HH Sri Kanchi Sankaracharia's briefing on June 12,2009
1. Exactly one month ago to the date, the Pope went to Jerusalem where Jesus was born, for a similar dialogue that the Vatican had undertaken with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. At the end of that meeting when the Pope and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzer jointly addressed the Press and Media, the Chief Rabbi thanked the Pope for assuring the Chief Rabbinate that the Catholic Church would desist and cease from all missionary and conversion activities among the Jews. This is construed as endorsed and agreed by the Pope since he was present in the press meet. We need a similar commitment from the Church for Hindus.
2. After such inter-faith meetings, the points agreed have to be faithfully abided. Otherwise there will be no point in holding such meetings. Unless the Church reassures Hindus that it will not conduct itself in a manner that wounds Hindu sensibilities and follows up on those assurances, such inter-faith meetings, no matter how frequently they are held will be futile and will not serve any meaningful cause.
3. In 1999, Pope Johan Paul II had stated that the mission of the Vatican was to plant the Cross in Asia in the third millennium to facilitate the Christianizing of the world which alone would cause the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Pope must tell us the rationale for the First Coming of Jesus Christ when there was no Christianity or the Church to undertake the mission to Christianize the world.
4. We see the USCIRF (US Commission on International Religious Freedom) as an intrusive mechanism of a foreign government to interfere in the internal affairs of this country. The USCIRF which has been permitted to visit this country to hold meetings with our people to ascertain religious freedom in our country must no longer be permitted to enter this country on this intrusive mission. We will not allow external interference into our internal affairs.
5. We know that very large amounts of money come into this country for Churches and Christian groups, ostensibly for charitable work. These funds should be used only for social causes like health, education etc and should not be used for religious conversion. During these dialogues, it should be agreed that the funds should be distributed to all Organisations who do charitable work irrespective of the organisations' religious faith. A common pool should be created and a Committee formed to distribute and monitor the usage of these funds.
6. It has become easy for the Missionaries to convert Hindus. All Hindu Organisations and Associations should work together to educate Hindus and eradicate the conversion activity.
6. Hindu dharma is by nature diverse and so all different panthas and sampradayas co-exist on this bhumi without seeking to destroy the others. Hindu dharma has nurtured and supported all faiths and religions because that is the way of dharma. We expect that religions which have come into this bhumi from other lands will respect this vital characteristic of Hindu dharma and not do anything to subvert or disturb the sense of nationhood of this country. Hindu dharma and the Hindu people welcome Christians and Muslims, Parsis and Jews to make this land their home. We expect from these religions that they will not seek to destroy our faith, our religion and wound our religious sensibilities. We encourage all religions to live with mutual respect and harmony in a shared sense of nationalism which should bind us all as one nation. Nationalism should come first.
7. We are aware of the preaching that they will cure diseases and ailments if the individual converts to their faith. This is illegal as per the DRUGS AND MAGIC REMEDIES ACT 1954.
9. Most of the countries in the world (USA, UK, Japan, Middle-east nations, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc.), adopt national resolutions and statements of intent proclaimed by their governments and their tallest religious bodies affirming their determination to protect and defend the culture and the religion from which their cultures derive. In India alone we pass resolutions which officially and legally promote an irreligious and unspiritual creed called secularism. Secularism is an administrative quality; it cannot be the soul of this nation. The soul of this nation is religious and spiritual. We call upon our government and other important religious bodies to recognize this truth and affirm their commitment to protect the soul of this nation.
10. The Buddhist Mahasangha and the Joint Committee of Buddhist Organizations have declared its intention to get the Sri Lankan government to pilot and pass a national anti-conversion Bill and make it law. We welcome this move and strongly endorse this measure.
11. The Church in India must stop forthwith the use of Hindu religious words, phrases and symbols like Veda, Agama, Rishi, Ashrama, Om and other such in what is referred to as 'inculturation' tactics but which are only intended to deceive the vulnerable sections of our people who are the intended targets for religious conversion. This is also insulting to and wounding the religious sensitivities of Hindus. Similarly it has been brought to our notice that some churches are scripting a new Bible for the new converts by usurping sections of our sacred Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas and incorporating them into the Bible. This must stop immediately and all such Bibles must be withdrawn from circulation. We urge the Indian government to look into the issue and do the needful.
The following report was also distributed to the press.
May 12, 2009 10:45 | Updated May 12, 2009 13:29
Pope 'committed' to dialogue with Jews
In a speech given shortly after his visit to the Western Wall on Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI praised the efforts between Jews and Catholics to bolster religious tolerance and mutual understanding, and promised to deepen the cooperation between the Vatican and Jews around the world.
The pope at Heichal Shlomo on Tuesday.
"I thank Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger for their warm words of welcome and the desire they have expressed to continue strengthening the bonds of friendship which the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate have labored so diligently to forge over the past decades," he told the gathering. "Your visits to the Vatican in 2003 and 2005 are a sign of the good will which characterizes our developing relations."
"I assure you of my desire to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation between the Holy See, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and Jewish people throughout the world," Benedict continued. "A great source of satisfaction for me since the beginning of my pontificate has been the fruit yielded by the ongoing dialogue between the Delegation of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church."
"Our encounter today is a most fitting occasion to give thanks to the Almighty for the many blessings which have accompanied the dialogue conducted by the Bilateral Commission, and to look forward with expectation to its future sessions," the pope said. "The willingness of the delegates to discuss openly and patiently not only points of agreement, but also points of difference, has already paved the way to more effective collaboration in public life."
The pontiff emphasized that trust and dialogue was crucial to continuing the path of reconciliation between Christians and Jews.
"Jews and Christians alike are concerned to ensure respect for the sacredness of human life, the centrality of the family, a sound education for the young, and the freedom of religion and conscience for a healthy society," he said. "These themes of dialogue represent only the initial phases of what we trust will be a steady, progressive journey towards an enhanced mutual understanding. An indication of the potential of this series of meetings is readily seen in our shared concern in the face of moral relativism and the offences it spawns against the dignity of the human person."
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"May the dialogue that has begun continue to generate ideas on how Christians and Jews can work together to heighten society's appreciation of the distinctive contribution of our religious and ethical traditions," the pope said, adding that "here in Israel, given that Christians constitute only a small portion of the total population, they particularly value opportunities for dialogue with their Jewish neighbours."
"Trust is undeniably an essential element of effective dialogue. Today I have the opportunity to repeat that the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the path chosen at the Second Vatican Council for a genuine and lasting reconciliation between Christians and Jews," he said.
Most importantly, Benedict repeated the tenets of Vatican II, the 1960 ecumenical council which absolved Judaism from the responsibility of killing Jesus.
"Today I have the opportunity to repeat that the
Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the path chosen at the Second Vatican Council for a genuine and lasting reconciliation between Christians and Jews," the pope said. "As the Declaration Nostra Aetate makes clear, the Church continues to value the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews and desires an ever deeper mutual understanding and respect through biblical and theological studies as well as fraternal dialogues. May the seven Bilateral Commission meetings which have already taken place between the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate stand as evidence!"
Speaking before the pope, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said, "I have contemplated over how much innocent blood could have been spared and how much senseless hatred could have been prevented had such a historic meeting taken place many years ago."
Metzger said Benedict had agreed that the Catholic Church would stop all missionary activity in Israel, for which he thanked the pontiff.
"I wish to thank you, Your Holiness - for your historic agreement and the commitment given by the Vatican, that the Church will henceforth desist from all missionary and conversion activities amongst our People," he said. "This is for us an immensely important message."
Archbishop of Mumbai Lies
I attended the Press Conference, held today (12th June 2009) at 3.30 p.m. at the Shanmukhananda Hall, King Circle, Mumbai, addressed by Kanchi Shankaracharya Swamiji and the Archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, subsequent to the Inter-Religious Dialogue held at the same venue.
After their Press Briefing, when question time arrived, I put a question to Cardinal Oswald Gracias: "In the Indian Community Bible released by Mumbai Catholic Church, you have included hundreds of verses from Vedas and Upanishads. Does this not amount to steeling the intellectual property of Hindus?". The answer given by the Cardinal was "I am not aware of this"
Now look at the press reports published by Mumbai newspapers datelined July 09, 2008, reproduced below:
Mumbai, July 09, 2008: The Catholic Church has released a special Bible for India, one that has reference to Indian scriptures, uses Indian cultural and religious themes, and will appeal to the new generation.
The liberative knowledge of the spirit (atman) is to be attained through 'seeing, listening, reflecting and meditating' This verse from the hoary Brihadaranyaka Upanishad explains chapter 51 of the Book of Isaiah, in The New Community Bible (Catholic Edition) for India.
Church leaders called the book, that was released in Mumbai last month by the Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, "a work of lasting importance".
Christened the 'Indian Bible', the book is the culmination of a significant 18-year long experiment by the local Catholic Church to adapt the Bible for the Indian community.
Thus, apart from using Indian cultural and religious themes in the narrative, the book also uses English that is familiar to Indians, unlike the older editions of the holy book.
This Indianised bible also depicts Virgin Mary in a sari and Joseph clad in a loincloth and turban.
Having himself released the Book - The New Community Bible - the Cardinal had the temerity to say that he was not aware of it, in the presence of about 30 journalists and photographers. If this is not a blatant lie, what is it?
My subsequent question was: "Does that mean that Bible was written by human beings, and has nothing to do with Jesus Christ?" His answer was: "It was spoken by the God and written by people".
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Several Catholic Church and Christian websites are reporting about a dialogue between Catholics and Hindus in Mumbai on June 12, 2009. Some of the Holy Men and Saints who will be representing the Hindus include Kanchi Sankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati and Sri Sri Ravisankar, Swami Vageeshananda (Ramakrishna Mission) and Dadi Janakiji (Prajapati Brahma Kumaris). The list provided by official Catholic websites also includes the name of Swami Chidananda Saraswati (who is mentioned as president, Divine Life Society, Uttaranchal. But Swami Chidanandaji attained Mahasamadhi (passed away) in August 2008.
Majority of the Christians in India and Hindus have no problem and they respect each others faith. The problem is for a minority in both the communities – who are the self-proclaimed agents and defenders of the respective religions.
A minority in Christian community in India still dreams of converting India into a Christian country. A minority in Hindu community opposes this overzealous move of a few Christians using violence. And this is the reason for Hindu-Christian conflict in India.
So the conflict is between Christian Missionaries and defenders of Hindu faith. Unfortunately, the people who are fighting out in the streets are missing from the Hindu Christian dialogue in Mumbai.
Catholic Church in India has no control over the Christian fundamentalists in India, which includes New Age Christian Churches, some overzealous and cunning Christian priests, faith healers and those who do business of Christian faith (get funds in the name of Christianity using poor Hindus as a pretext). Similarly, those who are representing Hindus have no control over those Hindus who go about defending Hindu faith using violence.
It is not the Hindus who are creating trouble for Catholics in India but the mushrooming New Age Churches.
Catholic Church in India is under attack from the New Age Christian Churches, which includes thousands of groups – whose main focus is on getting money from United States and Europe in name of running a Church. This was recently openly accepted in a pastoral letter by a Bishop in Kerala.
There are several New Age Church millionaires in India who have become rich by helping poor Hindus in India.
Interestingly, the New Age Churches are not interested in poor Muslims in India and they never distribute pamphlets and plant Churches in Muslim dominated areas.
A true Christian, who has understood the teachings of Christ, will never insult Hindu Gods and Hindu symbolisms. A true follower of Sanatana Dharma will never resort to violence because for a Hindu, all paths lead to the same the Truth. And there is only one Absolute Truth.
The real problem is not respecting an individual's freedom to choose his/her path to reach the Absolute Truth. Sadly, individuality is something which Christianity cannot digest and individuality is sin for New Age Christian churches. But Hinduism believes in Self Realization and individual freedom in the quest for Truth.
Sadly, there will be no end to this conflict. The only immediate solution for this problem is to keep money out of faith. Stop the flow of funds and majority of the religious personalities will divert their energy to new money-making methods outside religion and all conflicts will come to a halt.