FEBRUARY 2015/UPDATED MARCH 2015
Hindus (still) believe that inculturation is a Catholic ploy to convert them
Now if this “inculturation” matter were not so frightfully serious an issue, I would have enjoyed a hearty laugh at the terribly mistaken apprehensions of our Hindu brothers and sisters.
I cannot decide which would be more difficult for me: to allay the concerns of our Hindu friends about their fear of our intention to hoodwink them into converting by our adopting and adapting their religious symbols and rituals into our lives and liturgy, or to convince my Catholic confreres that the Indian Church is already fairly Hinduized, and that for the vast majority of clergy (bishops as well as priests) and religious, proselytization or evangelization is the last thing on their minds.
I have argued — with evidence — on this issue in a large number of articles and reports that I have published since over a decade and a half, all of which are available on our web site.
In this report, I will reproduce from some of them to justify my contention that the Church in India is now a Hinduized one* and that Hindus have nothing to fear from the hierarchial Church other than the usurping and appropriation of their Vedic philosophies, their Sanskrit terminologies, their unique sacred music, their meditation systems, and of course, their religious rituals and symbols.
This I will do while the reader studies the 3 hindujagruti.org articles below (all emphases theirs).
Though hindujagruti.org is concerned that their spiritual property (as in “intellectual property”) is being hijacked by Christians across the denominational spectrum, I will limit my discussions to the Catholic problem (references to it are in blue colour). My comments as always are in green colour.
*I have provided the links to a few of the related files on our web site on pages 9 through 11.
For Establishment of the Hindu Rashtra
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti
Christian missionaries target every single component of Hindu society
By B.R. Haran, January 25, 2015, Magh shuklapaksha Saptami, Kaliyug Varsh 5116
Religious conversion has been a subject of dispute for ages and the Church has been well-known for conversion activities to spread Christianity throughout the world in its pursuit of souls for harvesting. It mostly follows the strategies of allurement and pressure to convert the people following other religions.
However, the most potent weapon in its armoury has been inculturation.
The Church uses the process of inculturation with an aim to adopt the well-established Hindu cultural practices to confuse, corrupt and change the minds of the gullible masses.
Scheming Sadhus, Shastris, Maamis and Iyers
The Church, which focused on harvesting Scheduled Castes and Most Backward Classes in the beginning, has also started concentrating on the upper echelons of the Hindu society. The days of boasting that “All are equal in the eyes of God” are over. Now they target each and every caste and convert them. The employees in media houses, workers in cinema and small-screen industries, and Hindus working in Christian institutions have become vulnerable to conversion attempts. Of late, special attention is being shown to the Brahmin community. ‘Sadhu Chellappa’
is a notorious figure attired in saffron, started a dubious outfit called ‘Christian Brahmin Seva Samiti’.
His modus operandi is distortion of Hindu scriptures to advance Christianity. He says he became a Christian as per the order of Jesus and travelled throughout the state converting thousands of Hindus to Christianity. He became a full time evangelist in 1974 and founded the Agni Ministries. Since 1982, he has been running a Tamil monthly magazine, “Agni,” for Tamil people worldwide.
Sadhu Chellappa’s ‘Agni Ministries’ (AM) is governed by “Evangelical Action Team of India” (EATI), founded by him in 1980 in Coimbatore. EATI concentrates on conversion activities in the guise of services in Education and Health. The main objective of EATI and AM is to Plant Churches and Harvest Souls, for which purpose they recruit Pastors and Evangelists and conduct training courses for them.
Sadhu Chellappaa audaciously claims, “Diwali, the festival of lights, is a Christian Festival; animal sacrifice is a Christian culture adopted by Hindus and Gayatri Mantra actually glorifies Jesus.
The Vedas, the ancient Indian sacred writings had anticipated the coming of Christ to take away the sins of man. They call Him Purusha Prajapati the creator God who would come as a man to offer himself as a sacrifice. Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Vedic quest of the Indian people, because the Vedas are incomplete without Him, just as the Old Testament was fulfilled at the coming of the Messiah”.
He uses the services of another convert Vedanayagam, who brazenly calls himself ‘Pujya Sri Bhagavathar Vedanayagam Sastrigal’. Both of them organize evangelical sessions in the guise of “Kathaakaalakshebam” and hoodwink gullible Hindus. They focus on poor and lower middle class Brahmins, who are ignorant and have poor knowledge of their religious scriptures. Most have personal and financial problems which make them vulnerable to the Chellappas and Vedanayagams. (1)
Now we have a new breed of evangelists, who also have special expertise in inculturation techniques. Suseela Ragunathan is a Brahmin convert and she is an office-bearer in Christian Brahmin Seva Samithi.
She identifies herself as ‘Suseela Maami Ragunathan’ and conducts evangelical congregations. Another evangelist by name Mani claims to have suffered a lot as a Brahmin Priest and had a turning point in life after converting to Christianity. He is a full time evangelist now identifying himself as Brother Mani Iyer.
Christianising Hindu Festivals
Christianising native festivals of non-Christian nations is a part of inculturation, which is the time tested modus operandi of the Church to increase their harvest of souls. The Roman Catholic Church has been focusing on Pongal for quite some time. The reason may be attributed to the fact that the festival falls in January within days immediately after Christmas and New Year celebrations. The Church effectively uses its control over Dravidian Parties to Christianise Hindu traditions.
In the seventies, the Karunanidhi government fixed Thiruvalluvar’s birthday on the second day of Tamil Month ‘Thai’ (16 January). Later in 2007, the Karunanidhi government changed the Tamil New Year from the month of Chithirai to Thai through an ordinance. (2)
Diwali, the festival of lights, is a Christian Festival
On the same year at the same time, the DMK government inaugurated a government sponsored festival by name “Sangamam” conceived by a Christian NGO by name Tamil Maiyam founded by Father Jegath Gaspar Raj and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi. This festival would start with Christmas and end with Pongal. The government roped in all the folk arts and folk music into the Sangamam festival notwithstanding the inclusion of Classical Music and Dance.
(Fr. Jegath) Gaspar (Raj)
A new concept called “Samathuva Pongal” (Egalitarian Pongal) was introduced in which, Pongal was celebrated within the church premises, wherein people from all religions were made to participate. Though a few Muslims participated in such festivities, they never yielded to the idea of making Pongal inside the mosques. Even the Christian clergy allowed the celebration only within their premises and not inside the church. (3)
The recent addition to the Pongal festivities was the fable of ‘Martyr Devasahayam Pillai’ attempting to place his death anniversary alongside Pongal. As B.R. Gauthaman, Director of Vedic Science Research Center observes, “Many Christian festivals have been so “created” in line with the festivals of the local people. In the process, the reasons behind these festivals and the cultural identities in the minds of the locals have all but been annihilated, for which history bears testimony. By keeping the date of the death of Devasahayam Pillai conveniently open, it is amply clear that the ‘Devasahayam Pillai Festival’ too has been craftily created by the Church to destroy the ancient tradition of celebrating Pongal. (4)
Backed by the Church and funded by foreign sources, many Christian organisations make well-planned short-duration documentaries after distorting Hindu scriptures to suit their convenience. For example, “Ashathoma Sath Kamaya” is a movie uploaded on YouTube in ten parts. It is produced by “Prarthanalaya Church.” Though this movie was initially rejected by the Censor Board, the said Church distributed it far and wide illegally as a documentary. Kamal Hasan’s elder brother Charu Hasan who allegedly converted to Christianity, plays the lead role in the movie.
This clearly shows their agenda of using the Hindu festival only to convert gullible people. Many Christian organizations like ‘Jesus Redeems Production’ produced documentaries on “Christian Pongal” with traditional Hindu dance forms and distributed them, apart from releasing them on YouTube. (5)
In fact, Christianising Hindu dance forms have been going on for more than two decades. Institutes like Kalai Kaviri have been doing precisely that. In due course, many other organizations have come up both within and outside India. For example, Tamil Catholic Chaplaincy of Germany is one such organisation which celebrated Tamil Christian Festivals using Hindu classical music like Carnatic and dance forms like Bharathanatyam. (6)
Evangelists like Sadhu Chellappa, focusing on urban India and the high echelons of society, are already on the job of Christianising festivals like Deepavali, as noted earlier. Sadhu Chellappa waxes eloquent on YouTube on how “Hinduism came from Bible” (7)
Now, if this claim of Sadhu Chellappa is placed along with the claim of Swami Purnachaitanya of Art of Living that Krishna Dwaipayana (Sage Vyasa) was born as Jesus to Virgin Mary and spent 12 years of his life (untold in the Bible) in Mylapore (later confirmed by St. Thomas), one can understand the enormity of evil webs spinning around Hindu Dharma.
Art of Living
Backed by the Church and funded by foreign sources, many Christian Organisations make well-planned short-duration documentaries after distorting Hindu scriptures to suit their convenience. For example, “Ashathoma Sath Kamaya” is a movie uploaded on YouTube in ten parts. It is produced by “Prarthanalaya Church.” Though this movie was initially rejected by the Censor Board, the said Church distributed it far and wide illegally as a documentary. Kamal Hasan’s elder brother Charu Hasan who allegedly converted to Christianity, plays the lead role in the movie.
One can find several clippings in the same name “Asatoma Sadgamaya” in different languages, underlining the fact that evangelical outfits focus on all states across the country. (8)
Several such outfits indulge in distorting Hindu scriptures to suit the Biblical themes and upload clippings and documentaries on YouTube. They produce longer and shorter documentaries and sell and distribute DVD copies. Scores of Christian Evangelical TV channels operate across the country indulging in distortion and denigration of Hindu Dharma. These organizations rope in converted film actors, TV artists and other such celebrities to air “testimonials”, which are spread through YouTube and other social media.(9)
The Bible with an Indian Touch
While the evangelists masquerade as “Sadhus and Sanyasis”, and the organizations and ministries distort Hindu scriptures and produce documentaries, the Roman Catholic Church came out with a most outrageous ‘New Community Bible’ christened as the “Indian Bible,” which included sacred verses from the Ithihasas, Gita, Vedas and Upanishads.
This hybrid Bible depicted Virgin Mary barefoot, wearing a sari and sporting a bindi on her forehead, a naked baby Jesus on one shoulder, standing beside Joseph clad in loincloth and turban. It was released in June 2008. The hybrid Bible was reportedly conceived in the 1980s. The Indian Catholic clergy deputed over 20 experts on Christianity and Indian Religions to devise a commentary that would help Indian converts – the end product was the so-called “Indian Bible”! The Catholic Bishops Conference of India approved it and Vatican blessed the initiative. (10)
Religious conversion has been a subject of dispute for ages and the Church has been well-known for conversion activities to spread Christianity throughout the world in its pursuit of souls for harvesting. It mostly follows the strategies of allurement and pressure to convert the people following other religions. However, the most potent weapon in its armoury has been inculturation. The Church uses the process of inculturation with an aim to adopt the well-established Hindu cultural practices to confuse, corrupt and change the minds of the gullible masses.
The Church has started setting up Hindu “type” of buildings and calling them as ‘Ashrams’ controlled by ‘Saffron robed’ Padres, projecting themselves as ‘Swamijis’. The Hindu style of architecture, construction, layout and interior designs are being followed. The buildings also have the Sanskrit ‘Om’ symbol in front of them and the saffronised Padres claim that Om is not Hindu, but Vedic!
Some Churches also sculpture the statues of Jesus in ‘meditating’ posture, Jesus sitting cross-legged on a lotus with ‘Abaya Hastha Mudra’, Jesus emerging after a purification bath in Ganges and they even claim that yoga and meditation are not connected to Hinduism and that they are universal, common to all religions.
• Jesus is placed on par with Bhagwan Krishna (we have seen our own “Corporate Gurus” making such claims) and the Church has even gone to the extent of showcasing Jesus riding a chariot like Krishna. (See page 2 –Michael)
• The ‘Ashtothram’ and ‘Sahasra Naamam’ (108 and 1008 names) have also been prepared for performing ‘Archana’ on Jesus and ‘Aarti’ is also being performed.
• Several Churches have started installing “Dwajasthambams” in the front yard, similar to Hindu Temples.
See HINDU FLAG POLE AT CATHEDRAL OF ST THOMAS IN MADRAS-MYLAPORE ARCHDIOCESE
• The seemingly deliberate setting up of ‘Mary shrines’ in street corners, next to ‘Vinayaga’ enclosures / small temples, is a concerted effort to replace ‘Goddess Mariamman’ from the scheme of things as they exist now. Evangelists have been seen brazenly telling the village people that Mary (Mother) and Mari (Amman) are one and the same. During festival times one can find digital banners in the Santhome area of Chennai city near Marina Beach, claiming Mary as ‘Thiru Mayilai Annai’ (Mother of Mylapore), while the true ‘Thiru Mayilai Annai’ is Goddess Karpagambaal of Kapaaleeshwarar Temple.
• The whole world knows that ‘Girivalam’ (Circumambulation of Hill Temples) is being performed at Thiruvannamalai every ‘Pournami’ (Full Moon Day). Now, the same practice has been started by churches at many places after erecting a huge Cross and a Prayer House on various hillocks. A church on the hillock at a place called Acharapakkam near Melmaruvaththur Adi Parashakthi Temple is a classic example for Christian Girivalam. (11)
• The Church has adopted every Hindu practice and the only thing left is the replacement of ‘Hindu Murthis’ with Jesus and Mary statues, which is most likely to happen anytime if this inculturation continues. Churches claim that this concept of inculturation has been aimed at bridging the divide between the Indian cultural experience and the Western character of Christianity.
• Every Hindu symbol and every Hindu practice is being Christianised with an evil motive of de-Hinduising this society and the nation. This is creating havoc in the psyche of the Hindu majority provoking it beyond the limits of tolerance. Obviously the generic Church is scoring brownie points over the privilege of “propagation” given to the minorities in the Constitution.
• Nehru’s refusal to table the Niyogi Commission Report and the spinelessness of successive governments to enact laws banning conversions have resulted in huge territories of India getting Christianised rapidly. The North-east and Goa are lost totally; almost 50 per cent of Kerala is now Christian; Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu have become the focus areas of missionaries and rampant conversions are taking place even as we speak.
The only remedy lies in bringing a Constitutional Amendment. At present, the Constitution ensures Freedom to practice and propagate religion and certainly doesn’t grant the right to convert others. Article-2′, which ensures freedom of religion, is subject to public order, morality and health. But, the process of inculturation being practiced by the Church now violates all of these, and calls for a total ban on such attempts and a legislation of a central anti-conversion Law. Also, the Constitution must be amended, so as to remove the word ‘propagate’, which is deviously used by the Church. The minorities must be allowed only to practice their religion and not to preach or propagate.
• To start with, the Centre must enact a blanket ban on inculturation with stringent punishments for violators. If at all the generic Church wants to sell Jesus in India, let them try to sell him with their own testaments. Let them not steal Hindu scriptures, symbols and rituals shamelessly.
I once again affirm, as I have repeatedly done in several of my earlier reports, that I am NOT judging or condemning the adherents of other faiths such as Hinduism, or saying that their deities are demons. People of other religious persuasions are worshiping God according to their upbringing, knowledge and consciences.
Read IS THERE NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH? AND “PRO MULTIS”
RELATIONSHIP TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
But for Catholic Christians to adopt the philosophies, symbols and practices of such religions is to violate the First Commandment and apart from being grievously sinful, that could lead to serious consequences in this life itself as well as in the next. These aspects too have been stressed repeatedly in many of my reports.
Immediately concerning some of the issues raised in the above article:
1. This “Catholic priest” Jegath Gaspar Raj claims that he owns two Hindu temples and, using Catholic resources and at a cost of millions of rupees, he produces a CD that praises the Hindu deity Shiva. See:
FR JEGATH GASPAR RAJ-IN PRAISE OF SHIVA-PRIEST INVESTS RS 15 MILLION, FLOATS COMPANY WORTH RS 100 CRORES
FR JEGATH GASPAR RAJ-IN PRAISE OF SHIVA-SUMMARY
FR JEGATH GASPAR RAJ-IN PRAISE OF SHIVA-LETTER TO THE BISHOPS
FR JEGATH GASPAR RAJ-IN PRAISE OF SHIVA-RESPONSES TO THE REPORT
2. The charge of “Institutes like Kalai Kaviri … Tamil Catholic Chaplaincy of Germany … using Hindu Classical Music like Carnatic and Dance forms like Bharathanatyam” is also completely justified.
Bharatanatyam dance is performed by priests and at the Holy Mass.
The emeritus archbishop of Madras-Mylapore Most Rev. A.M. Chinnappa is a proponent of Carnatic music.
DANCING AND BHARATANATYAM IN THE MASS
BHARATANATYAM AT HOLY MASS AT CATHEDRAL OF ST THOMAS IN MADRAS-MYLAPORE ARCHDIOCESE
HINDU RELIGIOUS MARK ON THE FOREHEAD 18-BHARATANATYAM-DANCING PRIESTS WEAR
THE HINDUISATION OF MUSIC IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
3. “The Bible with an Indian Touch” refers to the St Pauls New Community Bible (NCB), 2008.
It has been described as a “New Age”, syncretized, “Hinduised” bible because of some of its commentaries.
Our web site presently has 26 reports on this so-called Bible beginning with a critique and a crusade demanding its withdrawal. It has recently come out in its second avatar (First Revised Edition) and a report on it has been published subsequent to a comparison of its commentaries etc. with the original 2008 edition.
I present here the titles and links of the first and last of our 27 (till date) reports:
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 01-A CRITIQUE
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 26-RESPONSES TO REVISED EDITION NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CATHOLICS
4. “The Church has started setting up Hindu “type” of buildings and calling them as ‘Ashrams’ controlled by ‘Saffron robed’ Padres, projecting themselves as ‘Swamijis’. The Hindu style of architecture, construction, layout and interior designs are being followed. The buildings also have the Sanskrit ‘Om’ symbol in front of them and the saffronised Padres claim that Om is not Hindu, but Vedic! Some Churches also sculpture the statues of Jesus in ‘meditating’ posture, Jesus sitting cross-legged on a lotus with ‘Abaya Hastha Mudra’, Jesus emerging after a purification bath in Ganges and they even claim that yoga and meditation are not connected to Hinduism and that they are universal, common to all religions.”
In this charge, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has lumped together several aberrations, namely, the Catholic Ashrams movement and their “gurus” or “swami” priests, Hindu-style architecture (the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre or NBCLC in Bangalore is a prime example), the Catholic adoption of the Hindu religious symbol and mantra, the “OM”, and the philosophy and practice of yoga meditation.
They have not included a number of others such as the use of the bindi or tilak on the forehead, the erection of dwaja sthambams in churches, the practice of Surya Namaskar or sun worship by Catholics, etc. Our web site has a large number of articles and reports on all of these; selected titles and links are provided below:
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS AND THE CAMALDOLI BENEDICTINES
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS AND THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL
DHARMA BHARATHI-NEW AGE IN CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
FR VARGHESE ALENGADEN-UNIVERSAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT
CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
CATHOLIC YOGA HAS ARRIVED
DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-05
FR ADRIAN MASCARENHAS-YOGA AT ST PATRICK’S CHURCH BANGALORE
FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-NEW AGE ENDORSED BY THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY AND THE CBCI
FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
FR JOHN FERREIRA-YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA
FR JOHN VALDARIS-NEW AGE CURES FOR CANCER
IS BISHOP DABRE FORMER CHAIRMAN DOCTRINAL COMMISSION A PROPONENT OF YOGA
NEW AGE GURUS 01-SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR-THE ‘ART OF LIVING’
PAPAL CANDIDATE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA
VISHAL JAGRITI MAGAZINE PULLS YOGA SERIES OF FR FRANCIS CLOONEY
YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE
AN INDIAN CATHOLIC’S PROBLEMS WITH THE CONDEMNATION OF YOGA ARE ADDRESSED
TRUTH, LIES AND YOGA-ERROL FERNANDES
WAS JESUS A YOGI? SYNCRETISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE-ERROL FERNANDES
YOGA AND DELIVERANCE
YOGA IS SATANIC-EXORCIST FR GABRIELE AMORTH
YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAY ABOUT IT
YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT?
CHANTING OF MANTRAS
EXORCISTS WARN AGAINST USE OF YOGA MANTRAS
MANTRAS, ‘OM’ OR ‘AUM’ AND THE GAYATRI MANTRA
MANTRAS YOGA WCCM CHRISTIAN MEDITATION ETC-EDDIE RUSSELL
THE HINDU MARK ON THE FOREHEAD
BINDI OR TILAK MARK ON THE FOREHEAD-INDIAN OR HINDU?
HINDU RELIGIOUS MARK ON THE FOREHEAD 01-PRIEST WEARS
(plus 21 more in the series)
CARDINAL IVAN DIAS LIGHTS A LAMP FOR THE HINDU DEITY GANESHA
FR ANTHONY DE MELLO-WRITINGS BANNED BY THE CHURCH
HABEMUS PAPAM INDIANUM-WE HAVE AN INDIAN PONTIFF
INCULTURATION OF THE LITURGY AND SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM-JON ANDERSON-AND MY RESPONSE
INDIAN CLERGY OBSESSED WITH THE HINDU DEITY GANESHA
INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE 01-POPE BENEDICT XVI
INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE 02-GOA CATHOLICS OPPOSE
IS HOLY COMMUNION EQUIVALENT TO PRASADAM-IS IT SAFE FOR CATHOLICS TO CONSUME PRASADAM
IS THE SYRO MALABAR CHURCH NOW OPENLY PROMOTING ITS HINDUISATION?
LOTUS AND THE CROSS-THE HINDUISATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA
MAY CATHOLICS CELEBRATE THE FESTIVAL OF HOLI?
MOTHER TERESA AT PRAYER IN A BUDDHIST TEMPLE
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA 01
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA 02
PILAR PRIEST FR PETER CARDOZO VENERATES THE HINDU DEITY GANESHA
SONIA GANDHI-CATHOLIC OR HINDU?
TAMIL NADU CLERGY VENERATE THE HINDU DEITY GANESHA
THE GOLDEN SHEAF-A COLLECTION OF ARTICLES DEALING WITH ECCLESIASTICAL ABERRATIONS
THE HINDUISATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH-IMAGES
THE ONGOING ROBBERY OF FAITH-FR P K GEORGE
THE PAGANISATION OF THE LITURGY IN INDIA-C B ANDRADE
THE PAGANIZED CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA-VICTOR J F KULANDAY
THE ST PIUS X SEMINARY CELEBRATES HINDU DEITY GANESHA
WHY INDIAN CATHOLICS DO NOT WANT AN INDIAN POPE
5. Are Catholics celebrating Pongal as claimed by the Hindu organisation?
Yes, they very much are. See
MAY CATHOLICS CELEBRATE THE HARVEST FESTIVAL OF PONGAL
For Establishment of the Hindu Rashtra
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti
Christian inculturation of Hinduism is religious prostitution
January 27, 2015
17 December 2014, Rev. Govada Dyvasirvadam, Church of South India Moderator has said, “Controversies such as the aborted Aligarh mass conversion deserve criticism and the politics behind it abhorred for it is creating fissures in the nation’s religious harmony. Every Indian is free to embrace the faith which he/she believes in. Most Christians in this nation are a product of group conversions conducted by missionaries who arrived in these shores several centuries earlier. So, we are not against conversion. But instances like Aligarh seem deliberately magnified by political outfits and such things deserve criticism” (1).
It seems for Govada Dyvasirvadam, the “Home Coming” ceremonies conducted by Hindu organizations are “controversies” while the mass conversions conducted by Christian evangelical outfits are “voluntary embracing” of faith by those converted. Though he has admitted the fact that the Christians in India are products of mass conversions happened centuries ago, he has conveniently forgotten to admit the other fact that the Christian establishments continue the same strategies conceived and executed by the European missionaries who arrived in Indian shores five centuries earlier.
As the nation has started a debate on conversions in the aftermath of the ‘Ghar Vapsi’ event in Agra, and since Govada Dyvasirvadam audaciously attempts to criticize the “Ghar Vapsi” programs while deliberately hiding the illegal conversions indulged in by evangelical outfits, it would be in order to take a critical look at Inculturation, an ugly strategy being adopted by the Church, which poses a huge threat to the peace and harmony. In fact, Inculturation happens to be the most potent weapon of the Church to convert non-Christians.
Sample of Inculturation
Om Shri Yesu Bhagavate, Namah
Om Shri Deva Putraya Namah
Om Shri Sat Purushaya Namah
Om Shri Yesu Abbishiktaya Namah
Om Shri Sad Guruve Namah
Om Shri Taraneshaya Namah….
Amen. You are the Fullness of Reality, One without a second, Being, Knowledge, Bliss! Om, Tat, Sat!
Celebrant: This is the Bread that came down from Heaven; whoever eats this Bread will never die.
This is the cup of immortal nectar; whoever drinks of this cup will live forever.
For the Lord says, “He will have eternal Life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Do you believe this?
Congregation: Yes, Lord, we believe, for you have the words of eternal Life.
Naamajapa (After taking Communion)
Jesu Om, Jesu Om . . .
Iswara, Iswara . . .
OM! The Supreme Lord may protect us all.
The Supreme Lord may diffuse the fruits of knowledge upon us.
May we find the strength to achieve highest knowledge!
This study will conduct us to Truth!
May nobody of us have ever feelings against another.
OM: Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!
(See page 101 of
THE GOLDEN SHEAF-A COLLECTION OF ARTICLES DEALING WITH ECCLESIASTICAL ABERRATIONS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/THE_GOLDEN_SHEAF-A_COLLECTION_OF_ARTICLES_DEALING_WITH_ECCLESIASTICAL_ABERRATIONS.doc
and page 71 of
THE PAGANIZED CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA-VICTOR J F KULANDAY
LITURGY OF THE WORD, Order of the Mass for India -Michael)
These are excerpts taken from a complete Prayer conducted during the Order of the Mass for the Monastic Meeting in Petersham, Massachusetts in October 1977.
The occasion, convened to lay the Foundation for the formation of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue in North America, was sponsored by North American Benedictine and Cistercian Monasteries of Men and Women. Interreligious Dialogue and Inculturation are “Twin Strategies” adopted by the Church to plant the Cross all over and to Christianise non-Christian nations. The ritual shown above is just a sample of this Inculturation Technique.
What is Inculturation?
The Oxford Dictionary defines Inculturation as the gradual acquisition of the characteristics and norms of a culture or group by a person, another culture, etc. Simply put, Inculturation is the adaptation of Christian liturgy to a non-Christian cultural background.
Translation plays a vital role in Inculturation. In his paper presented at the International Conference on “Rethinking Translation” at Milwaukee on 10 June 1995, Stephen M. Beall, Ph.D., quotes the declaration made by Pope Paul VI in 1965 that, “vernacular languages had become vox ecclesi, the “voice of the Church” (EDIL482). Stephen avers that, “On the one hand, the pastors of the Church are committed to the right of Catholics to enjoy their own cultures and to pray in their own language. On the other, they feel an obligation to preserve a certain unity in the way in which all Catholics think and pray. When these values seem to come into conflict, translation becomes a controversial procedure.” Observing that the “Key” to the whole matter is “Inculturation”, Stephen defines Inculturation in the words of Aylward Shorter, as, “the creative and dynamic relationship between the Christian message and a culture or cultures”. He also quotes liturgist, Father Anscar Chupungco that, “the liturgy must think, speak, and ritualize according to the local cultural pattern.” (2) Stephen also says that, “This approach to faith and culture can be traced in part to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially Gaudium et Spes.”
The Vatican wanted the Bible to reach the non-Christians in their own language and hence applied this approach. In fact, this approach was adopted by the European Christian missionaries right from the day they landed on Indian soil.
Learn all native things
Culturally and religiously strong India was a challenge to the European missionaries. Very soon after landing in India, they realized that their evangelical activities would not bear fruits without the help of the native languages. By learning the native languages and getting to know about the native literatures, they could understand the cultural and religious traditions being practiced by the native people. This in turn helped them to devise different strategies for conversion.
Learning of the native languages helped them in two ways. First, they could translate the native literatures into their European languages and sent them to their masters, so that, they could realise the extent of manpower, money power and political power needed to destroy this ancient culture and convert a spiritually strong India. Secondly, they could translate Bible in vernacular languages, which helped them to reach the native people more comfortably.
Inculturation is the adaptation of Christian liturgy to a non-Christian cultural background.
Starting from the 16th century, Christian aggression slowly spread to many parts of India. The Portuguese, Dutch, French, German and British establishments landed in places such as Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bengal and the North-East, etc., in the guise of trade and missions, started encroaching fast and armed invasions followed suit.
Padres as Brahmins, Munivars and Iyers
The man who laid the foundation of inculturation was the Italian priest Robert de Nobili (1577-1656). He learnt Sanskrit and Tamil, wore saffron robes, sacred thread (a small Cross attached to it!) and sandal mark on forehead and called himself a ‘Roman Brahmin’. He set up an “Ashram” in Madurai, became a vegetarian and wore “Pathukas” (wooden footwear). He claimed the Bible was the “Lost Veda”, the “Jesuit Veda” revealed by God, and was considerably successful in harvesting souls. Nobili is supposed to have written some 15 books apart from preparing a Portuguese-Tamil Dictionary. He is credited with the insertion of many Biblical terms in Tamil.
Following his footsteps, Italian missionary Constantine Joseph Beschi (1680-1746), called himself Veeramaamunivar (Veer-Maha-Munivar) to pretend he was a great lover of Tamil. Outwardly conducting himself like a Hindu sanyasi, he took care of the conversion business in the districts of Trichy, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli and Thanjavur. He built three churches, Poondi Matha Shrine in Thanjavur, Periyanayaki Matha Shrine in Cuddalore and Adaikala Matha Shrine in Elakurichi near Trichy. His work on a biography of St. Joseph, Thembaavani, was hyped as a great work and projected as equivalent to Kambar’s Ramayana! He also came out with another work, Paramartha Guruvum Avarin Seedarkalum (Paramartha Guru and his Disciples), to ridicule our centuries old ‘Guru-sishya parampara.’
In the same period, a German missionary Barthalomaus Ziegenbalg (1683-1719) also worked in Tamil Nadu and called himself Ziegenbalg Iyer. This Protestant priest landed in Tranquebar (Tharangampaadi) in 1706 and worked with a Danish company which was the first to bring German printing machines to Tamil Nadu. He printed the first Tamil Bible (New Testament). He was the first to stoke anti-Brahmanism by creating a hatred for Brahmins among other communities.
Next in the list of Christian priests who “served” the cause of Tamil was another ‘Iyer’ – G.U. Pope (1820-1907) or ‘Pope Iyer.’ He translated a few Tamil literary works such as Thiruvaachakam, Thirukkural and Naaladiyaar, and said he could find the teachings of Apostle St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi in Sri Maanickavaachakar’s Thiruvaachakam.
Another missionary who inflicted massive damage on Tamil Hindus was the Scot Robert Caldwell (1814-1891) who, along with his wife Elissa Mault, resided in Tirunelveli and made huge conversions. Though he did not indulge in inculturation, he sowed the poisonous seed called Dravidian racism. He fully utilised the Aryan-Dravidian theories concocted by German linguist Max Mueller and imposed them on Tamil Hindus as true history. He abused the word ‘Dravida’ to the hilt and projected Tamil Hindus as a separate Dravidian Race.
Nowhere in ancient Tamil literature does the word ‘Dravidian’ exist; there was a Christian agenda of dividing the native people behind Caldwell’s coining the term ‘Dravidian’. While the British Government used the Aryan-Dravidian theory to divide and rule the nation, the Church used it to conquer the languages and destroy the culture in order to Christianise the nation. (3)
The Aryan-Dravidian racist theory propounded by the Christian padres and the British Government came in handy for the stalwarts of Dravidian Movement to call for a separate Tamil Nation. For all Dravidian racist leaders like EVR, Annadurai and Karunanidhi, Robert Caldwell was (and is) a “God;” they utilized his Dravidian theories to the hilt calling for a separate Tamil Nation.
Make no mistake, “Tamil separatism” is a Christian agenda and the Church has a long term plan of forming a Tamil Christian Nation with Tamil Nadu and North and East Sri Lanka. With this objective, the Church supported the LTTE and its Tamil Eelam demand. Dravidian racist leaders’ chauvinistic campaign against “Aryan-Brahmins”, well supported by the Church, helped them to capture power in Tamil Nadu in 1967 and till date no nationalist party could dislodge them from the seat of power.
In the last 47 years of Dravidian rule, one can find a clear nexus between the Church and the ruling party. No wonder the Dravidian government glorified the above said Christian missionaries by installing statues for them along the Marina beach! Whether it is fixing of Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary in the month of January, or shifting of Tamil New Year to January, or ‘secularising’ the Hindu Festival of Pongal, one can always find a Christian push behind such Dravidian acts.
Motivated lies on Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural
G.U. Pope translated and published Sage Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural in 1886. There is an ancient folklore that Thiruvalluvar was friends with a naval captain by name Yelaela Singan and used to meet him often at the beaches of Mylapore. G.U. Pope relied on this story and the concoction that Thomas converted a large number of families in and around Mylapore. He then gave an introduction to his Thirukkural translation as follows:
“Thiruvalluvar worked hard to acquire knowledge by all means. Whenever a ship anchored in Mylapore coast, Valluvar’s ‘Captain’ friend would send him message about the arrival of new visitors including foreigners. Many foreigners could have travelled in his friend’s vessel and landed in Mylapore via Sri Lanka. Within me I see the picture of Thiruvalluvar talking with the Christians gathering information and knowledge. He has gathered a lot of Christian theories in general and the minute details of Alexandrian principles in particular and incorporated them in his Thirukkural. The philosophy of Christian theories from the Church situated near Valluvar’s place is present clearly in Thirukkural. Thiruvalluvar lived between 800 AD and 1000 AD. The Christian Biblical works were certainly an evidence for Valluvar’s Thirukkural. He was certainly inspired by the Bible.” (4)
This sordid introduction to his translated work shows G.U. Pope’s fanatic mindset and the ulterior motive behind his “love” for Tamil language and literature!
For Establishment of the Hindu Rashtra
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti
Atrocity literature as a tool to defang Hindus and Christianize India
By Sandeep Balakrishna, January 20, 2015, Pousha Krushna paksha Chaturdashi, Kaliyug Varsh 5116
The “all religions are equal” syndrome amongst Hindus – Rajesh Patel
The first evangelists who set foot in India undertook a painstaking process of studying every single aspect of the Hindu society and identified practices, traditions, heritage, heroes, languages, grammar, laws, epics, prose, poetry, puppetry, sculpture, art, painting, dance, and drama that glued it together. And then they developed elaborate strategies to unglue the Hindu society. These strategies were multi-pronged, ranging from outright abuse of Hindu gods and goddesses, modes of worship, practices etc., to showing that their “roots” actually lay in Christianity.
As we see today, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams!
That the Christian Church has been one of the foreign policy arms of Western powers since the colonial era is a given. As we witness geopolitical developments around the world today, we notice that this selfsame policy has remained unchanged. From denying the US visa to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to triggering protests against developmental and nuclear energy projects in India, the global Christian network continues to wreak havoc across the world from Africa to Asia.
With unlimited funds at its disposal and both covert and overt support of powerful Western Governments, the global Evangelical industry uses every trick in the book to subvert regimes and cause irreparable damage to societies. And it is this last point that needs urgent attention as far as India is concerned.
As we see over the last six decades, perfectly harmonious social equations have been violently disrupted the moment missionaries have succeeded in weaning away enough numbers into the Christian fold. The Rwandan genocide is the best example of this in recent times. The present condition of almost the entire North East is another classic case. Odisha continues to boil under Church-sponsored and engineered social disruptions. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu seem all set to follow Odisha’s lead.
Introduction to Atrocity or Outrage Literature
One of the more effective techniques that the global Evangelical nexus adopts to push its agenda both on the global and local stages is to generate what is known as Atrocity or Outrage Literature.
Atrocity or Outrage Literature can be defined as material – including written, audio and video – produced by the global Christian network that highlights and exaggerates historical, social, political, ideological and other fault lines in non-Christian societies with the deliberate aims to show how:
• These societies are backward, regressive and in a state of perpetual internal conflict.
• Only Christianity has the means and equipment to end such conflict and rescue these societies.
• There is a need for political intervention from powerful white-Christian Western countries to aid the work of these Evangelicals.
The first and only aim of Atrocity or Outrage literature is to completely Christianize non-Christian nations. Both missionary activities on the ground and the generation of atrocity literature go hand in hand. In a way, atrocity literature is both a subset of and a companion to hard core evangelical literature.
History of Atrocity Literature
To be sure, Atrocity or Outrage Literature isn’t a new phenomenon. It has a history of nearly four hundred years in India and elsewhere as we shall see.
Today, the average Hindu is woefully ill-informed and/or ignorant about almost every aspect of his/her own religion and there is no dearth of well-meaning Hindus who subscribe to the “all religions are equal” screed.
Nehruvianism as a destructive force
Even worse, the post-Independence political and economic policies of India has opened up the entire Hindu society as a vast and fertile field for Christian conversions. The blame for this singularly lies at the doorstep of the double-blow that Jawaharlal Nehru dealt to Hindu society: his state policy was designed to place Hindus at a disadvantage in religious, legal and social domains given his advertised disdain for Hinduism. His economic policies impoverished millions of Hindus who, faced with a hunger crisis, converted to Christianity which was open about bribing destitute Hindus with money, education and healthcare in exchange. Thus, Swami Vivekananda’s words that “you cannot preach philosophy to an empty stomach” strikes us as extraordinarily clairvoyant when we recall them now. The same clairvoyance was also reflected in his brutally honest as well shall see at the end of this essay:
“[Hindus] shall otherwise decrease in numbers. When the Mohammedans first came, we are said – I think on the authority of Ferishta, the oldest Mohammedan historian – to have been six hundred millions of Hindus. Now we are about two hundred millions. And then every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more.” [Prabhuddha Bharata April 1899]
Colonial discourse on India as an enduring success
One of the earliest and enduring successes of atrocity literature remains in the domain of caste. It has now become an article of faith to blame almost every negative aspect and/or problems of Hindu society on caste, specifically Brahmins.
For example, the All India Christian Council (AICC), which often allies itself with Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) – an organization run by white Evangelical Christians – produces a distorted version of India’s so-called caste system and exaggerates caste atrocities. The recent “success” of the DFN is the successful passage of the anti-caste legislation in the British Parliament. And this legislation is derived directly from the same colonial narrative on caste. And a key member of the AICC is John Dayal who has a history of working against India.
The other domain that the Evangelical machinery has successfully exploited happens to be the status of Hindu women. The early days of colonialism witnessed narratives of how the socio-religious practices of the natives like idol-worship and nature worship were identified with Satanism which victimised women and children. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy’s powerful rebuttals – most notably, in his Status of Indian women and Indian images with many arms – highlight the mischiefs in this Church-inspired narrative. Equally, Veena Oldenberg’s book Dowry Murder gives detailed instances of British officials encouraging Indians to narrate dowry cases in an exaggerated fashion in order to pin the blame on the native culture. Today’s aggressive feminist literature and laws unjustly favouring women are direct holdovers of this narrative.
More fundamentally, the Church-inspired atrocity literature against non-Christian cultures in the world from the early days of colonialism share a few common characteristics:
•In the early days of colonialism, around the 17th and 18th Century, the European settlers portrayed the natives of the Americas, Africa and Asia as primitive savages who needed to be civilised by God-fearing Christians.
•All conflicts between colonisers and natives were presented as clashes between native barbarism and civilised Christians. This narrative justified the brutalities inflicted upon the colonised natives.
•These narratives eventually went mainstream and justified racist theories like the Aryan Invasion Theory and the White Man’s Burden. These theories were therefore taken as the justification for their own colonialism because they were “saving” the oppressed Dravidians from the Aryans.
•While the oppressed natives were shown as barbaric, the Western colonisers saw their own ills like racism, misogyny, and slavery as incongruities that can be corrected.
Much later, when the mirror was shown to the justifiers of colonialism, they mounted their defence in the form of whitewashing colonial brutalities – racism, misogyny and slavery – as mere “incongruities that can be corrected” while continuing to uphold the Church-inspired discourse on Dalits and tribals.
Dalit discourse Christianized
The selfsame DFN and AICC in many instances, use the Aryan-Dravidian clash to paint a gruesome picture of Dalits being brutalised in India by the descendants of the Aryans. One of the leading proponents of this variety is Kancha Ilaiah who believes that India is a fascist state which tortures its Dalit constituents. Other proponents include Angana Chaterji, Gail Omvedt, V.T. Rajashekhar and Vijay Prashad. Such is the pervasive influence of this poisonous discourse that based on the DFN’s propaganda, US Congressman Edolphus Towns identified India as a theocratic tyranny.
Indeed, over at least four hundred years, atrocity literature has found its way even to fiction, plays and films. The theme of academic theories such as the White Man’s burden have been portrayed in these genres as showing that colonized countries were grateful to the colonisers for civilizing them.
Atrocity literature is one-sided
Atrocity literature is one-sided without exception in all cases. In every single case, it ignores missionary conversion attempts which lead to conflict when they are met with resistance from the local Hindu population but only acts of Hindu resistance – which sometimes lead to violence – are reported across international media and other forums as acts of Hindu fascism, and state-sponsored violence against hapless Christians.
Perhaps the best (or worst) representative example of this sub-genre of atrocity literature which was disseminated widely across the globe is in the aftermath of the 80-year old Swami Lakshmananda’s brutal murder in Kandhamal, Odisha. He was gunned down by Maoists at the behest of Evangelicals but Hindus were blamed both in the Indian and international media as committing atrocities against Christians in Odisha.
Today, a mini-sub-genre of the same atrocity literature is emerging in the form of denunciations against ghar wapsi (homecoming) initiated by many Hindu groups engaged in reconversion attempts of their Hindu brethren who were converted to Christianity or Islam by force or fraud or both.
Gujarat riots cottage industry as national security threat
If the Kandhamal discourse is representative of one type of atrocity literature, there’s yet another and bigger representative: the discourse on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
This discourse gave birth to a phenomenon for which the noted columnist Rajeev Srinivasan coined a new term: the Gujarat Riots Cottage Industry. Indeed, there was no columnist, academician, analyst, author, media outlet, filmmaker, playwright, psychoanalyst, poet, activist, NGO, mullah, and evangelist who was not a member of this cottage industry – or who did not profit from it.
To be sure, this industry was centered exclusively on demonising exactly one man: the current Prime Minister of India. The international seminar and lecture circuit was deluged by precisely these Indian suppliers of atrocity literature to the West. Among other things, such concerted efforts resulted in getting the US to deny a visa to Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
During that period, the French scholar Christophe Jafferlot was instrumental in providing significant amounts of atrocity literature about the 2002 Gujarat riots, which then flooded the Western media. Even worse, some prominent members from the Indian Christian lobby and its affiliates – Indian citizens to be sure – testified against a constitutionally elected Chief Minister on foreign soil, before the USCIRF. Members of this lobby include – but are not limited to – John Dayal, Father Cedric Prakash, Teesta Setalvad, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, and John Prabhudoss. If this was not enough, in 2013, 65 Members of the Indian Parliament wrote to Barack Obama to maintain status quo on Narendra Modi’s visa to the US. Indeed, the 2002 Gujarat riots discourse demonstrated with frightening aplomb the casual disregard for Indian sovereignty, the scary power of and the threat the Christian lobby poses for national security.
Indian vendors of atrocity literature
This then brings us to yet another dangerous aspect of atrocity literature in the present day – Indian Christian (and other) groups who regularly supply material for atrocity literature to their sponsors in the West.
Again, the AICC acts as the Indian arm of the said global Evangelical network. Even more worrying is the fact that US-based mainstream think-tanks with enormous political clout use these inputs from India to fashion the US government’s India policy. Among others, these are the notable right-wing think-tanks : The Policy Institute for Religion and State (PIFRAS), Federation of Indian Christians of North America(FIACONA), Freedom House, Asia Society (New York), RAND Corporation (which characterizes the RSS as the Hindu equivalent of Al Qaeda), and The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC).
And so the deadly and tragic history of atrocity literature which when it began, was produced exclusively by the missionaries (and used effectively by the colonial British administration), stands transformed thus today:
• It is produced in copious amounts by foreigners directly and indirectly working for or on behalf of the worldwide Evangelical machinery.
• It is produced equally in copious amounts by Indian Christians – both neo-converts and otherwise – who are Indian citizens living in India and abroad, some even working in Government and government-funded institutions, and some working actively in the pay of Evangelical organizations/NGOs of various hues.
• It is produced by Hindus – even by well-meaning Hindus – who are working in NGOs, educational institutions and other charitable/service organizations which are fronts for Evangelical work.
• It is also disseminated by Hindu organizations and media outlets which make apologies for and whitewash even genuine instances of Church brutalities and the widespread phenomenon of child abuse in the Church – all for the sake of career prospects, money, fame, influence and similar considerations.
In the end, we need to call out atrocity literature for what it really is: a determined, focused and premeditated atrocity against India’s civilizational ethos, which is Hindu first and last. As history is witness, attempts to paint it otherwise or to fail to clearly discern sophisticated attempts at deception have only resulted in greater erosion of this civilizational ethos.
As I mentioned earlier, Swami Vivekananda was extraordinarily clairvoyant.
My dozens of investigative reports establish beyond any shadow of doubt that the Catholic hierarchy is engaged in a systematic Hinduisation of all aspects of Church life, except that they euphemistically call it inculturation or adaptation. By appropriating the philosophies, symbols, rituals etc. of the majority religion, we are left with a syncretized Christianity that is equal to and as good or bad as any other religion.
Since “all religions are equal” and all religions are but different roads leading to the same Divine, the need to evangelize – to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, is effectively precluded.
The priests and nuns of the majority of religious orders are engaged in commercial activities such as the construction of community centres (that can be given out on hire), leasing out of premises to businesses and for erection of mobile telephone towers, community colleges, schools, colleges of engineering and computer technology, etc., nursing colleges, medical clinics… anything that can rake in the moolah. Catholics may constitute about 2% of the population but reportedly provide 24% of the services. Schools have even sprung up on the campuses of parish churches and the parish priests — who already have no time for their flocks except for conducting their routine church services — are even more unavailable to their people. Where then is the time and scope for them to preach the Gospel to the unreached?
Ah, but their response to those charges will always be that they are serving mankind through their centres.
Such service to the larger community, even if very commercially productive, is indeed laudable, but we all know that Catholics who are in a miniscule minority often have to compete with the Hindu majority for seats and jobs in our own institutions. Catholics who have more children are shown no special preferences during school admission or payment of heavy tuition fees. There are few Catholics who cannot relate such painful experiences of being treated as strangers in their own Church.
In my archdiocese most parish priests are rude and autocratic, and they are often as unapproachable as government officials… unless of course one has the money or connections which impress them.
My bitter experience is that almost no one of them has the time (or even inclination) for pastoral work outside of their being engaged in fund generation and the unavoidable issues related to their priestly duties.
But, I have digressed… I was reiterating that evangelization has become a four-letter word in the Church.
I reproduce below, an excerpt from my July 2008 critique on the syncretized New Community Bible (NCB) NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 01-A CRITIQUE http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_COMMUNITY_BIBLE_01-A_CRITIQUE.doc:
We wonder why there is no Documentary citation anywhere of the main mission of the Church: evangelization…
The commentator on 2 Corinthians 10 writes, “The Lord called (Paul) to evangelize the Gentiles”. (Page 2082)
Is the release of the NCB by the Society of St Paul in this Pauline year focused on that mission of evangelization by the incorporation of explanations of Gentiles’ philosophies and teachings in its commentaries?
We can reproduce hundreds of passages from the communications of the Popes, all of which call for the evangelization of Asia. Indian theologians conveniently ignore these exhortations from Rome. Why can we not be honest with ourselves and admit that there is virtually NO evangelization in India as far as the structural and hierarchial Church is concerned.
Evangelization is being carried out by and in retreat centres belonging to a few religious congregations, by individual priests, and by hundreds of lay ministries and prayer groups across the nation, all of it on their own initiatives, often with no support from the local Church, and sometimes with opposition from it.
One is reminded of the oft-quoted and most regrettable words of Mother Teresa, “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.”
The very first words of Archbishop Maria Calist Soosa Pakiam in the Preface to the NCB, page v, are, “The clear and primary mission of the Church is to transmit, in keeping with Jesus’ mandate (cf. Mt. 28: 18-20), God’s message of hope and salvation to all of humanity.”
The mandate, as copied from the NCB, reads, “Then Jesus approached them and said, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to fulfil all that I have commanded you.”
The NCB is ideal for use in inter-faith dialogue and inter-religious prayer meetings with people of non-Christian persuasions. If a particular Scripture makes them uneasy, a non-confrontational commentary, or a sharing that uses one, can reassure them that they are not being challenged by Christianity. All religions are equal.
Catholics need not be surprised. The unique and central symbol of Christianity, the Cross, has been, at one time or another, sandwiched between the symbols of other religions — including those with occult connotations like the Om and the yin/yang — on the covers of most Catholic magazines, including Archdiocesan and CBCI periodicals.
In my second report on the New Community Bible, NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 02-THE PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE, INDIAN THEOLOGIANS, AND THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_COMMUNITY_BIBLE_02-THE_PAPAL_SEMINARY_PUNE_INDIAN_THEOLOGIANS_AND_THE_CATHOLIC_ASHRAMS.doc, I wrote:
NOT opposing INDIANISATION or INCULTURATION. We are opposing
The following June 25, 2009 letter from this ministry to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City is copy-pasted from my report
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 11-VATICAN HELD RESPONSIBLE, BRAHMIN LEADERS DEMAND ITS WITHDRAWAL http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_COMMUNITY_BIBLE_11-VATICAN_HELD_RESPONSIBLE_BRAHMIN_LEADERS_DEMAND_ITS_WITHDRAWAL.doc:
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
THIS IS REGARDING YOUR RECENT VISIT TO MUMBAI, INDIA
[…]In Mumbai, India, on the 12th of June, 2009, an “inter-faith dialogue” was held between the Catholic Bishops led by Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona and Apostolic Administrator of Vasai, Bishop Gali Bali of Guntur, Bishop Felix Machado of Nashik, Bishop Raphy Manjaly of Varanasi and Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio, on the one hand, and the leaders of the Hindu faith led by the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Jayendra Saraswati, and represented by the godman Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living movement, Sudheendra Kulkarni, senior BJP member and adviser to Mr. L.K. Advani, etc. on the other.
From the pro-Hindutva media reports, the Church came across as being apologetic and on the defensive: “The Catholics did not expect HH* to hit them so hard – well revealed in their faces.”
We were asked by the Hindu leaders for our assurance on several issues ranging from desisting from (forced) conversions, to the management and disbursal of funds received by Catholic institutions. The Catholics were also asked to bring along with them the representatives of the Protestant churches — whom the Catholics have accused of being behind the forced conversions: “The Catholics denied that they are involved in conversion and it was only the Protestants who do the same. So HH* asked them to bring the Protestants for the next meeting, scheduled for December” — for the proposed follow-up meeting. One blog quotes the Sankaracharya as saying that the next such dialogue will be held only if and when the Catholic leaders meet their demands: “The next meeting like this, according to Periyava* will only happen when they do what they have agreed to do”. *The Kanchi Sankaracharya
I quote again from the kanchiforum web site. EXTRACT:
“After their Press Briefing, when question time arrived, I put a question to Cardinal Oswald Gracias: “In the Indian Community Bible released by Mumbai Catholic Church, you have included hundreds of verses from Vedas and Upanishads.
Does this not amount to steeling [sic] the intellectual property of Hindus?”
The answer given by the Cardinal was “I am not aware of this.”
P. Deivamuthu, Editor, Hindu Voice, 210 Abhinav, Teen Dongri, Yeshwant Nagar, Goregaon West, Mumbai 400062. Tel: 022-28764460, 28764418, 09324728153.”
We once again appeal to the Magisterium to take note of the genuine concerns of the people of India as well as the people of your Church, concerning the Church’s efforts in what is perceived as inter-faith dialogue and inculturation; and the erroneous New Community Bible which is both a vehicle and product of that inter-faith dialogue and inculturation.
We can achieve much more against the forces of communalism in India by walking in the Spirit than acting in the flesh.
Another extract from the same report NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 11 which proves that at these “dialogues” —remember that Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran presided over this one — Catholics are on the back foot on the issue of “inculturation”:
HH Sri Kanchi Sankaracharya’s briefing on June 12, 2009
The Points that Pujya Shankaracharya made at the inter-faith dialogue and was made into a press statement [… Points 1-10 …]
11. The Church in India must stop forthwith the use of Hindu religious words, phrases and symbols like Veda, Agama, Rishi, Ashrama, Om and other such in what is referred to as ‘inculturation’ tactics, but which are only intended to deceive the vulnerable sections of our people who are the intended targets for religious conversion. This is also insulting to and wounding the religious sensitivities of Hindus. Similarly it has been brought to our notice that some churches are scripting a new Bible for the new converts by usurping sections of our sacred Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas and incorporating them into the Bible. This must stop immediately and all such Bibles must be withdrawn from circulation. We urge the Indian government to look into the issue and do the needful.
As I said earlier in this report and also selected as its subject line, and have demonstrated with documentary evidence ad nauseam in other reports, our Hindu brothers are inarguably convinced that our “inculturation tactics” (Catholics please read this as ‘Hinduisation’) “are only intended to deceive the vulnerable sections of our people who are the intended targets for religious conversion“.
Once again I cite from my report NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 11:
INCULTURATION AND THE HYBRID BIBLE
By G. P. Srinivasan, July 07, 2009
Inculturation, as propounded by the Vatican Council II Documents, is the plan of Christians being within the folds of culture, tradition and heritage of any people, posing as faithful devotees and declare the “hidden Christ” at right moment, so that they (dubbed as heathens, infidels & unbelievers) would become “Christians”. Till such time, they have to adapt and adopt their culture and related customs, practices and manners. They even build Temple-like Churches, use Hindu symbols and paraphernalia extensively and the Christian priests roam as Hindu Sanyasis and Sadhus. By the Vatican Directive Prot. N. 802/69 dated April 25, 1969, Twelve Points of Inculturation** were permitted in India.
In 2000, after the Pope’s condemnation of the practice of Yoga and other Eastern Meditation methods by the Catholic priests and others, some Christians have also started criticizing the inculturation programmes.
However, the ongoing activities by the inculturation and Inter-religious / Faith groups / programs clearly prove that they are pursued vigorously with the same old plans. Though, Fr. Bede Griffiths has not openly recorded in his writings, Jesuits like Ignatius Hrudhayam, Francis X. Clooney, Amaladas and others have revealed that they follow Roberto de Nobili as their role model. Thus, the succeeding Jesuits in India have taken his method of “Inculturation” as a “role model” overtly and covertly. The mushrooming Catholic Ashrams and increasing ochre robe clad Christian priests and preachers amply prove their game-plan.
When we hear that at least a hundred quotations from Vedas, Yogasutra and Upanishads have been incorporated into the Indian Bible published in 2008, we are worried.
We are also shocked when we hear the cross behind the Jesus has been removed about which a leading archeologist commented “this is tribanga pose of Sri Krishna and also resembles the Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in ecstasy”. The pain and trauma in face of Jesus has been erased and to be replaced with the picture of Joy found in Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or Nataraja. The transformation is not yet complete, and the words “he is dancing with joy” has been interpolated in the adjacent page.
Hindu musical instruments used in religious Bhajans like Tambura is on the right side, Tabla is on the left side and a violin is on the upper left, dangles in the air, and there are twinkling stars all around in the space. A pair of cymbals (jalra) is found at the right foot of Jesus.
He has been adorned with a long Yahnopavitham, which extends up to the left ankle, instead of the traditional one that stops at the waist. We Hindus are legitimately worried at the blatant plagiarism.
“(Christian) inculturation is cultural plagiarism (and) cultural vandalism, with the idea of ultimate conquest” says Swami Devananda. He says “We must be beware of Christians with their flattery and money, taking over our sacred art forms such as Bharatanatyam, even as they did to those of ancient Greece and Rome, and calling them their own”. Drawing from his four decades of dealing with Christian Missionaries, he gave this ominous warning to Hindus “Christianity is a parasitical religion, which attaches itself to a host culture and feeds off it, absorbing its spirit and lifeblood into itself until the host culture dies and become Christian.”
[…]In the absence of any law whatsoever in India to protect the original indigenous cultures, heritage and knowledge, the entire gamut of Hindu is under threat of unholy poachers. Its heritage and dominant concepts and Ideas, Icons, Scriptural lore and Philosophical heritage. It is well known that Basmati, Neem, Turmeric, Yoga and Bharat Natyam have become endangered,
and now it is the very Vedas, Yoga Sutras, having been plagiarized*** and hence the crying need to enact strict legislations. ***in the New Community Bible -Michael
**THE TWELVE POINTS OF ADAPTATION FOR THE INDIAN RITE MASS-WAS A FRAUD PERPETRATED ON INDIAN CATHOLICS?
Dear Shri Srinivasan,
I am a Catholic layman, apologist and evangelist.
I only recently came across this article written by you.
Like me, there are many Catholic priests and lay persons who are greatly concerned about the “inculturation”– much of what is the “Hindu-isation” of Catholicism in India.
I say this with absolutely no disrespect to the Hindu religion, but we share your concern about the borrowing of Hindu Scriptures, mantras, rituals, dances, symbols, etc.
This does not have the approval of Rome (the Vatican). However, gradually, infected priests, bishops and cardinals are convincing Rome that the Church in India has to be inculturated but there are few like me who resist this alarming trend. After all, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Francis Xavier and others could never have been accused of inculturating in order to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and convert people without using coercion or inducements.
To be fair, I must add that it is NOT for conversion of the minority — though I would have like it to have been the reason — for the present epidemic of inculturation.
Our clergy are mortally afraid of being accused of converting anyone, forcibly or otherwise.
The inculturation that you and I are witnessing, and the new “hybrid” Bible, are symptoms of the loss of Christian faith by our religious leaders, and it is leading to syncretism.
I am fighting this problem through my ministry and you can read my several articles crusading against what I perceive as aberrations and errors, on my site www.ephesians-511.net.
Sincerely wishing you all the best, and God’s blessings,
Michael Prabhu, Chennai
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 7:19 PM Subject: Re: Fwd: Comment on your article at iVarta.com
Dear Shri Srinivasan,
I thank you for your kind response. I am also thankful to you that you do not take offense at my ministry to defend the purity of the Catholic faith against borrowings from other religions. (I have many very good friends of other religious affiliations.)
We both share a common purpose but with different perspectives (worldviews) and goals influenced by our choice of religious faiths.
Like you as a devoted Hindu, as a Catholic by personal choice, I am greatly concerned if the spiritual traditions of another religious philosophy are borrowed to embellish my own for whatever reason.
I am not against “inculturation” per se. It means that, living in India, I am Indian. I may have an Indian name, speak the local dialect, dress in the attire of the local tradition, eat with my fingers off a plantain leaf squatting on the floor, etc., but I may be Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist or Parsi as per the freedom given to me under the Constitution, worshiping the God of my choice, or no God at all.
However, I am against “inculturation” when that means “borrowing” from Hinduism or Buddhism any of their spiritual traditions (philosophical, symbolical, ritual, and the like).
There is a very thin and ill-defined line between what is cultural and what is religious. In India, where the majority of Indians practice various forms of Hinduism all across the nation, it is often very difficult to separate the two.
It appears that an increasing number of Catholic theologians believe that there is no distinction between Hindu (Brahminical) religious practices and Indian culture. Hence we find Catholic priests chanting OM and the Gayatri Mantra, practising Surya Namaskar, dancing the Bharata Natyam, wearing kavi and bindi, performing arati in our liturgical services, distributing prasada, doing yoga and pranayam, and so on.
Our teaching Church, known as the Magisterium, has not defined the specifics of “inculturation” for India. When insisting on “inculturation”, Rome (the Vatican) is only inviting Catholics to be like the others around them and not stand out as citizens of an alien culture. Rome has never suggested that Indian Catholics must assimilate the religious practices of a local culture. We are obedient to Rome in matters of faith and morals. (This does not preclude us from being patriotic Indians).
However, Indian theologians, many of who have now become bishops, are engaged in what we call “Hindu-ising” (with no offense to our Hindu brothers and sisters) the Catholic Church in the guise of inculturation. It is, as I often remark, an inculturation gone awry. In some of our liturgical services, a Catholic has to tweak himself to realize that he is not at a Hindu service but a Catholic one.
I assure you that there are many Catholics like me, including priests and a few bishops who are greatly disturbed and concerned, but their voices are stifled. The Church is a koinonocracy but in India it is run in an authoritarian matter. The Bishops are surrounded by sycophants and yes men and the ordinary lay person and even the ordinary priest cannot make himself heard. Letters to the senior bishops and cardinals are not answered.
Commencing July 2008, we conducted a campaign against what you call the “hybrid” Bible. We wrote hundreds of letters to the Indian bishops and even to all the Pontifical Councils and Congregations in Rome. We even sent several copies of the “Bible” to Rome along with our critiques.
While the “Bible” was apparently withdrawn from the shelves of Catholic book shops under some directive of the bishops or of Rome, it still sells in a few places and, as you know, a revised and supposedly corrected edition is to be released shortly. We are quite confident, after reading the Toronto Star report of their interview with a priest who is publishing it, that this version too will not be acceptable to us.
This “Bible”, like the “inculturation” of our liturgy and worship, is not authorised or approved by Rome. It is a product of a religious congregation, St Pauls, co-published by the Claretians, authorised by a couple of Bishops, and approved by a few others.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India is very different from their counterparts in say the United States or Canada. A lay person from India like me can identify the extreme left as well as the extreme right among the Bishops of America, Canada, England and elsewhere.
Dissenters and liberals as well as the orthodox among the Bishops are internationally known because of the causes they espouse or their pronouncements. In India that is not the case. They do not say much. If they at all do, they avoid any controversial issue, especially if it has anything to do with the religious sentiments of the majority community.
The truth is that Hindus like your good self have nothing to fear by this “inculturation”. The Catholic Church in India will, at this rate, soon be “Hindu” to all intents and purposes. That exactly is why people like me are so concerned.
There is another section of Christians who are deeply disturbed. They are the “Traditionalists”. They belong to the SSPX or the Society of St Pius the Tenth. They have centres of worship as well as seminaries in India but are a minority whose voice is not heard anywhere, though quite powerful internationally.
I am sending you separately, in an email following this one, a recent
“The Inculturated Mass: Forerunner of the Abomination unto Desolation?” by Cornelia Ferreira. It may be painful reading for you, as a Hindu, in some places, and I pray that you will read it academically and not be offended.
Traditionalists claim to be Catholics who are faithful to the PRE-SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL Rome. They reject the directives and teachings of the conciliar (=of the Council) documents as being not doctrinal but pastoral and therefore not binding on Catholics. They also believe that the Council heralded this whole “inculturation” thing and a lot of other experimentation and dilution of theology and doctrine.
While Catholics such as I do not agree with some of their positions, especially their rejection of post-Vatican II Rome and her Popes and their teachings, these Traditionalists are at least upholding and fighting for orthodoxy which has been seriously undermined by misuse of the freedoms given to the Church since Vatican Council II.
In case you are not already aware of this group of people, you will be able to understand more after reading the article which also discusses inculturation and the Hindu-ised “Bible”.
A point that seems to have escaped even the Traditionalists is that Indian priests are engaged in exporting this Hindu-ised Church to the West where there is a shortage of priests.
It is not only the liturgy of the Indian Church that is being destroyed, but also traditional Catholic theology. The commentaries in the “hybrid” Bible are an excellent though not isolated example.
The Catholic Ashrams movement, about which I have written much, and the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC] in Bangalore are spearheading this thrust. The theologians associated with the above organizations and the major seminaries in India are almost without exception of the same mind. We are unaware of any who openly object to what is going on though we do receive letters from priests who stand with us in our struggle. Through Bishops partial to the inculturationists, they have convinced Rome about the “Twelve Points of Adaptation” which have been approved for use during the primary liturgical celebration of Catholics- the Eucharist or Holy Mass.
This includes the performing of the arati. All the other innovations that are being practised, including all the experimentations and syncretism going on in the Catholic ashrams, have NOT been officially approved by Rome. However, with their growing influence, with some of them now posted as officials and even Indian Cardinals as heads of Congregations in Rome, we anticipate the worst. Now to come to your question on Protestants.
Rome, for Catholics, is the Central teaching authority on doctrinal matters and Catholics believe that such doctrinal teachings are binding and infallible, coming as they do by Apostolic Succession from Sacred Tradition and the interpretation of the Bible which we hold as the Word of God. Such teachings cannot be changed, even by a Pope. The Twelve Points of Adaptation do not fall into that category, and if the voice of Catholics in India can make itself heard in Rome, the Vatican can re-examine such permissions or directives and retract them. In fact, under Benedict XVI, a reform of the liturgy is under way, opposed naturally by liberals, modernists, dissenters and their ilk.
This reform presently does not include the inculturation that is going on in certain parts of the world including India.
We understand that Hindus do not have a central teaching authority such as Catholic Christians do. Followers of the Hindu faith might choose to adhere to the teachings of the Shankaracharyas of the different maths, or various religious leaders and god-men. Not so Catholics.
The local ordinary or bishop represents Rome and is obliged to transmit faithfully the teaching of Jesus Christ and His apostles to the faithful. In practice, this is not always the case, and Canon Law gives Catholic faithful the duty and right to protest and resist such wrong teaching if any. We believe that the “hybrid” Bible contains such wrong teaching.
Protestants do not accept such a central teaching authority. The thousands of denominations that do not accept Rome may have as many interpretations of the Bible as there are pastors. Major mainline churches such as the Anglicans do have an earthly head but unlike Catholics most Protestants believe in “sola scriptura” which simply means “only the Bible” and that they can interpret the Bible to mean to them whatever they believe that they are being inspired by God.
I have not come across any official Protestant understanding of what inculturation means to them. But, my experience has been that Protestants have been largely unaffected by “Hindu-isation” [they would not commonly for instance wear the bindi or replace their Communion service with the distribution of prasada] while being more properly “inculturated” [=Indianised].
The Vatican has nothing to do with what is being undertaken in our Church by our Indian theologians and bishops. I have privately received letters from officials in the Vatican Curia expressing their great concern about what is happening here. But, the wheels of Rome grind slowly.
I close by once again wishing you all the best in your endeavours to highlight the problem and arouse public opinion, though our reasons and goals may be different. God bless you, Srinivasan,
PS. If you would like to have the email addresses of Indian bishops and Rome officials, I could send the same.
Subject: Re: “The Inculturated Mass…” (As promised in my mail earlier this evening)
Dear Shri Srinivasan, You’re most welcome.
There are many other allied aspects to the problem that were omitted by me.
One of them is that our liberal theologians want an autonomous Indian church. They protest against the “hegemony” of Rome and want the freedom to do as they please. We conservative Catholics of course do not want that. Again, I must explain that our turning to Rome is only for the sake of maintaining the purity and orthodoxy of our Faith. If our theologians have our way, we will be practising a religion that is Catholic in name but Hindu in philosophy and practice (because of the “borrowing”).
Another thing is that many of these theologians want to do away with the Holy Mass (Eucharist) which is central to Catholic Christian life. I have documented this in my various reports including the one on the Catholic Ashrams. They would replace it with yoga and meditation. They see the Eucharist as a barrier, a hindrance, a stumbling block to their attempts to commune with people of other faiths at their centres. If they introduce some form of yoga and meditation, they believe that it unifies a group of people some of who would otherwise not participate.
Hinduism can accept other gods, Jesus Christ among them, even his Mother Mary who is deified by some Hindus; they may offer prayers at dargahs and at gurudwaras. Christians on the other hand have the Commandment “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Worship of any other entity is the most grievous sin. Such worship can be wrongly given to Mary even by Catholics. We must ensure that no power, no force, no superstition, no other religious philosophy detracts from our complete adoration of the one God.
The Documents of Vatican II at the same time exhort Catholics to respect what is good and true and holy in other religions.
With my prayers,
Our Hindu friends believe that Rome is responsible for the tsunami of inculturation-Hinduisation:
We admire Cardinal Ratzinger’s courage and agree with his basic premise that yoga, Zazen and non-dual philosophies are not compatible with the basic principles of Catholicism. In these pages two years back [Nov. ’86] and in personal missives sent to Rome, we urged the Pope to cease his inculturation programs among Hindus, and to ask his sisters and priests to stop wearing our sacred saffron robes, to stop reading from our scriptures, to stop using our holy symbols and practices and thus to stop confusing people with where Catholicism stops and Hinduism begins… We engaged in an impassioned exchange with those who defend such tactics, focusing on Father Bede Griffiths who has an “ashram” in South India, does puja instead of mass, wears the ochre vestments, uses the “Aum” symbol and calls himself “swami.”
Also: NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 11-VATICAN HELD RESPONSIBLE, BRAHMIN LEADERS DEMAND ITS WITHDRAWAL http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_COMMUNITY_BIBLE_11-VATICAN_HELD_RESPONSIBLE_BRAHMIN_LEADERS_DEMAND_ITS_WITHDRAWAL.doc
What’s in a word?
By Eddie Russell FMI, Catholic apologist, September 23, 1998
Faith and Reason – East and West Dialogue.
Dialogue, which is a frank exchange of ideas or views in an effort to attain mutual understanding, is vastly different from actually practicing something. In the encyclical ‘Faith and Reason’ the Pope encourages us to learn from what he calls ‘the rich heritage of the East’, but nowhere does he encourage us to take on their religious practices and disciplines as Dom Freeman
(of the World Community for Christian Meditation which is New Age -Michael)
is doing. What is offensive to me is the propagation of the idea that these yoga meditations using mantras, are Christian.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t investigate that which is good and compatible and, I firmly believe that many of those Christians who practice these things are genuinely seeking the Lord with a good heart albeit in ignorance and error. However, I cannot say the same for Freeman and the other Catholic nuns and priests that teach this eastern mystical syncretism. By presenting this article I am not trying to be uncharitable to anyone. I am simply attempting to make people aware of what they might be doing without understanding it. I am however saying to those who know the difference, stop lying, confusing and deceiving people by your words; you are guilty of corruption and deception and as Jesus said, “It is far better for you to be thrown into a lake with a millstone around your neck than to lead one of these little ones astray”.
Monsignor Vincent Walsh sums this up when he said it was appropriate for a young person to date different people before they are married, but when they find the right one and marry them, it is not appropriate for them to flirt or date other men or women. He says that it is valid for people to belong to different religions as they search for the truth, but when one has found it and becomes a Christian, it is no longer appropriate for them to flirt or date others outside their marriage. It would be adultery to do so.
Many of my friends have accused me of fundamentalism in this regard. Perhaps they have forgotten that I have not always been a Christian. These practices were part of my life before then. I have experienced these things first hand so I “know” what it is that I have rejected to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I can assure you, they are not valid for Christians. Regardless of what people might think of my position on these matters, I am certain that I will be vindicated in the end and the Church will act to protect the faithful.
BUT THE BISHOPS AND PRIEST-THEOLOGIANS OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA WANT AND JUSTIFY INCULTURATION-HINDUISATION, ESPECIALLY THAT OF THE LITURGY, AND OPPOSE ROME’S OPPOSITION TO IT!
National Catholic Reporter, November 15, 2002, Patna, India
Catholic bishops in India’s Hindi speaking region say the reluctance of some Vatican officials to incorporate local cultural ethos in liturgical texts could hamper inculturation. Liturgical books in Hindi “cannot and should not mean dry literal
translations of Latin versions,” Archbishop Benedict John Osta of Patna said at a recent meeting that involved 29 bishops from India’s northern region. During their Oct. 20 and 21 meeting, the bishops discussed obstacles they face in having the Vatican approve Hindi translations of liturgical texts, including the Roman Missal, which contains Mass texts, and the
Indian Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer). The Indian Anaphora was submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 1992. The Hindi translation of the Roman Missal was sent in 2000. The next year, however, the congregation issued Liturgiam Authenticam (“The Authentic Liturgy”), which insists on almost-literal translations and close adherence to the style and structure of the original Latin.
Osta, a Jesuit, told fellow bishops that liturgy in Hindi was meant to generate greater participation of the faithful, but that would be impossible unless the translation “is in tune with the broader cultural canvas and creativity of the faithful.” Several other bishops at the triennial gathering in Patna, the capital of Bihar state, agreed that the reluctance of Vatican officials to reflect local culture in the liturgy would impede the inculturation process. Belgian Jesuit Fr. Jos De Cuyper, 82, who convened a committee set up for the translations, told the meeting his group completed most of the work, including a translation of the Roman Missal “as per the directive of the Second Vatican Council,” which encourages local cultural creativity in the liturgy. “But we abandoned publishing,” he said, because the Congregation “directed” translators to “skip local cultural creativity and meticulously revise the texts in accordance with their authentic Latin versions.”
Osta, a Sanskrit and Hindi scholar who pioneered the translation, said he had personally discussed the issue with leaders of the Congregation, “but they did not respond very positively.”
The Congregation, he said, insisted that the literal rendering of the Latin texts “is an attempt at safeguarding the ‘unity of the Roman Rite’.” But “we simply cannot accept such logic, and we must make concerted and collective efforts to remove such restrictions,” Osta said. Jesuit Bishop John Baptist Thakur of Muzaffarpur used the words “beyond
comprehension” to describe the Vatican position. “Actually, it is not a question of translation,” he observed. “It is a question of the mentality of the people in Rome” who want to control “from above” even the expression of devotion of culturally different people. “We should not accept such dictates that could potentially hamper our mission of inculturation, which is indispensable for the Indian church,” Thakur said. If cultural aspects are not given expression in faith life,
he said, Christianity “would remain an alien faith, a foreign culture.” That, he concluded, would only help Hindu groups to propagate their theory that Christians are foreigners and should be opposed. Archbishop Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, who is president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (Latin Rite), said the conference’s next meeting in January 2003 will discuss the matter to prepare a paper for presentation to the pope. “We must tell everyone firmly that the march of inculturation that followed Vatican Council II cannot be reversed,” Toppo said. “Any attempt to do so would only hurt the sentiments of our people. I am sure the Roman curia would appreciate our views and needs.” He also said the needs of the region compels the church to prepare a liturgy comprehensible to “even children and illiterates.” It was “impossible” to return liturgy to the “cultural background of the seventh and eighth centuries in Rome when liturgical texts were composed in the language of Pope Leo the Great,” he asserted. “We live in the present, and the local people yearn to live their faith within the indigenous cultural ambience.”
Indian Catholics consider including Sanskrit in prayers
October 23, 2002
The synod of bishops from India and Philippines, which began on Sunday in India, is studying a proposal to include the Sanskrit word “Sachidanand”* in liturgical prayers, in order to make Christianity more acceptable to Hindi speakers.
“The word ‘Sachidanand,’ meaning the Trinity of Gods, also conforms to the Christian precept of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” according to Archbishop Benedict Osta SJ of Patna.
In India, Christians generally say prayers in English or in literal translations into local languages.
Osta said the church was also considering publishing a Hindi-language magazine and setting up a press to publish liturgical books in Hindi.
The three-day meeting was called to find ways to make Christianity more amenable to Hindi-speakers in the wake of a number of attacks on Christians and their churches.
Indian bishops regret Vatican cold feet on inculturation in liturgical texts
November 4, 2002
Catholic bishops in India’s Hindi speaking region say the reluctance of some Vatican officials to incorporate local cultural ethos in liturgical texts could hamper inculturation.
Liturgical books in Hindi “cannot and should not mean dry literal translations of Latin versions,” Archbishop Benedict John Osta of Patna said at a recent biennial meeting that involved 29 bishops from India’s northern region.
During their October meeting, the bishops discussed obstacles they face in having the Vatican approve Hindi translations of liturgical texts including the Roman Missal and the Indian Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer), the latter submitted in 1992.
*But, is the concept of “Sachidanand” or Saccidanand the same as the Christian Trinity? Let us see.
Extracts from my 2005 report on the Catholic Ashrams Movement (all information within bold quotes “” is retrieved from ashram literature):
Brahmin convert to Catholicism Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861-1907), regarded as a pioneer of the ashram and inculturation movement, was the first to propose that “the Christian doctrine of God as Trinity is exactly the same as the Vedantic conception of Brahman as Sat-Chit-Ananda” as explained by Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj SJ in nun Vandana Mataji’s (edited) occult compilation Shabda Shakti Sangam, page 294.
<<The dubious quality of (Fr. Bede) Griffiths’ attempt at a Hindu-Christian integration is also revealed in his attempt
the Trinity in Hindu terms. In his book The Marriage of East and West Griffiths equates the Trinity with the Hindu triad of Being-Consciousness-Bliss (sat-chit-ananda). As he writes: “we could then speak of God as Saccidananda, and see in the Father, sat . . . we could speak of the Son as the cit . . . we could speak of the Spirit as the ananda.” While there might be some apparent similarities between the Christian Logos and Hindu Consciousness and between the Christian Spirit (who is Love) and Hindu bliss, the differences between Saccidananda and the Trinity
are so pronounced as to discount any attempt to equate them.
For Hinduism, the triad of Being-Consciousness-Bliss refers to nothing other than three aspects of the same reality, which are distinguished only in concept but not in reality. There is no question of any of them originating from either or both of the others as in the Christian Trinity. These Hindu qualities are better identified with scholasticism’s three transcendental attributes of being– unity, truth and goodness–to which they largely correspond.
If Griffiths persists in equating the Trinity with the Hindu Saccidananda, then he is either distorting the meaning of the Hindu triad, or he is promoting a view of the Trinity which is unacceptable in Christian orthodoxy. >> Source: http://www.crisismagazine.com/1991/the-swami-from-oxford-bede-griffiths-wants-to-integrate-catholicism-and-hinduism
The Swami From Oxford: Bede Griffiths Wants To Integrate Catholicism And Hinduism by Robert Fastiggi, an associate professor of religious studies at St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas, and Jose Pereira, a native of Bombay and professor of theology at Fordham, the translator and editor of ‘Hindu Theology: A Reader‘ (Doubleday). Crisis, March 1991, Issues – heresies. (This is about the ashram, Shantivanam, of Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB)
(Swami Parama Arubi Ananda and Swami Abhishiktananda, two French priests once named Monchanin and Le Saux who were founders of “Catholic” ashrams named the ashram)
Saccidananda which literally is ‘Pure Being – Consciousness [Awareness/ Knowledge] – Bliss’ or SAT-CIT-ANANDA. Or, the Absolute Joy that proceeds from the Absolute Self-Realization of Absolute Being. This concept is equated with the Christian understanding of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, with SAT being the Father, CIT the Logos or Word, and ANANDA the Holy Spirit that proceeds from them.
In naming the ashram as such: “a Hindu term for the godhead used as a symbol of the three persons of the Christian Trinity,“ ashram literature explains that “they intended anticipating (!!!) the Second Vatican Council and the All-India Seminar (…on the Church in India Today in 1969), to show that they sought to identify themselves with the Hindu ‘search for God’… and to relate this quest to their own experience of God in Christ in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.“
The church building is called the temple or mandir. Ashram literature continues: “The church is built in the style of a South Indian [Shaivaite] temple. At the entrance is a ‘gopuram ‘ or gateway on which is shown an image of the Holy Trinity in the form of a ‘trimurti ‘, a three-headed figure, which according to Hindu tradition represents the three aspects of the Godhead as Creator, Destroyer and Preserver of the universe. This is taken as the symbol of the three Persons in one God of the Christian Trinity. The figure is shown as emerging from a cross, to show that the mystery of the Trinity is revealed to us through the cross of Christ.
“Between the gopuram and the ‘mandapam’ or outer court of the Temple is a cross enclosed in a circle. The circle represents the cosmic mystery, the wheel of the law (dharma) of Hindu and Buddhist tradition. The cross at the centre of the circle signifies that the cross of Christ is the centre of the universe and of human existence. At the centre of the cross is the word OM which in Hindu tradition is the word from which the whole creation comes and through which we came to the knowledge of God, and is thus a fitting symbol of Christ and the Word of God… Over the doors which give access to the inner sanctuary or ‘mulasthanam ‘, there is an inscription in Sanskrit taken from the Upanishads…. which means ‘You alone are the Supreme Being; there is no other Lord of the world’. Under this are the words ‘Kurios Christos’, ‘The Lord Christ’ in Greek letters.”
Francoise Jacquin writes that, while still in France, the “only thing” Monchanin wanted was to contemplate the mystery of Sat-Cit-Ananda “in a Hindu ashram.”
But Le Saux was not to be left out. Monchanin said of him, “Fr. Le Saux has returned from a stay of two months at Arunachala, the sacred place of Hinduism, a triangular mountain which according to myth is the tejolinga (fire lingam of Siva) where Ramana Maharshi lives, and from where he has brought back an essay which moved me… I believe that no one has yet gone as far in the spiritual understanding of Hinduism, an understanding which requires a rethinking of the Holy Trinity and of Creation.” (Letter to Edouard Duperray, 30/12/1953)
Thomas Matus OSB confirms this, “From the beginning, Fr. Monchanin had insisted (against Abhishiktananda’s taste for Gregorian chant) on the priority of meditative practice with respect to liturgical solemnity.” The letters exchanged between the two priests from 1948-1952 are missing and would have been revelatory. The first letter in 1947 written by Monchanin to Le Saux in France listed the problems posed by meeting Christian thought- the Trinity, the Mystical Body, the salvation of non-Christians, Creation, etc. with that of Hinduism.
(Spanish theologian Raimundo) Panikkar is the favourite of all shades of liberation theologians. He calls for a ‘universal Christology’ in inter-religious dialogue which makes room not only for different theologies but different religions as well. He makes clear that his ‘Christ’ is not to be identified exclusively with Jesus of Nazareth [The Trinity, page 53]. Jesus is simply one of the names for the cosmotheandric principle.
In An Indian Benedictine Ashram, chapter 6, A Life of Prayer, “The holy syllable AUM should be the object of constant meditation, which should not be considered as the exclusive ownership of the Hindus.“ Making an analogy with the
Hindu trinity of Sat-Cit-Ananda, Le Saux says, “And just as
AUM is one sound out of three elements (A, U, M), so also the mystery of the one identical essence in three ‘hypostases’ may be expressed by that pregnant sacred utterance.“
Sten Rodhe on pages 67-68 of Jules Monchanin: Pioneer in Christian-Hindu Dialogue, ISPCK, 1993, quotes Bede (Griffiths OSB) ‘on the problem of the relation between Christian Trinitarian faith and Hindu advaita, which was at the centre of Monchanin’s thinking’ and comments, “Griffiths does not mention here that towards the end of his life Monchanin more and more found Hindu advaita and Christian Trinitarian faith, which according to Griffiths are complementary, separated by an abyss.”
From the above we see that after his life-long search at the well-springs of advaitic Hinduism, Monchanin found it, along with its two flagships yoga and the Sat-Cit-Ananda principle, irreconcilable with Biblical Christianity, in fact separated from it by an “abyss” in the words of two different biographers. Yet … the Ashram Movement’s protagonists (in the Indian Church) have doggedly continued to tread the advaitic path towards that abyss.
Leading New Ager (according to the 2003 Vatican Document) Sri Aurobindo envisaged the Supreme Reality as
Sat Chit Anand.
Saccidananda Ashram guru “Brother” John Martin Sahajananda’s take on the Christian Trinity:
“The language used is old and dogmatic, and does not appeal to us or have any meaning for us today.“
So, we see, that Archbishop Benedict Osta and his fellow-bishops and their theologians have been deceiving Rome as well as the faithful of the Indian Church on the issue of inculturation in general and on Saccidananda — used here as an example — in particular.
God cannot be ‘imported,’ God must be ‘incarnated’
By Janina Gomes, May 6, 2004
(The National Catholic Reporter and Janina Gomes, the author, are liberals. She contributes regularly to the “Speaking Tree”, a column of philosophy and religion in the national daily, The Times of India.)
MUMBAI, India – The Second Vatican Council initiated a revolution 40 years ago. Its document Sacrosanctum Concilium recognized that the church had become a world-church characterized by pluralism. The liturgy was opened to different languages and adaptations for different cultures of the world.
Ten years later the term inculturation was applied to this process. According to Fr. Michael Amaladoss, a leading Indian theologian and an expert on inculturation, though the official church in the name of liturgical reform has cleared away accretions that accumulated over history, substantial creativity has not been encouraged apart from some local external decorative elements permitted in India and the Congo.
A 12-point plan** for adapting the liturgy with certain elements of Indian worship was put together by experts and the Indian bishops issued guidelines. The points suggested using certain postures during liturgy, such as squatting, anjali hasta (hands folded in prayer) and panchanga pranam (a full prostration with forehead touching the ground), arati as a form of welcome or worship; incorporating different objects, such as shawls, trays, oil lamps, and a simple incense bowl with handles; as well as different gestures, such as touching objects to one’s forehead instead of kissing them.
**THE TWELVE POINTS OF ADAPTATION FOR THE INDIAN RITE MASS-WAS A FRAUD PERPETRATED ON INDIAN CATHOLICS?
When these Indian adaptations began to be used, reactions ranged from enthusiastic welcome to strong criticism, according to Jesuit Fr. Julian Saldanha, a professor of theology at St. Pius X seminary in Mumbai.
Saldanha said: “There was wider acceptance in the northern dioceses than in the southern ones. The 12 points were more welcome in villages than in urban areas. They were better accepted in institutions or certain groups, e.g., religious houses, than in parishes. It was found that youth take to them more easily than adults. The opposition was greater to those adaptations which more strongly remind the people of non-Christian worship.” These included, for example, saffron shawls, squatting during liturgy, and using a samai (oil lamp) instead of candles, according to Saldanha.
Terence Fonn from the Ministry of Gospel Sharing for Small Christian Communities in the Mumbai archdiocese says westernized Catholics fixed in their ways of thinking opposed the changes. “For them the liturgy is often simply a ritual. If they are to change, they need to be re-educated.”
Fonn quoted a writer who said that God cannot be “imported”; God must be “incarnated.” “We have just imported westernized forms of Christianity,” he said. “If Christ had been born in India, maybe he would have called himself “Gopal” or protector of cows (an epithet of Krishna) rather than the Good Shepherd. Real inculturation means transforming a culture with the values of the Gospel,” he said.
Joaquim Reis, a lawyer for the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court, organizes the Deepen Your Faith Theology courses for the laity in Mumbai. He also emphasizes the importance of re-education. “If the signs and symbols used are Indian and part of our cultural heritage and if they are not opposed to any of our Christian beliefs, if they bring a person closer to God and their faith, we should encourage their use,” he said. But he adds that for some Indian Christians already infused with western culture “it is necessary to educate them in the need for inculturation.”
He also cautions that the journey to truth must be made with the correct methodology, so that the signs and symbols through which we encounter God fits with the Christian understanding of God. The way Hindus and Muslims understand God may be different, he said.
Inculturation is sometimes identified with mere adaptations to the liturgy, says Thomas Dabre, the bishop of Vasai and chairperson of the inculturation committee of the western regional council of bishops. He calls for a deeper interpretation of inculturation.
Dabre wrote in the Mumbai archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner, “Some have reduced inculturation to some cultural practices like arati, dance, squatting … While these things have their symbolic significance, authentic and comprehensive inculturation is as wide as the life of the people around us.”
Amaladoss makes a case for a church presence in public festivals and for a more conscious exploration of the possibility of using scriptures and symbols of other religions and interpreting them in the Christian/Catholic faith context. Amaladoss says: “For me, Hinduism is not another religion. It is part of my own heritage. It is the religion of my ancestors. God has reached out to my ancestors through it. So I do not look at its scriptures, symbols and methods as something foreign to me. I have the right and the liberty to integrate them as part of my spiritual tradition.”
Divine Word Fr. Sebastian Michael, professor of anthropology at the University in Mumbai and a member on the western bishops’ committee for inculturation says: “The intellectual articulation of Christian faith in theology must be expressed emotionally in the Indian culture through well thought out and theologically sound popular devotions, pilgrimages, observances of fasts, processions, parish feasts, bhajan singing (Indian popular devotional songs) and passion plays.”
“Christians could also articulate rites of passage without alienation from the Indian context since the most important events in a culture are the rites of passage,” he says.
He also argues that in India inculturation should not be Hinduization or Sanskritization of Christian life. The pluralistic culture of India should be the basis of inculturation. The Indian church must recognize, appreciate and empower the regional cultures and symbolic cultural creativity of tribals, dalits, sudras (lower castes), and other minorities as well as upper castes.
While many Catholics, specially in the old centers of Christianity, remain opposed to any changes in the liturgy in the Roman form, many clergy and groups are experimenting with adaptations to the liturgy in more private services.
The term inculturation is also better understood today than before. In a multicultural and pluralistic society like India, clinging to Roman forms of expression in insubstantials makes less sense to a growing number of Catholics.
Those who are opposed to any form of change do feel threatened by inculturation. Many who welcome change, on the other hand, would suggest going beyond the 12-point plan and finding a more Indian way of expressing themselves in Christian worship and in life.
The names of recognised inculturationists and liberals (like Fr. Michael Gonsalves below) are in red font.
Terence Fonn, an ex-seminarian from Bombay, was my close friend and we had stayed in each other’s homes over the years when I had lived in Delhi. One of the earliest charismatic renewal preachers, he drifted into “inculturation” and New Age (Centering prayer, Enneagrams, etc.) in the 1990s.
For Amaladoss, see INDIAN JESUIT THEOLOGIAN FR MICHAEL AMALADOSS UNDER INVESTIGATION BY ROME
Recognise All Cultures in India as Indian
The Examiner, The Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay, July 24, 2004
Fr. Michael G., invited to speak at an inter-religious meeting said, “India has many cultures and all of them should be recognised as ‘Indian’ or Bharatiya especially by the Majority Group people of this country!” The meeting was organised by Swami Smruti Samiti on 4th July on the occasion of the punyatithi (death anniversary) of Swami Vivekanand at Yashwantrao Chavhan Natyagruha, Kotharud, Pune on the theme “We Indian, Our Culture Indian”.
Fr. Michael G. spoke of the beautiful Indian Mass composed with Sanskrit slokaas and Indian rituals by the NBCLC, Bangalore. “But,” he said, “our inculturation movement has come to a halt because of the opposition to it voiced by the Dalit and the tribal groups in the Church! They oppose this kind of inculturation because it brings back Sanskritic and Brahmanic (sic) culture that imposed on them inhuman life conditions for centuries with the tools of the oppressive customs like casteism and other superstitions.”
The Eucharist and the Christian Community
[Among other things, Amaladoss mentions here that “The first Indian Eucharistic prayer was never officially forwarded to Rome by the bishops” and that the “second Indian Eucharistic prayer which was sent by the bishops to Rome has not elicited any response so far.” Even as he slights Rome’s position that “the unity of the Latin Rite (be recognized) as a paramount principle of inculturation” he admits that the “12 points were proposed experimentally” and “have not since been reviewed after many years of experimentation.” – Austine Crasta, owner, Konkani Catholics yahoo groups list.]
Michael Amaladoss, S.J. is Professor of Theology at Vidyajyoti College of Theology in Delhi, and Director, Institute for Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Chennai, India. A well-known international speaker and prolific writer, he has written extensively on issues of mission, multiculturalism, inter-religious cooperation, and liberation theology. He is also a regular lecturer at the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI), Manila, Philippines
The phase of preparation for the next ordinary Synod for the Bishops in October 2005 has started. Its theme will be the Eucharist and will be preceded by a year dedicated to the theme. The Synod is supposed to treat pastoral questions concerning the Eucharist. Its freedom of discussion will inevitably be conditioned by two recent documents: Ecclesia de Eucharistia,* the encyclical of John Paul II and Redemptoris Sacramentum** the disciplinary document of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The Lineamenta, published by the Synod secretariat, is an introduction to the questions that follow it. Though no one will discuss the Lineamenta itself, it does lay down a theological outlook which, together with the other two documents, will guide the discussions at the Synod. In the following pages I shall try to focus on some pastoral issues that bishops in India and Asia could keep in mind before and at the Synod. I have no intention of entering into a theological discussion with any of the Roman documents. But even pastoral suggestions will be oriented by a particular theological outlook. I shall outline this very briefly in the beginning before going on to make my pastoral suggestions. In making these I shall feel free, knowing well that some of these will not be allowed to be taken up at the Synod, even if one or other bishop ventures to raise them during the first week. We have been asked to reflect and we must make our honest proposals, hoping that some of these suggestions may be taken up later by people younger than I at a more propitious time. But it is worth laying them on the table now.
However, while the Eucharist may be understood theologically—as primarily a sacrifice followed by a meal or a sacrificial meal or a sacrament of Christ’s bodily presence which becomes food and drink for the community—there is no doubt that its basic symbolic action is a shared community meal taken in memory of Christ celebrating his paschal mystery. This symbolic action may be interpreted differently according to different theological perspectives. It cannot, however, be simply reduced to a common meal. Its mystical or sacramental dimension of meaning is based on this symbolic action. The more meaningful the symbolic action, the deeper the mystical experience. The agent of this symbolic action is the community headed by the priest which becomes and acts as the Body of Christ with its head, namely Jesus Christ. The priest prays and acts in the name of the community. The community is part of the action. It is not outside it, only drawing benefit from it. It is not a meal that follows a sacrifice. It is not a meal that replaces the sacrifice. The memorial meal itself is sacrificial. The meal consists of shared food and drink. This means that it is the high point of the life of a community that expresses its love for each other by sharing its goods. It strengthens such ongoing solidarity.
Eucharist and Community
All the documents insist on the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Christian community. The Second Vatican Council describes the Eucharist as “the source and summit of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). John Paul II insists again on this in his recent encyclical: “The church draws her life from the Eucharist” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1). But how seriously do we take account of this, if more and more communities today are deprived of their regular Eucharist because of the absence of a priest? We know very well that today in many parts of the world, either because of far-flung parishes which the priest cannot cover every Sunday or because of the paucity of priests who cannot cater to the parishes in their charge every Sunday, most Christian communities go without a weekly Eucharist. At a recent meeting a friend from Brazil said that 70% of communities in his country do not have a priest to celebrate the weekly Eucharist for them. Another from Portugal spoke of priest friends who are each responsible for 8 to 12 parishes. To wait and pray that God will somehow raise vocations to the priesthood in countries where the birth rate is going down, refusing to make any viable alternate arrangement seems unreasonable, when what is involved is not a matter of faith, but of ecclesiastical discipline. To make matters worse, the lay people who generously cater to these communities celebrating the Liturgy of the Word are working under all sorts of restrictions. The aim of ecclesiastical discipline seems to be to protect the “sacred” identity and power of the priest and to set him apart from the community rather than to worry about its Eucharistic need. The image of the priest need not be a monolith. The Oriental Churches distinguish between the priests who lead the community Eucharist and the monks who are its intellectual and spiritual animators. However, we need not spend more time on this issue since I suspect that it will not be allowed to be discussed at this Synod.
Another point that will not probably be discussed at the Synod is the role of women in Eucharistic celebrations. Even if we do not think of women as priests, there are so many other roles that women can play and actually do play in many communities where there are no priests. In some parts of the world (Europe and Latin America) women, religious, and lay administer parishes, doing everything except celebrating the Eucharist. They prepare the young and the old for the sacraments. They conduct services of the Word and of prayer. They counsel people. They minister to the sick in the hospitals and homes. They organize and run community events. They facilitate community sharing. Their generosity and commitment deserves formal recognition and encouragement by the Christian community. In a recent letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to all the Bishops on The Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World (31 May 2004) there is not a word about what women are actually doing to animate the Eucharistic celebrations of many communities across the world. There is a section (IV) on the importance of Feminine values in the life of the Church. It speaks about how women are called to be unique examples and witnesses for all Christians of how the Bride is to respond in love to the love of the Bridegroom (16). Following Mary’s example, they can only receive the Word. It is significant that in this context reference is made to the reservation of priestly ordination solely to men (16). What the women are actually doing, even within the limits imposed on them, to animate the Eucharistic communities will not disappear because we choose to close our eyes to them.
Discussions concerning contemporary Eucharistic practice takes for granted the celebration of Sunday as the Lord’s Day and the community as primarily a territorial unit. These two could be rethought today. For many years now, in many places, the Saturday Eucharist is offered as a replacement for the Sunday Eucharist. The effect of this is that the link between Sunday and the weekly Eucharist is broken. Even earlier, in ‘mission’ lands, many communities living far away from the parish center used to celebrate the Eucharist whenever the priest happened to come by, whatever the day be. The priest came, rang the bell of the church and the people gathered for the celebration. In some places a catechist may have preceded the priest by a day. We hear from pastors that people who take part in a small community celebration during the week, whether Eucharistic or not, do not seem to feel the Sunday “obligation.” Basic Christian Communities (BCC) of all types may have an occasional Eucharist even when they are meeting on a weekday. The people may also find these smaller community celebrations more meaningful than the Sunday parish celebration. In some countries Sunday may be a working day. It is worth reflecting, therefore, without detriment to the symbolic importance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, whether we can focus more on the importance of occasional meaningful celebrations of the Eucharist in community.
Territorial parishes have always been large in “mission” lands. Today this is becoming true also in post-Christian countries. Besides, in many urban situations territorial parishes may be culturally pluralistic. We can think of creative ways of catering to such cultural pluralism. Even today in many parishes we can see that, during the Liturgy of the Word, the children go to another room with their catechist to have the Word of God explained to them in a different way. Could we think of more such groups in a parish community: the youth, people belonging to a particular association, the old people, etc.? We can think also of inter-territorial groups that focus on a particular culture or other element that naturally brings people together. We should take care of course that the larger community also experiences and celebrates its multi-cultural nature occasionally. But this need not be done every week. We can imagine a pluralistic pattern of celebrations in a given area. The ministers too may have different charisms and may be differently, though appropriately, qualified and prepared.
Inculturating the Eucharist
The Second Vatican Council inaugurated a period of inculturation in the liturgy. It laid down as a guiding principle the promotion of full, conscious, and active participation by the people. It affirmed the right of the Church to change whatever has not been “divinely instituted.” Though it suggested the preservation of the unity of the Latin Rite, it went on to evoke the emergence even of new ritual families and authorized bishops’ conferences to take initiatives in the matter. The Church in India responded to this invitation positively and got twelve points of adaptation approved by the Roman authorities. The first Indian Eucharistic prayer was never officially forwarded to Rome by the bishops.1 A second Indian Eucharistic prayer which was sent by the bishops to Rome has not elicited any response so far. In the meantime Rome has maintained the unity of the Latin Rite as a paramount principle of inculturation. While inculturation is now officially allowed, the conditions laid down are such that nothing is likely to happen. I do not wish however to go into the details of this painful history. However, on the occasion of reflecting about the reinvigoration of Eucharistic practice I cannot but evoke the prospects of inculturation, at least in some areas. I shall limit myself to four points.
First of all, this could be an occasion for the many bishops’ conferences across the world to reassert their right given to them by the Council to inculturate the liturgy, and the Eucharistic celebration as part of it, even leading to the emergence of new Ritual families in order to promote the full, active, and conscious participation by the community which is the agent of the celebration. We are told by the central authorities in the Church that the period of experimentation in the liturgy is over, while it has not been allowed even to start in a serious way. If various groups were doing various “experiments” because nothing was being allowed to happen, that is a reason to start real experimentation. Here the initiative belongs to the bishops’ conferences. I think that it is time that they asserted their responsibility and freedom in this matter.
Active participation demands that the people recognize the symbols spontaneously and do not need an elaborate introductory explanation. The symbols have a double meaning structure. The washing with or immersion in water at Baptism symbolizes purification and rebirth. The Hindus too wash themselves in the Ganges for the forgiveness of their sins. But in the context of the Christian faith, Baptism means, at a second level, dying and rising with Christ, becoming a child of God and becoming a member of the Christian community.
The first level of meaning of religious and sacramental symbols should be natural and self-evident. Only the second level needs to be explained. The symbols that Jesus and/or the early Church chose for the sacraments are natural, human, and social symbols like washing with water, anointing with oil, imposition of hands, and eating and drinking together. These are found in all cultures and can be understood at a first level by everyone. Only the second level of meaning will have to be explained in the light of the Christian faith.
Secondly, the “12 points” were proposed experimentally. They have not since been reviewed after many years of experimentation. On the one hand, some groups in the Christian community, have suggested that these points were “Brahminical” in origin and other groups in the Christian community do not feel at home. As a matter of fact, if we remove the accompanying Sanskrit chants, I do not see what is “Brahminical” about the rites. The aarathis
(aratis) are done by most cultural groups in India. I have seen Dalit and Adivasi groups doing it. However, it is true that the aarathis can be simplified and more focused.
I had suggested a review of the “12 points” many years ago. But my suggestions have fallen on deaf ears. I do not wish to go into the details here. Our bishops can do this on their own without taking this issue to the Synod. But a reference to these “12 points” at the Synod may inspire other local churches to do similar things on their own to make the Eucharist more meaningful for the people.2 For the Church in India the “12 points” were a first effort. They need to be further developed, perhaps with more sensitivity to local and cultural requirements.
The “12 points” seem to make the liturgy more prayerful. While it seems ideal for an ashram, it may be less suitable to a youth group. So I think the bishops’ conferences should have the freedom to develop different liturgies to suit different groups in the Church. Some liturgies could be more contemplative, while others could be more active.
My third point refers to the texts of the prayers in the Roman missal. The reform undertaken by the central authority in the Church has led to a new selection of prayers. The Church has gone back to its resources of early centuries. New prayers have been composed only for recently instituted feasts. The churches in other cultures are only allowed to translate these prayers for their own use. My questions are simple. Why should there be only a Roman missal? Why not an Indian or Chinese or African missal? After all, there are Byzantine, Coptic, Armenian, Syrian, and Maronite missals in the Church. Why should this freedom be denied to people who became Christians during the colonial period? Why should the people across the world not have the liberty to pray to God using the images and languages of their own cultures? Why should I put on a Latin mask when I enter the church? How many people understand or identify with the Latin turns of phrase and oratorical structure? I think the freedom given by the Council for the use of other languages in the Liturgy has been very narrowly interpreted.
It is often been repeated in the lex orandi (the law of prayers), lex credendi (the law of belief): that the prayer expresses the faith of the Church. The faith does not change. But the understanding of the faith and its theological explanation do change. If our doctrine and our theological understanding of the faith have changed over 20 centuries, it stands to reason that prayers written in the early centuries of Christianity may not reflect the contemporary understanding of the faith. There is a dichotomous contrast between this world and the next and an insistence on punishment and expiation for sin in the Latin prayers that a modern Indian Christian feels uncomfortable with.
If it is legitimate to have an Indian Christianity and an Indian theology, it is also legitimate to have prayers written in an Indian language, keeping in mind Indian cultural and religious sensibilities. If priests and ministers are tempted to improvise prayers, it is simply because either they do not feel at home with the prayers in the book or because the prayers do not meet the need of the moment. Anyone who has been present in charismatic prayer groups can testify that one of the attractions of such prayer groups is the freedom that people—non-priests—have to pray in their own way in their own language. This is also the secret of the success of popular devotions. It is in this context that the Indian bishops prepared an Indian Eucharistic prayer. If they are consistent, they should also demand an Indian missal composed by them with suitable assistance. The missal does not have the same status as the Bible in Christian awareness. It is a collection of prayers and need not be sacralized.
Finally, if the basic symbol of the Eucharist is a shared common meal, it must be experienced by the community as a meal, whatever the second level meaning that this symbol acquires in the context of the Christian faith. An important element in the meal is what we eat. Jesus understandably took the food and drink that was on the table during the paschal meal. He would expect that each community would share what it normally eats. Wheat is commonly available in India. There are regions in the world in which wheat will have to be imported. Unlike 20 years ago we have wine produced in India today. We do not have to import it any more from Italy or Australia. But there are countries in the world where wine is not produced. Even in India, wine is not the normal drink of the people, even on festive occasions. The question whether other materials besides bread made of wheat and wine made from grapes can be used in the Eucharist has been raised by theologians in different parts of the world. I would like to place this issue on the table for discussion, perhaps for future generations. It would not probably be taken up at this Synod.
The Liturgy of the Word
I shall now focus on some sections of the Eucharistic celebration. The first is the Liturgy of the Word. It is customary to speak of the Eucharist as consisting of two tables: the table of the Word and the table of the Bread. This part of the Eucharistic liturgy acquires greater importance today because many communities can celebrate only this part regularly. This is also the part that helps the people to look at their lives in the light of the Word of God and hear God’s call to conversion and God’s challenges to transform the world. The people are also helped to renew their vision of the Kingdom of God towards which they are moving. The homily by the priest can help to make the Word of God relevant to today’s situation.
But other ministers too can play the same role, though this is frowned upon by the central authority which seeks to protect the role of the priest in the community. The liturgy of the Word can be developed and enriched in various ways. The texts can be discussed by various groups at various times and places. I have known priests who prepare their homily with the help of a group of people who reflect on the Word of God with him during the week. The Basic Christian Communities and other similar groups can be encouraged to focus on the liturgical readings during the week. Leaders of these groups can be prepared at the level of the parish to facilitate discussions in such groups. Even on a Sunday the community can be divided in different ways according to their needs to read and reflect over the texts separately. I referred above to what is done for the children in some parishes. That method can be extended to other groups. At special times of the liturgical year and on festive occasions other media can be used: images, street plays, stories, PowerPoint presentations, short films, and corporal expressions like dance, music, and drama can be used both to communicate the Word and its challenges and to facilitate the response of the people. We often use the media for publicity. We do not use it in a provocative manner to inspire and challenge.
A creative celebration of the liturgy of the Word needs time. It is a question whether anything creative could be done within the one-hour limit that most Sunday liturgies seem to have, especially in modern, urban areas. If the Sunday liturgy cannot be prolonged, it is worth exploring whether the liturgy of the Word can be shifted to other times in the week in other groups, integrating all of these groups on a Sunday or another day in a common celebration around the table of the Bread.
May I mention in passing that nearly 30 years ago the Indian theologians evoked the possibility of using the Scriptures of other religions, of course in the context of the Christian Scriptures, in the liturgy. I shall not discuss this here except to say that I have seen some creative ways in which this can be done.
The Prayer of the Faithful and the Offertory
The prayer of the faithful and the offertory are the two occasions when the usually passive congregation becomes somewhat active. It may be good to encourage the people to come forward with their needs and propose them for prayer by the community in a way intelligible to everyone. This can be an excellent way of getting to know each other and of showing mutual concern. I do not think that this is exploited sufficiently in the liturgy.
People should, however, be helped to avoid making this occasion a press conference of their activities and concerns. One way of doing this is for a minister to collect written prayers. As they are read out to the community, the individual(s) concerned could be asked to stand up and be seen and recognized by everyone.
The offertory is seen today mostly as bringing gifts to the celebrant, especially if he is a special one like a bishop. In the early Church people brought bread and wine in abundance. A part of them that was used for the liturgy of the Eucharist, the rest was distributed to the poor after the celebration. Today of course the gifts can take other forms like money and the distribution to the poor too can be done in other ways. But it will be helpful if there is a public accounting of what is being received and distributed. We see this already happening in some churches. The offertory can also be made, on special occasions, the moment to express the integration of the whole universe in the self-offering of the community. Workers may bring their implements and products on Labor Day. Farmers can offer their produce on the feast of the harvest. Water, flowers, light, incense, and food can symbolize the five elements of the universe as the aarathis
(aratis) do in the Indian celebration of the liturgy. This may be an occasion to highlight and develop the cosmic context of the Eucharistic celebration and to explore the ecological implications of offering the fruits of the earth and the work of human hands.
Eucharist and Sharing
In the Gospel of John, the Eucharist is set in an interesting context. Jesus gives the new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is loving God in the other as he shows in the mystical image: “That they may all be one….” He demonstrates the implication of such love and communion in a threefold way. First of all, he washes the feet of the disciples, giving them an example of humble service. Then he shares food and drink to indicate not only sharing, but also communion in life. Finally he offers his own life as a sign of his love unto death. This is explained well by Cardinal Ratzinger:
In truth, Jesus is killed; he is nailed to a cross and dies amid torment. His blood is poured out, first in the Garden of Olives due to his interior suffering for his mission, then in the flagellation, the crowning with thorns, the crucifixion, and after his death in the piercing of his Heart. What occurs is above all an act of violence, of hatred, torture and destruction. At this point we run into a second, more profound level of transformation: he transforms, from within, the act of violent men against him into an act of giving on behalf of these men—into an act of love. This is dramatically recognizable in the scene of the Garden of Olives. What he teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, he now does: he does not offer violence against violence, as he might have done, but puts an end to violence by transforming it into love. The act of killing, of death, is changed into an act of love; violence is defeated by love. This is the fundamental transformation upon which all the rest is based. It is the true transformation which the world needs and which alone can redeem the world. Since Christ in an act of love has transformed and defeated violence from within, death itself is transformed: love is stronger than death. It remains forever.3
The early Church sought to realize this communion. They sold all that they had, sharing everything in common and taking each one according to his/her need. It is in that context that they prayed and broke bread together. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul takes them to task for celebrating the Lord’s Supper unworthily, with some people feasting while others went hungry.
The message is clear. The Christian community cannot celebrate the Eucharist meaningfully if it does not share its goods. The sharing of food and drink is a symbol of sharing of life and all that life demands. In this context it is difficult to imagine a Christian community where some people are not able to meet their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, while others have plenty. The kind of communion that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles may be ideal. The early community itself was not able to maintain it since the apostles were obliged to appoint deacons to meet the complaints of the groups that felt neglected. But a community that does nothing to share its goods with the poor has no right to celebrate the Eucharist. Its Eucharist will have no meaning.
Today, Christians in rich countries are helping the poor in other countries. I would like, however, to make two remarks. Most of the richer countries in the world today became rich by exploiting others during the colonial period. Most of them remain rich or grow more rich by continuing to exploit others in open and hidden ways through unjust economic, commercial, and political structures. In such situations it is not enough that Christians share what they have. They also have to get involved in movements that seek to promote more just economic, commercial, and political structures. In today’s world individualistic liberal capitalism seems to be the dominant system. No one speaks of socialism anymore. Yet, I do not think that without a sense of community and solidarity we can move towards a more just world. The Eucharist must give Christians this sense of community and solidarity.
On the other hand, I am afraid that Christians in former colonial and mission countries like India are still keen to receive, but not fully ready yet to give and to share with the poor. Most parishes have social projects. It will be interesting to find out how much of the money comes from the parish itself. What structures have we set up to encourage the well-to-do Christians to help the poor?
Eucharist and Community
St. Paul affirms more than once that to share the new life of the risen Jesus is to recognize equality in the community. In the risen Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor master, male nor female. The gospel of Jesus should have been a message of liberation to the Dalits of India, oppressed as they are socially, economically, and politically. At a first stage, Roberto de Nobili affirmed that one could be Christian and Indian, not Portuguese. At his time and even today to be Indian is to belong to a caste. But it was a pity that nothing was done to abolish the system even within the Church. The Church took more than 300 years to declare that the caste system is sinful and unchristian. If this is true, then someone who practices the caste system insofar as it justifies social inequality has no right to celebrate the Eucharist, which is a symbol of equality and community. And yet, the hierarchical caste system has been and still is, in some places, an integral element of the celebration of the Eucharist. This is simply unchristian and unacceptable. It would be interesting and welcome if the Indian bishops came out with a statement on the occasion of the Synod saying that people who are still practicing caste discrimination cannot and should not celebrate the Eucharist. The problem is that the Eucharist has become simply an act of devotion and of union with God in and through Christ. Its social dimension is ignored, if not forgotten. It is time that we rediscovered it.
Similarly, the Eucharist has always been associated with reconciliation. It is in itself a sacrament of reconciliation as a celebration of community. Still villages and communities, divided by caste and other communal conflicts, will happily celebrate the Eucharist together, without realizing the meaninglessness of the gesture. Our theologians would not declare these Eucharists invalid because they focus only on the priest and what he does. With reference to inter-communion between Catholics and Protestants, it is often discussed whether the Eucharist is a means or a celebration of unity. I think that we could raise a similar question with regard to communities that are deeply divided.
Such an attention to the community dimension of the Eucharist should not, however, lead us to make use of it as an instrument to make people whom we consider “erring individuals” fall in line. We have heard of cases recently in the United States of America that some bishops were refusing communion, not only to political leaders based on their political policies, but also to people who voted for them in the elections. The community celebration should not become a political tool. The Synod could say something about such a practical matter.
Some bishops in Europe (especially in Germany) have raised other questions like inter-communion between Protestants and Catholics, at least in mixed marriages, on special occasions, and communion to Catholics who have been divorced and remarried. Theologians in Asia have raised questions regarding communion to members of other religions who manifest belief in Christ. I need not go into them since they are not likely to be discussed at the Synod.
Could the Synod be the occasion to bury the system of “mass stipends” once and for all? The people should certainly be encouraged to contribute to the maintenance of priests and of the Church. But any impression that they are paying for masses must be avoided. The kind of theology that suggests more masses = more merit = more grace should not only be discouraged, but forbidden. The ghost of indulgences refuse to disappear from the Church. If the mystical body of Christ is celebrating the Eucharist, certainly the living and the dead are involved in it. It is good for people to experience their fellowship with the dead in the context of the Eucharistic celebration. They can feel certain solidarity in prayer with the living and the dead. But, simply paying for masses to be said for the dead in which one is not present is certainly an abuse. A few months ago the newspapers in India reported that masses for the American dead were being celebrated in Kerala, South India. The papers, understandably, set it in the context of the phenomenon of “outsourcing” in industry!
The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not a problem for the Indian Church in general. So it does not merit discussion. But what may merit discussion is the various real presences of Christ of which the Council speaks.
The Christians in India may attend too exclusively to the presence of Christ in the sacrament and ignore the other real presences.
The point I would like to stress in conclusion is that the Eucharist is not primarily a celebration of Christ and of the priest who acts in Christ’s name (in persona Christi), in which the people are present and participate, but a celebration of the community, led by the priest and united to Christ as his body. The people are not merely called to participate, but to celebrate. The Eucharist should not be isolated as an act of devotion, but must be seen as the center of Christian life. As a symbolic celebration it supposes a life in conformity to what people celebrate. If the life of the people does not correspond to what the people celebrate, then the celebration becomes meaningless and ineffective. Therefore the priest and the people must pay more attention to how people live than to how they celebrate. God may make up for some deficiencies in the celebration. But even God cannot make up for the failure of people to live in love in the community in which they celebrate.
* Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 17 April 2003. English edition in L’Osservatore Romano, 23 April 2003.
** Redemptoris Sacramentum (On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist), 23 April 2003, Rome.
1. Here I am speaking with reference only to the Latin Church in India.
2. The “Congolese version of the Roman Rite for the Eucharist” is a similar example.
3. In a talk he gave to the Bishops of Campania, Italy, 2 June 2002.
Asia needs a “mango” Church, missionary says
October 24, 2006
A British-born Divine Word missiologist has told the Asian Mission Congress that the Church in the world’s most populous continent needs to overcome its peripheral local adaptation to become a “mango Church” – yellow inside and outside.
Fr. John Mansford Prior, who visited Australia last month, told the Asian Mission Congress in Chiang Mai, Thailand that the Church in Asia must become totally Asian to make Christ’s message meaningful for people in the continent, UCA News says.
British-born Fr. Prior has worked in Indonesia since 1973 observes that the Church in Asia remains Western with only peripheral local adaptation. Asia has either a “banana Church,” yellow on the outside and white inside, or a “coconut Church,” brown on the outside and white inside, Fr. Prior said.
But what the Church in Asia needs instead is a “mango Church” that is yellow outside and inside, Fr. Prior added.
In a talk punctuated by applause, Fr. Prior, who heads the Candraditya Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture on Flores Island in eastern Indonesia, enumerated the strengths and challenges of the Asian Church for the more than 1,000 people attending the 18-22 October congress. The Church, Fr. Prior insisted, should seek “the face of Jesus” in and through “our Asian cultures” starting with the poor, who account for most Asian Christians.
He added that when globalisation threatens to undermine tribal society, which cherishes respect for humans, compassion, honesty and hospitality, the Gospel helps them evolve a “counterculture.”
Fr. Prior, who is also a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said he wants the Church to nurture compassion and a “Gospel-based culture of giving” after breaking free of a “prosperous social order” that believes in “crass-consumerism” and “greed-induced capitalism.”
‘Mango Church’ Needed In Asia, Says Inter-Cultural Expert (UCA News, 24/10/06)
Jesuit Superior General Wants More Inculturation, Social Involvement
November 14, 2006
Old Goa, India – Visiting Jesuit Superior General Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach has exhorted Jesuits in South Asia to minimize globalization’s ill effects and accelerate inculturation. At a Nov. 10 meeting with the 21 Jesuit provincial and regional superiors in South Asia, he spoke about globalization and its effects, according to Jesuit Father Savio Baretto, rector of Bom Jesus Basilica in Old Goa. He told UCA News the superior general outlined how the Jesuits are responding and how to spread Jesus’ message in the context of globalization. Father Kolvenbach, who is expected to retire in 2008, visited Goa Nov. 5-11. Now a western Indian state, Goa was a Portuguese colony in the 16th century, when the Jesuits made it their mission center for Asia.
The current head of the Society of Jesus went on to Gujarat state and is scheduled to visit Mumbai, also in western India, before leaving on Nov. 17. During the two-hour, closed-door meeting on Nov. 10, the superior general also addressed subjects ranging from refugees to the 35th General Congregation of the society in 2008, Father Baretto said. Father Kolvenbach also held individual meetings with the 21 major superiors, including those from Nepal and Sri Lanka.
He “answered queries on being more inculturated, to the extent that he spoke about the Jesuit stand on local issues and urged us to collaborate with laypeople,” Father Baretto reported… During his homily, Father Kolvenbach urged the gathering to follow Saint Ignatius’ footsteps and think about how the saint could have responded to existing social situations.
Father Baretto described the visit as “a boost” for Jesuits. “We got a better understanding of our society. We have been enthused,” he said.
RSS pays tribute to Baselios
January 31, 2007
New Delhi (ICNS) – Organiser, the English mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has in a rare gesture paid tributes to the late Major Archbishop His Beatitude Cyril Mar Baselios, calling him a ‘Saffron Priest’.
The Indian Catholic reproduces the obituary: Saffron priest passes away by S Chandrasekhar
Former Catholic Bishops Conference of India President and strong votary of Bharatiya Churches, Major Archbishop and Catholicos of Syrian-Malankara Catholic Church, Cyril Mar Baselios passed away in Thiruvananthapuram, on January 18, 2007. He was 72. He was in hospital for some days due to kidney related problems and died of cardiac arrest.
Right from the time he was the Bathery Bishop, way back in seventies, he gave a Bharatiya approach to Christian rites and beliefs. The chapels were designed in the model of Kerala Temples complete with stone and tall brass lamps. He also took a unique interest in giving Bharatiya names to Christian institutions. The Bishop’s house was called Dharmapeetom, Seminary-Gurukulam, Service wing-Sreyas, Religious house-Sannidhi and Youth Centre-Prathiksha… Cyril Mar Baselios merged Bharatiya culture and traditions with Christian beliefs, giving a new tone and tenor to Christianity in India. His palace was named ‘Thirusannidhanam’ and it was complete with temple model chapel and stone lamps. He took pride in calling himself a Bharatiya first. When questioned of his using saffron dress, he used to say that he has pride in being a link to the great Bharatiya culture and hence has a right and responsibility to use Hindu symbols. “I am a Bharatiya Saint and what else should I wear, except Saffron.” The Bishop also used to carry a Japamala with him. (The Hindu equivalent of the Rosary –Michael)
The Bishop was the follower of Inter-religious dialogue initiated by his predecessor Archbishop Mar Gregorios. Mar Gregorios cooled frayed tempers during the Nilackel Agitation in 1983, when Christians erected a cross near Sabarimala. He ordered removal of cross and soothed Hindu anger…
He was a strong votary of Indianisation of Churches and the brass lamps with oil wicks, Vidyarambam in churches on Vijayadasami, church contribution to Hindu festivals etc. were his exclusive contributions.
… The Sangh said, “The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh expresses its deep-felt condolence in the demise of His Holiness Major Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios of the Malankara Catholic Church. He was a highly respected spiritual personality. He gave an Indian face to Christian priesthood. He deeply believed in the Indian culture and worked towards the Indianisation of the Indian church. He was in the forefront of Indianising the church services.”
… Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP leader and former HRD minister said, “The Revered Archbishop was a man of great vision. He had a deep knowledge of the Indian spiritual heritage and he worked tirelessly for a better understanding of major religious traditions in the country and their cultural unity. He believed in the independence of the Indian church order and he was a proud Indian who gave an Indian face to his religious order. He believed that the country had to develop on a spiritual path rooted in Indian tradition. I had a number of meetings with the respected Archbishop and we found close similarity in our views on various issues. He was a great educationist. I visited and inaugurated one of the engineering colleges in Thiruvananthapuram. I could see that the rituals and services at the Archbishop’s house were truly Indian. His demise is a great loss in our socio-religious life and I pray for everlasting peace to his great soul.”
Indian Christ worshipped in Kerala temple!
Thiruvananthapuram, January 29, 2007
The Kollam diocese has opened a chapel where Christian theology embraces Indian religious motifs.
Dan Brown could take an idea or two from a chapel in Kerala for his next bestseller. This modern version of the Renaissance classic has Jesus Christ and his disciples eating out of plantain leaves. The thirteen men, squatting on a tile-paved floor, are definitely Indians. They could be feasting anywhere in Kerala, with two traditional lamps around.
Surprises don’t end with the altar painting at the Jagat Jyoti Mandir near Kollam. Eclipsing the conventional crucifix, Christ is sculpted in a sitting posture. He meditates in Abhayamudra under the shadow of a peepul tree. After his White, Black and Hispanic avatars, the West Asian prophet is the Enlightened a la Buddha (though the Nepal-born Buddha himself has acquired a Mongol face amid his East Asian followers.)
The church/temple named Jagat Jyoti Mandir (House of the Light of the Universe), inaugurated by Kollam bishop Stanley Roman on Friday, is supposed to be a place of exchange for religions. “We envisaged this chapel as a place to promote fellowship among religions. You can see every religion’s motif here,” said Fr. Romance Antony, director of Quilon Social Service Society (QSS), an agency of the Quilon diocese.
“The idea is to highlight an Indian experience of Christianity. Our bishops were always in favour of the indigenisation of the Church since the days of the Second Vatican Council. There are many churches in north India, which are architecturally close to Hindu temples but in the south Christianity seldom deviated from the original design. I doubt if anyone has done an experiment like this,” Fr. Romance Antony added.
On Friday, the bishop celebrated the mass sitting on the floor. So did the believers in the chapel with no chairs. The liturgy was conventional, but bhajans added to the rituals. “Bhajans are not really Hindu-specific. It can be applied to any religion. Parameshwara can be perceived as the Omnipotent and Vikhneshwara the Almighty in the Christian context. We just need to be open to cultures around us,” Fr. Antony said. A bowl of rice and a bronze lamp can be seen beside Christ, who turns water into wine at the biblical wedding on the glass panels in the Jagat Jyoti Mandir. Tantric symbols of the Panchabhootas (the Five Elements) are depicted on coloured glasses. The structure, with a tall stone lamp in front of it, could easily be mistaken for a Hindu temple but for the cross on top of it.
“We are planning to make this church a centre of activity. We are going to conduct a symposium on environment, attended by religious leaders, as a first step. Every religion is closely related to environment and has a different outlook on it,” Fr. Antony said.
What we are witnessing in this Quilon “church” is heresy, blasphemy and sacrilege. Jesus the Son of God and Saviour and Redeemer of the world is downgraded to a yogi who has achieved enlightenment as his hand mudra conveys. The Temple of the Living God becomes “a place of exchange for religions“. We’ve been had!
Let us examine another version of the story that was published two months later:
Borrowing in faith: Kerala church creates ripples
By Nandagopal Nair, Kollam, Kerala, March 20, 2007 NDTV.com, March 19, 2007
NDTV.com, March 19, 2007
A new church in Kollam district in Kerala has adopted the motifs and religious practices of other faiths during its various ceremonies.
It is an attempt on part of the Latin Catholic church to promote inter-faith dialogue and understanding, but it has been received with caution.
Fr. Romance Antony
conducts Sunday Mass at the
Jagat Jyoti Mandir
in Neendakara Panchayat.
Both the priest and his congregation sit cross-legged on the floor listening to bhajans. The pulpit and pews are missing. There isn’t even a crucifix behind what should have been the altar.
Christ is represented as seated in padmasana like the Buddha under the Bodhi tree.
“There is a paradigm shift from a closed community to a community which is able to accept other values and symbols,” said Fr. Antony.
Confluence of religious symbolism
Inside the Church, there are reflections of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and even Zoroastrianism.
Even the Last Supper as portrayed by Da Vinci reflects a strong indigenisation. Christ and his disciples are shown seated eating from banana leaves.
And atop the Church is a huge “Om” where there’s normally a crucifix.
Father Antony insists there’s a method to this confluence of religious symbolism. “Most of the Rig Veda symbols are neutral. They do not pertain to any religion, not even to Hinduism. Say “Om” or the kirtans in Rig Veda – they go beyond religion and Gods.
They are part of a universal religious search
and can be practiced by all religions,” he added.
Public opinion is divided in this small fishing hamlet. While some see it as an attempt to convert people to Christianity, others view it as a dilution of the Christian ethos.
“Initially, Christians were opposed to it. Now they are slowly accepting it,” said Francis, a devotee.
“Without any discrimination on the basis of caste or religion and seeing everyone as equals, it is a good thing,” added Joseph, a devotee. It is yet another feather in India’s secular cap. The Jagat Jyoti Mandir at Neendakara Panchayat is one of a kind – a church that assimilates the best of all religions – an example that others could well emulate.
THE PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA: ROMANCING WITH HINDUSM AND OTHER NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
By Michael Prabhu, March 22, 2007
WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA?
WHY ARE THE BISHOPS MAINTAINING SILENCE?
OR IS ALL THIS WITH THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND APPROVAL?
WHERE ARE THE PROPHETS IN THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL?
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS TROJAN HORSE OF HINDUISM, SYNCRETISM AND PLURALISM WITH THE CHURCH?
The CBCI has approved only “12 PONTS OF ADAPTATION’ towards ‘Inculturation’ or ‘Indianisation’. But what we read in the NDTV report below is a blatant Hindu-isation of the Faith by our priests.
Fr. Romance Antony’s statement that “Most of the Rig Veda symbols are neutral. They do not pertain to any religion, not even to Hinduism” is untrue. This ministry’s soon-to-be-released reports on Vedic and Vedantic motifs, symbols, rites, rituals and customs will provide the necessary conclusive and irrefutable evidence in complete detail.
“There isn’t even a crucifix behind what should have been the altar… And atop the Church is a huge “Om” where there’s normally a crucifix. “
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s NBCLC (Bangalore) Mandir (temple) already has a ‘kalasam’ or pot in place of the Cross.
No altar, no Crucifix. What next? ‘Prasad’ replacing the Eucharist? By extension of Fr. Romance’s arguments, will the ‘Om’ or the ‘kalasam’ replace the pectoral Cross that our Bishops wear?
“They are part of a universal religious search…”
We, Catholic Christians, are not on a ‘religious search’. We possess the fullness of Truth and a mandate from Jesus in Matthew 28: 19, 20 to preach and baptize, or has the priest not been given it during his formation?
“…some see it as an attempt to convert people to Christianity.”
The tragedy of it all is this: We are becoming less distinguishable from our Hindu majority in thought, word and deed; but, Hindu fundamentalists are simply not able to perceive the ongoing suffocation of the Faith being carried out from within. They believe that it is a cunning, new Christian plot to convert Hindus to Christianity by appearing to be more like them. THEY understand the unicity of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Regrettably, we don’t.
There were 13 comments to my post.
Comment on the above story by a Deacon at
By Deacon Jim, March 19, 2007
The Pope writing all that about being true to who Latin Rite Roman Catholics are, the Eucharist at the center, Gregorian chant, Latin should be used, etc. doesn’t seem to be playing in this part of India.
The shepherd is leading the sheep astray. For my part I’m wondering why they want to refer to themselves as Catholics.
In connection with the news report, this ministry wrote to the Bishop of the Catholic Latin rite diocese of Quilon (Kollam):
THE PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA: ROMANCING WITH HINDUISM AND OTHER NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
KIND ATTENTION: MOST REV. STANLEY ROMAN
BISHOP OF QUILON
I refer to the NDTV programme of March 20, 2007, and the (above) news from the NDTV website:
The CBCI has approved only “12 POINTS OF ADAPTATION” towards ‘Inculturation’ or ‘Indianisation’. But what we read in the NDTV report above is a blatant Hindu-isation of the Faith by our priests.
Fr. Romance Antony’s statement that “Most of the Rig Veda symbols are neutral. They do not pertain to any religion, not even to Hinduism”
is untrue. This ministry’s soon-to-be-released reports on Vedic and Vedantic motifs, symbols, rites, rituals and customs will provide the necessary conclusive and irrefutable evidence in complete detail.
“There isn’t even a crucifix behind what should have been the altar… And atop the Church is a huge “Om” where there’s normally a crucifix. ”
The Bishops’ Conference’s NBCLC [Bangalore] Mandir [temple] already has a ‘kalasam’ or pot in place of the Cross on top of the building.
No altar, no Crucifix. What next? ‘Prasad’ replacing the Eucharist? By extension of Fr. Romance’s arguments, will the ‘Om’ or the ‘kalasam’ replace the pectoral Cross that our Bishops wear?
“Christ is represented as seated in padmasana like the Buddha under the Bodhi tree.”
Jesus is the Enlightened One, not a yogi seeking enlightenment; Padmasana is a limb of yoga, a Hindu religious practice which the Karnataka, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu State governments, and the UPA at the Centre, have proposed making mandatory in all educational institutions, and which the minority religious communities in M.P. have recently protested against.
Hence, it is wrong to depict Jesus thus.
“They are part of a universal religious search…”
We, Catholic Christians, are not on a ‘religious search’. We have the Truth [John 14: 6], and a mandate from Jesus in Matthew 28: 19, 20; or has the priest not been given it during his formation?
“…some see it as an attempt to convert people to Christianity.”
The tragedy of it all is this: We are becoming less distinguishable from our Hindu majority in thought, word and deed; but, Hindu fundamentalists are simply not able to perceive the ongoing suffocation of the Faith being carried out from within. They believe that it is a cunning, new Christian plot to convert Hindus to Christianity by appearing to be more like them. THEY understand the unicity of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
Regrettably, we don’t.
This ministry will shortly publish a series of reports identifying by name the dozens of priests and nuns who are promoting error (such as in the news item above]; and various New Age meditations, psychotherapies and alternative medicines), and identifying by name the dioceses in which they are being propagated unchecked.
I have written to you by email several times over the last three years, but I have not received any response from you. This morning I telephoned your office, and the lady there confirmed this email id is correct. However I am posting a copy to you separately tomorrow. I would be privileged if you let me have your response to the priest’s actions, the news report, and my comments.
Sd/- Michael Prabhu
Individually addressed personalized letters were sent by email to the approximately 170 Cardinals and bishops of India.
Similar e-letters were sent to the Apostolic Nuncio, the Bishop-Designate of Nepal, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Hong Kong, the Directors of the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) and Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), the National Secretary of the Conference of Religious, India (CRI), and the Executive Secretaries of 12 of the 13 CBCI Commissions and Offices, and to the CCBI Laity Commission.
I had printed individual letters on the ministry’s letterhead, and posted them first to the Apostolic Nuncio, the Bishop of Nepal, the 2 Cardinals, all 27 Archbishops, to 30 Bishops, and to 3 CBCI Commissions; then to all the remaining.
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA 01
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA 02
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA-RESPONSES
Letter to the editor in The New Leader, July 16-31, 2007
The interview with Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, “Inculturation in Asia” (NL June 1-15 ’07) was an eye-opener. It had down to earth views on our practice of liturgy. Surely we use some western rituals in our liturgy. How can they touch our people’s minds and hearts, since we have our own culture and customs? Evidently we have to lead people to Jesus and his good news through their own culture. But the hurdle to the process of inculturation is people with traditionalist and conservative attitudes. I wonder why we should call ourselves “Roman Catholics” instead of Indian Catholics.
Antony Inigo SJ. Pune 411 014
The New Leader, August 1-15, 2007 Letter to the editor For Indian Catholics
Antony Inigo SJ’s question (NL July 16-31 ’07) is right. Our own Indian customs and culture are much more valuable and meaningful than those of the West. So it is high time we call ourselves Indian Catholics. The term ‘Roman Catholics’ makes us look foreign. In the present state of communalism, false propaganda and hatred against Christianity and persecution of Christians, shouldn’t we avoid all such things that make us look like foreigners?
S. Carmel, Chennai 600 028
The Jesuit Fr. Inigo believes that “the hurdle to the process of inculturation is people with traditionalist and conservative attitudes“. I say thank God for that!
Carmel lives a couple of hundred meters from where I do. She and her family members who are all leaders in our parish community, engage in pranic healing, yoga, surya namaskar…
Catholic parishes adapt Hindu ritual to initiate children to education
The New Leader, November 16-30, 2007
Fr. Joseph Alexander and a few other Catholic priests became quite busy on the day Hindus in Kerala initiated their children to alphabets.
For Hindus it is auspicious to begin learning on Vijaydashami, the tenth day after the new moon in their month of Kaartika. Hindus traditionally bring children to temples and socio-cultural leaders to help them write the first few letters in local Malayalam language. Whoever initiates the ritual uses the child’s index finger to draw letters hailing Hindu gods on a platter of rice paddy. People of Kerala have come to view the ritual as a socio-cultural event for people of many faiths.
Fr. Alexander, a priest of Latin rite, said that such functions “no way dilute” Catholic faith, but only “help people grow in faith.” Fr. Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar rite said if there is “no dilution of faith”, the Church should promote the ritual in “a Christian way”.
Society Cannot Hope Without God, Says Pope – Urges Canadian Bishops to Evangelize Culture
VATICAN CITY, May 22, 2006 (Zenit.org)
When addressing the bishops of the episcopal conference of Atlantic Canada on Saturday, during their five-yearly visit to Rome, the Holy Father urged them to proclaim the truth of Christ with passion, and to promote catechesis and religious education… The Bishop of Rome said that “it is of great importance that the catechetical and religious education programs” “deepen the faithful’s understanding and love of our Lord and his Church, and reawaken in them the zeal for Christian witness which has its root in the sacrament of Baptism.” “In this regard,” the Pontiff added, “particular care must be taken to ensure that the intrinsic relationship between the Church’s Magisterium, individuals’ faith, and testimony in public life is preserved and promoted. Only in this way can we hope to overcome the debilitating split between the Gospel and culture.”
Papal Address to Bishops in Formation Course
VATICAN CITY, October 23, 2006 (Zenit.org)
Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sept. 23 to the bishops taking part in a formation course organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
I greet first of all Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Missionary Dicastery for only a few months, and I thank him for his kind words on behalf of you all…
You are called to be Pastors among peoples, many of whom do not yet know Jesus Christ. As those primarily responsible for Gospel proclamation, you must therefore make a considerable effort to ensure that all are given the possibility of accepting him… More and more, you are feeling the need to inculturate the Gospel, to evangelize cultures and to foster a sincere and open dialogue with one and all in order to build together a more brotherly and supportive humanity.
FROM MR. JOHN DAYAL
February 8, 2007
Prof Shamsul Ismail’s letter to Indian Cricket captain Rahul Dravid
Dear Rahul Dravid, Namaskar!
…I am sorry to write that by participating in the birth centenary programme of M. S. Golwalkar (Guruji), the ideologue of the RSS, in Nagpur on January 20, 2007, you have not only violated the trust which this country has put in you but also saddened large sections of your fans who love and adore you because you and your team represent a Secular-Democratic India. According to a report which appeared in the Hindi organ of the RSS, Panchjanya (February 4, 2007, p.11), ‘Indian cricket captain inaugurated the Surya Namaskar Mahayagya programme in the Vidarbh region (of Maharashtra)’. This campaign was organized by RSS ‘to commemorate the birth centenary of Shri Guruji’ who happened to be the second chief and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS. The cover page of Panchjanya also shows you lighting the lamp before the garlanded photograph of Golwalkar.
I do not know who led you to join this programme of the RSS but I feel duty-bound to bring to your notice few crucial facts about the RSS and Guruji who led it from 1940 to 1973… Isn’t it shocking that you went to honour such a person!
Let me end with the hope that a great cricketer like you who stands as a symbol of Democratic-Secular India will not betray the trust the country has shown in you and fall prey to the designs of Hindu Separatism. Wishing you all the best.
Shamsul Islam, firstname.lastname@example.org, February 6, 2007
John Dayal’s Note:
All too many of us, Lay persons, Nuns, Pastors, Priests and Bishops of every possible denomination have fallen unwittingly into the trap of ‘Indianising’ Christianity… We have thus failed to challenge erosion of such guarantees unless they affected managerial control of schools and colleges — no more, no less. Not too late to wake up. Certainly not too late to stand up and be counted.
Member: National Integration Council, Government of India; National President: All India Catholic Union; Secretary General: All India Christian Council.
Inculturation – Let’s address the problems over here…
By Binny John, Bangalore
I noticed in some of the recent Renewal Voice issues articles coming on the theme of Inculturation and the errors that have inadvertently crept into certain sections of the Indian Catholic Church. It shows that this particular topic has caused heated debate and anger amongst believers over the last few decades. In that sense, it is not a new phenomenon.
But the fact that it keeps coming up again and again warrants that the Church Authorities (Bishops / CBCI / etc.) seriously address and take a public stand on the matter to hopefully put an end to this malaise that seems to perennially dog the Indian Catholic Church. My last article was on Love, and hence I was hesitant to write on this topic immediately afterwards. But Love does not mean side-stepping or misinterpreting or winking at the Truth. For Love is always firmly and eternally grounded in the Truth.
To understand the issue, it is important to briefly peep into the recent past. Vatican II opened the doors and windows of the Church and much good has happened. However, it was not without its downsides. Partly, it was because some of its teachings were either misrepresented or misinterpreted. It was during this period, somewhere in the 1970s, when the bishops of India approved for an experimental use a form of the Eucharistic prayer which integrates native religious concepts. The idea was to see as to how the Church could be more Indian in its approach and outlook (given the fact that Christianity was generally perceived as a foreign religion). But, down the line, there seems to have been a crossing of the ‘lakshman rekha’ in the way this experimentation proceeded in certain quarters of the Church.
As Capt. Mervin John Lobo rightly pointed out in his article on Inculturation (in the previous Renewal Voice issue), the root cause appears to be a blurring of the lines between culture and religion. Culture relates to aspects such as language, food, clothing, societal traditions, etc., while religion is a certain set of dogmas and related traditions. It is here that some theologians seem to have gone off-track. They have inadvertently crossed the ‘lakshman rekha’ – in this context, ‘inculturation’ has sometimes crossed over to become ‘syncretism’ which is the mixing of religions. This is something that the Lord God Almighty explicitly forbids and abhors as he warned repeatedly in the OT and NT, and very pertinently through the words of St. Paul who said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14).
This traditional and orthodox position is also reflected in the Instruction on Liturgical Inculturation, issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship during the late 1990s. The Instruction insists that “changes in the liturgy must not obscure the ‘substantial’ and visible unity of the Roman rite” (§§36, 54). Changes are to be made “only when the good of the church genuinely and certainly requires them” (§46), and not as a matter of principle. Third, the Congregation ominously warns against the use of inculturation for “political ends” (§49). Moreover, it qualifies CLP by insisting that “the content of the texts of the typical Latin edition is to be preserved” (§53). It affirms the priority of the Bible as a source of liturgical language (§23; cf. §28), and suggests that certain terms, such as baptisma and eucharistia, may simply be transliterated from one language to another (§53). This affirms, at least within certain limits, the possibility of a universal Christian vocabulary.
Hence, it is made absolutely clear, both from Scripture and official Church teaching that inculturation be prudently and rightly implemented in order to enhance the meaning, beauty and grandeur of the Gospel. Never should the fundamentals of the faith be ever tinkered or tampered with. Unfortunately, this has happened in certain sections of the Indian Church where chants and symbols from non-Christian religions have been discreetly inserted into the liturgy and other sacred spheres. This has been done by some theologians who have gone off-track. God specifically warns against adding to or deleting from the Word of God in the Book of Revelation – “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). A similar warning has been given in the Roman Rite on Inculturation (printed as a small booklet and made available at St. Paul’s a few years back).
In order to highlight the distinctiveness of God’s implicit revelation in Christianity compared to the truths propounded by non-Christian religions, I think it would be worthwhile to reflect on certain statements from the Vatican document “DOMINUS IESUS” ON THE UNICITY AND SALVIFIC UNIVERSALITY OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by the erstwhile Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (currently, Pope Benedict XVI).
“The proper response to God’s revelation is “the obedience of faith (Rom 16:26; cf. Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) by which man freely entrusts his entire self to God, offering ‘the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals’ and freely assenting to the revelation given by him”.15
Faith is a gift of grace: “in order to have faith, the grace of God must come first and give assistance; there must also be the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and gives ‘to everyone joy and ease in assenting to and believing in the truth'”.16 The obedience of faith implies acceptance of the truth of Christ’s revelation, guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself:17 “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed”.18 Faith, therefore, as “a gift of God” and as “a supernatural virtue infused by him”, 19 involves a dual adherence: to God who reveals and to the truth which he reveals, out of the trust which one has in him who speaks. Thus, “we must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.20
For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. If faith is the acceptance in grace of revealed truth, which “makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently”, 21 then belief, in the other religions, is that sum of experience and thought that constitutes the human treasury of wisdom and religious aspiration, which man in his search for truth has conceived and acted upon in his relationship to God and the Absolute.22
This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance.
The Church’s tradition, however, reserves the designation of inspired texts to the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, since these are inspired by the Holy Spirit.24 Taking up this tradition, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council states: “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 20:31; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 3:15-16), they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself”.25 These books “firmly, faithfully, and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures”.26″
The above passages from “Dominus Iesus” clearly highlight the supremacy, uniqueness and the universality of the Christian faith. It also highlights the fact that this faith has been received by the Church from God Himself and needs to be received and transmitted by virtue of the “obedience of faith”. Elsewhere, it also highlights certain wrong attitudes that cause “syncretistic” elements to creep in.
In this regard, I once again quote, “The roots of these problems are to be found in certain presuppositions of both a philosophical and theological nature, which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth. Some of these can be mentioned: the conviction of the elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth, even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, according to which what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which, by regarding reason as the only source of knowledge, becomes incapable of raising its “gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being”;8 the difficulty in understanding and accepting the presence of definitive and eschatological events in history; the metaphysical emptying of the historical incarnation of the Eternal Logos, reduced to a mere appearing of God in history; the eclecticism of those who, in theological research, uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and theological contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.”
Hence, it becomes important for the Church Authorities to address this issue so that the official Church stand becomes very clear and implemented (in spirit and truth). It should also step in and address the discrepancies that that have crept in this area, especially in certain ‘Catholic’ ashrams and institutes under the control and influence of some off-track theologians.
Ranjith: regarding “timing and nature of the Motu Proprio, nothing yet is known”
A final point I wish to make here concerns some practices introduced in mission territories, for example, in Asia, in the name of change, which are counter to its cultural heritage.
In some Asian countries we see a trend to introduce Communion in the hand which is received standing. This is not at all consonant with Asian culture. The Buddhists worship prostrate on the floor with their forehead touching the ground. Moslems take off their shoes and wash their feet before entering the mosque for worship. The Hindus enter the temple bare-chested as a sign of submission. When people approach the king of Thailand or the emperor of Japan, they do so on their knees as a sign of respect. But in many Asian countries the Church has introduced practices like just a simple bow to the Blessed Sacrament instead of kneeling, standing while receiving Holy Communion, and receiving Communion on the hand. And we know that these cannot be considered practices congruent with Asian culture.
Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith on Eucharist Exhortation
April 25 2007, Indonesia
Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don (now a Cardinal -Michael), secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has spoken with UCA News about the recent apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist and its significance for the Church in Asia. The Vatican released the document, Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Charity), on March 13. That text, whose English version has more than 25,000 words and more than 250 footnotes, confirms the validity of the liturgical renewal prompted by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and endorses recommendations made by the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in October 2005.
Following the Second Vatican Council, there has been much talk, including among Asian bishops, of the need for inculturation of the liturgy. How has this developed in the Asian Churches? What remains to be done, or is it an open process without a concluding date?
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: As the Pope himself states in Sacramentum Caritatis, the principle of inculturation “must be upheld in accordance with the real needs of the Church as she lives and celebrates the one mystery of Christ in a variety of cultural situations” [Sacramentum Caritas 54].
We know that it is a need emerging from both the call to evangelization or the incarnation of the Gospel message in various cultures, and the requirement of a real and conscious participation of the faithful in what they celebrate.
Yet, already Sacrosanctum Concilium indicated clear parameters within which the adaptations of the liturgy to local cultural patterns are to be carried out. It spoke of admitting into the Liturgy elements that “harmonize with its true and authentic spirit” [SC 37], ensuring the “substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved” [SC 38], provided such is decided by the competent ecclesiastical authority, meaning the Holy See and, where legally allowed, the bishops [cf. 22: 1-2]. It also called for prudence, in the choice of adaptations to be introduced into the Liturgy [SC 40: 1], the need to submit such to the Apostolic See for its consent, if needed, a period of limited experimentation [SC 40: 2] before final approval and consultation of experts in the matter [SC 40: 3].
Sacramentum Caritatis follows the same line, that adaptations of Liturgy to local cultural traditions be handled according to the stipulations of the various directives of the Church and in keeping with a proper sense of balance “between the criteria and directives already issued and new adaptations”[no. 54], and these too “always in accord with the Apostolic See” [ibid. 54]. In short, inculturation through adaptations, yes, but always within clear parameters that ensure nobility and orthodoxy.
As for what has been carried out up to now, one cannot be altogether satisfied. Some positive developments are visible, like the large scale use of vernacular languages in liturgy, making the sacraments better understood and to that extent better participated, and the use of art, music and Asian gestures at worship. But a lot of arbitrariness and inconsistency can also be noted, arbitrariness through the permitting of all kinds of experiments and officialisation of such practices without proper study or critical evaluation.
I once was listening to a radio talk given by a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka who ridiculed Christians for allowing local drum beating in their churches without knowing that those beats in fact were chants of praise for the Buddha. This could be just one instance of unstudied absorption of local traditions that are per se incompatible with what we celebrate.
By inconsistency I mean practices we introduce as adaptations but per se are incompatible with our culture, like just a bow instead of genuflection or prostration before the Holy Eucharist, or communion in the hand received standing, which is far below levels of consideration given to the Sacred in Asia. In some countries, instead of introducing liturgical vestments or utensils reflective of local values, their use has been reduced to a minimum, or even abandoned. I was at times shocked to see priests and even bishops celebrating or concelebrating without the proper liturgical attire. This is not inculturation but de-culturation, if such a word exists.
Inculturation means deciding on liturgical attire that is dignified and full of respect for the Sacred realities celebrated, not abandoning them. I feel that the Episcopal Commissions on Liturgy in Asia at continental, regional or national levels should, with the help of experts, study these issues carefully and seek ways and means to enhance the meaning, dignity and sacredness of the divine mysteries celebrated through solid adaptations that are critically selected and proposed to the Holy See for due approval.
A closer spirit of cooperation with the Holy See in this matter would be needed. There is too much drifting in the matter and even an attitude of “who cares?” that leaves everything to free interpretation and the creativity of single persons. Besides, I wonder if there is a sufficient awareness of what the Council itself mentioned on the matter and the guidelines given in Varietates Legitimae
(“Legitimate Differences,” instruction, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Jan. 25, 1994) and no. 22 of Ecclesia in Asia (“Church in Asia,” apostolic exhortation on the Church in Asia, Pope John Paul II, November 6, 1999).
In No. 54 of Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict advocates “continued inculturation of the Eucharist” and calls for “adaptations appropriate to different contexts and cultures.” What does this mean in Asia?
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: Asia is generally considered to be the continent of contemplation, mysticism and a deep seated spiritual outlook on life. These orientations may have resulted from or even led to the origins of most world religions in this continent. Any attempts at inculturation of the Liturgy or of Christian life cannot bypass these profoundly mystical orientations typical of Asia.
As Christians, we ought to show that Christianity is Asian in origin and it has an even profounder sense of mysticism within it that it can and wishes to share with others. It would be a pity if we strive to project our faith as an appendix of a secular and globalizing culture that endorses secular values and seeks to represent these in Asia. Unfortunately, sometimes in our way of doing things, we do project such an image. This makes us “foreigners” in our own continent.
Take, for example, the large scale abandonment of the cassock or religious garb by many priests and religious in Asia, even missionaries. They hardly understood that in Asian culture, persons dedicated to God or religion are always visible in his or her own garb, like the Buddhist monk or the Hindu sannyasi (holy man). This shows we do not understand what inculturation truly means. Often enough, it is limited to a dance or two during the Holy Mass or sprinkling of flowers, the arathi [arati] or beating a drum.
In mind and heart, however, we follow secular ways and values. If we are truly Asian, we should focus more attention on the mysticism of Jesus, His message of salvation, the great value of prayer, contemplation, detachment, simplicity of life, devoutness and reflection and the value of silence, and forms of liturgical celebration that focus great attention on the Sacred and the Transcendent. We Asians cannot be secularists who do not see anything beyond the visible and the tangible.
So too in Liturgy, instead of concentrating on just a few exterior gestures of cosmetic value, we should focus on the accentuation of the mystical and the spiritual riches conveyed to us, and highlight these more and more even in our dress and behavior. The Universal Church would gain from a Church in Asia that becomes a tangible expression of Christian mysticism in an Asian way.
Regarding inculturation, Pope Benedict encourages episcopal conferences to “strive to maintain a proper balance between criteria and directives already issued and new adaptations, always in accord with the Apostolic See.” Are bishops´ conferences in Asia working along these lines?
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: Generally, I notice a lot of goodwill on the part of the Episcopal Conferences in this matter. However, there are problems too. As I mentioned, it may be better to have a clear spirit of coordination between the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences) and our Congregation in this matter. The FABC does have regional coordinating bodies for human development, evangelization, inculturation, ecumenism and dialogue, education, social communication, etc., but I am not aware of such a body for liturgy and worship. Establishing such a regional body would certainly help.
Liturgy is important, for “lex orandi, lex credendi” (the law of prayer is the law of belief). It would then be able to animate and provide quality, meaning and proper awareness to the national Episcopal Commissions for Liturgy on this all important component of ecclesial life. A lot of work still needs to be done in order to achieve better results.
The “proper balance” about which the Holy Father speaks is due to the need to ensure, on one side, a healthy spirit of openness to inculturation in the liturgy, and, on the other, the need to safeguard the universal character of Catholic liturgy, a treasure handed down to the Church by its bi-millennial tradition.
Can you give a concrete example of what “maintaining a proper balance between criteria and directives and new adaptations” means?
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: By “proper balance,” the Holy Father means, on one side, faithfulness to the Universal and Catholic Tradition of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, enshrined in the Roman rite itself, and, on the other, the space provided in Sacrosanctum Concilium and Varietates Legitimae for adaptations. As No. 21 of Sacrosanctum Concilium indicates, there are “unchangeable elements divinely instituted” and “elements subject to change” in the Liturgy. Only the latter may be changed, and even that is to be done on the basis of norms that the Council itself laid out in the third chapter of the same document.
In the case of the Eucharist, it is the same approach. The Eucharist is not what the Church made but what has been the Lord´s own gift to us, a treasure to be guarded. Hence, even though exigencies of Evangelization and of the Inculturation of the Gospel message in various situations demands a certain amount of diversity, this is not to be left to the whims and fancies of the individual celebrant. The areas open to diversity are limited and pertain to language, music and singing, gestures and postures, art and processions [SC 39]. In these areas, adaptation is possible and should be undertaken after proper study, due approval of the bishops and then the consent of the Apostolic See [SC: Ch. III].
Thus, the sense of balance between safeguarding the essentials and seeking to integrate local cultural elements is very much needed if the Church is to profit spiritually. At the same time, I would hold more essential not only adaptations of that type but the noble and dignified celebration of every liturgical act, making it reflect the mysticism of the East. It would be more helpful than just a series of external adaptations, even those introduced following established procedures.
Besides, the love of silence, a contemplative atmosphere, chant and singing reflective of the divine mystery celebrated on the altar, sober and decorous attire, and art and architecture reflective of the nobility of the Sacred places and objects, are all Asian values often reflected in places of worship of other religions and more expressive of a truly Asian outlook on Liturgy.
From St Jerome’s letters – I (Extract from my report number 16 on the New Community Bible):
“Has light any communication with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial?” asks St. Paul. And what, I may ask, has Horace to do with the Psalter? Or Virgil with the Gospels, or Cicero with the Apostle? Would not a brother Christian be shocked and scandalized if he saw you reclining on a dinner couch in the temple of some idol? Even though to the pure of heart all things are pure, and though nothing should be refused if it be received with thanksgiving, we should not drink at the same time from the chalice of Christ and the bowl of devils. To whom have ye likened me or made me equal?
Isaiah 40:25 – et cui adsimilastis me et adæquastis dicit Sanctus?
– ON INCULTURATION AND THE ROMAN LITURGY
CONGREGATION OF DIVINE WORSHIP AND DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS DOCUMENT
MARCH 29, 1994
INCULTURATION OF THE LITURGY AND SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM-JON ANDERSON-AND MY RESPONSE