Tuesday, 22 April 2014

LETTER TO HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL FERNANDO FILONI

December 13, 2012.

From
        G.Alex Benziger,
         Advocate
         No.123, Addl. Law Chambers,
         High Court Buildings,
         Chennai-00 104.
To

         His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni,
         Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
         Palazzo di Propaganda Fide
         00187 Roma,     Piazza di Spagna,48
         Roma, Italy.

Through

          His Grace Dr. Salvotore Pennacchio,
          Apostolic Nuncio to India
          50-C, Niti Marg,
          Chanakyapuri, New Delhi – 110021.
 May it please Your Eminence,
Sub: The fiftieth anniversary of the Sanctuary of Our Lady   of Good Health in Vailankanni, India, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the institution     Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI),
- - - - -
1.      I introduce myself as a practicing Advocate in the High Court of Judicature at Madras (South India) and I have a legal standing of about 26 years in the Bar.
 2.     I am deeply involved in the activities of the Catholic Church and am concerned of the Mission, Faith and Moral and Tradition of the Catholic Church.         
3.    I have received the message from the VIS news on December 7, 2012 that Your Eminences, as special envoy to the celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Good Health in Vailankanni, India, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the institution of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), is  due to take place from 9 to 11 February, 2013.
4.  On Sunday, April 24, 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated his “Petrine Ministry as Bishop of Rome” in the sunlight of the Saint Peter’s Square overflowing with crowds calling for the “reform of the reform”, recapturing some traditional practices that had been abandoned or modified after Vatican II. His first act was the inauguration Mass of his pontificate. Benedict XVI is a Pope of the great tradition of liturgy, with the Eucharist at the centre. It is a tradition of liturgical texts, rituals, and music and symbolic places. Since then many transfers have been effected in Vatican and in particular the Master of Ceremony Msgr. Piero Marini replaced by Msgr. Guido Marini, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationals Bureau, Ms. Lesley–Anne Knight denied second term and recently, the Pope’s butler Mr.Paolo Gabriele was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the stealing of confidential documents from the Holy Father’s private apartment.  
5.   In October 1996, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in collaboration with the Dicasrteries, “Propaganda Fide, Oriental Churches, Catholic Education and Interreligious Dialogue was pleased to invite a group of members of the Indian Hierarchy to a meeting in Rome, from 21st till 24th October 1996. Its purpose was to consider the state of the Catholic Theology in India and to consider ways and means to promote and strengthen it further so that it may make an even better contribution to the life and mission of the Church, at home (where the situation is characterized by much religious pluralism and inter religious dialogue) and abroad.
6.     Following this meeting, an “Apostolic Visitation Team” was constituted in 1998 to “Visit the Major Seminaries in India in order to assess the situation and improve them and help the seminary authorities in their work of formation of future priests” under the Convener His Grace Dr. Michael Augustine, the then Archbishop of Pondicherry–Cuddalore and two bishops and one French priest for the Tamil Region (South India).
7.     A Group of Catholics including myself with six priests (secular and religious) met the Apostolic Visitator team for Tamil Region on October 18, 1998 at the Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee, Madras. There, we had submitted a petition describing what concerns the students, professors of St. Pauls Seminary, Trichy and Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee, Madras from which seminaries we interviewed three seminarians with a set up questionnaire. Specific teachings were alluded to, and two books published by two professors of a seminary were quoted.
8.    Last year, a colloquium was held at St. John’s National Academy of Health & Sciences in Bangalore, India, from 16 to 22 January, 2011,  in which a delegation from the Holy See met with twenty-eight members of the Bishops’ Conference of India and twenty six theologians of the Holy See was led by His Eminence Cardinal William Joseph Levada, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, assisted by His Grace Luis Ladaria. SJ, Secretary of the Congregation, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, Promoter of justice and three officials. The members of the Indian episcopate who participated in the colloquium were represented and three ‘Sui iuris’ Churches in India, led by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.
9.   In the first part of the colloquium, theologians addressed questions such as the specific role of the theologian in the Church, theological methodology in the East and in the west, and inculturation. Jesus Christ as the one Saviour of all people, the relationship between the Church of Christ and other religions the Christian concept of authentic human liberation, the role of the faith community (the ‘sensus fidelium'), and the distinctiveness of Christian prayer and spirituality.
10.    The Second part of the colloquium was organised for bishops and the representatives of the Holy See. These days were devoted to various questions relating to the specific role and responsibility of bishops in the Church, such as the bishops as teacher of the faith, the functioning of the Doctrinal Commission of the Bishop’s conference, the formation of future priests and members of religious congregations, and the correct adjudication of the more serious canonical delicts.
11.    After the meeting nothing has been done but the Catholic Church in India continues to suffer from dirty communal group system based on caste, and financial irregularities.
12.     Please don’t compare India with Western Countries, for Indian culture is very different from the Western Culture. In Western countries the culture and life style is almost one and the same, liberal ideas have been developed consequently, and free life society formed against the Natural Order. But in India, no such Western atmosphere exists, every village has its own culture and custom and the caste system in India is as same as that of Our Lord Jesus Christ living in the world among the Jews and other communities. The people are still living as conservatives and church goers. On Sundays and Feast days all the churches are full in attendance.
13.   The dogmatic teachings, as taught by the Magisterium of  the Church and hence the TRUTH of the Church are sufficiently devalued, by the modern and modernized bishops and priests secular and religious through their modern teachings and modern liturgy. To add up to this crisis, the involvement  of the Modern clergy in the socio-political activities of the worldliness has brought down their status of ‘spiritual leadership’ to which we solely depend on them because of their noble vocation of ‘Priesthood’ through the grace of the Sacrament of Ordination. As a result, we stand totally confused of the basic teachings of the Church, the deposit of faith, as handed down by our Saviour through his Apostles.
14.    I submit here below few of the errors of the modern churchmen in India that cause the crisis of faith, moral and doctrine  for your kind notice and suitable action to eliminate them:
A. Liturgy:
          During the offering of the Holy Mass the celebrant-priests freely use their own anaphora, to suit their individual fancy, much against the norms laid down by the Church, thus infusing a repulsive attitude among the laymen from attending the Holy Mass. The celebrants have since transformed the Altar into a drama stage where their histrionic talents are being exhibited liberally. Furthermore, the so called pluralism has crept into the “Action of Christ’ in the Holy liturgy of Novus Ordo Missae. Further, it was observed in the Tamilnadu Bishops Conference in January 1999 that “our liturgy lacks life and appears dull”. As rightly pointed out by our present Holy Father, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger “The differences in the liturgy according to the new rite, as it is actually practiced in many places are often greater than the difference between the new and the old liturgy, when both are celebrated according to prescribed liturgical books” (The Inside the Vatican /December 1998 issue at page 53).
B. Doctrines and Illegal Translations:
          The Liturgy of Mass prayers and the Bible and other important prayers are translated with tangent meaning. There are countless irreconcilable mistakes in the   translation of Common Bible in 1995. Truths are denied, doctrines of faith are deviated or distorted; traditional teachings of the Catholic Church stand totally confused. There are divergences and aberrations almost in every verse of the new translated text of the Bible.
           The bishops have through the incorrect translation of the Missale Romanum, in 1993, purposely produced false liturgical prayers. They have blatantly done it to suit their whims and fancies. The translations have suppressed the expression of certain dogmas as follows:-
a)   The reality of the next world and the human soul      
b)   The sacrificial aspect of the Mass
c)   Sin as the greatest evil
d)   The need of repentance and forgiveness
e)    Punishment and reparation for sin
f)     The existence of the devil as an evil spirit
g)    The resurrection of the body
h)   The divinely instituted authority in the Church 
The Church authorities give importance to the language and hence the Tamilnadu Catholic Bishops establish a centre (Tamil Maiyam-Tamil Centre) to promote, the Tamil Language rather than the truth, faith and doctrine. The Tamilnadu Bishops Council is sponsoring the Tamil Maiyam, an organization located by few priests having nexus with politicians. It is to be noted that in 2011 the office of Tamil Maiyam was raided and searched by officials of Central Bureau of Investigation, Government of India.
 C.  Seminary:
          The seminaries in the materialistic world, the priestly monastic life do not, any more, impart proper teaching in the novitiates, the norms of discipline are not taught to them. Indiscipline to the extent of immorality prevails among the seminarians. They lack in the knowledge of proper sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass, and of the due veneration to the great Sacrament of the Eucharist. The presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist has become a matter of great doubt to the seminarians who are given the impression that the Holy Mass is not a sacrifice but only memorial meal. No more ‘Transubstantiation, but only Transignification or Tansfinalization.  Thus proper liturgical worship is not taught to them.
          The Second Coming of Our Lord for the last judgment on us and the fear of God against sin, even the existence of Heaven and Hell (not to talk of the purgatory) are all eliminated from the syllabus of modern teachings, and hence not reflected from the pulpit. On the contrary, professors of theology in the seminaries happily talk of the cinemas, cinema stars and Hindu mythology and other political leaders and communism, to create a cheap attraction for the vocation to priesthood; and these are quite well reflected from the pulpit. The heresies against Catholic faith are being liberally and openly published in the catholic journals owned by the bishops in the diocesan official magazines.
D.  Misappropriation of money and wealth:
          In western countries, church goers are decreasing. The church properties are sold for purposes in particular to meet out the legal liabilities of the church and to pay damages ordered by the courts. In India no such said Western atmosphere exists. There is no paucity of funds for the church purposes and their administration. The church authorities in India have sold away many immovable properties for throw away prices or no price at all. Thus they have frittered away with the properties. The Church properties are allowed to be lost. The educational institutions run by the Church authorities are  collecting huge donations for someone or other reason and the amounts are siphoned to their pockets. Collecting donations and amounts taken from the offering boxes are swindled by the parish priests. The bishops have no control over them or getting amount from parish priests for his pocket.
E.  Laymen are suffering and no grievance cell available to the lay Catholics:
             The lay Catholics or the parishioners are divided as two groups by the parish priests with the assistance of the Local Ordinary. One group supports the parish priest and if the other group raises any voice against the bishop or priest, then they with the aid of police and civil officials are harassed and are unjustly deprived of the sacraments. Some catholic churches have been closed for years together. The bishops and priests do not have the basic Christian quality of love and tolerance but they are continuously harassing the lay Catholics. In Ireland the Holy See did not properly handle, or attended the sexual abuse cases, hence the Ireland Government closed the Vatican embassy on November 4, 2011. The same situation will arise in India in the near future, if the Holy See does properly interfere into such like matters.
F. Exodus:
In a civil society, the people can get their relief from courts or other such grievance cells. But nothing is available in the Catholic Church to the laymen.
                During the celebration of the Holy mass, the celebrant priests freely use their own anaphora, to suit their individual fancy and thus infusing a repulsive attitude among the laymen from the Holy Mass.  For the above said reasons, a good number of Catholics have left the Church and joined other Christian denominations. In 1989 the then Archbishop of Bombay His Eminence Simon Cardinal Pimenta has announced that 35000 Catholics in the archdiocese have left the Church. (The Examiner July 22, 1989 issue).
          We sent many representations to the Holy See or the Catholic hierarchies concerned on many occasions but all in vain. Not even an acknowledgement was received.
G.  Abortion:
          Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and many bishops all over the world are talking about abortion and contraception. But in Tamil Nadu bishops or priests are not talking about abortion and contraception. Why the Tamil Nadu bishops are shy about speaking on the above subject we don’t know. Our Lord Jesus Christ said; “And that which you hear in the ear preach ye from the housetops”. (Mathew 10:27). It is very unfortunate that every catholic family in Tamil Nadu is freely using contraception and family planning devices like Intra Uterine Device or Tubectomy. That is why our Holy Father on March 10, 2011 in a meeting with priests and religious from the Diocese of Rome said that the Pope called on priests today not to shrink from proclaiming” the entire plan of God”. “This is important”, said the Pope. The Apostle does not preach Christianity ‘a la carte’, according to his own preferred theological ideas; he does not take away from the commitment to announce the entire will of God, even when uncomfortable, nor the themes he may least like personally.
H.  Indian Culture /Hindu Culture:
          Stage play and dancing by men or women or together has been permitted in the Holy Liturgy of Mass but this type of stage play or dancing nowhere inside the Hindu temples in India. In the Hindu temples there is an iron partisan to keep away the people straight, face to face with the Deity and more so nobody enter into the sanctum sanctorum of the Hindu temple except the Hindu priests.  A person to touch the deity of a Hindu temple is unimaginable. Nobody enter into the temple with sandals or shoe. In some temples men are permitted only with bare body, but ladies are permitted with sarees, in some temples ladies are not permitted with the age group of 13 years to 50 years. Therefore, what is necessary for the Catholic Church in India from the view point of the Hindu culture had been already adopted by our Indian Catholic hierarchies centuries ago for example, car procession, flag hoisting, marriages within blood relations and etc., Therefore no further inculturation or Hinduisation is necessary.
15.     The present situation in Tamil Nadu (South India) is the same as in 1073 A.D. in the Pontificate of St. Gregory VII wherein “the two most flagrant visible evils that affected religious life were simony and clerical immorality including concubinage. The great Pope St. Gregory VII enacted a decree in 1074. There was a great opposition from Germany and in Paris the priests burnt the decrees, but the saintly Pope stood firm, and consequently the church lost a few bishops and priests but his reforms effected a change in the life of the clergy.
16.    Your Grace has broad experience in Asia and Middle East. In January 2001, Pope John Paul II appointed Your Grace as Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, and consecrated Your Grace as the bishop on March 19, 2001. Pope John Paul II opposed the U.S. led war on Iraq that began in March 2003. As Nuncio Your Grace was the only Western diplomat in Baghdad all through the War. Your Grace made yourself available to Christians, Muslims alike and to foreign journalists who much appreciated Your Grace’s courage, good humour and hospitality. As attacks were launched against Christian Churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk, Your Grace came close to be killed in Baghdad on Feb, 1 2006, when a car bomb exploded next to the nunciature. “Thank God we survived”, Your Grace stated afterward. There are talks about your courage.
17.      Subsequently, Your Grace was appointed as “Substitute for General Affairs”, the third most important position at the Vatican. When the announcement made public your Grace said “It is an act of paternal benevolence on the part of the pontiff to which I respond without the slightest trepidation, but with the same willingness and profound gratitude I have had in the past. The wonderful words of Our Lord aid me at this time, those found in Luke (17, 10), on the attitude of those called into Christ’s service. When you have done all you have been commanded, you said: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do”. Your Eminence  replied to a question interviewed by the French Edition of L’ Osservatore Romano (Aug. 26, 2009) that “A pastor should never abandon his flock in difficult times”. Further, on May 10, 2011 Your Eminence have elevated as Cardinal and appointed the Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples.
18.     To conclude this letter, we have firm belief that Your Eminence will take care of all the above said issues and give appropriate directions to the Catholic hierarchies in India as the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ as to the letter and spirit.
          Thanking Your Eminence and praying for Your Eminence Apostolic blessings I remain.
                                                                                        Yours obediently in
                                                                                      Our Lord Jesus Christ

(G.ALEX BENZIGER)
Copy to :
  1. His Grace Savio Hon Tai-Fai, sdb.,
    Secretary  of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
    Palazzo di Propaganda Fide
    00187 Roma
    Piazza di Spagna,48
    Roma, Italy.

 2. His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias,
    Archbishop of Bombay,
    Archbishop's House,
    21, Nathalal Parekh Marg,
    Mumbai-400001,
    India

3. Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
    Bishop of Thanjavur,
    Bishop’s House,

    Thanjavur-613 007.

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