After reading my last letter “Is devotion to Mary and the saints really Christian? – Significance of Luther Martin for Roman Catholics” (Light of Truth, 16–31 August 2017, p. 2), and noting its rhetorical tone, your readers may have some questions. 1. If the Roman Catholic devotion to Mary and the saints is not based on sound foundations, why is it that our bishops and priests still propagate it? 2. Will that letter not disturb the faith of simple people? 3. Why are devotions to Mary and the saints so popular, even in the ‘modern age’? Let me try to answer them as best as I can.A. Different reasons may explain why we, your bishops and priests still propagate devotion to Mary and the other saints. 1. We may be holding on to inadequate theology that is not informed by contemporary biblical studies and historical research. 2. The doctrine of mediation by saints humans reinforces the need of the mediation of priests and bishops. But an historic-critical study of Jesus of Nazareth shows that instituted neither the priesthood nor the hierarchy. 3. We may find popular devotions easy and soft pastoral options. Being engaged in them can provide us an escape from the more difficult and hard pastoral options (helping people to form their conscience, teaching them to pray—as different from saying prayers, etc.). 4. We are happy with an easy religion—novenas, processions, etc. that does not call us to carry the cross: difficult religion—simplicity of life, sharing wi
Reference to Subhash Anand’s letter to Editor with the above caption (Light of Truth May 16-31 issue). Quoting Evangelii Gaudium no. 43, he suggests that many rules, rituals, doctrines and dogmas that no longer serve any real purpose must be honestly evaluated with a view to making things meaningful to the people of our times. It is very easy to make a general observation on this subject and that is not helpful. Specific rules doctrines and dogmas have to be brought to the notice of the proper authorities to make correction or change if possible. Some of the German Bishops do not seem to be favourable to accept the Magesterium of the Church. Anything directly or indirectly connected to the heart of the Gospel cannot be changed by bishops and Pope, which all should understand.
K C Thomas, N. Mumbai-400 614
I completely agree with you in regards to our Catholic practices as mention by you in your letter which I quote highlighted in yellow, I have added my comments in blue fonts.“I am inclined to believe that the Roman Catholic devotion to the saints expresses our deep-rooted religious past, our need for a host of superhuman protectors, of heavenly relatives. Though theologians may have clear cut distinctions, on the popular level it is a return to polytheism. After the ‘conversion’ of Constantine, large number of people embraced Christianity, as it had become the state religion. They brought with them some of their deeply entrenched religious beliefs and practices (Novenas are nothing but christianisation of Hindu Navratra celebrations). The persistence of polytheism is a sign that even though we are ‘professionally’ educated, we are still in the infantile age as far as religion is concerned. For most of us, priests and bishops, the study of theology too was a ‘professional’ requirement. It did not help us to grow. My perception is that the Roman Catholic laity is the most infantile community of Christians. (and so is the clergy which is drawn out from the laity otherwise ) adult parents want their children to become adults. I am sad to say, but once again I could be mistaken. They resist enlightenment for themselves and for their people.”Victor Borde
One of your columns that I enjoy reading is that of Ponmala’s. Why don’t you give a by-line to your regular writers like him to know them well? In his ‘Musings on Modi’ (July 16-31), Ponmala says people will soon throw out tyrants like Modi. But his wave seems to be spreading throughout the country, winning every election under his banner. And it looks like he will win the next election too. Ponmala should write next time how we should throw him out in the next election.F.M. Britto, Raipur
On 31st October 1617 the Augustinian monk Martin Luther “wrote to his bishop, protesting the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his ‘Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,’ which came to be known as the Ninety-five Theses.” This year the Lutheran Churches are celebrating the 500 hundred years of the Reformation.During these last 500 hundred years the Roman Catholic Church has become wiser and has realized that much of what Luther said was right. This is a great blessing of the Lord. Hence in 2013, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity together with the representatives of the Lutheran Churches issued a joint declaration: “From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017.” The document states:In 2017, Catholic and Lutheran Christians will most fittingly look back on events that occurred 500 years earlier by putting the gospel of Jesus Christ at the centre. The gospel should be celebrated and communicated to the people of our time so that the world may believe that God gives God self to human beings and calls us into communion with God self and God’s church. Herein lies the basis for our joy in our common faith.To this joy also belongs a discerning, self-critical look at ourselves, not only in our history, but also today. We Christians have certainly not always been faithful to the gospel; all too often we have conformed ourselves to the tho