A Rebuttal to Fr Dominic Emmanuel’s call – ‘Help us to Help them’

published on June 8, 2010

Director of the Delhi Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church Domminic Emmanuel in his Article titled ‘Help us Help them’ published in Indian Express, calls Hindu organisations to work together with Christian Missionaries for uplifting tribals and there by to tackle Maoist menace.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja in her hard hitting Rebuttal exposes the nefarious agenda of Christian Missionaries and debunks their hollow claims of service in the name of Jesus.

‘Help us help them’ Fr Dominic Emmanuel (IE-7th June) has based his out reach for help on three major premises.


1 -  That the Roman Catholic Church is a civil society too and ‘unlike some other NGOs, it is willing to help tackle the Maoists in tribal areas’. He already starts with a judgmental attitude-‘unlike the others’(reminds me of the Pharisee and the Publican) he upholds the Roman Catholic Church as willing! He finds a lacuna in the two prong strategy suggested to deal with the Maoists unrest and violence-namely development as the long term measure and military /police action as a short term measure to arrest the violence. That lacuna the Roman Catholic Church will fill.

Let’s presume that Fr Dominic wants to add the civil society (read RC) as the third force to the Centre and the State forces which on the surface appears seems harmless. But scratch the surface it smacks of an arrogance founded on untruths and distorted history-a holier than thou attitude.

What is the logic for this reach out “Help us to help them”?

That the development record of the tribal areas has showed remarkable “development” especially in the area of literacy and education thanks to the committed activities of the missionaries.?  So Miroram has a  95.percent literacy, Manipur 68.87, Meghalaya 63.31 and Nagaland 66.11 percent. This is really a record achievement because all these States then stand above the National average. He also points out that this educational development has to be seen against the background of the committed activities of the missionaries. They averted violent struggle and ensured upliftment of the tribals.

Against this background one is tempted to ask Fr Dominic then what went wrong. From averting violent struggle to now bloodletting and killing of the innocents. From upliftment which the missionaries ensured of the tribals the down slide is because of lack of development that there is unrest and disillusionment. So how did the resultant of the committed activities of the missionaries evaporated? Were they empowered to violence? Did the missionary activities empower them to kill the innocents? Is Fr Dominic toying with ‘liberation theology’? Jesus did not preach or engage himself in violence for liberation? He took upon himself all the violence. Yet the Catholic Church has a history of violence and persecution. If after the committed activities of the missionaries resulted in violence and deprivation of the tribals then what is the logic in inviting others to: ‘Help us to help them point? Why should this help be channelised through the Roman Catholic Church?

2 – On the stereotyping of conversion

The appeal then to “Help us-(the committed missionaries) to help them (the already empowered tribals)  What was all this empowerment then meant to be if it was not directed chiefly  to conversion? With such a high literacy rate they are not able to stand? The fact is that the committed activities gave them literacy and a bible but kept them impoverished. It is just not the same stereotype repetition that missionaries are out to convert gullible masses- it is recorded history of this country. It is experiential declaration – it is simply stating what the reality is. This cannot be denied by brushing it aside as stereotype repetition. The very word ‘missionary’ already denotes one who is a proselytizer. That development work is a side business something which Fr Dominic cannot deny. The North Eastern States today with almost a 90-95 percent Christians speaks volumes. What happened to their tribal religion and culture? Are we to believe that the tribals opted for the religion of those who empowered them? One is reminded of East Timor

3 -  The reference to Goa

Fr Dominic Emmanuel tries to paint a rosy picture of the Catholic Church engaged in educating the uneducated Indians. But mention of Goa does not auger well for this exchange because Fr Dominic cannot hide the Inquisition and the forced conversion, the destruction of thousands of temples and the idols and the building of churches. This is also missionary activities engaged by the Catholic Church. Fr Dominic is very generous to add that, “If there were conversions, indeed as there were, and will continue to be, then it was by those who freely chose to embrace  the religion of those who gave them human dignity and made them stand for their fundamental human rights. May be Fr Dominic thinks that we are unaware of  the state of affairs in the Catholic church of the Schedule Castes ( ‘dalits’) Either Fr Dominic is ignorant of history- I mean Church history or he thinks that others are, and tries to depict the ‘committed activities’ of the Catholic church as those of a  benevolent patron instilling of empowerment for human rights into the dehumanized and savage Indians.

Fr Dominic needs to please check on world history if the Church bestowed human rights wherever it went to ‘educate’ and to uplift ‘ the poor. For the sake of recapitulating –the Bible of the Roman Catholic Church(there are different bibles upheld by different churches) clearly depicts how Jesus stood against the religious leaders and the civil authorities precisely because both these denied human rights. And hence both conspired and crucified him.

Coming to history of our country we were not savages.

Christianity is only 2000 years old but Hinduism is the oldest and most ancient religion which did not believe in a God who is tyrannical. It was a sum total of all the exalted spiritual experiences of sages and saints.It was/and is an inclusive pluralism and holistic Catholicism. It was built on freedom and not straitjacketed to believe only what the Roman Catholic Church religious leader Pope believed in.

India ’s spirituality had also the traditional knowledge be it astronomy, astrology, medicine-ayurveda and a host of traditional sciences-integrated with Spirituality. It is in this rich and learned milieu that the Roman Catholic Church descends to ‘educate’ and uplift. But what was its first and primary motive-destroy, demolish and then convert. Injected an exclusivism – Vatican ’s God is the only God , Vatican ’s knowledge need to percolate and run down in bits and starts. Vatican ’s authority must reign supreme with Vatican ’s God. Is this Human rights foundation? Is this empowerment of people? Is this individual uniqueness to experience God and seek Him in one own’s culture and locale?

The same story goes on. India ’s Constitution was not given by Rome or the Roman Catholic Church neither was it inspired by it. The brutal burning and the killing of the Jews- the decimating of whole nations of people down the centuries is the parampara of the Roman Catholic church-that the Pope goes on asking forgiveness, and here is Fr Dominic holding forth on “the work of education began by Francis Xavier and the Jesuits in the sixteen century in Goa continued later in the 18th century by William Carey in Bengal, and which goes on to this day, has been all for development of the subcontinent-and after independence for the poor and backward classes of India” There seem to be a new version and a new script-with of course gaps. It  is a tragedy that  Fr Dominic looks upon the activities of the missionaries as making us stand on our feet and enabling us to demand our human fundamental rights. This is an insult to the people of India coming from one of the Roman Catholic clergy. India was much ahead….we did not have to wait for Rome to tell us that the world was round. It is in the god-filled ethos of our country that the missionaries started their persecution because of their belief that they must convert. The denial of Human Rights, the suppression of freedom of speech and worship, the killings and the massacres, the destruction of our culture, the persecution the oppression and the coercion to convert to Christianity are all quietly buried by Fr Dominic. This is like white washing the tombs wherein lay the decaying and the worm eaten corpses. No wonder Jesus called the religious leaders as white washed tombs.

4 -  It is uncharitable that Fr Dominic indicts the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and other outfits as being paranoid and wants them to shed it and “join hands with us in eliminating the menace of Maoists violence”. 

People are not that maroons-who created the Maoists menace and violence now why invite the others to help  to eliminate it? Fr Dominic forgets that he had accepted the committed missionary activities the Christians were engaged in and now suddenly after the brutal attacks by the Maoists which had the support of the local bishop and the so called Human Rights activists find themselves unable to put back the genie which they released.

Fr Dominic needs to answer who was responsible for the brutal massacre of Swami Laxmanantha and his three ashramities right within his Ashram. Was he also not working for the uplift of tribals? Instead of helping him to help them why was he done away with? Now only the backlash is being highlighted.

It must be granted that all must unite at least for the future to work together –

this calls for certain clarifications- Is Fr Dominic representing all the Christian churches or only the Roman Catholic Church? He is aware of the kind of work the Evangelical churches are engaged in? Does he hold a brief for them- or is his appeal exclusively from the Roman Catholic Church to the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and others to “Help us to help them”. This has to be clearly elucidated. What is the meaning of ‘the Roman Catholic Church is ‘civil society’ too? After all the ‘Help us help them’ casts a shadow because from the 16th century having worked for development and uplift of the poor and after Independence the committed activities continued and now to say that we need to come together, and join hands “to free those areas not only of Maoists / Naxals violence but also to provide freedom to our tribals from hunger, disease and darkness of ignorance which keeps them under-developed and out of the main stream”. There are glaring contradictions from what has been told of the committed missionary activities including the highest literacy levels and now this dismal picture of gloom and deprivation calls for accountability. Where had all the funds gone and towards what? The ‘civil’ society –the NGOs, the different Churches which empowered the downtrodden to stand for their human rights are equally accountable as the Government of India for the total failure- callousness, indifference and anti-people policies.

Into this cauldron Fr Dominic’s invite “Help us to help them” seems to be pathetically a melodrama.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja

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