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Debate on IFC’s 2007 Bridge Builders Confusion, Part 2

LINK:  False Worship at John Paul II Cultural Center?

LINK:  Debate on IFC’s 2007 Bridge Builders Confusion, Part 1

SOROJ:

Obviously my opinion may be biased, given that I’m a Hindu myself. However, please bear with me. This is both a collection of my opinions as well as questions I’m curious about regarding the Catholic faith itself. Forgive my ignorance in advance.

First, I need something cleared up for my own knowledge. While idol worship is condemned within the Judeo-Christian faith, there is no church to my knowledge that does not have an image of Christ upon the Cross, at the very least. That, as far as I can tell, is an idol. The same goes for the icons of saints that are ubiquitous among Catholics.

FATHER JOE:

There are certain Protestant sects that prohibit even a corpus (body) upon a cross. A Baptist woman I know wears a plain cross but absolutely refuses to wear a crucifix. Catholics have no problem with crucifixes and statues; however they are only representations of religious personages or themes. They are not worshipped in themselves.

SOROJ:

The original intent, as far as I know, for forbidding that the Divine be contained in an image is that in our limited nature, we cannot capture His full essence, so to do so would be a vain act. So why are there so many crucifixes, paintings, icons, etc.?

FATHER JOE:

We believe that the incarnation of Christ, the God-Man, changes the economy of images and thus the Jewish prohibition in the Decalogue is modified. The divine is not contained in the image; rather images serve as a form of symbolic language.

SOROJ:

Second, if God decreed that “thou shalt have no other god before me,” then what about the saints? Of course they aren’t exactly “deified” but they are worshiped, no doubt. They are worshiped for what they stand for, whether it’s the protection of children, fertility, animals, or anything else. Of course it can be argued that they are being “venerated.” Yet, the definition given by Merriam Webster is “to honor (as an icon or a relic) with a ritual act of devotion,” which is not exactly different from worship. How do you differentiate between the two?

FATHER JOE:

A man might worship the woman he adores, but such is a sentiment of romance, not religious celebration. Saints are not worshipped. Divine worship is given to God alone. All prayer has God as its proper object. Saints are invoked within a special communion: the Church in pilgrimage on earth, the souls in purgation and the saints in glory. We ask the saints to intercede and pray with and for us to almighty God. We look to their lives as models of discipleship and for inspiration. The dictionary definition you cite is not precise enough. We venerate the saints as men and women who have been moved by divine grace to holy lives. We worship God as the source of all grace and holiness. We do not treat saints as deities. Mary is not a goddess. All that they have is given them. Saints are like the moon in the night sky. It shines but only because the light of the sun is reflected upon it. Similarly our Lord is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Saints are those who allow his light to shine through them.

SOROJ:

Third, and this is more pertinent to your post, what exactly is the big deal? The values espoused by all religions are the same; the rituals though may be different. Does that make one religion more right than another? I wouldn’t necessarily call what happened at the John Paul II Cultural Center an act of, or an endorsement of so-called “false worship.” It is an acceptance of different points of view, regarding praying for knowledge and success, both material and spiritual. Inter-religious dialogue is the only way we can achieve peace. This doesn’t mean necessarily accepting or adopting the views of the other faith, but it does mean respecting their way of life and respecting their right to live it that way. So long as they aren’t causing undue suffering or death, what’s the harm?

FATHER JOE:

No, the values are not the same in all religions. There is both true and false religion. Some religions have no afterlife, others an offensive reincarnation (which offends our soteriology) and still others vary in many degrees from the Catholic or Christian view. Catholics believe that Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He is the pontifex or bridge from this world to the next, our path to the Father. He is the redeemer of the world, regardless of what others might believe. Truth is objective and not subject to human whim. Similarly, the moral life is quite different between creeds. Certain religions espouse violence or holy wars to achieve their ends. We believe sexual conduct must remain exclusive to a man and woman in marriage. We reject divorce. We view the core of the Good News as a Gospel of Life. Abortion is regarded as murder.

As for lighting a candle before an Oriental idol, Tertullian and various fathers of the ancient Church would regard such an act as idolatry. Even more serious, they would view the deities of the East as possibly demonic in origin. We believe in invisible spiritual realities. We cannot accept another’s point of view that is diametrically opposed to our own. We can render “human” respect to another’s traditions, and even tolerate false worship. However, we ourselves are allowed no part in it. I do not think the nuncio was fully aware of what was going on and an honest mistake was made. Why should I commit an act that is sinful and renounces my exclusive devotion to Christ?

I have no problem with dialogue. It is collaboration in another’s ritual or prayer where I have problems. Pope Benedict VI, himself, has explained that ecumenism may mean allowing each group to pray as their tradition dictates, even for a common cause like peace, but without the blending of prayers or the coerced collaboration of anyone in a ritual which they would find offensive. The same respect I would give to them I would hope they would extend to me. Religious indifferentism is regarded by the Church as one of the most grievous sins in the post-Vatican II world.

SOROJ:

Let it be noted, by the way, that it is a gross misinterpretation that Hinduism is a polytheistic faith.

FATHER JOE:

So you say, but not all Hindu teachers agree. There seems to be a movement for sure, some arguing that the various deities are really manifestations of a single God. However, the models or manifestations are still incompatible with the Triune One God of Christianity.

SOROJ:

It is, in fact, a monotheistic religion but has evolved to allow its adherents greater spiritual freedom to view God in their own way, hence the seemingly large number of deities. Think of it kind of like having a hundred email addresses but mail sent to any of them is forwarded into one main address. Dorky example, admittedly, but it’s the best I can come up with right now.

FATHER JOE:

The image I have is that of spammers, none of the addresses may be the right one. I fail to see any significant unity in such an analogy.

SOROJ:

I just want to end off by stressing that I have much respect for the Catholic faith. It is a beautiful faith, and I have many friends who are strong believers. I have much respect for what you’re doing; it takes a strong person to write about one’s opinions without cutting corners. I’m just responding as such. Best of luck with everything.

FATHER JOE:

I would never do anything to infringe upon the rights of Hindus to celebrate their faith. I also believe in dialogue and cooperation about those things in society where we find some agreement. At the same time, I am acutely aware that the God of Christianity and Judaism is a jealous God and the prohibition against “other gods” is absolute. Indeed, although the Pope seems to view the Allah of the Moslems as the same as Yahweh and the Father of Jesus, there are many critics even here under the umbrella of Abraham who have their doubts. The deity or deities of Hinduism are even further removed.

SWAMI HARIDAS:

My dear Pagan Catholic friends, who worship countless numbers of saints, images and paintings, and are therefore ignorant polytheistic idol worshippers, those who eat and hack away at the animals of God, first of all I would like to point out your extremely derogatory tone towards Hindus and Hinduism. You call us idol worshippers, fools deluding others, idol bringers and polytheists. However, did you know that Hinduism has only one God, the Lord Vishnu and all of the other gods and goddesses are simply in the Catholic term saints, devotees and worshippers of our one true Lord? We worship these idols and statues, never believing that our Gods are directly before us, but because of the symbolism, it allows us to view the Lord in our hearts, for his to dwell in our minds.  And so we are as pagan and polytheistic as you are!

It is symbolism, walking around the deity (pradakshina), acknowledging that God is the essence of our lives and beyond, bowing, acknowledging our subordinace to the eternal saviour, eating food that is supposedly blessed by the Lord (prasadam) allows us to be pure and refreshed by his blessing, his blessing to break our sinful bonds and engage in spiritual service to him.

You have been completely misled.

Those two statues are not Hindu deities; they are simply decorative statues of two princesses holding flowers in their hands. It is purely a decorative element and has no religious basis whatsoever. So please do not over-exaggerate with your ignorant terms, because in a sense you are the same.

May the Lord lift the darkness from your eyes, may you be humbled by his word ( Gita ) and may you surrender onto him, he who is our father, he who is our eternal lord, and he who is ever flowing with grace, because no matter how sinful you are, there is always space for you in the abode of the Lord, all you need is a change – Hare Krishna.

FATHER JOE:

Have I not written enough about this incident? The corrective was the very cautious manner in which the Pope acted when he visited the John Paul II Cultural Center. He talked about peoples of various faiths working together for a better world. He urged that together we search for the truth, albeit knowing that objective truth and an honest exploration leads to the God of the Bible, of the saints and Thomas Aquinas, and of the Church. There was no hybrid or welcoming liturgies that would incur confusion into the minds of Christian believers.

Catholics do not give divine worship to saints. Despite protestations to the contrary, the Hindus have made no universal statement disavowing polytheism. Even if their many deities were confined by some religious revisionism to one known through many manifestations, it is no guarantee that this would be the God of the Hebrews and of the Church. The Church has seen the old pagan religions fade away, and it has seen the emergence of a new paganism. The Catholic Church is not pagan but thoroughly Christian.

I am well aware of the ten avatars of Vishnu as well as the other 330,000 supernatural beings. They are all false, from the Catholic perspective. I do not deny that some Hindus have reinterpreted their religion as monotheistic. But this is not universally the case among its teachers and certainly not the situation among individual practitioners. Your treatment of images goes way beyond Catholic veneration. Trying to equate Catholicism with Hinduism will not work and a number of theologians and Catholic writers have faced censure from the Holy See for trying to do so. You are free to follow your beliefs; that was never in question. The concern of the post is that we as Catholics are not on the same page about faith and God. Christians are forbidden to take part in such foreign worship. Catholics cannot even receive communion in a non-Catholic church. We might sing hymns, but are generally forbidden to formally participate in the ritual of another denomination. Eating food that is supposedly blessed by a non-Christian deity was condemned by the early Christians fathers, even though the poor were attracted to the free meat and bread offered to a false god. The pagans were often good people. But, Christianity is not tolerant of false religions. Ecumenism means better mutual understanding, working for common objectives in society, but it does not mean anything more than “human” respect and it certainly does not mean any kind of religious relativism.

The statues are elements of Hindu iconography if nothing else, and lighting candles before them is highly questionable. One person suggested that the two princesses holding flowers were the two daughters of Vishnu, the head deity. I do not propose to be an expert in Hindu theology, but you cannot speak for a worldwide Hinduism which varies greatly from place to place and from teacher to teacher. Further, as a priest, I am somewhat well informed about Catholic Christianity and find your views in this regard both juvenile and inaccurate.

Worship your one or thousands of gods; that is your business. But do not expect me to say that such is okay for Catholics. It is not!

Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life!

MICHAEL:

Swami, your remarks typify all of the ignorant hard headed non-Catholics that don’t have a clue. Wait until you’re on your death bed. You’ll be calling on all kinds of people both dead and alive and YES, even some Catholic saints, I’ll bet.

You’re gonna find out how wrong you are. In the meantime, I would suggest that you keep quiet and stop basing your opinions and thoughts on conjecture. Do yourself a favor and read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church from cover to cover TWICE, if you’re sincere about learning. Then you’ll have reason to understand why true Catholics do what we do and believe what we believe in

Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life!

ABAR!

MELBOURNE:

I don’t understand what the fuss is about. Both religions have pagan influences in how they Worship God. Even the words Worship, Sacrifice, Goddess have pagan origins. Christians give money in sacrifice; pagans kill animals to appease their God. Catholics have placed Mary as a Goddess of Virginity just as the Romans placed Venus as a Goddess of Love. Roman mythology has been mixed up with Gods words. They are all pagan religions. Fear of honoring the wrong god is just superstitious. God, your Father, judges you on your character, not on your beliefs.

FATHER JOE:

There are certain commonalities between religions as a whole, but that does not mean Christianity is in any way paganized. Worship and Sacrifice have unique definitions for Christians, albeit derived from the earlier Jewish usage. We worship the one true God and all worship must be focused upon God. The Jews sacrificed grain and animals, Catholics offer the unbloody offering of Jesus Christ behind the elements of bread and wine that are transformed into his body and blood. Neither the Bible nor the living tradition substantiates your claims. The quality of a man’s character will not save you. False belief or the worship of demons will not save you. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus alone is Savior and Lord: he is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Catholics do not regard Mary as a goddess; she is a human creature like the rest of us, but specially chosen and blessed by God.

VISHNU:

Dear Father, it has been a long time since you have written a post like this. I am a Hindu, so what? I’ve been to church, be it RC (Roman Catholic), LC (Latin), Pentecostal or whatever. And each of these guys says that they are the real Christian.  Again, I don’t care about that too.  For me, they are all Christians and believe in Yeshua.

I believe that Jesus is one of the saviors and a lord, but don’t believe that he is the sole path to eternity. I am sure there are many other ways, too.

I wasn’t here for that. Actually, the picture there was just a sculpture and had nothing to do with so-called pagan culture and god. And lighting a lamp is almost like cutting a ribbon, stating that something has started. And yes, it is the Indian way.

Don’t take it to the heart dear, but Christians in India do light lamps (yes, similar oil lamps with a cross on the top) and candles in front of Jesus.

Father I have some serious doubts.  Please do contact me in the email address… just some doubts regarding Christianity.

FATHER JOE:

The archbishop may have been similarly deceived, but it is not “just a statue” but has symbolic value for Hinduism and the lighting of a candle is a ritual gesture. Jesus is the Savior.  Apart from Christ, there is only condemnation.  Jesus tells us in John 14 that “no one comes to the Father, but through me.” Jesus is NOT one deity or “savior” among many. He is the Lord. His is the saving name.

PJ JOHNSON:

It seems as if this is a very old thread at this point so I’m a bit reluctant to comment on it, but I’m a Catholic Ph.D. student in South Asian religions and the subject is of personal and professional interest to me particularly when I am doing fieldwork in India.

If you have interlibrary loan access you might want to look at the Indian bishops’ “Guidelines for Interreligious Dialogue” (Guidelines for Interreligious Dialogue. New Delhi: CBCI Centre, 1989). It deals with many of the issues treated in this discussion, such as the nature of Indian religions (polytheism vs. monotheism, the role of images, and so forth), and sets norms for interfaith worship services involving Catholics and Hindus.

My interpretation of the document is that the bishops established individual prudential judgment as the ultimate arbiter of what is licit involvement with non-Christian religions, with just a handful of exceptions – potential scandal given to the non-Christian party (avoiding scandal to the Christian party is contemplated but rejected as a guiding principle), and any guidelines and norms that are subsequently established by one’s diocese to limit the application of individual conscience. The norms specifically permit invoking the Christian god under Hindu names, adapting Indian religious symbols to private Christian religious use as part of inculturation, limited participation in Hindu puja, and a demeanor of worship at non-Christian religious sites. You may or may not be familiar with Cardinal Dias lighting a lamp for Ganesha in the 1990s, but it was a similar situation to the nuncio’s action at the JPII Center operating within the Indian guidelines. More recently, St. Philomena’s in Mysore illuminated itself (that is, turned on its lights) for the Hindu festival Dusshera.

http://www.ucanews.com/2009/09/11/priests-divided-over-government-move-for-inclusive-hindu-festival/

This is of course an Indian document, but from my own limited perspective, I think it’s likely that the Holy See, apostolic nuncios such as Pietro Sambi, and others in the Church involved in comparative theology and interfaith dialogue are aware of the Indian norms and find them licit, and something like the same norms are the de facto ones applied throughout the church. In other words, I don’t think the nuncio was acting in ignorance, but within norms for inter-religious dialogue that are generally accepted by the magisterium. If you could establish out of recent magisterial documents that this is not the case, I would appreciate knowing about it.

FATHER JOE:

When the Pope encountered the interfaith groups in the United States, he was very careful not to say or do anything that might compromise on this issue. We can work together in a common pursuit of the truth but the Pope is fearless in knowing that the claims of Catholicism reflect objective truth and reality. Compromises similar to a few you have mentioned have been rightfully criticized and I suspect Pope Benedict will slowly bring correctives to the situation. I know that the American bishops have been admonished on elements of their document on homosexuality (forcing a rewrite) and ICEL translations formerly approved by the USCCB were deemed as heretical by the Vatican. I suspect the Indian bishops and others are also fallible. This is more than a matter of policy or Church rules, but of the Decalogue and Divine Revelation.

ROY:

READ DUET. 4:23-25 – Be careful, therefore, lest you forget the covenant which the LORD, your God, has made with you, and fashion for yourselves against his command an idol in any form whatsoever. For the LORD, your God, is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

READ DUET. 5:7-8 – You shall not have other gods beside me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth.

READ DUET. 6:14-15 – You shall not go after other gods, any of the gods of the surrounding peoples— for the LORD, your God who is in your midst, is a passionate God—lest the anger of the LORD, your God, flare up against you and he destroy you from upon the land.

FATHER JOE: 

This does not speak to the change in the economy of images because of the incarnation.  You are simply citing the Old Testament and I applied the full quotations.  Such is in the Catholic Bible and represents no challenge to the Catholic faith.

Arguing with a Crazy Man

LINK:  False Worship at John Paul II Cultural Center?

LINK:  Debate on IFC’s 2007 Bridge Builders Confusion, Part 1

JOHN:

You’re all morons!

FATHER JOE:

Well, starting a discussion that way certainly adds no points to your argument. You are saying that any religion that makes absolute truth claims can have its adherents ridiculed and mocked. Sorry, all you do is immediately show your irrational bigotry. Catholics and other Christians would take exception to other religions, maybe even see spiritual hazards, but hopefully we would not ridicule their believers as “morons.”

JOHN:

All religions are the same— period!

FATHER JOE:

This statement is so ignorant; I am not sure where to begin. Are you saying that all truth is relative? No, obviously not, because you are starting off by criticizing Catholic doctrine which condemns the heresy of “religious indifferentism.” Further, if all religions are the same (with conflicting truth claims), then what you seem to be saying is that all religions are equally false. This is also off the mark because Catholic Christianity puts much store into such things as natural law. In other words, even if you disagree with our faith claims, there are certain assumptions from the natural order that must be held unless you somehow reject objective reality. Certain religions reject such reality as illusion and thus, even from an atheist’s perspective, would probably be further removed from the truth.

JOHN:

Christians have been misled purposely.

FATHER JOE:

We have? By whom? Sorry, the history of salvation history shows a clear progression from Judaism to Christianity. You are wrong about this. We believe that the Holy Spirit has safeguarded the Magisterium of the Church and the inspiration and canonical selection of her Scriptures.

JOHN:

The word God in the old Geneva Bible was Elohim.

FATHER JOE:

Why are we talking about a Protestant bible that was not fully published until 1560? The Catholic Church resolved the issue of the biblical canon in 393 AD!

JOHN:

Elohim… meant male/female and also meant more than one! That means that God was Gods! And any true Jewish man will confirm this.

FATHER JOE:

No true Jew will confirm any form of polytheism. Hebrew did not capitalize the word (how would it) and this has led to your misinterpretation that it can refer to many gods. The word was sometimes substituted for the more formal YAHWEH. However, in either case, it is a reference to the one God of Abraham. There is nothing about combined gender as God is neither male nor female. He is an infinitely perfect spirit. Nevertheless, the Scriptures do suggest that there is something significant about the role of groom and father in terms of his revelation to men.

Wikepedia states: “Note that contrary to what is sometimes assumed, the word Eloah (אלוה) is quite definitely not feminine in form in the Hebrew language (and does not have feminine grammatical gender in its occurrences in the Bible).” Further, any royal plural does not signify multiple gods but is used as in the same manner as the royal and papal “we.”

JOHN:

So logic dictates that anytime you see God in the Bible it actually is Elohim or Gods!

FATHER JOE:

There is nothing at all logical about it.

JOHN:

Makes sense when you rationally look at Genesis: “….and let us make man in our own image.” If it were one “Old Man in the Sky,” then why the plural?

FATHER JOE:

Again, this is merely a linguistic use of the ROYAL PLURAL. The entity is still singular. Your literal fundamentalism that runs against the grain of both ancient Jewish and Christian teaching is indeed quite ridiculous. Note also that Catholics believe in a Trinity = one divine nature but three divine persons. Jews would simply stress the single godhead.

JOHN:

Angels had nothing to do with the fashioning of man, only God. So reason dictates (not religious dogma or lies) that there were more than one.

FATHER JOE:

Yes, angels perform no demiurge function. But you display no logical reason. I am tempted to call you the liar, but suspect that you are merely ignorant and incompetent.

JOHN:

In the Old Testament (Torah… the Old Testament is nothing more than the Torah with a different name), terms this to mean that Gods are everywhere in the Bible and you don’t know what God or Gods were really good and which ones were jerks!!!

FATHER JOE:

Now you have become incomprehensible and resort again to bigoted name-calling. Of course, even here you make factual mistakes. The Torah is part of the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures, but is not the entire Old Testament. The Torah is five books:  1. Genesis; 2. Exodus; 3. Leviticus; 4. Numbers; and 5. Deuteronomy.  There are 46 books in the Catholic Old Testament.

JOHN:

Also, it makes sense were somewhere later (can’t remember the Scripture) when Jesus says in the New Testament that “my God is not your God…” to the Jews.

FATHER JOE:

Huh? Like where does he say this? Do you make up everything you ramble about?  The scene is just the opposite from how you describe it.  The text is John 20:17 where the Risen Lord speaks to Mary Magdalene:  “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  We hear echoes of Ruth 1:16-17 in the Old Testament:

But Ruth said, “Do not press me to go back and abandon you!  Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried. May the LORD do thus to me, and more, if even death separates me from you!”

JOHN:

In two terms this means one… they are not actually worshipping God but Satan since they are money driven whore mongers and they could actually worship a whole totally different God!!

FATHER JOE:

Now you will offer exegesis on made-up verses? Pleeeease! Jesus is the one who is accused of healing with the power of demons, a false charge and a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The God of the Jews and that of the Christians is the same.

JOHN:

Some Jewish text clearly states (once again, ask an honest Jewish guy, probably not a brainwashed orthodox one but a more secular one) that Leviathan was an old Babylonian god worshipped by Jews in that time period and still to this day.

FATHER JOE:

You are willing to mock Jews, too? If you ask either an informed orthodox or a reformed Jew, he or she would tell you that your ideas are confused and erroneous. We do not worship the pagan deities or the false religion of ancient Babylon.

JOHN:

Look, it all boils down to either you use love, compassion, caring and understanding, and sometimes a little tough love or you wanna burn everyone, kill in the name of an unknowable God, yada, yada, yada… there are two philosophies plain and simple.

FATHER JOE:

What really matters is that the true God of the Jews has revealed his face in Jesus Christ. Divine mercy and divine justice are hallmarks of this revelation.

JOHN:

Take your pick.  I will take the Jesus-Buddha-Krishna-Tamuz pick and say live and let live.  Give some tough love when someone needs it.  Don’t pee on my door step and I won’t pee on yours!

FATHER JOE:

Jesus has nothing to do with false prophets or pagan gods. Idol worship as practiced by pagans was condemned by the Jews. Pagan worship is condemned in the New Testament. The early Church fathers saw the pagan gods as demons in disguise. Christianity and Judaism are not tolerant of polytheism and the false worship to which you subscribe. You applaud contradictions and, despite professions to logic, have embraced irrationality.

JOHN:

Be nice people and that’s it— stop all the debate and squabble.

FATHER JOE:

Look who is talking! You called us “morons” and “jerks”!

JOHN:

You’re caught up in the ritual and literal translation of things instead of the real meat of the point!!! Be nice!!!

FATHER JOE:

You are the one who has missed the whole point. Being nice and being saved are different things.

JOHN:

Grow up and be honest with yourselves.  Work on you and don’t worry about your neighbor!

FATHER JOE:

Charity and the mandate of the Gospel demand that we proclaim the Good News.  We must care for our neighbor. You would have us renege on the saving message of Jesus Christ. Who are you to tell us our faith? What nerve!

JOHN:

Stop the nonsense; everyone has the same value and worth.

FATHER JOE:

Yes, human dignity and personhood is incommensurate, but this is a wholly different matter than religious faith. Not all religions are the same. Some are closer to the truth and others are dead wrong. Yours is utterly incomprehensible.

JOHN:

No one person should make more money than anyone else.  Everyone in the world is important, everyone! In every second of everyday!!!

FATHER JOE:

What are you now, a communist? I say this as a poor priest.

Arguing with a Gnostic Fake Bishop

LINK:    False Worship at John Paul II Cultural Center?

+MOST REV. RICHARD SAINT JOHN:  (Fort Worth Texas USA)

You are insulting the legacy of St. John Paul the Great…

He did far more loving actions than the Bishop in the photo!!!!

Traditionalists of EXTREMEISM are being used by demonic forces as LIBERALIST…

The darkness will use ANY vehicle, even PIOUSness to wound the DIVINE HEART of JESUS…

WATCH OUT PEOPLE!!!!

FATHER JOE:

Bishop Kevin Vann is the genuine Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas. You sir, are an imposter!

The post here was never meant to tarnish the late Pope’s reputation. The problem is that mistakes have sometimes been made that cannot be easily excused. Christians can have no part in pagan prayer and worship. That is the long and short of it.

This so-called “bishop” feels differently, Bishop Richard St. John is a faker. Posting here under the guise of a Catholic bishop shows the depth of his deceit. He is nothing of the kind!

Who is he?

He writes this at an interfaith site:

His defective apostolic pedigree…

“We have a lot in common. I was communicating with the U.G.C. (Universal Gnostic) but I haven’t the cash to take all the lessons. We both are bishops from +Lewis K. who I’ve known for many years. I also know some other Gnostic Prelates: +Hoeller and +Rosamonde Miller. I also have been a Bishop in +Michael Bertiauxs Church.”

His heretical Gnosticism and occult involvement…

“I’m more on the “catholic side” of Gnosticism. I love comparative religion, metaphysics, shamanism, Wicca, and psychic development.”

He is unemployed but should go out and get a job…

“At this time I don’t have an active pastoral ministry or sacramental apostolate.”

He sits around all day and plays on the computer…

“I enjoy e-mail or snail mail with other kindred souls who Spirit brings upon my path.”

He is very gay…

“I’m going through a lot of changes right now regarding work etc. I’m a single gay guy, who is a Super-Uncle of my sis: 5 kids and one great-niece!!!”

He uses the Wiccan closure…

“Blessed Be.”

What does the utterly heretical Universal Gnostic Church says about itself and him?  He is aligned with an occult group that calls itself the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. It claims to trace its apostolic lineage not simply to Jesus but to Adam. They claim their holy orders were initiated by a host of Gnostic masters, including Mary Magdalene. While they claim a doctrine of the one, it is really a form of pantheism where everything is seen as divine. They argue that Old Testament prophets and Christ were occult shamans or witch-doctors. They reject all other doctrines.  This group is not really even Christian, but is pagan in nature. Instead of a unique creation, they claim that all people are merely fractured bits and pieces of the divine.  They repudiate, absolutely, the following teachings: “original sin, damnation, hellfire, virgin birth, tithing, and “others whose purpose is to subjugate the masses for the benefit the priesthood.”  They subscribe to a long list of sacraments, some quite peculiar and others redefined, like “Child birthing, Naming, Coming of Age, Initiation, Manhood, Womanhood, Handfasting, Exorcism, Elderhood, and Burial of the Dead.”

They impose their counterfeit ministries upon the Ordinate and the Episcopate. Ordination to the Ordinate is conferred upon qualified candidates regardless of age, class, race, color, religious preference, creed, gender or sexual orientation.  Just as we apparently saw at the JPII Center, they suffer from a chronic syncretism with deacons, ministers, priests, rabbis, swamis, canons, deacons, deans, deaconesses, and priestesses.

WE SHOULD INDEED BE ALERT, THIS MAN IS NO BISHOP AND APPARENTLY NOT A CHRISTIAN! HE IS PLAYING AT BISHOP AND WOULD LEAD SIMPLE PEOPLE ASTRAY! IF HE WAS EVER A CHRISTIAN, HE IS NOW A GENUINE HERETIC! THERE IS NO GENTLE WAY TO RESPOND TO HIS COMMENT.

+MOST REV. RICHARD SAINT JOHN: 

Father Joe, I AM NOT nor EVER said I was the ROMAN Bishop of Fort Worth or anywhere…. I am not an imposter/fake or phony anything.  I am one of the most honest/kind/loving/sweet-natured/unselfish people you could EVER meet.  I AM in Fort Worth, born here.  I AM a valid consecrated prelate in the apostolic succession (from Roman-Greek-Russian-Coptic-Armenian-Melkite-Atiochian-Anglican-Utrech). The Holy See/Holy Father whom I revere, upon studying/knowing of me would 100% respect me as a real/valid/legitimate apostolic bishop…..PERIOD!  Our Divine Lord said not to bear false witness so you either read into my email what you humanly wanted (no sin) or you sinned against the Holy Ghost against my holy orders…. mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

NOT ROMAN— with all humility and reverence to His Holiness Benedict 16, Supreme Pontiff.

FATHER JOE:

You sir, in my reckoning are not even a true Christian. That makes any claim to being a bishop a sham. Note that you speak of yourself as “the most honest/kind/loving/sweet-natured/unselfish people you could EVER meet.” Ah, evidently humility is NOT one of your virtues, either.  The Church you describe does not really exist; it is a bogus as you are.  Pope John Paul II would have nothing to do with you. Indeed, from the way you express yourself, I am becoming concerned that you might not be quite well.  If you had “all” humility and reverence to the Pope, you would put away your charade and seek membership in the Catholic faith. As things stand, you are not Roman, not Catholic, not Christian, and not a true bishop.  You belong to an occult sect that only masquerades as Christian. Even genuine Orthodox churches do not recognize you or your so-called apostolic orders.  I will try not to laugh. I will offer prayer for your healing instead.

+MOST REV. RICHARD SAINT JOHN: 

Reverend Father, I posted via your reply without having scrolled down to read all you said.

John Paul received the marking on the forehead of Shiva in India (PHOTO on INTERNET).

John Paul KISSED the KORAN!!!

John Paul received the blessing of VOUDON PRIESTS or Hougans in AFRICA.

JOHN PAUL let Dali Lama priests put statue of BUDDAH on the TABERNACLE in ASSISI.

I AM NOT ROMAN CATHOLIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would NEVER disrespect your priesthood!!!

YOU pulled a FBI search on me like a Gestapo Nazi.

I AM not unemployed… thank you!

I have a real job and work my ass off!

I don’t use my holy orders to put a roof over my head.

I live in the REAL WORLD, not a damn rectory with a pious Irish lady cleaning my undies.

I AM a CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN. I profess in “humiltas” the Blessed Trinity and The DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST ONLY. I respect other faiths… you don’t!  JOHN PAUL did.  I AM GAY….so are thousands of Roman laity, priests, religious, bishops, cardinals and many popes (some were adulterous murderous [deleted] AND STRAIGHT!!!!) You can insult me, slander me, and hate me; but you have INSULTED THE HOLY GHOST— Third Person of The Divine and Blessed TRINITY.  You have insulted the dignity of my holy order’s witch have nothing to do with so-called heresy/personal sin/lack of JOB. YOU DONT KNOW ANYTHING about ME. You jumped in the cesspool of SATAN and drank it up.  YOU ARE A REAL PRIEST but as a human you have shown your feet of clay!  Oh how Glorious the Precious Blood of Our Divine Lord Incarnate on Calvary that froggives ME and YOU.  May the Divine Mercy heal your HATRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  St. Therese the Little Flower, “ora pro nobis.” St. Padre Pio, “ora pro nobis.” Sancta Maria Mater Dei, “ora pro nobis.”  Saint John Paul, “ora pro nobis.”  + Richard Saint John baptized Roman with reverence to His Holiness Benedict.

FATHER JOE:

Actually, Pope John Paul II was very compassionate to those who should have been disciplined for making liturgical blunders. The bird poop was an error not orchestrated. The Koran kiss was honor to the givers, not to the gift. The pagan priests gave a blessing on their own initiative. The Buddha statue was a disgrace that Cardinal Ratzinger (now the Pope) was quite upset about in Assisi. No one wanted to give offence, but the idol should have been thrown to the grown and crushed underfoot.

What FBI search? You are being paranoid. Everything I posted, you have already shared “yourself” on the Internet! You say you do not disrespect my priesthood but you call me a Nazi and make up a fictional cleaning woman in my rectory. I wash my own clothes at Holy Spirit! And by the way, being a REAL priest is being in the REAL world. You are a weekend bishop who treats religion like a hobby. You are into the occult and cannot claim to be a true Christian or Catholic. Ours is a jealous God. You cannot worship the idols of demons and honor Jesus.

You more than respect other faiths— you fully embrace them, no matter how incompatible with Christianity.

Like so many active gays you cannot speak about your disorientation without a vulgar slur.

I see a contradiction here. You speak of your “holy order’s witch” but contend that I am the one who has blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. Pleeease, I do not know what “spirit” moves you, but it is not the Advocate sent by Christ!

All I know about you is what you broadcast to the world, and in that respect, the “cesspool of Satan” is yours.

May your “frog” give you forgiveness, but I prefer my reconciliation with God. I suspect the saints pity you.

+MOST REV. RICHARD SAINT JOHN: 

I LIVE in FORT WORTH….THANK YOU— BORN HERE, WORK HERE AND my ADDRESS is SUNSET ROAD, FORT WORTH.  GET YOUR FACTS OF HATRED STRAIGHT! LYING/FALSE WITNESS is A MORTAL SIN!  (St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism) MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA, MEA MAXIMA CULPA— ohhhh if you’re a post Vat. 2 Kumbaya-Priest, that means “through my fault, through my fault, through my grievous fault!!!!!!” That bishop of the Roman diocese has a priest at my baptismal parish that is more liberal than me. I’ve gone to his Mass (MESS) and wanted to cry cause of what’s going on there ain’t no HOLY SACRIFICE of the MASS. SO GO THROW STONES in your own Roman backyard, padre!

FATHER JOE:  Without real holy orders any celebration you give is no Eucharist. Even a liberal priest with the right intention can say Mass and forgive sins. You cannot do this much. You are just playing dress-up. As for the facts, I simply posted what you told everyone.

Debate on IFC’s 2007 Bridge Builders Confusion, Part 1

LINK:  False Worship at John Paul II Cultural Center?

LINK:  Debate on IFC’s 2007 Bridge Builders Confusion, Part 2

There were many comments in the discussion regarding charges of false worship by a Vatican official at the John Paul II Cultural Center.  While I also had questions, and viewed the lighting of the Hindu religious candle as a misstep, it was and is my conviction that the charges from critics are ridiculous.  Catholicism does not subscribe to religious indifferentism.  However, the Church in the modern world is dedicated to mutual understanding and social cooperation for purposes of justice and peace.  We have to share the world in which we live.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the good works of brothers and sisters from other faith traditions and philosophies of life.

As I look over the posted picture again this morning, there are tears in my eyes. I have to think that maybe the archbishop was not aware of the religious significance of the candle-lighting. It could be that they imposed upon him without warning to light it and he did so without giving the action sufficient reflection. Given tension and recent hostilities of Hindus toward Catholics in places like India, the archbishop may also have found himself with a no win situation. While such events as this are rarely reported in the American press, they constitute headline news back in Hindu countries. The reverberations for refusing to light the candle would have been colossal. It should have been made clear what the archbishop could and could not do as a Catholic clergyman. Guidelines preventing the candle-lighting should have been contracted in the use of the JP II Center.

[It is worthy of note that Pope Benedict XVI would also meet with non-Christian religious leaders at the center when he came to the U.S.  His words were very carefully chosen to emphasize religious dialogue for purposes of social harmony and to better society.  There was nothing that sacrificed the unique salvific significance of Christ and the truths taught and passed on by Catholic Christianity.  Many of us saw this event as an attempt to correct and heal any wound of confusion opened by the earlier event.]   

Here is my blog discussion record, good, bad and confused, of those who commented on the pictures that went viral in the (unfortunately) somewhat unforgiving religious world.

SHARON:

Father is it possible that the archbishop didn’t understand the significance of the lamp? Is it possible that you are overestimating the significance of the lamp? Maybe you should give the archbishop some feedback.

FATHER JOE:

I thought about that possibility too, and yet Catholicism is quite restrictive and clear about such matters. Remember, Catholics cannot even engage “actively” but only “passively” in the Sunday worship of Protestants. Hymn singing is permitted, with reservations, but many worship elements and Holy Communion are forbidden to Catholics. Further, such participation does not fulfill one’s holy day obligation or duty. I am just a poor priest in a small parish. The archbishop represents the Holy See and has had special training in the foreign service of the Church. He should know better than me what is right and wrong. Catholics light candles as well, and the votive lights symbolize our prayer intentions. We also have the vigil light before the reserved sacrament of the Eucharist and the Easter or Paschal Candle. Catholics know the value and place of candles and fire in worship. The archbishop would be the first to appreciate such things. That is why I am pained and befuddled by it all.

CATHOLIC WRITER:

Hi Father Joe, if Catholics worship one God in the Holy Trinity, and the Hindus worship one God in Brahma, isn’t it common sense that both are worshipping the same God, but in different ways? (Curious)

FATHER JOE:

The problem is the presumption of monotheism that you make. Except for certain modern Hindu apologists who argue that all the Hindu deities are expression of a single one; Hinduism is traditionally regarded as a polytheistic religion. In other words, they are not worshipping ONE god but many gods. This is usually their understanding as well. The Trinity is quite different. Catholics believe that there is ONE divine nature (one God) but three divine Persons. While the mythology is quite different, the multiple gods of Hinduism is similar to the ancient pagan gods of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Tertullian and others in the early Church claimed that these false gods had substance and were in actuality, demons. Christians were warned, even in the Bible, that they should not eat of the food offered to idols, to the demons.

The Jewish Decalogue forbids the fashioning and worshipping of idols. Catholics use statues to remember Jesus, Mary, Joseph and other saints. But we do not worship them as idols.  However, the Hindu usage of statues is indeed the kind of idolatry condemned by the commandments given to Moses.

Are you beginning to see why this is a pretty big deal and a source of growing embarrassment and scandal?

HELEN:

Right or wrong, “Catholicism is quite restrictive” is the reason for your pain. That much is clear. Believing as you do, this must upset you a lot.

You mentioned that lighting the lamp had different meanings at different times. I sincerely hope that in this instance its meaning is something that does not compromise Christian faith in one God. Protestants share the belief of one God in three Persons with Catholics. That is one thing we do not debate.

CATHOLIC WRITER:

Hi Father Joe, I see what you mean. Based on the interreligious dialogue that’s taken place in my country between representatives of various religions, I’ve always understood Hinduism to be monotheistic with the other deities to be manifestations of Brahman, while the deities are given the same kind of respect that Catholics give to saints. Like some Catholics mistakenly turn to worshipping saints, some Hindus mistakenly turn to worshipping these deities, but these should not be seen as what the religion is really about.  God bless.

BEE:

Stay away from those wacko conservatives like the “catholic” cavemen. Lighten up. If Jesus were here he wouldn’t be filled with righteous anger at someone lighting a candle and dialoging with pagans. Surely St. Paul probably reached out amongst similar sorts of things even as he upheld the truth of Christ. Beware wrath and a lack of charity— surely more insidious then a misstep in lighting a candle.

FATHER JOE:

Dialogue is fine by me, but the question is false worship. You suggest that St. Paul would not be concerned, and yet he definitely condemned idolatry. Remember, ours is a jealous God.

4HISCHURCH:

I’ve been reading about the alleged apparitions at Damascus in Syria (apparently approved by the local bishop— I stay away from those that aren’t). The main message there seems to be one of unity (especially between Catholics and Orthodox.) Jesus is reported to have said, “Tell my children, it is from them I ask unity. I will not accept it from those who are only acting; pretending they are working for unity.” When I read your post about the archbishop that was the first thing I thought of— pretending to be working for unity instead of working for true unity.

LAURA:

Remember, Sr. Lucia of Fatima told us not to wait for the bishops to lead us in lives of prayer and mortification. These types of gross errors are so commonplace now. The sad part is that so many Catholics are so poorly catechized that they wouldn’t even be able to tell you why the actions of the Bishop were scandalous. I weep with for my children who have such reckless shepherds.

WENDY: 

AMEN, Father.  It seems to me that some folks “just ain’t gettin’ it.”  This is some serious stuff. Perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt?  But, come on, he’s an Archbishop for crying out loud!  I would think that he would be more knowledgeable than us lay folk. If not, I’m truly scared!

MARTHA:

Which bishops can we trust?

CAROL:

Father Joe, Ugh, I had hoped this Nuncio would avoid the “Be nice, don’t litter” phenomenon that has stolen our religion.  You ask whether he realizes he is paying homage to a false god. “Be nice and don’t litter” is borne from the violations of the first and second commandments— priests and bishops who want the flock to adore them. They place the importance of people loving them above everything else, including the vocation of salvation of humanity.

Who among us sits in the pews and knows the last time words were said to provoke the people in line to get the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ to go to confession and wipe their souls of their sins? If they’re unaware that their path has taken this earth into a spiritual tailspin, then they are perishing. The vocation of priesthood is a spiritual fatherhood. The photo of a papal nuncio lighting a candle to pay homage to a false god is about as sane as a mother and father who set up false images and pay homage to them before they tuck their kids into bed.  Take another look at the picture (previous post)— he’s laying the salvation of Christ’s people at the foot of a false god and everyone in the picture is as happy as a lark— spiritual insanity!

“Which bishops can we trust?”  A handful, perhaps a dozen, like + Vasa, + Bruskewitz, + Chaput, + Burke, to name a few.

MATTHEW:

Although I don’t agree with everything Fr. Malachi Martin said, he was right concerning the actions of certain bishops and equating it with unbelief. How can someone do something like this and be a believer of the Gospel? I will pray that the Archbishop is stupid rather than a baptized pagan.

FATHER RICHARD:

St. Teresa said, “I do not understand the fears of certain persons, who say, “The devil, the devil, so long as we can say, God, God, and make Satan tremble.” Relax; the bishop did the right thing. If he had refused to light the candle he would have been no different than those people who cry the devil, the devil— as you and many of your readers sadly sometimes do.  God bless.

FATHER JOE:

Dear Father Richard, I would tend to give the benefit of a doubt to the nuncio, however, it is possible that he made a mistake. I believe he is fully Catholic and that there was no intent, whatsoever, on his part to do something wrong. I would not want to say that he did nothing “inadvertently” wrong, as the lighting of a candle in certain instances signifies “worship” for the Hindus. The Hindu deities in my estimation are false and if they have any real distinct existence it would seem likely they are demonic. Such an attitude was reflected in the early Church to the pagan gods and I see no reason to second-guess their interpretation. You seem to infer upon me a level of anxiety about Satan’s power that I do not in fact have. I may mention him from time to time, particularly in mockery and humor, but I fully trust the power of Jesus Christ to vanquish evil. As my departed father once said to me, the devil cannot stand humor. You seem to render me, a fellow priest, a small slight by your comment, but you are free to have your own opinion about such things and even about me.

I see from your website that you are part of the Charismatic renewal and have a healing ministry. I will offer a prayer for you and your ministry that many will come to know both spiritual and physical healing through the Lord working in you. The priest who baptized me also had a healing ministry and Father John Lubey regularly prayed over people who would then rest in the Spirit. He was a gentle and good man whom I miss very much.  Christ’s peace with you always.

AGNES: 

Dear Fr. Joe, I feel a mixture of emotions when I see what this bishop is doing, mostly a deep sadness. Really, he is betraying Jesus?  He is a shepherd who is supposed to be guarding and leading his sheep towards our Savior. How are his flock supposed to react-follow him?  I believe totally in love of neighbor, and the Jewish and Muslim faiths certainly worship one God as we do, and we owe a great respect to them, even though we have differences. But I am not afraid to say this, Hinduism is dangerous and the worship of false gods is totally against our faith. Please be wise, our very souls are at risk. I live in England and our faith is being battered, please proclaim Jesus as our only Lord and Savior.  May God bless you all.

STEPHEN:

It is hard for me to tell if the Archbishop really knew that he was lighting a candle for idols. Maybe the Archbishop didn’t know. From looking at the picture, the candle looks kind of funny, but it does not appear to be idolatrous. In the bottom picture, there are two dark forms on the right and the left that are hard for me to see that could be some kind of statues. If they are statues, he probably did not recognize them as idols. Some idols seem like harmless statues unless you have been educated as to what they really are. His intention could have been limited to the lighting of a candle, not actually performing an act of worship. At best, this is a case of ignorance coupled with poor judgment. At worse, this is a case of go along to get along idolatry. (If you think about it, it is a form of double idolatry.)

JOAN:

Wouldn’t it be prudent to request a private audience with the Papal Nuncio and ask him privately, telling him of your concerns, before making this information, together with your opinions, known to the public? We desperately need unity in the Magisterial teachings of the Church.  I have not looked back at your previous blogs, but did you let your readers know that the Papal Nuncio, in union with the Bishops of the United States, re-consecrated the United States of America to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on November 11, 2006.  Are we not a Church of Unity in truth and love?

FATHER JOE:

Dear Joan, I hear what you say, but this is not a general news blog. The pictures from the interfaith group were online and other blogs were already reporting about the event at the JP II Cultural Center. I posted about it as a “Johnny Come Lately” with important questions, and as I have said, feel that some mistake must have been made. Never did I suggest that the archbishop was intending to offer false worship. I would distance myself as a Catholic priest from any comments that suggested otherwise. My concern is the “sign” value of the picture and maybe whether or not it was prudent to participate. The questions that Christians are entitled to ask are as follows: What actually did happen? And, how do we resolve the subsequent scandal? I am a pretty small fish to tell the archbishop his business and I am sure that some response will be forthcoming without my intervention. In any case, the scandal was not my doing and any resolution will have to be accomplished in the public arena. If you think I am not charitable you should visit some of the Traditionalist Catholic and Protestant anti-Catholic sites.  My remarks were very tame and non-committal by comparison. As of right now, I am positing the whole event as an error of some sort. I could not agree with another priest who suggested that it was okay to light such a lamp and that this should be a non-issue for Christians. But, that is my opinion.

As for the re-consecration of the U.S. to the Immaculate Heart, I said nothing about it because, frankly, I heard nothing about it until now. But, as I said, I do not doubt the archbishop’s Catholic faith. I am sure he is a faithful son of the Church. It is only this particular event with the Indian lamp that puzzles me.

Thank you for visiting the Blog and may the good Lord continue to bless you and your family.

ELLEN:

The real issue is the JPII Center. They are the hosts. It is their responsibility. If they had been on the job, this wouldn’t have happened.

FATHER JOE:

Point well taken!

ATHANSIUS:

“The Brahmins eat sumptuous meals to the sound of drums, and make the ignorant believe that the gods are banqueting. When they are in need of any supplies, and even before, they give out to the people that the gods are angry because the things they have asked for have not been sent, and that if the people do not take care, the gods will punish them by slaughter, disease, and the assaults of the devils. And the poor ignorant creatures, with the fear of the gods before them, obey them implicitly. These Brahmins have barely a tincture of literature, but they make up for their poverty in learning by cunning and malice. Those who belong to these parts are very indignant with me for exposing their tricks. Whenever they talk to me with no one by to hear them they acknowledge that they have no other patrimony but the idols, by their lies about which they procure their support from the people. They say that I, poor creature as I am, know more than all of them put together.”

“They often send me a civil message and presents, and make a great complaint when I send them all back again. Their object is to bribe me to connive at their evil deeds. So they declare that they are convinced that there is only one God, and that they will pray to Him for me. And I, to return the favor, answer whatever occurs to me, and then lay bare, as far as I can, to the ignorant people whose blind superstitions have made them their slaves, their imposture and tricks, and this has induced many to leave the worship of the false gods, and eagerly become Christians. If it were not for the opposition of the Brahmins, we should have them all embracing the religion of Jesus Christ.”

“The heathen inhabitants of the country are commonly ignorant of letters, but by no means ignorant of wickedness. All the time I have been here in this country, I have only converted one Brahmin, a virtuous young man, who has now undertaken to teach the Catechism to children. As I go through the Christian villages, I often pass by the temples of the Brahmins, which they call pagodas. One day lately, I happened to enter a pagoda where there were about two hundred of them, and most of them came to meet me. We had a long conversation, after which I asked them what their gods enjoined them in order to obtain the life of the blessed. There was a long discussion amongst them as to who should answer me. At last, by common consent, the commission was given to one of them, of greater age and experience than the rest, an old man, of more than eighty years. He asked me in return, what commands the God of the Christians laid on them. I saw the old man’s perversity, and I refused to speak a word till he had first answered my question. So he was obliged to expose his ignorance, and replied that their gods required two duties of those who desired to go to them hereafter, one of which was to abstain from killing cows, because under that form the gods were adored; the other was to show kindness to the Brahmins, who were the worshippers of the gods. This answer moved my indignation, for I could not but grieve intensely at the thought of the devils being worshipped instead of God by these blind heathen, and I asked them to listen to me in turn. Then I, in a loud voice, repeated the Apostles’ Creed and the Ten Commandments. After this I gave in their own language a short explanation, and told them what Paradise is, and what Hell is, and also who they are who go to Heaven to join the company of the blessed, and who are to be sent to the eternal punishments of hell. Upon hearing these things they all rose up and vied with one another in embracing me, and in confessing that the God of the Christians is the true God, as His laws are so agreeable to reason.”

–Saint Francis Xavier

Letter from Goa to the Society of Jesus (Rome), 1543

I think the Nuncio needs to read the lives of the saints before walking into another useless Ecumenical social event. Perhaps he’ll be inspired to preach the Gospel as Our Lord commanded?

JOAN:

Dear Fr. Joe, thank you for your kind reply. I am definitely out of my league in knowledge, etc. to be commenting on this. It sounds like it is possible that good Papal Nuncio may have been set up for someone’s agenda, but the Roman Curia are usually extremely wise when it comes to things like that.

Perhaps it was the Papal Nuncio who ministered to him as St. Francis Xavier did. We only know what the picture shows, we are not privy to their private conversation.

I can only imagine what the Traditionalists and anti-Catholic Protestants would make of this event. I am a convert myself. I have found that Traditionalists are pretty hateful about everything, and few anti-Catholic Protestants are exceptionally kind to anything Catholic. There are many more very good Protestants who are, however. I have recently been dumped by anti-Catholic relatives who held out hoping I would become Baptist again. I know that not all Baptists are like that. I offer up my heartache for their conversion and I pray for them. I know that good Protestants go to Heaven as well as Catholics. They suffer from ignorance and not malice.

However, as a lay person I would not want to second guess the Papal Nuncio. My husband and I attended Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC on November 11, 2006. The Papal Nuncio re-consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in solidarity with the Bishops of the United States at that time. Fr. Andrew Apostali was the homilist and the Cardinal from Philadelphia was there also. It was an incredible event. It was also our 34th wedding anniversary so that made it even more special for us.

Thank you again for your kind response, Fr. Joe. I will keep you in all of my prayers and I humbly ask for your prayers also.

FATHER JOE:

Thanks again for your comments, Joan, and many congratulations on your marriage and strong faith. I live only a few minutes from the Shrine, I must have been very busy to have missed the re-consecration. I regularly visit the Shrine and have attended lectures at Catholic University where my god-daughter is a student. Returning to the subject of the post, my suspicion is that the nuncio was invited to the interfaith awards event and was not informed about the candle-lighting until the last moment. He might have been desperately afraid of insulting his hosts and understanding that the lamp lighting possessed cultural but not spiritual symbolism, participated without much deliberation. The Hindus are used to Christians who give such matters little reflection and they may have innocently presumed that there would be no problem with a Catholic representative. The Holy See has been walking on eggs given the heightened sensitivity of others: the Moslems over a historical reference to violence in the Koran and the Brazilian Indians over their purification by Christianity. Lately, Hindus in India have been increasing their persecution and intolerance toward Christians. It would not take much to set them off. Who knows what the headlines would have been had he refused to light the lamp. In any case, the picture is unfortunate and I suspect we will be hearing about it for some time to come. God bless you!

CATHERINE:

Imagine all the martyrs who went to their deaths, being eaten by lions, raped, tortured, grilled on spits, beheaded, thrown on freezing ponds, etc. rather than “offer homage” to idols as this bishop is doing. How is it that the same Faith that condemned paying homage to idols, asking its people to go to their death rather than light a candle, offer a sacrifice or bow before a false deity?  How can the Church now not only allow but approve of a BISHOP no less, doing the same?

If Christ was righteously angered at the money changers in the temple, what would he do to the idol bringers?

And to those who say “maybe he didn’t know,” let me ask you which is worse… to have a teacher/leader purposefully go against Christianity or have one in authority not know the most basic Judeo-Christian tenant?

May heaven have mercy on us!

SUTEMOS:

We pray for the blind and those who deceive.  We offer prayers for those, with their public mouth bound, must endure (in these times) the Crucifixion of the Church.  Again, let our not knowing be the reason for our transgressions.

HECTOR:

Dear Father Joe, as to the nuncio question, for one to be heretical, one would have to have intent and forethought.  Did he make a mistake?  It is more than likely; but a mistake leaning towards the good.  If his Hindu hosts intended him to worship, they erred, as worship can only be valid if the person intends to worship… which I don’t think the nuncio did.

FATHER JOE:  

I would never say he purposely committed a heretical act. It may have been an accident, something unplanned. The trouble is the scandal it gives. My reference to Hindu worship was generic, restricting itself to ritual and ceremonial. I doubt a bishop and priest would personally intend any spiritual efficacy behind such a gesture as lighting candles before an idol.

WILL:

I fail to see or to understand the concern here? Roman Catholicism was invented by a pagan (Constantine) and is full of idol worship which is forbidden by Biblical Christianity.

FATHER JOE:

No, Constantine legalized Christianity within the Roman Empire. Catholicism (the first Christians) suffered persecution for centuries and martyrdom. Read the writings of these suffering men and women and they talk about their bishops, priests, deacons, and the Eucharist. Jesus instituted the Catholic “Christian” Church!

As for idol worship, Catholics did not worship idols. Indeed, many pagan idols were destroyed. Statues of Mary, Jesus and the saints would be venerated, but this is not the same as worship… not any more than a person keeping a picture of his spouse and kids on the desk. They remind us of those whom we love.

WILL:

It is my understanding that Roman Catholics believe God left them in charge of truth, etc.  Thus they are free to define and redefine truth any way they choose.

FATHER JOE:

This is false. Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, John. The Magisterium (Pope and bishops) interpret and define the faith; however, they cannot make it up. For instance, Jesus rose from the dead. No one is free to say otherwise… not the Pope… and not you. Our Catholic teachers are at the service of the truth; they are not its masters!

WILL:

This being the case, how could the nuncio make a mistake?  Am I wrong?

FATHER JOE:

Yes, you are in gross error about Catholic history and belief. You have also been led down the road of bigotry.

JEFF:

Pastor Joe, I am astonished that you are bothered by this? The Catholic Church was founded on the principles of absorbing other religions, adopting their pagan idols and simply renaming them to religious names. The archbishop is being a good Catholic here. Your own statue of Peter at the Vatican was once Jupiter. And the history behind the icons of Mary, holding the infant Jesus, strangely resembles Babylonian Seramis and her infant ‘god’-child Tamuz. Give the archbishop a break, he’s setting a good Catholic example by worshipping at an idol – could be that in his mind he is calling it something else.

FATHER JOE:

It is true that the Church appropriates what she can from the indigenous cultures where she finds herself. However, there are limits, particularly when there are elements that run contrary to the basic kerygma of salvation.

I would recommend the book SILENCE, a historical novel about the efforts of Spanish missionaries in Japan. Because the core teachings of Christianity resisted any amalgamation with the practices and beliefs of various Eastern or Oriental religions, it found itself at odds with Japanese culture and eventually even with the warlords. It remained something foreign and seemingly threatening to the powers that be.

It must also be said that the pagan religion of the ancient Romans and Greeks lacked a certain sophistication and was largely ridiculed even by so-called adherents. Christianity absorbed certain things while others had to be dismissed. Archeologists and others often lament the vast amount of art and writing that was destroyed by Church believers.

As for the statue of St. Peter at the Vatican: “In the northwestern (right front) corner of the nave is the bronze statue of St. Peter Enthroned, now attributed to late 13th-century sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio (some still date it back to the 5th century). It is robed and crowned on high festivals, and its outstretched foot is smoothed down due to centuries of pilgrims’ caresses.”

There is no arguing or debating with you. Your comment is meant in an anti-Catholic and mocking way. The archbishop may have made a mistake. The Church sought to “Christianize” elements of pagan art and philosophy. You, no doubt, in a fundamentalist manner, see things the other way around— the wrong way.

BAL RAM SINGH:

Father Joe, with the advent of 21st century and the availability of free knowledge, it should help the public (of all faiths) to develop a better understanding of symbolism used in different traditions, and hopefully imbibe a united appreciation.

However, I wanted to convey a clarification of the two statues on either side of the lamps, we sometimes use even on our university campus for programs. Those statues are more like courtiers welcoming guests than a symbol of the goddess Lakshmi you are mistaking due to your limited knowledge of the Diwali ceremonies.

I hope this helps many of your readers feel better about their archbishop and faith, which I think needs to move forward with the times representing a true spirit in which Jesus Christ himself believed in changing ritualistic ideas.

FATHER JOE:

Thank you for your comments. I beg to disagree, though. No, it does not wash. I still feel that it was a mistake to light candles or make any kind of offering. I hope no one makes the same error with the Pope when he visits in April. [Addendum:  It was carefully avoided!] I doubt that Pope Benedict XVI will go along with it. The statues are still pagan deities, idols, and idolatry is still a grievous sin… for both Jews and Christians. I would call your so-called “true spirit” a counterfeit or BAD ECUMENISM. We will have to agree to disagree. The problem here is not my ignorance about false religion, but your ignorance about Catholicism. God bless you.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

Here we go again, the narrow minded, fanatical, arrogant and spiritually ignorant Catholics at work.

FATHER JOE:

The post remarked about a mistake made by a representative of the Holy See who was himself a good, holy and faithful bishop of the Church. I suspect that he found himself in a predicament about which his hosts themselves did not understand the severity under our Catholic teachings and practices. The reason why I made comment was precisely to offer a corrective to those voices that claim such things are permissible and to assure good Catholics that idolatry and false worship are still very much forbidden. Catholics can show the proper human respect to the followers of false religion, like Hinduism, as well as applaud those elements which are akin to Christian truths and values, but we are absolutely forbidden to compromise ourselves or to promote religious relativism. However, even if we should show human respect to others, the critic him or herself impugns as “narrow minded,” “fanatical,” “arrogant,” and “spiritually ignorant” any respect he or she should give to traditional Christianity or to the person of a priest who knows what he is talking about. Is the critic Hindu or a Catholic who fails to fully appreciate the parameters of Catholic Christianity? It is the sort of disrespect for Catholic and Christian values one often sees from a rigid secularism that tolerates anything except what it views as intolerant. It is also symptomatic of lapsed Catholics who practice New Age cults sympathetic to the Eastern Oriental religions.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

First of all, the 2 “idols” on each sides of the Rangoli are not Hindu Deities, but 2 ladies in a welcoming posture, sometimes used as a welcoming prop.

FATHER JOE:

Sorry, I checked on the matter, and the images do indeed fit within the pantheon of Hindu idols. They are not images without substance and neither are they quaint decorations (props) like figures of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Having said this, those of other religions are free to practice as they wish; the problem here is how far one might go at religious collaboration when it comes to ritual. I would argue that we can pray in close physical proximity but that our individual prayers and ceremonials must remain distinct.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

The Rangoli itself is a Holy diagram (yantra) representing the Universe /Creation, which is the Divine in Manifest form.

FATHER JOE:

Yes, I am aware of much of this. However, given that Christians have a very different worldview, even the use of this so-called “holy diagram” is problematical for Christians. We do not believe in such pantheism where creation and divinity are mixed or immediately expressive. We can find something of the divine fingerprint in creation but creation in no way is identified with the one true God.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

Also, the Catholics are indeed idol worshippers as well, bowing and praying to saint statues, the Virgin Mary statues and Crucifixes.

FATHER JOE:

Catholics use iconography (sacred images) to remind us about our heroes in faith and about Jesus and Mary. But, we are not idol worshippers. We do not worship statues. We reverence holy objects and use sacramentals. There is a big difference between this and the use of idols by Oriental polytheists. The economy of images is changed from Hebrew usage because of the incarnation of Christ. No longer is the prohibition against images found in the Decalogue an absolute one. But, it has not been utterly erased.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

In fact, no religion is not worshipping idols.

FATHER JOE:

This is not true. Various Oriental religions practice forms of idolatry forbidden to Christians. The ancient pagans, Greek and Roman, also did such and it was condemned by the Church.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

Christians of all denominations are worshipping the Cross, a “graven image” and the Bible, a book.

FATHER JOE:

It may be that some sects of Christianity seem to stress the book of the Bible over the message and messenger, but ultimately it is faith in Jesus that is pursued. The Word of God brings us into a living relationship with Jesus. As for the Cross, there is no symbol as evocative of the price Jesus paid for the remission of our sins. Catholics and other Christians reserve true divine worship to God. Honor paid to the saints and to Mary is meant to draw us closer to the Lord Jesus.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

Even the Mohammedans worship and idol, the Kaaba and its black stone inside, as well as worshipping a book, the Koran. So don’t be hypocrites!

FATHER JOE:

I am the last one to defend Islam, but I would not regard as idolatry or divine worship the respect they show the black stone or their holy book. Christians and Muslims are regarded as monotheists; Hinduism is regarded as polytheistic, although certain scholars (contaminated by the West?) are arguing that the many Hindu deities are all manifestations of one God. It must also be said that their view of idols (images) is not the same as that held by Catholicism. That may be part of the problem here. How you interpret the use of symbolic language and ritual is incompatible with the Catholic appreciation.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

The “idol” is used as a medium through which one focuses and address the limitless Divine Reality.

FATHER JOE:

While iconography reminds us of sacred persons and mysteries (something about which certain fundamentalist Christians object), the Church is ever mindful that ours is a jealous God. I am not convinced that any divine reality worshipped by the pagans is one and the same as the Jewish Yahweh or the Father of Jesus. The Sacred Heart symbolism and the Cross or Crucifix are particularly valuable for drawing the Christian believer to a relationship with the divine mystery. However, the most important and immediate “medium” for Catholics is the Eucharist. Here is no empty sign but that which is signified has been made present—Jesus Christ, divinity, soul and humanity, body and blood! Ultimately there is only one “medium” for Catholics, and we use a similar word to describe it, MEDIATOR. Jesus is the way to the Father. His is the only saving name. He is the one who redeems all humanity. No one can know salvation apart from Christ.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

It is natural to Humanity, as seen in every religion. It is like when you speak to someone on the telephone, you do not speak TO the telephone, but to someone THROUGH the telephone. Idols/symbols serve that very purpose.

FATHER JOE:

All this sidetracks the problem for Catholics. We cannot use symbols or idols from other religions (which possess meanings incompatible with Christian beliefs). We have our own means of communicating with the divine. Jesus has revealed to us the face of the Father and the Church gives us the sacraments and especially the Mass to celebrate our unity with God and with the communion of the saints. Using the critic’s analogy here, substituting the worship and rituals of pagan religions would be like putting down the telephone to use two cans attached by a string. One assuredly works for us, the other is highly dubious.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

The Human mind needs symbols, through which to communicate with the Divine Reality, in all the infinite forms it reveals itself through.

FATHER JOE:

Yes, we need symbolic language, and Catholicism uses plenty from ritual to art to music. However, while God is by definition infinite in majesty and essence, this does not mean that he can be communicated through endless material or earthly forms. Some forms are antithetical to the divine, particularly those which speak of the demonic. What if there is a miscommunication and demonic forms are substituted for those that truly point to the one true God? Various Eastern deities look more like devils than either God or angels to Western Christians.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

The Divine Reality is too big, too much above our limited comprehension and therefore, being limitless (something the human mind cannot comprehend), it reveals itself through everything in the universe/creation, which is the Divine in manifest form. So it’s mercy for our limited abilities of comprehension, it can be experienced through many Gods/Goddesses, Gurus, Spirits, etc.

FATHER JOE:

This may be the case with you, but the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and all loving God has revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ. We are granted analogies to scratch at the divine mystery and call upon God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has one divine Nature but three divine Persons. Jesus is a divine Person with a complete human and divine Nature. God gives us the terms by which we are to know him. No mythical Eastern anthropomorphism will do the trick. There is only one God. Christianity has no goddesses and while there are maternal elements to the divinity, the notion of goddess is spurned as heinous to the ears of orthodox Christians. Catholics love the mother of Jesus and implore her intercession, but divine worship is reserved to God alone. God revealed himself to us as Father and not Mother. That means the traits associated with fatherhood best apply to the godhead. Gurus and spiritualism are condemned by the Church and are also condemned as false religion. The first part of the Ten Commandments will not allow us to compromise the prerogatives of the one true God.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

Anyone who claims to be the only repository/channel of the Divine Reality, its final prophet, etc., is putting limits on the limitless and is deluded by the messianic syndrome, delusion caused by the uncontrolled ego. The Divine is one; but the ways to it are many. All the rivers go to the ocean, even though they take different paths.

FATHER JOE:

No, some of the rivers may only end up in sewers and cesspools. Not all religions are the same. Actually, you admit as much because you would have Christianity betray itself and become what you espouse. I knew such a perspective many years ago in academia. They officially espoused a religious relativism, but what they really meant was that you could embrace any religion as long as it was liberal and not Catholic. Yours is the true problematical “ego” in this discussion. While we Christians would allow you to go your own way, you insist that we must give up our revelation and Church and embrace your nonsense. Sorry, but you do not speak for me and I renounce your role as prophet. The divine is indeed one. And yes, there are many paths in the one way to the holy. However, not all paths are true and some are dead ends. Our Lord tells us that he is THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. I would rather go his way than yours.

PHILDAS BHAKTA:

Renounce the gross spiritual ignorance of monotheism, caused by delusions of ego, and surrender the ego to the All-encompassing One through the Many! The goal of like is enlightenment, and not so called salvation, which is only necessary for the misguided soul which falsely believes in a tyrannical jealous “god” who curses people to eternal damnation because that dictator cannot stand having others worshipped. That jealousy and anger is nothing but very HUMAN FLAWS, nothing Divine at all. WAKE UP!

FATHER JOE:

At last the subterfuge has ended! You show your true colors! This whole exercise was to get Catholics to embrace heresy or even to commit apostasy! No faith has tried to dialogue both with the world and with God like Catholicism. You offer hocus pocus; we offer spiritual truth. There is no need for our good Christian and Catholic people to look to Hinduism and Buddhism and New Age religions. There is plenty in the West to feed us, and there is no poison mixed in with the food. We have wonderful spiritual guides in Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Catherine of Genoa, Catherine of Siena, The Cloud of Unknowing, Francis and Clare, Hildegaard of Bingen, John of the Cross, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Thomas a Kempis, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Liseux, Ignatius Xavier, Francis de Sales, etc. Christians can trust the Bible and the teaching Church. You, we cannot trust!

False Worship at John Paul II Cultural Center?

Both traditionalist critics and anti-Catholic fundamentalists have pointedly targeted this event. They ask, “What the heck is going on here? How can this be happening? Is there some mistake, something we are missing?” Usually they also add comments like “I told you so.”  While I am somewhat in the dark about this, I felt that some response should be made.

nuncioidolatry.jpg

What is it that we see? Here is Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Papal Nuncio to the United States, lighting a Hindu devotional lamp (upon a traditional Indian rangoli) before two idols of Hindu deities. A rangoli is a painting claimed by Hindus as fashioned by the pagan Brahma deity. I have to wonder, “Was he led to view this ceremonial as a secular symbolism for peace?” Such must be the case.

Either things are not as they seem or he was momentarily deceived by the hosts, who were themselves ignorant of Catholic teaching and practice. The nuncio is a good and holy shepherd. I have no doubt about this. Nevertheless, I can understand perplexed souls left shaking their heads as to how one could do something that would ordinarily be judged as an active participation in false worship. Is it not an unspeakable Brahmanism?

lampsm.gifI am reminded of the diwali lamp that the Hindus use at festival. What we have here is similar, an Indian oil lamp. I am at a loss for words to explain it. I am well aware of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. I regularly receive their newsletter and mailings. Dialogue to preserve the peace and to work together on projects important to the community I can understand. But we cannot join in pagan prayer with idol worshippers and polytheists.

nuncioblwhite.jpgThe photograph here was taken at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, a defunct museum now desperately searching for bookings and income to pay the forty million dollar debt of its construction.

This was the IFC’s 2nd Annual Bridge Builders Awards, honoring Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus who have performed outstanding “inter-religious” work. Archbishop Sambi helped to present the awards and engaged in a “private” discussion with the guests.

http://www.ifcmw.org/node/58

Dialogue is one thing, but lighting the candle was a definite mistake. I can only hope that the Catholics in attendance did not participate in any non-Christian verbal prayers. It is bad enough that a place dedicated to the late Pope should be contaminated by false worship and idols.

The meaning of the diwali-deepavali lamp varies from place to place. While used at festival, it can also be employed at special celebrations and when awards are given. It is meant to enhance the atmosphere of joy and festivity. The demon king of Lanka is fought off and the divine king Rama and Sita his queen return from exile. A row of lights is an invitation to Laxmi Pooja, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. The lamp reminds the Hindu believer that enlightenment and illumination are the goals of life. When used as part of the calendar festival, other deities are invoked on different days. The lamps are symbolic of a spiritual light pervading the world and destroying darkness and ignorance.

Notice here the two idols on the table during the lighting of the lamp. Call me stupid, but I cannot think of any defense for what happened. It was a major miscalculation and those who oppose the post-Vatican II Church are having a field-day with it.

sambi-candles.jpg

The Hindu cultural meanings and themes are all very interesting, but also very pagan and unchristian. I hope the Vatican will offer some explanation for this happening. Have we not learned anything from that interfaith fiasco at Fatima some years ago?

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ADDENDUM: Closeup View of One of the Statues

nuncioidol.jpg

Does anyone recognize it? The opposite one looks similar.

Debate on IFC’s 2007 Bridge Builders Confusion, Part 1

Debate on IFC’s 2007 Bridge Builders Confusion, Part 2