanity,” he said.
The culture council also has made enormous strides in ecumenism, especially with the Russian Orthodox Church. He said his discussions with Orthodox leaders over the years often have focused on similar challenges about how to “carry on the faith in today’s new cultures” of secularism and indifference.
He said the culture council has been able to make many inroads in ecumenism “because in the area of culture, there is no opposition,” no issues that provoke contrast or conflict.


St. Francis and Christian-Muslim RelationsInterview with Lawrence Cunningham of Notre Dame


South Bend, Indiana, March 29, 2006 (Zenit.org)

In the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi ventured into Muslim territory to visit the caliph of Egypt and preach the Gospel. His example may provide a good role model for modern interreligious dialogue today, according to one scholar. Lawrence Cunningham is a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of “Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel of Life” (Eerdmans).

He shared with ZENIT how St. Francis (c. 1181-1226) considered himself to be a spiritual crusader, and how his peaceful and truthful approach helped in his outreach to Muslims. […]

St. Francis is often declared as a model of interreligious dialogue, yet he attempted to convert the caliph of Egypt and the other Muslims he encountered to the Catholic faith. In what ways does St. Francis provide a model for Christian-Muslim dialogue?

Cunningham: I would say there’s been a lot of water under the historical bridge. But I think that Francis is a model in the sense he comes nonviolently, non-belligerently and honestly. I think interreligious dialogue can only function effectively if people say truthfully and non-belligerently what they believe and why. Also, Francis comes as a genuine contemplative; he speaks not only from intellectual knowledge but deep spiritual experience. I think that’s a good model for dialogue with believers of any religious tradition.

Message from World Summit of Religious Leaders – “Let Us Preserve Peace Given to Us by the Almighty”

Moscow, July 6, 2006 (Zenit.org)



Here is the message the World Summit of Religious Leaders issued on Wednesday in Moscow.
We, participants in the World Summit of Religious Leaders — heads and delegates of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Shinto religious communities in 49 countries, met in Moscow on the eve of the Group of Eight Summit. Having at length discussed issues of mutual concern, we now appeal to the Heads of States, to our religious communities and to all people of good will.
We believe that the human person is religious by nature. Since the dawn of history, religion has played the key role in the development of thought, culture, ethics and the social order.
With the ever-growing role of faith in contemporary society, we want religion to continue being a solid foundation for peace and dialogue amongst civilizations, and not to be used as a source of division and conflict. Religion has the potential to bind together diverse peoples and cultures despite our human fragility, particularly in today’s context of plurality and diversity.
Human life
Human life is a gift of the Almighty. Our sacred duty is to preserve it, and this should be the concern of both religious communities and political leaders.
Dialogue and partnership among civilizations should not just be slogans. We need to build a world order which combines democracy — as the way of harmonizing different interests and as people’s participation in national and global decision-making — and respect to the moral feeling, way of life, various legal and political systems, and national and religious traditions of people.
Comprehensive, just and durable solutions of international disputes should be reached by peaceful means. We reject double standards in international relations. The world should have many poles and many systems, meeting the requirements of all individuals and nations rather than matching lifeless and oversimplified ideological patterns.
The human being is the Creator’s unique creation whose existence reaches into eternity. Humans should not become either a commodity or an object of political manipulation or an element of the production and consumption machine.
Conception till natural death
It is, therefore, necessary to assert constantly the highest value of human life from conception to the final breath and natural death. Thus the family needs support today, for it is the privileged context for cultivating the free, intelligent and moral personality. We call for more assistance to the family, particularly in its formative mission by national and international law and the practice of states, various public institutions, religious communities and the mass media.
Linked to this is our concern for the status of women and children in many societies. Promoting the unique character of every person, women and men, children and the elderly, as well as people with disabilities, we see that they all have their special gifts. Protecting them from violence and exploitation is a common task for authorities, society, and religious communities.
The human being is the supreme creation of the Almighty. Therefore human rights — their protection and respect at the national, regional and international level — are an important concern for us. Nevertheless, our experience also shows that without an ethical core, without understanding our duties, no society or country is exempt from conflict and collapse.
Freedom and rights
Sin and vice ruin both the individual and the society. For this reason we are convinced that law and social order should seek to bring together in fruitful harmony a commitment to rights and freedom as well as an awareness of the ethical principles that are constitutive of human living together.
We state the importance of religious freedom in today’s world. Individuals and groups must be immune from coercion. No one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his or her own beliefs in religious matters. It is also necessary to take into account the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.
We condemn terrorism and extremism of any form, as well as attempts to justify them by religion. We consider it our duty to oppose enmity on political, ethnic or religious grounds. We deplore the activities of pseudo-religious groups and movements destroying freedom and health of people as well as the ethical climate in societies.
Using religion as a means for rousing hatred or an excuse for crimes against individuals, morality and humanity present a major challenge today. This can be effectively addressed only through education and moral formation. School, mass media, and preaching by religious leaders should return to our contemporaries the full knowledge of their religious traditions which call them to peace and love.
Ethical values
We call for an end to any insult to religious feelings and defilement of texts, symbols, names or places held sacred by believers. Those who abuse sacred things should know that it wounds the hearts and stirs up strife among the people.
Through education and social action, we must reassert sustainable ethical values in the consciousness of people. We believe these values to be given to us by the Almighty and deeply rooted in human nature. They are shared by our religions in many practical ways.
We feel responsible for the moral condition of our societies and want to shoulder this responsibility in working together with states and civil associations enabling a life where ethical values are an asset and a source of sustainability.
Economy and resources
Human life is also interrelated with economy. International economic order, as all other spheres of global architecture, should be based on justice. All economic and business activities should be socially responsible and carried out using the ethical standards. It is this that makes the economy really efficient, that is, beneficial to the people.
A life lived only for financial profit and facilitating production progress becomes barren and meager. Being aware of this, we call on the business community to be open and responsible towards the civil society, including religious communities, at the national and global levels.


It is imperative that all governments and the business community alike be responsible stewards of the resources of our planet. These resources, as given to all generations by the Creator, should be used for the benefit of everyone. All nations have the right to use their resources, sharing them with others, as well as to develop technologies for their effective use and preservation.
The responsible distribution of the earth’s richness, in addition to just international trade and active humanitarian involvement, will help overcome the poverty and hunger suffered by billions of our brothers and sisters. Poverty and social vulnerability become the cause of mass migration generating more and more problems in both poor and rich countries.
The concentration of the majority of the world’s wealth in the hands of a few, while an enormous number of people, especially children, live in abject poverty, is a global tragedy. It will most definitely continue to destabilize the world, threatening global peace. We call upon all nations to return to a life of moderation, self-restraint and active justice. This will secure a hopeful future for upcoming generations and effectively function to cut the ground out from under the feet of extremists and terrorists.
Today’s challenges
The governments, religious communities and peoples of the world should work together to face the challenges of today, such as infectious disease epidemics, particularly AIDS, as well as drug addiction, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
No country, regardless of wealth and power, can cope with these threats on its own. We are all interconnected and share a common destiny. This requires concerted and united action by all member states of the international community. Moreover, the spread of diseases is not a concern for doctors alone, and the dissemination of lethal technologies is not a problem for law-enforcers alone. These challenges should become a common concern for the whole society.
Interreligious dialogue should be maintained by the religious leaders and experts, and be enriched by the contribution of ordinary believers. It is inappropriate, and history shows that it is dangerous, for the actions of religious communities to be dictated by political interests. We also deplore attempts to artificially “merge” religious traditions or to change them without the will of their adherents in order to bring them closer to secularism.
Our communities are also ready to develop dialogue with the adherents of non-religious views, with politicians, with all civil society structures, with international organizations. It is our hope that such a dialogue continues, permitting religions to contribute to concord and understanding among nations, a common home founded on the truth, built according to justice, vivified by love and liberty.
This dialogue should be conducted on an equal footing, in a responsible way and on a regular basis, with openness to any themes, without ideological prejudice.
We believe that the time has come for a more systemic partnership of religious leaders with the United Nations.
Making a special appeal to all the believing people, we urge them to respect and accept one another regardless of their religious, national or other differences.
Let us help one another and all well-intentioned people in building a better future for the entire human family.
Let us preserve peace given to us by the Almighty!
Moscow, July 5, 2006

Cardinal Ivan Dias – Teacher of the Faith


By Bishop Thomas Dabre, June 26, 2006
Cardinal Ivan Dias’ consistent defence of the Church doctrine.
St Paul in his letter to Timothy writes that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth. Defending and promoting the divinely revealed truth of God belongs to the very essence of the Catholic Church […]

To be sure theology is a creative enterprise and it has to be relevant to our multiple and complex Indian situation. Our Indian theologians are well poised to make a precious contribution to the universal Church. However, a truly Catholic theology must be in harmony with the Church’s tradition and magisterial teaching. Catholic theology cannot be a pure spontaneous intuition like a piece of poetry. Theological creativity and contextualisation must be rooted in and be an actualisation of the faith of the Church. This has been the significance of the theological stance of Cardinal Dias which is in keeping with the spirit of what St. Paul says to Timothy. St Paul exhorts Timothy to a proper behaviour in the Church precisely because she is the pillar and bulwark of the truth (1Tm 3:15) and therefore to communicate the sound teaching with a sense of urgency, courage and patience (2Tm 4:2-5). A great exponent of the Christian faith and an outstanding theologian all through the last 16 centuries, St Athanasius writes, “… the ancient tradition and the doctrine and the faith  of the  Catholic Church, which as we know, the Lord handed down, the apostles preached and the fathers preserved. For on this tradition the Church is founded, and if anyone abandons it, he cannot be a Christian nor have any right to the name.” This is the test of authentic Catholic theology.
Cardinal Dias has consistently been alerting the faithful against the excesses and dangers in connection with inculturation, inter-religious dialogue and contextualised theology. However, he has always appreciated the genuine, human, religious and spiritual values in our Indian cultures and religions. He has attended inter-religious programmes in institutions like the Somaiya Sanskrit Peetham in Mumbai.


At a function in Vasai in 2001, held to congratulate him on his elevation to the position of Cardinal, to the delight of the audience among whom there were Muslims and Hindus he declared that we are all children of God in our pilgrimage to him. It is self-evident that all inter-religious activity must be pursued in total fidelity to the Church’s faith and doctrine.
His criticism of the way inculturation and inter-religious dialogue as is in some cases carried out is on account of the impression of syncretism and theological relativism that is given. In such pursuits the unity and integrity of the faith has to be preserved. We are all fascinated by the remarkable combination of the faith and creativity achieved by the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
The Fathers of the Church are good models for us because they too in their circumstances faced similar problems and came up with a   theology or theologies wholly in harmony with the faith, the doctrine and the tradition of the Church while being open towards other cultures and religions. […]

Evangelisation is not only promoting the values of Christ but the very person of Christ for He is the unique and universal Saviour of all mankind. Such a conviction will help us steer clear of
indifferentism, syncretism and relativism.
Cardinal Ivan affirms quite clearly: The missionary task of the Church is therefore immense, and there is place for every Christian and for all Christians. This challenge, of course, differs from place to place, though its essence remains the same everywhere, viz., not just proclaiming Gospel values, but spreading the sweet fragrance of the sacred person of Jesus Christ, Son of God and unique and universal Saviour of all humankind. It is He who brings to maturity (fulfilment) the seeds of the Word sowed by the Holy Spirit in world religions and cultures all down the ages. This point is particularly important in today’s context of
religious pluralism, indifferentism and relativism, which is prevalent even in some theological circles, and of a fundamentalist secularism promoted by well-known secret sects and New Age practices which aim at making God irrelevant to human beings. Our missionary mandate would therefore  require, first and foremost, a sincere appreciation of our Christian roots and a bold affirmation of our ethos and identity. Else, we shall be, in Jesus’ own words, like “salt that has lost its savour” or a “light hidden under a bushel” (Mt. 5:7). (The Examiner, January 22, 2005).
The Holy Father in a recent statement to the Indian ambassador to the Holy See has defended conversion on the unimpeachable ground of human dignity and freedom. The government and fundamentalist outfits were irked. I was delighted to hear an Indian voice, i.e. of Cardinal Dias forthrightly supporting the papal statement.
On January 29, I and some of our priests and faithful were attacked in Mokhada village in Vasai diocese while we were inaugurating a hostel for school children. Cardinal Dias immediately censured the fundamentalist forces for the uncivilised act. On several other occasions too he has criticised atrocities against Church personnel. Every bishop must fearlessly uphold the Church’s evangelising mission. The raison de etre for evangelisation is not the instinct to self-perpetuate or any expansionist or colonial tendency but the truth of Christ. St Paul converted to Christ because he was illumined and grasped by the truth of Christ. […]

Truth is not subjective; truth is not relative; it is not a product of the mind of the thinker; truth is not what you think to be so. Truth is objective. Things are true in themselves and the mind must grasp the truth; truth of human reality, of the Good News, of morality etc. This insistence on objective truth is of the essence for the mission of the Church and salvation of human beings.
I have personally enjoyed the theology of John Paul II and Benedict XVI because of their unflinching stand in favour of objective truth. They have tirelessly opposed theological relativism. Subjective morality and relativistic theology are incompatible with objective truth and morality. The Church’s life, spirituality and mission are all based ultimately on the objective truth of the faith and doctrine. This is the ultimate foundation for the role of the bishop as teacher of the faith, magister fidei of which the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples’ has been an outstanding witness.
Bishop Thomas Dabre is Bishop of Vasai Diocese in Thane District of Maharashtra. He is also the Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI).



Panjim, Goa, November 13, 2006 (Source: KonkaniCatholics blog):

The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council of Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard will preside at the meeting of the Catholic Cultural Centres of India to be organized by the same council at the Pilar Theological College, Pilar, Goa, from November 21st to 24th, 2006. The meeting, which will be hosted for the first time by the Church in Goa, will have for its theme: “Catholic Cultural Centres: Cultural Resources for
Living the Christian Faith in Dialogue with the Traditional Cultures in the Context of Evolving Cultures
,” and will be attended by over forty Cultural Centres from all over India, nearly 30 of which are based in the South Indian state of Kerala. Catholic cultural centres are public forums that help develop a dialogue between faith and cultures.
In his address of 14 March 1997, the late Pope John Paul II who created the Pontifical Council for Culture in 1982, under-scored the “tragedy for culture, which is undergoing a deep crisis because of the rupture with the faith” and called upon the Pontifical Council of Culture “to help the Church achieve a new synthesis of faith and culture for the greatest benefit of all.”


In an interview with Catholic News Service, March 13, 2006, the 76 year old French Cardinal who has headed the dicastery from its inception in 1988, described culture as being key to interreligious dialogue and said that the Council for Culture has already been promoting interreligious dialogue on a local level through Catholic cultural centers.
Around the same time, on March 11 this year, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to temporarily merge the Pontifical Council for Culture with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue “in order to favour a more intense dialogue between men of culture and exponents of the various religions.” The Pope retained Cardinal Poupard at its helm. Over the years, the role of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue has gained in importance, and especially so after some misunderstood references from the Pope’s Speech at the Regensburg University during his home visit trip to Germany last September sparked off angry reactions in some parts of the Muslim world.
The Cardinal… is also scheduled to visit the Bom Jesus Basilica and inaugurate a Christian Art Gallery, promoted by the Archdiocese, in the old Archbishop’s Palace at Old Goa, that evening.
On 23rd afternoon, the Church dignitary will preside over a Special Symposium on “Globalisation and Indian Cultures: towards Harmony among Peoples,” organised by the Pilar Theological College. He will also be present at the evening’s special cultural programme organised by the Society of Pilar with the Governor of Goa as the Chief Guest.
Accompanying the Cardinal to Goa will be his Secretary, Fr. Bernard Ardura and the Official for the Asia Desk, Dr. Theodore Mascarenhas, a priest of the Society of Pilar who also teaches at various Universities in Rome.
Apostolic Nuncio to India, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, will also be attending the three-day cultural centres meet.
The Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao and the Superior General of the Society of Pilar, V. Rev. Fr. Tony Lopes, will accompany the distinguished guest during his six-day stay in Goa before his departure to Rome on the 24th to be part of the entourage accompanying the Pope to Turkey on November 26.


Top Vatican official visits temple, meets Hindu priests


OLD GOA, November 22, 2006

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the pontifical councils for culture
and for interreligious dialogue, visited a Hindu temple, met with its priest and was “fascinated” by the experience.

Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, arrived Nov. 19 for a five-day visit to Goa state, a former Portuguese colony and a Catholic stronghold on the western Indian coast. Its capital, Panaji, is 1,910 kilometers (about 1,185 miles) southwest of New Delhi. The cardinal came to chair the Nov. 21-23 meeting of Christian cultural centers that his council organized.

On the evening of his arrival he visited some Hindu sites. One visit was to the Mangueshi temple near Ponda, 20 kilometers (about 13 miles) south of Panaji. The temple is dedicated to Lord Mangueshi, an incarnation of Shiva, the destroyer God of the Hindu trinity.

With the visit, the cardinal, who is also president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, became the first Vatican official to visit a Hindu temple in Goa in recent history.

“His visit has sent the right signals to the Hindu community. The local media have played up the visit very favorably,” said Father Ubaldo Fernandes, editor of the Catholic weekly Vavradeancho Ixxt (Worker’s Friend).

The temple priest and temple committee welcomed the Vatican official.

Cardinal Poupard also visited a Hindu family living next to the Vamaneshvar temple in Davlli, where he met father and son temple priests. This was followed by his visit to the mutt, or Hindu monastery, in Kavllem.

The cardinal saw Hinduism at work. All along he had read about Hinduism. Now, he was fascinated by Hindu culture, especially the third eye of Shiva,” Father Theodore Mascarenhas*, an official heading the Asia Desk at the Pontifical Council for Culture, told UCA News.

Father Mascarenhas, a native of Goa who accompanied the prelate, described the cardinal as “surprised to see young children being trained to become temple priests at the mutt.” The French cardinal also appreciated the Hindu family values he saw, the priest said…

In March 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Poupard president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, “in order to favor a more intense dialogue between men of culture and exponents of various religions.” …

[Republished by Catholic Online http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=22099]


*The Holy See replies to this ministry on our crusade against the theological errors and inculturational aberrations in the commentaries and drawings of the 2008 St Pauls’ New Community Bible [NCB] on behalf of Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Pontifical Council for Culture–Th. Mascarenhas

prabhu (tramite Pontificium Consilium de Cultura <cultura@cultura.va>)

Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 2:20 PM Subject: from the pontifical council for culture

Dear Mr. Prabhu,
Thank you for the emails and letters which you send us regarding cultural matters in India.
Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi has read your letters and has taken note of your concerns. In his conversations with some Bishops from India, he has been assured that the CBCI has appointed a commission to look into the concerns expressed by people regarding the interpretations in the newly published version of the Holy Bible in English. May God bless you
Yours Sincerely in Our Lord,


Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas
Official Incharge for Cultures in Asia, Africa and Oceania


With a fresh resolve

http://www.hindu.com/2007/03/12/stories/2007031201410200.htm; http://www.hindu.com/2007/03/12/25hdline.htm;

The Hindu, March 12, 2007 EXTRACT

Mar Baselios Cleemis, the new Major Archbishop and Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Church talks to Sangeeth Kurian about education, religion and a few other topics.


On the topic of inter-religious discourse, the Major Archbishop, a doctorate in ecumenical theology from the St. Thomas Pontifical University in Rome, minces no words when he says that
engaging in inter-religious dialogue just for the sake of it is not his cup of tea.

“The idea of an inter-religious dialogue is divine, but there should be something good happening to society at the end of the process. Inter-religious dialogue is a challenging mission. People will question your motive. Some will say you are doing it for popularity. But I personally feel that the heads of various religious faiths should come together in the name of God and do good for society.”

‘Indianisation’ drive

He is sceptical about the “Indianisation” drive happening in certain Churches in celebrating the holy mass.

“Respect for Indian culture and tradition should be authentic and innate; making sartorial changes such as wearing a saffron robe while performing holy mass does not profess one’s Indianness. The holy mass we celebrate has been handed down to us over generations and has its roots in the Antiochian tradition. But that doesn’t mean that we do not make any changes. The adaptation should be natural.”

The Syro-Malankara Church was born out of the “reunion” movement in the 1930s when a section of Syrian Christians in Kerala seceded from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church to join the Catholic Church. The Church has a following of five lakh believers in the State.


Holy See Decries Anti-Christian Violence in India


Mumbai, India, September 24, 2008 (Zenit.org)

Despite the current situation, the cardinal explained that India “is a great country in which many hopes have been placed: I have always thought of it this way and I was moved when the Pope repeated it to me personally at the moment he created me cardinal in November of last year.”
Cardinal Gracias added that this hope is supported in an important way by interreligious dialogue, which he called necessary to give “hope to India and the whole world.” “Religious liberty is the first of liberties,” he said. “Only genuine interreligious dialogue will allow for the elimination of any possible cause of tension or disagreement between religious and ethnic groups in India. Dialogue is vital, essential. The Church has never ceased to promote it — a dialogue that must not be impoverished by syncretism, but must develop in mutual respect.”


Vatican City, October 13, 2008 (Vatican Information Service)

The Twelfth General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place this morning. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Following are excerpts from the speeches given:

CARDINAL JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE: “The Word has always had a decisive role in the understanding of religious phenomenon. … All the great religions have their own Sacred Books. Islam, in particular, is considered by its followers as the ‘Religion of the Book’ par excellence. … From these religions, Christians can learn much, even if Christianity would not be included in the
‘religions of the Book’. It would be opportune for future priests, religious and pastoral workers to be formed in the direct reading of the founding texts of other religions rather than limiting themselves to a commentary on them. But it is just as important to proclaim the Bible to our partners in inter-religious dialogue, in particular our hermeneutic approach to the sacred text. In sharing our respective spiritual patrimonies, without Irenism or syncretism, we will be led to discover that we are all men and women who desire to be taught by God“.


Synod-So-Far Summarized in 19 Questions – Relator-General Concludes Interventions


Vatican City, October 15, 2008 (Zenit.org)

The proposals arising from the world Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church were summarized this afternoon with 19 questions offered by the relator-general.



The questions were delivered today as part of a 70-minute Latin address by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City, which concluded the 5-minute interventions from the prelates and auditors. The address summarized all that has arisen thus far in the week and a half of synodal work, including some 230 interventions before the general congregations.
The questions range from fundamental issues, such as “what can be done to help the faithful better understand that the Word of God is Christ,” to concrete suggestions, such as, “how to educate in the practice of lectio divina.”
Cardinal Ouellet’s address, given in the presence of Benedict XVI, will serve as a base for the working groups in the coming days. These groups will prepare the proposals to synthesize the thought of the synod fathers, which will be given to the Pope as a fruit of the synod. These proposals will serve as a base for the Holy Father’s postsynodal apostolic exhortation.
Here is a translation of the questions, which Cardinal Ouellet clarified are not an exhaustive list. […]

16. How can interreligious dialogue and the dogmatic affirmation of Christ, sole mediator, be reconciled


Christianity’s Relationship to Other Religions


By Gerard Hall SM, March 17, 2009

Australian 2009 is shaping up to be a notable year in terms of dialogue among the religious traditions having begun with Brisbane’s successful Interfaith Summit for Peace and Harmony in the Asia-Pacific – “One Humanity, Many Faiths” – and culminating in the December meeting of the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne. This latter event promises to be the largest and most significant gathering of multi-religious traditions in Australian history.

This provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the changing attitude of Christians to people of other religious traditions across the ages. In some ways, this is a story all Christians need to know if they are to make most of the current call to dialogue among the religions. We can learn both from positive insights of the past as well as historical mistakes.

Historically, Christianity began as a minority Jewish sect. The first Christians did not see themselves as a new religion but faithful Jews for whom Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah. The split with Judaism coincided with the decision to spread the Christian gospel ‘beyond Israel’. Then Christians found themselves confronted by Greek, Roman and other Mediterranean peoples espousing diverse religious systems. How did they react?

Early Christian apologists believed they had a superior message, but they did not assume a universally negative view of other traditions. Writers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria recognized the presence of the Word, Wisdom and Spirit of God in creation, the prophets, wisdom-writers, and ‘among the nations’. We also recall the apostle Paul praising the religious spirit of the people of Athens.

In these early centuries, Christians were a marginal group within the Greco-Roman Empire. They were considered the ‘pagans’ of the day for refusing to worship Roman gods and emperors. They were often persecuted, even martyred, for their beliefs. Consequently, they were on the defensive.

All this changed in the fourth century when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state-sanctioned religion. Christian conversion was no longer just a religious act, but a social and political one as well. Equally, it implied a more negative, at times militant, attitude to other religions. This was especially evident after the eighth century clash with Islam and in the increasing denigration of Judaism.

Nonetheless, in medieval Europe, Christian hostility to other religions was not universal. One thinks of Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart and Francis of Assisi who engaged in positive dialogue with Muslims and Jews. Nicholas of Cusa espoused what he called a harmony or concordance of religions. One also thinks of medieval southern Spain where the three Abrahamic traditions peacefully co-existed for several centuries.

Following Columbus and the colonization of the ‘new world’, Christianity saw itself as the world’s civilizing power. Non-European cultures and religions were considered exotic, inferior and temporary. The Christian attitude toward them was, at best, patronizing.

Events of the twentieth century-two world wars, a billion deaths and post-colonial independence movements-challenged European imperialism and the Christian claim to superiority. Religious traditions of the East and Indigenous traditions of the South grew in authority and confidence. Christians were forced to reassess their own identity and attitude to other religions in relation to a radically changing world.

Today, the dominant Christian voice is no longer European, but Asian, African and Latin American. Like other religions, Christianity is confronted by internal divisions and the rise of fundamentalist movements. The real question is no longer what is the Christian attitude to other religions, but who speaks for Christianity in the context of religious pluralism?

Here we are guided by official voices of major Christian churches including Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and other Reform traditions represented in the World Council of Churches. Differences notwithstanding, this majority Christian perspective is committed to ‘dialogue’ among peoples and religions of the world to overcome divisions and prejudice, foster mutual understanding and work together for reconciliation, peace and harmony.

These Christian proponents of dialogue reject an approach that limits grace and salvation to the Christian religion-even if this is not worked out theologically. Agreeing that other religions are also carriers of truth and goodness does not thereby assume the sameness or equality of religions. Christians (like others) still affirm the priority of their own tradition while recognising each religion has its own spiritual insights and vision to share.

Religious dialogue does not occur in a vacuum. There is little hope of genuine dialogue without acknowledging past guilt. Christian leaders have expressly asked forgiveness from Jews, Muslims and Indigenous peoples for past injustices. World religious leaders twice met in Assisi at the invitation of Pope John Paul II to pray for world peace.



There are many more initiatives at grass-roots levels to demonstrate that interreligious understanding is possible because it is already happening.

Among the fruits of Christian dialogue with Muslims and Jews is growing awareness that all are followers of Abraham and believers in the one, same God. From the classical religions of the East, Christians may learn meditation practices, moral precepts and spiritual truths to enhance our human experience of the divine mystery. From Indigenous traditions, Christians are introduced to a heightened sense of the sacredness of creation.

Christians still believe they have a mission to proclaim the Gospel. However, with renewed humility, they are learning that mission includes other essential aspects such as presence, witness, social justice, liberation, reconciliation, prayer and contemplation. Equally, mission involves the practice and spirituality of dialogue. Dialogue itself takes many forms including dialogue of the head, the heart, hands, life, music and play.

To paraphrase interreligious scholar Raimon Panikkar, Christians are discovering they are not alone and so open up to dialogue to find ways in which a generous God is present throughout creation and in the spiritual traditions of humankind. Nothing short of a new religious consciousness beckons where we define our Christian identity in relationship with -not opposition to- other traditions.

It is not too much to suggest that the start of the third millennium marks the beginning of a new spiral of interaction between Christians and other religions of the world.

This editorial makes significant use of the author’s prior text on “Christianity and Other Religions” prepared for Christendom: The Illustrated Guide to 2000 Years of the Christian Faith, a book on the history of Christianity to be published by Millennium House, Sydney, Australia, in 2009. Details: http://www.millenniumhouse.com.au/


My comment posted to this site:

Unfortunately, many forms of interreligious dialogue are leading to compromise on Catholic practices, including in the liturgy. In Asia it has meant quoting political leaders and pagan mystics in homilies and the use of questionable meditative practices of Buddhist or Hindu origin. Dialogue, according to official Rome teaching, is for the purpose of understanding and appreciating the spiritual quest of truth by our non-Christian brothers and for promoting communal harmony while at the same time presenting to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the ground reality is that it has become an opportunity for us to deny the unicity of Jesus and to apologize for our Faith.

This Catholic apologetics ministry has published a number of reports that record the aberrations of interreligious dialogue and its twin sister in Asia, inculturation.

Michael Prabhu,


New bishop of Pune to build a missionary Church for the poor and for religions

By Nirmala Carvalho, Pune, June 8, 2009
Monsignor Dabre joined his new diocese on Sunday. His priorities include a dialogue between religions and cultures, aid for the poor and concern for the young. For him the Church is called to meet the challenges of our time. Priests and lay people must understand the real nature of our faith.

Mgr Thomas Dabre (pictured), the new bishop of Pune wants to build his mission by promoting inter-faith and intercultural dialogue, provide aid to charities and the poor but above all help the clergy and the laity understand the real nature of our faith.
Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, four Archbishops and six bishops from various dioceses in the western region, took part in the installation ceremony at St Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday. Thousands of believers from the diocese of Vasai were also present.” I feel privileged to be bishop of Pune, a diocese so rich in culture with a long tradition of culture that has made a significant contribution to the history of modern India,” the new bishop told AsiaNews.
Located in the State of Maharashtra, the city of Pune is 150 km east of Mumbai. It is home to the Jnana Deep Vidyapeeth (JDV), the Pontifical Institute of philosophy and Religion, which trains the country’s churchmen.
Mgr Dabre is a graduate of the institute and also taught there. He is also quite conscious of its importance in the life of the Indian Church.
“Our academic institutes should not be insular,” he said. “They must be open to civil society. Our studies and academic pursuits must equip us to respond to situations around us, so in this regard, I will encourage them to think, study and teach in a manner suitable to give an answer to our times which should also meet the needs and challenges of globalisation and the society around us.”



As a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the bishop of Pune is aware that many of the conflicts in today’s society, regions and world communities are sadly due to religious tensions arising out of misunderstanding and misinformation, which unfortunately [. . .] give rise to situations of intolerance, [. . .] violence and fundamentalism. For this reason, inter-religious dialogue and inculturation are an urgent need in today’s India and a pastoral priority for the Church, especially at a time when anti-Christian violence is sweeping across several regions of the country.
For Mgr Dabre building bridges of understanding and tolerance among the country’s various religious communities is one of the main tasks the JDV and the faithful in his diocese must undertake. Young people must become agents of change.
For the young the prelate envisages an educational approach that includes the integration of an inter-religious component in every aspect of education.
Indeed dialogue is not [just] a word for it means a place like Pune with its rich heritage serving as an important centre for social and religious reform movements.
Helping the poor and the weakest segments of society are also part of his priorities.
“A large part of the population in the diocese lives in rural areas and the Church plays an important role in their development and integration in society,” the bishop said. “Our schools are open to children of every creed and our educational activities are geared towards helping the marginalised and the poor lead a life of dignity and without discrimination,” he added.

Notwithstanding the role of the Church’s charitable and educational institutions, priests and lay people are the main players in inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.
For Mgr Dabre focusing on the mission is a must for priests. This is why they receive a continuing education that can help them understand the real nature of our faith.
For the bishop the year Benedict XVI has dedicated to priests is an incredible gift because sadly today there are many misunderstandings within the Church.
Lay people and priests must be helped to appreciate and love the faith and be able to communicate it to our people. Only this way can we see families, society and our entire diocese transformed.


From KonkaniCatholics digest no. 1913 June 9, 2009:

8b. Re: Face Modern Changes with Faith: Bishop Thomas Dabre

Posted by: “Diana Coelho” konkanicatholics@gmail.com Tue Jun 9, 2009 1:13 am (PDT)

Does the idea of his mission *by promoting inter-faith and intercultural dialogue* mean that he can allow any one to come up on our Altar and recite their bhajans/shlokas, etc?
This is what was happening in our Churches in Vasai. The Hindus were allowed on Good Friday to come up on our Altar and recite Shlokas – (the next he will probably allow them to bring their idols too on our Altars)
Can any one comment if this what he allows is right for our religion?
At least I’m shocked by all this.
-Diana Coelho

Dear Diana,
In the heat of the inculturation efforts in the late 60s following the Second Vatican Council, there was a strong tendency in some quarters in India to make use of the Indian scriptures in the liturgy. This came up as one of the proposals in the second All India Liturgical Meeting. However the Bishops of India refused to approve this proposal.
So you can be 100% sure that the use of Indian (or non-Christian) Scriptures in the liturgy has never been approved either by the Holy See or the Church in India for use in the liturgy. In fact in 1970 itself, the Holy specifically forbade the substitution of readings from other scriptures or sources in the liturgy of the word.
I’m not sure if this is what you are referring to. But if this is the case, then you should definitely take up the matter, with due reverence and in a spirit of charity, with your parish priest and if necessary with your bishop. –
Austine Crasta, moderator


Crasta, see pages 33-36 is intelligent enough to have perceived that Diana Coelho did not ask the question which he answered; she did not enquire about “Indian (or non-Christian) Scriptures in the liturgy“. She observed that Hindus were using the altar during holy Mass, to “recite their bhajans/shlokas“. This is an aberration. Crasta could have said that. Instead he replied on a point that Diana Coelho did not take up with him.

Anyway, the reader can see (once again go back to pages 4, 5) that Bishop Thomas Dabre, member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and former Chairman of the CBCI’s Doctrinal Commission allows erroneous practices to occur at Mass in the name of inculturation and inter-religious dialogue.

The presiding Bishop at the time of the incident in the Vasai church was Most Rev. Felix Machado who as a Monsignor was the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and is chairman of the CBCI Desk for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, see pages 1, 3, 6, 13, 83.


New Pune Bishop asks Christians to blend with other religions


By Babu Thomas, June 8, 2009

The newly appointed Pune Bishop has called Christians to commingle with other religions to promote harmony and peace in the country. Taking charge at the Catholic Diocese of Poona, Bishop Thomas Dabre, on Sunday, recalled the violence against Christians in Orissa, and said: “Christians in the country should blend with other religions so the true nature of Christianity can be revealed.”



Bishop Dabre, who is also the secretary-general of the Catholic Conference of the Bishops of India Latin Rite, explained that communal violence is out of “misunderstanding and prejudice” which is ultimately for the political ends. “I have been closely in touch with all the religions and cultures. I have visited several temples including Ram Mandir, Tukaram Mandir, and Vithoba Temple. And I shall further strengthen my contacts with them,” he said, emphasizing on the need for religious harmony.
The prelate who has completed his doctorate on The God experience of Tukaram’, a study in religious symbolism, says he finds the teachings of Marathi Saint Tukaram similar to the teachings of Christ.

“I find the teachings of Tukaram similar to what Christianity believes in many ways. For example in one his abhangas Tukaram says man who has compassion doesn’t discriminate between friend and foe. Similarly Jesus says Love thy neighbour,” he illustrated.
[…] Dabre was previously the Bishop of Vasai Diocese and also served as a professor at the Jnana Deep Vidyapeeth. He completed his higher studies in Theology at the Berkeley University at Chicago, US.


Inter-religious Dialogue and evangelization can co-exist

By Bishop Thomas Dabre, Vasai, January 12, 2008

The Church’s right and duty “to share” the Good News in India, Asia and around the world place no limits to religious freedom. This is what Mgr Thomas Dabre, bishop of Vasai, member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told to AsiaNews as he commented ‘Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization’, a latest document on evangelization issued by the Vatican dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

I am personally delighted to note that while insisting on the right and the duty to evangelize and promote conversion to Christ the Vatican Note unambiguously affirms the need of inter-religious dialogue and inculturation.

I was present in New Delhi, on November 6, 1999 when our Beloved John Paul II signed the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia. I rejoiced to hear John Paul II declare that “the peoples of Asia need Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Asia is thirsting for the living water that Jesus alone can give.”

The visit of John Paul II was very important for India, a land with rich religious and cultural heritage and diversity. In India, through inculturation the Church can enrich herself and as Ecclesia in Asia has admitted through inter-religious dialogue and inculturation the mission of the church can be intelligible and effective particularly in Asia. In “countries where non Catholics live, above all in countries of ancient Christian culture and traditions, real respect for the wealth of these traditions and a sincere spirit of cooperation is urged.

Evangelization is not incompatible with the fundamental right to freedom of conscience and religion.

The Note on some aspects of Evangelization by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is quite forthright in opposing proselytism as it employs force and coercion which are diametrically opposed to such freedoms.

Religious freedom constitutes the very heart of human rights. It is also important for people to understand that there exists a fundamental link between peace and freedom and the free exercise of religion in society.

Religious freedom inviolability is such that individuals must be recognized as having the right even to change their religion, if their conscience so demands. . . .

In India the Founding Fathers of the Indian Constitution guaranteed (Article 25) everyone the right and the freedom to preach, practice and propagate his or her religion. Unfortunately, today the socio-political reality in many parts of the country is very different.

However, it is wrong to equate evangelization with coercion because announcing the Gospel appeals to everyone’s conscience and freedom.

The Church’s mission of evangelization is based on the truth of the Christian revelation and in particular the truth of Jesus Christ being the one universal Savior of the world.

The Church rightly affirms the freedom to share her conviction about Jesus and also respects and encourages the freedom of others in order to respond to her offer of the good news of salvation. As enunciated in Ecclesia in Asia Jesus is the greatest gift and the treasure the Church has to share with the peoples of Asia.

In India and Asia, Christian missionaries are sometimes persecuted by certain extremist elements. In some states infamous anti-conversion laws are in force, which bans ‘forced’ religious conversions. Under this legislation, any person or persons found to ‘force’ or ‘induce’ someone to change his or her religion could be liable for punishment.”

These terms are not defined and even the educational, medical and social welfare ministry of the Church at times are seen by misguided elements as ‘allurements’ to convert people to Christianity.

The Vatican document effectively dismisses the current mentality of ‘anything goes’ and facile, superficial uncritical tolerance of all views. Intellectual permissiveness is at the root of some of the formidable problems that today affect humanity. Such a relativistic mindset has intruded on the inviolable sanctuary of religion so much so that religion has sort of become a commodity which one can pick up or eschew at will. In such a situation the Church’s precious contribution is to insist, as the Vatican Note does, on the absolute and universal character of truth and of the truth of salvation of humanity in Jesus Christ. Not to insist on a common, universal truth and to give in to the demand for tolerance of contradictory and incompatible positions is in the end a colossal disservice to humanity.

Authentic patience and respect cannot ignore truth of man and God. Inter-religious dialogue which is of vital importance for the Church of Asia and for all Asian societies should not be reduced to pleasantries, courtesies and common principles.

God is God of truth and so religious leaders should neither be afraid of truth nor be closed to embrace newer dimensions of truth. Truth is at the core of religion. The spread of relativism is a grave danger to all religions. Therefore there is all the greater need of religious leaders to collaborate together to stand for truth.



In the modern world, as the Holy Father pointed out at Regensburg, reason and faith should not be opposed to each other, and we see advances in science and medicine on the one hand and grave evils like abortions and euthanasia on the other.

Dialogue is per se the communication of truth. In inter-religious dialogue all must be able to share the truth they believe in; religion must never be used as a pretext for conflict. Therefore, evangelization and conversion should not be perceived as incongruous with inter-religious dialogue. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. And therefore it is quite in order, as the Vatican document does, to assert that evangelization and promotion of authentic conversion is the duty and the right of the Church as it is also the right of human beings to hear the truth of the good news of Jesus. As the recent papal encyclical Spe Salvi clarifies, the Christian message is one of hope for the world. Our eternal destiny of a blessed life is certain. And so we can commit ourselves to the building up of the world where peace, justice, equality and freedom reign. Proclamation of such a message is thoroughly consistent with the sprit of spirit of inter-religious dialogue.

At the core of religions is Truth, and religious leaders must come together. Religious leaders in particular have the duty to do everything possible to ensure that religion is what God intends it to be—a source of goodness, respect, harmony and peace.


“The various religions must engage in a dialogue that is truly open-minded, says Mgr Dabre

By Nirmala Carvalho, New Delhi, June 6, 2008

On the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the Indian bishop reiterates the need for a “dialogue between religions” that is “truly open-minded”. Mother Teresa and Pope Benedict XVI are examples to follow in order to advance inter-faith “harmony”.

“India is a society with a non-Christian majority, where Christians are but 2.5 per cent. For this reason the various religions must engage in a dialogue that is truly open-minded,’ said Mgr Thomas Dabre, Indian bishop of Vasai and a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, on the occasion of the Council’s 10th assembly, whose theme is “Dialogue in Truth and Charity,” currently underway in Rome.

“We have, on the one hand, modern society with some of the problems that entails, namely fundamentalism, extremism, fanaticism,” the bishop said; “on the other, there are issues linked to ecology, human rights violations, justice and peace, atheism, secularism, agnosticism, sexual immorality and the decline of the family, i.e. all factors on which believers can find a common voice if they want meet these challenges.”

For Monsignor Dabre Christ’s Word is meant to bring to the world “the fullness of life.” For this reason we must work together to bring about peace, harmony, trust and unity as well as encourage “inter-religious dialogue” and the “Church’s missionary role.”

Thanks to Mother Teresa’s example, we can understand the extent to which “announcing salvation” can stimulate “harmony among various faiths,” the prelate noted, for in doing so the Church becomes a more credible witness to the “Good News.”

In India though, missionaries are accused of forced conversions, a clear sign of ‘ignorance or misconception” of how they operate. Mutual knowledge and respect can thus “clear away all doubts,” said the Indian bishop, and show how “wrong it is to compare missionary activities to forced conversion given the fact that proclaiming the Word of Christ is an appeal to the conscience and liberty of each individual.”

Indeed “the spirit of reciprocity is essential in inter-religious dialogue,” he stressed, because it represents “a bridge that unites” various parties “who feel legitimised, recognised and enriched.”

“It is sharing, give and take, at the individual, social, religious, economic, professional and spiritual levels, reciprocity inspired by Christian love that aims at everyone’s wellbeing.”

However, Monsignor Dabre bemoans an attitude of “intolerance, fanaticism and fundamentalism” that prevails in some countries in the world, including his native India, where “violence and the persecution of Christians” are growing exponentially, and where some state “governments have banned conversions” altogether.

Like Pope Benedict XVI, he reiterated the need for “full religious freedom” as a “fundamental and most intimate right of man which should never be denied.” Likewise, “missionaries should not be hindered in their mission of announcing the Good News.”

“History,” concludes the bishop, “teaches us that every attempt to suppress religious freedom has failed.”


Mother Teresa? A Brazilian visitor to my home who has close associations with Propaganda Fide, Rome lamented her statement that one should let a Hindu be a good Hindu… etc., as that flies in the face of the spirit of the Vatican document Ecclesia in Asia.

Mother Teresa’s words from EWTN https://www.ewtn.com/motherteresa/words.htm:

“There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. ”

So, when does evangelization play its role (don’t forget the Great Commission of Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20)?


In truth, there is absolutely no burden or vision for evangelization in the Indian Church, no matter what the Bishops might be saying.

This letter to the Bombay archdiocesan weekly The Examiner is from a priest of Vasai:

Inter–religious Dialogue

Sir, Kudos to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archdiocesan Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Bombay Catholic Sabha for organising seminars and public meetings to strengthen the Hindu-Christian relationship on June 12-13, 2009.


The city of Mumbai was throbbing with the spirit of dialogue.
Our forefathers had a dream of ‘Vasudhava Kutumbkum’ where religions and communities would dwell in harmony; in fact, a blend of world religions from the most beautiful fabric of Indian culture. But that dream has been shattered before our own eyes. We in Mumbai have not yet fully recovered from the nightmare of November 26, 2008. A number of other cities in India have experienced bloodbaths. Fanaticism and fundamentalism is on the rise. Ironically, all this has taken place in the name of God and religion. In fact, all religions strive to create peace and harmony, for peace is the prerequisite to progress and prosperity. Peace was the parting gift of Lord Jesus, who said to His disciples, “Peace I leave unto you, my peace I give to you.” But today, peace is endangered. It has become a rare commodity. As the Psalmist says, “we looked for peace and behold, there is terror everywhere.”
The famous German thinker, Hans Kung
*, has said, “there can be no peace among the nations without peace among religions; there can be no peace among religions without dialogue between religions; there can be no dialogue between religions without research into theological foundations.” We need to build a culture of love and harmony. June 12 and 13 should serve as an example for the parishes and basic communities.
We in Vasai experience a considerable amount of communal harmony, because Hindus and Christians work together in the socio-political field. A number of parishes take leadership in organising inter-religious meetings. In today’s world, it is not enough to be religious, one has to be inter-religious. –Fr Francis D’Britto
*, Vasai *Also see page 91

Sir, The Archdiocese of Bombay has done good work by inviting Hindu religious leaders for a dialogue on peace and harmony. The concluding function at St Mary’s was a dull affair. Instead of the religious leaders from Muslim and Sikh religions, like Kaji or a Granthi, lay people occupied the stage. A Kaji or a Granthi would have been a better spokesman on the role of religion.
Shankaracharya Saraswati in his statement said, “India is a deeply spiritual country and there should not be any violence against minorities”. He however said that “talks were useless, unless the Church assured Hindus that it would not offend Hindu sensibilities by conversion, and follow up on those assurances”.
Hindu religious leaders regularly organise discourses and talks on the Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata etc. They even advertise and use engagement columns of the media to attract crowds. Spreading the Word of God and evangelisation is the vocation of all religious leaders. Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church, is doing very little in this respect. Churches own huge meeting halls/auditoriums built from people’s contribution. These halls/auditoriums are seldom used for spreading the Word of God or evangelisation. These halls/auditoriums are let out on a commercial basis. Many a time, even Catholic lay organisations are not allowed the use of these auditoriums. Conversion takes place from Christianity to Hindu religion. A sizeable number of followers of Shri Sathya Sai Baba, Sri Ravi Shankar, Mata Amritadevi, Pondicherry Maa, etc are Christians. There are hundreds of Hindu temples all over UK, USA, Canada etc. The biggest temple of Swami Narayan sect is in UK. The great grandson of Ford Motors is building a hundred crore ISKCON temple at Kolkata.
When the bogey of conversion is talked about and Christians are attacked by the fundamentalists, we do not clarify the position. It is high time that serious thought is given to this, which would help the Christians lead their lives in peace and harmony. –John D’Silva, Dadar

editor@examiner.in; mail@examiner.in
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 3:35 PM


bishopdabre@gmail.com; vasaidiocese@gmail.com;

Dear Sir,

In his letter on Inter-Religious Dialogue, TE July 18, 2009, of all the Catholics whom he could have referred, I was surprised to see Fr Francis D’Britto, Vasai, quote dissident Swiss theologian Hans Kung, who has been disciplined by the Vatican in the past, and who said the 2000 Vatican Document Dominus Iesus was “reactionary” and “a combination of medieval backwardness and Vatican megalomania.”

His publication of a 1971 book questioned papal infallibility and while under Pope John Paul II he lost his licence to teach as a Catholic theologian. He opposed the church’s teaching on birth control, women priests and celibacy, and for 27 years, Kung unsuccessfully sought a meeting with Pope John Paul II.

Michael Prabhu, Subscriber, Chennai


Another example of how to maintain religious harmony; sing praises to pagan deities:

Goa Archbishop’s Message on Ganesh Festival 2009

Posted in MangaloreanCatholics yahoo group digest no. 1614, August 24, 2009

It is feast time, once again, when our Hindu brothers and sisters – our fellow pilgrims on earth – honour their Lord Ganesh. It is an occasion when the fruits of earth – the fruit of human work – are laid at his feet. It is a moment of special joy, as they experience the visit of the deity to their homes. And no wonder this joy overflows in the exchange of greetings and goodies with their dear and near ones.
We take particular note that Ganesh is venerated as an icon of wisdom, tenderness, compassion and prosperity. While sharing in the joy of our Hindu brethren, we also pray that those high qualities of human interaction be instilled in the members of the Goan community, that they may serve to strengthen the fabric of tolerance, cooperation and mutual help, which have marked it for centuries.
We will then be able to journey, side by side, as partners for the progress and prosperity of our beloved Goa, so as to build a Great India and sing praises to the glory of God.
+ Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Archbishop’s House, Panjim, Goa



Christian Unity Week to Focus on Mission – Leaders Affirm Urgency of Evangelization

Vatican City, August 21, 2009 (Zenit.org)

Leaders of various Christian churches are affirming that the mission of their communities should foster a spirit of ecumenism rather than competition.
This was underlined in a document prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches for the 2010 Week of Christian Unity.
This document, recently published on the Vatican Web site, offers resources for the week, which will focus on the theme: “You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48).
The coming year will mark the anniversary of the 1910 World Mission Conference in Edinburgh, which “marked the beginnings of the modern ecumenical movement,” the document affirmed.
It stated that the idea of “mission” has a particular place in the efforts toward reconciliation between Christians, along with prayer, doctrinal accords and social cooperation.
The manuscript acknowledged that “not everyone naturally makes the link between missionary endeavor and the desire for Christian unity,” and in the past there were even “rivalries that existed between missionaries sent by different churches.”
However, it continued, these missionaries were often the first to recognize the “tragedy of Christian division” in the face of “enormous human and material need.”
They did not want to “export” these divisions from their home countries to the “peoples who were discovering Christ” for the first time.
In this context a century ago, the Edinburgh conference was called in Scotland to “help missionaries to forge a common spirit and coordinate their work.”
In a similar spirit, the churches will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this conference by reflecting on Christ’s final discourse before his ascension.
The document noted that at this moment in the Gospel, the “mission of the Church is given by Christ” and it “cannot be appropriated by anyone.”
The manuscript explained that after Christ’s sending, the disciples in the Gospel will go forth to witness in different ways, and “sometimes dissent may arise between them about what faithfulness to Christ requires, and yet all will work to announce the Good News.”
The resources offered for this week of unity include reflections on various ways of witnessing to the Risen Christ, and on the ways in which church division can be remedied.
In June 2010, church leaders will once again gather in Edinburgh to pray together and share perspectives on missionary work.
Conference participants will reflect on the issues related to the mission of evangelization today: secularization and de-Christianization, new means of communication, interfaith relations and interreligious dialogue.
The document affirmed that now, as in 1910, “Christians have at heart a similar sense of urgency: for our humanity wounded by division the Gospel is not a luxury; the Gospel cannot be proclaimed by discordant voices.”
On the Net:
Resource document:
Edinburgh conference: www.edinburgh2010.org 
























Registration Form for an International Seminar on Interreligious Dialogue in Pune:


Lawrence D’Souza was a seminarian at the Catholic Church’s Pius X Major seminary in Goregaon in Mumbai. He, along with Gregory Noronha, Anthony Alphonso and Anthony Rodrigues joined the Lefebvre movement (Society of St. Pius X) and were pursuing studies in the Society’s Australian seminary since 2003.

His confession will give readers a fairly good idea of the Indian Church’s interreligious dialogue, ecumenism and inculturation. Lawrence D’Souza reverted to the Catholic Church in 2005.

Scandalous Ecumenism with Hinduism





Newsletter of the District of Asia, July – December 2003

By Lawrence D’Souza, Former Seminarian of Bombay Diocese
Posted on 11/18/2004 10:29:48 AM PST by Land of the Irish
“There will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables” (2 Tim 4, 1-5)
How true! We find this situation prophesied by St. Paul so rampant in the Conciliar Church today. The men of the Church and not the Church (which is indefectible), the liberal popes and periti of Vatican II have tried to establish the forbidden harmony between Christ and Belial. St. Paul once again in 2 Cor 6, 15-16 warns us against such an adulterous alliance. He says “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what part has the believer with the unbeliever. And what agreement has the temple of God with the idols?” And yet, that is precisely what Conciliar and post-Conciliar reforms have established – by
consecrating Ecumenism, Religious Liberty, Inter-religious dialogue and Inculturation. These are the false gods, the golden calves once again erected by the High Priests, as Aaron did.

I shall expose this scandalous and abominable Ecumenism with Hinduism in 2 parts: 1) Theory, 2) Practice.

Image: Hindu Christian: From Daily News, Nov. 11, 1996



1. Theory

The Church in India speaks of a “Contextualised Theology”, “Theology at he grassroots” that reflects the religious, cultural, socio-economic-politico reality of the country. The foundation of such a demand for indigenous theology is what the modernists call “Incarnational, Communitarian and Dialogical Spirituality” (big words devoid of any content!!!) which in turn supports itself on Gaudium et Spes (G.S.), 1. – “the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of
our time…..” As was reaffirmed in post-synodal exhortation of Pope John Paul II “Ecclesia in Asia” (E.A.S.): “G.S.I captured the shift towards an ‘incarnational spirituality’ that translated into action the commitment of the Church to an involvement in the transformation of the world.” Hence, we see that the Church in India no more speaks of being the Church Universal, but a’ local Church” having its own contextual theology and mission”.

I quote here a statement issued by the Catholic Priests Conference of India (CPCI) 1996.
No. 1 – “The struggle for livelihood and Justice in our Indian Subcontinent have taken the form of political demands for the
recognition of the autonomy of the different Socio-Cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities. The tragic failure of the Church to make an evangelical response to the Indian crisis is the background of the CPCI’s reflection on the question of ‘Rites’. We have tried to evolve a vision of a new model for different Rites in India…
No.6 – “But unfortunately the principles of diversity and autonomy are more violated than respected. Only the Oriental Rites have enjoyed autonomy to some extent, still very much controlled by Rome. The issues of these individual Churches are often manipulated by the Vatican bureaucracy downplaying the resources of the ‘Local Church’. The Latin Church in India could not even get an Indianised Eucharistic prayer approved by Rome, even though the Bishops overwhelmingly voted for it...”
No.21 – “Missionary work is still understood as the transporting of a Ritual Church to new territories – This is no better than a religious colonization crushing the rich religious and cultural heritage of the local people…”
No.23 – “The CPCI approves that missionary activity should result in the founding of a new church. The missionaries will have to deculturise and insert themselves into the religions, cultures and life of the people of the new area,
evolving a new local Church from the local spiritual resources i.e. local religions, value systems, cultural expressions
and social struggles.
If needed, the evangelised people may draw from the spiritual resources of other religious traditions. It will be a People’s Church.
No.24 – “The emerging local Church will be independent of the Mother Church of the missionaries. Leadership in these Churches will be from the local Christian – Contextual!’
No.30 – “The following steps may be implemented:

a. Priests should be able to celebrate the divine liturgy in any Rite according to the needs of the people.

b. Each Church should take care to give up customs and practices, which are not relevant and meaningful today in the local context.

c. Each Church/Rite has to adapt itself to the culture, religion and social life of the people of the region.

d. The Dalit Leaders have to take the lead in evolving a dalit Church and Rite (Tribal Church).

e. Women’s participation should be ensured in the Decision-making, administration and ministry at different levels in all the existing churches… (Document “Towards Authentic Indian Churches” CPCI – 6/11/1996)
Pope John Paul II in Ecclesia in Asia says: “that the Church besides being a Sacrament of the inner union of the ‘human person’ with God is also the Sacrament of the unity of human race.” (No.24) And also: “The Kingdom of God comes to a people who are profoundly linked to a culture and the building up of the kingdom cannot avoid borrowing elements from
human cultures. In the process of encountering the world’s cultures, the Church not only transmits her truths and values, but she also takes from the various cultures the positive elements already found in them…” (No.21)
I have quoted various important sources and documents that describe elaborately and clearly the rationale behind the frenzied ecumenism pushed forward by the modernists. I shall now enlist the concrete steps taken up to implement the above stated alliance between Christ and Belial.

2. Practice

In order to execute the above principles of Ecumenism, an attitudinal change is proposed in order to shed away any trace of triumphalism or superiority of Catholic spirit vis-a-vis other religions. Following are the steps taken:

* Adopting Indian religious values and customs into church practices as well as participating actively and freely in Hindu festivals.
* Encourage the Small ‘Christian’ Communities (SCC) to gradually launch into and foster Small ‘Human’ Communities to include all religions in the Church.
* Open Archdiocesan Ashrams (a Hindu-styled hermitage) to participate in Indian forms of prayer, liturgical worship and community, thereby to have a “God-experience” in Indian setting.
* Promote Inter-religious Dialogue in theology and spirituality.

* Collaboration with people of other faiths in matters concerning Justice.
* Fostering practices such as Yoga, Vipassana, Transcendental Meditation, Reiki, Pranic healing to further one’s health of mind and body and recite Christian mantras.
* Make a study of the ‘seeds of the Word’ present in non-Christian scriptures and in the lives of Our Indian Sages such as Tukaram, Tulsidas, Surdas, etc.


Here I shall recall the “Jesuit Agenda” as unanimously arrived at by their Society (Society of Jesus), thus inventing an “Indian Mission Command”-voiced out by the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops Conference). It says-
“Today the Lord would no more give a triumphalistic command as He gave in Matt. 28:19-20 but He would say this:

‘Share the Good news in continuous, loving and humble dialogue with India’s poor, with its local culture and religious traditions; live like Me in the midst of your neighbours of other faiths, so that you in turn might achieve mutual enrichment and do my deeds by the power of my graces.’ ”

Hence, no more conversions, no more baptisms and so, all are saved. No condemnations!!!
This revolution of Inculturation or Hinduisation was begun intensely in the 1970’s by a Jesuit priest*, Fr. Amalorpavadas, the younger brother of Cardinal Lourduswamy of the Vatican Congregation for Promotion of Inter-Religious Dialogue. He built a centre for Inculturation known as NBCLC (National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre) at Bangalore, modeled in the form of a temple with symbols of all religions engraved on the door of the temple. It is here that lay people even today are taken, even sponsored by dioceses and parishes, to be “brainwashed” into paganisation by drinking the poison of the “Indian Rite Mass” fabricated by Fr. Amalorpavadas, who himself died a most cruel death being crushed under a truck that left him “faceless” in his death. The Indian Rite Mass is a further perversion of the already “abomination of desolation” which is the Novus Ordo Missae of Paul VI. Fr. Amalorpavadas is the first to construct the ‘Indian Rite’ incorporating in it all the Brahminical rituals of Hinduism with the chanting of Vedic and Upanishadic mantras. It includes readings taken from the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita. The words of consecration keep evolving and changing as per the “Creativity” of the celebrant. The mass is said squatting on the ground, on a little table surrounded by small lamps. The priestly vestments were completely cast away, the celebrant being in his civil clothes wears a saffron shawl with the character OM in its centre. All the mantras and prayers in this abominable mass begin with ‘OM’. (I have explained its perverse significance in “Hinduism at a glance”) *not a Jesuit

Tilak‘ is applied on the foreheads of priests and people. Aarti (an act of worship performed by moving in a circular fashion a plate with incense-sticks) is done with a bronze pot, leaves and coconut (it symbolises the 3 deities Shiva, Ganesh and Parvati – the fertility cult of the Hindus). The reason given is that it is a sign of welcome. The Mantras invoking Visnu and Shiva are attributed, of course falsely to Our Lord Jesus Christ. The ‘Indian Rite’ yet stands unapproved by Rome and yet is widely practiced in all seminaries, convents and gradually in many parishes.
This kind of Ecumenism is slowly catching up in parishes. During parish feasts, on Sundays, masses begin with an entrance procession led by girls or women dancing Bharatnatyam to Indian classical tunes (latest news: this was done at the Papal Mass for the Beatification of Mother Teresa). Bhajans (poetical songs taken from Mirabai) and Aarti songs of the Hindus are sung to the Blessed Sacrament.

In one of the parishes in Bombay, during Easter, the Liturgical Committee used cow’s urine for the ‘Asperges’ (as used by the Hindus for purificatory rites).

Seminarians are sent to Hindu Christian Ashrams where they live-in, imbibing in themselves the elements of Indian worship and meditations. They are also taken for periodical ‘Temple-visits’ by their superiors thus breaking off all resistance by pressure-tactics such as group activity. The whole group of seminarians going to the temples and joining in singing Kirtans and Bhajans (Hindu devotional songs) as well as participating in the worship offered to the idols. I was questioned and interrogated by all staff members of the seminary in turn for having refused to even enter a temple. This went on for a week. I was persecuted for not being “open-minded”.

One of the years, along with my class of seminarians, I was sent for a Vipassana Retreat conducted by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Joseph Pitekar of Nashik diocese, who in the very first conference asked all of us to remove any sacramentals, if we had some, any scapular, rosary, etc. – the reason given was to avoid distraction. The retreat began in the chapel by reciting Mantras in praise of the Hindu Triad-Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Centering prayer was combined with Vipassana-Buddhist meditation centered on the ‘Self’. The masses celebrated by this Jesuit were all “On the spot evolved”, so also the formula of consecration interspersed with mantras from the Vedas – Sacrilegious indeed!

The Divine office in the seminary was frequently replaced by “Sandhyavandana” – a Brahminical practice of worshipping the Sun-God.
It included singing Hindu Bhajans, reading scriptures from other religions, such as Gita, Koran, sayings of Hindu saints followed by Parallel themes “read into” the Holy Bible. This was to show homogeneity between the Bible and other religions. Prasada (food of sweet items offered to the idols) was offered to the Blessed Sacrament such as done in the temples. Seminarians were encouraged to join the Hindus in their festivals of Ganpati and a proposal was being executed to actively participate in the processions of Ganesh-Visarjan (drowning of Ganpati idols). Many seminarians joined in the 9-day playing of “Raas Lila” – Dancing around the idol of Durga with sticks in hand. Many priests and nuns giving up Breviaries and Rosary are taking up to Vipassana and Yogic meditations under the guise of being simple and practical.
Many priests, seminarians and nuns, as well as a great number of novices nowadays attend the 10-Day Vipassana Meditations at a Vipassana Centre, at Igatpuri, on the outskirts of Bombay. This Centre is run by Mr. Goenka, a Buddhist. For 10 days, they are without any sacramentals (if they have been wearing any) or sacraments. All those among the clergy and religious, after spending the 10 days at this Centre, return back godless, proud (under the disguise of being enlightened) and stoic. A French Jesuit priest, Fr. Le Saux (now Swami Shilananda)* has built a church resembling a temple at Sinnar, in Nashik, in which he has made a seemingly tabernacle to the form of Shivalingam (sexual organ of Shiva) with a serpent on top, and below, the female sexual organ, that is the fertility cult of the Hindus. He places the Blessed Sacrament inside the Shivalingam. He is dressed in saffron robes like an Indian sage. He is looked up to as a model of an Indian priest. These and many others are the ‘fables’ to which the Conciliar Church has ‘turned aside’ to, as prophesied by St. Paul.


These are the ‘golden calves’ erected today by the clergy everywhere. We know what happened to the Israelites and to their leaders who led them into rivalry against God and his Commandments… What judgment has God to mete out today for this new rivalry of Ecumenism?? Ave Maria *Error; it should read as Abhishiktananda -Michael


Hinduism at a Glance


Newsletter of the District of Asia, July – December 2003

By Lawrence D’Souza, Former Seminarian of Bombay Diocese

“INDIA, THE CRADLE OF RELIGIONS” is a jargon that is used by the secularists in the most positive sense to depict “Communal harmony” among the people of diverse religious backgrounds. While the reality differs to a great extent ranging from religious fanaticism to caste distinctions under the One banner of “HINDUTVA”, that is a characteristic feature of India today. The West, however, is attracted to the hollow facade of the Eastern religious ‘Anubhava” i.e., ‘Experience’ made manifest in various forms ranging from the Exoteric dimension of Hindu Polytheism of thirty three crores (330,000,000) of deities to the Exoteric dimension of ‘Self-realisation’, ‘Yogic disciplines or meditations’ to the Occult practices of TANTRA which includes animal as well as human sacrifices.

The foundation of these varied forms of Hinduism are Six Darsanas (Schools) of Indian philosophy which in turn are based on the Hindu Scriptures known as the VEDA [means “knowledge”]. The Six Systems of Hindu thought are: Nyaya-Vaisesika, Samkhya-Yoga, and Mimanisa-Vedanta. One would observe that the Six Systems are grouped in three pairs; the rationale for this is the alleged affinity between the members of each pair, in such a way that the second member of the pair is primarily concerned with the practical applications of the teachings of the first member. And since, these Six Systems are based on the Authority of the Veda, they are called “Orthodox” Schools (Astika) as against Jainism, Buddhism and Carvaka (materialists), which are called “Heterodox” (Nastikavada). The ‘Veda’ however, is a vast corpus of works—religious mantras, treatises and injunctions on performing sacrifices to deities, instruction for meditation and philosophical speculations (Upanishads) — composed and assembled during the millennium after the Aryan invasion around 1500 BC. The end of the Vedas comprises the Vedanta (Upanishads) consisting of approximately 4,000 mantras that expound the doctrine of the ultimate reality (Brahman) and the realisation of the Self (Atman) as ‘Brahman’ explained by the Upanisadic dictums — “Tat Tvam Asi’ and ‘Aham Brahmahmi’ [I am Brahman]. Rightly called the “Vedantic Egocentricity.”

From the abstract speculation of Vedanta resulting into Egocentricity, we now move on to the Hindu Polytheism wherein lie the dangers of “SPIRITISM” and “IDOLATRY” that are inseparably intertwined in Hinduism. The deities are the evil spirits that are invoked and propitiated by performing various rituals, prescribed in the Veda—also animals as well as human sacrifices — bloody offerings to placate the fierce deities like Shiva, Kali, Durga etc. The cult of Kali well known as “Shaktaism” consists of Occult practices which are technically called ‘TANTRA” which form the major part of Hinduism.

Religious procession exhibit men and women who are possessed with these deities. There have been instances, which I have witnessed, of exorcisms performed by an old priest of Bombay, Fr. Rufus Pereira, who was till recently on the Pontifical Commission for Exorcism* (now Parish Priest of St. Pius X Church, Mulund in Bombay), whereby many people who entered Hindu temples or in any way participated in Hindu prayers (ceremonies) or even consumed food offered to idols (prasad) were possessed by the deities, of whom Kali, Ganesh, Shiva, Krishna were common. *Incorrect -Michael

In the Hindu practices, even that which appears as a merely social element is not really free of the ‘spiritual’ significance (I mean in the Occult sense) such as men and women applying the red powder (Tilak) on their foreheads which signifies the third eye of Shiva known as “Jnana-Chakshu,”, (Eye of Wisdom) from which flows the ‘river of fire’ and destroys everything, for Shiva is the destroyer of the worlds (Hellish indeed).

The Hindu syllable ‘OM’ (which today is adapted and used in the Inculturated Novus Ordo Indian Rite Mass) is the abode of the 33 crores (330 million) of deities that are contained in the infinite cosmic sound ‘OM’. The Hindu Puranas (Epics) demonstrate that ‘OM’ is the sexual sigh of Shiva while engrossed in mystical union of generation with his consort Parvati (Shaiva Purana). One of us, Anthony Rodrigues, has witnessed Fr. Rufus Pereira exorcising a woman possessed with the spirit of ‘OM’. Hence, we see magical practices as well as witchcrafts performed with the help of Tantra. There is a vast array of practices to suit every temperament. Hence, the chosen deity may be with form or formless. At the time of initiation, the Guru gives his disciple a ‘mantra’ and this determines the path he will follow and the practices he will take up. The disciple then, according to the instruction of the Guru whom he regards as ‘Shiva’ or ‘Krishna’ incarnated (Guru: Sakshat Parabrahman), performs Japa, i.e. chanting of the magic mantra.

YOGA Another form of Hinduism that fascinates many is the ‘Exoteric’ part of Yogic meditations, Yogic exercises (Asanas), exercises regulating and retaining breath (Pranayama) and concentration (Dhyana) that hideously contains the exoteric world of ‘spirits’ and ‘gods’. The ultimate purpose that is spelled out in the Exoteric practices is to attain ‘peace’ (shanti), ‘Equanimity’ (Ekagrata) and finally ‘liberation’ (moksa) from the cycle of ‘rebirth’ (punarjanma).

Meditation is a ‘One-pointed Concentration’ on the chosen deity such as Shiva or Krishna who are both called “Yogeshwara” [means Lord of the Yoga].”

I would like to elaborately dwell a bit on ‘Yoga’ towards which many in Asia as well as in the West are fascinated. The Yogic meditations are the highest stage of meditations, beginning with physical exercises, then concentration, culminating in ‘Samadhi’ — Union with the deity. This union is attained by the releasing of the ‘serpentine power’ [Kundalini Shakti] which Yoga believes lies asleep in the generative organ [sexual energy]. By practicing Yogic exercises, concentration and Pranayama, the Kundalini Shakti is released thus travelling through the 7 wheels (chakras) invisibly present in every human body, it reaches its climax in the 7th chakra present in the mind that results in the illumination of the mind, like Shiva himself, who facilitates this illumination in ‘Samadhi’.


Even the physical exercises are evil, for they implicitly contain the influence of the higher states of meditation and hence, Yogic exercises too are to be refrained from.

Buddhism, as we have seen earlier was in the traditional ethos considered heterodox. But later, in the VIIIth century A.D., the Brahmins (the Hindu priestly cast) included the ‘Buddha’ as an incarnation of Visnu in order to prevent the Lower Caste Hindu masses from converting to Buddhism, which they were doing, being tired of suffering oppression from High Caste Brahmins. Hence now Buddhism too falls under the banner of Hinduism, though not very successfully. Nevertheless there are other Buddhist forms of meditation such as Vipassana, Zen meditation, centering prayer, Transcendental meditation (of Maharshi Yogi) that today ensnares many people. Also many other occult practices such as Reiki and Pranic healing that are practices dabbling with the element spirits of the universe (which they call ‘energies’).

Hinduism is called “A Way of Life”. Indeed so, for the diabolic pervades every aspect of a Hindu. Every little food cooked by a Hindu is offered to the deities (Saraswati, Durga who is called Annapurna — which means ‘the One who completes the deliciousness of the food’). The idols installed in houses, temples or on the roadsides are diabolic too: the spirits of the deities they represent are breathed into them through the ceremony which is called “prana pratishta” (‘prana’ is breath; ‘pratishta’ is to install) performed by the Brahmin, who by chanting efficacious mantras infuses into the idol the spirit of the deity. Such is this all-comprehensive phenomenon called ‘Hinduism’. One among the many forms of the ‘diabolos’, who cunningly has distributed and manifests himself in various religions and cultural forms according to times and places. All that can be said is “Watch out! For your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the Faith! (1 Peter 5, 8-9) Ave Maria.


Christianity Embedded in Indian Culture


By Eduardo Faleiro, February 4, 2007

During my last term in Parliament (1999-2005) I travelled extensively throughout the country to understand Christianity in India today. I met our Cardinals, Bishops and theologians and visited several of our religious organizations including Jesuit organizations such as the
Vidya Jyoti Theological Seminary in New Delhi, the Sameeksha Ashram in Kalady, Kerala and the Xavier Centre of Historical Research in Goa. The theme at these meetings was usually the need for inter-religious harmony and dialogue in India and the need for greater inculturation.

Asia is the cradle of all the great religions of the world and several of them were born in India. The Asian religious psyche resonates with the perception of plurality and the consequent attitude of tolerance. Jesuit theologian Samuel Ryan asserts, “Pluralism is a grace. No one person, race, culture, language or religion can grasp and express exhaustively the will of God.”

Jesuit contribution to inter-communal and inter-religious peace and harmony and to authentic Christianity today begins with their educational institutions which try to conscientise students on the value of inter-religious collaboration and instill in them a basic understanding of and respect for the faith vision of the members of the diverse local religious communities, while deepening their own faith response to God. This contribution continues with the philosophical and theological formation programmes of the Jesuits, which are geared towards forming priests for the multi-cultural and multi-religious context of our country, for inter-communal relationships in modern India, and commitment to meaningful service of the Faith and Justice among the various groups of the country, especially the more disfavoured.

Their specialised or more popular publications in every continent clearly reflect the Jesuits’ concerns of these last decades. The Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection is published by the Jesuits from Delhi and respected in the English-speaking world as a leading forward-looking and yet most balanced theological review. The New Leader and Jivan are enlightening and inspiring magazines publicising views and actions of the Jesuits of South Asia but read and deeply appreciated in every continent. They promote authentic Christianity today.

Inculturation is the process by which a particular Church expresses its faith through the local culture. In India, the purpose is to make the Church both authentically Indian and genuinely Christian. At the Asian Synod of 1998 the bishops called for “divesting of the Western image of the Church in the liturgy, style of life, celebrations and trying to overcome the present image of a powerful, affluent and domineering institution”.

Fr George Gispert-Sauch, Emeritus Professor at Vidya Jyoti is of Spanish origin as St Francis Xavier was. He has published two volumes of the writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay. Upadhyay was among the first if not the first to demand complete independence of India from the British Raj. He died in jail in October 1907, a martyr of the freedom struggle. The poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote about him: “Upadhyay was a sannyasi, a Roman Catholic, yet a Vedantist. He was powerful, fearless, self-denying; he wielded great influence on those who came near him. He had a deep intelligence and an extraordinary hold on spiritual matters.” Upadhyay was born into a Hindu Vaishnava family and he converted to Christianity. When asked by a census official whether he was a Roman Catholic or a Protestant he replied, “Neither. Put me down as an Indian Catholic.” The Upadhyay message, as contained in his writings is simple. He was personally a Hindu by birth and culture, a Christian by faith and religion. He was a Hindu Christian. His culture and his faith were both valuable and not in conflict. There was no contradiction because Hinduism is a cultural reality. Christianity is a supernatural revelation that can be expressed in any cultural garb. Fr Gispert-Sauch believes that we should commemorate this year as the death centenary of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay. Jesuits have been and continue to be agents of building healthy, progressive human communities where discrimination of any kind, including cultural and religious, does not have a place.


My comments

All I can say is that Faleiro went to the wrong places and talked to the wrong people and read the wrong Catholic periodicals. So he came away with all the wrong ideas about what is right and what is wrong.

There are plenty of adverse reports on my web site on the places and persons that he referred to.


Inter-faith Live-in retreat held

An inter-faith live-in retreat was organised in Bangalore by the Jesuit-run
Ashirvad Inter-Religious Harmony Movement, March 18-20. Forty-five men and women of different religions including Hindus, Jains, Bahá’ís, Lingayats and Christians participated in the retreat held at Asirvanam Benedictine Retreat House in Kumbalgod. The theme of the retreat was “Spirituality in Life“. The two-day live-in experience included talks and discussions on
spirituality, non-denominational prayers and bhajans, meditations, yoga, and group sharing on human values

The resource persons were Dr. Thimappa Hegde, Guruji Vinay Vinekar, and Jesuit Fathers Ronnie Prabhu
Pradeep Sequeira.
The participants said they were happy to have acquired a sense of affinity to people of different faiths, and a sense of wonder at the depth of spirituality in every religion.

Ashirvad Inter-Religious Harmony Movement has been active in inter-religious dialogue for over 30 years. Among its activities are prayer meetings on second and fourth Sundays of every month, inter-faith pilgrimages to places of worship in the city, courses on understanding religions organised for college students and school teachers, and seminars on inter-religious dialogue.


Outreach of the spirit –
Interfaith retreat

Posted in Mangalorean Catholics yahoo group Digest no. 2285 dated April 8, 2011

Posted by: “Fr Ronnie Prabhu SJ” MangaloreanCatholics@gmail.com   ronnieprabhu Thu Apr 7, 2011 7:02 pm (PDT)

Fr Ronnie Prabhu SJ
‘Outreach of the Spirit’ was the theme of the Interfaith residential Retreat organized by the Karnataka Bishops’ Commission for Dialogue in collaboration with the Ashirvad Interreligious Harmony Movement and held from April 1-3, 2011 at the Asirvanam Benedictine Monastery Retreat House, Bangalore. Of the 60 participants 26 were Hindus, 23 Christians (including 5 CSI), 3 Muslims, 4 Buddhists, 4 Jains. These included 8 from Chikmagalur, one from Bellary, 3 from Belgaum, 2 from Mangalore and the rest from Bangalore district.
This was one retreat where there were no talks or lectures but only meditations, reflection and sharing. There were four sub-themes: my relationship with God, my relationship with others, with nature and with myself. Each of these themes was introduced by a personal sharing by one or two participants, followed by quiet reflection and then personal sharing by everyone in small groups. The sharing was facilitated by a questionnaire. This group sharing was very enriching as there were members of four different religious backgrounds in each group. This was followed by a common session for clarifications and sharing of highlights of what touched them most. In order to deepen this experience was followed by a prayerful reading of and meditation on texts from the mystics of different religions on each theme. (Fr Pradeep Sequeira SJ, Dr Thimappa Hegde, Prof Bharathi Parekh, Dr Nayeemulla Khan, Sri S R David, were among those who initiated the sharing. Fr Ronnie Prabhu SJ along with Dr Thimappa Hegde and Fr Pradeep Sequeira SJ directed the whole program.
The general atmosphere of silence, the yoga meditations in the morning (by Dr Thimappa Hedge and Yogini Usha Rani, the interfaith bhajans by Hira Purnaiya and Visuwasam Master, and the session in Sufi dance by Margaret Rebello, the penitential service at the end of the retreat and the intercessory prayer for the group and for all in need (and even the Sunday Mass which many attended), the serene surroundings and hospitality of Asirvanam, all added to the richness of the retreat experience. The only sadness was that we could not accommodate some fifteen applicants, some of these from Belgaum and Karwar, for lack of accommodation.
Fr Ronnie Prabhu SJ
Regional Secretary, KRCBC Commission for Dialogue.


Spreading Indian Flavor in Samba Land – Brazil


By Florine Roche, Mangalore, April 7, 2008

The South American country of Brazil is no doubt famous for its soccer, beaches, coffee, volleyball, carnival and those hot women who sashay the international modeling scene with aplomb. This former Portuguese colony no doubt boasts of a unique and flamboyant culture of its own as its carnival festivities are famous across the world attracting thousands of people. Despite the distance that separates But Indian dance, yoga art and culture is finding its flavour in Brazil thanks to the efforts of a few Indian missionaries and other smitten Brazilians who have been instrumental in spreading Indian flavour in this coffee land. 

Today about 5 million Brazilians are practicing regular yoga and several dance and art schools have mushroomed all over Brazil, says Fr Joachim Andrade, a Mangalorean SVD priest who has been working in Brazil for the last 17 years. “Major Hindu influence began in Brazil to be exact was in 1953, when yoga was taken by a French man, who took the Indian name as Shivananda, who started a yoga academy in one of the towns of Brazil. Later, many other forms have entered such as Hare Krishna Movement, Vedanta Philosophy, Indian classical music and finally Indian classical dance.  The Brazilians got hooked to Indian music, vegetarianism, food and culture and there has been no stopping its popularity”, Fr Andrade declares.   

Indian way of live has penetrated deeply among the people and some of the Brazilians have great admiration towards Indian culture. Many have ventured out to take a trip to India visiting several ashrams and gurus. They have taken back to Brazil a kind of Indian culture which has created a deep rooted impact among Brazilians. 

This receptiveness among Brazilians prompted Fr Andrade to make a deeper study on the phenomenon of the diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil. Born in Vamada Padavu in Bantwal taluk, he joined seminary and was initiated to Bharathanatyam during his college days in Mysore.   Fr Andrade gave a public stage entrance in Pune in 1991 in Bharathanatyam and left for Brazil in 1992 after his ordination.  He continued his passion in Brazil and did his masters in Anthropology choosing the topic “Dance as a ritual: a case study of Indian Dance” for his dissertation.



For his doctorate he chose the topic of “diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil and used Bharathanatyam as the medium for diffusion

As Fr Andrade worked in southern part of Brazil where the church activity is mostly pastoral and was compelled to make a slight shift in his missionary work and concentrate on ecumenical as well as inter-religious dialogue activity. Because of his close involvement in inter-religious dialogue activities, he has been appointed as the coordinator of the Ecumenical and Inter-religious dialogue dimension of the arch diocese of Curitiba.

Responding to public enthusiasm Fr Andrade has opened an academy of dance in Brazil recently where Brazilians learn the Indian dance and propagate it to the Brazilian people. “My motive behind this is to utilize the art form to diffuse Christian themes and combine the art and spirituality to the Brazilian culture” he says modestly.

Recently his pupil Ivanilda Maria Moreira Da Silva, a yoga teacher for the last 20 year hailing from Curitiba in Brazil was in Mangalore to add perfection to her Bharatanatyam dance which she has been learning in Brazil from Fr Andrade for the last four yearsIvanilda spent two months at [the Catholic Church-run]
Sandesha College of Fine Arts
fine-tuning her skills in Bharathanatyam and left back for Brazil with a promise to come back against next year with her 13 year old daughter Yane to learn more about Indian dance.

“I learnt the techniques and perfection of the movements of the Indian classical dance.  I am greatly impressed by the visuals, the grace, the music and the expressions of Bharathanatyam.  Having stayed here for two months and learning dance I feel dance comes from within and it is very satisfying to make the movements, articulations and gestures.  It is made me what I am”, Ivanilda confesses.  

Ivanilda came to be associated with yoga just by fluke.  Her husband wanted to learn martial arts and yoga formed a part of martial arts.  She had accompanied her husband to the university and when her husband got specialized in Martial arts Ivanilda got a tryst with yoga and since then as the cliché goes there has been no looking back for Ivanilda.  A few years back she was exposed to Indian dance and got enamored by it prompting her to join the academy as Fr Andrade’s student. 


No doubt Indian culture has crossed the seven shores to find routes in the distant land of Brazil. It only goes to prove that art and spirituality makes a great combo to make a striking impact.




My comments:

The above is not only a confirmation of Fr. Ronnie Prabhu’s activities, but also of Jesuit activity in general, see page 15, keeping in mind that Fr. Ronnie was the Provincial of Karnataka, and that Ashirvad is a Jesuit institution. See also





This is an example of the true nature of the “Inter-Religious Dialogue” that most priests, and especially the Jesuits, are engaged in. Preaching of the Gospel and the unicity of Jesus Christ has been completely dismissed from their agenda.

The participants’ “wonder at the depth of spirituality in every religion” precludes any possibility of their ever experiencing the fullness of revelation in the Bible and the Catholic faith.

Against the oft-repeated arguments that yoga is not a spiritual practice, yoga is integral to a retreat on spirituality!

This SAR News Report is taken from The Examiner, the archdiocesan weekly of Bombay, April 9, 2005. Evidently the Archdiocese of Bombay finds no problem with the “retreat”.


Here’s one routine example of Catholic practice of interfaith dialogue:

CBCI Media Commission
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 3:57 PM




Archbishop’s House, 1 Ashok Place, New Delhi-110001, Ph: 3343457, 3362058, Fax: 3746575



Time: 13th July, 2008, Sunday at 7.30 PM

Venue: Sacred Heart Cathedral Church, Gole Dakkhana, New Delhi-1

SHANTI SADBHAVNA SANGEET SANDHYA, Music on the Road for Peace and Harmony will have its second inter religious music concert
at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Ashok Place, New Delhi on July 13, 2008 Sunday at 7.30 pm. The first of its kind was done at the Church of the Transfiguration, East of Kailash, where the parishioners
together with devotees of ISKCON temple
witnessed their Gurus singing on the same platform for Peace and Harmony on 29th June, 2008. These two groups came together first time for a purpose though the ISKCON temple and the Church of Transfiguration existed on the same road for years.



At the Ashok Place on Sunday, along with the Christian and The ISKCON music group, the neighbouring Sikh community members of the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, would be sharing the music platform, which also exist opposite to the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Shree Satnam Singh Uppal, the manager of the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara said, “Music in Sikh religion existed form the beginning and it is the part of our worship. We would be happy to join in this concert for bringing people together. Music has the power to unite people and rise above the barriers. And what better cause can be than transcending the boundaries of religion and singing for humanity, for peace and harmony?”

Swami Radha Das of ISKCON temple has agreed to join with his team once again gladly to sing for peace and harmony.

Fr. Stanley the parish priest of East of Kailash church who is taking the initiative to organize this programme says, “From our church leaders Fr. Norbert SVD, a renowned singer and musician will keep the audience spellbound with his melodious voice. Fr. Jas, the assistant Parish Priest of Defence Colony and an expert in playing Tabla would accompany him in this concert. There will also be some youth who will participate in this concert.”

Issued by: Dr. John Paul SVD Director, Media Commission,

Archbishop’s House, 1 Ashok Place, New Delhi 110 001 Mobile: 9868219663

For further information contact: Fr. Stanley – 9868353289


Mumbai: Inter-Religious Dialogue Held at St Joseph Church, Mira Road, Thane, Mumbai


Rons Bantwal – Daijiworld Media Network – Mumbai

Mumbai, January 16, 2012

The lively and dynamic St Joseph Church Celebrated the Infant Jesus feast and conducted an Inter-Religious Dialogue session at the Church Grounds here on Sunday January 15 at 6.30 pm.

Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay Dr Agnelo Gracias presided over the solemn festal Eucharistic celebration along with more than eight priests.




Soon after the mass the Inter-religious dialogue session began with a prayer dance by Holy Cross School children. Dr Agnelo Gracias, presided over the event with various speakers from across the religious spectrum. Dignitaries like Bhagvati Kripa Devi Dasi from Bhakti Vedanta, Islamic Vision Research Center director Dr Ahmad M H Sheikh, secretary of Gurudwara, Paramjit Singh Matharu were present for the event. The parish priest Fr Dominic Vas welcomed the dignitaries and felicitated them with a bouquet.

There were splendid dances and skits on the theme ‘Save the Girl Child’. As part of the programme, students of St Joseph The programme was conducted to bring together the members of different religions in order to have communal harmony and to build a peaceful Mira Road.

Selected readers’ comment

Bishop of Bombay Dr Agnelo Gracias looks very handsome with tilak. –Alwyn Fernandes, Mangalore





Following, is a condemnation from Goan Catholics for what passes as interreligious dialogue at which Joseph Dias of the Christian Secular Forum “represented the Christians”:

Joseph L. R. Vaz
Prabhu; Miguel Vas Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2012 11:13 PM

Subject: Re: Canossians’ Inter-Religious Meet for Peace Harmony & Brotherhood

Dear Sir,

I’m greatly saddened seeing the picture below of the Cross (the sign of the true God) clubbed along with other pagan symbols. Here in Goa, we are opposed to such things and have written to our Bishop regarding the same which I’m attaching to this email. Please read. Hope they help you understand our point of view.

-Joseph L R Vaz, Goa


On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM, The CSF <hq@thecsf.info> wrote:

Republic Day Inter-Religious Meeting in Mumbai

The Canossian Sisters of the archdiocese and that of the nearby diocese of Vasai organised an inter-faith meet, where prominent citizens representing different religions and movements were given an opportunity on share what their beliefs had to say on deepening the bonds of friendship and working together. They all spoke on bringing about, PEACE, HARMONY AND BROTHERHOOD, beginning from our homes, then the neighbourhood, the city and finally the nation. This was of great witnessing value and very impressive, leading all the speakers to profusely thank the organisers for bringing about the emotional union as Indian citizens.

Joseph Dias, The CSF general secretary, who represented the Christian faith, said the community, commanded by their Lord and Master, Jesus had no option, but to love – God, Neighbour and even their enemies. Thus, our contribution to peace, harmony and brotherhood was the most. He also suggested that every Christian school should have such meets and also celebrate feasts of different religions together. The program held at the Canossa High School Auditorium in Andheri (E) was coordinated by Sr. Rose D’Souza, along with Frs. SM Michael and Aniceto Pereira, who moderated the session.






These days, our Bishop Felipe Neri Ferrao, is on a round of Parish Pastoral visits. A common feature of all his visits has been “Inter Religious Prayer Meetings/dialogues.”

            As a convinced Roman Catholic, I am categorically opposed to such meetings. (Mother Mary warns us that it is precisely such meetings which will lead to communal riots wherever they are held. See “To the Priests”, message of 27 October 1986). I feel these meetings increase the confusion in the minds of the Roman Catholic Community, which is already highly confused, and all but abandoned by both their political and religious leaders, in the face of the onslaught by migrants and land sharks and the Govt., who are stealing their lands, houses and fields right in front of their eyes.

            But I have another nagging doubt about the timing and resoluteness and regularity of the Bishop about having these meetings even in the interior villages of Salcette, which have negligible populations of Hindus and Muslims.

            These are the villages that are also being targeted by the builders of Mega Projects. And these builders have nothing less in their minds than a demographic revolution. Overnight, the overwhelmingly Catholic and Goan character of our villages is sought to be changed. We are sought to be immersed into a flood of migrants who are neither Catholic nor Goan.

            But this prospect is already being vigorously opposed by the people at the village level. And even a fool would realize that the Mega Projects cannot be established till the Goan people are fooled or confused by “convincing” them that “we are all one!”

            This is precisely what the Goan Archbishop is doing! Just think about it! Who is in a better position to  “convince” the people of Goa, that they have to not only accept hordes of migrants in their midst, but that they have to welcome them as brothers and live peacefully with them? There is no one better than Felipe Neri Ferrao!! And so he is doing precisely that these days! Why he is doing this is a question only he can answer.


            It is also a fact that the Mega Projects originated from the Church’s sale of huge properties. The Church was once one of the biggest land owners in Goa. But that land has been sold in connivance with the Church authorities. But there is an interesting canon law in the Report of the Fourth Council of Constantinople (Canon 15), which decrees that any Bishop who sells church property is to be demoted and anyone who buys Church property is under a curse till he restores it to the Church and publicly burns the sale deed! And Canon 2 of the same Council stipulates that anyone who disobeys the decrees is to be stripped of his dignity and rank! In the light of this Canon, does Felipe Neri still qualify to be Archbishop?

            So what I want to clearly state is that the Bishop is actually working for the mega builders through his inter religious prayer meetings. While the rest of Goa is fighting and suffering to retain hold of its Catholic identity, here is the Shepherd leading his flock straight to the slaughter, having already sold it to the mega butchers and their henchmen in the Government.

            Hence, Goans, if you want to save Goa, you now have to fight the Archbishop’s Inter Religious Madness.



30 August 2008

Miguel Vas and Others

H. No.178, Sinquetim,

Navelim, Salcete,

Goa, India – 403707



Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao,

Archbishop of Goa,

Paco Patriachal,

Panjim, Goa


Sub: Inter Religious prayer meetings

Your Holy Grace,

With due respect to You, we would like to submit to you our objections to the so called Inter Religious prayer meetings your Grace has been holding in all the Parishes of Goa during your Pastoral visits.

We are writing this letter to you as requested by Your Grace when we met you and objected to this so called Inter religious prayer meeting which was being held at “Socorro” Parish in north Goa on 17th of August 2008 in the Panchayat Hall. We had come prepared with leaflets and banners to object to this nonsense program you are promoting in the name of communal harmony, but refrained from doing any public demonstration because of your request and hence this letter to request your Grace to please stop this program immediately.

We would like to clarify that we are not promoting communal hatred, but this is certainly not the way to spread communal harmony. As the Head of the Catholic Church in Goa, are you trying to tell us that Jesus Christ made a mistake in telling us that “This is the only way to Heaven” and that “there is only one God”? Please remember that Jesus sacrificed his life to show us the correct way and here you are trying to tell us that all religions are same. From these inter religious meetings are we to imply that there are many ways to Heaven? And that it is okay for a Catholic to pray in a Temple or a Mosque and break the 1st commandment? And that all Gods are equal? Which also poses another question – How many Gods are there?

If you read the scriptures, it is written in 2 Corinthians 6: versus 14 to 18, “Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God: as God saith: I will dwell in them and walk among them. And I will be their God: and they shall be my people. Wherefore: Go out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: And I will receive you. And will be a Father to you: and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”.

So whatever little Grace we receive from God will also stop and God will abandon us at a time when our Houses and land are threaten by the so called development, like the Mega Projects, Highways/roads, SEZs, STZs, CZM, Food Parks, IT Parks, Mining, etc.

So how can we have Inter Religious prayer meetings?

We could understand if a Politician does so to gather votes, but a Religious Head doing such a thing is ridicules. How can a Catholic Religious Head say that all religions are same?

We request you to kindly stop this madness called Inter Religious prayer meeting. It will confuse the people all the more. In the name of modernism the Goan Church has already confused a lot of faithful who have ultimately joined believers.

If you see the attendance at these meetings, it is only the Catholics who attend, except the speakers and preachers of other religions.

There are other better ways to spread communal harmony, through personal example, by practicing what Jesus and Mary teaches us, so that people of other faith realize and follow our example. That is what Mother Mary and Jesus wants us to do, spread the Good Word to every corner of the world and not the other way round.

Goan Catholics have never had a problem with Goan Hindus or for that matter even with Goan Muslims. There has never been any communal problem between Goans even though there are continuously communal clashes going on in other parts of the country.


So why do we need these Inter Religious prayer meetings in Goa, in fact it can have an opposite effect and communal clashes may start here too. Or is that since Goans are a little conservative and organizing themselves and stopping the “Mega Projects” and objecting to “outsiders” settling in our villages that you want to dilute this attitude and change the mindset of the people to accept the demographics changes going to take place and thus allow these Mega Projects to come up? Do you want to suggest to the people that they have to ‘Welcome’ all the Non-Goans with open Arms and let them stay in our houses that after some time they throw us all out and they become the bosses of our Land? It is already happening, and such prayer meetings will only hasten things. And by that time even God will be angry with us and will not listen to our prayers.

I hope you realize the folly in these inter religious prayer meetings and stop this immediately otherwise we will be forced to demonstrate publicly and expose this futile, yet damaging exercise to the Goan Catholics.

We would also like to object to the manipulations and denigration of the “Cross” which is a symbol of Catholicism by modifying it to suit your ideas as displayed at the above mentioned programs.

If Your Grace is really serious about promoting communal harmony, we would suggest that you have at least one “Tridentine Mass” in each of Parishes in Goa during your Pastoral visit. You are very much aware that Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has given permission for the traditional Mass and is quite keen that we go back to our “Traditions”.

Hoping that better sense prevails and these Inter Religious meetings end.

With Warm regards,

Miguel Vas

Copies. to

i. Archbishop of Goa (Retired), Mons. Raul Gonsalves, – for information and advice

ii. His Eminence, Cardinal Ivan Dias – for information and advice

iii. Papal Nuncio Rev. Peter Lopez Quintana, 50-C, Niti Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi–110021

iv. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, through His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Piazza del Sant Uffizio 11, 000120, Vatican City, Italy – For information and advice


All in the name of religious harmony…

Prelates of the Indian Church even preside over Hindu marriages and cremations on Catholic soil… and a courageous and prophetic French priest objects to the Bishops in writing:

1. Catholics conduct Hindu funeral rites for doctor



October 14, 2010

A Catholic hospital in Kerala has won thanks for conducting Hindu funeral rites for a doctor.
Brijesh Kumar Singh, 61, died on October 10 in a hotel while waiting for a flight to Bihar, eastern India.
“We arranged a Brahmin priest to conduct Hindu funeral rites,” said Father Thomas Kodinattumkunnel, chief executive of the Pushpagiri Medical College Hospital, where Singh had served as an orthopedic surgeon for 28 years.
Singh was cremated two days later in the hospital run by the Syro-Malankara Church in Tiruvalla, according to his family’s request.
Father Kodinattumkunnel said his Church conducted the Hindu rites on its campus because it respects all religious groups. “It’s our deeds, not our words that can promote communal harmony,” he said.
Archbishop Thomas Mar Coorilos of Tiruvalla, who attended the funeral rites, also led a prayer service attended by hundreds of priests, nuns and local people.
The prelate offered flowers, sesame and butter at the funeral pyre following the Hindu priest’s instructions.
The doctor’s relatives expressed gratitude to the Catholic hospital. R.P. Singh, his brother, said they chose to cremate the deceased in the hospital premises as he ‘was emotionally attached’ to the Catholic institution.


2. Kerala church hosts Hindu marriage services

“Rare” gesture a new example of communal harmony in India

By C. J. Varghese, Keerichal, India, January 17, 2011



Hindu marriages conducted in the church premises



A church in Kerala set a new example of communal harmony by offering its premises to conduct Hindu marriages.

Marriages of five Hindu couples were conducted on Jan. 15 at the premises of Holy Family Catholic Church, Keerichal in Alappuzha district. A private trust, Rachael George Charitable Trust, sponsored these and four Catholic marriages on that day. The couples came from poor families.

More than 1,000 people watched as Hindu priests conducted the marriage rituals at five different tents erected outside the church building between 8:40 am-9:40 am, the Hindu auspicious time on that day.

The Catholic marriages took place inside the church after the Hindu marriages. The Hindu couples and their relations attended the Christian marriages.

A church conducting Hindu marriages inside its premises is a sign of religious harmony. It has its own importance and sanctity,” a Hindu priest, Eswaran Namboothiri Thurithiyillam, told ucanews.com after the ceremonies.

Father Anthony Mathias, who conducted the Catholic marriages, lauded the sponsors.

“Giving first preference to the Hindus is a living experience of religious harmony,” said the priest who heads the Southern Province of the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

Parish priest Father Bernard Saju Eric said he got special permission from his bishop to conduct the Hindu marriages on church premises.

He described the event as rare. “It is our gesture of religious unity,” he said.

Girish Kumar, a Hindu bridegroom, said all the 18 newly weds have become one family.

Rama Devi, a Hindu bride, said her parents had given up hope of marrying her because of poverty. She said the Christian trust has “given me a new life.”

The sponsors said they gave 100,000 rupees each to the parents of the brides and met the marriage expenses of the bridegrooms.


And here are the letters from the French Benedictine priest:

Fr. Jean To:
Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2011 2:54 AM


Dear Michael, 

First I want to wish you a Blessed and Happy Christmas season and a Happy New year with all the blessings the Lord has in store for you. May the Holy Family of Bethlehem keep you under their loving protection and give you the grace to experience their peace and joy.

May the Divine Child keep strengthening you and giving courage for spreading the faith and warning people in regards to the falsifications of the Gospel and the teaching of the new prophets.

Regarding the message sent to the Malankara Bishops, here they are:


1)  ‘markoorilos@hotmail.com’ 

To Archbishop of Tiruvalla/Bangalore, 15.10.2010

Most Rev Mar Thomas

It is with much surprise and sadness that I discover the news that a Hindu funeral rite has been conducted in your presence on the campus of Pushpagiri Medical College.

Here are the lines I read in CathNews India: “Archbishop Thomas Mar Coorilos of Tiruvalla, who attended the funeral rites, also led a prayer service attended by hundreds of priests, nuns and local people. The prelate offered flowers, sesame and butter at the funeral pyre following the Hindu priest’s instructions.” Even though I am a simple priest, I have the moral obligation to let you know that it is a very sad event that blemishes the Venerable and Holy Church and See of Tiruvalla. Interreligious dialogue doesn’t mean inter-celebration with Hindus. Whatever may be the good intentions behind this public gesture, it will never make acceptable that a Catholic priest or a Catholic Bishop may have an active part in an Hindu celebration. The Venerable Mar Ivanios and Mar Theophilos would have been scandalized if someone had told them that one of their successors will act in such way in order to gain the good graces of our Hindu brothers. This is what we call a scandal that offends directly God (First Commandment) and leads to indifferentism (against charity), this terrible plague so many times denounced by Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

I pray for you and for the Church of Tiruvalla for whom I have a high respect and esteem even though I am of Latin rite. May the Lord forgive this aberration and may a reparation be made for this public denial of the Gospel of Truth and Love.

Yours respectfully and sadly In Cordibus Jesu et Mariae

Fr Jean…

Doctor in theology, Visiting professor in India


2)  ‘archbp03@md3.vsnl.net.in’

To Archbishop of Trivandrum/Bangalore, 27.10. 2010

Most Rev Mar Baselios Cleemis

Please find enclosed the letter I had the regret to send his Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Mar Koorilos.

It is a very sad and painful to see the aberrations that are happening because of a wrong understanding of interreligious dialogue.

I thought you should be informed so that a prompt remedy could be brought to such a situation.

I remain your devotedly and respectfully in the two hearts of Jesus and Mary



United in prayers In Cordibus Jesu et Mariae

Fr Jean…

Doctor in Theology, Visiting professor in India


Fr. Jean lamented “inter-celebration” or Catholic participation in Hindu rituals/festivals/ceremonies but here we go again…

Priests divided over government move for inclusive Hindu festival


By T.S. Thomas, Mysore, September 11, 2009
A southern state’s plan to include minority faiths in a Hindu festival has evoked mixed reactions from some members of the Catholic Church hierarchy.
On Aug. 30, Karnataka state’s Minority Welfare Minister Mumtaz Ali Khan proposed inviting Christians and Muslims to celebrate Dusshera, a 10-day festival marking the triumph of good over evil. Khan, the only Muslim minister in the Karnataka cabinet, says Dusshera is not just for Hindus. “Religious minority communities should take part in it,” he added.
Dusshera, also known as Durga Puja (worship of Durga), begins on Sept. 19 and concludes with the commemoration of the slaying of a demon king by the Hindu goddess Durga.
The day also marks the triumphant return of the deity, Lord Ram, to his kingdom of Ayodhya after killing the demon Ravana, who had abducted Ram’s consort, Sita, the story that forms the core of the famous Hindu epic, the Ramayana.
Central to the celebrations in Karnataka is a colorful procession in Mysore, attended by hundreds of thousands of people from round the world. Ancient royal palaces and temples are illuminated during the celebrations.
To give the festival what he calls a “secular” touch, the minister suggested illuminating churches and mosques at the government’s expense. In India, “secularism” is regarded as the equal treatment of all religions by the government.
One church selected for illumination is Mysore’s St. Philomena’s Cathedral. Parish priest Father William Pinto said Bishop Thomas Vazhappilly of Mysore have welcomed the proposal and given permission for the cathedral’s illumination.
Father Pinto told UCA News that local people celebrate Dusshera as a cultural festival. “We have no objection to Catholics joining the festival or our church looking elegant,” he said.

The cathedral was built on land provided by a Hindu king in 1799 and claims to hold a relic of Saint Philomena, a third-century saint, brought by a Hindu king from France.
However, not everyone is happy with the government proposal.
Father Faustine Lobo, spokesperson of the Catholic Church in Karnataka, says he sees “no good intention” in it, especially since the government does not recognize the festivals of other communities.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party), which governs the state, is considered the political arm of radical groups that want to establish a Hindu nation in India.
“Will the state government illuminate the cathedral when it celebrates Saint Philomena’s feast?” the priest asked.
He said the proposal was part of a plan to promote Hindu nationalist polices, and urged the government “to show the same kind of zeal” in celebrating the festivals of other communities.
The Church official said a Marian shrine in Bangalore, the state capital, attracts many Hindus and Muslims on Sept. 8, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Why doesn’t the government think it proper to support this … festival?” he asked.
The Church official also alleged that since the government took over in May 2008, its “main agenda” was to renovate temples, celebrate Hindu festivals and promote Hindu nationalist policies among secular institutions including educational ones. Attacks on Christians have also increased since the BJP came to power, Father Lobo noted.
But Father John Fernandes, a senior priest who has given talks to Hindu groups, finds “nothing threatening” in the government proposal, which he said aims to draw in more tourists. Dusshera “is more a people’s festival, a cultural extravaganza,” said the priest, who heads an interreligious forum in Mangalore. Father Fernandes, however, said he wants the government to organize interreligious meetings and intercultural programs if it is serious about secularizing Dusshera.

The sole protestor Fr. Faustine Lobo’s reason for not wanting Catholics to participate is not a good one. It is a political one, not for the right reasons as Fr. Jean gives to the bishops.


This how Catholics are cheated by Catholics, by the very pastors who should be catechizing them and safe-guarding their faith:

Visit to Hindu temple an eye-opener for Catholics


Singapore, August 4, 2009

Breathing in the sweet smell of incense, a group of mostly Chinese Singaporean Catholics toured a 139-year-old Hindu temple adorned with paintings of saints while Hindu priests looked on.

For many of the visitors, this was their first time in a Hindu place of worship. As the evening sun lit the temple’s interior, the Catholics turned their attention to the numerous statues and other images adorned with gold and semi-precious stones.

P. Sivaraman, the chairman of the temple’s board of trustees, explained to the 80 Catholics that Hindus do not worship the images — they are only there to help devotees focus their minds on an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God.



The July 29 visit to the Sri Krishnan Temple was organized by the Archdiocesan Council for Interreligious and Ecumenical Dialogue (IRED) as part of a formation program for Catholics.

More IRED-led visits to the places of worship of other faiths are scheduled to take place over the next five months. The program is a follow-up to last year’s series of five talks on Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Taoism, conducted by IRED. Participants at those talks had said they wanted to learn more about these religions from their respective religious teachers, and to visit places of worship.

During the recent visit, Yashodhara Dhoraisingam, a student of Hinduism, explained to the Catholics that contrary to current misconception, Hinduism is actually a monotheistic faith.

According to her, Hinduism has no founder or prophet, but is a faith revealed by Brahman (God) around 5,000 B.C. It was passed on verbally through the generations until it was eventually recorded in Sanskrit.

These Hindu scriptures are the Vedas, which focus on rituals, and the Upanishads, which focus on philosophical and spiritual teachings such as reincarnation.

In Hinduism, Dhoraisingam explained, “The universe manifested from Brahman, is sustained by him and will return to him.” She added that Hindus believe in a trinitarian God personified by Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer, and Shiva the Transformer.
A Hindu is taught to be compassionate and loving to his neighbor because “he and his neighbor are one and the same; all life is one,” she said. To achieve self-realization or salvation, a Hindu must “rise above his selfish ego,” Dhoraisingam said. This is achieved through reincarnation, where the material body dies, but the essence of the person lives on and is reincarnated into another form.

For some of the Catholic visitors, the visit was an eye-opener.

Betty Lee, 60, said she was surprised that some Hindu beliefs “are like those of Catholics,'” such as the belief in one God, though Catholics don’t believe in reincarnation.

Terence Chin, a 32-year-old engineer, also said he was surprised to learn that Hindus “have the concept of a trinitarian God,” and that some of the basic beliefs of Hinduism “are similar” to those of Christianity.

According to government statistics, 42.5 percent of Singaporeans are Buddhists, 8.5 percent are Taoists, 14.9 percent are Muslims, 14.6 percent are Christians and 4 percent are Hindus. Chinese Singaporeans make up about 75 percent of the island’s 4.8 million people.

Most Catholics know little or nothing about their own faith; most have never even heard of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, owned a copy, or used a Bible. But, “as part of a formation program“, they are taken to a pagan temple and fed a bunch of untruths which they swallow. Hinduism is not a monotheistic religion. The Hindu beliefs and tenets enunciated by the person named Yashodhara Dhoraisingam, are antithetical (directly opposed or contrasted; mutually incompatible) to Christian revelation.

The very fact that “Terence Chin, a 32-year-old engineer … said he was surprised to learn that Hindus “have the concept of a trinitarian God,” and that some of the basic beliefs of Hinduism “are similar” to those of Christianity” shows that the group badly needed to sign up for classes in basic Catholic education. If any of them knew the fundamentals of Catholicism, they wouldn’t have agreed to enter the portals of a Hindu temple in the very first place.

Sadly, this is how our priests too have been indoctrinated during their formation during the last three to four decades; seminarians are shepherded to temples and ashrams (Hindu as well as “Catholic”) and forced to attend eastern and New Age meditations among other things. Many of these priests are now bishops and chairman of commissions of the CBCI. Whither will they lead us? On the same path that they have trodden!


Catholic religious visiting temples and participating in Hindu festivals, rituals and ceremonies has become a routine thing:

1. Hindu festival restores bonds between religions in Mangalore


September 26, 2009

A Hindu festival here has done much to rebuild good relations between religions in the city, with Catholic nuns who joined the celebration saying they experienced a “beautiful blend of communal harmony.”

Officials of Sree Gokarnanatheswara Temple invited people of all religious communities to its recent Dusshera celebrations. The temple hosts the festival in Mangalore, a major port in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, each year.

The 10-day festival, known in some places as Durga Puja (worship of Durga), began on Sept. 19. It concludes with a commemoration of the Hindu goddess Durga slaying a demon king.

Seven Bethany nuns were among the Catholics who attended the official inauguration of the festival on Sept. 22 by Karnataka Governor H.R. Bharadwaj.

Sister Prema told UCA News they found Hindus, Christians and Muslims “moving around freely, talking to each other, shaking hands and renewing their bonds.”

The nun also said the illuminated temple premises looked elegant with park areas, fountains, resting places and an open theater to entertain visitors.

She admitted the nuns were initially a “bit scared” to enter the premises, since they remembered how churches were attacked last year. “We were in our religious dress, and anyone could recognize us,” she pointed out.
At least 24 churches were attacked by radical Hindu groups from Sept. 14, 2008. Many Catholics, including nuns, also suffered wounds when police caned them for protesting the attacks.

But Sister Prema said some Hindu friends showed them around and explained the festival’s communitarian aspect. “Then we felt at home.”



The secretary of the temple committee, Madhava Suvarna, said temple trustees had personally invited Christian and Muslim leaders, and members of their institutions. He noted that the temple had hosted the Mangalore Dusshera for the past 65 years. According to Suvarna, their inspiration comes from Sree Narayana Guru, a 19th-century Hindu reformer from neighboring Kerala state who “believed in one God, one religion and one humanity.”

The official that temple leaders want to make the venue “a meeting place for all common people, irrespective of their religion, caste or background.”

Ravishankar Mijar, another trustee, said the temple is surrounded by Muslims who took shelter in it during Hindu-Muslim riots. “Here, we don’t have any caste system, no communal tension, no barriers,” he added.

Abdul Rauf Puthige, a Muslim leader, confirmed the welcome his community feels. “This is the only temple where we can go without any feeling of being an outsider,” he said.

Even the state governor hailed the Mangalore Dusshera as a meeting place for people. He remarked that the purpose of all religions is to help people triumph over evil and that Dusshera means exactly this.

Denis D’Silva, a Catholic youth leader who joined the celebrations with his friends, said his group has always found the Dusshera the only Hindu festival in which “we feel quite comfortable.”

His group plans to join the grand final procession on Sept. 28.
“Even last year, when we were all quite upset over the church attacks, we attended this festival as a group,” he recalled.


2. Communal Spice to Diwali
Vasai, Maharashtra (SAR NEWS), October 2009

The ‘swadyayis’ and the parishioners of St. Thomas Church, Sandor, Vasai, jointly celebrated the Diwali festival, October 17.

The guests were welcomed with ‘aarti’ by Hindu women. Leader of the local Swadyaya prayer group, Kamalkar Chaudhari, led the prayers from the Vedas. He explained the deep significance of the various aspects of Diwali.
Speaking on the occasion, parish priest of St. Thomas Church, Father Francis D’Britto
*, said, “Today it is not enough to be religious; one has to be inter-religious. It is a welcome sign that feasts and festivals are not confined to particular religious groups. They have become an occasion for expressing fellowship and thereby becoming instruments of creating communal harmony. For centuries, the people of Vasai are practising the dialogue of life,” he said.
“It is the responsibility of all of us to preserve the spirit of unity.”
*Also see page 75
The guests were served with Diwali sweets. The meeting concluded with the recitation of Our Father and Hail Mary by the Catholic participants.

Now that’s real inter-religious for you – starting off with prayers from the Vedas to pagan “gods” and concluding with the Lord’s Prayer of the Son of God, Jesus Christ who revealed the One True God to us..


3a. Christians help in renovating Hindu temple


April 20, 2011



A group of Catholics in Mangalore have volunteered to help renovate a Hindu temple and prepare for its festival.

“We were cordially welcomed by Hindu volunteers at the temple,” said Father Louis Cutinha, parish priest of Naravi in Mangalore diocese who guided the group. Around 150 Catholics and nearly 100 Hindus worked together to renovate the Suryanarayana Temple before the upcoming annual temple festival. “It was heartwarming to see the sense of brotherhood and unity between the two communities,” he said. Mangalore, a Christian stronghold in Karnataka state, had witnessed attacks on Christians by alleged Hindu radicals some three years ago. Early April saw attacks on three Christian-managed homes for poor children by Hindu radicals under the pretext of checking religious conversion.

Christians have to spread the message of brotherhood “especially in this Holy Week” and in the context of sectarian tension “around us,” Father Louis Cutinha said.

The temple priest Sri Sri N. Vasanth Bhat said the group of Catholics “worked with discipline and utmost interest as if it is their own house.”

M. Babu Shetty, a Hindu leader, noted the Christian gesture was the “first example” of religious harmony in the area.



Seminarian Anil D’Souza, who was part of the group, said the gesture came a few days after someone removed a banner the parish put up welcoming the temple festival.
“The missing banner incident made the parish council offer voluntary service for the temple,” he said.

Priscilla D’Souza, a Catholic, said the work helped her “transcend the walls for caste and creed.”

Also at: http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=99765


There are a large number of readers’ comments always at Daijiworld. Invariably, every single comment is positive, welcoming such programmes. There is never any criticism, any disagreement. This shows the pitiful state of Catholicism among Mangaloreans today.


3b. Temple festival unites Christians, Hindus – Catholics who renovated building are invited back for joint celebration


By Francis Rodrigues*, Mangalore, May 12, 2011

A temple festival celebrated jointly by Christians and Hindus in Mangalore yesterday has been hailed as a breakthrough in community relations. A local television channel hailed the event as “a new chapter and new approach toward harmonious living.” It wanted all in Karnataka to follow the Naravi example.

Jeevandhar Kumar, a local leader of Jainism and temple festival committee convener, said politicians divide people along religious and caste lines. “We have transcended those petty borders,” he added.

A group of Catholics joined Hindus last night in celebrating the temple festival.

The local Suryanarayana Temple began the annual 10-day festival on May 6. Catholic parishioners had helped renovate the temple premises for the festival. The temple officials then invited Catholics to the festival.

“We do practice different religious cults and rituals. But all of us are the members of one common religion of humanity,” said Father Louis Cutinha, pastor of St. Antony Parish of Naravi in Mangalore diocese.

The priest led more than 200 parishioners in the temple procession. “This festival is a great occasion to experience harmony in diversity,” the priest said. Christians organized a boat tableau wishing well for the festival, with its message of harmony, in a 1-km procession through the local market. The theme of the procession was, “Before God all are one.”

“The role played by the Christians is really heartwarming especially in the context of communal tension around us,” Father Cutinha said. He said the Christians’ gesture helped remove earlier hesitation and a communication gap between local Christians and Hindus.

The two communities drifted apart after attacks on several Christian institutions in Karnataka state in 2008. Mangalore, a Christian stronghold in the state, witnessed most attacks. Church groups say the attacks began after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party) came to power in the state in May 2008.

Suspected Hindu radicals attacked three Christian homes for the poor last month, accusing them of proselytising.

Sri Sri N. Vasanth Bhat, the temple priest in Naravi, said local Christians for the first time showed an example of harmonious cooperation.

*Francis Rodrigues, editor of Raknno magazine, a Mangalore diocesan newspaper, is a Catholic priest.


4. Study Tour to Golden Temple at Kushalnagar


The Nine Month Course sisters of Dhyanavana had a study tour on Sunday 12, October, 2014. The day started at 6 am with a prayer in the chapel. We boarded the hired bus for the tour, and proceeded to Dornahalli, Mysore, Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua. We offered mass in the shrine and visited the place where the Statue of St. Anthony was found. […]

Then we went to Golden temple, Tibetan colony of Kushalnagar. One of the inmates Mr. Lan Chung explained to us the significance of Golden Temple. When the tourists from foreign countries visited the temple, seeing the temple adorned with Gold they called it the Golden temple. Now there are more than 4000 monks and nuns in the monastery. Any one who wants to be a lama can join the monastery. They have 14 years of study and live a religious community life.

From there we visited our Carmelite Novitiate Tapovana at Kushalnagar. The Fathers there served a sumptuous lunch. After going around the property on our way back we also visited the Bharat Matha educational institutions and enjoyed the high tea given by Fr. Immanuel. CMI. We reached back at 8.15 pm.

It was really an educational and relaxing trip. All the sisters gave a very good positive feed back.


5. Jesuit leaders pray at Hindu shrine


November 2, 2009

Senior Jesuit leaders from South Asia who prayed inside a shrine dedicated to a Hindu ascetic say the visit and prayers have “enriched” them.
About 20 provincials and regional superiors of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia spent 15 minutes at the shrine in Belur on Oct. 29, during an event designed to foster interreligious relations.
The Religious conference comprises provincials and regional superiors from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The shrine, which sits on the banks of the Ganges, north of Kolkata, is dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a 19th century Indian mystic, who claimed to have had visions of Jesus Christ. Swami Vivekananda, the mystic’s most famous disciple, founded the shrine in 1886.


Calcutta Jesuit provincial Father George Pattery, who organized the visit, said the monks at Ramakrishna Mission, who manage the shrine, promote interfaith dialogue. The Jesuit priest has close ties with the monks.
Father Anthony da Silva, provincial of Goa, told UCA News the visit was “an enriching experience” and added the shrine’s mystical atmosphere “greatly impressed” him.
Gujarat provincial superior Father Keith Abranches commented that the visit was “inspiring and enriching. It was another way of God-realization.”
Dipankar Basu, a Hindu teacher at Kolkata’s Jesuit-managed St Xavier’s School, guided the group during their visit.
He said it was remarkable to see Catholic priests praying in their own way in a Hindu shrine. An event like this “is sure to have greater effects in creating goodwill, and help people of all faiths to have a change in attitude toward other religions,” Basu told UCA News.
Swami Shantanu Maharaj, from the Sri Ramakrishna Mission headquarters, said Swami Vivekananda founded his religious order on Christmas night in 1886, after he and his friends spent an evening meditating on Christ.
He said Sri Ramakrishna had a vision of Jesus, after which he could not think of anything else for three days. Two of his disciples, Swami Brahmananda and Swami Sivananda, too had a vision of Jesus on Christmas eve 1903 at the Belur shrine.
Earlier in the day, the Jesuit superiors celebrated Mass at the tomb of Blessed Teresa in Kolkata and met Missionaries of Charity superior general, Sister Mary Prema.
The Jesuit provincial and regional superiors are attending their twice-a-year meeting at Konchowki, south of Kolkata.


One can only imagine the pitiful and perilous plight of Indian Catholics whose eternal fate depends on the spiritual guidance and teaching of these Jesuit priests who control many of our educational institutions and a few dioceses.


It helps to know who these priests really are.

Fr. George Pattery
is one of the contributors to the very, very occult compilation
Shabda Shakti Sangam
edited by “Catholic” nun
Vandana Mataji RSCJ. He accuses the Church of using “age-old rationalizations” and “traditional Christian vocabulary”. He believes that “the New Age Movement is the best bet for the survival of religious faith for this century” and lambasted the Vatican Document that condemned it! His name turns up whenever the Church is attacked as being “patriarchal” by radical feminists who propose the ordination of women.

From News-Local in The Examiner of November 24, 2012, “Spread The Light”, we learn that Bernadette Pimenta is the founder and director of the NGO Seva Dham in Thane, and she held the 2012 Inter-Religious Prayer Meeting at which people of all faiths quoted their scriptures. One paragraph in the report reads:

Dr. George Pattery SJ, former Jesuit Provincial, Kolkata, and current acting president of
Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth
[JDV]…placed Christ’s message in a scientific context. He traced the cosmic evolution story 13.5 billion years ago, and the explosion of space, time, and energy to a single, divine spark –
teaching us that we are all inter-connected, inter-dependent and inter-related. The same divine spark is in each of us. Now, that’s pure New Age!!!!

There’s plenty more, but I think the reader has heard enough. These, then, are the priests who lead us into inter-religious dialogue.


Subhash Anand
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 3:28 PM

Dear Michael,
We are already in Advent, and it is time to think of friends and acquaintances. 
I do not know whether I told you, after my return to Udaipur, I am engaged in inter-religious dialogue. I visit schools and colleges and talk to the students about the importance of religious harmony. I am also trying to start DHARMA-SANGAM in these institutions, a forum for inter-religious prayer, study and celebration. But till now I have not succeeded.
I am also engaged in a one-volume Hindi commentary on the Bible. There are about a hundred scholars, women and men, from all over the country who are helping me. Most of them will write in English, and then I will get a team to do the translation. Do pray for us.
I wish you and all your loved ones a very prayer-filled preparation for the Lord who comes. May His coming bring us all the peace and joy He alone can give. May these gifts of His be with us all through the New Year.

Subhash Anand 0294-2423507 St. Paul’s School Udaipur 313001

Subhash Anand is a “Catholic” priest who supports the demand for the ordination of women. -Michael


In his yahoo group, Austine Crasta (see pages 33-36 and 72) pitches for Archbishop Felix Machado‘sthe new Bishop of Vasai who was earlier the Undersecretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue — solid (=genuine, dependable?) interreligious dialogue:


Dear KC friends
Can somebody give us a background of Bp Felix Machado so that it can enable us to understand him better.
Arnold Pereira, Vasai




On Archbishop Felix Machado’s Solid Dialogue


Posted by Austine Crasta in the Konkani Catholics digest 2079 dated November 13, 2009

Dear all,
Arnold expressed interest in knowing more about his new Bishop, Archbishop Felix Machado. Having served as the Undersecretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, you will see that Archbishop Machado’s name is almost inseparably associated with dialogue.
That association however has not always found favour among Catholics not infrequently because of the example of some who have gone so far as to base inter-religious dialogue on the equation of religions rather than on the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue.

Not so with our Archbishop Machado!
For Archbishop Machado, God, not merely sociological matters, is the centre and foundation of all interreligious dialogue. Hence any enterprise of dialogue must be carried out in obedience to truth and respect for freedom.
Therefore in honest presentation of the Catholic position, he does not hesitate to declare to Hindus the non-negotiables of our faith, viz. that “for the Christian there is no other Saviour outside the person of Jesus Christ.”
It takes courage, it takes prudence, but above all it takes a conviction!
I’m attaching here the last part (excerpt) of a “Response” he made in ISKCON’s Communications Journal (ICJ), Volume 7, No. 2 of December 1999.

by Fr. Felix Anthony Machado
[…] For Christians, dialogue means all positive and constructive interreligious relations with individuals and communities of other faiths. Enterprise of dialogue must be carried out in obedience to truth and respect for freedom. Through their dialogue with other religious traditions and their adherents, Christians wish to understand themselves better, to get to know others justly and fairly, to dispel fears and misunderstandings, to be influenced, inspired and enriched mutually with their partners in dialogue and to accept the new self-understanding which may emerge as a consequence of dialogue. For Christians, dialogue is a sacred act be-cause ‘by dialogue we let God be present in our midst; for as we open ourselves in dialogue to one another, we also open ourselves to God.’ (Pope John Paul II, Madras, 1986) Respect, tolerance, mutual understanding, good behaviour, etc., form part of one’s spirituality of dialogue. The guidelines for approaching members of other faiths in the ISKCON document are a fine summary of what the Catholic tradition has been proposing and communicating through the official teaching of the Church (through the Pope and the Bishops) in our times.
I wish to conclude by presenting some challenges that are generally faced by Christians in their dialogue with Hindus. The Catholic Church has high esteem for Hinduism, the family of religions in which a reflection of that truth which enlightens all men is found. All the traditions of Hinduism (sampradayas) manifest the quest of the human person for the Absolute Truth. This quest instils the lives of Hindus with a profound religious sense.
This is what Pope John Paul II publicly declared to the Hindus: ‘I hold in esteem your concern for inner peace and for the peace of the world, based not on purely mechanistic or materialistic political considerations but on self-purification, unselfish love and sympathy for all.’ (Address at Los Angeles, 16 September 1987)
Christians need to know this complex tradition well. Hinduism as such has no identity. The most appropriate approach to this tradition is to know the particular sampradaya, such as Gaudiya Vaisnava — a monotheistic tradition within Hinduism. Given the well-organised structure of the Catholic Church, its members wish to find a credible, suitable and representative dialogue partner in Hinduism. There are devout and practising individual Hindus who are not necessarily part of any institution, organisation or community. It is important to enter into dialogue with these rather than wait for a representative of an institution or an organisation or a community. Hindus in dialogue with Christians must also realise that the mystery of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, and the living community of the Church are distinct but inseparable. Of course, the Church is not merely the sum total of all Christians, neither is it a purely human institution. As transcendental mystery, the Church is the living ‘Body of Christ’ (The First Letter of Paul to the Church at Corinth, 12:12-30). Thus every individual Christian is at the same time his or her entire community. In other words, every individual’s essential identity is the Church.
According to the particular nature of Hinduism, Jesus Christ is accepted, loved and revered by most Hindus. This fact makes it easy for a Christian to enter into dialogue with Hindus. However, dialogue also becomes difficult and appears to have reached a dead end for Christians when Jesus Christ is seen by Hindus only as one of the many manifestations (avataras) of the Absolute Mystery; because, for the Christian there is no other Saviour outside the person of Jesus Christ. The Church accepts that people in other religions could be saved in and through their respective religious traditions; however, that salvation is never independent of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that all religions, as far as they uphold truth, holiness and goodness, are related to the mystery of Jesus Christ. This is why Christian theologians speak of ‘participatory’ ways rather than ‘parallel’ ways of salvation, which are always related to the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all.
Based on the revelation of God in history, Christianity gives history a paramount importance:



Christianity has its starting-point in the incarnation of the Word. Here, it is not simply a case of man seeking God, but of God who comes in Person to speak to man of Himself and to show him the path by which He may be reached … The Incarnate Word is thus the fulfilment of the yearning present in all the religions of mankind: this fulfilment is brought about by God Himself and transcends all human expectations. (John Paul II, Tertio Adveniente, n. 6)
A Christian enters into dialogue with people of different religious traditions because he or she is aware that the action of Christ and his Spirit is already mysteriously present in all who live sincerely according to their religious convictions.

God bless Archbishop Felix Machado!
Dear Arnold and others at Vasai, if you should meet this Bishop, please convey my regards to him.

Austine Crasta, moderator

Lest we forget, be reminded that his predecessor, Bishop Thomas Dabre was a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue of which Felix Machado was Undersecretary as a Monsignor.


But what do we know about Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado?

We have come across his name on page 4 where we learnt that he is the current chairman of the CBCI Desk for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism and later on page 72 where we learnt that he was the bishop of Vasai when aberrations of interreligious dialogue occurred in a Vasai church.

It is therefore not surprising that Vasai diocese figures prominently in the interreligious dialogue scenario as well as in the abuses and aberrations of dialogue (see pages 4-5, 25-28, 67-77, 98).


The name of Felix Machado came up in more than a dozen of my reports prior to the present file.

I trust that there is only one prominent Felix Machado in the Indian church, the one that we have been encountering during the course of this reading; if there are two priests with the same name, I will have to offer a sincere apology to one of them and have this report modified. But till then…


The first time that I wrote about a Felix Machado was in the New Community Bible series, report 02 of September 2008, where as a Professor in Theology and Indology at St Pius X College, Mumbai, I recorded that he had made a presentation in the heavily occult compilation of works edited by Vandana Mataji RSCJ.

In January 2008, he was appointed Bishop of Nashik. Less than 2 years later he was made Bishop of Vasai.


In the New Community Bible series, report 15 of April 2010, a feminist, dissident, liberal lay “Catholic” woman “theologian” called Astrid Lobo Gajiwala who co-leads a consortium of similar-thinking nuns and one lay woman named Virginia Saldanha in their quest for the ordination of women, testifies that she “consulted Fr. Felix Machado, a Catholic theologian
who helped me discern the “Hindu” face of God…

Astrid’s spirituality, beliefs and lifestyle are more Hindu than Christian while her husband is a Hindu. She resisted baptism of their sons and brings them up in “two religious traditions, leaving them free to choose their own response to God“. At their marriage, church, court and temple, “excerpts from
the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita were read“. Her husband explains, “It was Fr. Felix Machado whose theology class, I was allowed to attend, who gave Astrid and me a wider perspective of Hinduism and enlightened us on interfaith dialogue“. So, the Hindu spouse whose wife doesn’t believe in a number of Catholic dogmas attends theology school, and the sponsor of all this humbugging is the present Archbishop Felix Machado. Read in detail at



An excerpt from the above:




A Fr. Felix Machado,
Professor in Theology and Indology, St Pius X College, Mumbai*, was one of the contributors to
‘Shabda Shakti Sangam’, Ashram founder

Vandana Mataji RSCJ’s [edited], 1995 800-plus pages tome, printed at St Pauls and sold by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s
National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Council, Bangalore.
*This is where the Gajiwalas studied theology

Shabda Shakti Sangam?

Shabda Shakti Sangam
LOADED from cover to cover with
occult material
on kundalini, chakras, nadis, the sushumna, energy fields, the astral/vital body, yoga, the OM mantra etc., often accompanied by vivid schematic diagrams.




An excerpt from my May 2012 report titled SEX CHANGE SURGERY http://ephesians-511.net/docs/SEX-CHANGE_SURGERY.doc:

(With the backing of their godfather and mentor Bishop Felix Machado, the Gajiwala’s have gone places, dominating the Indian Church and beyond.)

The couple has lectured to bishops on inter-faith marriage and they are considered to be experts on inter-faith dialogue. They were consulters to the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Eighth Plenary Assembly on the Family, 2004!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kalpesh Gajiwala‘s guru is Sri Aurobindo, one of the world’s leading New Age influencers according to the Vatican Document on the New Age, February 3, 2003.

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, India, holds a Ph. D. in Medicine and is the head of the Tissue Bank in Tata Memorial Hospital. She is a founding member of the Satyashodhak, a Mumbai based group of Christian feminists and is
a member of the CBCI Commission for Women, Mumbai Women’s Desk Core Team. As a writer Astrid has published articles in the journal In God’s Image, Daughters of Sarah, Magnificat, Women’s Link, The Month, Vidyajyoti, Jnanadeep among others; Books: Body, Bread Blood; Community of Men and Women and a couple of others.

EXTRACT “Astrid has a Masters in Microbiology and Doctorate in Medicine, as well as, a Diploma in Tissue Banking and a Diploma in Theology for the Laity. She has published theological reflections in books, theological journals and other publications, worked on the Executive Team and served as a Resource Person for the Ecclesia of Women in Asia, Indian Theological Association, Indian Women’s Theological Forum-Mumbai Women’s Desk and Satyashodhak, a feminist collective. From 1992 she has been a Consulter for the Indian bishops’ CBCI Commission for Women, and the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC). She has served as Secretary of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Mumbai, and as a member of the parish council, parish Liturgical Team and core team of the Zonal Basic Christian Communities.

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala is
a visiting faculty member of the St. Pius X College, Mumbai, and the Jesuit Regional Theologate, Gujarat.

Since November 2011, she is also on the editorial board
of The Examiner,
the Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay that stood by the errors in the New Community Bible and did not publish even a single one of the almost two dozen [known] letters to the editor condemning it.

She claims to be Catholic, while the Church in India has acclaimed her as a theologian. Is she either?

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala has only completed “4 years of part-time study” in “theology for the laity” which Church leaders describe as a “diploma in Theology for the Laity“, and that qualification appears sufficient for the Indian church to recognize her as a theologian who now even teaches our unfortunate seminarians!

On the basis of that “part-time study“, and with the tacit support of some bishops, she has joined other feminist nun-theologians to lead women theologians in an Asian Women Theologians’ Forum.

Ecclesia of Women in Asia [EWA]
— of which she is a key figure — is the forum of Asian Women Theologians.

Gajiwala was felicitated
for having

“contributed to the journey of women’s empowerment in Mumbai”,
receiving her citation
“from Bishop Bosco [Penha] amid loud cheering”. Source: The Examiner,
March 6, 2010.

The Church’s Gender Policy, 2010,
mentions Astrid Lobo Gajiwala as one of those who drafted the document:
Now she uses that to further her demands for women’s ordination.

While ostensibly militating against the sexual abuse of women, and for the “empowerment of women” and “gender parity”, their true goal is
the ordination of Indian women as priests. A detailed report on
Astrid Lobo Gajiwala and Dr Kalpesh Gajiwala is under preparation.


It is difficult to imagine that this bishop is the same priest who wrote this for ISKCON*:

Dealing with Difference: A Catholic Point of View


By Felix A. Machado

This paper is based on a talk given by Monsignor Felix Machado of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican’s central office for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue, in April 2004 at the annual ISKCON* Communications Europe Leadership Team meetings near Bergamo, Italy. […]

I would summarise this reflection in three points:

(1) all people are called to salvation;

(2) all salvation is in Christ as there is no salvation outside Christ. Therefore,

(3) all people who seek God sincerely can be related to the mystery of God in Jesus Christ.

Why does the Church, especially the Catholic Church, promote dialogue among religions? How do Catholics remain open to the followers of other religious traditions while at the same time holding firm to their essential identity, the faith of the Church? By holding firmly to her essential faith, namely, that there is no God outside the one revealed in Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church wishes to be respected for its faith.


The Catholic Church can never impose her faith on others; the Canon Law of the Catholic Church stipulates that ‘It is never lawful to induce men by force to embrace the Catholic faith against their conscience’ (Canon 74.8 §2), although she must always propose it to all.

*International Society for Krishna Consciousness


Msgr. Felix Machado is most probably in this 2007 picture, source http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?233563:


Indian monsignors do a Bhangra at the Vatican


I cite the author of St Thomas, Turnabout, Seema Sirohi:

In fact, an Indian, Monsignor Felix Machado, has been at the forefront of the Vatican’s inter-faith dialogue, participating in joint prayers with Hindu, Jain, Muslim and Buddhist priests and youth in Assisi.
While the upper layers of the Vatican, including the Pope (Benedict XVI), appear to be hardening their stand on how and why a dialogue should be conducted, Indian priests have an instinctive feel for living with other religions.


Archbishop Felix Machado felicitates New Age yogi-priest Fr. Joe Pereira

Orphan Christmas Night at Kripa Vasai


December 31, 2010

The Children’s party for kids from orphanages situated in and around the Vasai region was held on 27th December 2010. The event began with the celebration of Holy Mass led by Fr. Joe Pereira. His Grace Archbishop Felix Machado graced the occasion with his presence. A total of 762 children and more than 150 guests and well-wishers attended the program. Archbishop Felix Machado addressed the children and commended the work that Fr. Joe was doing through Kripa Foundation.

And what is Fr. Joe Pereira’s work? Promoting eastern meditations and New Age:







JULY 2014



An excerpt from my 2002-2003 report (see also page 116)



The Third Asian Youth Day, August 15, 2003, and Asian Youth for Peace, Bangalore, August 9-16, 2003

Organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (Office of Laity-Youth Desk). Coordinator- the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM). Local host: CBCI.

key player? Dharma Bharathi-Hyderabad/Kerala

The news was covered in The Examiner,
August 30, 2003: reproduction of the Zenit news story on the event; The Examiner,
September 13, 2003: 714 youth from 19 countries attended; The Examiner,
September 20, 2003: The Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue Fr. Dr. Felix Machado, a priest from the Archdiocese of Bombay, addressed the gathering on August 14 [SAR news].



The event was also given a full page in The New Leader of August 16-31, 2003, courtesy Fides and UCA News.

Symbols included the OM and the occult yin yang splashed on posters as well as pictured in The New Leader
story on the event.

The ICYM along with Dharma Bharathi [the Bangalore office of the Swami] distributed thousands of copies of a pamphlet. One page was devoted to “Inter-religious Prayer Service (40 minutes)”. The programme included “Readings from Holy Scriptures” – The Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, the Dhammapada, the Guru Granth Sahib, etc. prepared by Swami Sachidananda.


So we have seen from all the above that Dr./Msgr./Bishop/Archbishop Felix Machado has been practicing, endorsing and communicating to others since very long his own brand of inter-religious dialogue, not the one that Rome and Pope Benedict XVI propose.


Archbishop Felix Machado and Bishop Thomas Dabre, the Jesuit provincials, the nuns of Mangalore diocese Fr. Francis D’Britto and the priests of Vasai diocese, and the others who we have met during this study, are by no means alone in perverting the true meaning of interreligious dialogue.

This British archbishop made the news with his controversial behaviour in the name of dialogue during Inter-faith week, 2009:


Archbishop of Westminster venerates Hindu deities

Progressivism in the Church




On November 21, 2009, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols visited the Hindu temple of Neasden, a suburb of London, the largest outside of India. Nichols was greeted by the pagan hierophant Yogvivek Swami, who is leader of the temple, and received a “blessing” on his forehead, made with a red ointment.
The Archbishop was given a tour of the temple, where he offered flowers to the deities and lit a candle to them while participating in a religious ritual. The tour ended at the main altar where Vincent Nichols paid homage to Pramukh Swami, spiritual guru of an international Hindu organization. Then, he stopped to meditate in front of the altar of the deity Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
After these religious compromises, he delivered a speech to the 2,000 Hindus present on religion’s contribution to the common good and the importance of the understanding of one another’s cultures and traditions. His presupposition was that Hindus worship the same god as Catholics, which is blatantly wrong and raised strong reactions even among commentators in the secular media
, such as a journalist of the Daily Telegraph. The website of the
Westminster Archdiocese
first posted the news admitting that Nichols had “offered flowers to Hindu deities,” but soon removed this phrase.
A photo gallery of the event can be seen at the website of the Hindu temple

More photos can be viewed at: http://www.traditioninaction.org:80/RevolutionPhotos/A341rcNicholsHindu.html


Archbishop Vincent Nichols – visit to the Hindu Mandir Neasden


November 21, 2009



Dear brothers and sisters,

Let me thank you first of all for the generous invitation and warm welcome that I have received in your unique and beautiful Mandir. I thank your spiritual leader, Sadhu Yogvivek Swami and the trustees of the Mandir for their invitation, especially as it falls on the celebration of the birthday of your worldwide spiritual leader, His Holiness Pramukswamiji Maharaj.

The story of the building of this Mandir is well known. Indeed I was glad to visit it not long after its opening in 1995. It is moving to see that even the architecture of this special place symbolises co-operation and peace between the cultures. The structure of the haveli, built from Burmese teak and English oak, is a poignant sign of how cultures and religions can join together to build something beautiful and enduring.

It is always good to come together like this, to strengthen each other, to learn of each other’s faith and to rejoice in a spirit of dialogue and love. Indeed for a long time now, the Catholic Church has made dialogue with other faiths a priority in her actions, for the Church urges us to appreciate that the entire human race shares a common origin and a common destiny. This human and spiritual unity in our origins and our destiny impels us to seek common elements in our path through life as we play our part in the quest for fundamental values so crucial in our time.

This is, in part, why the Catholic Church, and many others, is insistent that every human person has a right to religious freedom. Such freedom means that all should have immunity from coercion, that no-one should be forced to act against his conscience in religious matters, nor prevented from acting according to his conscience, whether in private or in public, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. There are some today who seek to set aside the right to act on the basis of religious faith in a reasonable manner in the public forum. Yet we know that religious faith cannot be left alone at home and still retain its integrity. It requires public expression in word and deed. This is an essential part of the right to religious freedom. This is something to which we must all be alert today.

We as a Church feel very strongly that religious sentiment and beliefs of the majority of the citizens of this country are important factors which can contribute significantly to the building up of a true culture of peace and harmony. They are not a matter of private conviction to be excluded from the public forum, but crucial elements of a true and generous citizenship in this land.


My hope and my prayer is that the simple candle, which I am pleased to bring to you this evening, may be a sign of the lovely light of God in our lives and a sign of the prayer which, in return, we offer to God. May peace and truth be the gift that God bestows on us all.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols


Welcome address by Yogvivek Swami on the occasion of the visit of the Archbishop of Westminster
to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London


November 21, 2009

Your Grace, the Archbishop of Westminster, venerable faith leaders, and distinguished guests.

Firstly, on behalf of our spiritual leader His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and the entire BAPS Swaminarayan community in the UK, may I extend a very warm and gracious welcome to the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols.

It is indeed a historic occasion today to have – for the first time – the leader of our country’s Roman Catholic Church visiting our Hindu Mandir, here in Neasden. This is not to say that ours is a new relationship, of course. For our faith communities have enjoyed warm ties stretching back several years. Our spiritual leader – His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj –
met with His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1984, at the Vatican. I know my spiritual leader holds fond memories of that meeting and also recalls his visit to Bethlehem in 1999, to the birthplace of Jesus Christ. It is indeed wonderful that we are able to renew and reaffirm this valued association twenty five years on, here in London, at our Mandir.


Thank you and Jai Swaminarayan


Archbishop Vincent Nichols visits Hindu temple


November 23, 2009

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has made an official visit to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Europe’s first traditional Hindu temple in Neasden, north London.

The visit took place on Saturday 21 November 2009 during Interfaith Week and on the birth anniversary of the worldwide spiritual leader of the Hindus who pray at the Mandir (Hindu Temple) at Neasden, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Archbishop Nichols was greeted by the Mandir’s spiritual leader, Yogvivek Swami, (Head Sadhu, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha – UK & Europe) and the Trustees of the Mandir. He was welcomed in traditional Hindu style – with a red vermillion mark applied to the forehead and the tying of a sacred thread on the wrist, symbolising friendship and goodwill.

Yogvivek Swami guided the Archbishop around the Mandir complex, including the sanctum sanctorum.  He then moved to the deity of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) where he joined Yogvivek Swami in praying for world peace and harmony.



Archbishop’s Speech

After a private meeting with Yogvivek Swami, Archbishop Nichols spoke to an audience of around 2,000 Hindus about a number of  common concerns. These included the vital role religion contributes to the common good, the importance of supporting family life, the education of children and young people and the understanding and valuing of different cultures and traditions.

Before departing, Archbishop Nichols presented Yogvivek Swami with a special candle, “a sign of the lovely light of God in our lives and a sign of the prayer which, in return, we offer to God.” Yogvivek Swami also presented Archbishop Nichols with a memento of his visit to the Mandir.

Other visitors

Those accompanying Archbishop Nichols on the visit included: Father Stephen Willis – Dean of Brent, and Parish Priest of the parish of Our Lady of Willesden, Willesden; Rev Jon Dal Din – Director of Westminster Interfaith; Katharina Muller – Secretary of the Bishops’ Committee for Relations with Other Religions; Father Antonio Ritaccio, Parish Priest of Stonebridge.

A number of local civic, political and religious leaders were also present. They included Cllr Jim O’Sullivan, Mayor of Brent; local MPs, Dawn Butler MP,  and Sarah Teather MP;  Ervad Rustom Bhedwar Head Priest, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe; Imam Abdullah Salloo of the Islamic Cultural Centre, Stonebridge;  Venerable Galayaye Piyadassi Thera MBE President, World Buddhist Foundation Head, Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre; Shri Ashok Shah, Chair, Oswald Community (Jainism); Sardar Rajinder Singh Bhasin, President, The Central Gurdwara, London (Sikhism) ; Mr Aleksey Koudryakov representing the Russian Orthodox Church and Hassan Afnan representing the Baha’i community.


Archbishop Vincent Nichols ‘offered flowers at the altar of Hindu deities’


By Damian Thompson, November 24, 2009

Archbishop Nichols, what were you thinking? Your own press office has reported that
you offered flowers at the altar of Hindu deities during a visit to a temple. (UPDATE: since this post went up, the relevant sentence has been removed from the Westminster diocesan website.)

The visit took place on Saturday 21 November 2009 during Interfaith Week and on the birth anniversary of the worldwide spiritual leader of the Hindus who pray at the Mandir (Hindu Temple) at Neasden, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Archbishop Nichols was greeted by the Mandir’s spiritual leader, Yogvivek Swami, (Head Sadhu, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha – UK & Europe) and the Trustees of the Mandir. He was welcomed in traditional Hindu style – with a red vermillion mark applied to the forehead and the tying of a sacred thread on the wrist, symbolising friendship and goodwill.

Yogvivek Swami guided the Archbishop around the Mandir complex, including the sanctum sanctorum where the Archbishop offered flowers at the altar to the deities. He then moved to the deity of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) where he joined Yogvivek Swami in praying for world peace and harmony.

After a private meeting with Yogvivek Swami, Archbishop Nichols spoke to an audience of around 2,000 Hindus about a number of common concerns. These included the vital role religion contributes to the common good, the importance of supporting family life, the education of children and young people and the understanding and valuing of different cultures and traditions.

Before departing, Archbishop Nichols presented Yogvivek Swami with a special candle, ‘a sign of the lovely light of God in our lives and a sign of the prayer which, in return, we offer to God’. Yogvivek Swami also presented Archbishop Nichols with a memento of his visit to the Mandir.

This is a blunder, however well-intentioned. Inter-faith dialogue is a minefield for Christian leaders, as Pope John Paul II discovered when he prayed alongside non-Christians at Assisi in 1986. This visit sounds ill-conceived from start to finish. The offer of the candle and the words accompanying it imply that Hindus worship the same God as Christians, which I would have thought even a primary-school textbook would make clear is not the case. And there’s the clue, right in Westminster diocese’s own press release – offering flowers at the altar of “the deities”. Yes, there’s a distinction between offering flowers at an altar and offering them to the gods themselves, but I think the general public and the average Catholic can be forgiven if they fail to appreciate it at once.

Of course Archbishop Vincent Nichols doesn’t believe in these pagan gods (which is what they are, from a Christian perspective). But, as we saw when he allowed a chapel in Birmingham to be used for a celebration of Mohammed’s birthday, his famous common sense deserts him when he is in the hands of his “inter-faith” advisers.

Traditional Catholics are baffled and angry, as discussion on the internet reveals. One blogger writes:

After wagging an admonishing finger to the incoming Traditionalist Anglicans that they may not “pick and choose”, Archbishop Nichols chooses to go to Europe’s first Hindu temple to receive a pagan blessing.

You can understand this anger. The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales doesn’t mind taking part in Hindu ceremonies, but try asking him to say Mass in the Extraordinary Form and you won’t get very far.

Damian Thompson is Blogs Editor of the Telegraph Media Group.


All across Asia, Catholics are going to temples spurred on by interreligious dialogue

Young Catholics join Hindu festival




Mannar, Sri Lanka, March 18, 2010

Some young Catholics who took part in a Hindu festival say they did so to help them understand the religion better. “Classes and books alone cannot answer our questions on Hinduism,” said Xavier Croos Anton, 19, a Catholic college student from Mannar diocese. He, together with a group of Christian students, went to the ancient Thiruketheeswam Temple, southeast of Mannar city, to take part in the Maha Sivarathri festival celebrated on March 13 and 14. During the festival, Hindus in Sri Lanka abstain from food and pray all night long to Shiva, who is known as the “father of all souls.”

“While staying true to our religious background, we can learn about other religions,” said Anton, as he covered his body with a towel to take a bath before entering the temple, an act performed by thousands of Hindus at the religious site.

I should be open minded … in order to understand every religion,” said another Catholic student, 22-year-old Mahesh Timothy Gnapragasam.

Commenting on the Catholic youths’ participation, Father Surenthiran Ravel Leenus, secretary to the Mannar bishop, said that “though there may be some differences, we should work toward reconciliation between communities irrespective of religion.”

Father Nicholapillai Maria Saveri, founder of the Center for Performing Arts*, observed, “I am sure that the Church in the past, and even Catholic parents, refused to allow children to visit Hindu temples.” His center is now rehearsing for the annual Lenten Passion play with actors from various faiths.

Holy Family Sister M. Concelia, in an article for Messenger, a Catholic weekly, wrote: “The need of the world today and more so of our country, is to rise above the differences that are built by man, be it religion, race, caste or color.”

In her March 14 article, titled A Glance at Maha Shivarathri, she said, “Divinity is present in everyone … and the divine touch is sprinkled in all creation.”

Tamil and Sinhalese Christians make up 7.5 percent of Sri Lanka’s predominantly Buddhist population, while Hindus make up 15 percent.

Catholics pray for peace during Hindu Festival; Christians and Buddhist join with Hindus for festival of lights



Chariot festival brings Hindus and Christians together


July 9, 2010

The ravages of war usually widen divisions between people, but the end of Sri Lanka’s civil conflict has seen Catholic and Hindus forging closer links.

Religious festivals are playing a prominent role in helping Catholics and Hindus live together as one community instead of being divided along spiritual lines.

In the Jaffna peninsula, healing within the Tamil community through joint Catholic-Hindu participation in festivals is very much in focus. The Hindu Ratha Yatra chariot festival is one example.

This huge festival marks Hindu deity, Lord Jagannath’s, annual visit to his aunt’s temple.

It involves hundreds of people pulling large decorated chariots to a local temple.

This year saw local Catholics, especially young people, working with Hindus to clean and decorate streets, and even pull the celebrated chariots to the Sadda Nathar Lord Siva temple in Jaffna.

“The good thing the civil war did in the Tamil community was to change the old dogmatism and break down barriers,” Father Aseervathampillai Anton Punithakumar told ucanews.com.

Sheltering together during the war drew the two religious communities together, the parish priest of St. John’s church in Jaffna said.

“It has united different faiths, so now we do something for them and they do something for us,” he added.

The united front has invigorated a sense of community spirit, according to one young Catholic.
“As neighbors, friends or even as human beings we can’t sit by and watch Hindu men, women and even children, struggling to pull these huge chariots,” a sweating Camillus Nimalan, 23, told ucanews.com.


Church center reads Ramayana for peace


August 6, 2010

The Chavara*
Cultural Center in Kochi has organized an open recital of the Ramayana, a sacred Hindu text, as part of its drive for interreligious harmony.

Christian priests, Hindu sages and Muslim leaders gathered for the reading at the center, which is managed by the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate congregation, on Aug. 4.

Hindu ascetic Swami Purantharanantha led the recital alongside Carmelite Father Albert Nambiaparambil and retired Justice Shamsudeen, who represented Muslims. Each took turns to read from the book.

The participants then lighted candles and pledged to work for peace. “We did it to show the world that we can join in the celebration of faith,” said Shamsudeen.

Hindus in Kerala commonly read the Ramayana as a spiritual activity during the 31-day period of Karkidakam, the current month in the local calendar.

“We thought it would be helpful to do this recital as it brings home the message that all religions preach goodness,” said Father Roby Kannanchira, the center’s director. “The event was especially meaningful considering the communal tension in the state.”




The priest added that an uneasy peace was prevailing in parts of Kerala after Muslim radicals chopped off the hand of a Catholic professor for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad.

“We need more dialogue between communities,” said Father Nambiaparambil.

“Each family should work for world peace by teaching our children to love and respect other communities living around us,” said the 80-year-old priest who has been working for interreligious peace for the past five decades.

*A few days ago, on November 23, 2014, the founder of the congregation called Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, was declared a saint. –Michael


A heretic, excommunicated and dissident priest pioneers interreligious dialogue:

Interfaith leaders honor Father Tissa Balasuriya



September 21, 2010

Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims have joined Catholics in honoring a theologian who spent most of his life serving various ethnic groups and bridging religious divides.

More than 50 people attended a recent thanksgiving Mass in Colombo for Oblate Father Tissa Balasuriya, 86, who founded the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians and Center for Society and Religion (CSR).

“I see him as a human liberator,” said Wasantha Chandani Senarath, a Buddhist who has been working at the CSR library for the past 18 years.

The priest was able to dialogue with politicians, religious leaders and even extremists over various issues, said Senarath.

Father Balasuriya met youths in prisons, Tamil rebels and took an active stand against injustice, the librarian added.

Neyma Mohamed, a Muslim woman who has worked with the priest for 25 years, said he “made his lessons accessible to temples and mosques” and openly discussed issues affecting religious communities.

In this regard, he made a unique contribution to
interreligious dialogue, she said.

Ramanathan Sivanenthiran, a Hindu Congress member in Colombo, who had met the priest at interreligious conferences, said, “I am a reader of his controversial articles and books that enhance our knowledge of different religions.”

In his speech during Mass, Father Balasuriya said, “We have to do more work to help society.”

The priest, who has written 35 books on theology, human rights and religions, ran into problems with the Vatican after publishing his book, Mary and Human Liberation, in 1990.

The Vatican warned that the book contained heretical content because it apparently misrepresented the doctrine of original sin and cast doubt on Christ’s divinity.

Father Balasuriya was excommunicated in 1997. After intense international publicity and negotiations, the excommunication was lifted in 1998.

The CSR, which he founded in 1971, organizes interreligious and inter-ethnic dialogue programs and also serves youths, vulnerable women, orphans and poor people.


Nuns promote religious harmony among students


Indore, September 22, 2010


The backdrop: interreligious, with Hindu deities, the Muslim Ka’aba, etc.



School principals from eight states participated in a week-long training program to promote religious harmony in schools

A group of Catholic nuns say the schools they run across India will read Hindu and Muslim scriptures in an effort to promote religious harmony.

We have decided to include readings from holy books of every religion in our school assemblies,” said Sister Tessa, an official of the Teresain Carmelite Sisters.

The nun, who is also the congregation’s general councilor of education, said the schools they run in India’s eight states are committed to mould the “nation builders of tomorrow.”

She said their “mission will be successful when their schools become the “centers of socio-political transformation.”

Sister Tessa led a team of 13 school principals from eight states in a week-long training program organized by Universal Solidarity Movement*, a Catholic group promoting religious harmony through schools.

The nun said following the training, the principal nuns “unanimously decided” to sing songs and include readings from other religions’ Scriptures, especially of Hindus and Muslims.

Their schools would also sing Vande Mataram or homage to the mother, considered to be the “national song” of India, which created some controversy recently. Groups including Muslims and Christians have opposed to singing it. They say the song pays homage to a Hindu goddess Durga, personified as India.

“Our institutions are the face of the Church and we should inculcate religious pluralism in students,” Sister Pushpa, principal of Carmel Convent School in Faridabad said.

According to Sister Priya from Kerala, “Vande Mataram is our national song and singing it will promote and inculcate patriotism in our students. So we will make it a practice in our school.”

Sister Therese Ann, principal of Mount Carmel Convent High School in Karnataka state, asserts that her institution should spread religious harmony, in light of severe anti-Christian attacks two years ago in the state. “Our schools are the most sought after, and we should take advantage of the situation,” she said.




Bishop blasts ‘play safe’ mentality on religion


February 3, 2011

A senior Church official yesterday criticized the practice of many Filipinos of adopting a segurista or “play safe” mentality toward religion.

Monsignor Pedro Quitorio III, the media director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said the Filipino habit of having [both] Sto. Nino (Child Jesus) and Buddha images in their homes is a prime example.

“If you want to be a Christian then be a Christian. Don’t be the kind of Catholic with a segurista mentality because it means you don’t believe in Christ,” he said. “If you do, you don’t need to have a sort of back-up religion,” he added.

Monsignor Quitorio said this kind of approach to religion is called syncretism or the combination of different beliefs, which is very evident especially during Chinese New Year, which is being celebrated today.

During Chinese New Year, lucky charms and gems sell like hotcakes because people believe that having one will attract good fortune in the coming year.

Such thinking, Monsignor Quitorio said, is not only common to Filipino Catholics but to other faiths as well.

“There are non-Catholics who also keep an image of the Sto. Nino because they believe it can help them,” he said. “They should be encouraged to have only one faith,” Monsignor Quitorio added.


Regional Youth Interfaith Forum: Embracing Diversity: Delivering messages of understanding. – Reflections on Proceedings


By Nicky Chui, Family Life Society, Singapore, Tel: 65-64880278 Website:
www.familylife.sg, January 14, 2008

The first Regional Youth interfaith forum co-organised by the Australian Government and the European Union was held in Perth from the 4th to 6th December 2007. Over 50 young people from Europe, Australia as well as Southeast Asia representing different faiths participated in this 3 day event which saw a mixture of fellowship, fun and serious discussion on the role of religion in the world today. What follows is a series of reflections on the proceedings. I will not give a chronological account but rather, would group my thoughts into categories which would be illustrated by memorable incidences at the forum.

Inter-Faith Dialogue and Evangelization: A Contradiction or Two sides of the Same Coin?
For some Catholics, inter-faith dialogue smacks of heresy and religious indifferentism. After all, if Jesus Christ is the unique mediator of God and the Savior of all mankind, it would seem to follow that dialogue, which seems to imply a process of learning from the other, uncertainty and perhaps even a rethink of currently held beliefs is anathema to the deposit of faith entrust by Christ to his Church. What Christians should do, is to proclaim Jesus as the Savior and to save souls. I did not encounter any Catholic who held these views at the conference for obvious reasons.

For other Catholics, influenced by the so called “spirit of Vatican II”, they are keen to embrace inter-religious dialogue as the new way of being Church (and Catholic). When asked by other Catholics what they think of evangelization, they would reply “O we don’t do this anymore after the Second Vatican Council”, we must respect all religions and not think that our religion is superior to theirs.


Indeed, a Catholic delegate from Mindanao actually shared this with me on the last day while we were having the swan river cruise. She sees her very important work in building a peacemaking culture in that troubled part of the Philippines as an intrinsic part of her Catholic identity. While I fully support that and would definitely pray for the success of her work, I was slightly perturbed when she shared that her Jesuit education has led her to see that conversion to Catholicism is not a priority. Indeed, she seemed proud to say that her peace building program resulted in no conversions to Catholicism from Muslims and members of the Mindanao indigenous community. While I fully understand that conversion is a sticky business in that part of the world unlike in Singapore, I could not help being somehow saddened by this. While it is true that being involved in peacemaking is definitely part of the Church’s social mission, and we should offer this to every person of good will, I could not help but wonder if in our eagerness to do good, we obscure the person of Christ and play down his unique salvific role. Inter-faith dialogue becomes an important means to build a peace-making culture. The need for Conversion and evangelization is downplayed or perhaps even not on the agenda at all.
Indeed, in such inter-faith gatherings, Catholics who are not well formed in their own faith may actually, in their enthusiasm for peace and good relations with members of other faiths and also to highlight how much similarities there are among different faiths, end up in a form of religious indifferentism which says either that all religions are the same or that all religious are equal paths to truth.
That seems to be only natural. In the three day conference, participants were enthusiastic about meeting other participants from different religions and different countries and during the three days together, relationships were cordial and friendly. Everybody were eager to portray themselves as open-minded, respectful and sincere which I believe were real qualities emanating from the participants. We came out with common statements and objectives. My discussion group declared “we as young people of diverse religious faiths, beliefs and cultures are committed to the values of peace, compassion and love (understood uniquely contextually and culturally) and respect for human rights.”
Who can possibly object to creating such an environment? Yet sometimes in our enthusiasm to discover similarities, or to celebrate our differences as merely culturally interesting rather than making actual truth claims, we as Christians would have failed to proclaim Christ and his often demanding truths.

After all, who would want to be labeled (as Cardinal Ratzinger was labeled so often) as someone who rocks the boat of harmonious inter-faith dialogue, asking tough questions and challenging the followers of other religions to respond in an equally intellectually vigorous way?
Inspite of these so called dangers or concerns highlighted, I do think that Catholics should continue to engage in inter-religious dialogue and also see it as an avenue for evangelization. For one thing, the atmosphere of friendship cultivated in an inter-faith setting is crucial. Meeting people as friends is important. There are no secrets between friends and friends can share with each other, their most intimate concerns without fear. The time will come where deep questions and differences will naturally emerge in any discussion of religion. It is in these situations where the Catholic must testify to the person of Jesus Christ and give an account for the hope that is in him. The wish that you do hope that the other person comes to know Jesus one day should also be extended. Conversion can be done only in total freedom but one should not be afraid to extend the invitation.
Indeed, it was in a spirit of friendship that I was able to have fascinating discussions with both my Buddhist and Muslim friends from Singapore. For instance, my Buddhist friend Siew Wee and I spoke about the existence of the self, the purpose of the body the significance of the Resurrection of Jesus, the teaching of Buddha. If, as Hans von Balthasar writes, the story of salvation should be seen as both a “theo-aesthetic” and a “theo-drama” than the presentation of the truths of the Christian religion, its inner coherence and logic and its answers to the perennial questions of humanity will constitute in an organic manner, an apologetic of beauty. Logical syllogisms and examination of the evidence would remain a necessary part of evangelization. Yet there is another way, a way perhaps less intimidating, the evidential power of beauty. If Christ is the truth and if all human hearts long for total truth and joy, then such a presentation would be enough to stir a thirst in the other person to know more about the Christian religion.
Government and Religion: Respect, Cooperation, Cooption, Conflict, Tolerance, Indifference
“What can governments do?” was the theme of the 2nd plenary session on the first day of the conference. As a Catholic, I do not oppose the government for the sake of doing so. Governments can and have done a lot of good and a Catholic should support such initiatives in any way they can. Yet governments too may have agendas which run counter to the convictions of religious believers. A “religious cover” would nevertheless serve a government well and provide endorsement for what may well be an immoral an unjust policy. One have only to think of Robert Mugabe’s boasting that he is a good Catholic who attends Mass frequently or the posturing of Hilary and Bill Clinton that faith is an important part of their lives while simultaneously promoting the destruction of innocent human life through abortion to see how religion can easily be co-opted into the service of some bigger agenda.
Indeed, on the first day, we actually received an exhortation by a certain professor Amir that one should not be reading the scriptures literally but always in a contextual manner for to do so is a sure way of lapsing into fundamentalism, absurdity and even violence. Yet such an assertion while sincerely made still leaves many questions unanswered. Who decides whether something is to be read literally or in a contextual manner? How about “love your neighbour as you love yourself”? Governments would surely hope that believers read that piece of scripture literally. How about the account of the Resurrection? Liberal demythologizes are eager to read this in a “spiritual” and “contextual” fashion which betrays immediately a philosophical bias against miracles. How about the absolute claims of Christ and Christianity?
Also, I felt a hint of co-option during the hypothetical forum held on the 2nd day where the theme was climate change. Participants in that hypothetical forum were supposed to agree that climate change and global warming are serious problems and that they would have to plan strategies to “sell” this message back to their communities. A sensible question to ask in this instance is who is setting the agenda? Are religious communities mere appendages of government and state apparatus’ designed to soften or sell messages and agendas already pre-determined or do religious communities possess autonomously their own agendas which will come into creative tension with that of the state?



In her keynote address author Randa Abdel-Fattah said that religion ought not simply to be tolerated but respected. Indeed, there is a world of difference between tolerance and respect. We tolerate something undesirable where eliminating it would do more harm than good. We respect on the other hand, positive goods. Indeed, French President Nicolas Sarkozy once commented that he found it strange that in his own country, when a school, a stadium or a community centre is built, there is enthusiasm from the state. But when a mosque or a Church is built, the state quickly distances itself from the project wanting no part of it seeing it purely as a private business. While not endorsing any form of religion, the state may well consider if the endorsing of religiosity, a certain civic religion if you will, within of course certain sensible limits might not be a public good in itself. Running for the Republican nomination for the US Presidency, Mitt Romney said it quite well in his recent campaign speech that he is inspired when he sees mosques, temples and churches whose spires reach out to the heavens as that was a recognition from all religions of the common source of our origins.

Avoiding Sloganeering and Motherhood Statements: The importance of Language and the Parameters of Discussion
Flannery O Connor once said that “compassion leads to the gas chambers”. This shocking statement should cause us to pause and reflect on the importance of clarifying positive concepts, discovering what they really do mean. Nobody would say that they do not want peace, justice and harmony. But what this constitutes remains vague. As such, the declarations made by the various groups, while important first steps, need to be clarified and examined thoroughly. The caveat in our declaration (about understanding the statement contextually, uniquely and culturally etc) was at least to my mind a problematic statement. In some cultures, widow burning is considered an act of compassion. Do we have a response to that or are we to be silenced by the paralyzing force of cultural relativism? Reason, as the Pope’s Regensburg Address makes it clear, must be the common language across cultures so that pathologies both of religion as well as science can be healed. As such, it was a pleasant surprise to discover from the Polish delegate Magdalena that the organization she belongs to, “World Youth Alliance”
www.wya.net does exactly that, organizing such activities around the great and important themes which humankind can ill afford to get wrong.
Against, hypocrisy, self-interest and deceit: Cultivating habits of the heart for fruitful Inter-Faith Dialogue.
As one of the delegates from Germany, Friedrich mentioned, he detected a certain angelism in the discussions as if good intentions and the elimination of ignorance through education were all that is needed to create a better world. As Catholics, we know that sin lies in the depths of the human heart, perennially tempting human beings to hypocrisy, self-interest and deceit. In such instances, mere good intentions are not enough. Habits of the heart, virtues, need to be cultivated. Persons who are insincere cannot be trusted to engage in any form of fruitful dialogue. In such instances, niceties will not do. Denunciations are sometimes in order.

Inter Mirifica and New Media; Challenge and Opportunities
On the second day of the conference, both Mr. Peter Dunn and Dr Martin Mhando were given time to exhort delegates to understand and make full use of new media, i.e. internet discussion groups, online forums, YouTube etc to spread the message of inter-faith harmony. Indeed, the impact of New Media ought not to be underestimated and may well be a vibrant and fruitful avenue for publicity. One has only to think of how the use of new media enabled persons in Myanmar to broadcast images otherwise not seen in the Junta’s bloody crackdown of Buddhist monks and other anti-government demonstrators. Or how, as a Filipino delegate puts it, new media was able to spread the world out via sms to many people to come for a people’s power rally which resulted in the overthrow of former President Joseph Estrada.
Yet the use of New Media is essentially a disembodied medium, useful for spreading information but perhaps less so in developing genuinely human relationships. One has only to think of countless hours spent in online chat groups and computer games to see the numbing effects of such a disembodied way of interaction. Indeed, one of the speakers Mr. Kuranda Seyit was talking about finding answers through the body. If Christians are to use New Media, they should see it as a field for evangelization. New Media tools, besides spreading information can be used to encourage a more embodied form of existence.

Nation and Religion: On the possibility of Trans-national allegiances
“Universal, religious and Australian values” declared Mr. Jeremy Jones when addressing what kind of qualities a religious Australian should possess. Indeed, it was a truly trans-national experience for me, meeting members of different faiths from different religions. What mattered to me a lot was meeting Catholics from different countries. It was exciting to talk about the faith with Frs. Venancio and Joseph Thieu from East Timor and Vietnam respectively and to share experiences. When I told Magda that we had the Jeweller’s Shop in Singapore, she was very excited. I was also able to talk excitedly with Friedrich about the latest encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI and with Aubrey of Brunei about the Theology of the Body. I discovered national solidarity with my Singaporean delegates as we were justifiably proud of the achievements of our country in terms of inter-religious harmony.

I do hope that the time spent during the three days in Perth will lead to better things to come. The critiques contained in this reflection paper should not be seen as a lack of gratitude to the Australian Government and the EU for organizing this symposium. Rather, they are given in the hope that subsequent forums can be even more successful and may grapple with the serious and often complex issues faced by the religions of the world today as they encounter modernity and face questions of identity.



Comment by a Jesuit from Mindanao:

You said: “While I fully support that and would definitely pray for the success of her work, I was slightly perturbed when she shared that her Jesuit education has led her to see that conversion to Catholicism is not a priority. Indeed, she seemed proud to say that her peace building program resulted in no conversions to Catholicism from Muslims and members of the Mindanao indigenous community. While I fully understand that conversion is a sticky business in that part of the world unlike in Singapore, I could not help being somehow saddened by this.”
Well, I am a Jesuit and I am from Mindanao, and I can see how the participant from Mindanao could have occasioned sadness on your part. But I think one has to be a little bit more generous in interpreting what she said. I do not think that the Catholic Church looks down on conversion. What it wants to do is give witness to Jesus Christ and to God’s love, mercy, peace and justice. If, because of this witness, a Muslim wants to become a Christian because of an authentic discernment process, then the Church readily and joyfully accepts her into the community. What the Church does not do is proselytize, i.e., actively and even aggressively seek conversion, an attitude that very often brings conflict in its wake because of the way evangelization had been conducted in previous times, a way that demonizes the religion of those who are not Christians. And, in Mindanao, this can indeed become “sticky”, to use your word, but it is perhaps “sticky” in another, more baneful sense: it can become “sticky with blood”. In Singapore, this is perhaps not possible. Therefore you must count your blessings. But in Mindanao, the Church has to proceed more circumspectly and cannot be sanguine about the social ramifications of an overtly and overly proselytizing attitude and behaviour. As you yourself have pointed out, it is the witness of the lives of Christians that, aesthetically and dramatically, could lead others to want to become Christians; but any note of demonization of other religions to convert these others is itself a non-Christian and therefore demonic sign.


Nick Chui said…

Dear Jesuit from Mindanao,
Yes I totally agree with what you said. I am against proselytization and the demonizing of other religions. I don’t mean to trivialize the situation in Mindanao by using the word sticky. Perhaps a poor choice of words on my part.
In a politically sensitive area where emotions are high and wounds are raw, it may also be not prudent to even discuss theological differences (at least not yet).
The mark of a mature society would be such that differences can be discussed openly without necessitating accusations that one’s religion is being insulted etc. Not all societies have reached that stage for various reasons but I believe most people would agree that it is something to strive towards.
I am thinking of the Pope’s Regensburg Address when he asks if the God of Islam is above reason or acts in accord to reason. That is a tough question and one in which the Muslim World, in the face of terrorism ought to ask themselves.
There were of course two responses. Extremists who violently protest that they are not violent and the response of the 100+ Muslim Scholars who deployed violence but nevertheless prepared an open letter critiquing the propositions the Pope made in his speech. I thought that effort on their part was wonderful and fair and I pray that it will bear fruit for further constructive dialogue.


Exclusivism an inter-religious dialogue: The views of a Young Christian


By Nicky Chui, Singapore, September 18, 2008

Recently, it was reported that nearly half of Christian leaders feared inter-faith dialogue and that young people were generally religious but knew little about the religious beliefs of their peers. This report was followed by a letter by Mr. Lim Siew Wee highlighting his enthusiasm as a young Buddhist to promote inter-faith dialogue.
I am a young Catholic Christian who takes his faith seriously. I also had the privilege to participate along with Mr Lim Siew Wee in a Regional Youth interfaith forum co-organised by the Australian Government and the European Union from the 4th to 6th December 2007.
On the one hand, I agree with Mr. Lim that more inter-faith engagements among young people are a good thing. On the other, I am also sympathetic to the Christian clergy men who are wary of such gatherings. I would like to share as one who is an insider how a Christian who wants to be committed both to his faith and to living peaceably in an inter-religious society can resolve this apparent contradiction.
I do consider the fears of so called “conservative” and “evangelical” clergymen about inter-faith gatherings legitimate to some extent. Indeed, it would seem to flow from the inner logic of Christianity. After all, if Jesus Christ is the unique mediator of God and the Savior of all mankind, it would seem to follow that dialogue, which seems to imply a process of learning from the other, uncertainty and perhaps even a rethink of currently held beliefs is anathema to the deposit of faith entrust by Christ to his Church. What Christians should do, is to proclaim Jesus as the Savior and to save souls.
The wariness of such clergymen is accentuated when they notice that some of their co religionists, who consider themselves “liberal and enlightened” Christians, embrace inter-religious dialogue as the new way of being Church. When asked by the so called conservatives what they think of evangelization, they would reply “Oh, we don’t do this anymore in the 21st century, we must respect all religions, work towards common goals and not think that our religion is superior to theirs.”
Indeed, there is a certain attractiveness in the so called liberal position. At the forum I attended, the participants were enthusiastic about meeting other participants from different religions and different countries. Everybody was eager to portray themselves as open-minded, respectful and sincere. We came out with common statements and objectives. My discussion group declared “we as young people of diverse religious faiths, beliefs and cultures are committed to the values of peace, compassion and love and respect for human rights.”


Who can possibly object to creating such an environment? Yet the step from such a common statement to celebrating our different beliefs as merely culturally interesting rather than making actual truth claims does not seem too far away. After all, who would want to be labeled as someone who rocks the boat of harmonious inter-faith dialogue, asking tough questions and challenging the followers of other religions to respond in an equally intellectually vigorous way?
As such, must so called conservatives necessarily exclude themselves from inter-faith events? I don’t think so.
For one thing, in a world where religious violence is often linked to an intolerant and irrational fundamentalism, conservatives would do well to demonstrate that they not only eschew violence, but are also able to show that the paralyzing force of a cultural relativism will not in the final analysis be adequate in resisting the tide of religious violence. What is needed is reason informed by faith, as Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Address makes it clear, to heal the pathologies of religion.
Moreover, friendship cultivated in an inter-faith setting is ideal for a deep sharing of one’s faith. There are no secrets between friends and friends can share with each other, their most intimate concerns without fear. To paraphrase Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, “sincere believers in several religions feel they have the fullness of truth, and thus in charity hope for a day when all people will embrace the fullness of truth to complete them and bring them to perfection.” As such, a desire for a friend’s conversion done in total freedom can be offered without fear if it is seen as a gesture of wanting what is best for a good friend.
It was in a spirit of friendship that I was able to have fascinating discussions with Siew Wee. We spoke among about the existence of the self, the purpose of the body, the significance of the Resurrection of Jesus and the teaching of Buddha.
Indeed, Catholic theologian Hans von Balthasar once said that “love alone is believable”. If, as Christians believe, Jesus Christ is truth and love personified and if all human hearts long for total truth and joy, then a presentation of the truths of the Christian religion in all its profundity, in its inner coherence and logic, through its great themes of salvation and redemption, and its answers to the perennial questions of humanity will constitute in an organic manner, the evidential power of beauty.
I do hope that our conversations did stir a thirst for beauty in Siew Wee’s heart as it did mine.


Confusions about Inculturation


By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, September 25, 2014

















In recent decades there has been a great and deep confusion about the concept of inculturation. It has been taken to mean that the Catholic faith and its practice should be changed to conform to an indigenous culture, and should assimilate that culture’s own religious beliefs and practices. In other words, Catholicism is seen as raw material and the alien culture as an agent of transformation. This is a false view. In reality, the culture to which the Catholic faith comes is in need of conversion and elevation, so whatever elements are taken from it, once duly purged of sin and error, stand as material to the “form” imparted by the life-giving Catholic faith. It is the Church that is the agent, form, and goal in any true inculturation, while the culture is the matter that receives the form from the agent for the sake of salvation in Christ.

Any culture would benefit from the insertion of the Roman Mass in its fullness. Either the culture would welcome it as a sublime expression of a divinely revealed religion, as the ceremonies and texts of the traditional Latin liturgy powerfully convey (it is in just this way that many of the Japanese are said to have reacted to the beauty and majesty of the liturgy as celebrated by the missionaries), or a hostile culture would in time be overcome by it and thus purged of ignorance, error, and sin. In no case is it ever necessary to seek, as a goal, to take elements of a prevailing heathen culture and incorporate them into the sacred culture.
If there are elements that are worthy of elevation into the sacral domain, this will happen slowly, subtly, with fine discernment and discretion. Running after these elements in a kind of desperate hunt for relevancy is doomed to failure; it is a kind of whoring after ephemeral relevance, a prostitution to the present age and its malevolent prince.



Things that are really true, good, and beautiful will, as it were, line up in front of the doors of the church and beg admission; they will sue for peace, and beg pardon, and offer themselves like lambs for the sacrifice. Then we may take them up in our arms and make of them vehicles of grace. But not in any other way.

As St. Augustine says: “He that believes not, is truly demoniac, blind, and dumb; and he that has not understanding of the faith, nor confesses, nor gives praise to God, is subject to the devil.” The Church does not go to the blind and dumb to ask for advice on how she should worship or what she should believe; she does not go to subjects of the devil, in desperate need of baptism, and beg them for a seat at their master’s table.

Inculturation as it has been understood and practiced by liturgical revolutionaries is one more ploy of Satan to destabilize and denature the Church of God, to water down her distinctiveness, to poison and pollute her divine cultus and human culture.

This is not what the great Jesuit, Dominican, and Franciscan missionaries did; they brought forward the Catholic faith in all the splendor of its abiding truth, and by that light, they converted nations and baptized all that was noble and good in their people.


Hindus and Muslims are not happy over what Catholics make out to be engagement in interreligious dialogue. A few examples:

Hindu death threats over ‘blasphemous’ art


July 29, 2010

A Catholic center in Goa has been forced to remove several controversial paintings from an art exhibition after Hindu extremists threatened to decapitate the artist.

The Xavier Centre of Historical Research, a Jesuit institution on the outskirts of Panaji, the state capital, said it has “temporarily withdrawn” three paintings by US-based Goan painter-scholar Jose Pereira.

Threats by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (Hindu Awareness Forum) to decapitate the 89-year-old painter forced us to remove them, the institute said on July 27.

The series of paintings, called Epiphanies of the Hindu Gods, denigrate Hindu gods, the Hindu hardliners say.

The paintings depict Hindu Lord Shiva dancing with six naked maidens and Krishna in sexual ecstasy in the midst of several women.

The paintings were part of 16 artworks being exhibited at the center.

We were under intense pressure from the forum, so “we temporarily withdrew the paintings so as not to cause communal discord,” said the center’s director Father Delio Mendonca.

“There have been anonymous telephone calls with many threats of violence, including one to decapitate the artist,” he said.

All three paintings are inspired by Hindu classics and are not my “inventions,” said Pereira, the artist.

“I have taught Hindu theology and traveled all over the country studying temple sculptures. For me, Hindu mythology and the Crucifixion are two great obsessions,” he said.

Pereira, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has penned over 20 books. He is currently in Goa to launch a new book on Goan music and restore paintings he donated to the Jesuit center a decade ago.

The same exhibition, recently held in New Delhi, received popular acclaim, said Vivek Menezes, curator of the exhibition.

The Hindu forum has meanwhile submitted a complaint to authorities protesting the “extremely blasphemous” paintings. They also filed a complaint against Pereira for hurting Hindu sentiments.


Harmony group stalls over ‘inter-religious’ dispute


August 2, 2010

The work of a Malaysian committee, set up to promote religious harmony, has apparently come to a halt after Muslims objected to the use of “interreligious” in its name.

Prime Minister Najib Razak initiated the Special Committee to Promote Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony earlier this year. The move came after controversy over Christians using the word “Allah” for God resulted in attacks on several worship venues, ucanews.com reports.

However, at the committee’s first and only meeting on April 6, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom, who is in charge of Islamic religious affairs, said state muftis felt the word “interreligious” could confuse Muslims.

The committee includes representatives from the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM) and the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).

MCCBCHST President Reverend Thomas Philips confirmed the committee has been asked to come up with a new name.

“I hope the old name will continue,” he told ucanews.com. “It reflects how we understand and look at each other. Let us sit together, talk together, respect each other and move forward.” The name also shows “that we are one,” he said.

The committee is under Koh Tsu Koon, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of national unity and integrity. Muslim groups, however, say they want the committee to be under Baharom.

Koh had said earlier this year that the committee would allow members to hold informal dialogue on “matters such as inter-marriages, religious conversions as well as custody of children.”

Such a committee had been mooted in the past but was rejected by parties who argued that Islam should not be placed on the same level as other religions.

Islam is “the religion of the federation” of Malaysia, according to the country’s constitution.

Source: Interfaith group grinds to halt on Muslim protest


“Theological Prostitution” by Clooney and others


By Vedaprakash, September 17, 2009

Divine debaucheries? 

Francis Clooney S. J. has now shown his true colours, though our Vaishnavite friends could not accept or believe his intentions [1]. His reference to Prof. Chacko and my further dig into his background show that such activities have already been going on in Kerala and he has been aiding and abetting as a “consultant” just like Bede Griffiths [2]. Incidentally, Clooney was also there in August, before leaving for USA.

Bastardized music:

There has been a “Christian Musicological Society of India”[3], which is an international forum reportedly carrying out “interdisciplinary research, discussion, and dissemination of knowledge, on the music and dance of about thirty million Christians in India, who belong to a diverse set of communities and linguistic groups and follow a variety of liturgical traditions some of which date back to the early Christian era”. Thus, the fraud is revealed with unhistorical vulgarity. It goes on to say that, “The Society hopes that such researches will draw attention to the lesser known aspects of India in connection with the rest of the world”, as if the Indian Christianity is so connected with the world!

The dubious “Kristu Sahasra Naamam”:

There were people known as “Jacobites” or otherwise, who were worshipping “Christna” and their “books / bible” referred to him with the stories like “Bhagawatha Purana”. When the Portuguese found them, they destroyed their books and forcefully converted to Catholicism, however, they refused to acknowledge to the Pope. Thus, to satisfy them, the fraudulent “Thomas myth” stories were manufactured and circulated there. After many legal wrangles with the Pope and then with Supreme Court also, they tried to settle with “Thomas” masquerade.
Thus, as part of their game plan, under “research”, they have given their list of publications [4] and release of DVDs, CDs, etc [5].

Kristu Sahasra Naamam [Thousand Names of Christ] (Pre-recorded cassette)

Selections from the Sanskrit poem of the same title by I. C. Chacko, Illiparambil, composed in semi-classical style.
Pre-recorded cassette. FDMIC 210. Deccan Records, Bangalore.
Text: I. C. Chacko, Illiparambil. Music: Anto Amarnad, CMI.
Lead singers: Joseph Palackal and Indumathi Ephraim.
Accompanying booklet with transliteration and English translation of the text by Francis Vineeth, CMI.
Kristu Sahasra Naamam [Thousand Names of Christ] (CD): Without any shame, the theological plagiarists, spiritual stealers, divine bootleggers, mystical hooligans, neo-global Aurangazebs, have been carrying out such nasty acts.
CD with booklet (45 minutes).
-Selections from the Sanskrit poem by the same title by Chevalier I.C. Chacko (1876-1966).
-Vocal soloists: Joseph J. Palackal and Indumathi Ephraim.
-Text selected, translated, and introduced by Fr. Francis Vineeth, CMI.
-Music in semi-classical style by Fr. Anto Amarnad, CMI.
-Expected release: June 2011
Thus, probably, Clooney is mentioning about it.

[The thousand-fold names of Christ]: It appears that one I. C. Chacko has composed it in1914 itself!  Now, let us see, how it appears [6]: [I. C. Chacko, Illiparambil, B. A., B. Sc.] Commenced between the 25th and 31st May, 1914

Therefore, it is evident that Chacko had taken much effort to compose it. We do not know, but, they might have composed it in the same manner M. S. Subbulakshmi recited or otherwise. However, it is evident that it may be singing like |Suklam baradaram Vishnum sasivarna, caturbujam�.| and our gullible Hindus may buy and play it along with the original “Vishnu Sahasra Namam”!

The Christian or Satanic art in India?

Then, the website gives the following pictures / postcards depicting Jesus and Mary in different Hindu forms: Note, the fellows who cry that Hindus worship `satan” and so on have now started appropriating the same “satanic art” and producing such “cross-breed” drawings and paintings crossing all norms. It is not known how suddenly they become “devil worshippers” and the Vatican allows such “demonism”! Why these fetishist fakes have been after the hellish activities with iniquitous inculturators and diabolical dialogues?

Christ, the Guru
Mark, the same guys who do not want to sing “Saraswati Vandana”, have been misappropriating such Indian tradition and manufactured “Mother of Wisdom”!
 And they hope that the idiotic Hindus and intelligent Christians could worship such faked goddess and get the results what they expect. Therefore, it is evident that these guys have no decency, decorum or anything and they have nothing for their own. By stealing, looting and appropriating others, how long they would survive like this, like prostitutes?

Mother of Wisdom
The Blessed Virgin and Child at St. Thomas Mount (Periyamalai), Chennai, India
Of course, the third one has been forgery and when it is subjected to dating, it would get exposed. Like any other Christian medieval forgery, it could only belong to a period later than 13th-14th century. However, they claim that “mythical Thomas” himself drew it!

Inculturation of dance [7]: The misuse of Indian dance, particularly “Bharatanatyam” has been very significant. Again, remember that these guys have been carrying out the propaganda that “Bharatanatyam” was nothing but “temple prostitution”, the high caste Hindus make low caste women as “public dancers” so that they can be used as “prostitutes” and so on.
Why then, these “spiritual bastards” indulge in such “prostitution”?
Do they want to produce “Church prostitution” that has been there already under the guide of “Bharatnatyam”?
At one side, they criticize that all these have been the works of “Satan”, but note, only the member of “Society of Jesus” have been engaged in such dubious activities.
Bharata Natyam: Biblical themes through Bharata Natyam (South Indian classical dance) by
Francis P. Barboza.
Mohiniyattam: Life of Christ in Mohiniyattam (a dance form of Kerala), a novel program in Malayalam by Kalamandalam Radhika. Choreography based on poetic works by Blessed Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, CMI (1805-1871), Brahmabandhab Upadhyay(1861-1907), Fr. Abel Periyappuram, CMI (
1920-2001), and others.
Barboza has been specializing Bharatnatyam and converting it into Christianity [8]. Soon, he might declare that they only taught it to the Indians.
The “inspired persons”: For their inspiration, they have listed out the following personalities [9]:
–  Roberto de Nobili (1577 – 16 January 1656)
–  Constanzo Beschi [Veeramamunivar] (8 November 1680 – 4 February 1746)
–  Johann Ernst Hanxleden [Arnos Pathiri] (1681 – 20 March 1732)
–  Vedanayagam Sastriar (7 September 1774 – 1864)
–  Mayuram Vedanayakam Pillai (1826-1889)
–  Moses Valsalam Shastriar (1847-1916)
–  Rao Sahib M. Abraham Pandithar (2 August 1859 – 31 August 1919)
–  I. C. Chacko,Illiparambil (1875-1966)
–  Fr. Proksch, SVD (1904-1986)
–  Fr. Abel Periyappuram, CMI (19 January 1920 – 27 October 2001)
–  K. K. Antony, Kanamkudam (27 April 1924 – 10 March 1987)
–  George Panjara
Contact addresses, phone and e-mail:
Head Office: Acharya Palackal JeevassKendram Aluva 683 101, Kerala, India. Phone: 91-484-2620870
Office in North America: 57-15,61st Street, Maspeth, New York 11378-2713, NY, United States of America. Phone: 1-718-416-0773 Electronic mail:

Who is an ordinary prostitute and theological prostititute?

The 16th century originated word from Latin prostitut / prostituere with explicit connotation- “expose publicly for sale” has the following meanings [10]:
1.     Noun – A person, specifically a woman, who engages herself in sexual activity for payment.
2.     Verb – Offer (someone) as a prostitute
In the same way, it is evident that these duplicities, fakers and frauds have indulged in such “theological prostitution”. They too disrobe and masquerade to lure their prospect clients, take them to “different places”, “baptize” under water, give new cloths and money.

They have been circulating “Krishna and Christ” pictures, where both descending on the earth with their hands clasping together! Would they depict Mary and Mari in a similar posture? Or May with Shiva, as Shiva is nothing but Jehovah according to their own interpretation! Definitely, Clooney would kill them, if anybody indulges in such experimentation. Otherwise, he may have to accept that his book is a pious fraud or spiritual debauchery!



Divine pimps, Theological prostitutes and spiritual consortium

Thus, they have been carrying out their activities without mincing the words and expressing their intention also. After all SJs would come to you for fun or enquire about your health or whether it is raining or not at your place. Therefore, when Clooney like persons come next time, on any pretext, meeting Indians, particularly, Hindus, they should pull them up in public and expose their theological prostitution, divine debauchery and spiritual wickedness all masqueraded under the white robes, Harvard and Oxford scholarships and professorships!

Theist irreverence, Divine desecration and Spiritual profanity: At one side, we find total degradation in their approach in their so-called, inter-religious dialogue and inculturation activities, whereas on the other side, their Theist irreverence, Divine desecration, Spiritual profanity, Theological sacrilege, pious fraud etc., are more revealed. Therefore, they should mend themselves, as otherwise, the Christianity would be thrown out very quickly, when common Indians come to know such theological frauds imposed on them.

[1] His blog on Dialogue.
[2] CBCI documents show that he was a consultant for “Inculturation” project to be carried out in India and he established such `bastardized” place of worship as “innovative” spiritual resort!







[10] OED, Tenth edition, 1999, p.1148


This is what the Jesuits are up to in Mumbai:

Foreign envoys and families fumble their way through divine diplomacy


By Ashutosh Shukla, September 6, 2010

Perhaps thinking of Lord Shiva, Liona Beltgens carves out a third eye on the forehead of Lord Ganesha’s clay idol. The Netherlands national of Indonesian origin did sit through a lecture on the deities in Hindu mythology, but one can’t really fault her for mixing them up.

Laughing at her mistake, she says, “There are so many of them, with so many different names, that you get confused!”
Beltgens, wife of the consul of the Netherlands, is one of the participants at an idol-making workshop held on Sunday at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum. It was organised by the consul general of the Netherlands in partnership with the department of Ancient Indian Culture at
St. Xavier’s College* and the children’s section of the Museum Society of Bombay. *run by the Jesuits in Mumbai

“The idea was to get in tune with the city’s culture,” says Marijke Van Drunen Littel, the consul general of the Netherlands. “We held a talk show last week and followed it up with this.” Along with the consul generals of three other countries — Poland, Thailand, and Turkey — are visually impaired students of St Xavier’s College and underprivileged children from the Salaam Bombay Foundation.

Making the mouse excites kids like Tan Yoruk, the eight-year-old son of the consul general of Turkey, while the adults seem fascinated by the deity’s belly. “Men in India and the Netherlands alike have huge pot bellies,” Littel quips. “Lord Ganesha, too, has one, and I am trying to get that right.”

Some like Margo Jarnson, the consul general of Thailand, and her daughter are more confident of their idols. “We are Thais, and we know our Ganesha,” she says. “Our idols will have the legs crossed. The trunk, too, will be to the left so that he is an easygoing Ganesha.”

The most appreciated are the works of the visually impaired students. “They display profound accuracy,” says Agnieszke Bylinska, the consul general of Poland. Spelling out the intention to draw in a wider range of children, professor Anita Kothare of St. Xavier’s College says, “We will now do something similar with kids from the Spastics Society.”


Extracts from an email (several pages long) received from Lucio Mascarenhas, a Sedevacantist who has lambasted my ministry on the Internet, interspersed with his comments:

Lucio Mascarenhas
Sent: Monday, September 06, 2010 12:39 PM

Subject: WOULD YOU BURN THE QURAN? I Won’t, Because I Don’t Need To, But DOES ERROR HAVE RIGHTS?

Religious heads in Mumbai denounce ‘Burn a Quran’ campaign

By Linah Baliga, September 2, 2010






Jesus respected all religions, and all men and women who sincerely seek God,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archdiocese of Mumbai. “On behalf of all the Christian leaders of Mumbai and the Christian community here, we disassociate ourselves from the planned program and condemn it as contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

How can you burn A HOLY BOOK Mohammed Wajihuddin TNN September 5, 2010 http://lite.epaper.timesofindia.com/mobile.aspx?article=yes&pageid=4&edlabel=TOIM&mydateHid=05-09-2010&pubname=&edname=&articleid=Ar00402&format=&publabel=TOI

Archbishop of Vasai Felix Machado who worked at the Vatican in its inter-religious relationship wing has read the Quran. “The Quran was revealed for the guidance of God’s children. I can’t imagine a man who claims to follow Christianity ever thinking of burning a holy book,” says Machado.

Mother Teresa infamously taught that she wanted to teach pagans to be good pagans and Muslims to be good Muslims. She infamously indulged in joint worship with followers of false, man-made religions such as Anglicanism and Buddhism, and attended their temples. Yet, her sect pretends that she is a ‘Saint’ of God, living in heaven! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa)

“Those brought to the home received medical attention and were afforded the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith; Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received water from the Ganges, and Catholics received the Last Rites.” (Ref: Spink, Kathryn (1997). Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography. New York. HarperCollins, pp.55. ISBN 0-06-250825-3)

Jose Maria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei infamously taught a young Jewish woman that she should give up wanting to convert to Christianity because it would be ‘disrespectful’ of her parents! And yet his sect and his Antipope John-Paul II have pretended to have ‘canonized’ him as a saint! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josemar%C3%ADa_Escriv%C3%A1)


This is how some fundamentalist Protestants view our dalliances with paganism. Unfortunately, most of their charges are true and I have written about these things in many of my reports.

What passes as interreligious dialogue to some of us is a scandal to others:

A second pagan invasion into the Roman Catholic Church


By the Fundamentalist Baptist publishing ministry of David Cloud, August 28, 2008

The following is based on material from our new book Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, which is available from Way of Life Literature.
The first invasion of paganism into the Roman Catholic Church was in the early centuries of its formation, during the half millennium following the death of the apostles. Roman Catholicism has always represented a syncretization of Christianity with paganism. There is no biblical authority for the papacy, Mariolatry, purgatory, the veneration of saints, holy relics, holy water, and such. These doctrines and practices were borrowed from pagan religion and “Christianized.” On a visit to Rome the informed and alert individual sees evidence of this on every hand. (See “In the Footsteps of Bible Translators,” Part IV, http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/in-thefootsteps-bibletrans/index.html.)
Since the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church has been experiencing a fresh invasion of paganism. This Council declared:
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself. The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men” (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Oct. 28, 1965).
This statement says that there are things true and holy in pagan religions. In fact, it appears to say that God has already reconciled them to himself through Christ. Catholics are thus encouraged to dialogue with, collaborate with, and to “preserve and promote the good things … found among these men.”
This opened the door for the current interfaith dialogue that has resulted not in the Catholicization of paganism but in the further paganization of Catholicism.
The call for interfaith dialogue has been repeated forcefully by every pope since Paul VI.
In 1985 Pope John Paul II said:
“[I wish] to do everything possible to cooperate with other believers in preserving all that is good in their religions and culture. … The church of Jesus Christ in this age experiences a profound need to enter into contact and dialogue with all these religions. … All Christians must, therefore, be committed to dialogue with the believers of all religions, so that mutual understanding and collaboration may grow, so that moral values may be strengthened, so that God may be praised in all creation” (John Paul II, quoted by Bob Spencer, “The Challenge of Contextualization,” Faith for the Family, May-June 1985, p. 11).
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, speaking to representatives of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD), said:
“I repeat with insistence, research and interreligious and intercultural dialogue are not an option but a vital necessity for our time. … The people of today expect from us a message of concord and serenity. … They have the right to expect from us a strong sign of a renewed understanding and reinforced cooperation” (Zenit, Feb. 1, 2007)



One of the segments of the Roman Catholic Church that has responded in a big way to the call for interfaith dialogue is the Catholic monastic orders (Trappist, Benedictine, Franciscan, etc.). Since the 1970s they have developed intimate ties with their counterparts in pagan religions, and they have discovered that contemplative mysticism is an effective bridge for interfaith unity.
Tilden Edwards observed that mysticism is “THE WESTERN BRIDGE TO FAR EASTERN SPIRITUALITY” (Spiritual Friend, 1980, pp. 18, 19).

The MONASTIC INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE (MID) is sponsored by the Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries of North America. Founded in 1977, it is “committed to fostering interreligious and intermonastic dialogue AT THE LEVEL OF SPIRITUAL PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCE.” This means that they are using contemplative practices, yoga, Zen, and Sufism to promote interfaith unity and to help create a new world. The MID works in association with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Consider one of the objectives of the MID:
“The methods of concentration used in other religious traditions can be useful for removing obstacles to a deep contact with God. They can give a better understanding of the oneness of Christ as expressed in the various traditions and CONTRIBUTE TO THE FORMATION OF A NEW WORLD RELIGIOUS CULTURE. They can also be helpful in the development of certain potencies in the individual, for THERE ARE SOME ZEN-HINDU-SUFI-ETC. DIMENSIONS IN EACH HEART” (Mary L. O’Hara, “Report on Monastic Meeting at Petersham,” MID Bulletin 1, October 1977).
In January 2008 the MID web site featured Paulist priest Thomas Ryan’s book Interreligious Prayer: A Christian Guide. It contains “resources from eight religions that might be used in varying kinds of interreligious services.” The religions are Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Baha’i, and Native American. A review of the book at the MID web site says:
“It is as one human family … that we are called to live in harmony and to bring about justice and peace in our one world; and, as the author points out, FINDING ONE ANOTHER IN GOD IN PRAYER ‘is the shortest way between humans'” (Katherine Howard, “Book Review: Can We Pray Together,” MID Bulletin 80, January 2008).

The Monastic Interreligious Dialogue is associated with the NORTH AMERICAN BOARD FOR EAST-WEST DIALOGUE (NABEWD). At its first meeting in January 1978 at a monastery in Clyde, Missouri, Robert Muller, a New Age leader at the United Nations, was selected as the organization’s advisor (Pascaline Coff, “Bridging Millennia through Dialogue,” MID Bulletin 71, Sept. 2003). Muller believes in the divinity of all men.
Beginning in 1982 the NABEWD has sponsored exchanges between Catholic and Buddhist monks and nuns. The Buddhists visit Catholic monasteries in North America, while the Catholics visit Buddhist monasteries in Asia. This was done with the approval of the Dalai Lama, who was approached in 1981 while he was participating in a Buddhist-Catholic interfaith symposium at the Naropa Buddhist Institute in Boulder, Colorado. When the Catholics asked the Dalai Lama if he and his monks would be willing to participate, he replied, “Yes, but I have no money” (Pascaline Coff, Ibid.). The Catholics volunteered to pay the expenses, and the exchanges began the following year.

Consider ST. JOSEPH’S ABBEY in Spencer, Massachusetts. Thomas Keating was elected abbot in 1961, and the centering prayer movement began there a decade later. Trappist monk William Meninger found a “dusty copy” of The Cloud of Unknowing, which teaches thoughtless meditation, and he and Keating and Basil Pennington began developing a system of contemplation based on that as well as the writings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila.
Observing that this type of Catholic contemplation is very similar to that of Buddhist and Hindu mystics, they invited pagan meditation masters, including Zen Buddhist Roshi Sasaki, to teach at some of the retreats.
By 2004, St. Joseph’s had become a full fledged Zen center. This was the fruit of interfaith contemplative dialogue. In April of that year Jesuit Robert Kennedy installed Trappist monk Kevin Hunt as the first American Trappist instructor of Zen (National Catholic Reporter, July 16, 2004).
“Under the ‘protection’ of a Buddha statue and filing in to the cadence of a Japanese drum, the procession reached the Abbey’s Chapter Room. There the installment was made: after the imposition of hands whereby Kennedy made Hunt his successor, the latter received the ‘Robe of Liberation’ — a black Japanese kimono — and his teaching staff.
“Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, General Superior of the Jesuits, wrote a letter praising Hunt’s achievement as ‘one that we can all celebrate in thanksgiving to God.’ According to Kolvenbach, it is through Zen meditation that Catholics can become aware of the loving presence of God. HUNT PREDICTS THAT BUDDHISM WILL CHANGE CATHOLICISM” (http://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A082rcTrapistZen.htm).

Consider THE SNOWMASS CONFERENCE at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. This organization, led by Trappist priest Thomas Keating, sponsored contemplative interfaith conferences for 20 years. They met “to meditate together in silence and to share our personal spiritual journeys.”
At the conclusion of the dialogues they published a book entitled The Common Heart as an expression of their conviction that the things that unite them are greater than the things that divide. Contributors included Keating, Roshi Bernie Glassman (Zen), Swami Atmarupananda (Hindu), Ibrahim Gamard (Islam), Pema Chodron (Buddhism), Netanel Miles-Yepes (Sufi), and Rabbi Henoch Dov Hoffman (Judaism). The foreword to the book was written by New Ager Ken Wilber.
Keating and the Snowmass Conference published eight “Guidelines for Interreligious Understanding,” including the following.
* The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate reality to which they give various names: Brahman, Allah, Absolute, God, Great Spirit.
* Ultimate Reality cannot be limited to any name or concept.


* The potential for human wholeness–or in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, nirvana–is present in every human person.
This is blatant universalism, and it is fruit of contemplative spirituality and interfaith dialogue.

In recent decades many Catholic priests have become Hindus and Buddhists, while remaining Catholics.
On one of our trips to Rome we met a priest named Patrick at the Santa Maria Minerva Church. In a video recorded interview Brian Snider asked him, “Do you have to be Roman Catholic to go to heaven?”
To this, Patrick, who is from India, answered: “I can remain a Hindu and go to heaven. I AM ALSO A HINDU. You can be a Hindu living a good life and go to heaven and a Christian living a good life and go to heaven and a Muslim living a good life and go to heaven.”

The very influential Trappist monk THOMAS MERTON was “a strong builder of bridges between East and West” (Twentieth-Century Mystics, p. 39). He was a student of Zen master Daisetsu Suzuki and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. In fact, Merton claimed to be both a Buddhist and a Christian. The titles of his books include Zen and the Birds of the Appetite and Mystics and the Zen Masters. He said: “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. The future of Zen is in the West. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can” (David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West,” Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969, http://www.gratefulness.org/readings/dsr_merton_recol2.htm).

JULES MONCHANIN and HENRI LE SAUX, Benedictine priests, founded a Hindu-Christian ashram in India called Shantivanam (Forest of Peace). They took the names of Hindu holy men, with le Saux calling himself Swami Abhishiktananda (bliss of the anointed one). He stayed in Hindu ashrams and learned from Hindu gurus, going barefoot, wearing an orange robe, and practicing vegetarianism. In 1968 le Saux became a hermit in the Himalayas, living there until his death in 1973.
The Shantivanam Ashram was subsequently led by ALAN BEDE GRIFFITHS (1906-93). He called himself Swami Dayananda (bliss of compassion). Through his books and lecture tours Griffiths had a large influence in promoting the interfaith philosophy in Roman Catholic monasteries in America, England, Australia, and Germany. He eventually came to believe in the reality of goddess worship.

WAYNE TEASDALE (1945-2004) was a Roman Catholic lay monk. As a student in a Catholic college in Massachusetts, he began visiting St. Joseph’s Abbey near Spencer and came under the direction of Thomas Keating. This led him into an intimate association with pagan religions and the adoption of Hinduism. Teasdale visited Shantivanam Ashram and lived in a nearby Hindu ashram for two years, following in Bede Griffiths’ footsteps. In 1989 he became a “Christian” sannyasa or a Hindu monk. Teasdale was deeply involved in interfaith activities, believing that what the religions hold in common can be the basis for creating a new world, which he called the “Interspiritual Age” — a “global culture based on common spiritual values.” He believed that mystics of all religions are in touch with the same God. He helped found the Interspiritual Dialogue in Action (ISDnA), one of the many New Age organizations affiliated with the United Nations. (Its NGO sponsor is the National Service Conference of the American Ethical Union.) It is committed “to actively serve in the evolution of human consciousness and global transformation.”

WILLIGIS JAGER, a well-known German Benedictine priest who has published contemplative books in German and English, spent six years studying Zen Buddhism under Yamada Koun Roshi. (Roshi is the title of a Zen master.) In 1981 he was authorized as a Zen teacher and took the name Ko-un Roshi. He moved back to Germany and began teaching Zen at the Munsterschwarzach Abbey, drawing as many as 150 people a day.

Benedictine monk JOHN MAIN, who is a pioneer in the field of contemplative spirituality, studied under a Hindu guru. Main combined Catholic contemplative practices with yoga and in 1975 began founding meditation groups in Catholic monasteries on this principle. These spread outside of the Catholic Church and grew into an ecumenical network called the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM).

ANTHONY DE MELLO, an Indian Jesuit priest, readily admitted to borrowing from Buddhist Zen masters and Hindu gurus. He suggested chanting the Hindu word “Om” (p. 49) and even instructed his students to communicate with inanimate objects:
“Choose some object that you use frequently: a pen, a cup … Now gently place the object in front of you or on your lap and speak to it. Begin by asking it questions about itself, its life, its origins, its future. And listen while it unfolds to you the secret of its being and of its destiny. Listen while it explains to you what existence means to it. Your object has some hidden wisdom to reveal to you about yourself. Ask for this and listen to what it has to say. There is something that you can give this object. What is it? What does it want from you?” (p. 55).

Paulist priest THOMAS RYAN took a sabbatical in India in 1991 and was initiated in yoga and Buddhist meditation. Today he is a certified teacher of Kripalu yoga. In his book Prayer of Heart and
Body: Meditation and Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice (1995)
and his DVD Yoga Prayer (2004) he combines Catholic contemplative practices with Hindu yoga.

In 2003 Loyola University, a Jesuit school, invited Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh to instruct its students on the practice of meditation. He spoke to a capacity crowd of 5,000 at the university stadium as well as to the annual freshman convocation.


“The Buddhist encouraged his rapt audiences to the daily practice of meditation and breathing exercises as a means to eliminate all passionate emotions and thus achieve peace and compassion. He received standing ovations at both events” (“Practicing Peace,” National Catholic Reporter, September 12, 2003).
In May 2003 a group of nuns held a retreat at the His Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights, California. The altar for the Mass was set up in front of a Buddha idol.
Catholic priest Saju George of India performs Hindu dances called Bharatanatyam, which are usually performed in Hindu temples as an offering to idols (National Catholic Reporter, March 29, 2005).
In October 1975, at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa and her nuns prayed before a Buddha (La Contre Reforme Catholique, November 2003, http://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A067rcMadreTeresaBudha.htm).
Sister Nirmala, who took over as head of the Missionaries of Charity after Mother Teresa, prays to Hindu gods. The following is from The Deccan Herald, an Indian newspaper:
“Sister Nirmala was today elected to succeed Mother Teresa. … A former Hindu, Sister Nirmala (63) was baptised in 1958. … A calm and composed Sister Nirmala said ‘it is a big responsibility. Looking at myself I feel afraid whether I will be able to bear the responsibility but looking at god I think I can.’ … Sister Nirmala’s parents, high-caste Hindu Brahmins, did not oppose her joining the Missionaries of Charity. The relatives said that during trips to Kathmandu Sister Nirmala often visited Lord Pashupatinath temple, a sacred Hindu shrine which non-Hindus are not allowed to enter. She would offer prayers from the gate of the temple. ‘She told us that all gods were equal and worshipped them equally,’ said Ms Nina Joshi, Sister Nirmala’s niece” (The Deccan Herald, March 14, 1997, cited from News from the Front Newsletter, Take Heed Ministries, Belfast, N. Ireland, October 1997).
Pope John Paul II received a Hindu tika (tilaka) when he arrived to say Mass in New Delhi, India (L’Osservatore Romano, Feb. 2, 1986).
St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York, has a stained glass window that celebrates the Second Vatican Council. It depicts pagan deities (Horus the son of Isis, the Hindu god Shiva, and Buddha) together with Moses and Jesus and Mohammed.
In 1997 the Catholic Archbishop of Mumbai, India, lit a lamp in front of the Hindu idol Ganesh at the inauguration of an international seminar on Hindu-Christian cosmology and anthropology (The Indian Express, Bangalore, Oct. 6, 1997).
In May 2004 a Hindu ritual was performed at Fatima. The Hindus placed flowers before the statue of Mary inside the Chapel of the Apparitions, danced and chanted, and a Hindu priest said a prayer. The Hindus placed a shawl covered with verses from the Bhagavad Gita on both the Rector of Fatima and the Bishop of Fatima (Frontpage, Portugal’s Weekend Newspaper in English, May 22, 2004).

Preparations are proceeding with great rapidity for the formation of the one-world religion of Revelation 17.
At a time when Catholicism is becoming increasingly pagan, evangelicals are becoming increasingly Catholic!
Since the publication of Evangelicals and Roman Catholics Together in 1994, the pace of ecumenism has increased dramatically. Only a very tiny percentage of evangelicals take a clear stand today against the Roman Catholic Church as a heretical institution. The protest has gone out of Protestantism, and the Baptists are not in much better shape. (See the book Evangelicals and Rome, which is available from Way of Life Literature.)
Through the powerful ecumenical glues of Contemporary Christian Music and Contemplative Mysticism, charismatics and evangelicals are being drawn ever closer to Rome.
Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org









CBCI’S Views

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”.

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


Shaji George Kochuthara, CMI
Michael Prabhu
Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2014 11:07 PM

Asian Horizons, Dharmaram Journal of Theology

Vol. 8, No. 3, September 2014

Call for Papers

After 50 Years: Dialogue with Other Churches; Dialogue with Religions

“Dialogue” is one of the keywords for understanding the spirit of the Second Vatican Council — dialogue with other Churches, dialogue with other religions, dialogue with cultures, dialogue with the world. September 2014 issue of Asian Horizons invites to reflect on two important areas of dialogue that the Council calls for, namely, dialogue with other Churches and dialogue with religions.

The restoration of unity among all Christians was one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Besides “the enlightenment, edification and joy of the entire Christian people,” the aims of the Council included “a renewed cordial invitation to the faithful of the separated Churches to participate with us in this feast of grace and brotherhood, for which so many souls long in all parts of the world.” Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism is the fruit of this ardent desire of the Council from its inception.

Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, was one of the surprises of the Council, as it had not been foreseen in the preparatory agenda. The Declaration shows the growing awareness in the Council of plurality of religions and the need of striving towards the unity of humanity. Both these documents have been followed up with subsequent documents.

In the September 2014 issue of Asian Horizons we hope to include 4-6 articles each on Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. The articles can be on: A critical appraisal of Nostra Aetate or Unitatis Redintegratio; their relevance today; a critical appraisal of post-Vatican II official teaching on ecumenism and interreligious dialogue; new initiatives and challenges ahead in ecumenism/ interreligious dialogue.


As we have seen especially in the first 49 pages of this report, Pope Benedict repeatedly insisted that true interreligious dialogue would generate the peace (pages 4, 14, 31, 33, 35) and harmony that religious communities so desperately seek only if one adheres to the truth (pages 14, 32, 33, 39) and therefore the Christian response to the situation is to proclaim Jesus Christ (John 14:6, pages 32, 38).


Here is an extract from my report on an organization founded by a lay Catholic and endorsed by many bishops, priests and nuns, which promotes interreligious dialogue using New Age and syncretism:




Disciples of Christ for Peace (DCP) is a Catholic Society founded by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi along with Archbishop S. Arulappa of Hyderabad on November 9, 1998.


“The world at the dawn of the third millennium urgently needs peace… We are discovering that lasting peace and unity on earth needs a religious motivation.” (From the presentation made by Swami Sachidananda at the Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations, August 2000) The New Leader, November 1-15, 2000

There cannot be peace in the world unless there is unity among religions
in the world. (Their National Regeneration Movement Manual, page 38)


Peace in the environment: … Peace Education, therefore, should aim at helping students to end the dichotomy between humanity and nature, and live at peace with nature by practicing the eco-friendly values… (December 2001 Dharma Bharathi National Seminar at Hyderabad, pages 94, 95)


The Swami speaks and writes a lot about peace.

In fact the full name of the organization is DHARMA BHARATHI NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND VALUE



The rush to unite the religions of the world is driven by the belief that such unity will solve the problems of the world. Through the development of our human potential [Swami Sachidananda’s ‘a new humanism’ (Dharma Bharathi National Seminar page 92)], we will usher in a New Era of Peace and Prosperity.


The Bible predicts (Dan 8:25) that the Antichrist will come to power as a peacemaker. “And he will destroy many when they are at ease” (New American Standard Bible).

Through peace he shall destroy many” (KJV).

Peace will be his platform; peace will be his bait. Source: Christ among Other gods, Erwin B. Lutzer, 1994, page 171


Both peace and ecological issues play an ever-increasing part in international politics. Peace is an understandable desire of natural man; yet that peace is the peace which the world can give. Jesus said: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I come not to send peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34).

Yet we can have “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7)

Source: Understanding the New Age, Roy Livesey, 1986, page 28


“A nation of firm purpose YOU KEEP IN PEACE, in peace, FOR ITS TRUST IN YOU” (Isaiah 26:3, NAB).

“When the Lord is pleased with a man’s ways, He makes even his
enemies be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

Those who love your law have great peace, and for them there is no stumbling block” (Psalm 119:165).

“Peace I leave with you; MY PEACE I give to you. NOT AS THE WORLD GIVES do I give it to you”

(John 14:27).

Dharma Bharathi offers a futile pursuit of worldly peace, a peace without a trust in the God of the Bible and His Law a peace that does not include the person and message of the Giver of genuine and everlasting peace, Jesus Christ. END OF EXTRACT


Baptist convert and Catholic apologist Steve Ray came to Mumbai in January/February 2010
(http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Steve-Ray,-Catholic-response-to-sects-in-India-17509.html) and I was there to hear him. I also had a chance to meet with him and to give him a four-page letter that I wrote concerning the true situation of the Church in India which was not the one that he was actually seeing and experiencing. His reply follows.

I wrote that letter to him emboldened and greatly heartened by his bold statement that the subject of Catholic apologetics is incomplete and empty if the impact of the issues of interreligious dialogue and ecumenism are not addressed simultaneously.


Steve Ray
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 7:27 AM Subject: Steve Ray here

Hello Michael:

We just returned home from two weeks in Israel, a week in India and a week in Dubai followed by four conferences here in the USA. I am now home for three days before going to speak at two conferences. Whew!

I read your four page letter this evening and it saddens me to hear of the mass exodus to the New Age and Pentecostal nonsense. It is happening across the world which is why I am so desperate to go to as many such places as possible. I hope to return to India and also go to Goa. I know that Tim Staples is touring southern India soon. He will be very good. 

I am gladdened to know there are such apostolic men such as yourself who are remaining steadfast and outspoken for the truth. I wish we had had time to talk but I barely had time to sleep. We were utterly exhausted when we returned home. We really had no days to rest up during the whirlwind speaking engagements. However, when I come back I want to spend some time with you.

I will try to write more but I am trying to dig out from hundreds of emails and more work than I can ever expect to accomplish 🙂 May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus be with you always.

Steve Ray


Steve Ray was determined to meet with me and we corresponded until almost just before his next visit to India when, all of a sudden, he reneged on his commitment. I could understand what must have happened. On his subsequent visits to India, Steve Ray avoided any mention of interreligious dialogue and ecumenism.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles. No lay person can preach anywhere in India (it’s either the bishops or the powerful leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal who control what Catholics get to hear) if he or she is critical of the liberal hierarchy and speaks the whole truth. Steve, like all others, capitulated. If one wants a platform one has to conform to the unwritten code that preachers are expected to adhere to. One can preach anything, even a Protestant prosperity gospel, but one may under no circumstances speak on such topics as the dangers of New Age, false inculturation, false ecumenism and false interreligious dialogue.

Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India, Liturgical Abuses

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