Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pope’s Envoy Rejoices Over Founding of Hindu Temple

Pope Francis' representative to Southern Arabia is "expressing the joy of the Catholic Church" at the founding of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, citing the pontiff's encyclical Fratelli Tutti

Bishop Paolo Martinelli praised the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha temple as "a contribution to harmony based on the relationship with God" because "every place of worship reminds people that without God, human beings are lost."

Martinelli was addressing a distinguished gathering of interfaith leaders on the Day of Harmony on Feb. 15, a day after India's anti-Christian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the temple. 

"This new temple is a place for my Hindu brothers and sisters to pray and strengthen the harmony with God," Martinelli stressed, citing St. Francis of Assisi as "a great example of harmony" and quoting Pope Francis' document on human fraternity. 

The Italian bishop, who is listed as a consultor for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, also cited the pontiff's eco-encyclical Laudato Si', noting that the Holy Father was "calling the world to realize that all creatures are connected" and "everything is related." 

Twelve states in India have legislation criminalizing religious conversions.

Emphasizing the theme of harmony, Martinelli explained how "Christian authors call the Holy Spirit itself the Harmony in an absolute sense" as the "Spirit of God is always at work in the cosmos and souls to achieve harmony among all living creatures."

"The loss of harmony caused by humans in an attempt to put themselves in the place of God, resulted in violence and the environmental crisis," Martinelli lamented. "For Christian faith, the new harmony arises from God's intervention in history to free human beings from sin."

"In the Christian vision, harmony can be achieved only by welcoming God's forgiveness, which makes us new creatures," he said. "The crucified and risen Jesus definitively revealed the sin of human beings, unmasked it, and made forgiveness and reconciliation possible."

The Vatican has maintained a diplomatic silence as Christians are facing unprecedented persecution from Hindu fundamentalists as hundreds of thousands of Hindus in India are converting to Christianity. 

The concepts of the human family or human rights do not exist in Vedic Hinduism.

Twelve states in India have legislation criminalizing religious conversions. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has described such policies as "inconsistent with freedom of religion or belief under international human rights law."

According to Open Doors, these laws "purport to prevent forced conversions from Hinduism but, in reality, create an environment where any Christian who shares their faith can be accused of a crime, intimidated or assaulted."

In May 2023, the Vatican's Dicastery for Interfaith Dialogue joined with representatives from the Hindu Forum of Europe and the Italian Hindu Union for a meeting on the theme of "Hindus and Christians in Europe: Building together a 'fraternity-based new humanism.'"

Speaking to Church Militant, Fr. Victor Borde, an eminent scholar of Hinduism and the author of The Purusha Suktam: An A-Religious Inquiry Into a Sacred Text, debunked the flawed premises on which the Hindu-Christian dialogue was based.

"The concepts of the human family or human rights do not exist in Vedic Hinduism," Borde noted, explaining how the so-called Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam concept is a contradiction in terms, given Hinduism's rigid caste system, which is intrinsic to the religion.

"Rather, each caste has its own rights and duties. Accordingly, one cannot establish equal relationships with the people of other castes (jati). There are set rules for each caste and sub-caste that should not be breached," Borde elaborated. 

"There are severe punishments laid down in the Vedic Hindu scriptures (including pouring molten metal into the ears or cutting off the tongues of lower caste Hindus) for such breaches. These are still believed in and practiced in India," the priest-scholar pointed out. 

After the Vatican released pictures of Pope Francis embracing Modi in November 2021, the pontiff came under fire for promoting dialogue with Hindu nationalists. Memes on social media compared the embrace to the "kiss of Judas," Church Militant reported.

Indian Catholics posted memes dovetailing Francis' meeting with Modi with propaganda images released by the Nazi regime showing photographs of Adolf Hitler warmly greeting high-ranking Vatican officials with the caption: "History repeats itself."