Is Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVD a liberal priest?
Looking to the Global South for orthodoxy
By Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVD, National Catholic Reporter, Volume 1, No. 42,
February 4, 2004
New Delhi – Intense debates in the public and private spheres have been witnessed recently, all generated by the controversy born of the ordination of the Rev. Gene Robinson as a bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Few might have expected such wide condemnation of the ordination from various quarters. Segments not only of the Anglican church but also the Catholic church opposed it. The controversy brought many issues to the fore, and, doubtless, helped some people clear their thinking on issues of gay relationships.
Interestingly, a greater opposition to this has come from the Global South, making one wonder whether the opposition is cultural or theological. Regardless of whether it is cultural or theological, an interesting question has been raised: Should the Global North, which basically means Western churches, look toward the Global South, including to the East, for orthodoxy?
Writing in Coming of the Third Church way back in 1975, Walter Bhulmann (sic) observed the shift of the center of the church from the West to Africa, Asia and Latin America, which he called the Third Church. He wrote, “… the world’s center of gravity is no longer in Europe and … the Second Church [Roman] no longer constitutes the focal point of Christianity … the West has been dismissed from its post as the center of religious, cultural unity for the whole of Christianity…”
From Bhulmann’s (sic) thesis, one can argue the Western church should look to the Global South for orthodoxy, and not just on issues of homosexuality, but for other matters as well, including progressive theology and church practices.
First of all, and this has relevance for the issue of homosexuality, the Western church could learn from the Global South’s experience of family. The nurturing of family and its extended ties is a strong cultural value here. In a strong, extended family an individual finds strength and aid to bear pain and tolerate suffering (and live the paschal mystery in daily life). One does not immediately run away from pain nor look for one’s individual freedom. Strong families nurture the balanced and healthy growth of an individual, and one or more members of the family are always available to support someone in moments of crisis.
With this understanding of family, the Third Church has not faced the issue of homosexuality at a larger level. At least from the Asian perspective, one does not oppose homosexuality because of conservatism, but because it does not fall within the life experience of most people.
The Western church could also look to the Third Church for the way it has adapted liturgies for different cultures… Indians have been particularly adept at cultural adaptation, adopting aarti (honoring God or the priest with flowers, an oil lamp and incense sticks arranged on a steel plate) and singing bhajans (continuous recitation of the name of Jesus or the Trinity). Such cultural adaptations make the liturgy rich and meaningful for participants, lessons from which the West could learn.
A third aspect of Christian life that the Western church could learn from the Third Church is how Christians, by and large, live in harmony with people of other religions. Western visitors here are often amazed that while in their own countries even good ecumenical relationships are hard to come by, many in the Third Church countries have smooth ecumenical relations, and they get along well even with people of non-Christian religions.
Related to this point is Third Church people’s sense of spirituality, their sense of the divine (although it can sometimes border on superstition). Again, Western visitors are amazed to find churches full for Sunday services, and people fasting and praying regularly because of their deep sense of the presence of God.
Though no one likes to glorify poverty, the Western church, used to living in a consumer culture, could surely learn from the Third Church countries how living with wants or in poor conditions need not rob one of happiness. (Think of Jesus being born in a stable.) On the contrary, deprivations can often help one to depend more on God.
All the above is not to say that the Global South has a monopoly on right thought and action. For instance, virtues such as honesty, hard work, respect for individuals and gender equality are some of the values deeply embedded in Western culture but conspicuously absent in the Global South, including in its churches.
And the misuse of money; rigid caste and class systems; the treatment of women, including the demand for dowries; and the preference for male children are some of the ugly cultural practices that have crept into the churches in the Global South and need weeding out.
Exchange programs between the people of the Global North and the Global South would be valuable. Such programs, no doubt, would help both sides greatly.
Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, a priest of the Divine Word, was the director of the Communication and Information bureau of the Delhi Catholic archdiocese
1. The supposedly-Catholic National Catholic Reporter (NCR) which is an advocate of gay rights, women’s ordination, etc. would rarely publish an article that doesn’t somehow enhance its liberal and dissenting positions and progressive views. (See
CRITICISM OF THIS MINISTRY BY THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER
WOMEN PRIESTS-THE NCR-UCAN-EWA NEXUS
So what is an article by Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVD doing in it? That, we shall see, is a rhetorical question.
2. In the very first sentence of his article, Fr. Emmanuel mentions a Rev. Gene Robinson.
But he fails to inform his readers that this married-with-children and divorced Episcopal “bishop” is notorious for “for being the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination“. The sodomite “bishop” also went into rehab for his alcohol addiction.
I simply cannot figure out what Fr. Emmanuel means by “Segments … of … the Catholic church opposed (his ordination)“.
I ask Fr. Emmanuel which section of the Catholic Church DID NOT oppose the “ordination” of Gene Robinson.
Liberals such as the National Catholic Reporter which has carried his article! That’s who. They celebrated it!!
3. A detailed explanation from him is also required against his statement “The controversy brought many issues to the fore, and, doubtless, helped some people clear their thinking on issues of gay relationships“.
To me, his words come across as endorsing the lobbies that champion same-sex relationships.
4. In his next words, Fr. Emmanuel theorizes that the opposition comes mainly from the “Global South”, the “Third Church” of Walter Buhlmann or Bühlmann (whose name he incorrectly spells twice as Bhulmann).
He opines that, from Buhlmann’s thesis, “one can argue the Western church should look to the Global South for orthodoxy, and not just on issues of homosexuality, but for other matters as well, including progressive theology“.
I am perplexed and flummoxed. If the Western church must look to the Third Church for orthodoxy, how does Fr. Emmanuel maintain that the same Western church must look to the Third Church also “on issues of homosexuality, but for other matters as well, including progressive theology” when the Catholic orthodox and the progressives are as distinctive and irreconcilable as oil and water?
In case I am wrong in my analysis, I would be pleased if a knowledgeable Catholic could give me the right understanding of Fr. Emmanuel’s words so that I can correct my point no. 4.
Fr. Emmanuel makes out that there is little or no opposition to the same-sex brigades from Western Catholics. I can provide him with a list of Western pro-life pro-family Catholic ministries (LifeSiteNews being just one of them) that fight these moral and spiritual abominations on a daily basis. Some of them played an important role in exposing the dirty liberal-backed politics at the October 2014 Synod on the Family in Rome.
5. Fr. Emmanuel states that “from the Asian perspective, one does not oppose homosexuality because of conservatism, but because it does not fall within the life experience of most people.”
By extension, does he mean to say that if homosexuality falls within the life experience of most Third World people (it “has not faced the issue of homosexuality at a larger level“), there will be less or no opposition to it as compared to the present? I am greatly concerned by his interest in the social acceptance of homosexuality.
6. “The Western church could also look to the Third Church for the way it has adapted liturgies for different cultures… Indians have been particularly adept at cultural adaptation, adopting aarti (honoring God or the priest with flowers, an oil lamp and incense sticks arranged on a steel plate) and singing bhajans (continuous recitation of the name of Jesus or the Trinity). Such cultural adaptations make the liturgy rich and meaningful for participants, lessons from which the West could learn.”
See my report ARATI IN THE LITURGY-INDIAN OR HINDU
It documents that the arati (aarti) is a Hindu and not an “Indian” ritual, and that a coterie of Bishops “fraudulently” obtained permission from Rome for the
“TWELVE POINTS OF ADAPTATION” of the “Indian Rite” Mass including the use of the Hindu religious ritual, the arati
in April 1969.
The “Twelve Points” were only proposed experimentally, agrees Fr. Michael Amaladoss, a liberal theologian.
Regarding the inculturated liturgy of the Mass,
the so called “Indian Rite Mass” and the “Indian Anaphora” have never been approved by Rome. Despite that innovations abound in Masses in the dioceses of the nation.
Does Fr. Emmanuel want the Western church to face the same predicament of liturgical chaos that we do?
7. “Western visitors are amazed to find (Indian) churches full for Sunday services“.
With 33 years of lay ministry behind me, I am acutely aware that a full church does not signify much.
The vast majority of the Indian Catholic laity is very poorly if at all catechized.
If in the West, the churches are empty, the few people who still occupy the pews are the real Catholics who are swimming against the tide of secularism and modernism that has swept across Europe and the USA.
It was none other than Pope Benedict XVI who prophesied that the Church of the future will be a church of faith, much smaller and ‘more spiritualized’ (http://catholicinsight.com/the-church-will-become-small/, http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/papa-el-papa-pope-benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-22434/) as more people accept atheism, liberalism and other “isms” and desert Her.
Sitting at my computer in Chennai, India, if there is one criterion that I use for evaluation to compare the Indian situation with that of the West, it is the quality of orthodox Catholic apologetics, reporting, blogging and commenting by readers on numerous sites that I subscribe to or visit.
I learn more about the orthodoxy of my Faith from the comments and sharing of ordinary lay Catholic
readers on these sites and blogs than from the postings on the most prominent Indian sites that you can think of. (In fact, though I am still subscribed to several on eight different email addresses, I do not read any of them anymore. They are either downright liberal or shallow and non-prophetic in what they allow.)
8. Fr. Emmanuel exhorts us to “Think of Jesus being born in a stable“, suggesting that the Holy Family were materially “poor”. They were not. I suggest that he read this article by an Australian Catholic lay evangelist:
PROSPERITY GOSPEL VERSUS THE POVERTY GOSPEL-EDDIE RUSSELL
At http://ethosinstitute.org/team.html Fr. Emmanuel is listed as a ‘Moral Advisor’ to the controversial Dominic Dixon‘s Ethos Bible Institute in Bangalore*. Fr. Emmanuel is noted for his regular appearance on national TV debates explaining and defending — of all things — the Church’s traditional position on homosexuality.
*DOMINIC DIXON CONTINUES TO DECEIVE CATHOLICS
FATHERS OF THE SVD CONGREGATION WITHOUT ZEAL OR HOPE