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.

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

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.

The brazen hypocrisy of academics who support Doniger – Subramanian Swamy

Dr. Subramanian SwamyDr. Subramanian Swamy, senior leader of the BJP has exposed the brazen hypocracy, double standards and selective amnesia exhibited by the academics of Indian studies in India and abroad in support of Prof. Wendy Doniger.

His statement says:

Several academics of Indian studies in India and abroad have recently quite brazenly exhibited their selective amnesia by issuing a statement demanding the deletion of Sections 153A&B and Section 295A of the IPC as ultra vires the clauses of free speech enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

They deliberately forget that in late 2011 when the UPA government, on such US-based academics’ pressure, after getting my Harvard courses deleted by a disgraceful and contrived majority in the faculty meeting and without first asking my response, got registered a FIR invoking the same Sections of the IPC for an Op Ed article I had written for a Mumbai daily DNA titled “How to Wipe Out Islamic Terrorism“.

This FIR had to be registered on the orders of the then Home Minister, by the Ministry’s Crime Branch which normally considers terrorist related complaints or information. This was because three Police Stations in Delhi and Mumbai which first received the complaint from the Minorities Commission refused to register the FIR “as disclosing no offence”.

I had approached the Delhi High Court in a Petition and the Court gave me a permanent injunction against my arrest for custodial interrogation, and listed the matter for a full hearing. Till date the Home Ministry has failed to produce in court any evidence that my Op Ed manifested in any substantial or significant unrest or hurt feelings within the meaning the IPC.

Today the shoes pinches on the other foot. Professor Doniger opted out fighting for her fundamental rights, as I had done, and her publishers as any good commercial entity would, cut their losses by surrendering faced with certain defeat in the court.

Hence these academics cry of academic freedom carries no credibility, and there is, I am convinced, no court or future Parliament in India which will respond sympathetically to their demand. Rather most Indians will think that they have got their just dessert.

US must replace ‘fine words’ with action – Julian Assange

Julian AssangeForeign Minister Patino, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

I speak to you today as a free man, because despite having been detained for 659 days without charge, I am free in the most basic and important sense. I am free to speak my mind.

This freedom exists because the nation of Ecuador has granted me political asylum and other nations have rallied to support its decision.

And it is because of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that WikiLeaks is able to “receive and impart information… through any media, and any medium and regardless of frontiers”. And it is because of Article 14.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which enshrines the right to seek asylum from persecution, and the 1951 Refugee Convention and other conventions produced by the United Nations that I am able to be protected along with others from political persecution.

It is thanks to the United Nations that I am able to exercise my inalienable right to seek protection from the arbitrary and excessive actions taken by governments against me and the staff and supporters of my organisation. It is because of the absolute prohibition on torture enshrined in customary international law and the UN Convention Against Torture that we stand firmly to denounce torture and war crimes, as an organisation, regardless of who the perpetrators are.

I would like to thank the courtesy afforded to me by the Government of Ecuador in providing me with the space here today speak once again at the UN, in circumstances very different to my intervention in the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva.

Almost two years ago today, I spoke there about our work uncovering the torture and killing of over 100,000 Iraqi citizens.

But today I want to tell you an American story.

I want to tell you the story of a young American soldier in Iraq.

Bradley ManningThe soldier was born in Cresent, Oklahoma to a Welsh mother and US Navy father. His parents fell in love. His father was stationed at a US military base in Wales.

The soldier showed early promise as a boy, winning top prize at science fairs 3 years in a row.

He believed in the truth, and like all of us, hated hypocrisy.

He believed in liberty and the right for all of us to pursue happiness. He believed in the values that founded an independent United States. He believed in Madison, he believed in Jefferson and he believed in Paine. Like many teenagers, he was unsure what to do with his life, but he knew he wanted to defend his country and he knew he wanted to learn about the world. He entered the US military and, like his father, trained as an intelligence analyst.

In late 2009, aged 21, he was deployed to Iraq.

There, it is alleged, he saw a US military that often did not follow the rule of law, and in fact, engaged in murder and supported political corruption.

It is alleged, it was there, in Baghdad, in 2010 that he gave to WikiLeaks, and to the world, details that exposed the torture of Iraqis, the murder of journalists and the detailed records of over 120,000 civilian killings in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He is also alleged to have given WikiLeaks 251,000 US diplomatic cables, which then went on to help trigger the Arab Spring. This young soldier’s name is Bradley Manning.

Allegedly betrayed by an informer, he was then imprisoned in Baghdad, imprisoned in Kuwait, and imprisoned in Virginia, where he was kept for 9 months in isolation and subject to severe abuse. The UN Special Rapporteur for Torture, Juan Mendez, investigated and formally found against the United States.

Hillary Clinton’s spokesman resigned. Bradley Manning, science fair all-star, soldier and patriot was degraded, abused and psychologically tortured by his own government. He was charged with a death penalty offence. These things happened to him, as the US government tried to break him, to force him to testify against WikiLeaks and me.

As of today Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for 856 days.

The legal maximum in the US military is 120 days.

The US administration is trying to erect a national regime of secrecy. A national regime of obfuscation.

A regime where any government employee revealing sensitive information to a media organization can be sentenced to death, life imprisonment or for espionage and journalists from a media organization with them.

Wikileaks LogoWe should not underestimate the scale of the investigation which has happened into WikiLeaks. I only wish I could say that Bradley Manning was the only victim of the situation. But the assault on WikiLeaks in relation to that matter and others has produced an investigation that Australian diplomats say is without precedent in its scale and nature. That the US government called a “whole of government investigation.”

Those government agencies identified so far as a matter of public record having been involved in this investigation include: the Department of Defense, CENTCOM, the Defence Intelligence Agency, the US Army Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Forces in Iraq, the First Army Division, The US Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit, the CCIU, the Second Army Cyber-Command. And within those three separate intelligence investigations, the Department of Justice, most significantly, and its US Grand Jury in Alexandria Virginia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which now has, according to court testimony early this year produced a file of 42,135 pages into WikiLeaks, of which less than 8000 concern Bradley Manning. The Department of State, the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Services. In addition we have been investigated by the Office of the Director General of National Intelligence, the ODNI, the Director of National Counterintelligence Executive, the Central Intelligence Agency, the House Oversight Committee, the National Security Staff Interagency Committee, and the PIAB – the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

The Department of Justice spokesperson Dean Boyd confirmed in July 2012 that the Department of Justice investigation into WikiLeaks is ongoing.

For all Barack Obama’s fine words yesterday, and there were many of them, fine words, it is his administration that boasts on his campaign website of criminalizing more speech that all previous US presidents combined.

I am reminded of the phrase: “the audacity of hope.”

Who can say that the President of the United States is not audacious?

Was it not audacity for the United States government to take credit for the last two years’ avalanche of progress?

Was it not audacious to say, on Tuesday, that the “United States supported the forces of change” in the Arab Spring?

Tunisian history did not begin in December 2010.

And Mohammed Bouazizi did not set himself on fire so that Barack Obama could be reelected.

His death was an emblem of the despair he had to endure under the Ben Ali regime.

The world knew, after reading WikiLeaks publications, that the Ben Ali regime and its government had for long years enjoyed the indifference, if not the support, of the United States – in full knowledge of its excesses and its crimes.

So it must come as a surprise to Tunisians that the United States supported the forces of change in their country.

Hillary ClintonIt must come as a surprise to the Egyptian teenagers who washed American teargas out of their eyes that the US administration supported change in Egypt.

It must come as a surprise to those who heard Hillary Clinton insist that Mubarak’s regime was “stable,” and when it was clear to everyone that it was not, that its hated intelligence chief, Sueilman, who we proved the US knew was a torturer, should take the realm.

It must come as a surprise to all those Egyptians who heard Vice President Joseph Biden declare that Hosni Mubarak was a democrat and that Julian Assange was a high tech terrorist.

It is disrespectful to the dead and incarcerated of the Bahrain uprising to claim that the United States “supported the forces of change.”

This is indeed audacity.

Who can say that it is not audacious that the President – concerned to appear leaderly – looks back on this sea change – the people’s change – and calls it his own?

But we can take heart here too, because it means that the White House has seen that this progress is inevitable.

In this “season of progress” the president has seen which way the wind is blowing.

And he must now pretend that it is his administration that made it blow.

Very well. This is better than the alternative – to drift into irrelevance as the world moves on.

We must be clear here.

The United States is not the enemy.

Its government is not uniform. In some cases good people in the United States supported the forces of change. And perhaps Barack Obama personally was one of them.

But in others, and en masse, early on, it actively opposed them.

 Barak ObamaThis is a matter of historical record.

And it is not fair and it is not appropriate for the President to distort that record for political gain, or for the sake of uttering fine words.

Credit should be given where it is due, but it should be withheld where it is not.

And as for the fine words.

They are fine words.

And we commend and agree with these fine words.

We agree when President Obama said yesterday that people can resolve their differences peacefully.

We agree that diplomacy can take the place of war.

And we agree that this is an interdependent world, that all of us have a stake in.

We agree that freedom and self-determination are not merely American or Western values, but universal values.

And we agree with the President when he says that we must speak honestly if we are serious about these ideals.

But fine words languish without commensurate actions.

President Obama spoke out strongly in favour of the freedom of expression.

“Those in power,” he said, “have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissent.”

There are times for words and there are times for action. The time for words has run out.

It is time for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks, to cease its persecution of our people, and to cease its persecution of our alleged sources.

It is time for President Obama do the right thing, and join the forces of change, not in fine words but in fine deeds. – WikiLeaks, 27 Sept. 2012

» Julian Assange is an Australian editor, activist, journalist, and founder of WikiLeaks. He currently stays in the Embassy of Ecuador, London.