When will Velankanni’s true history be known? – Dev

Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni

Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni, Tamil Nadu : The Portuguese-style idol is dressed in an Indian Tamil-style sari and kept in a glass box high above the church hall.

Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is a Christian pilgrimage site—that is what most of us have been led to believe. We may however be surprised to learn about its Śaiva origins.

‘Kaṇṇi’ in Tamil means ‘she who has beautiful eyes’. In the ‘agam’ poems of the Sangam corpus belonging to the ‘kuriñjithiṇai’, we find the name of an ancient lady poet bearing the name ‘Kāma-kaṇṇi’

In the history of the Śaiva tradition in Tamil Nadu, there is one thing that draws our attention—in the Śivālayas that were constructed after the lifetime of the Samaya-kuravas, the tradition of using unique Tamil names to refer to the Śiva and Śakti deities in Śaiva temples, which was established by the Dēvāram-trinity, is faithfully followed. When we read the Dēvāram poems, we come across several such names of Ambikā.

‘Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi’ is etymologically derived from the old name ‘Vēlana-kaṇṇi’a name by which Ambikā is known in the Dēvāram:

mālai mathiyoḍu nīraravampuṉai vārchaṭaiyāṉ
vēlanakaṇṇiyoḍum virumpummiḍam…

— Srī Jñāna Sambandhar

Being known for possessing eyes (kaṇ) shaped like fish (cēl), she is known as cēlaṉa-kaṇṇi;  similarly owing to her eyes appearing like a spear-head (vēl = spear) eyes, she is also known as vēlaṉa-kaṇṇi. Feminine epithets such as cēlaṉa-kaṇṇi and vēlaṉa-kaṇṇi are based on uvamai (similes).

About 10 kilometres south of the site of the Veḷāṅkaṇṇi basilica, we find another town named ‘Karuṅkaṇṇi’ (“she who is black-eyed”).

‘Karuntaṭaṅkaṇṇi’ is also one of the epithets of Ambā. Vēliṉērtaru-kaṇṇi is also one of the epithets by which she is praised in the Dēvāram.

Iru-malar-kaṇṇi is another beautiful epithet of Himavān’s daughter. The undying fame of Maduraiyaambati (Madurai) is due to the power of aṅgayaṟkaṇṇi (Meenakshi). At the temple of Tirukkaṟkuḍi, she is known as maiyār-kaṇṇi, or maimēvu-kaṇṇi (añjanākṣī).

At Kōḍiyakkarai in the kuzhagar-ālayam, Ambā is known as maiyār-taṭaṅ-kaṇṇi. Chēramān Perumāḷ Nāyanār and Sundaramūrti Swāmi have arrived and worshipped together at this sthalam. Aruṇagirināthar has also composed hymns on this shrine. This site is also pointed out in the late Śri Kalki R. Krishnamurthy’s famous novel ‘Ponniyiṉ Selvaṉ’. This is also a śiva-sthala located near the shore. Vāḷnutaṟkaṇṇi is another name—when Īśa was deep in tapas, and her oblique glance disturbed him, the result was the appearance of Muruga. One can come across her other similar names such as Kāvyaṅkaṇṇi, Nīḷneḍuṅkaṇṇi, Vēlneḍuṅkaṇṇi, Varineḍuṅkaṇṇi, Vāḷārkaṇṇi, etc.

Māṉeḍuṅkaṇṇi is another name—it means ‘she who has wide eyes like a deer’ (deer = maan in Tamil):

māṉeṭuṅkaṇṇi maṇikkatavu aṭaippa
iṟaiyavaṉ itaṟkuk kāraṇam ētu eṉa
maṟikaṭal tuyilum māyavaṉ uraippāṉ….”

Kāḻipiḷḷai describes the fish-like eyes of Ambikā thus:

“nīlanaṉ māmiṭaṟṟa ṉiṟaivaṉ ciṉattaṉ neṭumā vuritta nikaril
cēlaṉakaṇṇi vaṇṇa morukū ṟurukkoḷ tikazhtēvaṉ mēvupatitāṉ….”

Thus have the saints submerged in the ‘science of beauty’ described the mother’s beautiful and karuṇā-laden eyes using many epithets.

All these names are most certainly influenced by the Dēvāram. It was considered the duty of the king to inscribe at least one or two patikas (poems of the Tirumurai) on the paliṅku (marble) boards in every śivālayait was to demonstrate that the patika of the Devāram had an inseparable association with that town.

Even Māṇikkavāchakar has praised the beautiful eyes of Ambikā:

“māvaṭuvakiraṉṉakaṇṇi paṅkāniṉ malaraṭik kēkūviṭuvāy” 

— Thiruvāchakam

Seashore  Śivālayas

All along the eastern coast of Tamilnadu, the Śaiva tradition had prospered. Jñānasambandhar describes the māsi-magha festival thus:

“maṭalārnta teṅkiṉ mayilaiyār mācik
kaṭalāṭṭuk kaṇṭāṉ kapālīc caramamarntāṉ….”

In all the shore-temples, for the māsi-magha tīrthavāri, it is an ancient custom to take the deity’s utsava murtis (idols) to the seashore for a ritual immersion into the waters, and this tradition still prevails today.

Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is also one among  several seashore temples like Ādipurīśvara at Tiruvoṟṟiyūr, Kapālīśvara at Mylāpūr, Marundīśvara temple at Tiruvānmiyūr, Vēdapurīśvara temple in Pondicherry, Kāyārohaṇeśvara temple in Nāgapaṭṭanam, Kuzhagar temple in Kōḍiyakkarai, Vēdavananātha temple in Vēdāraṇyam, Darbhāraṇyeśvara temple in Kāraikkāl, Māsilāmaṇinātha temple in Puhār, which are situated along the southern coast.

In Mylāpūr we have Vālīśvara, Mallīśvara, Veḷḷīśvara, Kāraṇīśvara, Tīrthapālīśvara, Virūpākṣīśvara sthalas—apart from the Kapālīśvara temple. Across Chennai, most areas are filled with Śivālayas, which are too numerous to cover here.

Tiruvadikai Vīraṭṭānam (one of Śiva’saṣṭa-vīrasthānas where He is worshipped as Tripurāntaka)—is associated with the history of Tirunāvukkarasar and one of the sthalas that the samaya-kuravas have composed hymns on. Here the main deity is called Vīraṭṭānēsvara (Vīrasthānēśvara) and his consort is named Periyanāyaki (Bṛhannāyakī).

Tiruchōpuram (also called Tyāgavalli)—is a shore temple near Kaḍalūr on which Jñāna-sambandhar has composed hymns. The main deity is Chōpuranātha (also called Maṅgalapurīśvara), his consort is Vēlneḍuṅkaṇṇi.

Tiruchāykkāḍu (also called Chāyāvanam)—again this is a seashore temple located at the mouth of the Kāvēri river, built by Chola king Kōcheṅkaṇāṉ, worshipped by Iyaṟpagai Nāyanār and is also the site of his mukti.

Tirunāvukkarasar, Kāḻipiḷḷai and Aiyaḍikaḷ Kāḍavarkōṉ have composed hymns on this shrine. The main deity is Chāyāvanēśvara.

“Nitta lunniya mañceytu nīrmalar tūvic
citta moṉṟaval lārkkaru ḷuñcivaṉ kōyil

Matta yāṉaiyiṉ kōṭumvaṇ pīliyum vārit
tattunīrp poṉṉi cākara mēvucāyk kāṭē” 

— Jñānasambandhar

Tiruvalampuram is one more important seashore temple. The main deity is Valampuranāthar and his divine consort is called Vaḍuvakirkaṇṇi.

aṅkorutaṉtiruviralāliṟaiyēyūṉṟi
yaṭarttavaṟkēaruḷpurintaaṭikaḷinnāḷ
vaṅkamalikaṭalpuṭaicūḻmāṭavīti
valampuramēpukkaṅkēmaṉṉiṉārē!

The 9th century hymn itself makes it amply clear that it is a temple located near the sea shore.

Currently the temple comes under the area called Melapperumpallam.  Situated near Puhār (Poompuhar)

The Silappadhikāram says that there were temples of the Unborn One (Śiva) and the six-faced god (ṣaṇmukha kārttikeya) in Puhār:

“piṟavāyākkaipperiyōṉkōyilum,
aṟumukaccevvēḷaṇitikaḻkōyilum….”

In today’s Puhār, we find a temple for Śiva (known as Pallavaneśvara, with his consort known as Saundarya-nāyaki).

There is a small town called Paravai about 2 kms west of Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. Sundaramūrti Swāmi’s wife Paravai Nācciyār was born there. In Tamil, ocean is called Paravai. Upamanyu Bhakti Vilāsam refers to this lady as Sāgarikā. Since the ocean has retreated, the temple here is not situated close to the shore now like it once used to be.

Nāgūr has a shore-temple of Śiva as Nāganātha (Lord of Nāgas) with goddess Nāgavalli. The town gets its name from the name of this deity. Associated with Kāmika-āgama, this is a very ancient temple. The Nagore Dargah (grave site of a Sufi dervish known locally as Nagūr-āṇḍavar i.e. the god of Nagūr) was established much later during the Maratha rule. The true nāgūr-āṇḍavar (god of Nāgūr) was the consort of goddess Nāgavalli—Śri Nāganātha.

In the Nāgapattanam region, one of the 63 Nāyanmārs called Adipatta Nāyanār who was born in a kula (family) of fishermen in a village called Nuzhaippāḍi by the seashore—where there exists a temple.

Before Lord Muruga (Skanda) went to war against the asuras, he is said to have got the blessings of the three-eyed lord (Śiva) at Tirucchendūr.

Rāmeśvaram has the world-famous pilgrimage site where Lord Rāma sought the help of Śiva on his way to Laṅkā.

Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is just one more such shore temple like all these.

Idols unearthed in Velankanni

When a building site in Velankanni was dug up to lay the foundations, Somaskanda, Rama, Goddess Sivakami, Saint Sundarar, Narttana Vinayaka and 13 other panchola silas (murtis) were found. They have been deposited at Kilavelur Taluka Office.

Archeologists have found large number of daiva-śilās and pañcaloha idols buried in this location. In the Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi  town, there is another śivālaya called Rajatagirīśvara. Whether this is an ancient temple or a recently rebuilt one is yet to be established. If its origin is found, it is possible to unearth other bits of the place’s history.

Sri Rajatha Giriswarar Swami Temple at Velankanni

Sri Rajata Girisvarar Swami Kovil at Velankanni

A few centuries back, when the Portuguese, Danish, and French invaded these shore sites, they destroyed several Hindu temples. They also established Christian churches there. The demolition of the Kapālīśwara temple at Chennai and the Vedapurīśwara temple at Pondicherry are good examples of the level of Christian tolerance.

The Goa shores also had several temples which were destroyed by the Portugese. In 1567 Portugese missionaries destroyed about 350 temples in Goa. In those times, Hindus were even forbidden to grow the tulasi (holy basil) plant.

Cultural appropriation by missionaries

Wearing kāvi (saffron) robes, building churches that resemble temple architecture, placing Koḍi Marams (dhvaja sthamba) in front of churches, deliberately using Sanskrit words like Vedāgamam, Suviseṣam, Agni, Abhiṣekam, Sarvāṅgadahanabali, flag hoisting, doing ratha yātras and other rituals are being appropriated and used specifically to lure Hindus into their religion, and this has been happening over centuries. One of the aspects of this deception involves clothing idols of Mother Mary in sarees according to the Tamil style and using the name of the local Hindu deity ‘Vēlana-kaṇṇi’ to refer to Mary as Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. This is the truth.

Mother Umā is known as Periyanāyaki (Skt. bṛhannāyakī). In the famous Thanjāvūr temple, Śiva is known by the name Bṛhadīśvara and his consort is called Bṛhannāyakī—and this is known to all. This name has been stolen without shame and used by missionaries as the name of Mary, as Periyanāyaki-Mātā.

Truth hurts. Christians have no reason to get annoyed. After insulting Hindu deities calling them devils, demons, etc—and on the other hand appropriating their names and symbols and using them in Christianity to refer to Jesus and Mary—this is in no way proper. Christians in Tamilnadu who have a conscience should reflect on these things.

Some Questions

Today Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi has been promoted and established as an extremely popular Christian pilgrimage site. But the questions that probe how it came to be a Christian site remain.

Is there any Biblical proof to show that Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is a Christian name?

Else who named it Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi? Were they Portugese sailors, or the Papal authority in the Vatican? Or is it the missionaries who came later?

Is worshipping Mary as an independent deity (opposed in Trinitarian Christianity) acceptable to Biblical and Christian theology?

If this is a common Christian shrine, why don’t all sects of Christians come and worship here?

What is the relation between Ārogya and the name Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi? (Arogya Matha—Lady of Health)

What is the relation between Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi and Lourdes of the East conceptually? Is there any tradition of flag hoisting and ratha yātras at other Lourdes shrines? Will European devotees of the Lady of the Lourdes shave their heads?

It has been accepted by Christians themselves that there is no basis for the apparitions of Mother Mary that are claimed to have occurred in Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. That being the case, how did this church become ‘Lourdes of the East’?

Why is Mary, the Lady of the Lourdes, not commonly worshipped in other places as the Lady of Good Health?

Why did this site where many miracles are said to have occurred not gain the status of basilica until 1962? The miracles are claimed to be hundreds of years old, yet why did it not gain basilica status during British rule?

They say this holy site was believed to have mahimā right from the start. Yet from Warren Hastings until Mountbatten, among the forty or so governor generals who ruled India, there is no record of any of them having visited the Lady of Health at Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. What is the reason for this contradiction?

Even those native Christian scholars such as Henry Albert Krishna Piḷḷai, who wrote Rakṣaṇya Yātrikam (a Tamil retelling of the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’), Māyūram Vedanāyakam Piḷḷai, etc., who lived just a century ago do not appear to have mentioned anything about the Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi apparitions, or shaved their heads in Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi.

Even in the ‘Christian Songs’ book of Devaneya Pāvāṇar who passed away in 1981, there are no songs about Arogya Mātā (Lady of Health). Is there anything more to say?

Although large numbers of Indian Christians congregate and worship at the Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi Church, no pope has visited or prayed to Arogya Mātā. What is the reason?

Without the approval of the Holy See, how did this become a basilica?

Does Biblical authority support ostentatious rituals in worshipping Mary, as well as large celebrations such as what we see in Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi?

Only when someone looks for answers with substantive proofs for all these questions, Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi’s true history will be known.

» Tamil to English translation support by Sri Ram Sury

Basilica of Our Lady of Health at Velankanni, Tamil Nadu

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni, Tamil Nadu
Advertisements

How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens

Narendra Modi

Christopher Hitchens“Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women. … She was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go?” – Christopher Hitchens

Mother Teresa of CalcuttaI think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the “beatification” of the woman who styled herself “Mother” Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the Church [and Govt of India–Ed], to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.

It’s the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for “beatification,” the first step to “sainthood,” until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or “devil’s advocate,” to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century.

As for the “miracle” that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn’t have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican’s investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.)

According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L’Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican’s secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the pope whether they favoured making MT a saint right away. The pope’s clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime. The response was in the negative, according to Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who has acted as postulator or advocate for the “canonization.” But the damage, to such integrity as the process possesses, has already been done.

Mother Teresa & Pope John Paul IIDuring the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is “the greatest destroyer of peace,” as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one …

This returns us to the medieval corruption of the Church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

George OrwellThe rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for “the poorest of the poor.” People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the “Missionaries of Charity,” but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell’s admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.

One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality. Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a Church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions. – Slate, 20 October 2003

» Christopher Hitchens, now deceased, was a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.

Christopher Hitchens

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

Petitions

There are two petitions at Change.org requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to send official government representation to the controversial canonization ceremony for Mother Teresa on September 4th at the Vatican. Official Indian government representation for this sectarian Catholic religious function is deemed to be highly inappropriate as India describes herself to be a modern, science-oriented secular republic that does not favour one religious group over another. See the petitions HERE and HERE.

See also

  1. Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa – Aroup Chatterjee
  2. How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens
  3. Mother Teresa’s troubled legacy – S. Bedford
  4. Mother Teresa ‘a friend of poverty, not of the poor’ – Carol Hunt
  5. Living and working with the Missionaries of Charity – Amy Gigi Alexander
  6. Mother Teresa: More dirt on the saint of the gutters – Jayant Chowdhury
  7. Aroup Chatterjee: Revealing the whole truth about Mother Teresa – Kai Schultz
  8. St Teresa: The hypocrisy of it all – Jayant Chowdhury
  9. The scandal of Mother Teresa’s sainthood – Canterbury Atheist
  10. Mother Teresa defended notorious paedophile priest – Nelson Jones
  11. Mommie Dearest – Christopher Hitchens
  12. Nobel Prize acceptance speech – Mother Teresa
  13. To many critics, Mother Teresa is still no saint –  Adam Taylor
  14. Mother Teresa and her millions – Susan Shields & Walter Wuellenweber
  15. The ‘miracle’ that makes a saint out of Mother Teresa – Jaideep Mazumdar
  16. Mother Teresa was “anything but a saint” say research scholars – Kounteya Sinha
  17. Indian Rationalists question mother Teresa’s ovarian miracle – Sanal Edamaruku
  18. Mother Teresa brainwashed Hindus and fuelled an insurgency, claim BJP leaders – Andrew Marszal
  19. Is canonising Mother Teresa the Vatican’s strategy to gain ground in India? – Sandeep B.
  20. VIDEOS: Mother Teresa and her cult of suffering – Christopher Hitchens, Aroup Chatterjee & Others

 

Did Pope Benedict’s brother run a sadistic sex camp for choirboys? – Barbie Latza Nadeau

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger (left) is the elder brother of Josef Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

Barbie Latza Nadeau“The bulk of the abuse … happened in the mid-1970s to boys being groomed for the world-famous Domspatzen boys choir of Regensburg’s St. Peter’s Cathedral when a certain Father Georg Ratzinger was the choir leader. Ratzinger … is the elder brother of Josef Ratzinger, better known as Pope Benedict XVI. He conducted the choir from 1964 to 1994. When asked if Ratzinger knew what was going on, Weber said, ‘After my research, I must assume so.'” –  Barbie Latza Nadeau

Ulrich WeberThe priests at the Regensburg, Bavaria, boarding school for boys liked to make the students take off their clothes and bend over for either a violent whipping or forcible anal sex. Sometimes the priests made them drink red wine. Sometimes the priests masturbated in front of the children.  Other times they made the children masturbate for them, perform oral sex or fondle each other. 

The complaint is not about just one or two isolated cases. At least 231 and more likely as many as 700 boys who attended the school between 1953 and 1992 were subjected to what has been described by the victims as “ritual abuse,” according to Ulrich Weber, a German lawyer commissioned by the choir who represents the alleged victims. “I have here 231 reports of physical abuse,” Weber told reporters at a press conference in Regensburg on Friday when he presented a report based on an eight-month investigation into the alleged abuse. “The abuse ranges from sexual assault and rape to food deprivation to the boys who were less cooperative.” 

The bulk of the abuse, which also included canings, forced gluttony and anal penetration with foreign objects, happened in the mid-1970s to boys being groomed for the world-famous Domspatzen boys choir of Regensburg’s St. Peter’s Cathedral when a certain Father Georg Ratzinger was the choir leader. Ratzinger, who will turn 92 next month, is the elder brother of Josef Ratzinger, better known as Pope Benedict XVIMonsignor Georg Ratzinger. He conducted the choir from 1964 to 1994. When asked if Ratzinger knew what was going on, Weber said, “After my research, I must assume so.” 

In 2010, when hints of the abuse first surfaced, the elder Ratzinger publicly apologized for “slapping students” but denied being aware of the violent abuse that was apparently rampant at the school, though he apparently hinted that he had heard rumors of abuse taking place on choir trips. “I always had a bad conscience and I was happy when in 1980 corporal punishment was banned by lawmakers,” the pope’s elder brother said, describing the physical abuse as “the normal reaction to failings or disobedience” for offenses like a bad choral performance or adolescent tomfoolery.

The recent revelations of the extent of the sexual abuse at the Regensburg Catholic school trump original estimates that only a handful of young boys were abused. In 2010, just two years before Benedict retired, the Holy See insisted that “the abuse was limited.” Investigators then put the number of credible complaints at around 70 cases, for which they offered a settlement sum of around $2,700.

That’s when Weber was commissioned by the Domspatzen choir administrators to start collecting complaints. So far he has 231 but he told reporters that he estimates that as many as one-third of the 2,100 students who attended the school over four decades were subject to varying forms of unimaginable abuse and maltreatment.

By those estimates, around 700 boys were abused, and because the statute of limitations has long run out and most of the abusive predatory priests are dead, justice will never be served.

The prestigious choir dates back to the year 975 and grew to become one of the most famous musical training schools for boys, producing a number of successful composers and directors including Franz Wittenbrink, who came forward when the allegations of abuse first surfaced. In 2010, he told investigators that priests at the Regensburg boarding school engaged in what he described as “an elaborate system of sadistic punishments combined with sexual lust.”

He said that he and several other boys were often “chosen” to be invited by the headmaster at the time to his personal apartment where they were plied with red wine and made to perform sex acts on the headmaster and on each other. “Everyone knew about it at the time,” he said in 2010.

Benedict XVIWhether the elder Ratzinger told his younger brother about the abuse remains dubious, especially given that the younger Ratzinger served as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s former Inquisition office that now sees to the interpretation and enforcement of church doctrine, before being tapped as pontiff. If he had been informed, he would have been in a prime position to expose it. The recent revelations of the extent of abuse will seal Benedict’s record on the greatest scandal to rock the Catholic Church as weak, at best.

Pope Francis: Aren't unsolicited kisses a form of molestation?The Vatican under Pope Francis has been far more transparent and apologetic about the crimes and systematic coverup of abuse than Benedict ever was, but so far even Francis has remained silent on the recent reports from Regensburg.

To his credit, the current bishop of the Regensburg diocese, Rudolf Voderholzer, did make a public apology after Friday’s news conference, even publishing Weber’s detailed report of allegations on the diocese’s website. “It hurts me and my soul—behind every single case is a human being, a child’s soul severely tortured and often marked for life by these acts,” he wrote.  “I cannot undo it and can only ask the victims for forgiveness.”

But the sort of mercy it would take to forgive the type of unthinkable abuse most of the boys underwent is almost as unimaginable as the actual crimes and how they could have possibly stayed covered up for so long. – The Daily Beast, 9 January 2016

» Barbie Latza Nadeau is an American journalist and author based in Rome since 1996. Italy bureau chief for The Daily Beast, former Newsweek, author of Angel Face, and CNN contributor.

Georg Ratzinger

Regensburger Domspatzen Boarding School

St Peter's Cathedral, Regensburg

See also

One in fifty Catholic priests is a paedophile: Pope Francis – Hannah Roberts

Boy crucified on cardinal

Hannah Roberts“While Pope Francis has carried out sweeping reforms to the Vatican, he has been accused of not doing enough to tackle the child abuse crisis.” – Hannah Roberts

Pope Francis has revealed that around one in every 50 Catholic priests is a paedophile.

Condemning the issue as a “leprosy” which infects the Church, the Pontiff was yesterday reported as claiming that even bishops and cardinals are among the “2 per cent” carrying out child abuse.

He also said that many more in the Church are guilty of covering it up, adding: “This state of affairs is intolerable.”

Damning reports by the UN this year have accused the Vatican of “systematically” adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and molest thousands of children over decades, failing to report allegations to the authorities and transferring offenders to new dioceses where they could abuse again.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica yesterday, Francis denounced the corruption of children as “the most terrible and unclean thing imaginable” Francis + Justin Welbyand vowed to “confront it with the seriousness it demands.”

The Pope’s comments come as Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warned that fresh child abuse would be uncovered in the Church of England.

Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show [on 12 July 2014] whether more cases would emerge, he said: “I would love to say there weren’t but I expect there are.

“There are in almost every institution in this land.”

He added that the Church needed to apologise and explain how “utterly devastated” it was about its history child abuse.

He said: “It is becoming clearer and clearer that for many, many years things were not dealt with as they should have been dealt with. We must show justice to survivors of abuse.”

While Pope Francis has carried out sweeping reforms to the Vatican, he has been accused of not doing enough to tackle the child abuse crisis. 

In his interview, Francis was quoted as saying: ‘The Church is fighting for the eradication of the habit and for education that rehabilitates. 

“But this leprosy is also present in our house. Many of my colleagues who are working against it tell me that paedophilia inside the Church is at the level of 2 per cent.”

He said that the figures supplied by Church officials were supposed to reassure him, but added: “But I have to say that they do not reassure me by any means.

“On the contrary, I find them deeply concerning. Among the 2 per cent who are paedophiles are even bishops and cardinals.”

Swiss Guard saluting a CardinalLast night Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the newspaper’s report had “captured the spirit” of the conversation, but denied that Francis had said there are some cardinals who are paedophiles. 

In his interview, the Pope acknowledged that paedophilia was common and widespread in the Catholic Church, and reportedly called the requirement for celibacy among priests “a problem” for which he is “finding the solution”—although the Vatican also denied that he said this.

Last week Pope Francis issued his strongest words on paedophile priests so far as he held a historic three-hour meeting with six abuse victims, including two from Britain and two from Ireland.

In a mass before the meeting, he begged abuse survivors for forgiveness for the “sacrilegious” crimes committed by “the sons and daughters of the Church who have betrayed their mission.”

British abuse victim Peter Saunders, 57, who was molested for more than five years by two priests, a teacher and a member of his family from the age of eight, described the experience as “life-changing.”

The first cases of abuse at the hands of priests came to light in the US and Canada in the 1980s. In the 1990s, revelations began to emerge of widespread abuse in Ireland, before cases were exposed in more than a dozen countries in the last decade.

In 2009, two damning reports into allegations of paedophilia in Ireland revealed the extent of cover-ups spanned decades and involved thousands of victims.

Last week the Pope said the Catholic Church had been guilty of “complicity” in covering up what he called “despicable actions” and “grave sins.” 

He said members of the Catholic Church should “weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life-long scars.” – Mail Online, 13 July 2014

» Hannah Roberts is the Daily Mail’s correspondent in Rome.

Crucified boy

Hundreds of boys raped by Benedictine monks in famous US abbey – David Ferguson

Finian McDonald

David Ferguson“The documents show that the abbey moved priests from parish to parish when abuse allegations were levied against them, covering up the problem and keeping secrets within their own ranks. There are 14 more priests associated with the abbey whose records have yet to be produced.” – David Ferguson

Personnel records made public on Tuesday, Nov. 24th revealed that Catholic priests at St. John’s Benedictine Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota engaged in a sustained and coordinated campaign of child rape, which they took pains to keep secret from the public for decades.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a court case brought by one of the priests’ former victims has resulted in a judge’s order for the monastery to release records on all priests and monks credibly accused of child abuse.

The documents released regarding five abusive priests on Tuesday mark the first time the monastery has opened its records to the public after being embroiled in abuse lawsuits for more than 20 years. The files include psychiatric assessments of the five men, records of abuse allegations and the abbey’s responses dating back from the 1960s to the last few years, including records of one priest who molested more than 200 victims, all boys, from the sons of parishioners to child prostitutes as young as 13 in Thailand.

Rev. Finian McDonald (pdf) confessed in a 2012 psychiatric session that he molested more than 200 boys, 18 of whom were children under his care in the dormitories of St. John’s Preparatory School, the private boys’ school run by the monks. McDonald admitted that he drank heavily and freely preyed on students during his years as a dormitory prefect.

The abbey released a written statement in an effort to minimize the damning reports.

“There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context,” wrote Brother Aelred Senna. “But the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person.”

Senna alleges that the abbey made no attempt to cover up abuse allegations when they were brought to church leaders’ attention.

Troy BramlageHowever, Victim Troy Bramlage’s attorney Jeff Anderson said in a press conference on Tuesday that the documents show a clear pattern of systematic abuse with no serious efforts made to protect the children in the monks’ care.

“So many offenders were allowed access to so many kids for so many years,” Anderson said. “This reflects to us … that there are dozens and hundreds of survivors that are yet to be known.”

Four other predator priests were profiled in the documents: Rev. Tom Gillespie, former priest Fran Hoefgen, the Rev. Bruce Wollmering and the Rev. Richard Eckroth. Fran HoefgenWollmering and Eckroth, said the Star-Tribune, are deceased.

Hoefgen was acquitted of sexually harassing a teen boy earlier this year, but the newly released records show that he exhibited a pattern of predatory behavior toward boys, beginning in the 1980s and continuing through the next two decades.

Rather than alert authorities and dismiss Hoefgen, however, the abbey presented him with $30,000 to help him “transition out of the priesthood.”

The documents show that the abbey moved priests from parish to parish when abuse allegations were levied against them, covering up the problem and keeping secrets within their own ranks [re Abbot John Klassen]. There are 14 more priests associated with the abbey whose records have yet to be produced.

Troy Bramlage, the St. Cloud abuse survivor whose lawsuit spurred the release of the documents told reporters that he hopes more victims will come forward as the priests’ records go public.

“People need to know they don’t have to suffer alone,” he said. – Raw Story, 25 November 2015

» David Ferguson is a senior editor at The Raw Story in Washington, DC.

Bishop

India’s first anti-colonialist uprising predates Mangal Pandey’s by 274 years? – Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Festival of Sontreo (Procession of Umbrellas) at Cuncolim

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar“Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik, who has been a part of the campaign to put the Cuncolim revolt as the first landmark on the map of India’s nationalist history, said he was confident eventually the central government would formally acknowledge the event as India’s first recorded revolt against a European power.” – Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangal_PandeyConventional wisdom has it that lowly-ranked sepoy Mangal Pandey became the catalyst for India’s first uprising against Western rule in 1857 after he revolted against the alleged use of cattle and pig lard smeared on bullet cartridges used in Enfield rifles issued by the East India Company.

But here’s what you perhaps do not know. 

Jesuits at Akbar's courtA sustained campaign is on to haul back the date of India’s first rebellion against Western colonialism by a good 274 years—from Barrackpore in eastern India to what is now Goa.

The campaign, which is endorsed by historians, freedom fighters, elected representatives and local residents, wants the central government to officially endorse as the first real rebellion the prolonged, defiant struggle of five south Goa villages—Cuncolim, Ambelim, Assolna, Veroda and Velim—against the Portuguese colonists which saw bloodshed and non-payment of taxes.

“The residents of the five villages, led by Cuncolim, had, beginning from 1583, defied Portuguese taxes after Christian missionaries destroyed five temples in the area to bring the villagers into submission and also killed over a dozen of our chieftains,” Oscar Martins, who traces his lineage to one of the slain chieftains, told IANS.

Many of the claims made by Martins find echo in Church records and historical accounts of the time.

The struggle, in which several lives were lost, dates back to 16th century when early Christian missionaries along with their Portuguese armed escorts tried to convert the residents of these five villages to Christianity.

Jesuit priests killed at CuncolimWhen the attempts largely failed, the missionaries destroyed nearby temples, which enraged the villagers, resulting in the massacre of some priests including Fr. Rodolfo Acquaviva—an Italian Jesuit who had also held position at Emperor Akbar’s court and has since been beatified—and their colleagues on July 15, 1583.

In retaliation, the colonists proposed a parley, which ended in yet another bloodbath.

“Sixteen chieftains from Cuncolim were called for a truce to (nearby) Assolna fort. They were ambushed and shot to death by the Portuguese soldiers as retaliation. One of the chieftains managed to escape and tell the story,” said Martins, who now heads the Cuncolim Chieftain Memorial Trust.

After the bloody feud, the five villages stopped paying taxes to the Portuguese rulers for eight years from 1583—centuries before Mahatma Gandhi started his “no tax” campaign against British colonists.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik, who has been a part of the campaign to put the Cuncolim revolt as the first landmark on the map of India’s nationalist history, said he was confident eventually the central government would formally acknowledge the event as India’s first recorded revolt against a European power.

Shantaram Naik“For that, the state government will first have to include this incident in our history books to convey Goa’s formal recognition of the event. We also need to give the central government rigorously researched material to back our claim. We are confident that the  will get its place in history that it richly deserves,” Naik told IANS.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led ruling coalition had promised three years ago to appoint a committee to study the matter for the Cuncolim revolt to be included in school books, but Martins claimed it would need persistent lobbying and reminding because history “cannot be hidden for a long time even if the government neglects it”.

The Trust has engaged a documentary maker to produce a historical film on the subject. “We did not want to wait for the government to take a decision. We do not want to lose time in giving the Cuncolim revolt its rightful place in history,” Martins said. – The News Minute, 19 July 2015

» Mayabhushan Nagvenkar is a journalist in the Panaji area of Goa who writes for various media. He can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in

Our Lady of Health Church in Cuncolim