Skip to comments.Destruction of Catholicism in India
Posted on 11/01/2005 7:24:54 PM PST by murphE
click here to read article
Merry Christmas. I pray that the New Year 2006 will be a positive year for the Catholic Church both in terms of growth and overcoming all evil within it and externally too.
I have posted a number of articles on this thread over the weekend,in some cases I have not been able to upload the accompanying photographs but I truly believe that all the articles are excellent and very revealing and should be a definite wake up call to those who find it difficult to believe that the Catholic Church in some parts of Asia is in crisis specially with regard to "Watering down the Faith".
This article by the late Michael Davies, a great defender of Catholic Truth is awesome and should open many eyes in the West. He passed away sadly in 2004.
May the Infant King and his Holy Mother Mary bless all the Freepers today and in 2006 too.
In Jesus and Mary,
October 1984, Volume VII, Number 10 (From the Angelus)
I HAVE JUST RETURNED from a visit to India, a visit which gave me much to think about. The most profound impression I received was that of the almost indescribable poverty I witnessed in Bombay. The worst slums in any British or American city would appear almost luxurious beside what I saw there. I have written a long article on this subject in The Remnant, and as I know many Angelus subscribers read both journals I won't repeat it here.
By an interesting coincidence, Father Schmidberger had been to Bombay a few days before me. Many of the people I met had also met him, and had been to one of the Masses he celebrated. The impression he had made could hardly have been more favorable, and traditional Catholics in India are now hoping that he will be able to send them a priest. There are no priests offering public Tridentine Masses anywhere in this vast sub-continent and there would certainly be difficulties in getting the Society established there. Finance would be a particular problem as few Church institutions in India are self-supporting.
I assisted at a Syriac Rite Mass in Bangalore at a church set in a seminary complex so large that it is referred to as the "Indian Vatican." There was a large congregation, but when the collection was made I doubt whether more than ten per cent made any contribution at all. I inquired about this afterwards and was told that this particular seminary is financed entirely by money collected abroad. It is a Carmelite foundation, and there are Carmelite priests on a permanent circuit in Europe making mission appeals which bring in huge sums each Sunday.
It would require a comparable effort by traditional Catholics in Europe and the U.S.A. to establish the Society in India, and as all our own foundations are in continual need of financial assistance this would certainly present a considerable problem.
A Pagan Church
The principal reason for my visit to Bangalore was to visit the chapel of the NBCLC in Bangalore (National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre). This centre was established under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), but now, to all intents and purposes, appears to be autonomous and independent of any episcopal control. There are certainly bishops who disapprove of what is taking place there, but they appear unwilling or unable to take any steps to suppress it. The centre receives its funds from Europe and is thus financially independent.
My visit to the centre with a group of Indian friends appeared to evoke a great deal of consternation; members of the staff emerged from various offices and evinced great interest in us. I had a somewhat heated discussion with a Dutch priest, heated on his part at least. His agitation was prompted by my pointing out to him that a number of points he had made to me in his explanation of the centre, including references to the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican II, were totally untrue.
His response was to send a sister to get a camera and photograph us, and to inform me that as he saw that I had "difficulties" about the Council there was no point in trying to enlighten me. I replied by pointing out that simply making an accurate statement of what Vatican II actually taught hardly constituted having "difficulties" concerning the Council, and that, in fact, he appeared to be the person having difficulties. This did not seem to please him at all, which didn't really surprise me. One hears a lot about the new status of the laity since Vatican II, particularly their right to express their opinions on aspects of the faith which concern them, but it has been my experience that the priests most prone to propound this theory are the priests most likely to take umbrage if a layman so much as raises an eyebrow by a millimetre at any statement they might make.
What was it at Bangalore that made this priest and the rest of the staff so sensitive about visitors? I had been assured that if I made the long journey from Madras I would receive the greatest shock of my life. As a longstanding student of the antics of Archbishops Hunthausen and Weakland I considered myself unshockable, but, in the true spirit of Vatican II, I am always willing to enter into dialogue and revise my opinions.
Thus, after such a dialogue with my very gracious Indian hosts in Madras, I took the night mail for Bangalore and arrived there at about 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I was to return the same way on Sunday night. What, I wondered, could be shocking enough to justify such a journey? I had been assured that I must absolutely see what was to be seen for myself so that I could inform Catholics in the West of what was happening from first-hand experience.
I don't quite know how to express my reaction to what I saw. To say that I was not disappointed does not seem the right phrase as it would imply that I was glad about what I discovered. All I can say is that my hosts had not come anywhere near to conveying the horror of what I found there. It was truly the most distressing experience of my entire life. In the NBCLC at Bangalore there has been constructedwith finance sent by European Catholicsa pagan Hindu temple which purports to be a Catholic Church.
I can fully appreciate that many readers will feel that I am exaggerating in a most unbritish manner. I would have reacted in the same way had I not seen the temple for myself. Never before have I been so aware of the presence of Satan. I was told later that Father Gerard Hogan of the Society of St. Pius X had been taken there, but had insisted on leaving without entering the church, so greatly had the evil atmosphere affected him.
Inculturation or Paganization?
I have just mentioned my difference of opinion with a Dutch priest at the Centre on the teaching of Vatican II, but I would not like this incident to give the impression that I am an admirer or disciple of this disastrous Council. In my book, Pope John's Council, I have quoted Archbishop Lefebvre on the subject of "time-bombs" in the Council texts.
These were apparently innocuous phrases which would not have alarmed the Council Fathers, but which could be exploited after the Council in a manner conducive to the destruction of Catholicism. It would be wrong of us to condemn the Council Fathers for approving these texts. Archbishop Dwyer of Portland, Oregon, admitted that if the Fathers who voted for the Liturgy Constitution had been told of the manner in which it would be interpreted they would have laughedit just did not seem possible. Cardinal Heenan, Primate of England & Wales, has testified that Pope John XXIII had no idea of what the experts who drafted the texts were actually planning.
I had better point out here, for those who have not read my book or Father Wiltgen's The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, that the most influential men at the Council were not the bishops who voted for the documents but the expert advisers who drafted the documentsmen like Charles Davis, Gregory Baum and Hans Kung. Pope John Paul II has declared that Kung can no longer be considered a Catholic theologian but the bishops at the Council were pressured into attending lectures given by him to "up-date" them. Among the time-bombs in the Council texts none could have wreaked greater devastation than Numbers 37 and 38 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
Number 37 includes the following:
Anything in these people's way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error, she studies with sympathy, and, if possible, preserves intact. She sometimes even admits such things into the liturgy itself, provided they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit.
This is the NBCLC Church in Bangalore.
It is constructed in Hindu style with a typical "Gopuram"tower. On top of the tower is an inverted POT called Kalasam. According to Hindu Agami rites, inside the POT the deity of the temple resides. NBCLC claims there is nectar inside the POT! While the bishops removed the idols inside the church they did not remove the POT on top, giving the excuse that there are many churches in the world without a cross on top! The bishops did not say if there is any Catholic church anywhere in the world with a POT on top! Thus Hindu signs and symbols get encouragement from the Bishops Conference of India!
Number 38 states:
Provided that the substantial unity of the Roman Rite is preserved, provision shall be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in the mission countries.
Well, if we interpret Number 38 strictly, the Council cannot be used as a justification for the pagan church in Bangalorethe "substantial unity of the Roman Rite" has certainly not been preserved. Not only does the so-called church appear to be a Hindu temple, but the rites conducted within its precincts appear to be Hindu ceremonies. The most profound Catholic writer of this century was probably Christopher Dawson.
Unfortunately, he never achieved the popularity of Chesterton, Belloc or Ronald Knox. Dawson observed that culture and religion tend to be synonymous. This is certainly true in India, where the national culture is inextricably bound up with the religion of the overwhelming mass of the peopleHinduism.
This is Shiva in his cosmic dance which was installed in the NBCLC Church in Bangalore. It was finally removed because of Hindu agitation against its presence in a Catholic church!
As few readers of The Angelus will know anything about the Hindu religion I will just recount one aspect encountered during my visitthe Festival of Ganapati, which takes place at the end of August and is particularly popular in Bombay. While a young soldier in Malaya, in the late nineteen-fifties, I purchased a statue of a half-man, half-elephant god in an Indian bazaar. (There are many Indians in Malaya.)
I had no idea of who or what this god represented. I now know that his name is Ganapati. His story is rather sad. His father is the god Shiva, the destroyer. Despite being a god, Shiva had the misfortune of being childless, which I find somewhat surprising for a person with divine power, but let us leave that aside. The god's wife was very disturbed by her failure to conceive, and, while her husband was away from home, made a clay model of a boy which came to life and was named Ganapati. Shiva arrived home eventually, just when his wife was in the house taking a bath. Ganapati, not knowing who Shiva was, informed him that he could not enter the house as his mother was bathing. Shiva, wondering who the handsome young man was, promptly beheaded him. Needless to say, Ganapati's mother was far from pleased, and made her views known in no uncertain terms. Shiva instructed his servants to bring him the head of the first creature they found facing north, which happened to be an elephant. The elephant's head was placed upon Ganapati who, like his mother, was none too pleased.
He is now probably the most popular god in India, which, we may hope, provides him with a certain degree of consolation. I happened to be in Bombay this year in the midst of the Ganapati festival. More than one million Ganapati idols are sold in this city alone; none are cheapsome cost a fortune. During the festival those who have set up an idol in their home must provide refreshments for anyone who cares to calla gesture which can impoverish a family.
Then, after a few days, the idols are taken to the shore and thrown into the sea. This apparently provides great blessings. I had the misfortune of making several long journeys by car in the city during the festival when a ten minute drive could take up to two hours. The streets were packed with processions taking idols to be immersed in the sea.
Back to Bangalore
The story of Ganapati is not without a certain folkloric charm. There are other aspects of Hinduism which simply could not be narrated in a Catholic magazine, but, as I have stated, Indian culture means Hindu culture; including Indian cultural practices in the liturgy means incorporation of pagan practices into the worship of the one, true God. Such a step would appear to be ruled out by Number 37 of the Liturgy Constitution which forbids practices bound up with superstition and error, but unfortunately, in India it seems to be the NCBLC which has the final say as to what is or is not tainted with superstition.
"Inculturation" is the watchword of the proponents of the Hinduization of the liturgy. What these cranks seem unaware of is that Catholics in India have their own culture. Some, converted by the Apostle Thomas, have a Christian culture going back 2,000 years; others, converted by Portugese missionaries, belong to Catholic families dating back almost five hundred yearsfew Catholic families in Britain can trace their faith back more than two or three generations.
Proponents of inculturation point to the fact that some pagan ceremonies have been incorporated into Catholic worshipfacing the east to pray provides an example. As I have shown in Chapter XIX of Pope Paul's New Mass, the practice of celebrating Mass facing the east, adopted by the early Church, was derived to a large extent from the cultural milieu in which the first Christians found themselves, though it was in no sense a direct borrowing from pagan worship.
There are other aspects of the traditional liturgy derived from the customs of different people. But such practices were absorbed in a gradual and natural manner. What the proponents of inculturation in India are proposing is something totally different and totally artificial. They are attempting to impose pagan customs by edict onto an existing and flourishing Christian culture. They claim that Indian Catholics must always be conscious of their Indianness, even while assisting at Mass.
The same claim has been made by so-called liturgical experts in the U.S.A., i.e., that the way Mass is celebrated there must reflect the American way of lifewhatever that might be.
I doubt whether even the proponents of Indianization would claim that their objectives represented any substantial grassroots opinion. Before Vatican II there is no doubt whatsoever that 99.99% of Indian Catholics were totally satisfied with their Church as it was; the same can be said of Catholics in the U.S.A., Great Britain, or any other country!
Take the case of the vernacular as an example. How many Angelus readers can recollect any of their Catholic acquaintances or priests, nuns, or laymen, agitating for Mass in the vernacular before Vatican II? Such demands did come from the odd person, and most Catholics considered such people very odd, but I would stake a year's salary on the fact that they did not constitute 0.01% of the Catholic population.
But after the Council the 0.01% of "odd" Catholics, "crazies" in the American vernacular, took over control of the Church from the bishops. My favorite Catholic novelist of this century is Evelyn Waugh. He has never been appreciated as widely as his writing deserves, though the television production of Brideshead Revisited seems to have given his popularity an extraordinary boost.
As early as 1965 he was so alarmed at what was taking place in the liturgy that he felt it necessary to speak out in public "to warn the submissive laity of the dangers impending." He claimed (and rightly so) that those propagating the theories now being imposed upon Catholics throughout the world had been looked upon as "harmless cranks." He then made a statement which, while totally accurate, is still hard to accept, even though we know it to be true from our personal experience: "Suddenly we find the cranks in authority."
The figures of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Hindu Thirumurthi, was prominently displayed in the Bishops National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) Church in Bangalore. It was an object of veneration and meditation for all priests, nuns and laity whoin the hundredsattend seminars held at the NBCLC throughout the year.
They violated the First Commandment by venerating idols. The All India Laity Conference waged a continued agitation for the removal of these idols but in vain.
Then the Hindu Asthika Sabha of Madras went to court against the bishops NBCLC Church, demanding the removal of the idols as they were disrespectful of the religious sentiments of the Hindus. India's Attorney General represented the Hindu cause.
The action of the Hindus had the desired effect. The bishops had the idols removedidols which had been there for over a decade. They saw the danger of serious confrontation with the Hindus. They, of course, never saw the spiritual danger to the Catholics who attended NBCLC!
My initial shock at what is happening in India modified gradually as I began to realize that it is identical in every aspect to what has taken place in English-speaking countries. It was precisely what Archbishop Lefebvre had warned would happen in a speech delivered to the Fathers of Vatican II in October of 1963.
He warned the bishops that their belief that collegiality would strengthen their authority was an illusion. Whereas prior to Vatican II each bishop had been the absolute ruler in his diocese, subject only to the Pope, collegiality would mean that individual bishops would have to act in accordance with the decisions of national episcopal assemblies and that, in fact, it would not even be the episcopal assemblies but their commissions which would "hold the exercise of that authority."
This is precisely what happened. In the U.S.A., for example, the BCL (Bishops Committee on the Liturgy) is under the effective control of a group of clerical cranks served by a subservient clique of episcopal "yes-men." Whatever act of liturgical lunacy the cranks dream up, their episcopal stooges endorse, and what the episcopal stooges of the BCL endorse is eventually ratified by all the American bishops. Thus, as Mgr. Lefebvre warned, the faithful are being governed not by their bishops but by episcopal commissions, which, to all intents and purposes, means crank commissions.
In India the cranks have a fixation on turning Catholics into Hindus. From what I have been able to discover, few if any bishops have any enthusiasm for this process; but few, if any, bishops will make a stand to resist it. This pattern is only too familiar to English-speaking Catholics. In the first chapter of his book, The Devastated Vineyard, Dietrich von Hildebrand castigated bishops who "make no use whatsoever of their authority when it comes to intervening against heretical theologians or priests, or against blasphemous performances of public worship.
They either close their eyes and try, ostrich-style, to ignore the grievous abuses as well as appeals to their duty to intervene, or they fear to be attacked by the press or the mass media and defamed as reactionary, narrow-minded, or medieval. They fear men more than God."
"They fear men more than God"this, alas, is the verdict that one must pass upon the Indian Bishops as one must pass it on the bishops of the U.S.A., Great Britain, France or almost every country in the West.
The only effective and co-ordinated resistance to the paganization of Indian Catholicism comes from the AILCthe All India Laity Commission. This lay organization is fighting a courageous and unceasing battle to keep the Church in India recognizably Catholic, in spite of the commissions and the bishops! Their campaign has not been without its successes, although, as a whole, the tide seems to be moving against them. During my visit to India I spent a great deal of time in the company of the officials of this fine body, and I can testify to their absolute orthodoxy and zeal for the Faith.
The AILC, and the AILC alone, is fighting to preserve the Faith in India. The commissions which are destroying it have access to virtually unlimited funds; the AILC must depend upon its own members, most of whom are very poor. I am sure that many readers could afford, say, twenty dollars or more, to help them in their fight to uphold the Faith. I would urge those who could to send a donation to Mr. V. J. Kulanday, President Emeritus, AILC, "Galilee," 6 Nimmo Road, San Thome, Madras, 600-004 India. This organization is the only one working on a national level to stem the tide of Modernism and paganization sweeping through India. It deserves our support.
The photographs which accompany this article provide just little of the evidence available to prove the extent to which proponents of "inculturation" in India are prepared to introduce Hinduism into Catholic worship. The Indian bishops declined to order the removal of the Hindu idols in response to the protests of outraged Catholic laity, but did so only as a result of legal action taken by Hindus who considered the presence of images of their gods in a Christian church to be sacrilegious.
The NBCLC published a catechism in which Our Lady was depicted topless. The bishops declined to act and so a group of laymen took the matter to a civil court which ordered the Centre to remove this illustration which was so offensive to the religious feelings of Christians. Ironically, the judge who made the decision was a Hindu!
I find it inconceivable that Pope Benedict is not aware of these happenings. Housecleaning is definitely in order in some cases.
BTW, I passed along your FReeper name and a link to your FReeper home page to another traditional Catholic who will be keenly interested in your posts.
Thanks for the message. You are free to pass on my FReeper Name and a link to my FReeper Home Page, to anyone who in your judgement is a Traditional Catholic. BTW, I totally trust your judgement with regard to Traditional Catholics.
So, I am happy for what you have done.
I am posting a couple of articles for your perusal.
The First article, show us clearly the extent to which a large number of Indian Catholic Priests who are Heretics, Liberals, and Liturgical Terrorists have gone.
They have gone overboard with this "Evil Inculturation". This Crap was given a huge fillip by Father Bede Griffiths -- an English Benedictine Monk who lived in South India and converted many Traditional Benedictine Monasteries into Benedictine Ashrams specially in Tamil Nadu where he dressed up in Saffron Robes along with a number of his companions for a number of years till his death in 1993.
He was a raving Heretic and Liturgical Terrorist who should have been excommuicated years back by the Pope but it was sadly not done. It has been reported for a number of years that in those Ashrams He and other Benedictine Monks used to openly refer to themselves as "Hindu Ascetics" and even promote this lifestyle of theirs specially the worship of Idols in those Ashrams.
He has done huge damage to the faith of Catholics in India and it is not surprising today that hundreds of Catholics specially in cities are leaving the Church all over the country and joining all kinds of Pentecostal Churches.
Instead of promoting the worship of Christ, a number of Indian Priests like him are leading people away from Christ as a result of their actions. Most notorious now are a number of Jesuits and Redemptorists who in a number of places all over the country have forsaken the traditional white cassock that used to be worn and are now dressed as "Hindu Holy Men" in Saffron Robes with vermillion paste and all.
The second Article is an interview with Archbishop Oswald Gracias on the situation facing Indian Christians. He was interviewed by the Editor of a leading Polish Catholic Weekly.
Finally, please visit www.bedegriffiths.org -- You will realize the enormous damage and confusion this man caused to the faith of Christ's faithful over the last 30 years.
1) An Indian church-Mario Rodrigues
Article published on www.statesman.net on 11-04-05 by this Correspondent.
A conclave of priests and bishops at the Papal Seminary in Pune last week in October called for the renewed Indianisation of the Catholic Church and the adoption of Hindu rituals, including aarti during Mass, studying Sanskrit and the Vedas, experiencing ashram life and so on. The conclave discussed this and other issues besieging the Church and the laity in the new millennium.
According to one report in the media, a seminary spokesman said: The Catholic Church plans to adopt a number of Indian traditions and practices which will give us a feel of being an Indian.
The issue, however, is not as simple as reports made it out to be. In the first place, the question of what Indianisation is and the limits to which it can be encouraged are a moot point.
European missionaries like Roberto de Nobili (the Roman Brahmin) and John de Britto, who came with the early Portuguese colonisers, were the earliest Indianisers who practised what they preached. Their message was kept alive by their disciples down the centuries but overall, the practices of Indian Christianity were decidedly Western till Independence.
But realisation dawned that the Church must become less Europeanised and more Indian to relate meaningfully to the social milieu in which it existed.
This process was fast forwarded by the epochal Vatican Council II (1962-65) when Rome shed its triumphal bearing and embraced ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue, inculturation and religious liberty.
This allowed the use of local languages (in place of Latin) and customs in Church services all over the world. It also gave a licence for a creative and radical reinterpretation of the Gospels, which in turn was responsible for the genesis of liberation theology in Latin America.
Christians form less than three per cent of the overall population of India and this includes Catholics (who subscribe to five rites), mainline Protestant denominations, other evangelical sects and the Orthodox churches of Kerala, both Catholic and otherwise.
Kerala churches have been proactive in their Indianisation tendencies and activists of the Syro-Malabar liturgy once tried to forcefully put this on the agenda when the late Pope John Paul II visited India a few years ago. In recent times, the process has acquired urgency because of the spate of attacks on Christians and Church institutions by the loony Hindu fundamentalist brigade that peaked during the saffron raj of the NDA at the Centre.
Today, Indianisation of the Church has come a long way. How far down the road of Indianisation the post-Conciliar Church here has travelled can be deduced from the fact that new-age churches are modelled after temples, the Indian rite mass (conceived by Cardinal Parecattil of the Syro-Malabar Church and the Jesuit Dr Amalorpavadas of the Latin Church, masterminds behind the inculturation movement in India) incorporates (Brahminical) Hindu rituals such as the chanting of Vedic and Upanishadic mantras.
Prayers begin with OM, readings are taken from the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagvad Gita, tilak is applied to foreheads of priests and people, priests wear a saffron shawl instead of a cassock and sit on the ground at a table surrounded by small lamps rather than stand at the traditional altar.
In addition, Indian music is played at Church services, the entrance procession for the Mass has girls dancing the Bharatnatyam, kirtans and bhajans are sung at Communion. Priests and nuns are encouraged to adopt Indian religious values and customs in their religious practices and participate actively in Hindu festivals such as Ganesh-visarjan (immersion) and Raas Lila.
Many priests and nuns have anyway renounced their Western names and taken on Indian ones and many Church institutions now bear Indian names such as Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune (Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion), Sadhana meditation centre, Lonavla, Satchitananda Ashram, Trichy and so on. Priests and nuns are besides encouraged to live in ashrams and experience divinity through the practice of disciplines such as yoga, vipasana, transcendental meditation, reiki, pranic healing and so on. Diehard conservatives in the clergy have been appalled by the changes and one searing critic has described this process as a scandalous ecumenism with Hinduism.
Such attempts have also not gone down well with sections of the laity. The leadership wants to inculturate and have been contextualising theology to suit the Indian milieu but lay people are not willing to change, Fr Allwyn DSilva, director, Documentation, Research & Training Centre at the St Pius College, Mumbai, said.
He felt this was the main block faced by the Church in several regions, especially in a city like Mumbai where the population is cosmopolitan.
But this is not the only problem. Another stumbling road block is the question of what is Indian and whether Brahminical Hinduisation should be the dominant theological and liturgical trend in the Church.
There has, in fact, been stiff opposition to the advance of Hinduisation from radical Dalit theologians such as the late Rev Arvind Nirmal, the Rev M Azariah and the Rev James Massey, who have accused the high caste-dominated Church leadership of Brahminising Christianity in the name of Indianising the church.
The current or traditional Indian Christian theology, which is based upon the Brahmanic traditions of Hindu religions did not/does not address itself to or reflect the issues which the majority of Christians faced either before or after they became Christians. It is because this expression of theology is based upon the religious traditions of the minority even among the Hindus, because Brahmins (priestly caste) represent 5.22 only of the total population of India, Rev Massey has argued.
These Dalit theologians have made a stinging critique of the Churchs internal power structures and its alliances with the ruling elite and vested interests, leading to sections of the clergy and laity challenging these oppressive structures both in Church and society and demanding empowerment.
This is one reason for the recent attacks on Christians orchestrated by upper caste-led leaders of the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. Dalits, who form about 70 per cent of the total Indian Christian population, are still discriminated against even in the Church, and their ideologues and leaders would surely oppose such Brahminical trends being imposed from above.
Not that the Church is not aware of these problems. Christianity does not mean uniformity and has taken into account cultural diversity, concedes Fr Charangat, while acknowledging the existence and importance of several little cultures and liturgies such as tribal liturgy and subaltern liturgy which have to contend with the greater culture (Brahminism).
For them (Dalits), adopting these things would be anathema since they are fighting against hierarchy, he avers.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India, with a view to accommodating contrasting tendencies, has left it to regional bishops to decide what is appropriate Indianisation, informs Fr Charangat. It is a struggle and a challenge for us how to Indianise, he says. Indeed, it is. The recent expression of resolve at Pune amply demonstrates that the battle continues.
(The author is The Statesmans Mumbai-based Special Representative.)
Czestochowa, Polska - 24 January 2006
Difficult situation of Christians in India
Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Roman Catholic Archbishop of Agra Oswald Gracias, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.
Almost every day we read alarming news about India: Christians in India, the country regarded as the biggest democratic country in the world, fall victims to persecutions by Hindu fundamentalists, supported by the international Hindu organization 'Vishva Hindu Parishad' (VHP) and its political fraction Baratiya Janata Party (BJP). There are various forms of persecutions: discrimination at work, assaults, arsons of their churches and schools as well as forced conversions to Hinduism. Unfortunately, there are also cases of atrocious, often unpunished, murders of Christians. Recently the VHP and the BJP have asked the authorities of the state of Orissa (North Eastern India) to dismiss immediately Christian employees from governmental offices, administration and police. These actions, completely contrary to the Indian constitution and democratic principles of social relationships, have not sufficiently been condemned by the international public opinion, and what we have to do with is a policy, which reminds us of the discrimination in the Nazi Germany! The worse thing is that the world media almost completely ignore the problem of Christians' persecutions in India. In order to elucidate the situation in India to our readers I have interviewed Archbishop Oswald Gracias.
Wlodzimierz Redzioch: - The Church in India originates from the Apostles and her beginnings were connected with the teaching of Saint Thomas the Apostle (in 2002 India celebrated the 1950th anniversary of Christianity). Why is the Church seen as a 'foreign body' in India in spite of this long tradition?
Archbishop Oswald Gracias: - It seems to me that the Church in India has not introduced right inculturation. We have made several attempts but we are still seen as 'those from the West'. The reason is that our liturgy, formation and philosophy are western and the missionaries generally come from the countries of the West. The merging of Christianity and local culture (inculturation) is a challenge that the Church faces worldwide. Today we are trying to do this in a more conscious way.
India is a country of great spirituality. It is the cradle of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, but Christianity is perceived as something that was brought to India. I think we need a lot of time to change this view.
- And what about the liturgy?
- Our liturgy is also western since we have not introduced a sufficient number of Indian elements.
- The Baratiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled in India till 2004. It was connected with such radical Hindu organizations as the VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) or the RSS (Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh). In order to gain power the BJP decided to stake on the card of Hindu nationalism, and the Hindu extremists assumed the highest position in the federal authorities (e.g. Minister Arun Shourie and Minister Dilip Singh Judeo). In this atmosphere anti-Christian politics and forced conversion to Hinduism became an official programme of many Indian states. Some political observers called that Indian policy 'Hindu fascism'. What did the situation of the Church look like in those difficult times?
- The BJP exercised power for 5 years. Christians had many problems - they were attacked, and the police seldom intervened in such cases. However, I would not accuse the party leaders of that action. During that period I was secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India and that's why I used to have regular meetings with the prime minister and deputy prime minister. Talking to them I had the impression that in a way they were powerless in confrontation with those events. It seemed to me that the Hindu politicians used religion like an object to seize power. They were playing with fire and that's why they lost control over the situation.
That was a very difficult period in the life of the Church. However, I can proudly say that Christians have never broken down. We realized that the cross was a part of our faith, and persecutions as such are nothing new in the history of the Church.
- I can see that you are trying to justify the BJP leaders. But this party supported the policy of religious apartheid with the motto 'India only for Hindus'...
- Surely, it was an evil policy but the BJP did not officially implement it. It should be explained that it was the Vishva Hindu Parishad, the international Hindu organization, which promoted that policy. Many members of the BJP realize that one cannot support such an ideology in a multi-religious country.
But I would like to stress that generally speaking Hindus in India are very tolerant. They can also appreciate other religions. The majority of Hindus are not fundamentalists and only the minority uses religion for political purposes.
- Numerous Indian Christians come from tribesmen and from the lowest caste, the so-called 'dalit'. When people accept Christianity they are aware of their human dignity and equal rights with other social groups, which disturbs the old caste system in India and is a slight to the privileges of the high castes. Is it true that the social-economic issues lie at the bottom of the attacks on Christianity?
- I think this is the core of the issue. In many regions people attack missionaries because they question the social-economic relationships in the local community. If we analyzed the long history of the missions in India we would say that the European catechists and parish priests always dealt with social issues, which shook the prevailing social structure. People of high castes, who exploit low castes, do not like this. No doubt, the system of castes is questioned when low castes become aware of their rights.
- Why do we call India the largest democratic country in the world although the country tolerates the system of castes that sorts people in an even more radical way than the South African apartheid that was demonized for years?
- India's caste system is connected with the Hindu tradition and constitutes an element of Indian philosophy. Hinduism is connected with pantheism according to which we all are a part of God. The problem is that each of us comes from a different part of God, and consequently each has a different rank. The Church has always opposed the caste system and condemned it. However, the caste mentality is so rooted in the Indian mentality that we need many generations to change it. Belonging to a certain caste is more important than religion, education or financial resources. Caste is domineering in the whole social system. One cannot even rationally discuss about this since it has become a generally accepted conviction. I believe that by establishing human rights and individualism we will reach social equality but this requires lots of time. Finally, I would like to say that India's caste system is our biggest problem.
- We get the news that the Hindu extremists still force local Christians to accept Hinduism. Is this true?
- Yes, that is right. The Hindu fundamentalists organize special camps in which, they claim 'people come home', i.e. become converted from Christianity to Hinduism. However, our sources say that very few people reject Christianity and the publicity that such cases gain is for the purpose of propaganda. Furthermore, some Christians become Hindus because of certain benefits. But I want to repeat again that this is not a mass phenomenon although they try to make people believe that it concerns thousands of Christians.
- What changes have been made after the Congress Party won?
- Before the elections all people were convinced that the BJP would win. Thank God it was the Indian National Congress that won, which was a nice surprise. The government opposes fundamentalists and announces that India is a country of all religions. The problem is that the changes concern the highest authorities and the local bureaucrats have retained their posts. I would like to explain that the previous government had some economic successes. Unfortunately, only the middle class became richer whereas the poor became even poorer. The previous authorities were not interested in the lot of the poor and peasants. The present government is to change this policy. We have a good prime minister whom all people hold in respect for his honesty, discipline and wise approach towards problems. There is a special commission on the problems of minorities and its activities aim at protecting minorities and providing them special rights.
- Do you think that the government of Prime Minister Singh will succeed in guaranteeing all citizens religious freedom?
- Prime Minister Singh has said that this is the aim of his policy. The prime minister and members of his cabinet often repeat this. I think that all people want this, too. Since every citizen must be treated as if he/she was a part of the country. It seems to me that the government cannot give up its policy aiming at religious freedom because they would lose people's confidence. One cannot make radical changes in the society without making fundamental changes in the leadership.
- I hope that the authorities will also change textbooks that served Hindu propaganda...
- This is bitter truth. The previous government tried to change history and thus cultivated children's minds. If those manipulations had been successful they would have had lasting effects. Fortunately, they were stopped.
- Has the economic growth contributed to the secularization of the Indian society?
- I think this will never happen in India. India has deep spiritual roots and religion plays a vital role in every citizen's life. By nature India's people are close to God. Even if they do not pray regularly God plays an important role in their personal and family lives. Therefore, welfare itself will not eliminate God from people's lives. Only a minority may be secularized but India will remain a religious nation in which God will always be present.
- What can Catholics from other countries do to help Indian Catholics and to prevent them from the aggression of the Hindu fundamentalists?
- Words of solidarity and support give us courage because we need support and assurance that Catholics from other countries are with us and that we are one family. We do not want to make the impression that we are the 'western' Church, and that's why we do not ask the West for help in those issues. On the other hand, we appreciate that other Catholics take interest in us and help us since we are a definite minority. This is very important to us.
- The fact that we demand respect for minority rights from the Indian authorities does not mean that we interfere in internal affairs...
- That's true. Human rights, religious freedom, freedom of consciousness for every man - this is the philosophy prevailing in the whole world. With your help it can also become India's philosophy.
- Thank you for the conversation.
Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Ireneusz Skubis
Translation: Maria Kantor
Some Information regarding the situation concerning the Catholic Church in Goa. BTW, I had posted a message concerning the dastardly attck on Bishop Thomas Dabre of Mumbai(Bombay) and 2-3 Priests which had taken place on Sunday near Bombay. I posted it on Catholic Caucus Readings for the Memorial of Saint John Bosco for the 31st of January 2006.
This article is as follows:
Tabernacle stolen, hosts defiled at India church
PANAJI, India (UCAN) In the latest in a series of crimes involving Catholic churches in Goa during the past year, robbers broke into a church, carried off the tabernacle and scattered consecrated hosts.
The incident occurred on the night of Jan. 26-27 at Sts. Cosmas and Damian Church in Bogmalo, 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) south of Panaji, the state capital. Panaji is 1,910 kilometers south of New Delhi (about 1,200 miles).
The parish sacristan noticed the church door open and the tabernacle missing on the morning of Jan. 27.
Parish priest Father Emidio Braganza told UCA News he gathered parishioners by ringing the church bell. With the help of police dogs, the tabernacle was found abandoned on a nearby hillock. The consecrated hosts were scattered on the ground and the gold-plated ciborium was missing, he said. Some 100 rupees (US$2.20) also were missing from a collection box inside the church, he added.
The theft is the 13th church break-in Goa Archdiocese has recorded since February 2005. Most of the incidents involved thefts of antiques and artifacts. There was no defilement of consecrated hosts earlier. The archdiocese covers Goa state, which was a Portuguese colony until 1961.
The "spate of robberies has become a growing concern" for the church, according to Father Joaquim Loiola Pereira, secretary to Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa. "We are at a loss to understand how not a single culprit has been booked," he said.
Father Braganza said the latest incident seems to have been carried out by "people who do not know what they were doing." He said the parish prayed for God's forgiveness for them. Experts reportedly lifted fingerprints from the tabernacle. The parish priest "did not hear any noise not even the church lock being broken." The "heavy" tabernacle was not affixed to the altar, but at least two people would have been needed to carry it outside, he said.
However, Father Pereira called the latest event "alarming" and said it "seems to be calculated to offend the Christian community." In his view, "It seems most unlikely that the holy tabernacle was mistaken for a strongbox."
Father Maverick Fernandes, co-coordinator of the archdiocesan Social Justice and Peace Cell, said the archdiocese is "terribly disappointed and let down" by the "indifference and lack of seriousness" from state police.
Each break-in incident has been reported to the police, but "not a single" lead was followed up or perpetrator apprehended. "To us, there seems to be a clear pattern to these robberies. Unfortunately, it does not seem so to the police," he told UCA News.
The Bogmalo break-in happened two weeks after the archdiocese held a meeting Jan. 7 seeking a strategy to protect church's heritage. Father Braganza said the meeting of priests and lay leaders resolved to undertake round-the-clock security for churches containing valuable objects.
Creating strong rooms for church treasures, installing alarm systems and hiring night watchmen also were suggested as preventive measures. Participants further decided to document and record religious art objects, with the possibility of insuring them if necessary.
In Jesus and Mary,
P.S.- The Situation is quite alarming in Goa where 30% of the population considers itself Christian as well as Catholic. In the B.J.P. Ruled States it is getting from bad to worse to hellish.
In some Congress ruled States it is also bad but to varying degrees.
I have some "breaking bad news" from Goa again concerning the ongoing vandalism against Catholic Churches and Chapels there. This story is available at http://www.theindiancatholic.com also check out http://www.spiritdaily.com -- An Orthodox Catholic Web Site run by Michael Brown an eminent American Catholic Apologist and Journalist.
The Article is as follows- This happened on Monday Night in Goa, the 30th of January I.S.T.
In Jesus and Mary,
Latest case of vandalism: Cross desecrated in Goa
Panaji (ICNS) -- Unidentified people desecrated a wayside cross in Goa, which church people say was the latest event in a series of acts of vandalism against churches in the state.
The cross in Carona-Aldona was broken into pieces Monday night. It happened just four days after a church was broken-in and its tabernacle removed.
In that incident in Sts. Cosmos and Damian Church at Bogmalo the miscreants also scattered consecrated hosts. Several Church people see it as an act of desecration than robbery.
The latest event adds to that. At the foot of the desecrated cross were scribbled the words 'Shree Pardeshi' (Mr Foreigner) in Roman script.
People who noticed the desecrated cross in the early hours of Tuesday alerted the Chaplain of St Rita Chapel at Carona. The cross was in an enclosure.
Chaplain Fr Mathew Rodrigues said communities in the locality had no history of enmity. He said the incident surprised him.
Local people say the cross was donated by a couple after they were blessed with a child. Some seven years ago Catholics and Hindus together build grills and put an asbestos sheet over the cross.
Church people have recorded at least four cases of cross desecration and another some 15 cases of robberies in churches of Goa. Police have not yet arrested any one for these crimes.
It helps to break long text up into paragraphs to make it more legible. You should probably post some of these articles as new threads. Freepmail me, if you need assistance. God's blessings on you!
My Apologies for the Three Posts and for the way they were posted as a large mass of information. If you would like to, you can ask the Moderator to remove these posts asap.
Sorry again for the Mess.
In Jesus and Mary,
I really am at a loss to understand how something like this could have happened and that too thrice in this way.
This has not happened before and all my posts prior to this have been fairly comprehensive and appropriately readable. I will probably do this appropriately again or on the Thread that I had started on the 7th of January titled "Indian Catholics attacked on way to Christmas Mass".
The Moderator can remove those three posts whenever he or she wishes to do so.
In Jesus and Mary,
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.