Catholic Church in India should end ‘silence’ over kidnapped Dalit bishop, say critics – Ruth Gledhill

Fr Prasad Gallela is the Bishop of Cuddapah

Ruth GledhillDiscrimination based on caste system is illegal in India but it has proved almost impossible to eradicate [within the Church].  A Capuchin Franciscan priest, Father Nithiya Sagayam, told Crux that the Church should speak out more on the caste system: “The silence of the official Church is criminal.” – Ruth Gledhill

The Catholic Church hierarchy in India has been accused of ignoring an attack on a Dalit bishop after three of its own priests were arrested in connection with the attack.

Bishop of Cuddapah Prasad Gallela, of the so-called “untouchable” Dalit caste, and his driver Vijay Kumar were kidnapped in April this year, blindfolded and beaten and taken to an undisclosed place where £50,000 was demanded in ransom.

Three high-caste [Reddy] priests were among those arrested for the crime.

The South India Dalit Catholic Association has now condemned the Catholic hierarchy’s “silence”, UCA reported. In a statement, the association condemns the “silence of the official church on the kidnapping and assault of Bishop Prasad Gallela by three priests of the Cuddappah Diocese on 25 April.”

A. J. X. BoscoJesuit Priest Father A. X. J. Bosco, a Dalit activist in the area, sent an open letter to the president of the national Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis of Trivandrum, criticising the silence.

“The sad and criminal event has been published in the media,” he wrote, asking why there had been “no significant response condemning the culprit priests or supporting Gallela” in the national media.

He said: “Are all the prayers, statements, promises and assurances of the hierarchy and Church leaders only in words? Is the Church leadership afraid of their caste communities; or do they not care about the Dalits even if they happen to be bishops?

“You can very well imagine what the people, especially the Dalit Catholics, would think and feel about the significant silence on the part of the official Church.

“We know that there is caste discrimination in the Church, and it is a great challenge to the Christian Community in India.

“The question to ask is—If Jesus were here, what he would have done?”

Bosco called for a “concrete” plan of action, including transfer of bishops to other dioceses when they refuse to treat Dalits as equals.

In May this year, Gallela was supported by a rally in Cuddappah city in south-east India, Crux reported.

Nithya SagayamDiscrimination based on caste system is illegal in India but it has proved almost impossible to eradicate.

A Capuchin Franciscan priest, Father Nithiya Sagayam, told Crux that the Church should speak out more on the caste system: “The silence of the official Church is criminal.”

He added: “Our socially discriminatory society is vigorously condemned by secular leaders who work for social justice. It is shocking that the Catholic Church and its official organisations have not responded effectively to end this evil, in spite of clear indications of caste discrimination within the Church leadership.”

Gallela’s attackers took three ATM cards, a silver chain with the bishop’s holy cross and his iPhone.

From 2000 to 2004, Gallela served as a priest in the diocese of San Angelo, Texas, before returning to India to teach in a local seminary. – Christian Today, 21 July 2016

Gandhi Quote

The ‘miracle’ that makes a saint out of Mother Teresa – Jaideep Mazumdar

Pope John Paul II & Mother Teresa

Jaideep MazumdarThis woman drives to the hospital and places the Mother Teresa medallion under her husband’s pillow. And then, even as her husband is being readied for surgery, she drives back to her church to pray! … Did she drive back an hour to be able to pray with the Missionaries of Charity nuns so that the outlandish miracle could be attributed to Mother Teresa? – Jaideep Mazumdar

In early December 2008, 34-year-old Marcilio Haddad Andrino, a PhD in mechanical engineering from one of Brazil’s best institutes (University of Campinas) went on his honeymoon to Gramado, his wife’s hometown. There, he fell seriously ill and was driven 1111 kilometres, a journey that would have taken 14 hours at least, to a little-known hospital (St. Lucas Hospital) in Santos on 8 December.

According to a news report that appeared in Avvenire (an Italian newspaper that is affiliated to the Vatican) Andrino, of Lebanese origin, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain) and eight abscesses (tumours) in the brain, and had gone into a coma. But his wife left the hospital and drove for over an hour to São Vicente (where the couple used to reside) to pray at her church—Our Lady of Aparecida Church.

The priest at the church, Father Elmiran Ferreira, who very conveniently had a medallion bearing a portrait of Mother Teresa in his pocket, gave it to Andrino’s wife and asked her to take it back and keep it Mother Teresa Medalunder her husband’s pillow at the hospital before returning to the church to pray for her husband. The woman dutifully returned to Santos and did the priest’s bidding.

The next day, even as Andrino was being readied for surgery, his wife drove back to São Vicente to pray at her church along with Father Elmiran. A group of Missionaries of Charity nuns living at São Vicente also joined the lady and the priest to pray for Andrino’s recovery and ask for Mother Teresa’s intercession.

Meanwhile, Andrino, who was comatose, was wheeled into the operation theatre at 6.10 pm on 9 December. But doctors could not perform the tracheal intubation for anaesthesia. They, quite inexplicably, left Andrino in the operation theatre (OT) and, presumably, went to drink coffee! Half an hour later, they returned to the OT to retry the procedure and nearly jumped out of their skins when they saw the patient fully awake and without pain.

“What am I doing here?”, Andrino is said to have asked the doctors, who were possibly too dumbfounded to reply. The next (10 December) morning, when his wife went to the hospital, she was startled to see him sitting on his hospital bed sipping coffee.

A couple of days later, he was back home with all the excess cerebrospinal fluid and the eight tumours having mysteriously disappeared. Soon after, he landed a good job with the federal government and shifted to the country’s capital, Rio de Janeiro, with his wife, who has since borne him two children.

This fantastical story, with its plethora of loopholes, will form the basis of Mother Teresa’s canonisation a little over two weeks from now on 4 September. Thousands from India, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj—who will lead the Indian delegation, will journey to the Vatican to attend the ceremony, where this “miracle” will be celebrated.

The detailed account of this “miracle cure” of Andrino—which appeared in Avvenire, the first to announce the date of Mother Teresa’s canonisation (conferring sainthood)—stretches one’s credulity and throws up many questions. Why would a seriously ill patient be taken to a nondescript hospital more than a thousand kilometres away when Porto Alegre, the city nearest to Gramado (where Andrino was on a honeymoon; and what sort of person would go to his wife’s hometown on a honeymoon anyway?), a major city in Brazil, was just 125 kilometres (2.5-hour drive) away?

Porto Alegre has the Hospital de Clínicas, a renowned university hospital in Brazil that has 60 specialities, and gets patients from across Brazil. In a medical emergency, it would be natural for a patient to be taken to the nearest hospital, more so if that hospital is highly reputed, rather than being taken to a nondescript one more than a thousand kilometres away.

The whole account of a (presumably) newly-wed woman (since the two had gone on their honeymoon) rushing off to her local church leaving her critically ill and comatose husband in a hospital is quite implausible. That is not normal human behaviour.

But after having left her comatose husband in hospital and met her parish priest, this woman drives back to the hospital and places the medallion under her husband’s pillow. And then, even as her husband is being readied for surgery, she drives back to her church to pray! Which woman would ever do that? Did she drive back an hour to be able to pray with the Missionaries of Charity nuns so that the (outlandish) miracle could be attributed to Mother Teresa?

And even as her, and her priest’s and nuns’ prayers are answered almost instantly by the “Blessed Teresa of Kolkata” (as Mother Teresa came to be known after her beatification in October 2003), the Mother Teresa & Pope John Paul II(distraught?) lady remains unaware of her husband’s miraculous recovery. This at a time when, less than eight years ago, Brazil had (according to this Wikipedia entry) 150.6 million mobile phone users.

Would not a woman whose husband was dying call up the hospital using a mobile phone (borrowing one if she doesn’t possess one) to know about her husband after his scheduled surgery? Would she wait till the next morning to physically visit the hospital to find out about her husband’s condition?

This story is also full of coincidences. Many outside the Santos diocese came to know of this miracle, but it was not reported to the Vatican. It was only eight years later, in 2013, that Pope Francis got to know about it during a visit to Rio. A neurosurgeon in Rio, Jose Augusto Nasser, was assigned as the Pope’s personal physician during the visit and told him at the time.

Nasser also happened to be the personal physician of Father Caetano Rizzi, who was the judicial vicar of Santos when this miracle occurred. Incidentally, there are no accounts of Father Caetano suffering from any neurological disorders that required surgical intervention. And a surgeon is not usually a personal physician of any person. But we are talking about fantastical stories here.

Father Caetano, like Andrino’s wife, also hails from Gramado and knew the lady’s family. Father Caetano had told Dr Nasser, a devout Catholic, about the miracle cure of Andrino. Nasser then narrated the account of this miracle to the Pope and sent a report on it to the Vatican as well.

Last year, Father Caetano was told by the Vatican that it was examining the miracle. In the next week, three representatives from Rome reached Brazil, heard testimonies of Father Elmiran and 14 others and returned to Rome. They prepared a 400-page report on the miracle.

Fr Brian KolodiejchukA team of three senior priests and two doctors carried out more investigations to conclude that the miracle was “instant, perfect and complete, lasting and scientifically inexplicable”. One of these priests was Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, a member of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, a religious community of priests founded by Mother Teresa. It would be in Father Brian’s interest to have Mother Teresa declared a saint.

Of the two doctors, one was Marcus Vinicius Serra, a neurosurgeon who had treated Andrino and had “witnessed the miracle”. The other was Monica Mazzurana Benetti, a surgeon, who is Father Caetano’s niece and close to him. Benetti also hails from Gramado, a town with a strong Catholic influence.

Father Caetano also oversaw the case for another miracle that happened in Santos and that led to Josephine Margaret Bakhita, a Sudanese-born former slave who worked in Italy as a nun, being declared a saint in 2000 by the Vatican. The miracle attributed to Josephine occurred in Santos in 1992 when a local woman miraculously recovered from ulcers caused by diabetes and hypertension in her legs. Father Caetano played a pivotal role in having the cure of the woman being declared a miracle that propelled Josephine to sainthood.

Mother Teresa visited São Paulo soon after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Soon, her nuns arrived in São Paulo and Santos, where they have a good presence. They regularly visit the Our Lady of Aparecida Church in São Vicente that Andrino’s wife used to frequent. This church is a simple building painted in white with thin blue lines stencilling its doors and windows. The similarity with the blue-bordered white saris worn by the Missionaries of Charity nuns is uncanny. – Swarajya, 19 August 2016

» Jaideep Mazumdar is a journalist with many years of experience in The Times Of India, Open, The Outlook, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and some other news organizations. He lives in Kolkata has reported on politics, society and many other subjects from North, East and North East India as well as Nepal and Bangladesh.

Sushma Swaraj

Mother Teresa did not care for the poor. She cared for poverty and made it into a very lucrative business. Her religious order is now the richest in the world. It is therefore entirely inappropriate for a high-ranking minister of the secular Indian Republic to attend the sectarian religious programme for this sadistic woman at the Vatican on Sept. 4th. Those who agree may sign the petition requesting Sushma Swaraj not to go HERE.

Nun threatened and harassed by Syro-Malabar Catholic Church – Megha Varier

Mary Sebastian

Megha VarierSr. Mary filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and Women’s Commission alleging that she was facing physical and mental harassment at the hands of her superiors. But after she approached Women’s Commission, the Church, she alleges, has found new ways of taunting her. – Megha Varier

The Church preaches charity, kindness, and compassion towards everyone but Sr. Mary Sebastian, a 45-year-old nun, is afraid that the very institution that she has served for 25 years might harm her.

Sr. Mary wants to leave the Church and it is a well-known fact that the Church does not take too kindly to rebels.

In January this year, Sr. Mary took the decision to quit the Church because of the harassment that she allegedly faced in the hands of her superiors at the Syro-Malabar Church’s Cherthungal Nasrathubhavan Convent under Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC) in Pala, Kottayam district of Kerala. She has been living there for the past three years.

Sr. Mary approached the Church to grant her 3 years of exclaustration that allows a nun to stay outside the convent as a common citizen and return to the convent after the designated period.

However, she was denied permission as the Church feared that granting her this would encourage other nuns to follow suit.

When the Church deliberately delayed the proceedings, Sr. Mary approached the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement, an organization that works for rehabilitation of ex-priests and ex-nuns. Matters went haywire after the organization intervened.

In May, she was given dispensation and was asked to quit the Church. Having decided that it is best to do so, Sr. Mary demanded that she be paid her due in order for her to lead a life outside the church. The Cardinal George Alencherry wearing his Rajiv Gandhi badge.authorities objected.

Renji Njellani, organizing secretary of KCRM, points out that any priest or nun who wishes to quit the Church is entitled to be given money according to the canon law. The Church refused to pay the sum of Rs.30 lakh that Sr. Mary demanded and offered to pay Rs.1 lakh, after months of negotiation.

Two weeks ago, Sr. Mary filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and Women’s Commission alleging that she was facing physical and mental harassment at the hands of her superiors. But after she approached Women’s Commission, the Church, she alleges, has found new ways of taunting her.

They even filed a police complaint recently, accusing her of theft. She says that police officials threatened her to quit the Church as per their order.

Last week, a complaint was filed with Child Welfare Committee accusing her of harassing the children at Balabhavan, a children’s home associated with the convent. Sr. Mary claims that the authorities of the committee forcefully made her sign a document pledging that she will stay away from the children.

Renji points out that the Church in fact uses the committee to its own advantage, with priests appointed in key positions.

“I am scared for my life…. They are so powerful that they may even harm me!” These were her first words as Sr. Mary spoke to The News Minute over phone.

Sr. Mary claims that false allegations have been levelled against her ever since she joined the Church.

In 1997 when she was a student of Master of Social Work, her superiors at the convent had accused her of being in a relationship with a priest.

“Nobody asked for any explanation from my side…. I wasn’t given a chance to prove the allegations wrong, or at the least defend myself. They accused me of wrongdoing and I was forcefully sent for retreat camps where I wasn’t allowed to speak to anybody. I used to spend the days cut off from the outside world,” she says.

But things became worse when in the early 2000s, Sr. Mary objected to a misappropriation at Shanthinilayam, a special school in Pala run by the Church.

“When I found that they were forging documents to include nuns in the teachers’ list to claim university grants, I objected. I discussed the issue with other nuns and the superiors came to know about it. Since then, they have constantly been trying to tag me as a mentally challenged person,” she says.

She also alleges that she was repeatedly transferred from one convent to the other, at the behest of the Church, often in the middle of an academic year.

Sr. Mary, who works as a teacher at a school run by the Church, says that she was brutally assaulted by her superiors at the various convents she has lived over the years.

“They would hit me, accusing me of various things, including robbery. They hid letters addressed to me. I forgave them and tolerated everything till now. I cannot take it any further,” she says.

Sister JesmeThe Church involved her family in all these matters too and would demand that they visit to sort things out.

Sr. Mary’s decision to leave the Church citing harassment is not a unique instance. Only a few years ago, Sister Jesme, who had been a nun for over 33 years, quit the Church alleging harassment by her superiors. Her leaving and the subsequent release of her autobiography Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun (Malayalam PDF) had created a huge controversy at that time. Sr. Abhaya’s murder, in which priests are the prime accused, is yet another example of how things are not exactly holy in the Church.

Once she leaves the convent, Sr. Mary cannot go back home.

“Do you know what it means to be a nun who quit the Order? Our society hasn’t grown enough to accept such things. People will see it as my betrayal towards Jesus. But only if they knew that my fight is against the Church and not Jesus….”

She says that her family does not want her to return home. “In fact they don’t want me to quit the Church. It is all because of the stigma that is associated with it. Society will only target my family for my actions.”

Dismissing the allegations of harassment at the hands of superiors, spokesman for Syro-Malabar denomination of the Catholic Church, Dr Paul Thelakkat states that the Church does not stop anybody from quitting.

Saying that he is unaware of the case in detail, Dr. Thelakkat claims that the canon law does not prescribe the Church to pay compensation to those who quit.

“As far as I understand, there is only one problem here. If the nun wants to quit, it is up to her to decide. But she cannot hold the Church responsible to provide rehabilitation. When a nun joins the Church, she voluntarily does so, agreeing that she will not hold any property under her name. Then how can she now stake claim in the Church’s joint property?” he asks.

Instances where the Church does provide monetary help to those who quit are purely out of ‘humanitarian concerns’, he maintains, adding that the nunnery is a service and not a means to earn money. – The News Minute, 8 August 2016

Syro-Malabar Church

The Theology of Ingratitude – Aravindan Neelakandan

The Office-Bearers of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) headed by its President, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis and accompanied by the Secretary General, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas and the Deputy Secretary General, Msgr. Joseph Chinnayyan, met the Prime Minister in his Office in the Parliament

Aravindan NeelakandanProactive acts by the Modi government, which brought joy to its own community members, never deterred the Church from crusading against the Indian government. It does not even hesitate to join hands with political forces that are against the idea of India. – Aravindan Neelakandan

Barely months after the BJP won the parliamentary elections in June 2014, Cardinal George Alencherry of India was speaking at a conference organised by Oasis International Foundation in Sarajevo. In his address titled “Non-Violence Vs. Fundamentalism in Contemporary India”, the archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church in Ernakulam, Kerala, spoke of “the vicious nature of Hindu fundamentalism”, never bothering to mention, even in passing, the virulent proselytising activities aggressively pursued by churches across India. He accused BJP legislators and the Sangh Parivar of inciting violence against Christians and Muslims.

This address set the tone for how the Church should position itself against the BJP rule. Unsubstantiated reports of attacks on churches started pouring in soon after the new government took office. Electric short-circuits and children accidentally breaking window pane of a church were trumpeted as attacks by Hindu nationalists. Delhi police chief had to clarify these facts after the fictional fear mongering unleashed by the clergy.

Against the backdrop of such malicious campaigns, the Modi government did not indulge in any discriminating acts against the Christian community and acted proactively to help Indian citizens in John Dayal: Professional Christian agent provocateur and mischief-maker.distress abroad—in some cases those rescued were Christians.

In February 2015, even as John Dayal, the journalist-turned-Christian-crusader, was spewing venom against the Modi government at every forum available to him, John Joseph, the brother of Alexis Prem Kumar, a Jesuit priest abducted by Islamists in Afghanistan, received a call from Prime Minister Modi, informing him that the government had secured the release of his brother from his abductors. “This is because of our Prime Minister. He saved me.”

Another Jesuit missionary, Joy Karayampuram, spokesman of the Jesuit Refugee Service in New Delhi, also expressed his gratitude:

“Thanks to PM Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.”

Interestingly, the Catholic News Service completely downplayed Prime Minister Modi’s personal intervention, as well as the many steps taken by various government agencies to ensure their safe return. Except a very informal thanks expressed by the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body, there was no mention of effort undertaken by the government of India. Titled “God has saved me, says Jesuit priest released by Taliban” (Catholic Herald, 23 February 2015), the report highlights how the rescued priest thanks the God, the Vatican, the Jesuits (Jesuit Refugee Service), but avoids mentioning the role of the Indian government led by Prime Minister Modi.

The so-called “most complete Catholic news source of America”, National Catholic Register, has a report titled Priest Freed by Taliban: God Has Saved Me” (24 February 2015), in which CBCI reluctantly thanks Prime Minister Modi, but the main focus of the report was the released Jesuit “thanking God Almighty” for his rescue, completely ignoring the efforts of the Indian government.

While the international Catholic media was downplaying the role of the Indian government in securing the release of the priest in Afghanistan, official publications of Catholic diocese in Tamil Nadu were Peter Remigiusdemonising Prime Minister Modi. Thenoli (Voice of the South) is a Tamil magazine published by the Catholic diocese of Kottar. Part of Kanyakumari district, Kottar diocese represents one of the most powerful dioceses in terms of Catholic domination in the general population.

The December 2015 issue of Thenoli features two articles on politics, both written by Catholic priests. One, rejoicing the Bihar defeat of BJP, described the party as “Hindu supremacist”. It described Prime Minister Modi as behaving like an “ignoramus lacking basic knowledge of Bihar”. Another article written by Fr Dr M. C. Rajan called the Prime Minister names—“hero of 2002 communal riots”, “the spoiled brat of inhuman western capitalist forces”, “a candidate promoted by NRI money and by fanatical casteist fascist forces”.

In June this year, Judith D’Souza, an Indian aid-worker, associated with Aga Khan Foundation, was kidnapped at gunpoint in Afghanistan. Once again, international Catholic news agencies, including Vatican Radio (a Catholic from Kolkata), Asianews.it (Indian Catholic worker kidnapped in Afghanistan) etc. highlighted her religion. The archbishop of Calcutta, Msgr. Thomas D’Souza, had mobilised Catholics to send appeals to the government and organised “prayer vigils”. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is known for her prompt responses to overseas Indians in distress, had responded to the appeal of D’Souza family calling her “India’s daughter”, as well as securing her release. Her family members tweeted their gratitude to Swaraj, the Prime Minister and the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan.

Such proactive acts by the Modi government, which brought joy to its own community members, never deterred the Church from crusading against the Indian government. It does not even hesitate to join hands with political forces that are against the idea of India.

A case in point is the recent meeting organised by Tamil Nadu Bishops Council on 30 July to criticise the new draft for the National Education Policy (NEP). After making the usual accusations of Sangh Parivar Kanimozhiconspiracy, the clergy tried to find fault with the draft for alleged introduction of Sanskrit as a third language in schools and yoga as a precondition for gaining recognition.

Interestingly, the draft questions most schools in Hindi-speaking states because “contrary to the spirit of three-language formula, no south Indian language is generally taught” in these schools. And as early as 1986, the NEP had suggested that yoga should receive special attention in schools and efforts should ‘be made to introduce yoga in all schools’.

The key portion in the draft of the education policy only states yoga as one among several features needed for the development of the child:

Physical education, yoga, games and sports, NCC, NSS, art education, bal sansad, local art, craft, literature and skills, and other co-scholastic activities will be made an integral part of the curriculum and daily routine in schools for the holistic development of children. Facilities for the above will be a pre-requisite to the recognition of schools.

The statement is a far cry from the one suggested by the Catholic clergy. The key speaker in the Catholic bishops meeting was Kanimozhi, the Rajya Sabha MP from the DMK. Criticising the Modi government, she assured DMK support to the Church’s “struggle against the new draft”.

Thus the theology of ingratitude is a strategic driving force in the crusade against the pagans in independent secular India. – Swarajya, 3 August 2016

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an author, economist and psychologist. 

Sushma Swaraj has been chosen by Modi Sarkar to represent India at the Vatican on September 4th.

There are two petitions on Change.org requesting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to not attend the canonization ceremony for Mother Teresa at the Vatican on September 4th. See the petitions HERE and HERE, and sign them if you agree that Sushma’s attendance at the sectarian Catholic religious service for Teresa is inappropriate for an Indian government minister.

Ten serious accusations against Mother Teresa – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa

Adrian AsisIt’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa is commonly depicted in such a saintly manner that it’s difficult for most people to imagine she has even one bad bone in her body. After all, the religious sister is responsible for founding the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation that provides free care for the sick, the hungry, the orphaned, and the dying. Moreover, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was beatified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” by the Catholic Church in 2003. And yet, to this day, eighteen years after her death, numerous critics still insist that Mother Teresa is not the saint many people believe her to be.

Of course it’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” Here are ten of the most serious accusations that have been brought up against Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

10. Forced Catholicism on others

Because Calcutta (now “Kolkata”) is composed predominantly of Hindus, they are responsible for many of the criticisms against Mother Teresa, most especially with regard to her conversion of Calcuttans into Catholics. An example of such a critic is head of an Indian Hindu nationalist group Mohan Bhagwat who, in a public speech, said, “It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity.” In support of Bhagwat’s claim, researchers revealed that nuns at Mother Teresa’s institution secretly baptized the dying regardless of the patients’ religious affiliation. More specifically, Mother Teresa was said to have taught nuns how to ask the dying if they wanted a “ticket to heaven,” after which a positive reply would be followed by cooling the dying’s head with a damp cloth while the nun softly uttered the words for Catholic baptism.

9. Substandard quality of medical care

Mother Teresa established the Kalighat Home for the Dying in 1952 by converting an abandoned Hindu temple into a free hospital. As the name of the facility suggests, its main purpose is to provide its patients with an opportunity to die with dignity. However, in 1991, the editor of the medical journal The Lancet paid a visit to the hospice and observed that conditions there were far from ideal. More specifically, Robin Fox described the quality of the care provided to dying patients as “haphazard,” including unacceptable practices like the reuse of needles and the mixing of tuberculosis-infected patients with the uninfected. Worse, no distinction was made between the dying and the curable, thus leaving even curable patients to waste away. Furthermore, other critics pointed to the hospital’s disregard for modern medical practices, including the most basic of diagnosis procedures. However, Mother Teresa’s defenders countered the accusations by pointing out that the facility was only meant to serve as a refuge for the dying.

8. Support for the suspension of civil liberties

“The Emergency,” which took place from June 25, 1975 until March 21, 1977, is one of the most controversial intervals in India’s history. During the period, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a dictatorship whereby civil liberties were suspended and most of her political enemies were imprisoned. Furthermore, the press was heavily censored, and a shocking mass-sterilization campaign was said to have been carried out by the Prime Minister’s son. Mother Teresa, however, seemed to have failed to recognize the oppression present at that time. Of the period, she commented, “People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.” Well, the Indians of the time certainly seemed to disagree with Mother Teresa as during elections in 1977, Gandhi and her son lost their seats in parliament, and the opposition was overwhelmingly swept into power.

7. Warped understanding of suffering

The Catholic Church is often criticized for allegedly teaching its followers to revel in suffering, and Mother Teresa is said to have been among the teaching’s most prominent purveyors. During a Washington, D.C. press conference in 1981, for example, Mother Teresa was asked, “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?” and she replied,

I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.

This response is said to exemplify the crooked mentality behind Mother Teresa’s insistence on keeping her facilities substandard despite the availability of funding to improve their services.

6. Inconsistency in teachings and actions

Perhaps even worse than allegations of her warped understanding of suffering are accusations of Mother Teresa’s hypocrisy. These are rooted in the advanced treatments she received for her illnesses despite her supposed appreciation for the value of suffering. More specifically, in 1985, Mother Teresa underwent cataract surgery, including the implantation of an artificial lens, at the St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. Then later, in 1989, the “Saint of the Gutters” received a pacemaker at the Woodlands Nursing Home in Calcutta. Furthermore, Mother Teresa has been accused of being selective in her values, such as when she openly opposed the legalization of divorce but supported Princess Diana when she divorced Prince Charles.

5. Questionable associations and silence on abuse

Mother Teresa has been documented to have associated with several individuals whose records of uprightness are questionable at best. In 1981, for example, she visited Michèle Duvalier, then the wife of Haiti president Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was later overthrown by popular uprising because of the terrible abuses of his regime. However, Mother Teresa instead ended up singing praises for the people’s familiarity with the First Lady and even accepted a national award from the government — all the while remaining silent on the numerous human rights violations of the regime. Another similar encounter took place in 1989, when Mother Teresa visited communist Albania. At that time, the government there was widely perceived to be openly oppressive to anyone who opposed it, and yet, Mother Teresa met with the nation’s leaders without commenting on their abuses.

4. Accepted donations from criminals

Connected to Mother Teresa’s questionable associations is her practice of keeping donations from criminals. One example involved Robert Maxwell, a British Member of Parliament who donated to Mother Teresa’s charities but was later found to have misappropriated the pension funds of his media company. Even more infamous was the case involving Charles Keating, a moral crusader who donated millions of dollars to Mother Teresa’s charities and even had her use his private jet. Later though, despite Mother Teresa sending the court a letter to attest to Keating’s kindness and generosity, he was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud that deprived thousands of people of their life savings. Then, after Keating had been convicted, the Deputy District Attorney wrote Mother Teresa a letter asking that the money she had received from Keating be returned. She did not reply.

3. Lack of transparency with funding and expenses

With all of the positive attention that Mother Teresa commanded and still commands, it is uncontested that her charities have received millions in donations from various sources. And this has led her critics to ask, “Where is all the money?” In fact, even Susan Shields, a former nun at the Missionaries of Charity, has asked the question. Shields claims she was assigned to record donations at the institution, and despite the fact that she regularly wrote receipts for donations of up to $50,000, the nuns continued to beg for supplies and reuse syringes. Furthermore, Stern, a German magazine, exposed that despite Indian laws requiring charitable organizations to publish their finances, the Missionaries of Charity never did. Stern also reported that only 7% of the 5.3 million Deutsche Marks donated in England in 1991 had been used for charitable purposes. The rest? Head of the Missionaries chapter in England, Sister Teresina, insisted, “Sorry, we can’t tell you that.”

2. Doubtful miracle attributed to her

This item is not an accusation directed at Mother Teresa but rather at those responsible for her beatification. However, the issue does raise doubts on the integrity of those defending her legacy. The matter in question has to do with Mother Teresa’s beatification, which like all those before her, required the documentation of a miracle performed with the candidate’s intercession. In the case of Mother Teresa’s beatification, the “miracle” certified by the Vatican as genuine involves the healing of Monica Besra, a woman from Calcutta.

On September 5, 1998, exactly one year after Mother Teresa’s death, Besra applied a medallion bearing Mother Teresa’s image over what she believed was a tumor in her stomach, and this act purportedly caused the growth and the pain it caused to disappear instantly. However, the doctors who handled Monica’s case over several months claim that the growth in Monica’s stomach was not a full-grown tumor and that treatments they had administered could have been responsible for the cure. In fact, even Monica’s husband, Seiku, believes that his “wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle.” Adding to the mystery, the medical records of Besru’s case were taken away by a certain Sister Betta of the Missionaries of Charity, and a call to her by Time magazine simply had her responding, “No comment.”

1. False claims about the impact of her work

Even the harshest critics of Mother Teresa concede that she had a positive impact on some people’s lives, but how many lives, really? Aroup Chatterjee, an atheist who performed extensive research on Mother Teresa, claimed that “the living saint” deliberately misled the public several times about how many people the Missionaries of Charity were helping. For example, Chatterjee noted that Mother Teresa repeatedly changed the figures—from as low as 1,000 to as many as 9,000—relating to how many people her charities in Calcutta had fed, sometimes in speeches delivered within just days of each other. Then there’s Mother Teresa’s claim of a “modern school [in Motijheel]. . . with over 5,000 children in it” even if no such school established by her with such a large number of students actually exists. – The Richest, 7 May 2015

» Adrian Asis is a freelance writer from the Philippines.

Academics condemn Mother Teresa

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

Caste discrimination within the Indian Church – The Hindu

Dalits for Equal Rights in Churches

Dalit Christians protest against caste discrimination in the ChurchThough Dalits account for more than 50% of total population of Catholics, they have not been given any important posts in Church administration. – The Hindu

Conversion from Hinduism to other religions, it is generally argued, is to escape the untouchability and caste-based discrimination inherent in Hinduism. Christianity, however, is not able to eradicate untouchability, and casteism continues to dominate both the Protestant and Catholic Church even though Dalits form the majority of the Christian population in Tamil Nadu.

Thadam Thedi, a pilot report on the status of Dalit Christians in Catholic Church, says though Dalits account for 22,40,726 of the total population of 39,64,360 Catholics, they have not been given any important posts in Church administration. Of the 18 Archbishops in Tamil Nadu, only two are Dalits.

G. Mathew, one of members of the committee that prepared the report, said in many churches, Dalits have separate cemetery and funeral carts and are not allowed to use the common road leading to the church.

Madurai bishop & black flag protest against caste discrimination within the Church (11 August 2010)Rituals prevented

In some churches, the body of Dalits are not allowed for rituals.

“Dalits in Punnaivanam, Rayappanpatti, Chithalacheri, Hanumanthanpatti, Pullampadi, Poondi and Eraiyur are fighting for their rights. Even the internationally renowned Velankannai Basilica is not an exception to the trend. The conflict in Eraiyur in Villupuram led to police firing in 2008 and now we have resolved the issue,” said Mr. Mathew, a native of the village.

‘Attracted by faith’

Fr John Suresh of Dalit Viduthalai Peravai argued that it was incorrect to say that Dalits converted to Christianity only to escape casteism and for the benefits that came with the conversion. “They are attracted by the faith. Christianity allowed them to stand on the pulpit and preach,” he contended.

He also admitted that casteism had pervaded the socio-cultural fabric of the Indian society and Christianity also had to make compromise with Brahminism.

“As a native of India, they seem to be baptised in the name of caste. In India, we have not understood the soul of Christianity,” Fr Suresh argued.

Fr Jagath Gasper Raj from South Tamil Nadu said it was incorrect to say that there was complete discrimination against Dalits in the Church though the caste mindset had its presence in the Church too.

“The Church gave them a voice and a space for their upward mobility,” he contended. – The Hindu, 6 June 2016Caste segregated Christian graveyard in Tamil Nadu

Islam and Christianity share ‘idea of conquest’, says Pope Francis – Stephanie Kirchgaessner

Pope Francis

Stephanie Kirchgaessner“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” Francis said. – Stephanie Kirchgaessner

Islam and Christianity share an inherent “idea of conquest”, and those who refer to Europe’s roots as Christian often veer into colonialism, Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging interview about the the migration crisis and the ability of Christians and Muslims to live together harmoniously.

Speaking to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, the Argentinian pope also hailed the election of Sadiq Khan in London, saying that a Muslim mayor personified the idea of integration within Europe.

The pope said it was “fair and responsible” to ask whether Europe had the capacity to accept millions of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. But he said it was more important to ask why there were so many, pointing to war, the unfettered free market, unemployment, the arms trade, underinvestment in Africa and income inequality.

He appeared to reject any link between Islamic extremism within Europe and Islam itself. Instead, he condemned the way in which migrants were “ghettoised” rather than integrated into society.

“In Brussels, the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they grew up in a ghetto. In London, the new mayor took his oath of office in a cathedral and will undoubtedly meet the Queen. This illustrates the need for Europe to rediscover its capacity to integrate.”

He said integration was even more necessary today than in the past because of the “grave problem” of Europe’s declining birth rate, saying a “demographic emptiness is developing”.

When he was asked why he never referred to Europe’s roots as Christian—he has often spoken of Europe having a multicultural identity—Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, said he spoke of roots in the plural because there were so many.

“When I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful. It then takes on colonialist overtones,” he said. Christianity’s contribution to the culture was of service—of “Christ in the washing of the feet”—and not a “colonial enterprise”, he Constantine the Greatsaid.

When Francis was asked by La Croix whether fear of Islam was justified in Europe, he said people’s real fear was of Islamic State. He then drew parallels between perceptions some non-Muslims may have of the Islamic faith, and of Christianity.

“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” he said.

He said it was important for Christians to ask themselves whether an “overly western model of democracy” has been exported to countries such as Iraq, where a strong government existed before military intervention led to the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Francis also pointed to Libya, where he quoted someone as saying recently: “We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have 50”.

He said the co-existence between Christians and Muslims was still possible, pointing to his native Argentina, pre-war Central Africa, and Lebanon as models.

When asked about the role religion ought to play in society and government, Francis strongly backed the separation between church and state, saying states must be secular, although they also needed strong laws guaranteeing religious freedom and needed to ensure individuals, including government officials, had a right to conscientious objection.

“If a Muslim woman wishes to wear a veil, she must be able to do so. Similarly, if a Catholic wishes to wear a cross,” Francis said. “People must be free to profess their faith at the heart of their own culture not merely at its margins.” He then expressed a “modest critique” of France, saying the country’s laws exaggerate laïcité—the separation between church and state.

“This arises from a way of considering religions as subcultures rather than as fully fledged cultures in their own right. I fear that this approach, which is understandable as part of the heritage of the Enlightenment, continues to exist. France needs to take a step forward on this issue in order “to accept that openness to transcendence is a right for everyone,” he said. – The Guardian, 17 May 2016

Goa Inqusition

OLD GOA : Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and backsliding Christian victims of the Goa Inquisition stand with their hands nailed to posts as a Portuguese padre reads out their alleged crimes and a Portuguese nobleman on a horse watches. They will be burned at the stake later in Old Goa’s central square and their confiscated lands will be shared between the Portuguese nobles and Roman Catholic Church. The Inquisition was called to Goa by St. Francis Xavier, a Portuguese-employed Spanish missionary whose hatred of Hindus and Hinduism amounted to an obsession. He was known to Tamil Hindus as the  Scourge of the Coromandel Coast.
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