Vatican has never apologised for its crimes, and will not apologise for the Goa Inquisition – Aravindan Neelakandan

The Inquisition

Aravindan NeelakandanIn 1999 the VHP raised the issue of apology for Inquisition during the Papal visit to India, Indian Catholic officials crisply declared that “tendering an apology for the so-called inquisition was not on the Pope’s agenda.” And termed such a request by Hindus as “raking up unnecessary issues for cheap publicity.” – Aravindan Neelakandan

When it comes to ‘apologising’ for genocides, which it either directly instigated or facilitated through tactical support, Vatican is a conjurer adept in sleight of words and institutions. You are made to believe that Vatican has changed; that the Vatican has apologised but then you go through what has been actually said officially and by whom, and you realise that nothing has changed.

Take for example the absolutely safe sounding name for one of the oldest congregations in Vatican— ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’. That is the modern name. The original name? ‘Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition’. And what did it do? Banned books and burnt the heretics. And what does it do now? It still bans and restricts books within its sphere of influence like the books of Rev. Anthony de Mello SJ and the fact that it does not burn the heretics no more is more because of the want of power than because of the want of willingness. The spirit behind is the same: ‘Roma locuta; causa finita est‘ – Rome has spoken and the case is closed as every student of theology knows, even if the case closed means the closing of the lives of millions in torture chambers.

So it will be prudent for the followers of Indic faiths to understand how the Church has reacted with response to its role in other genocides. Here we take the example of three cases: Nazi Holocaust, Native American genocides and Rwandan genocide. And in each case we shall see briefly the Indic parallels.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp EntranceNazi Holocaust

When Pope John Paul II expressed his regret for the Holocaust, the same play with words was in display in full plumage. In the much popularised ex cathedra statement issued by Vatican We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah, the Church laid the blame everywhere else except on itself. The Holocaust “was the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime” and “its anti-Semitism had its roots outside of Christianity”, the communication stated.

The fact is that paganism as such had no institutionalised anti-Semitism. Most of the virulently anti-Semitic laws had their origin in Christian laws. For example, in 1592 Jesuits introduced the rule forbidding admission of men of Jewish origin calculating their ancestry to the fifth generation. Derived from the Jesuit rule, ‘German blood certificate’ of Nazis introduced in 1935 calculated Jewish ancestry for three to four generations. Similarly blood-libel, a Christian propaganda against the Jews based on which the Church even manufactured martyrs, Passion plays which incited mobs to attack Jews, were all substantial Catholic contributions to Nazi propaganda. Yet, the Church without hesitation could call the Holocaust as the workings of a Neo-Pagan regime whose anti-Semitic roots were outside Christianity.

Then it pointedly called Jews “the elder brothers”, quoting Christian scripture. To the uninitiated in Christian theology it looks very pleasant. But in Christian theology it has a specific meaning. The elder brother is always wrong in Christian discourse. When quoting their scripture to call Jews “the elder brothers”, the theologians who crafted the document were well aware that this phrase actually links in their theology the Jews with Cain. In the grand narrative of Church the verse “…the elder shall serve the younger” in Hebrew Bible (Genesis 25:23) is darkly transformed to mean Jews serving the Christians in servitude. Maximinus to Tertullian, the founding fathers of the Church had allowed the ink to flow in torrents to explain how Jews as elder brothers were cursed like Cain. Historian Leon Poliakov in the third volume of his authoritative book The History of Anti-Semitism points out that one of the “essential points” of the teaching of the Church has been “the fall from grace of the elder brother, since wandering Jew, wandering like Cain was also marked by a similar sign on the temple.”

Interestingly the document contained not a single word of apology and had only a single word expressing “regret” for the six million Jews died in the Holocaust. This is the nature of “regret” showed by Church in the most popular and horrible Holocaust of recent history. One should couple with this two important phenomena. One is the installation of “Auschwitz crosses“. This happened when a Carmelite convent was opened near Auschwitz and a huge cross was erected there. Jews protested this blatant Catholic aggression into one of their most painful recent memories. Yet in 1998 the same year Vatican issued “We remember” document on Holocaust, the Archbishop as well as the Cardinal of Catholic Church opposed the removal of the cross which insulted the memory of the Jewish victims of Auschwitz.

And the Church has not bothered to express even such mild watered down, theologically correct, regrets for Gypsies and other “undesirables” killed by the Nazi regime with which Vatican had signed a concordat.

St Thomas and Hindu assassinPresent parallel in India

If it is blood libel for Jews, it is the manufacture of Christian “saints” martyred at the hands of Hindus in general and Brahmins in particular, in India. Complete pseudo-histories have been fabricated like in the case of “martyr” Devasahayam Pillai, in which the Hindu king of Travancore ordered torturing and killing of him for embracing Christianity. In reality, the kings of Travancore had been pro-Christian. The missionaries writing to British government actually cited the example of the Travancore Hindu princely state which allowed Bible teaching in government schools and where large parcels of lands were freely given to Christian missionaries. Yet the Church has been actively propagating the fabricated martyr story. The very historicity of this ‘martyr’ has been questioned by historians. Yet stage dramas are conducted demonizing Hindus and full efforts are on to canonise him.

In the case of St. Thomas myth in India also, the Hindus are made the treacherous villains who stabbed St. Thomas. In the case of this legend, there is a well manipulated evolution of narrative to suit the local prejudices. So the initial Christian account spoke of “low caste man” having killed Thomas by accident. In these earlier narratives, they attributed elephantiasis as the curse of St. Thomas. As anti-Brahminism became a popular political and evangelical tool, the current stories speak of Brahmins as the schemers and killers of St. Thomas.

In Christian propaganda literature endorsed by top Catholic clergy, fake “secret circulars” of RSS similar to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion used by Nasis to demonise Jews, were published.

Junipero Serra & Native American BoyNative American Genocide

Doctrine of Discovery” forms the theological basis of the Native American genocide. It involves the fifteenth and sixteenth century Papal Bulls which gave the Christian invaders the right to own the “discovered” American lands for their Christian States and allowed them to convert, enslave or in case of refusal for conversion, exterminate the Native Americans.

Often Native Americans were lured with gifts from Spain and then they were trapped through baptism and their old ways destroyed. No wonder the missionaries called these Spanish goods “bait and means of spiritual fishing”. The converted Native Americans were kept within the mission compounds and had to labour. Their women produced food for the mission. The men cultivated land and took care of the cattle—effectively becoming cowboys of the mission. To this day, missionary propaganda murals depict these events as one of peaceful serene coexistence.

However contemporary accounts by neutral observers give a different picture. For example the journals of French man Jean Francois de la Perouse, who was sympathetic to the missionaries called the mission compound resembling a “slave plantation”. Native American men were whipped in public and punished if they disobeyed. Women too were whipped but in secret chambers lest it ignite the men folk to raise a rebellion.

Missionaries coveted the Indian land for three reasons: it made conversions easy; landless natives converted and provided slave labour; and it placed vast lands at the disposal of missionaries. “Civilizing the Indian can only be achieved by denaturalizing them,” said Fermín Lasuén, another prominent missionary at the mission. That Fermín Lasuén belonged to Franciscan order of the Catholic Church is an interesting paradox for Hindus (like this writer) who love to eulogize St. Francis of Assisi as a saint with ecological sensibility. However, the point is that such “denaturalizing” of Native Americans at once provided the mission with slave labour and vast land resources.

Along with such naked aggression, the violent proselytizing was also supported by the myth of St. Thomas. Catholic clergy spread the story among Native Americans that St. Thomas had come long before Spaniards to South America. Famous Virgin Goddess they venerated became the image of Mary which the Apostle had kept as a holy relic. Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent divinity was St. Thomas. The native God Tehuitzahuac was actually Jesus Christ himself. These ideas spread through sermons in the Church thus justified the destruction of native culture which was supplanted by Christianity. St. Thomas myth fitted well with the “doctrine of discovery”.

Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 reiterated this mindset of “doctrine of discovery” when he addressed the Native Americans. He declared that the natives were ”silently longing” for Christianity and ”the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.” The present Pope Francis had simultaneously displayed words seeking forgiveness from Native Americans but the deeds were exactly opposite. He is proceeding with the St. Francis Xavier: The Scourge of the Coromandel Coast!canonizing of Junípero Serra—the founder of Catholic Missions in San Francisco, who ran a mission estate for Native Americans chillingly similar to Auschwitz minus the gas chambers.

Present day parallels in India

In many places across India, Indian Catholics are made to venerate ‘St.’ Xavier the architect of Goan Inquisition. The most prominent Catholic seminary to this day stands on the destroyed Siva temple considered the holiest place in Goa for Hindus.

The St. Thomas myth has been propagated in India also. The Church has been increasingly lending its voice in support of crackpot theories that Hinduism is a derivative of Christianity preached by St. Thomas. In Tamil Nadu, using the Dravidian political movement, sustained efforts have been made to push this crackpot agenda. In the ground level, evangelical guidelines have been issued to missionaries which make use of these crackpot theories to confuse the ordinary Hindus.

Vincent NsengiyumvaRwandan Genocide

Now we come to the “apology” of Vatican for Rwandan Genocide. The fact is that Vatican has not expressed apology and Rwandan government has rightly pointed that out. It was actually an inadequate apology by a Rwandan Catholic bishop. The role of Catholic Church in Rwanda in building the racial tensions is far more sinister and heavy to be washed off in such inadequacies.

The two communities in Rwanda, Tutsi and Hutus, were identified as racial types by the European missionaries, anthropologists and colonial administrators. The Tutsi were invaders and they were “clever”, similar to Europeans to a degree and they appropriated the land through trickery from Hutu who became their slaves. Implanting this myth initially, the colonial administration and its religious arm, the Catholic Church favoured the Tutsis, agreeing with colonial government policy in considering Tutsi and Hutu as distinct races. However, the Church’s support to Tutsis waned dramatically with the Rwandan revolution in 1959.

As some Rwandan patriots of Tutsi origin started questioning the Catholic Church in meddling in politics, the Church joined hands with the Hutus. The Church started filling its local hierarchies with Hutus and the Belgian Catholic clergy even participated in drafting the Bahutu Manifesto in 1957, which paved the way to the genocide later. With colonial and Church support, the Hutu republican party captured power in 1959 and initiated the first Rwandan massacre in which more than 20,000 Tutsis were killed. A report points out:

The demonization of Tutsis preceded the 1994 genocide. Even though this was a clear and grave human rights violation, Bishop Perraudin and his senior aides dismissed these events as a social revolution intended to redress social injustices. For thirty years these views were not questioned.

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 is the result of a long chain of events in which Church was a major player and hence a key facilitator of genocide. Yet, the Vatican has not found it right to express “regret” or apology—what has happened is the statement of a regional official of the Church.

Robert CaldwellIndian Parallel

Church has been at the forefront of spreading the Aryan-Dravidian racial divide theory and has invested much into this conflict creating narrative. Despite the fact that renowned anti-caste fighters like Dr. Ambedkar had denounced racial interpretation of caste conflicts, the Church and its affiliates go on with the propaganda of “Aryan Brahminical religion” oppressing the so-called Dravidians. The Dravidians are traced to Abraham and through him Jesus is made a Dravidian! In Indian North East and in tribal areas of India, many Catholic missionaries take forward the pseudo-scientific race theories claiming that the Hindus and tribals are separate races etc. This sustained campaign on racial lines camouflaged as “social justice” just as in the case of Rwanda, contains in it the grim possibilities of many such massacres in India. Only Indian culture’s innate strength is holding on against such human tragedies happening.

So we come to the crux of the question. Will Vatican apologise for Goan Inquisition? The answer is emphatic “No”. It has never apologised for its crimes against humanity which have been more documented and more publicised. Hindus have never publicised the crimes done against them by the invaders systematically. Hindus seldom have a museum or memorial for those martyred for Dharma by the Catholic Inquisition. There have been no plays, no movies through which the memories the cruelty of Inquisition and more importantly the sacrifices of the Hindus to defend their religion, have been taken forward to their next generation.

So when in 1999 the VHP raised the issue of apology for Inquisition during the Papal visit to India, Indian Catholic officials crisply declared that “tendering an apology for the so-called inquisition was not on the Pope’s agenda”. And termed such a request by Hindus as “raking up unnecessary issues for cheap publicity”. In other words Hindus weigh definitely less than the Jews, Native Americans and Rwandans in the public relations radar of Vatican. The only solace is despite the Church running in India all the tactics it used in Rwanda, pre-holocaust Christendom and against Native Americans, Hindus still survive as a religion, culture and nation. – Swarajya, 4 December 2016

» S. Aravindan Neelakandan is the co-author of a path-breaking book on Dravidian and Dalit faultlines, Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines.

Hitler's Pope Pius XII

From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis I [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975).

Pope Francis the Actor

See also

Francis the Actor: Argentinians dissatisfied with the pope’s response to the ‘dirty war’ – Vinod Sreeharsha

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When will the Catholic Church apologise for the Goa Inquisition? – Shefali Vaidya

Pope FrancisShefali Vaidya“Goa is sadly famous for its inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil, and it is they who have served him.” – Voltaire

The palace has been razed to the ground. Hordes of chattering tourists walk over the site now, clicking selfies against the massive white-washed facade of Saint Catherine’s Church in Old Goa. Children crowd around an ice-cream cart. Couples canoodle under an ancient banyan tree nearby. No traces remain of the dreaded “Vhodle Ghor” or the “Big House” as it was referred to in hushed tones by the terrified people of Goa, except a few moss-covered blocks of laterite stones that lie scattered in the grass. Those stones are the only surviving witnesses of the bloodiest chapter in Goan history—that of the Goa Inquisition.

Return to the ruins of the Palace of the Inquisition in the evening, after the last busload of tourists has departed. Sit a while on a laterite block as the sun goes down. If you are sensitive enough, you can still hear the terrified screams of hapless victims being tortured inside the “Vhodle Ghor” by the Inquisitor’s court. In 1560, the erstwhile palace of Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, in Old Goa was turned into a terrible torture chamber with the addition of a chapel, the residence of the Inquisitor, more than 200 windowless prison cells and many torture chambers.

Burning at the stake by the InquisitionNot many people outside Goa know about the terrible Goa Inquisition. The Inquisition was introduced in Goa in 1560 by the then Portuguese king Joao III at the behest of Francis Xavier, the Jesuit monk whose mummified remains lie in a church just across the road from the site of the Palace of Inquisitions. Inquisition lasted in Goa till 1812—a period of more than 250 years! It was temporarily abolished in 1774 by the relatively moderate Marquis De Pombal, but was reinstated promptly in 1778 after his fall from grace. Under the Inquisition, thousands of people, both men and women, were arrested on charges of heresy and subjected to inhuman torture. Many were burnt alive at ritualistic public spectacles known as autos-da-fe.

The Court of Inquisition was set up as a royal tribunal, headed by a judge answerable only to the king based in Lisbon. One of the first acts of the Inquisitor’s office in Goa was to forbid public practice of the Hindu faith. Hindus were forbidden to worship their Gods and Goddesses in public. In 1566, a vice-regal order prohibited Hindus from constructing temples or repairing old temples. In 1567 the Portuguese started destroying Hindu temples. In Bardez district alone, more than 300 temples were razed to the ground and churches built in their place.

All Hindu rituals including marriages, thread ceremonies and cremations were banned by law. All people above 15 years of age were forced to attend Christian preachings. The Palace of Inquisition became a torture chamber for Hindus, Jews, Muslims and even for converted Christians who clung to their Hindu customs and traditions. More than 42 Hindu customs were considered heretical, including wearing the sacred thread, wearing a tilak on the forehead, greeting people with a namaste and removing of slippers outside a place of worship.

Historian Alfredo de Mello describes the Goa Inquisition as a collection of “nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa”. According to François Pyrard de Laval, a Frenchman who lived in Goa between 1608-1610, the Goa Inquisition was more severe than the one practised in Portugal. The most authentic account of the tortures of the Goa Inquisition comes from another Frenchman, a doctor named Dellon, who was imprisoned at the palace of the Inquisition. He describes his experiences in his book De Relation L’Inquisition De Goa [English-language edition]. The translation of this book is a part of the famous Goa historian A. K. Priolkar‘s seminal work on the subject.

For me, the Goa Inquisition was not just a sterilised remote term to be read in history textbooks. My own family had borne the brunt of the Inquisition. My ancestors had to leave behind their village, their land and all their wealth to save their faith. As their original village Nagoa was destroyed by the Portuguese under the religious command of the fanatical Jesuit priests, my family moved to Cuncolim and started a new life. They made a choice to not surrender their faith. Some others chose otherwise. Converting to Christianity meant official patronage and a good life. The Court of Inquisition guaranteed “protection” to Hindus who converted to Christianity and gave them rights over the lands of people who had chosen to leave their homes rather than convert to Christianity.

Jesuit priests killed at CuncolimIn 1583, all temples in my own village of Cuncolim were destroyed by the Portuguese army under direct orders from the court of Inquisition. The proud warriors of my village were not ones to suffer in silence. They led an armed rebellion on 25 July 1583 against the Portuguese. Five Jesuit priests and 14 local converts were killed in the attack. Enraged by this, the Portuguese sent a massive army that burnt and pillaged the village and unleashed unspeakable atrocities on the people. The local warriors still did not give up. They merely hid in the surrounding forests and attacked the Portuguese forces using guerrilla tactics. The Portuguese then tried to be cunning. They invited the leaders of the revolution for talks at a nearby fort and in a stunning act of treachery, sixteen unarmed chieftains were brutally massacred by the Portuguese. Only one escaped by jumping into the river. The sacrifice of the chieftains of Cuncolim is still remembered in Goa as its first ever freedom struggle.

The effects of the Goa Inquisition are felt in Goa till today. There are families torn forever into two, one branch still carries the ancestral Hindu name while the other bears a Christian name. Churches exist where temples once stood.

A few days ago, the Catholic Church apologised for its role in the horrific 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A Church statement officially accepted that its members planned, aided and executed the genocide, in which more than 800,000 [actual count is 1,074,017] people were brutally massacred. In 2015, Pope Francis had apologised for the “many grave sins” committed by the Church against the indigenous people of South America while speaking in Bolivia. Before that, his predecessor, Pope John Paul II had apologised to the Muslims for the crusades and to the Jewish people for the anti-semitism of the Catholics that had aided the holocaust and for the involvement of the Church in African slave trade.

When will the Catholic Church apologise for the terrors of the Inquisition it inflicted upon the people of Goa? – Swarajya, 26 November 2016

» Shefali Vaidya is a freelance writer and newspaper columnist based in Pune.

Inquisition Victims

OLD GOA: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian victims of the Inquisition, their hands nailed to posts, listen to a Catholic padre read out charges against them. They will be burned at the stake in an auto-da-fé. A Portuguese nobleman waits and watches on a horse. He and the Church will share between themselves the confiscated properties.

Pope Francis must right the wrong and tell the truth – Hilda Raja

From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975). Photo collage courtesy Selecting Stones.

THE POPES AND THEIR FASCIST FRIENDS: From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975). Photo collage courtesy Selecting Stones.

Pope Francis the ActorThe Indian Express (dated 13th April 2015) carried a news item under the caption “Pope calls Armenian massacre first genocide of the 20th century”. It must be stated that Muslim Turkey has not denied that Christian Armenians had died in clashes in 1915. But it disagrees that this amounted to genocide. Granted it did, what I would like to raise is what Pope Francis would call the genocide undertaken by the Vatican in the 20th century in 1941. How did the Vatican turn a blind eye when Hitler invaded Yugoslavia, when he partitioned the defeated country, and detached the Catholic Croatia from the Orthodox Serbia? When Hitler’s fascist army known as the Ustashi under Pavelic set out on a cleansing drive, this was not only recognized by Vatican but was met with great rejoicing by Vatican.

Aloysius Stepinac with Ante PavelicPavelic and Archbishop Stepinac then embarked in a massive and brutal cleansing spree. The ‘Aryanization’ brought into force a number of laws and decrees. This meant anti-Semitic laws were passed, Jews were deported to concentration camps. All political opponents were banished, imprisoned, freedom of speech was suppressed. Nuns and priests marshaled children to salute Pavelic, Hitler, and Mussolini.

The insidious plan was one of the vilest and brutal in world history. Over 200,000 Orthodox Serbs inhabited the country along with 700,000 Muslims and 45,000 Jews. Between 1941 and 1942 about 40,000 Serbs and another 66,000 Serbs including 2,000 children were put to death. Many of the commandants at these death camps were Catholic priests. What would Pope Francis call this? A massacre? Genocide? Pogrom? Or Slaughter?

Pope Pius XII This terrible holocaust produced great financial gains for Vatican. Despite adamant denials, the Vatican gave its blessings. Pope Pius XII was fully informed of the death camps, the forced conversion, etc. He even sent his personal representative to bless the Ustachi.

To make matters worse and as though to reinforce the approval of the Vatican, in 1998 Pope John Paul II journeyed to Croatia to announce the beatification of archbishop Stepinac. It is stated that from 1941 to 1945 over 500,000 Orthodox Serbs were massacred along with 80,000 Jews and 30,000 Gypies. This is the greatest genocide of the 20th century, unless Pope Francis thinks otherwise. But can he deny world history records?

An article by the New York Times dated 15 December 1915 states that one million Armenians had been either deported or executed by the Ottoman government.Pope Francis at the start of the Armenian rite in St Peter’s Basilica described the massacre of the Christian Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th century. He termed it ‘senseless slaughter’ and rightly so. But what was intriguing is that Pope Francis should state that “genocide continues today against Christians, who on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death, decapitated, crucified, burned alive or forced to leave their homeland”. This coming from one who heads the Catholic Church with its history of slaughter, persecution, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, forced conversions, et al, makes one wonder why and how can the Pope cover up the history of the Catholic Church. The Croatia genocide is not ages ago to be buried in the archives of the Vatican. What was the treatment Vatican meted out to the Jews right in Rome?

Francis XavierWhat about the conversions that was undertaken in India? For that matter right from the beginning Church history has not been taught to ordinary Catholics or even priests. It is a question of selective amnesia or partisan history that it upholds. May be Pope Francis has only started his condemnation of the genocide of Christians Armenians. It is only the beginning. He may, I fervently hope, continue and condemn Vatican’s role and abetment with Mussolini and Hitler and in its brutal massacre in Croatia, and Vatican’s conversion strategies right from the start. One must not forget the Crusades, the burning of the witches, the destruction of temples and synagogues. Let us wait and give Pope Francis a chance to right the wrong and uphold the TRUTH. – Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, 14 April 2015

» Dr Mrs Hilda Raja was a Professor in the Post Graduate Social Work Department at Stella Maris College, Chennai. After retirement she has been a consultant on various government and international development projects. She lives with her son in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Inquisition Victims

OLD GOA: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian victims of the Inquisition, their hands nailed to posts, listen to a Catholic padre read out charges against them. A Portuguese nobleman waits on a horse. He and the Church will get all the confiscated properties.

Saint Xavier’s Exposition: Why it must stop – Sankrant Sanu

Indian Christians carry the remains of Saint Francis Xavier towards the Se Cathedral during a procession in Goa on November 22, 2014.

Sankrant SanuRobert Rosario, a Konkani Christian, has been actively campaigning against the “exposition” by the Catholic Church in Goa of Saint Xavier’s body. This event takes place every ten years and is running from Nov 22, 2014 to Jan 4, 2015. Xavier’s place in history is highly controversial with historical evidence showing that he ordered the Goa Inquisition that ran for over 250 years in which native Goa residents — Christians, Hindus and Muslims were brutally tortured and killed. Mainstream coverage of the event, from MidDay to the Times of India, has generally omitted the contested and controversial nature of this exposition. In a country where JNU students even take up the cause of mythological demons such as Mahishasura, it is strange that the story of very real human victims, Konkani-speaking people of India, is brushed under the carpet. We caught up with Robert for an interview to find the motivations for his campaign. — Sankrant Sanu

Robert RosarioCan you tell a little bit about your own background and history and how you came to be interested in this issue? 

• I am a Mangalorean Konkani Catholic. I am a social activist and was active in the Church also. For a long time I have noticed some mismanagement in the funds of the Church. I started digging I found something is wrong at the base. About Inquisition I had heard of a long time ago but I did not know that Francis Xavier was behind it. We venerate and consider him a saint. I was shocked to find that Francis Xavier was behind it. I started digging and found there is enough evidence for this.

What happens is that every 10 years they open the body for this so-called veneration. I thought this is the right time, about a month back I wrote to the Bishop of Goa and requested him to stop this and send the body to Portugal. We have had enough of this. The history of this man is very bad, there are enough crimes on this account, he seems to be a very inhuman person and I quoted from histories written by experts. I copied to the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, their President, Vice President. Somehow they did not reply. I kept posting reminders, they never bothered to reply. I wrote to the Government of Goa and the Government of India

So what specifically did you find against Xavier? Of course, Xavier is venerated, there is even a big college in his name. What specific things did you find?

• The Inquisition went on for 250 years, during this period, thousands were massacred, badly tortured. I am a Konkani Catholic from Mangalore. My ancestors were earlier in Goa, due to the Inquisition they migrated to Mangalore. This is our history, it goes back to Goa. What was this Inquisition? I had heard but I did not know that this man Xavier started it. I found a letter from 1545, this man writes to Rome and Portugal King that he wants to start a Holy Inquisition. Prior to that he was in Lisbon, he knew fully well what Inquisition was. He was aware of the torture. Being fully aware of this, he writes to start the Inquisition in Goa, the cruelty was very much in his mind.

But there are people who say that the Inquisition only started after he died, so he shouldn’t be held responsible for all the crimes.

• He wrote a letter to the Pope and the Portugal King knowing communication was slow, by sea route, he initiated the process, there are documents that he was taking hourly stock of what was happening, he was personally supervising it during his lifetime. And he initiated it, so he cannot be absolved of his crime.

How would you respond to people in the Church who say he did a lot of service for Christianity?

• He has done a lot of conversions. If conversions are in the service of Christianity, then he has done it. But if you consider the humanity angle to it, he was the most inhuman person I find. Even Hitler had some humanity, he was worse than that.

But what did he do in his lifetime that you would call not very human?

• In the letter itself he writes, “People here are very bad, their god is black, these people need to be taught a lesson, Holy Inquisition is the only way.” In his mind he is a criminal, that mind is reflected in the letter.

I posted this on a forum. I had a friend who is doing his post-graduate at St Aloysius College. He said this is available in the notes given by the Jesuits at Aloysius College, all this is mentioned in the notes, how he benefited Christianity, how he used the sword to convert people.

You are saying this is well-known to the Church?

• They know it very well but they are hiding from us. Even when they say they tell from their point of view. They say (of the Inquisition) that these people were so away from God that it was necessary to bring them to God.

So you are saying that a number of ancestors of Catholics on the Konkan coast had to undergo this (torture)?

• South to Goa they certainly migrated due to inquisition. It went on for over 250 years. Not only Catholics, there are Hindus, you find Konkani Hindus called Goud Saraswat Brahmins (GSB), there are Kudumbi, Scheduled Castes, and all Konkani-speaking people migrated from Goa due to the Inquisition.

You got no response from the Church. But what about the community, are they receptive?

• They are shocked. We have been singing hymns of this great man, it is difficult to digest. Suddenly we learn, history says he is such a big criminal, but our priests never told us, they always said that he is such a big saint. Sometimes they blame me, there must be something wrong with your study. I confront them with evidence.

So are there reputed historians who have documented this?

• Yes. Something interesting I will tell you – There is a Konkani paper, the official mouthpiece of the Bishop’s House of Mangalore, Raknno. It has published a long story, a novel, in three volumes, written by one Saldanha [?]. Though the story is supposed to be kalpanic (fictional), the facts were related to Inquisition and all the facts are related to the Inquisition, these are showed in the story. And it is published in the official mouthpiece.

So the story shows the Inquisition … that this was a good thing or this was bad?

• No. The entire story was from the Inquisitor’s point of view, it was shown as good, rather as necessary. Because the pagans were to be taught a lesson. But it mentions all the torture, all the burning — this is mentioned. Three big volumes are there. How they were uncultured, needed to be taught a lesson. He has mentioned all the torture parts really clearly.

So what is it that you would like as an outcome here?

• The crimes are of such magnitude that you just cannot undo them, undoing or compensating is impossible. The Goa Inquisition was even crueller than the European Inquisition. The least we can ask is the symbol of crime, that is the body, the so-called body, of the man is lying there, and it exposed once is 10 years for so-called veneration, that is like sprinkling salt on the wounds of the victims. At least stop that, you can’t undo the crimes of the man, at least stop this. Send the body back to Portugal. We are no more governed by Portugal. After 1961, we are independent. Till Portuguese were here, we couldn’t demand that. But after 1961, the day the Portuguese left, the body should have gone with them, why it remains here even after 53 years? We have always preached Ahimsa, this symbol of Himsa should no longer be in our country.

Goa has a BJP Government, but they have not done anything to bring out the facts?

• The so-called exposition gives them so much revenue, that everything else is forgotten, morality is forgotten. The Kannada Prabha quoted me, the PRO of the Church said Xavier is a great man, he did so much for the Church, but he objected. The government is also supporting the exposition. How could the government support such a blunder? – Niti Central, 26 November 2014

» Sankrant Sanu is an entrepreneur, writer and researcher based in Seattle and Gurgaon. His essays were published in the book “Invading the Sacred” that contested Western academic writing on Hinduism and is a popular writer and blogs at sankrant.org. He is a graduate of IIT Kanpur and the University of Texas and holds six technology patents.

Francis Xavier

Deccan Herald Newspaper, Goa

See also

Mangalore Christian group objects to the exposition of St Francis Xavier’s remains in Goa – IndiaFacts

Francis Xavier SJ

Francis XavierThis report contains the gist of a conversation that the IndiaFacts team had with Robert Rosario, an activist and leader of the Konkani Christian Victims of Francis Xavier’s Atrocities group based in Mangalore.

For the first time there has been opposition within the Christian community to the upcoming public display of remains of Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier, said to be a saint and miracle worker who lived about 500 years ago. 

Francis Xavier’s corpse—alleged to have been preserved though some claim it is the mummified body of a different priest—will be displayed to the public in Bom Jesus Cathedral, Old Goa starting on 22 November this year up to 4 January 2015.

However, not all seems to be well. A section in the Christian community has formed a pressure group named Konkani Christian Victims of Francis Xavier’s Atrocities (referred to hereafter as Victims) and have begun an agitation on the grounds that they are the descendants of the victims of Xavier’s atrocities. Their demand is to have Xavier’s body sent back to his home country, Spain. They have also begun a nationwide signature campaign to press for the demand.

Catholic religious leaders portray Francis Xavier as a person who rendered signal service to the Church by converting large numbers of Hindus to Christianity, and also as a saint and miracle worker. Therefore, these leaders justify his exposition and say that there’s nothing wrong in keeping his body for public display so that people of faith can pay their respects to him.

However, the Victims say that it is 53 years since Portuguese rule ended in Goa. The continued presence of Xavier’s corpse in India is an insult to India, and it must be dispatched to Portugal as soon as possible. The Victims also plan to petition the Government of Goa and the Central Government.

Goa Inquisition: Man condemned to be burned at the stake.Who was Francis Xavier?

Francis Xavier, who holds an esteemed place in the pantheon of Catholic saints, was a Jesuit priest from Spain in the service of the King of Portugal. He was born in Spain in 1506 and settled down in Goa in 1543 to undertake missionary activities in the coastal districts of what is now known as Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

History records his inhumanity in quite graphic detail. He was an advocate of destroying temples and forced conversion and asked King João III of Portugal to send the Inquisition to Goa. Though he died in 1552 before the Inquisition arrived in 1560, historians agree that he was aware of the Portuguese Inquisition‘s extreme brutality. He is therefore morally liable for the horrors the Goa Inquisition perpetrated on Hindus, Muslims, Jews and backsliding Christians alike. Thousands of Hindus were tortured and had their lands confiscated by the Inquisition—lands which the Catholic Church still possesses today—and some 2000 Christians were murdered or made destitute. Many more fled Goa to save their lives and settled along the South Canara Coast.

The Victims hold that it is unjust to glorify as a saint the man who brought the Inquisition to Goa, who, by this knowing and calculated act, is responsible for the torture and murder of their ancestors.

When Francis Xavier died in China in 1552, he was not given a regular Christian burial but his corpse was preserved first on Shangchuan Island, then in Portuguese Malacca. It was sent to Goa in 1553 and in 1637 was placed in a silver and glass casket in Bom Jesus Basilica in Old Goa (said to be built over the ancient Saptakotishwar Shiva Temple). He was canonised in 1622 along with the founder of the Society of Jesus Jesuit IHS Monogram(Jesuits), Ignatius Loyola

Francis Xavier was known as the “Apostle of India” up to 1953. When a piece of St. Thomas’s arm bone was brought to India from Italy in that year and deposited in Kodungallur and San Thome, Xavier lost his title to St. Thomas and is now known simply as the “Patron of Catholic Missions.” His right forearm and hand is displayed in the Il Gesu Cathedral, the church attached to Jesuit headquarters in Rome.

Konkani Christian Victims of Francis Xavier’s Atrocities

Robert Rosario, activist and leader of the Victims of Francis Xavier movement, says, “There’s no more Portuguese rule in Goa. Preserving Xavier’s corpse in Goa is a matter of shame to the self-respect of this country. His corpse must be flown to [Spain] as soon as possible. A nationwide signature campaign has been initiated against the stand of the Goan Church. We will soon petition the Goa Government and the Central Government.” — IndiaFacts, 19 November 2014

» This article has been rewritten by the Bharata Bharati editor for factual accuracy. See the original article on IndiaFacts here

Francis Xavier's head

Waterboarding (Inquisition)

“Goa is sadly famous for its Inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil, and it is they who have served him.” – Voltaire (French historian and philosopher)

Attention Fr. Victor Ferrao: Goa’s rich Hindu past can’t be brushed away – Anirban Ganguly

Anirban Ganguly“The truth is that Hindus had historically existed and thrived in the entire region of Goa, the truth is that they were gradually exterminated or exiled through a genocidal process known as the Inquisition and the truth is that for such a past treatment, the Hindus never sought to retaliate or seek redressal. The truth is also that in today’s Goa such past historical wrongs have not coloured the Hindus stand on the need for peaceful co-existence with the Christians.” –  Anirban Ganguly

Fr. Dr. Victor FerraoA ‘leading’ Christian theologian of Goa, while referring to the Portuguese destruction of Hindu temples in the region from the 15th century onwards, had recently argued that these were not Hindu temples but places of worship that belonged to “independent cults and religions which were often at war with each other.” He also argued that there were no Hindus in Goa before the Portuguese came and that this entire effort was a “reductionist and distortionist appropriation of Goa’s history by Hindulogists.”

Father Victor Ferrao’s ability to coin new terminologies is unparalleled and I am happy to henceforth call myself a Hindulogist. At least that will give, to those of us who argue for the Hindus, some standing in the hallowed galleries of churchdom! However, the actual truth is that Ferrao, by distorting history, by resorting to, what the legendary historian of the Dharmasastras Bharat Ratna P.V. Kane had once described as “suppression veri and suggestion falsi”, is trying to drive a wedge between the Goan Christian and Hindu of today.

Past civilisational and historical wrongs need reiteration as part of study of human evolution and behaviour, the habit of distorting or suppressing these for present benefits never yield real long-term dividends. Therefore, for Father Ferrao’s benefit, it would be useful to reiterate what his own co-religionists have written about the destruction of the Hindu way of life and worship in Goa. I have also been careful not to cite any “Hindu communal-nationalist historian” but have referred from those who had nothing Basilica of Bom Jesuswhatsoever to do with propagation of ‘Hindutva’, such an approach will hopefully enable Ferrao to issue a corrective.

One Jacinto Freire Andrade in his Life of Dom Joao Casho (1664) cites the decree of the king of Portugal, Joāo III who ruled from 1521-1557, to his Viceroy Joao de Castro, commanding him to discover idols and to demolish and break them up in pieces where they are found, proclaiming severe punishments against anyone who shall dare to work, cast, make in sculpture, engrave, paint or bring to a light any figure of an idol in metal, brass, wood, plaster or any other matter … and against who publicly or privately celebrate any of their sports, keep by them any heathenish frankincense or assist and hide the Brahmins, the sworn enemies of the Christian profession”. Joāo III directed de Castro to punish them severely “without admitting any appeal or dispensation in the least”.

Dr. Teotonio de SouzaReputed historian of Goa and a Goan Christian himself Dr Teotonio R. de Souza, founder of the Goa-based Xavier Centre of Historical Research in his The Portuguese in Asia and Their Church Patronage, (1988) explicitly cites how Hindu temples were destroyed and idols annihilated. By 1540, says de Souza, all Hindu idols and temples were destroyed in Goa and building materials were in most cases utilised to erect new Christian churches and chapels”.

It did not stop at that, de Souza continues as saying, “Various viceregal and church council decrees banished the Hindu priests from the Portuguese territories” and the “public practice of Hindu rites, including marriage rites, was banned”. Temple properties were confiscated and de Souza says that the Portuguese Government of the day transferred to the church and religious orders the properties and other sources of revenues that had belonged to the Hindu temples that had been demolished.” Entire villages were taken over for being considered rebellious and handed over with all their revenues to the Jesuits’ for monitoring. De Souza also describes a “particularly grave abuse in Goa in the form of ‘mass baptism’, Hindus would be seized and their lips smeared with a ‘piece of beef’ forcing them to convert.”

Dr. Alfredo de MelloUruguay-based Alfredo de Mello, a Goan born historian, in his Memoirs of Goa (2003) writes how in a span of 252 years, the Inquisition held sway in Goa “with a power that Stalin and other tyrants would have liked to hold.” Referring to the dreaded Goan Inquisition de Mello calls it “the worst of the existing inquisitions in the Catholic orb of the five parts of the world.” De Mello also cites from the memoirs of Judges Magalhāes and Louisada (1859), who described what they witnessed, “… The Inquisition, this tribunal of fire, thrown on the surface of the globe for the scourge of humanity, this horrible institution which will eternally cover with shame its authors, fixed its brutal domicile in the fertile plains of the Hindustan. On seeing the monster everyone fled and disappeared, Mughals, Arabs, Persians, Armenians and Jews. The Indians, i.e., Hindus even more tolerant and pacific, were astounded to see the God of Christianism more cruel than that of Mohammed, [and] deserted the territory of the Portuguese.… In this fashion, the fields and cities became deserted as are today Diu and Goa.”

Goa Inquisition: Man condemned to be burned at the stake.A.K. Priolkar, leading historian of the Goan Inquisition in his The Terrible Tribunal for the EastThe Goan Inquisition (1961) cites from primary sources a 41-point plan of 1545 sent to the king of Portugal, found in the Archivo Nacional of Torre de Tombo, the Portuguese National Archives, for the suppression and conversion of the natives in Goa. The third point of the plan asks the king not to tolerate or allow idolatry which is “so great an offence against God” and says that an “order should be promulgated in Goa to the effect that in the whole island there should not be any temple public or secret, contravention whereof should entail grave penalties…. No Hindu festival should be publicly celebrated in the whole island; that Brahmin preachers from the mainland should not gather in the house of the Hindus; and that persons who are in charge of St. Paul’s should have the power to search the houses of the Brahmins and other Hindus, in case there exists a presumption or suspicion of the existence of idols there.”

The truth is that Hindus had historically existed and thrived in the entire region of Goa, the truth is that they were gradually exterminated or exiled through a genocidal process known as the Inquisition and the truth is that for such a past treatment, the Hindus never sought to retaliate or seek redressal. The truth is also that in today’s Goa such past historical wrongs have not coloured the Hindus stand on the need for peaceful co-existence with the Christians.

Father Ferrao will hopefully revise his thesis and desist from dishing out distortions! – Niti Central, 24 July 2013

See also

Fr. Victor Ferrao: No Hindus in Goa before the arrival of the Portuguese – Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Rachol Seminary in Goa

 Fr. Dr. Victor FerraoIn BJP-ruled Goa, a leading Christian theologist from the influential Roman Catholic Church has claimed that ‘Hindus’ did not exist in region during the pre-Portuguese era.

Fr. Victor Ferrao, a dean at the state’s most renowned Rachol Roman Catholic seminary, which trains and grooms budding priests has also said in his research paper that the scores of temples demolished by the Portuguese colonists from 15th century onwards were not Hindu temples, but instead belonged to different “independent cults and religions which were often at war with each other”.

Ferrao in his paper presented at a recent seminar, “Challenge of being a Goan Christian”, held [in Panaji], said that by painting of pre-colonial Goa as Hindu territory, “there is a direct attempt to turn the historical facts about conversion against the Church and the Christians of today”.

The renowned Church academic in his research paper even goes a step further and attributes political motives to the “reductionist and distortionist” appropriation of Goa’s history by Hindu-logists.

A leading Christian theologist from the influential Roman Catholic Church has claimed that ‘Hindus’ did not exist in region during the pre-Portuguese era. 

“I have described these attempts as Hindu-ology. In fact even the word Hindu does not exist in the entire sixteenth century Indo-Portuguese historiography,” his paper titled ‘The Other Orientalism and the Challenge and Opportunities for the Church in Goa’ reads.

Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar ParrikarThe revelations in the research paper come at a time when the BJP has been trying to cosy up with the Church in Goa, which is the spiritual and religious beacon to nearly one-third of Goa’s population which is Catholic and a key vote bank.

In fact, tacit support of the Goa Church, although its spokesperson later categorically denied any truck with the BJP in the 2012 assembly polls, was one of the key reasons why the BJP swept the elections, apart from an unprecedented eight Catholic candidates which the party had fielded.

The Catholic swing towards the BJP ensured that the party romp home with a majority on its own, an unheard of electoral feat in Goa, where a hotch-potch of results is the norm.

However, the issue of Goa’s chequered religious past before the advent of the spices and Christian-seeking Portuguese has also been a matter of debate.

A large section of authors and historians have insisted that Goa has been described in ancient texts as a land reclaimed by Sage Parshurama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, from the sea and that the state known for beaches, booze, nightlife, sex tourism and drugs now, was once called ‘Konkan Kashi’ or Benaras of the South.

A view which was endorsed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which during a conclave held here in 2000, released a six page brochure on the subject.

Francis Xavier“Goa, even four decades after liberation, is misguidedly projected as the Rome of the East, particularly in tourism – by government and non-government agencies. But Goa is the Kashi of the west coast India…. The Portuguese are not the makers but destroyers of Golden Goa,” the brochure read.

Ferrao, in his research paper, a copy of which is available with Firstpost, however insists that such obfuscation stemming from political motives, was one of the key reasons why Christians in Goa now have to “lay claim to their own history” in the pre-Portuguese era.

“It important to assert that we have not come from Hinduism of today, but the then fragmented cults that today have been steadily assimilated into Hinduism of today,” Ferrao said, quoting noted historian Romila Thapar to back his treatise.

Ferrao said that the claims of forced conversions and demolishing of temples during the early Portuguese era were essentially to be found only in “narratives of the post-colonial historiography mainly authored by the Hindu historians in our days”.

“Though the temples that were demolished were not Hindu, but one(s) that belonged to different cults that have united into Hinduism of today, the Hindu community is certainly carrying the pain of this false impression,” the paper reads.

The paper further says that both the Hindu religion and nationalism are a product of colonisation, adding that to reduce pre-Hindu religions, cults or sects and their unification under Hinduism in the 19th century amounted to an “epistemological” error.

P.P. ShirodkarSeveral other scholars, however, tend to disagree with Ferrao’s argument.

P. P. Shirodkar, who has authored several books on Goa’s history, says in research paper “Social  and Cultural Life in Goa during the 16th Century” says: “At the time of the fall of Goa in the hands of the Portuguese, its population, majority of whom were Hindus, followed by the Muslims mostly on military duty continued to live in villages with its agricultural communities”. He further says that villagers in Goa followed the Hindu law of inheritance.

In a book Goa and Portugal: Their Cultural Links edited by Charles J. Borges and Helmut Feldmann and published by the Xavier Centre of Historical Research (XCHR), Archana Kakodkar argues that Hindus “were a very self-conscious community”.

“For historic reasons, Hindus in Portuguese India were a very self-conscious community. The impact of the Portuguese rule, destruction of Hindu temples and the subsequent policy of conversion further enhanced this awareness,” she says.

Paul Axelrod and Michelle A. Fuerch, scholars from Ripon College in Wisconsin write in Modern Asian Studies, a journal published by the Cambridge University Press in 1996 that there was a pronounced “Hindu resistance” to Portuguese colonial designs.

“The focus of this article will be on Hindu resistance to the policies that were applied by the colonial regime and its role in shaping of the regional culture: in face of over-whelming physical force, direct defiance revealed itself primarily in the religious life of Hindu Goa Shanta Durga Templeas archival records of the Portuguese rule and temple histories demonstrate,” the duo says in their research paper titled “Flight of Deities: Hindu Resistance in Portuguese Goa“.

Ferrao, however, claims that Christians living in Goa had forgotten their origins (that they were part of independent cults and religions) and “are wounded and continue to be victims of the aggression of their Hindu counterparts”.

Ferrao has also called for a therapeutic dialogue between the two communities living in Goa.

“There is an inevitable need of dialogue that can heal wounded memories in our society,” he said.

Christians account for nearly 30 per cent of Goa’s 15 lakh plus population. – FirstPost, 13 July 2013

Water Torture (Inquisition)