2012 in review

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4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 53,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals

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Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel
Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

              The contemporary period begins with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Peace of Westphalia was a treaty that ended the thirty years war (1618-1648) between the Catholics and the Protestants. The war started with the election of the catholic Jesuit educated Ferdinand II as the emperor and king of Bohemia. The Protestants appealed to the emperor for protection and a guarantee of their religious liberties. Receiving no satisfaction they revolted against the king. In 1618 they (Bohemian rebels) declared Ferdinand deposed and elected a Protestant Frederick as their king. This caused a conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants all over Germany.  Later the Protestants in Denmark and Sweden also became involved in this war.

            In the beginning the Catholics were successful, later the Protestants with the support of France won. After thirty years of war peace was settled on 24 October 1648. As a result of this treaty a principle “cujus regio ejus religio” was adapted. The treaty also ratified the confiscation of ecclesiastical property. It provided certain absurd religious arrangements, whereby some dioceses were to be held alternately by Catholics and Protestants.  Pope Innocent X (1649 55) protested vehemently against this treaty.

            Peace of Westphalia marked the end of a period of history and the beginning of a new, whereby the Catholic Church became one of the several Christian Churches. Internal politics were now carried on without reference to Rome. Religion had become a private affair and was driven out of political and social life. It led to the process of secularization, the characteristic of modern history.

In the years following the treaty of Westphalia, the position of papacy was an extremely difficult one.  The popes of this period witnessed a definite decline in the political prestige and ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Curia.  The catholic rulers of Europe exerted powerful influence in the election of popes. They often humiliated the popes by exerting their superior political power.  State absolutism opposed the freedom and privileges of the church.

1. Decline of the Church and the Absolute State.

            The decline of the Church and the growth of the absolute state power are the two characteristics of the 17th and 18th centuries. The rulers in the catholic countries looked upon religion as a political concern. They felt that it was their right to control the church through the power of appointing members of the hierarchy and binding them closely to themselves. The interference of the popes in the domestic affairs of the state was considered as an illegitimate foreign intrusion. The popes of this period were generally good, but they granted concessions to make peace between Rome and the catholic kings.

Gallicanism was a typical example of the absolute power of the state. It means that the king has absolute power in his state to control the church. It came to a most complete expression in France in the 17th century but it was also realized in one way or another in almost every catholic country

            Gallicanism as a programme adopted whatever measures increased the independence of the national church and lessened the papal authority in the country.  These measures could be to increase the authority of bishops -Episcopal Gallicanism –which found its justification in the council of Constance (1414- 17) and Basel (1431) or to increase the royal power over the national church –Royal Gallicanism. As an attitude Gallicanism was the religious manifestation of nationalism. It was a tendency to ignore Rome and to develop a peculiarly “national church”. As a doctrine Gallicanism held that the pope was subject to a general council and his authority over the church in foreign countries is limited.

History of Gallicanism

In the beginning of the seventeenth century several French theologians and canonists began to decrease the importance of the pope. They refused to consider the pope a universal bishop and demanded superiority of the general council over the pope and maintained that the council could be convened even without the pope. They concluded that the pope was in no way omnipotent and that natural law and even the civil law of Christian nations placed limits upon his authority. Yet the French theologians unanimously acknowledged the true primacy of the pope, his universal authority and his position as the center of the unity of Christians.

The claims of political gallicanism had been formulated in 1594 by Pierre Pithou, a lawyer of the French parliament. According to him the king had the right to rule over his clergy and to convoke national councils. The pope could not interfere in the affairs of the church without the permission of the king. He could not excommunicate the king or his official nor could he absolve the subjects from obedience to the king. Another author Pierre de Marca limited papal infallibility to those matters which received the consent of the church. He defended the right of the king to censure ecclesiastics in his country

Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France (1624) advanced this theory. He wanted to suppress episcopal gallicanism and to strengthen royal gallicanism. He promised the king that he would make him an absolute ruler. His aim was to make French church into a patriarchate with himself as its head. But he died before it was taken place (1642).

Gallicanism under Louis XIV (1643-1715 ruler 1660 1715)

A revival of gallican ideas can be perceived from the beginning of rule of Louis XIV.  He believed that he was a divinely instituted ruler over the church and the state. Hence he admitted no limitations on his power. In 1661 the Flemish Jesuit Coret challenged his authority and defended divinely instituted infallibility of the pope. Louis branded this theory as the new heresy of the Jesuits.

            In the following years there occurred certain events that favoured gallicanism and created an antipapal feeling in France.

1. The violent confrontation between the Corsican guards and the French soldiers. The confrontation took place on 20 August 1662 near the French embassy in Rome. Louis  then  expelled the papal nuncio and declared Avignon and Venesian County annexed to France. He even threatened to attack Italy. Pope Alexander VII (1655 1667) apologized and punished the guards and erected a monument to commemorate the event. This event though apparently had no doctrinal significance had been made use of by Louis to create antipapal feeling in France.

2. The right of regalia. It was the right the French king enjoyed during the vacancy of a diocese to receive its revenues (temporal) and to appoint benefices (candidates). In France this had been limited to a few dioceses and Lyons 11 (1274) had forbidden further extension. On 10 February 1673 Louis declared that it was an inherent and inalienable right of the king and he extended it over all dioceses of France. 118/120 bishops supported the king. Pope Innocent XI (1676-89) condemned it.

In 1682 a general assembly of the clergy was convoked to settle the question. It recognized the right of the king to extend the right of regalia to all dioceses and suggested that the candidates presented by the king should be canonically installed. This assembly approved the four Gallican Articles formulated by Bossuet, bishop of Meaux:

1) The church and the pope have no power over the temporal rulers. They cannot depose the king nor release the subjects from obedience to the king.

2) The exercise of papal power is limited by the customs and privileges of the gallican church.

3) The papal power is limited by a general council.

4) The pope has the chief voice in deciding the questions of faith but he needs the consent of the whole church.

The king ordered that these articles be taught in all seminaries and formally subscribed to by everyone taking a degree in theology. Pope Innocent XI condemned the assembly and the articles. He refused to confirm the appointment as bishop anyone who attended the assembly. Louis insisted on nominating only those who participated the assembly. Therefore by 1687 there were some thirty sees vacant.

3. The Embassy dispute. The embassies in Rome claimed the right of asylum not only to the embassies themselves but also for a large district surrounding the buildings. This created difficulties for the police authorities. Pope Innocent XI limited this right to the embassy and its gardens. All European countries except France conformed. The pope excommunicated those who acted contrary to the decree. In spite of having been excommunicated, the new French Ambassador Marquis de Lavardin entered Rome and had the sacraments administered to himself at the church of San Luigi dei Francesi on 24 December 1687. As a result the church was interdicted. At the beginning of January 1688 Innocent XI secretly informed Louis that he and his ministers had been excommunicated. The king immediately took several countermeasures. He occupied Avignon and Venesian County and appealed to a general council. He jailed the papal nuncio and forbade the bishops any and all correspondence with Rome. During the next pontificate (Alexander VIII (1689-91) Louis returned the papal territories and consented to the restriction of the right of asylum due to the popular demand.

In 1693 a Louis withdrew his edict compelling the acceptance of the four gallican articles. In return pope Innocent X11 (1691-1700) confirmed the king’s nominees. All bishops chosen after 1682 signed a retraction: “we profess and declare that we are extremely grieved at what happened in the assembly of 1682 which is so displeasing to your Holiness and your predecessors. Hence we hold and affirm that all declarations issued by the assembly against the power of the church and the authority of the pope are herewith rescinded.” The conflict thus ended and the danger of a French schism vanished. But Gallicanism continued until the 19th century and it was adopted by other countries especially Holland, Germany, Austria and Tuscany. It not only weakened the papacy but led to a too great dependence of the church on the absolute state.

Heretical Movements.

In the following years after the Peace of Westphalia it was France that was the principal cause of Church’s anxiety. After the condemnation of Lutherinism in 1520, small groups of Protestants began to form in various towns.  During the time of Henry 11 (1547-59) Calvinism began to establish in France. Henry II was killed and in the struggle of the different factions to control the regency the religious division received a new importance. For forty years there was the conflict between the Catholics and the Calvinists. It is called wars of religion (1562-1598). During this period many Catholics were massacred. Catholic churches were sacked and destroyed (about 20.000). The Catholics rose against this. Henry 111 (1574-1589) was stabbed by a mad Dominican. His successor Henry IV (1589-1610) submitted to the church. There now began in France a revival of catholic life in all its forms.

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) founded a new Congregation of the Visitation. He wrote the famous book “Introduction to the devout life” and “treatise on the love of god”, one of the masterpieces of mystical theology.  These books served for the general revival of the life of prayer. The Order of Visitation (cofounder was Jane Francis de Chantal) was originally conceived as a partially active congregation without complete claustration, but in 1618, impelled by the archbishop of Lyon, it had to change into a contemplative order with ceremonious public vows. They then took over educational tasks.

            During this period there were attempts to reform the life of the clergy. Cardinal de Berulle founded the French Oratory. Two other orders  -Eudists, founded by  St. John Eudes (1611-80), the company of St. Sulpice, founded by Jean Jacques Olier- were also founded to supply well instructed and well informed parochial clergy.

            One of the greatest organizers of works of charity, who ever lived, was St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). He with St. Louise de Marillac founded sisters of Charity and the order of Lazarists

In those years another benevolent society -Company of the Blessed Sacrament -was founded.  Though it included priests and bishops among its members, it was under lay direction. It was the generosity of the member of this league that made possible many of the ventures of St. Vincent and the formation of Foreign Missions in 1663.

The spiritual revival of France was checked by certain heretical movements. The first among them was Jansenism.

1 Jansenism

Jansenism was a pernicious movement that disturbed the religio-ecclesiastical life of France in the 17th century. It tried to infiltrate Calvinistic thought into catholic theology and piety. It held the doctrine of predestination. It killed the prayer to the saints, practice of frequent communion etc.

Its cause was Cornelius Jansen, professor of theology at the university of Louvain and later bishop of Ypres. His book “Augustinus” seu doctrina  Augustini de humanae naturae sanitate aegretudine, medicina adversus Pelagianos et Massilienses” repeated the opinions of Michael Baius (+1589). Baius asserted that the preternatural and supernatural gifts with which Adam was endowed at creation were natural to him and therefore that original sin was more than a deprivation, it was a disorderly act which corrupted the human nature and renders it incapable of doing good.  For him free will is nothing but concupiscence (desire for worldly things). In his fallen state man can do nothing but sin. Pope Pius V (1566-1572) condemned these opinions by “Ex omnibus affectionibus” on 1 October 1567.

The book Augustinus was widely spread in Holland and France. In summer 1621 Jansen met Jean Ambrose Duvergier de Hauranne, a Frenchman, at the college of Saint Pulcherie in Louvain. Hauranne became the abbot of St. Cyran and wanted to reform caitholic life in the sense of “Augustinus”. Other leaders who supported Jansen was Antoine Arnauld (+1649), priest and theologian, the Cistercian nuns of Port-Royal of Paris where Antoine was confessor and his sister Angelique was abbess. Port-Royal was founded in 1204 by the wife of a soldier of the fourth crusade to obtain from heaven the safe return of her husband in the valley of Chevreuse. It was not enclosed, the members were free to come and go out. Mother Angelique was a daughter of a rich man who had eight daughters. Angelique (former name -Jacquiline) became coadjutrix of Port-Royal at the age of eight and her sister at the age of six. The phrase applied to these nuns is: “angelic in appearance but moved with pride of Lucifer”.

            The principal opponents of Jansenism were the Jesuits. Antoine Arnauld wrote a book De la frequente communion (1643) in which he severely criticized the practice of frequent communion as recommended by the Jesuits. He laid down very strict conditions for absolution and reception of communion. Sacrament of Penance is valid only with perfect contrition. Absolution must be withheld until the penance is performed. Holy Communion should be received only a few times a lifetime. No one is worthy to receive it. Respectful abstention from communion honours Christ more than frequent reception. The abbot of St. Cyran wrote to a nun who was saddened by not receiving communion during her illness: “You will soon understand that you do more for yourself by not going to Holy Communion than by going”.

Eighty-eight bishops urged by St. Vincent de Paul requested the pope to examine the book Augustinus. On 31 May 1653 Innocent X by his bull “cum occasione” condemned five propositions as heretical.

1. Some of the commandments of God cannot be observed by the just because they do not have the necessary grace to do so.

2. In the present state of corrupted nature man cannot resist the action of interior grace

3. Merit or demerit presupposes freedom from physical constraint not freedom from interior necessity.

4. The semipelagians erred when they taught that human will can resist or respond to grace.

5. It is semipelagian error to say that Christ died for all men.

As authentic Christians the Jansenists could not openly oppose the condemnation. They denied that the propositions were the teaching of Jansen. They distinguished between “questio juris and questio facti”. The church is infallible when she decides a matter of faith (whether a doctrine is heretical or not), but she is not infallible when she pronounces on a mere fact that has not been revealed (whether an author ever held this opinion or not or whether it is certain that a theologian taught this or that doctrine). In the latter case she cannot demand interior consent, but only a reverential or respectful silence.

Pope Alexander VII declared in 1656 that the five propositions had been taken from Jansen’s work and had been condemned in the sense in which the author had used them. Then the French bishops drew up a formula of faith to be signed by those who had refused to submit. Then the Jansenists claimed that only the pope had the right to exact such subscription. Therefore the pope issued a new constitution in 1664 with a similar formula. Louis XIV for political reasons supported the pope and opposed the Jansenists. But in spite of these measures many refused to sign it. The nuns of Port-Royal were debarred from receiving sacraments and in 1664 the archbishop of Paris placed their convent under interdict.

The four bishops of Alet, Angers, Beauvais and Pamiers first refused to sign the papal formula on the grounds that the pope is not infallible in the matters of fact. They signed a much moderated formula. When the king and the pope decided to take action against them nineteen more declared publicly that they agreed with the four bishops. The crisis was solved by a compromise known as the Clementine Peace in 1670. The Jansenist bishops agreed to sign the formula.

The Clementine peace lasted thirty years (1670-1700). During this period Jansenism spread among the diocesan clergy and it can be considered an underground movement in the French Church. Many held Jansen’s teaching to be true. Once again Port-Royal became fashionable. Many were influenced by the men and women of Port-Royal who were described as the angels on earth, saints descended from heaven.

In the beginning of the 18th century the Jansenist controversy was revived and again disturbed the French church for almost thirty years. In 1701 a new pamphlet -case of conscience -appeared. The question was whether absolution could be given to a penitent who maintained a respectful silence on the matter of Jansen’s teaching and signed the Papal formulary with the mental reservation that the five propositions were not to be found in Jansen. This became the subject of discussion among the professors of Sorbonne. Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) condemned it in 1703. At the request of Louis XIV he formally condemned the attitude of respectful silence by the bull Vineam Domini of 15 July 1705. In it he declared that a respectful silence was not enough but that the five sentences of Jansen had to be abjured with mouth and heart. However the bull did not have the desired effect. The clergy in their general assembly in 1705 declared that the constitutions of popes oblige the universal church only when the bishops give their assent. The pope’s disapproval of this declaration passed unnoticed. Since the nuns of Port-Royal refused to accept the bull  the convent was again placed under interdict in 1707. In 1709 the government suppressed the community and the building was demolished (1710-12).

            Perhaps the papal decree might have ended the jansenist trouble. But meanwhile a learned Oratorian Paschasius Quesnel (1719) published a book “reflexiones morales sur le Nouveau Testament”- moral reflections on the NT in revised edition in 1693. It met with an enthusiastic reception, but was condemned by pope Clement X1 in 1708. It insinuated Jansenism into a set of pious reflections made on each verse of the NT. Cardinal Louis Antoine de Noailles, archbishop of Paris, who as bishop of Chalons-sur Marne, had approved and recommended the book in 1695, now had to withdraw the approval

At the request of the king, pope Clement XI examined the book and issued the bull Unigenitus on 8 September 1713, in which he condemned 101 propositions taken from the Reflexiones. Four French bishops refused to accept the bull. Noailles appealed to a future pope better informed and to a general council. The universities of Paris, Nantes and Reims joined him. France was divided into two camps -the acceptants and the appellants. By the bull Pastoralis officii of 28 August 1718 the pope excommunicated the appellants. But the appellants appealed against the new bull and declared the ex­communication null and void. Finally cardinal Noailles in October 1728 declared his unconditional acceptance of the bull. Many followed his example. With this submission Jansenism as an organized movement came to an end. But Jansenism lived on in individuals and it harassed the church throughout the 18th century. It was one of the factors that led to the suppression of the Society of Jesus.

At this point the brilliant highly talented mathematician, philosopher and apologist, Blaise Pascal (+1662) – his sister was a nun in Port-Royal- wrote the letters provinciales (1656-57) against the Jesuits. It was placed on the index in 1657 and was forbidden in France by a royal decree of 1660, but the effect of the work was damaging and lasting. The Jesuits were discredited in France and in all Europe.

The magistrates of the parliament or courts interfered in the affairs of the church. In 1733 for example when certain priests in the diocese of Orleans tried to make the parishioners subscribe to the bull Unigenitus, the parliament called their conduct abusive and requested their bishop to restrain them. The most important quarrel was over the giving of last sacrament to those who refused to accept Unigenitus. Some priests refused to do so, and the parliament took legal action against them. Archbishop Christopher de Beaumont was ordered to appear before the parliament of Paris because he refused to revoke the regulation requiring subscription to unigenitus for receiving the last sacraments. The archbishop’s temporal possessions were confiscated, he was exiled from Paris and priests were forbidden to refuse the last sacraments to recalcitrant. A compromise was reached in 1756 when Pope Benedict XIV required obedience to Unigenitus but stated that the last sacraments need not be denied to any but notorious public sinners.

A small group of jansenists broke away from the church and set up a schismatic group still in existence, the Old Catholics of Holland. In 18th century it did much harm to the Church in France. It introduced into catholic circles a strong puritan note which robbed Catholicism of its richness and its full development.

            Jansenism was based on a certain doctrine of justification that proposed rigorous views of human nature and the role of grace in man’s salvation. Jansenists were austere in their morality and they considered any one opposed to them as corrupted enemies of God. Their aim was to purify the Church of all accretions since the time of the primitive Fathers.


Quietism was another heretical movement within the church in France in the 17th century. It also exaggerated and distorted the doctrine of St. Augustine. Jansenism bowed man to the ground before a dreadful God who according to His whim, called some and rejected others. Jansenist morality clouded over and dried up the heart, Quietism reached conclusions much less pessimistic; as they deviated in favour of softness as opposed to the harshness of Port­-Royal. It was a natural but extreme reaction to the stress laid on the activity and the role of the will by the Jesuits and the Vincentians.

This movement began in Rome where a Spanish priest Michael Molinos (1628-1696) had for sometime been spiritual director of a group. Molinos was in Rome as the procurator in the beatification cause of Jeronimo Simon. He was highly regarded there. Even pope Innocent XI thought well of him. In 1675 he published a book called “A spiritual guide” in Spanish and Italian. It was also translated into Latin, French and German. In 1685 he was arrested by the Inquisition and two years later Innocent XI condemned 68 propositions from his book.

The spirituality of Quietism culminated in two fundamental themes: absolute passivity and contemplation in complete spiritual tranquility. The soul must aim at mystic death, annihilation in God; allowing God to substitute Himself for the Ego and to dominate the whole being. The soul should have no desire, should make no act of love. In fact every act is displeasing to God because it interrupts the state of passive resignation. Devotion itself is harmful if it is addressed to the visible e.g. the humanity of the Man-­Christ, the Blessed Virgin or the saints. Thus one way only was offered to the mystical soul: the inward way. The purgative way was no longer necessary: away with asceticism.

Molinos taught that man must annihilate his will and all his powers so that God is perfectly free to act in the soul. The aim of spiritual life consists in such passivity of the soul that it no longer desires salvation, virtue of perfection, but rests in God without any activity or volition of its own. The perfect state of soul is one of complete passivity. For him it is wrong to resist temptation for this is a positive act of will. In the state of annihilation the soul no longer sins. Vocal prayers, mortification and struggle against temptation are not necessary for a soul that has achieved such passivity.

            After a long trial Molinos was sentenced to imprisonment for life. He accepted it humbly and silently. He passed the last nine years of life, until 1696, in prison. At this time a widow Madame Guyon (1648-1717) and her spiritual director Fr. Lacombe (1643-1712) made quietism an important movement in France. Guyon was somewhat unbalanced and claimed to have visions like St. Therese of Avila, when she was five years old and aspired to martyrdom. She said that ‘with a large needle’ she had sewn on her flesh a piece of paper bearing the name of Jesus!  She was physically and psychologically abnormal. She married a man 22 years senior to her. On the day after the wedding she declared amidst tears that marriage was to her a hateful sacrifice and that she would rather have been a nun. She lived in a mystical delight which made her forget her real life. She claimed that the Child Jesus had placed on her finger the visible ring of mystical marriage. She together with Lacombe moved from place to place and spread the quietist ideas and attracted considerable attention. She wrote a treatise called Moyen court et tres facile de faire oraison -easy and short ways for prayer. Bishops asked her to leave their dioceses. Finally the archbishop of Paris had her arrested in 1686. Lacombe was also imprisoned for alleged immorality and errors. He died insane.

Charges against Guyon’s moral conduct were never proved. She said that she would abandon her ideas as soon as they were declared false. So there seemed no reason to fear her orthodoxy. After her release, she met Fenelon, the future archbishop of Cambrai who regarded her as a holy woman. When the old rumours about her character and doctrine circulated again, the bishops decided to examine the case more thoroughly. She was arrested. Bossuet, bishop of Noailles studied the case, and drew up 34 articles in which her errors were condemned. Fenelon also signed it.

Quietism did not end when Guyon accepted the condemnation of 1690 because Fenelon and Bossuet continued the dispute. In 1699 pope Innocent XII ended the dispute by condemning 23 propositions taken from Fenelon’s writings. Fenelon submitted with his famous statement: “Please God, it may even be said of us that a pastor ought to bear in mind that he must be more docile than the least of his sheep”. Fenelon read his own condemnation from the pulpit. This put an end to quietism in France, but it damaged the contemplative life.

Decline of the Church and Secularism

In 17th and 18th.centuries the Church lost the initiative in cultural and intellectual life. And it was taken by people who styled themselves as scientists, artists or economists rather than as christians. As a result of this, the western culture was controlled by those who were not directly influential by the church. This phenomenon is labeled secularism. By this, various functions formerly performed by the church were turned over to worldly institutions.

During this period, though there were good popes, they were not able to give the church a forceful leadership. The most capable men of the age were civilians. Their aim was to make the church impotent in everything except the matter of private devotion. As a result of this, religion was pushed more and more out of man’s life, out of his social and political life, out of cultural affairs, out of art and literature and finally out of man’s very consciousness except for stated hours of worship each week. Now we shall study some of these secularizing movements. France was the centre of all these movements. From there it spread to other countries.

The Enlightenment

Different terminology: Lumieres (French)

Illuminarismo (Italian)

Aufklarung (German)

The Enlightenment is a way of thinking and acting that ignores and even denies the existence of the supernatural order, revolts against all kinds of dogma, and basing itself exclusively on experience and reason, elaborates a naturalistic and rationalistic conception of the world and life (Villoslada).

Here reason was given absolute sovereignty. Nature takes the place of God and physical laws replace providence. Faith was subverted in the revealed religion. But it had also some positive and beneficial results. It opposed the superstitions and unreasonable incredulity. It exerted great influence on education. It also induced the governments to exercise tolerance towards various religions. It fostered a new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in various positive sciences. It created humanitarian interests which resulted in greater material wellbeing.

This movement originated in England in the 17th century. Then it passed to France and Germany. The English philosopher Francis Bacon (+1626) was the one who prepared the way for this movement. He completely divorced reason from revelation, faith from knowledge. He opposed scholasticism. For him the kingdom of man (earthly happiness) has no bond with a supreme being.

The other English men of Enlightenment were:

            Lord Herbert of Cherbury (+1648)

            John Locke (1630-1704)

            Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

            David Hume (+1776)

            In France the enlightenment did greater harm. Ferdinand Brunetiere says “the 18th century became the most unchristian and the least French of any century in France’s history. In France the most powerful writer was Pierre Bayle (1647-1706). For him not only revealed religion but even natural religion is incompatible with reason. He wrote a book: the historical and critical Dictionary (1695-97).

The chief representative of this movement in France was Voltaire (1694-1778). As a gifted writer and superficial thinker he ridiculed all that is noble and sublime. He wanted to destroy all positive religions especially catholic church. His bitterness towards the church was expressed in his words: “crush the infamous”.

Rousseau (1712-1778) was less hostile towards religion. He became catholic in 1728 and remained so until 1754. According to him true religion consists in the love of good and beautiful and contains only three dogmas: l. existence of God, 2. liberty, 3. immortality. In his book on Social contract he advocated the idea of democracy and sovereignty of the people.

In France the representatives of Enlightenment were called Encyclopedists. Between 1751 to 1780 an encyclopedia was published in France in 28 volumes plus 7 supplementary volumes. Most of the contributors were the representatives of enlightenment.

The Germans were attracted by the enlightenment towards the end of the 17th century. Their leader was Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716). Other leaders in Germany were Christian Wolf (1679-1754), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) etc. The German enlightenment reached its zenith during the reign of Frederick II. They published a book Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek (1765-1805) in 106 volumes. It was followed by many pernicious books. Some of the authors denied trinity and divinity of Christ eg. Edemann(+1767) Reimarus (+1788)  presented Moses and Christ as a pair of imposters.

The leading writers of the classical period of German national literature were Lessing (+1781), Herden (+1803), Weiland (+1813), Schiller (+1805) and Goethe (+1832). These people professed a monistic idealistic philosophy, a religion of humanity, which rejected Christianity as revelation and esteemed it only for its esthetic value.

The effects of the enlightenment

1. The new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in the various positive sciences and gave a new impetus to the spread and renewal of education at all levels.

2. Its humanitarian interests resulted in greater material wellbeing: great improvement in such matters as roads, new buildings, commerce etc.

3. Some of the pioneers were men of sincere faith, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Descartes, La Place (all catholics), Newton and Leibniz (Protestants). Newton believed that his scientific discoveries were communicated to him by the Holy Spirit.

It seems that the Church was not aware of the danger of this movement. The clergy neglected their pastoral duty. There were atheists and deists among the French clergy. The irreligious writings mounted and had penetrated every level of society.

The enlightenment differed slightly from country to country, but essentially it was the same everywhere. It was antireligious; it secularized morality by separating it from a personal God and from any religion. The church had no clever men to defend the religion. Therefore by the end of the 18th century there was a tendency to identify the church with ignorant peasants and the clerical class used to exploit them and to keep them subservient to an absolute monarch. Then the thinking people rebelled against established authority in the Church.


The philosophers, though followed different paths, formed a kind of friendly society within which they maintained constant intercourse, exchanging visits and carrying on a vast correspondence. There was thus a plentiful and fruitful encounter of ideas. Europe was the home of great minds determined to be “free”

As to the origin of freemasonry it derives from the journeymen builders who in the eleventh and twelfth centuries traveled from city to city, from site to site, in return for which popes and princes granted them certain privileges.  At that period and until the sixteenth century it was a religious corporation whose members bound themselves to be faithful to God and the church.  Virtually inactive everywhere, it took a new lease of life in England after the Great Fire of London in 1666, when the city had to be rebuilt. In London in 1717 a society was organized by stone masons who had been employed in the construction of St. Paul’s and other buildings. They accepted as members others who were not stone masons by trade. James Anderson, and Anglican clergyman drew up the constitution of the society in 1723, in which it was stated that the purpose was to foster humanity and brotherhood. It spread rapidly and was soon established in many cities -Madrid 1728, Paris 1732, Florence 1733, Lisbon, Hague, Rome 1735, Hamburg 1737, Berlin 1740, Vienna 1742. Their houses were known as lodges.

            The success of this movement was remarkable. Its members were recruited from the rich, the ruling classes and the enlightened circles. It was veiled in secrecy and rituals. Absolute secrecy was imposed on the members and various oaths were required of them. It has also a lure of a certain philosophical ideal, a certain spiritual aspiration and even a degree of mysticism.

            The question ‘whether freemasonry was antichristian’ is disputed. One thing is true that a large number of ecclesiastics were the members of it and they enjoyed the privilege of admission without inquiry as to their respectability, since their profession guaranteed their character. Priests, bishops and monks were its members. Towards the year 1789 a quarter of French freemasons were churchmen; and there is no reason to think that all of them were bad catholics. Great many of them saw no incompatibility between their faith and their Masonic membership. They even regarded freemasonry as a weapon to be employed in the service of religion.

The Jesuits were the first to feel uneasy about the Freemasonry Prompted by them the secular authority itself was hostile from time to time. Some bishops gave public approval to the action of parish priests who refused the sacrament or burial in consecrated ground to notorious freemasons. In 1738 Clement XII condemned freemasonry by his ball In eminenti, and thirteen years later Benedict XIV (1751) renewed it by his bull Providas Romanorum. This condemnation proved almost ineffective, the publication of the bull was prevented in France, no priest resigned from the society. Even in Rome the masons met almost without concealment.

Was freemasonry inimical to christianity? Strictly speaking no – at any rate not to any great extent.  there was no violent attack upon the dogmas of the church. They had pious declarations which reveal a strong attachment to the Mass as well as to Our Lady and the saints. A closer look at Masonic religion shows that it had nothing whatever to do with dogma or with an ecclesiastical established order. The rules drawn up by Anderson in the early days are quite explicit on this point: “Each Person may retain his personal beliefs, provided always he observes the precepts of the religion upon which all men are agreed and which enjoin him to be good, sincere, modest and honourable, no matter to what religious denomination he may belong”. So Masonic religion is clearly natural religion, purged of the dogmas, rites and symbols of christianity. Based on a form of Deism which recognizes the existence of a Great Architect, it allows Him no right of intervention in the spiritual and moral life and identifies His activity with that of reason. It is therefore fundamentally the doctrine of the philosophers. Consequently the church condemned it rightfully and dutifully.


            Febronianism is a movement in Germany which sponsored episcopalism, which is the theory that in the government of the church the supreme authority resides in the body of bishops. After the council of Trent the authority in the church was more centralized Ad Limina visits were made obligatory every five years, faculties reserved by bishops to dispense in cases reserved to the pope, had to be renewed every five years. The German bishops were not pleased with such arrangements. Febronianism resulted from the exploitation of these grievances.

Justinus Febronius was the pseudonym of John Nicholas von Hontheim (1701-1790), a brilliant prelate who had studied under Van Espen at the University of Louvain, then at the German college in Rome, and had finally been appointed coadjutor bishop of Trier. In 1763 he published a book de statu ecclesiae et legitima. potestate Romani pontificis  under the pseudonym Justinus Febronius. It was Rousseau’s Social Contract  applied to the church. According to Febronius, authority within the church belongs primarily to the community of the faithful (ecclesia) which possessed the power of the keys conferred by Christ. The pope has no right of jurisdiction, but only a primacy of honour.The bishops are the delegates of the community. The pope was simply the first among the equals and had no primacy. If the church wished it could designate this position to any other bishop, for Roman primacy was simply an administrative office conferred by the church on the pope. He denied papal infallibility. Primacy in the church rests with a general council and the pope is its administrative agent whose powers are limited by its decrees. The abuse of papal powers should be checked by a general council, by national synods and by the secular princes in each country. Febronius considered that the termination of papal abuses would restore Christianity to its original purity and enable dissenters to return to the bosom of the church. His book was translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

In 1764 pope Clement XIII condemned the book and placed it on the Index, but many bishops refused to publish the prohibition. At the earnest request of Pius VI and the insistence of his archbishop, Febronius agreed to publish a retraction of his theories, perhaps more formal than sincere; and he ended his long life at peace with the church.

Punctuation of Ems

In spite of the condemnation, Febronius’ ideas continued to prosper. The bishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier adopted them and tried to put them into effect. They took a stand publicly against usurpations on their jurisdiction by the Roman curia. In 1786 they issued twenty three decrees known as the punctuation of Ems in which they made strong demands for Episcopal ‘rights’ against Rome.

1. All exemptions from Episcopal authority enjoyed by convents and monasteries be suppressed.

2. Faculties granted to the bishops every five years be granted in perpetuum.

3. The Episcopal permission be required before papal acts were published in a diocese.

4. The Episcopal oath of office be replaced by a new one.

5. Papal primacy was based on the False Decretals. It was a forgery produced in the diocese of Rheims between 845 and 853 to provide law which could protect the rights of the bishops. In order to strengthen the argument, the authors invoked the principle of supremacy of the pope. Their intention was not to aid the papacy, but in fact it was the papacy which ultimately benefited most. The first pope who made use of it was Nicholas 1 (858-869).

6. They should no longer apply to the Holy See without the royal placet.

7. The pallium and annate taxes (first year’s revenue of See paid to the pope) would no longer be paid to the Curia. The pope and the nuncio Pacca stood firm. The outbreak of French Revolution and the invasion of Germany relegated everything else into the background.


In the second half of the 18th century there occurred a religious revolution, a systematic overthrow of all that the church believed inviolable. The reason was that the church was in a deteriorated situation which forced the state to intervene. In this period we find a tendency “enlightened despotism” that means the sovereigns would reform the church without reference to the pope. Josephism was a typical example of it.

              Maria Theresa (1740- 1780) was the mother of Joseph II. She was a prudent and pious woman and devotedly attached to the church. She began a series of reforms to improve the administration of her domains and promote the good of souls. These reforms were in harmony with the antireligious spirit of the age. She had forbidden the founding of new congregations, monasteries and convents or increasing of church property. Religious profession could not be made before the 24th year. The clergy were no longer to enjoy immunity from taxation. Papal enactments could not be published without the placet of the government. The number of holidays was reduced to 24 and the government assumed the censorship of the books, Higher studies were removed from the control of the clergy (Jesuits) and the universities were reorganized (1752) under the direction of the imperial physician Gerhard Van Swieten, a Dutch Jansenist. Since she was greatly loved by her people, her innovations were put into effect without much difficulty.

Joseph 11 (1780 1790)

Joseph dreamt of a unified strong Austrian state. He regarded the church as a mere cog in the state machine. He wanted to emancipate it from Rome and subject it to him. Thus he wanted to create a national church. He interfered in the church affairs fanatically. After 1781 he issued decrees in rapid succession. He fixed the umber of the candles at High Mass, regulated the use of incense, abolished a number of holidays, rearranged the parishes and dioceses in geometric fashion, closed hundreds of convents and monasteries (600) he  considered useless. He said: ‘being useless to the world they cannot please to God’.  One mass could be said daily in each church; the breviary was censored, the rosary was forbidden, and he amalgamated the confraternities.  He set up a commission which reorganized the seminaries (5 general seminaries) and ordered Mass to be said in German. Because of his interference in liturgical matters, Frederick of Prussia called him “the archsacristan of the holy Roman Empire”.

            Though Joseph made all these reforms he was not anti-catholic. The only thing he wanted to do was to remove certain things out of the domain of religion which never belonged to it. On certain occasions Joseph behaved as a good servant of the church. For example on one occasion he appointed 1500 carefully chosen priests to found parishes where there were none. He also struggled against superstitious practices and the sale of indulgences. He forbade the use of coffins which were to be replaced by funeral bags!

Cardinal of Vienna, Primate of Hungry etc. protested against these reforms vigourously. Pius VI went in person to Vienna in 1782 to check Joseph’s zeal for reform. But it was in vain. Joseph’s return visit in the following year was just as barren of results. It was only to obtain more concessions from the pope in the matter of episcopal appointment. Vigourous protests came also from the Belgian episcopacy. At the end of his life (20 Feb 1790) Joseph was forced to see the total failure of all his reform plans. He composed a melancholy epitaph for his tomb: “here lies a prince whose intentions were pure, but who had the misfortune to see all his projects fail”.

            Josephism was copied by some other rulers especially Leopold II of Tuscany, Joseph’s brother. Bishop Scipio Ricci of Pistoia cooperated with him. He convoked a synod at Pistoia in September 1786 and adopted a number of reform measures; four gallican articles were adopted, Quesnel’s moral reflexions were recommended. Devotion to Sacred Heart,  mass stipend etc were renounced. It was decided to banish all religious orders except one to be established after the model of Port- Royal.

            All other bishops except Ricci rejected the reform measures. They held a synod at Florence in April-May 1787. Leopold dissolved it. People were against the reforms, they attacked bishop Ricci, who resigned in 1791. Pope Pius VI condemned 85 propositions of Synod of Pistoia by the bull Auctorem fidei on 28 August 1794. After some years of refusal Ricci finally submitted in 1805. He retired and lived as a private person till his death in 1810.

The Suppression of the Society of Jesus (1773-1814)

            The suppression of the Society of Jesus shows how feeble the papacy had become under the pressure of the state power. The Jesuits had been rendering most valuable services to the Church in all fields since its origin in 1540. By the middle of the eighteenth century they had about 23,000 members, 800 houses, 700 colleges and 300 missions. It had become the most important and influential religious order in the church. They had also many enemies. The Gallicans and the Jansenists considered them as their chief enemy. Many of other religious orders were jealous of their greater power and influence in varlious fields. Many bishops especially in Spain and Portugal disliked them. Some of the enlightened thinkers like Voltaire considered the suppression of the Society the necessary first step toward destroying the effectiveness of the Church. Unfortunately the papacy was occupied by weak men at this time and eventually they agreed to suppress the society “for the sake of peace within church”.

The first blow against the Jesuits fell in Portugal.  The weak and immoral king Joseph Emmanuel (1750-1773) was completely under the influence of the ambitious and irreligious prime minister Marquis de Pombal. Pombal considered the Jesuits the cause of all ills in Portugal. An incident in the South American Jesuit states gave him an opportunity to act against them. As a result of a border treaty between Spain and Portugal 30,000 christian Indiana were forced to migrate in Paraguay, which Portugal obtained from Spain in 1750. The Indians were first resisted and were defeated and forced to submit (1756). Pombal blamed the Jesuits, their spiritual leader, for the natives’ resistance and began a systematic compaign of calumny against them. At the request of the Portuguese government pope Benedict XIV appointed Cardinal Saldanha, a relative of Pombal as a canonical visitor to the Society. Saldauha induced the Patriarch of Lisbon to suspend all Jesuits from preaching and hearing confession.

The Jesuits appealed to Rome. Then the Pombal forged a letter from the pope confirming Saldanha’s decision. The forgery was denounced at Rome. Then the Jesuits were accused of preaching regicide.  On 12 January 1759 all the Jesuits in Portugal were arrested. 221 superiors and other high-placed members had to spend the next 18 years -till Pombal’s death -in jail. Theothers were transported to the papal port of Civitavecchia, where they were unloaded “as a present to the pope”. Their houses, colleges and properties were confiscated. When the papal nuncio protested he was expelled and diplomatic relations with Rome was severed.

A similar fate befell on the Jesuits in France. The week king Louis XV was under the influence of Madame Pompadour, his mistress who hated the Jesuits because they refused to sanction her adulterous relationship with the king. She and others were waiting for an opportunity to discredit the Jesuits. It came in a curious way. The Jesuit mission at Martinique failed financially when its cargoes were captured by the English pirates early in the Seven Years’ War (1756). The principal creditor was Fr. La Vallette S.J. who undertook the sale of colonial products in Europe. The importing company in France (Lioney   Gauffre) sued the society as collectively responsible. La Valette left a big deficit and applied for money to the Jesuit Procurator General of the Missions. The Society refused to pay the debt. Then the Jesuits appealed to the parliament of Paris. The parliament decided that the society as a body was liable. The society also accused of participation in an assignation attempt on Louis XV in 1757. In August 1762 the parliament passed an act dissolving the Society in France. The king subscribed to it on 1 Dec. 1764. Their property was confiscated.

            The next blow was in Spain the stronghold of the Jesuits. When serious riots occurred in 1766, the minister Aranda convinced king Charles 111 (1759-1788) that the Jesuits were to blame for that. An enquiry was conducted in secrecy; no Jesuit was heard. All records of the proceedings were destroyed and decision reached was rendered without any reasons given. Sealed orders were dispatched throughout the kingdom with instructions to open them on the night of April 2, 1767. On the next morning every Jesuit in the country and the empire were arrested and transported to the Papal States.

The king of Naples (son of Charles III) suppressed the society in November 1767; also the Duke of Parma. All these rulers together demanded the pope to suppress the Society. Clement XIII refused. Then they began to confiscate the Papal States and threatened to depose the pope. Clement died while they planned to blockade Rome.

            The conclave lasted three months; 23 candidates were excluded on the grounds that they were favourable to the Jesuits. Finally Clement XIV (1769-1774) was elected.  He tried to delay the suppression but he yielded to the demands of the rulers and on 21 1 July 1773 he published a Brief “Dominus ac Redemptor” by which he suppressed the Society of Jesus. In this the Pope made no charges against the Jesuits and said that the “Church cannot enjoy true and lasting peace as long as the society remains inexistence”.

The Society continued to subsist in Prussia and Russia. In 1778 Pius VI sanctioned it. In 1801 Pius VII declared the society reestablished for the whole of Russia. They were allowed to accept novices and to live according to their rules. They were also allowed to enter other orders. In 1814 Pius VII (1800-1823) reestablished the society on a universal basis.

Trench Revolution

The 18th century was an exceedingly difficult period for the church in Europe. The church displayed the appearance of more decadence than of renewal. She possessed enormous wealth, countless and state support, but its authority was shaken. There was the disparity between the world and the church. The world was in the process of full economic, social and cultural development. The church authority was simply incapable of differentiating between the real requirements of faith and the non-essential accessories.

Gallicanism and Febronianism were the doctrinal expression of a sentiment hostile to Rome. Even many members of the clergy accepted the notion that the spiritual supremacy of the pope was nothing more than an honorary privilege. While the enlightened rulers improved the economic, social and education condition of their states, the Papal States were in a vulnerable state in these fields. In fact the popes of the 18th century with the exception of Benedict XIV could not rise above party factions and exercise his authority. Prof. Rogier makes an assessment of the papacy of the 18th century: “in general the actual influence of Rome on international happiness was extremely small; its contributions to the development of thought exhausted themselves in stereotype and sterile protest. Surveying the cultural history of the 18th century, one repeatedly misses the participation of the church and its supreme leadership in the discussions of the burning issues of the period.  If Rome contributed at all, it did so only negatively, with an admonition, an anathama, or an exhortation to silence.  Regrettably Rome not only failed to join in dialogue with a generation as strongly affected by the currents of the age as that of the eighteenth century, it systematically avoided it”. On the eve of the upheavals of 1789, the 1740 formulation of President Charles de Brosses was still valid: “‘if in Europe the credit of the Holy See is shrinking daily, this loss stems from unawareness by papacy of its antiquated modes of expressions”. The people continued to perform their religious duties without conviction. The nobility and the educated adopted an increasingly emancipated stance.

The church lacked the acuity necessary to develop a new religious anthropology to respond to the message of Revolution as well as the spiritual reorientation of the age.  She failed to abolish the system of benefices which was one of the chief sources of dissatisfaction. There were noteworthy problems within the monastic system of the period. The religious atmosphere within the walls was in general rather mediocre. People regarded monasticism as an easy life which provided good incomes to the monks who administered extensive pieces of real estates and undertook expensive construction projects. Many monasteries were half empty and some suffered from a crisis of belief and discipline. The opponents of monastic life felt that some orders are totally useless to society. In their eyes only those orders were acceptable which devoted themselves exclusively to education and care of the sick. Consequently in some countries the governments began to secularize a part of monasteries. In the republic of Venice 127 monasteries were closed between 1748 and 1797. Similar measures were taken in Tuscany, Parma, Lomabardy, Spain etc. In France such an action bad been suggested and organized by the clergy itself despite the protest of the pope. In 1768 a number of steps for the reform of orders were suggested to the king. Consequently 426 monasteries were dissolved; their lands were turned over to the dioceses.

There was also a crisis among the clergy (secular). In some countries their state was very lamentable. A very large number of priests lived from the income of benefices or other sources without performing any pastoral work. The attempt to upgrade the intellectual and spiritual education of the lower clergy by the end of the 18th century could not put an end to the abuses among them. A large number of the clergy in France were interested in Gallicaniam whose goal was to reduce the authority of the pope and the bishops.

In 1775 Pius VI was elected pope (Cad. Gianangelo Braschi, Cesena 1717).  He was rather world1y, spent large amount of money for the beatification of Rome. He also revived nepotism, built a splendid palace for his nephew. He introduced reforms in the Papal States, improved roads. He found difficulty to maintain the traditional position of papacy. On the eve of French revolution Pius VI failed to supply a much needed decisive stance. Godechot stated: He displayed more courageous abstinence than real sensitivity”.

In the 18th century France was the country with the largest catholic population. The monastic orders had the largest number of houses. Their theological and spiritual influence was comparatively strong. The Catholic Church in France linked to the state and enjoyed significant political, juridical and financial privileges. Catholic Church was the established religion in France and was supported by the secular powers. Other denominations and religions were not tolerated. The relationship between the church in France and the Holy See based on the concordat of 1516. It conceded certain rights to the king, eg. the right to distribute benefices etc.

The clergy enjoyed a predominant position in every respect. In parliament they constituted an estate general. These delegates met every five years in general convention. There were 135 dioceses 50,000 Priests working in the parishes and between 15,000 and 18,000 canons who served virtually no function. There were also 20,000 to 25,000 monks and 30,000 to 40,000 nuns. The French clergy comprised approximately 120,000 persons. Besides there were a large number of sacristans and chorists, as well as businessmen and staff who took care of worldly concerns. This secular and regular clergy possessed impressive economic power. It owned numerous urban buildings, property etc. They were exempted from tax. Tax privilege was compensated for by heavy expenditures especially costs of education and welfare.

The Revolution, in fact, began as a liberating force completely compatible with the teaching of gospel. Facing bankruptcy, Louis XVI decreed that the Roman Catholic Church and the nobility less than 2 percent of the population, owning a third of France would pay land taxes. Challenging his Authority the nobility forced Louis to convene the estates general, a body of the clergy, nobles and commoners that had not met since 1614. The Estates General met at Versailles on 5 may 1789 after a full catholic ceremony.  On the 4th May there was a grand procession and Holy Mass. During the mass they begged God to enlighten the deliberations of Estates General. No one foresaw so dark a future in that hour of glory. The representatives of third estate declared themselves the National Assembly and urged the clergy and the nobility to join them. On 20 June they gathered in an indoor tennis court and took an oath “never to separate until the constitution of kingdom shall be laid and established”. Louis reluctantly accepted the Assembly.

On 11 August 1789: The national Constituent Assembly abolished feudal rights and ecclesiastical Privileges. On 26 August it made Declaration the rights of man and the citizen which included the freedom of belief and worship.

            The revolution, then, betrayed its original ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and began to persecute the believers. In November 1789 the National Assembly nationalized the church property and on 13 February 1790 it suppressed the contemplative orders and banned the solemn vows. On 12 July 1790 it passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which contained the old Gallican ideas.

Its contents:

            It reduced the number of dioceses to 85 from 135 and they were divided conterminous with the geographic division of the country. There was to be one parish for every 6000 inhabitants

            The bishops and priests were to be elected by the electoral colleges on the level of department and districts – all citizens, Protestants, Jews form the electoral college.

            Bishops, priests and vicars were to be paid salaries by the state with the condition of performing all religious services free of charge.

            Bishops were entitled to inform the pope of their election, the canonical investment of the bishops were to be done by the metropolitans without prior confirmation by the pope. The title ‘archbishop’ was abolished and ten bishops were called metropolitans.

            A council of priests was formed to participate in the administration of the dioceses.

            All benefices without the care of souls were abolished.

The aim of the Constitution was to make the French church a purely national one and to remove the clergy as far as possible from all contact with Rome. The constitution obliged all the clergy to take an oath of loyalty to the constitution (27 Nov 1790). The weak king Louis sanctioned the constitution on 26 Ajec.1790 excusing himself on the grounds that a refusal would endanger his life and that of his family.

The French church was divided into two camps because of this constitution: 1. the church of constituent clergy 2. the church of non-constituent clergy (they were majority). On 10 March 1791 the pope Pius VI (1775-99) condemned the constitution by “quot aliquantum”. Again on 13 April pope condemned it by his bull Caritas because it based on heretical principles and declared the constituent clergy suspended. He declared that the ordination of the new bishops sacrilegious and prohibited them from performing their offices a d threatened with suspension all priests who refused to recant their oaths. He also condemned the declaration of the rights of man and citizen as contradictory to catholic doctrines regarding the origin of the authority of the state, freedom of religion and social inequality. In 1791 the national Assembly, in reprisal, declared Avignon and Venesian country to be the property of France.

2. Legislative Assembly (1 October 1791 -September 22, 1792)

It composed of people who were farther to the left both politically and religiously. It began to persecute believers. On 29 November 1791 it ordered that clergymen, regardless of their ministry, who did hot take the oath within eight days, would be regarded as rebelling against the law and as having evil intentions against the country. They would lose their pensions, were removed from their residences. On 1 August 1792 all congregations were dissolved, monasteries were closed, property of the church was sold, and clerical dress was prohibited. On 26 August it ordered to depose all priests loyal to Rome. About 20,000 priests were rendered homeless and they found refuge in other European countries. On 2 September 1792 there occurred the September Massacre in the prisons of Paris in which at least 1400 victims including 300 clergymen, 3 bishops, were executed. It was very cruel. Many were cat into pieces by hatchets. Women were brutally violated before being torn to pieces by those tigers; the intestines were cut out and worn as turbans. The victims seemed happy because ‘they went to death as to a wedding’. In the following years about 30000 clergymen fled from the country.

The decapitation machine “Guillotine” was first used on 25 April 1792. It was adopted as humane capital punishment – I a cool breath on the back of the neck”. Its proponent was Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin.

3. National Convention: 22 September 1792 -October 1795.

National Convention completed the work of demolition. It abolished the monarch rand declared France a republic. Louis was beheaded as a traitor to the state and nation on 21 January 1793. His wife also met the same fate on 16 October 1793. Both were guillotines. -On 21 June 1791 in servants disguise Louis and his wife attempted to flee France, after midnight for 200 miles dash to Austrian territory ruled by queen’s brother. But on route a postmaster identified Louis. Then 40 miles from the border his royal carriage was halted and they were arrested and brought to France. There was a posted warning: “any one who applauds the king will be beaten, any one who insults him will be hanged”.

During this period many were shot. Divorce was allowed and civil marriage was made obligatory. It passed laws on the marriage of priests and for their protection and support.  12 bishops and 2000 priests got married.  The christian calendar was replaced by the Republican calendar, the first year of which was to begin on 22 September 1792, the day of the proclamation of the Republic. Sunday was deleted from the new calendar and the day of rest was every ten days. Civil holiday were substituted for traditional christian feast days. Finally in November 1793 the Convention instituted the cult of Reason and Nature, i.e., atheism. The cathedral of Notre -Dame was desecrated by scandalous rites in honour of the goddess of reason. Some 2400 churches suffered a like-fate. Many of them were used as store-houses and stables.

            There were people who were against the extreme reforms. At the suggestion of Robespierre in 1794 the convention agreed to recognize a Supreme Being and immortality of soul. But persecution continued and the members of convention executed him on 28 July


4. The Directory Oct. 1795-1799

The directory was a governing body of five members. During this period there was an outbreak of violent persecution. All the laws against the non-juring priests were reactivated and under the orders of directory, the priests were hunted down all over France. Those captured were deported to French Guiana where they died. A new deistic religion called Theophilanthropism appeared. (deism= belief in the existence of God without accepting revelation, one who professes to unite love to God with love to man). The directory tried to enforce the observance of the republican calendar and decadi. Nevertheless by 1798 divine services had been resumed in about 40,000 parishes.

The faithful became aware of their responsibility to the church. In the absence of the priests, they organized prayer meetings, gave children religious instruction. Former nuns (without habit) encouraged pious girls to devote themselves to religious instructions and charitable work. In 1791 the Daughters of Heart of Mary was founded adjusting to the new conditions. By 1799 there were 267 members in 10 dioceses. They were no external sign, retained their occupations and continued to live with their families.

In 1796 General Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Milan and then the northern portion of Papal States. The directory demanded from the pope the renunciation of the condemnations of the constituent church. Pius VI refused. Negotiations between pope and the French government produced no results. Meanwhile Bonaparte began preparations to march on Rome, and forced the pope on 16 February 1797 to accept the treaty of Tolentino to abandon his rights to Ronagna and to pay 15 million Franca.

On 27 December 1797 the Directory ordered immediate occupation of Papal States. On 15 February 1798 Rome was occupied and was declared republic. Pius VI, 81, pleaded to be allowed to die in peace in Rome. Instead he was forced to flee to the still independent duchy of Tuscany. The pope was declared deposed, carried off first to Sienna then to Florence. In May he was brought to France. He died on 29 August 1799 at Valence.

The next conclave was convoked on 1 December 1799. Of 46 cardinals 35 participated (30 Italians). On 4 March 1800, Cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti was elected pope Pius VII. He was a man of doctrine and a shepherd of souls, always gave pronounced preference to the religious goals. He had the courage of his convictions, but had great tolerance for opinions which differed from his own. At 14 he joined the Benedictines, studied in Padua, Rome, professor of theology from 1766-75 in Parma, and also at St. Anslem, Rome. He became bishop of Tivoli in 1783, bishop of Imola and Cardinal in 1785. As a diplomatic mediator he had an outstanding ability to hold without braking and to reconcile without bending. At Christmas he declared that the democratic form of the government was not in opposition to the gospel and religions was even more important in a democracy than in any other form of government. He appointed cardinal Consalvi, a conservative reformer as his secretary of State. Due to his diplomatic skill Papal States were restituted.

Napoleon Bonaparte

On 9 November 1799 the general Napoleon by a coup d’etat, overthrew the directory and became the first consul for ten years. His foreign minister was Talleybrand. Napoleon was deist and a stranger to religious practices. He looked upon religion as having only a practical value. It was evident to him that only Christianity was the ethical foundation of European civilization. Therefore, he felt the need of it.

The concordat of Napoleon 15 July 1801

            On 5 June 1800 Napoleon stated that it was his firm conviction that religion was an indispensable adjunct to the state and that it was his wish that France be reconciled to the Holy See. Soon thereafter negotiations were begun, but immediately encountered serious obstacles, mainly unreasonable demands of Napoleon himself. Finally a concordat was drawn up on 15 July 1801 by cardinal Consalvi and Napoleon’s foreign minister Talleygrand. It gave the French church legal status, but a status far removed from that she had once enjoyed. Catholic religion was recognized as the religion of “the great majority of French people” and it could be exercised freely and publicly while conforming to police regulations. The dioceses were redistricted into 60 of which 10 would be metropolitans. All bishops must resign and the new bishops were to be named by the First Consul but the pope was to give them canonical institution. All clergy were to take an oath of loyalty to the state. They waived all claim to church property confiscated during the revolution, in view of which the government promised the bishops and parish priests a fitting maintenance. Bishops could redistrict their parishes with the consent of the proper state officials and appoint as pastors only persons acceptable to the government.

The concordat was not appreciated by all. Some bishops refused to abdicate and they considered it as anti-catholic. There was anti-Catholic in the government, who were not content with the concordat on the grounds that it was not sufficiently anti-Catholic. Therefore Napoleon added several further clauses -seventy seven organic articles- to the concordat, which he published at Easter 1802. Most of them were contrary to the terms of the original agreement and to the principles of canon law. The pope protested and pointed out 21 of them which could not be accepted under any conditions, but Napoleon paid no heed to this protest.

The new articles are:

i. All decrees of the pope and the synods outside France require the placet of the government.

ii. Professors of the seminaries are obliged to teach Gallican articles of 1682.

iii. Number of new priests is to be fixed yearly by government

iv. Catechism approved by the government is to be taught.

v. Diocesan or national synods need government authorization.

vi. No representative of the pope enter France without permission

vii. Clerics may appeal to the civil court.

viii. Distinction was made between rural pastors and others.

ix. No feast days other than Sundays.

In the meantime Napoleon restored Sunday in 1802 and abrogated the republican calendar in 1805.

Napoleon as Emperor

In May 1804 Napoleon was elected emperor. He invited pope Pius VII for anointing and coronation. Pius VII yielded to the pressure and anointed Napoleon in Notre Dame Cathedral on 2 December 1804. The coronation was preceded by a religious ceremony Pope was allowed to anoint, but Napoleon insisted on crowing himself. At the coronation ceremony Napoleon seized the crown from the hands of the pope and put it on his head.   The pope hoped, in return, two important concessions: 1) the revocation or modification of the organic articles; 2) the removal of divorce from the new code of civil law. But his hopes were blasted. Napoleon and his associates had interpreted the pope’s visit as a sign of weakness which they tried to exploit to the full. The pope returned to Rome humiliated and without obtaining any concession from the emperor.

The pope was requested to declare dissolved the marriage of Napoleon’s brother Jerome Bonaparte to Eize Patterson, an American protestant. A little later the pope refused to annul, Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine Beauharnais. Despite the pope’s refusal members of the French hierarchy gave the emperor the desired annulments. Napoleon had insisted St. Napoleon’s day be observed throughout the empire on 16 August.

Napoleon resumed war for the domination of Europe. And this war brought a rupture in his relations with the pope. The pope refused to approve of Napoleon’s annexation of Naples (Napoleon named his brother Joseph king of Naples).In 1809 Napoleon officially annexed the papal states to his empire and on 17 May 1809 he revoked the donations of Pepin and charlesmagne. The pope answered by excommunicating Napoleon and his associates: “against the robbers of the patrimony of Peter, their advisers, abettors and agents”.  During the night between 5 and 6 July 1809, 400 French soldiers entered Rome and arrested Pius VII and carried him off to Savona. The cardinals were taken to Paris.

Meanwhile Napoleon divorced Josephine and married Narie Louise the daughter of Austrian emperor. The decree of divorce was published on 16 December 1809. On 9 January 1810 the diocesan court pronounced the marriage null and void. On 2 April 1810 Napoleon married Marie Louise. Thirteen of 27 cardinals then in Paris refused to attend the wedding. Napoleon “decardinalized” them who were known “black cardinals” and those attended the wedding were known “red cardinals”.

Pius VII suffered much. He was treated most harshly and shame fully; books, pen, ink, ring were taken from him. The longer the conflict the greater become the vacant sees.  Napoleon wanted to full them without the approval of the pope. He convoked a national council of the bishops at Paris in June 1811 under the presidency of Napoleon’s uncle cardinal Fesch. There it was decided that metropolitans had the right to confer canonical institutions in case the pope did not do so within six months of a candidate’s presentation.

On 9 June 1812 the pope was moved to Fontainebleau palace near Paris. When Napoleon returned from Russia, defeated and desperate, he met the pope. On 25 January 1813 Pope was forced to sign an agreement known as concordat of Fontainebleau. In this the pope renounced the Papal States and conceded that canonical institution of bishops could be made by the metropolitan if the pope did not act within six months. However, the pope revoked this concession within 24 hours. Napoleon suppressed the revocation kept the pope isolated and published the concordat as valid reconciliation of the church and the state in France.

Napoleon’s power was almost at an end. He was defeated by the allies and was forced to sign his abdication at Fontainebleau on 16 April 1814. He was then sent to the island Elba. He reached there on 4 May. He was given allowance 2,000,000 francs yearly. He had 400 volunteers and the title of emperor. Before he had been sent to Elba, he tried to poison himself. On 20 March 1815 he returned to Paris, and resumed war. But he was defeated at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. On 22 June he abdicated in favour of his son. He wanted to escape to U.S.A., but was prevented and exiled to St. Helena.

            On 15 October 1815.Navoleon arrived at St. Helena in southern Atlantic. His life there was hard; breakfast at 10.00 dinner 7-8 p.m. He used to play cards, reading, and writing, study English, and went to bed by midnight. He had difficulty with the governor of the island. His wife did not visit him. She had a son from him, and a lover too. In 1817 he showed the sign of illness -ulcer or cancer of the stomach. In March 1821 he confined to bed. In April he dictated his last will: “I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of that French people which I have loved so much … I die before my time, killed by the English Oligarchy and its hired assassins”. On 5 May 1821 Napoleon died at the age of 52. He spoke: “my God… the French nation, my son, the head of the army. He died at 5.49 p.m. The stone covering the tomb bore no name but only two words: “cig it”-here lies.

The pope Pius VII was released in March 1814 and on 24 May 1814 he entered Rome amid jubilation of the people. When the pope returned to Rome he said to the people: “let us forget the past”. When napoleon was in exile at St. Helena pope wrote to cardinal Consalvi: “The emperor’s family has informed us through cardinal Fesch that the rocky lsland of St. Helena is fatal to health and the poor exile is dying by inches. We are deeply distressed to hear this and you will certainly share our grief; for we must both remember that to Napoleon more than anyone after God, is due the restoration of our religion in the great kingdom of France. The pious and courageous initiative of 1801 has long ago effaced the memory of later wrongs. Savona and Fontainebleau were only mistakes due to temper, or the errors of an ambitious man; the concordat was the saving act of a christian and a here”. This is perhaps the most charitable estimate ever made of Napoleon’s role in the history of the church. Pope gave refuge to Napoleon’s mother, cardinal Fesch and his two brothers in Rome.

Pius VII lived another eight years after Napoleon’s downfall. In the congress of Vienna (1815) the Papal States were returned to the pope. Concordats and conventions were made with various countries and the prestige of papacy was restored.


The French revolution produced mixed results:

1. The prince-bishop disappeared into the pages of history, when Napoleon secularized the holdings of the church.

2. The monastic orders were reduced to near impotency. This weakened the liturgical life of the church.

3. Church’s influence on cultural and intellectual life was lost when the universities in which ecclesiastical and intellectual life had flourished, had been closed down or were taken by the state.

4. French revolution had put an end to the absolute king and thus the church was free to work out a new set of relationship with the state.

5. Concordats were made for regulating relations between church and the state.

6. French revolution was a political and social solvent. It melted down old institutions, good and bad and enabled the church to begin afresh.

7. It loosed forces hostile to the church: liberalism, nationalism, secularism etc.

The Church after 1815

Napoleon’s system was an artificial one and it collapsed because it rested on the genius and determination of one man. It ruined Europe, displaced frontiers, and subverted the social order. The church suffered materially, lost more than half of her property, which had supported her seminaries and charitable institutions and schools. It affected the parochial life and ecclesiastical administration. Many archives had been dispersed, many universities disappeared. Though the church lost her social influence together with her privileged position, morally she was not impoverished.  The martyrs during the popular regimes and the black cardinals are the examples of this.

During this period there were signs of spiritual reawakening. France witnessed a large growth in the number of vocations and a remarkable flowering of regular orders. Between 1820 and 1828 the surplus of ordinations was 2,289. The average annual number of ordinations rose to 3000. Religious congregations were revived. In 1816 the Society of French Missions was founded. There grew a new attachment to the papacy and a new appreciation of the value of a religion independent of the state. There were also a host of new religious orders of women particularly devoted to teaching. The declaration of Catholicism, as the state religion by Louis XVIII on 4 June 1814, the restoration of Society of Jesus in 1814 were good signs.

There was also a sad picture. Faith was not deep rooted. There was hypocrisy and rebellion. Lacordaire asserts that at one state secondary school in France where daily mass was obligatory, thirty youngsters went together to communion in order to obtain consecrated wafers with which to seal their letters.

Pact of Holy Alliance – 1815

On 20 September 1815 , emperor Francis I of Austria, Frederick William III of  Prussia, Czar Alexander declared that they wished to base their mutual relations on the sublime truths taught by Christ and firmly resolved to take as their sole rule of conduct the doctrine of the church. They decided to consider themselves as brothers and as fathers towards their subjects. They would be three members of a single family and confessed Christ as their, sovereign to whom all powers properly belong. They also invited others princes to join the pact of holy alliance. This was not approved by the church.

During the thirty years after 1815 the absolute king sought to regain lost ground and the liberals to overturn the settlement of 1815. The first liberal risings in Spain and Italy were easily suppressed. But from 1848 to 1870 liberalism touched its apogee and in Italy it achieved the most spectacular and systematic triumph of all.

The popes as temporal sovereigns were absolutish. They were affected by the political duel between liberalism and absolutism. Liberalism opposed Catholicism. It was really interested in the material betterment of mankind and correction of social abuses. Some of its fundamental postulates were irreconcilable with the catholic teaching.

In 1870 the temporal power of papacy came to an end. The same year witnessed the triumph within the church itself of the old Roman, conception of the papal office. Thus there began a new type of pope. The popes of the nineteenth century restoration (1800-1878) are all of them good men and several are men of real ability. But they are all meant of the eighteenth century or rather of the absolute age of which that century was popularly the symbol.

Pius V11 (1800-1823), Leo XII (1823-29), Pius VIII (1829-30), Gregory XVI (1831-1846), Pius IX (1846-1878), Leo XIII (1878-1903).

None of these really understood the new world which the revolution had produced, understood either how to fight it or how to convert it. Leo XIII was a pope supremely gifted in political understanding and in the diplomatic gifts. He was the greatest papal ruler since Pius 111 (1534-1549). He was a traditionalist and conservative who thought in modern terms and spoke in the modern idioms. His reign was the beginning of a new age of catholic history. During the reign of Pius IX, France was the scene of the heroic life of St. John Mary Vianny (1786-1859), many apparitions of Our Lady -1830, 1846, 1858, 1871, esp. 1858 in Lourdes. Italy had St. John Bosco, Joseph Cottelengo, and Gabriel of Sorrows.

The Popes of the Nineteenth Century

Pius VII (1806 1822)

The settlement after Waterloo restored to the pope the Papal States. But it posed a problem: could they survive? The demand for Italian unity was to grow. How would papacy meet it? Cardinal Consalvi who was dismissed to appease Napoleon, was reappointed as secretary of State on Napoleon’s fall. He was the chief negotiator for the pope of the diplomatic settlements. He introduced several changes which were opposed even by a few cardinals.

The authority of the pope was enhanced by concordats or agreements with several States. Rome was made the centre of European culture, works of art, books and manuscripts were restored. In 1814 Congregation of Extraordinary ecclesiastical Affairs was instituted, renewal of monasteries, religious orders and congregations. Pius VII died on 20 August 1823 at the age of 81.

Leo XII (1823 1829)

            Cardinal Consalvi was labeled as too liberal; to some he had seemed dictatorial. So the choice of Consalvi as successor to Pius was opposed. He died on 24 January 1824. His final words: Io sono tranquillo -I am at peace.

            Annibale Francesco Clement Melchior Girolomo della Genga, (1760 b.) was elected as Leo XII. He spent large part of his life as nuncio. When Napoleon mistreated Pius VII, he retired to the monastery. After Pius returned to Rome, he called Genga again into his service and was sent to congratulate Louis XVIII on the latter’s restoration. When there was a sharp clash between Consalvi and Genga the latter returned to his monastery. In 1820 he was summoned to Rome. At the time of election he was sick. When he was asked after the vote whether he would accept it, he protested saying that the cardinals were electing a corpse. He surprised his physicians. He guided the church for six years which witnessed several achievements. He brought papal finance into order reduced taxation, urged the bishops to be examples of sound morals and doctrine, to be diligent in pastoral visitation, to pay attention to the seminaries. He fought against Gallicanism and Josephism. In 1825 be proclaimed Jubilee year, the first since 1775.

Leo launched a world wide appeal for the rebuilding of St. Paul Outside the Walls, which had been destroyed by fire in 1823. He left the Quirinal and took residence in the Vatican. He tried to improve the morals of the people and of the clergy. His opposition to nepotism made him unpopular with many among both the officials and others. He put the Church of Rome in a better physical condition and revived the spiritual life of the city. He ordered to cloth the naked statues in Rome. In France he had to face the trends of Gallicanism. In Austria he still faced the traditional Josephism. In Spain and Portugal he was confronted by anticlericalism of the liberals. The pope died on 10 February 1829 at the age of 69. pasquin insulted him with these verses: “Holy Father thrice you have mocked us,  by agreeing to become pope, by living long and by dying on Carnival day”. His pontificate was not brilliant, but it revealed the difficult situation with which the church was then confronted. Only a strong, daring and far-sighted genius could have escaped from the dilemma, and it was not the fault of Leo XII that he was no such man.

Pius VIII (1829-1830)

Cardinal Francesco Saverio Castiglioni was elected pope who took the name Pius VIII. He was learned in canon law, Biblical Literature and numismatics. He had had administrative experience in several posts including bishoprics and posts in Rome. He had suffered imprisonment because of his opposition to Napoleon. After his release Pius VII had rewarded him with the cardinal’s hat, and is said to have wished him for his successor. Out of gratitude he took the title Pius. He was mild in temper and not likely to go to extremes or to have particularly vigorous pontificate. He was 67 at the time of election and was not well.

The situation was everywhere disturbing; there was perhaps no catholic country where grave problems did not confront the church. In France she had to face Gallicanism and liberals. In Spain anticlericalism, in Italy hostility towards the church. For the pope the solution was silence and temporization. In the midst of these problems, the pope tried to check the menace of secret societies and advance of indifference. His choice of cardinals also seemed to indicate a desire to rejuvenate the Sacred College. A rescript of November 1829, recommending to catholics, throughout the world the fund for the propagation of the Faith, proved that he had a sense of the chinch’s universality and of her obligation to share in the great movement of western expansion that was then taking place. Pius died on 30 November 1830. Pasquinades greeted his passing: “nacque, pianse, mori, declared the Romans; but no, Pius VIII had done more than be born, weep and die.  His death marked the end of an epoch. The attempt made since 1815 to annul the Revolution and return to the past had evidently failed. It was now essential to take account of that new life which awaited the world and the church. Perhaps that failure was foreseen by Joseph de Maistre when he wrote these prophetic words: “a counter revolution must be not a revolution in the contrary direction, but the contrary of a revolution”.

Gregory XVI (1831-1846)

            The conclave dragged on for fifty days due to the opposition of two candidates -Pacca and Giustiniani. Then Mauro Cappellari, a Camaldolese monk, austere and pious was elected pope. He took the name Gregory XVI. He was the secretary of Propaganda.  He was a stranger of politiacs and the ways of the world and unable to cope with the complicated problems of his time. There were serious revolts in the papal states. In Italy   a movement for national unity was growing. The radical party called “Young Italy” founded by Giuseppe Mazzini (+1872) was basically revolutionary and anti religious. They had secret plans to overthrow papal rule. Even some of the clergy were infected with revolutionary ideas. The moderate patriots like Alessandro Manzoni (1873) tried to reconcile the papacy with political liberalism and dreamed of an Italian confederacy of states, with the pope at the head. The consciousness of unity however, continued to grow stronger. Gregory on his part defended the liberty of the church.

La Mannais and papacy

Felicite de La Mennais said: “catholics break for ever with the men whose incorrigible blindness imperils this holy religion. Rejected by the state the church should withdraw from political society and concentrate upon herself, with a view to recovering, along with her essential independence and the fulfillment of her destiny, her pristine and divine strength”. In order to promote his ideas La Mennais founded a jounmal “L’Avenir” whose motto was “God and Liberty”. He had a youthful team- Abbe Gerbet, Harel du Tancrel, Henri Lacordaire (1802-61), Vicomte Charles de Montalembert (1810-70). The first number of L’Avenir appeared on 16 Oct. 1830.

Pius IX (1846-1878)

When Gregory XVI died on 1 June 1846 the political condition of the papal state was tense. The Italian patriots desired to free Italy. The conclave was opened immediately without waiting for the arrival of the foreign cardinals. On the second day of the conclave Cardinal Mastai Ferretti was elected pope who took the name Pius IX in memory of his benefactor Pius VII. Giovanni Maria Mastei-Ferretti was born on 13 May 1792 in Senigallia. He was ordained priest in 1819, bishop of Spoleto in 1827-32, of Imola in 1832-46, cardinal in 1840. He made a journey to South America in 1823-25 which provided him with an insight into the new dimensions of missionary problems and into the difficulties which liberal governments could cause for the church. As archbishop he was known very liberal. One biographer describes him as “the creator of modern papacy”.

            Some considered Pius IX as a messenger of God sent to complete the great work of the 19th century the alliance between religion and liberty. Others considered him as a man with the fire of heart but weak in planning and without any real ability to lead.

Pius IX began his pontificate with the intention of meeting the just demands of the people for greater liberty and of establishing new political reforms in the papal states. On 17 July 1846 he granted a general amnesty to more than thousand prisoners and mitigated the censors then in force. This was hailed in Rome and throughout the world as the act of an enlightened ruler. The municipal government of Rome was reorganized and laymen were made eligible for many of the ministerial posts. A number of progressive measures were quickly undertaken, construction of roads, lightening the streets, improvements of prisons etc. Finally on 14 March 1848 a new constitution was proclaimed providing for two chambers, one to be named by the pope, the other to be elected by the people, the college of the cardinals to act as a Senate over both houses. These reforms were hailed with enthusiasm. But the people demanded more radical changes, even unreasonable demands. They also insisted that the pope drive the Austrians out of Italy and create a national state Pope’s prime minister Pellegrino Rossi was murdered on 15 November 1848 as he was ascending the steps of cancellweia to open the parliament.  When Pius 1X resisted these demands, a so called constitutional assembly Proclaimes Rome a republic under a triumvirate consisting of Mazzini Saffi and Amellini on 9 February  1849. On the next day Pius himself was besuieged in the Quirinal and threatened. He escaped in disguise and fled to Gaeta in the kingdom of Naples. Pope sought for French help. The French took Rome and restored the papal rule. In April 1850 Pius returned to Rome. Thereupon he left his liberalism.

            In 1850 the Roman clergy were ordered to wear the long soutane instead of breeches and frock coat, so as to indicate more clearly the difference between churchmen and men of the age. The bishops were requested to visit the pope at regular intervals. In 1850 an extraordinary jubilee was declared.

Definition of the immaculate caption of BL. Virgin Mary

On 2 February 1849 Pius IX asked the opinion of all the bishops about the definition of Immaculate Conception. Out of 603 bishops 546 urged the doctrinal definition. Then on 8 December 1854 he defined the doctrine of Immaculate Conception by the papal bull “Ineffabilis Deus”. He defined as the infallible teacher in the church in the presence of 54 cardinals and 200 bishops. The pope placed a golden crown on the head of Our Lady’s statue. The city was illumined.

Liberalism and the syllabus of errors: On .8 December 1864 Pius IX issued the encyclical “Quanta cura” with an appended “Syllabus of errors” (catalogue of doctrines). It contained some 80 of the principal errors of the time. The liberals protested it strongly. One of the theses condemned was the statement that “the pope can and should reconcile himself with progress, liberalism and modern civilization”. Here by modern civilization pope meant the attacks on the church, denial of religion, imprisonment of the clergy and closing of catholic schools.

The syllabus of errors contained eighty unacceptable propositions. In it the pope condemned pantheism and rationalism; indifferentism, which regards all religions as equal in value; socialism, which denies the right to private property and subordinates the family to the state; the erroneous concept regarding Christian marriage; Freemasonry, the rejection of temporal power of the pope; Gallicanism, which wanted to make the exercise of the ecclesiastical authority dependent on the authorization by the civil power; statism which insists on the monopoly of education and dissolves religious orders; and naturalism which regards, the fact that human societies no longer have respect for religion as progress and which demands laicization of institutions, separation of church and state, and absolute freedom of relegation and the press.

Dom Butler evaluated the syllabus “as a most inopportune document”. Actually the excitement was not very strong everywhere. The public remained calm, some because long ago they had stopped paying attention to the strictures of the Vatican in political questions, others because they realized that an exact interpretation of the Roman document required careful exegesis. In England the non Catholic public was virtually unanimous in finding the pope’s campaign against modern society totally ridiculous, primarily because he had condemned virtually everything. English Catholics, on the other hand, attempted, not very successfully, to argue that Pius IX had condemned the doctrinal errors and excesses of liberalism, and not the liberal institutions as England knew them. In the Netherlands the document contributed to increasing Protestant hostility to the papacy and to the hastening of the break between Catholics and liberals in parliament.

            The Austrian government feared that, encouraged by the encyclical the clergy would demand an even more favourable application of the concordat. Dollinger and friends deplored the syllabus; but the Mainz faction noted the condemnation of atheistic philosophers and of bold theologians with satisfaction. In France agitation lasted for several weeks. Many bishops wrote to Rome, pointing to the dangers of ambiguity, and demanded a clarification. Some of the others persuaded the government to forbid the official publication of the encyclical under the pretext that its condemnations were directed against the constitution of the empire. Dupanloup wrote a mitigating commentary on encyclical and the syllabus in the form of a defense of the pope.

Pius IX was no longer able to see the radical difference between catholic liberalism and liberalism as such. While regular liberalism, even its adherents practiced their religion, was naturalistic and wanted to separate man as much as possible from his religious ties, liberal catholics both intellectually and practically were guided by the demands of their faith and accepted, sometimes somewhat unwillingly, their subjection to the decisions of the church. Pius IX admitted the difference but unwillingly. In 1874 he declared: Catholic liberalism has one foot in the truth and one foot in error one foot in the church and one foot  in the spirit of the century, one foot on my side and one foot on the side o my enemies”.

Pius IX and I Vatican Council

A council was suggested to Pius IX as early as 1849 and it matured slowly. At the end of 1864 the pope consulted a number of cardinals about the advisability of the matter. Since their opinion was positive he decided to pursue the issue carefully. He consulted the bishops and other officers in the curia and asked them to submit suggestions for an agenda. Gradually he then formed four commissions to make detailed programme. Since the majority in the curia was not very enthusiastic about the council, the pope hesitated for more than two years. Finally on 26 June 1867 he publicly made known his intention, and invited to Rome on 8 December 1869 all the catholic bishops and those who had the right to participate in a council.

It was suggested to invite the representatives from the non-catholic churches. A letter was directed to all the Orthodox bishops in September 1868, in which they were asked to return to catholic church unity in order to be able to Participate in’ the council; a few days later a global letter was sent to Protestants and   Anglicans. From an ecumenical point o f view this was one of the saddest cases of missed opportunities.

In the catholic world the announcement of the council intensified the opposition between Gallicans and liberal Catholics on one side, ultramontane and opponents of the modern freedoms on the other. (Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define the papal infallibility. In Germany Ignaz Dollinger under the Pseudonym of Janus published a critical and partisan book attacking the primacy of the pope and the Roman centralization. In France a heated discussion was done on the question, of infallibility. Bishop Dupanloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create.) But several bishops like Deshamps, Manning demanded immediately that the council be utilized solemnly to define the truth of this publicly contested point. The majority of the German bishops at their annual conference at Fulda in September 1869 expressed reservations about the future definition of the personal infallibility the pope.

The council opened on 8 December 1869 in the presence of 700 bishops, 60 from Eastern rites, 200 from outside of Europe (121 from America, 49 US, 41 from India and the Far East, 18 from Oceania, 9 from Africa). The Italians constituted one-third of the assembly, they also provided two-thirds of the consultants and experts, all of the secretaries, and all five presidents, only one important position, that of secretary general, was entrusted to a foreigner, to the Austrian Fessler.

Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define papal infallibility. Then in Germany Prof. Ignaz Dollinger of Munich attacked infallibility on historical grounds. In France a heated discussion was done on the question of infallibility. Bishop Duponloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create. Cardinal Newmann supported him.

The council fathers assembled in an atmosphere of tranquility and security. The public sessions were presided over by the pope in person. On 24 April the third session of the council unanimously adopted and published the dogmatic constitution De Fide catholica concerning the fundamental doctrine of christianity and condemning the errors of Rationalism, aetheism, pantheism, traditionalism etc.

The question of infallibility of the pope had called forth much excitement within and outside of the council. It was included in the schema De ecclesia Christi. It became the matter of a heated discussion and it divided the Fathers into two camps:

1. The great majority held that a definition was proper and necessary. The leaders of infallibilists were Deschamps of Belgium and Manning of England. (451).

2. A minority, one fourth, opposed the definition. This group broke down into two groups:

a) Those who thought the doctrine was wrong. (88)

b) Those who believed in papal infallibility but thought its definition was inopportune. (62)

The chapters on the primacy of the pope and his infallibility were brought to a vote on 18 July 1870. 533 Fathers voted placet and two bishops non placet. Sixty bishops were absent for the final vote. After the definition the bishops throughout the world accepted the decision of the council as true and inspired. Do1linger’s supporters in Germany refused to accept the doctrine and they formed a small schismatic group called the Old Catholics.

On 19 July 1870 the Frank-Russian war broke out and many bishops obliged to leave Rome. Then on 20 September the Piedmontese took Rome and made it absolutely impossible to continue the council. Therefore on 20 October 1870 the pope prorogued the council indefinitely to a more Peaceful and favourable time.

The Papacy and Italian Unification

In the 19th century the drive toward national unification in Europe was strong. Attempts were made also in Italy like in other European countries to create a united Italy. When the dream of an Italian confederacy at under pope had proved impractical, the Italian patriots began to direct their gaze toward the ambitious king of Piedmont Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel 11 (1849-1878). They backed the plan of incorporating the various Italian states into Piedmont Sardinia. It was the plan of Camillo Cavour (1852-1861), the Piedmontese prime minister. His slogan was “a free church in a free state”. He made use of the help of the secret societies and revolutionaries to attain his ends.

            In 1859 Cavour declared war against Austria and sought of France. The Austrians were easily defeated and Parma, Modena, Tuscany and part of papal states were incorporated into Piedmont. The pope pronounced excommunication in vain. In the newly acquired provinces the church property was confiscated and state schools were established in which the teaching of religion was forbidden. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi conquered Sicily and Naples. Other provinces Umbria and Marches were also conquered. In March 1861 Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed king of Italy.

            Only Rome and surrounding territory remained under the pope. The Italian nationalists wanted to make Rome the capital of Italy. Victor Emmanuel sent his envoy to speak with the pope, but pope denied even the possibility of negotiation. He received the royal emissary, read the letter, burst into violent reproaches against the vipers, the whited sepulchers of Florence and replied “non possumus”. On 2 September 1870 Rome and Vatican were seized. The protest and excommunication of the pope had no effect. In June 1871 Rome was proclaimed the capital of the united Italy and Quirinale became the residence of the king.

            The pope withdrew to the Vatican as a voluntary prisoner. On 13 May 1871 the Italian government issued the law of Guarantee to settle the affairs of the Holy See. This law invested the pope with personal attributes of sovereign, immunity from arrest, inviolability of his person. He could have a personal military guard, his communications with the bishops and foreign governments would be absolutely free. He should have his own postal and telgrrapgh services. He was given exclusive use of Vatican and Lateran basilicas and palaves, and palaves, and villa of Castel Gondolfo.  He was also granted a tax free pension of three and a quarter million lire a year.  Pius IX denounced the law of gurantee because it was a unilateral

Old Catholics

The opposition to infallibility culminated in the establishment of a new church, Old Catholics. Prof. Dollinger was its leader. Many professors in Germany joined him. They regarded themselves as conservatives adhering to the old catholic faith in the face of erroneous innovations.

In Germany it remained as an elite movement and in the 1870s it reached its peak with about six thousand members. In August 1670, 1300 Rhenish catholics protested against the council. In Nurenburg 32 professors appealed to an ecumenical council, true and free, to be held on this side of the Alps.

In September 1870 the first congress of old catholics was held in Munich with 300 delegates from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, guest participants from Orthodox and Anglican churches. Dollinger was against division, claimed the right to continued equal membership in the catholic church. He never formally joined old catholics, but others called for the establishment of an emergency community, the majority of the congress participants agreed with them.

The second congress was held in 1872 in Cologne. It officially adopted the name “Old Catholics”, decided to establish regular care and appointed a commission for the preparation of the election of a bishop. On 14 June 1871 Pro. Joseph Hubert Reinkens was chosen. He was consecrated by a bishop of Utrecht Church and thus entered into the apostolic succession. He was placed under interdict by Pius IX. Bishop Reinkens established an Episcopal administration in Bonn. He was acknowledged as a catholic bishop by Prussia, Baden etc.

The constitution of the Old Catholics was drafted by Schutte and it granted legislative powers and right to elect bishops to the synods formed of the representatives of clergy and laymen. It was approved by the Third Congress in 1873 in Constance. It was ratified by the first Synod in 1874 in Bonn. After 1880 German was employed in the liturgy of the Mass. In 1879 they abolished celibacy.

In Switzerland in 1875 a new church, Christ Catholic church of Switzerland Was established. In doctrine it followed the German model and its constitution it is more democratic. In 1876 Edward Herzog was elected bishop. They established a church oriented to Bible and Eucharist. In 1874 a university was established in Berne by government with the assistance of Herzog.  It became a theological center.

In Austria after 1872 there existed four Old Catholic communities. In 1879 its first synod was held and it adopted the German pattern.

The Old Catholic bishoprics and the Utrecht church, which prior to 1870 had been totally isolated, formed the union of Utrecht in 1889. It is an autonomous union of national churches free from Rome, whose honourary primate is the archbishop of Utrecht. A joint declaration again accepted the faith of the first millennium, and a kind of Roman primacy which then prevailed. It protested against the dogmas of 1854 and 1870. Dollinger’s internationally recognized scholarship and his ecumenical efforts in 1874-75 resulted in the Bonn conference of union, consisting of old Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Anglican theologians. In the 19th century they made a bold attempt at the international theological discussions and thus precursor to ecumenism.

Leo XIII (1878 1903)

The conclave began on 18 February 1878. 60/64 cardinals entered in the conclave. 25 cardinals were non Italians. A strong group of cardinals wanted the election conducted outside of Italy. Finally it was decided to have it in Rome, On 20 Feb. cardinal Gioachino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi Pecci was elected pope with 44 votes. The new pope chose his name Leo XIII in gratitude to pope Leo XII for furthering his studies at the Roman seminary.

Leo did not deliver the benediction Urbi et Orbi from the outer loggia towards the St. Peters square, but toward the basilica. His coronation was held in Sistine chapel and not in St. Peter’s because there was no guarantee for security from the government. Pope’s choice of a name inspired the mockery: “Non e Pio, non e Clemente, ma Leone senza dente’. He sent individual inaugural letters to catholic as well as non catholic as well as non-catholic heads of the states, in which he indicated his desire to settle disputes. The Italian government was ignored and in turn the government did not recognize the new pope officially.

Pope Leo was born on 2 March 1810 in Carpineto, central Italy. His brother was a Jesuit. Leo was ordained priest in 1837, had doctorate in Theology. He was papal nuncio in Belgium from 1843-46. He was appointed bishop Of Perugia in 1846, cardinal in 1853, Camerlengo in 1877.

All agree that Leo XIII was a great pope. He was a humanist in the best sense of the word. He possessed a keen intelligence and political ability and experience.  He was prudent in his dealings with governments and was able to adjust differences amicably without sacricing the principles.

1. Leo XIII and the Italian problem

Leo seemed intractable in his dealings with Italy. He did not yield to the insulting attitude of the Italian government. His stand on the Roman question was the same as his predecessor’s. He refused to accept the Law of guarantee. He condemned the injustice of the government and exhorted the catholics not to participate in the national elections.

The Italian attack on the Church can be summed up under three classes of measures:

(1) Those intended to annoy and insult the pope and make a mockery’ of the catholic faith. The government officials were forbidden to attend thanksgiving services for the election of Leo, wanton attack of government supported hoodlums (street rowdy) on the funeral cortege (funeral procession) of Pius IX, when his body was removed in 1881 from St. Peter’s to the cemetry of San Lorenzo; permitting the newspapers and magazines to carry outrageous anti-catholic blasphemies etc. All these caused Leo to think of leaving Rome and he even entered into preliminary negotiations to take up residence in Austria.

(2) Those measures against church property. The government confiscated the wealth of the suppressed religious orders. In 1881 it took over control of the property of Propaganda Congregation.  It also took over the administration of the properties of the charitable associations.

(3) The anticlerical measures designed to hamstring (cripple) the Church and prevent her from carrying out her religious work. The Clergy were drafted into the army as soldiers, religious teaching was banned from the schools nomination of the bishops was hindered. The regulation of public worship was put under government control and police surveillance. Leo XIII found it impossible to do anything effective toward solving the Roman question. He bore them patiently and was very careful not to do anything that might appear to condone (overlook) these outrages against the Church.

2. Leo XIII and German Kulturkampf

Kulturkampf means battle for culture. It is a title used to describe a series of laws passed in Germany to weaken the ties between the church in Germany and the papacy and to bring the German church under the control of the absolute state. It began in 1871 with Bismark. Two series of events inaugurated the Kulturkampf. (i) The growing strength of the catholic centre party which the pope refused to condemn at the request of the German government. (ii) The protest made by the bishops and in the universities and colleges.

            In 1871 the Catholic Church was put under the control of the government. The government issued the “pulpit laws” which forbade any criticism of the government or the constitution under penalty of heavy fine and a year’s imprisonment. In 1873 a series of laws known as May Laws was passed to put the clergy under the government control. Candidates for priesthood had to spend three years in a state university and Pass a state examination in various non-theological subjects. Seminaries were put under the control of the state inspectors and government asserted its right to appoint and dismiss parish priests. Bishops and priests who disobeyed these laws were deposed.

            In 1875 religious orders except those engaged in hospital work were expelled. Hundreds of priests were fined or imprisoned; several bishops were deposed, exiled or imprisoned. Bismark operated these laws with brutal and mechanical efficiency. The strength of centre party grew and endangered the legislative plans of Bismark. And there was a feeling by 1878 that Kulturkampf was a rather shameful thing and there was no real justification for it.

When Bismark needed the support of the central party against the socialists, he entered into diplomatic relations with the pope. Finally in 1887 Bismark revoked the Kulturkampf and spoke eloquently of the pope as an agent of peace. The central party loyally attached to the Church. Its basic idea was that modern constitutions guarantee all citizens freedom of religion. This attitude of the centre party made the Kulturkampf a failure and an active and strong body of catholics grew at the end of 19th century in Germany.

3. Leo XIII and the Secular laws (Lois Laigues) of France

            Leo faced a different situation in France. The Lois Laiques the counterpart of Kultutkampf were more thourough, more vicious and more successful.

The French Revolution divided France into two nations: (i) Liberals (Republicans), (ii) Catholies (monarchists). The events of the 19th century made the difference between these two nations deeper and more bitter and the attempts of the liberal catholics like Ozanam and Duponloup failed to bring the two parties together. In 1877 the Republicans won the election. They formed the Third Republic. Gambetta became the prime minister. His slogan was “clericalism the enemy”.

The catholics were not sincere supporters of the church. There were professed atheists among them. They supported the church as an instrument to further their political views. They were divided into different groups bitterly opposing each other. On the other hand the republicans were disciplined +united.

The third republic declared war against the church. The clergy were expelled from all charitable institutions which were entrusted to laymen. Schools were laicized; military service was imposed on seminarians. Sunday labour was authorized and divorce courts were established. These laws were known as Ferry laws.

            The laicization of education was accomplished step by step. In 1880 the Jesiuts were expelled and their schools and colleges (28) were closed. All “non-authorized” congregations must apply within three months for authorization, submitting their statutes, rules and number of the members. Only those authorized by the government were to continue teaching. In 1882 all religious was excluded from the primary schools. In 1884 February Leo published an encyclical “nobilissima Gallorum Gens” in which he regretted that the eldest daughter of the Church had departed from its tradition. But the government continued its anti-Catholic activities. In 1886 all nuns were excluded from the government supported schools.

            Gradually the government had to stop their process of laicization because of two reasons: (i) the attempt to drive the church out of French life did not meet with widespread support. Less than 3% of the children were enrolled in the laicized state supported schools. (ii) The mild attitude of Leo. On 16 February 1892 the pope released his encyclical “au milieu des solicitudes” to the French bishops and their flocks. It was to end the dissensions among the French Catholics and to remove all pretexts of anticlericalism among the enemies of the church. In his Brief on 10 January 1890 “Saplunltiae christianae” the pope exhorted the French Catholics to be loyal to any form of the government and that they had an obligation to accept the Third Republic as duly established government and to work within it to protect the church’s interests and the common welfare. He said that the church was not opposed to any form of the government so long as religion and moral discipline were untouched and the church would not side with any party.

Again between 1901 and 1905 the French government enacted a series of anticlerical laws known as the “lois laiques”-secular laws – to drive the church out of French political, social and intellectual life. An Association Act of 1901 provided that any religious order wishing to continue work in France must obtain specific authorization from the government and submit to periodical inspection. A law of 1904 provided that within ten years no member of a religious congregation could teach in any French school, public or private. The separation Act of 1905 abrogated unilaterally the concordet of 1801. So the church was deprived of government support. The administration of church properties was entrusted to lay associations. Leo’s efforts in France had ‘failed but he had from time to time moderated the storm against the church and contributed to lessening the divisions among the faithful.

4. Leo XIII as the teacher of the Church

In the midst of tribulations and problems pope Leo performed successfully his function as the head of the Church. He issued a series of masterful encyclicals. The Kulturkampf, Lois Laiques and the Italian measures have all been rescinded and have melted into history. But the encyclicals of Leo are still read, studied and quoted’. He wrote on such current topics as marriage, errors of the day, the temporal power and the church and civilization. The great encyclicals are his most enduring memorial.

Inscrutabili Dei (878) on the evils affecting modern society, their causes and remedies.

Quod apostolici muneris (1878) defended the right of private property, sanctioned by the law of nature. He focused his attention on socialists, communists etc.

Humanum Genus (1884) against Freemasonry and secret societies.

Aeterni Patris (1879) on scholastic philosophy.

Rerum Novarum (15 May 1891) on labour problem.

Immortale Dei (1885) on basic political problems, the church and the state are two perfect societies.

Libertas praestantissimum on liberty as gift of God.

Providentissimus Deu’s (1893) on study of S.Scripture.

Diuturnum Illud (1881) people have the right to choose their form of the government.

Sapintiae Christianaeon, the chief duties of christians as citizens.

Divinum Illud, on devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Mirae Caritatis, on Eucharist.

Other activities

1881 – He opened Vatican archives to all scholars. 1886 – He instituted the Latin hierarchy in India (Kerala). 1887 – Ritual separation the Syrians and Latins in Kerala. Two vicariates for Syrians.

Pius X (1903-1914)

On 4 August 1903 Joseph Melchior Sarto, the Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice was elected pope. He took the name Pius X. He was a man of deep piety with a purely pastoral background. “Instaurare omnia in Christo” was his motto.

Joseph Sarto was born in 1835 as a son of a postmaster of Riese on Venetian plains. He was ordained priest at 23. He had experience as a pastor, chancellor and spiritual director of the seminary. He was ordained bishop of Mantua in 1884 and became patriarch of Venice and cardinal in 1893. The government delayed his elevation for sixteen months. He took a round trip ticket when he went for the conclave. He was elected pope on the fourth voting. It was complained that he was a bishop rather than a statesman because of his simplicity. His secretary of the State was Raphael Merry de Val.

Pius X and Modernism

            Modernism is difficult to define because they did not agree among themselves on what they believed. For them believing was unimportant whereas religious experience and pious living were the essence of the religion. Pius X summed up the teachings of modernism under 65 condemned propositions. He called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies”.

The errors of Modernism are summed up under three headings: 1. Agnosticism: supernatural truths cannot be known with certainty by human reason. Holy Scripture could be interpreted subjectively. 2. Immanentism: S Scripture and tradition do not contain revelations of God, but expression of feelings and inner experience of extremely religious persons. For them religion is a purely inner experience. 3. Evolutionism: The church is a result of gradual evolution as it evolves it should adopt itself to changing times.

            By his decree “Lamentabili” (1907) Pius X condemned modernism. He renewed it in “Pascendi Domini Gregis”. He suggested appropriate remedies: sound training in the seminaries, careful scrutiny of professors in seminaries and universities, careful control of the bishopsover the catholic journals and news papers, creation of the diocesan board of censures, diocesan committee to safeguard teaching of religion in schools. In 1910 he published a motu proprio which obliged all priests to take an explicit anti-modernistic oath. The condemnation of modernism, though salutary, put a temporary check on the study of scripture.

Pius X and the codification of Canon Law

At Vatican I several bishops requested to revise the canon law. Pius IX and Leo XIII had made attempts in this respect. The canonists also suggested the church, legislation be revised and codified. On 19 March 1904 Pius X appointed a commission of cardinals, canonists and theologians to prepare a new code with the suggestions from all bishops. Cardinal Gasperi was appointed the secretary of the commission. To speed up the work, the commission was divided into two; one led by Gasperi another by cardinal De Lai. Books were published on:

Books I, II      –           20 March 1912

            III        –           01 April 1913

            IV        –           15 Nov. 1914

            V         –           01 July 1913

At the time of Pius’ death the major work had already been accomplished. The final conclusive version was published by Benedict XV in 1917.

Spiritual reforms of Pius X

1. Frequent and daily communion. In the beginning of 20th century there was a dispute between the advocates of frequent communion and its opponents. Leo XIII encouraged frequent communion Pius X also defended it and several decrees and letters in favour of it were published. In June 1905 he approved a prayer “for the propagation of the pious custom of daily communion, bringing to mind that Jesus meant to be the daily remedy and the daily food for our daily shortcomings. On 20 December 1905 the congregation for the council specified two conditions for receiving Holy Communion.  1. The state of grace, 2. Proper intention. He asked all faithful to communicate frequently and daily. On 8 October 1910 he issued the decree “Quam Singulari” declaring that it is sufficient for children to have the age of reason to receive the First Holy Communion. In April 1905 he founded the teague of Priests to enforce the application of the decree about the frequent communion.

            2. International Eucharistic Congress. The first Eucharistic congress was convoked in 1881. It was organized by Miss Tamisier, a French Lady, and a disciple of St. Peter Julian Eymard. The name Eucharistic congress was suggested by Msgr. Mermier. Msgr. Seigur was also associated with it.

Originally international congresses were meant to be public manifestations to inspire the devotion to Bl. Sacrament and to have a public witness to Christ’s kingdom. Pius X wanted these congresses be an occasion to encourage faithful to receive Holy Communion frequently even daily. This was especially pertinent at the Congress of Metz in 1907. In 1914 at Lourdes Eucharistic children’s crusade was founded. By then the Eucharistic congress became more international in character, besides, national congresses were also conducted.

3. Liturgical renewal. a) Church music. No significant renewal was done after the council of Trent. On 22 Nov. 1903 by “tra se sollicitudine” Pius X wrote on church music. It was qualified as the ‘charter of the liturgical movement’. He opposed the orchestral opera music. Gregorian chant was presented as perfect model of church music. He wanted music provide a prayer with a beautiful background. b) Revision of breviary (1911) C) yearly liturgical conventions

4. Concern for pastoral improvements. Pius X tried his best to improve the spiritual and moral level of the clergy and to inspire their pastoral enthusiasm. Under the direction of Consistorial Congregation a questionnaire was prepared in 1909 focusing on clergy’s observance of their duties and situation in the seminaries. He constantly reminded the bishops to use stricter standards when recruiting the priests. He prevented priests from participating in activities of an economic or political nature.

In order to improve the quality of the clergy, Pius X turned his attention to the seminaries including the minor seminaries. In 1907 a programme of studies was published. In 1908 norms for the organization of the seminaries in regard to education and discipline. It paid attention to minute details. It had many shortcomings – a life without much contact with outside world. The Roman regulations could not be executed due to lack of suitable men, finance etc.

Pius X was very careful in the selection of bishops.  St. Anselm was represented as the ideal bishop. He revised the methods of studied each one personally before the final decision. He issued regulations on their adlimina visits – a detailed report of the diocese every five years.

Reforms of Pius X

The London Times wrote after the death of Pius X: “It is not an exaggeration to say that Joseph Sarto instituted more changes in the administration of the Catholic Church than any of his predecessors since the council of Trent”.

Reorganization of the Roman Curia

The organization of the Roman Curia was instituted by pope Sixtus V on 21 January 1588 by his bull Immensa aeterni. There were 15 congregations. In the course of 300 years it turned into a heterogeneous assemblage of thirty seven agencies whose rights and responsibilities were often totally undefined and who were constantly in conflict with each other. Moreover the elimination of temporal authority rendered some of these agencies totally superfluous. Furthermore the administrative methods were completely obsolete, inflexible, out of date, costly etc. Many in the curia consider their work as a carrier to have the cardinal’s hat. The reform in the curia was very urgent. In 1903 Pius X suspended Congregation De eligendis episcopis and entrusted the appointment of the bishops to the Holy Office. In 1906 he suspended Congregation Super disciplina regulari and De Statu Regularum and entrusted everything concerned Religious Orders to Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.

On 29 June 1906 Pius X reorganized the Roman Curia by the Constitution “Sapiente consilio”. The new curia consisted of 11 congregations, three tribunals and five offices. I.Conareagtions

i. Cong. for Doctrine of Faith

ii. cong. of Consistory: in charge of bishops, seminaries

iii. cong. of the Sacraments

iv. cong. of the Council – general discipline of clergy and faithful

v. cong. of the Religious

vi. cong. of the Propagation of Faith

vii. cong. of Rite

viii. cong. of Ceremonies

ix. cong. for Extraordinary Affairs

x. congregation for Seminaries and Universities

xi. cong. of the Index (abolished in 1917)

2. Tribunals

i. Romana Rota -highest court of appeal.

ii. Apostolica Signatura – highest court of administrative and reversal of judgment.

iii. Sacred Penitentiary – the curial court of grace for the internal forum. Since it predominantly grants pardon, it should be considered rather as an administrative office than as a court.

3. Offices

i. Apostolic Chancery – responsible for the preparation and dispatching of bulls.

ii. Apostolic Datary -competent for the conferring of lesser ecclesiastical benefices (c.261).

iii. The Apostolic Camera (Chamber) – for the administration of temporal property and rights of the Holy See (c.262).

iv. The Secretariat of the State responsible for the direction of the policy of the Holy See.

v. The Secretariat of Briefs.

It is remarked that the basic structure of Sixtus V’s organization was not essentially (decisively) changed.

Papal Conclave

Pius I reorganized the papal conclave so as to insure absolute freedom in the election of the pope. He abolished the system of veto in 1904 (5 Dec.) and imposed absolute secrecy on the conclave’s deliberations under penalty of excommunication. On 19 May 1914 he created 13 new cardinals to give the College of Cardinals an even balance of Italians and non Italians.

Pius X ordered to teach catechism on Sundays and Holy days and to establish confraternity of Christian doctrine in every parish. He also pointed out the necessity of lay action in the Church (Il fermo proposito – 11 June 1905). He promoted the study of Bible. In 1909 he established the Biblical Institute in Rome.

St. Pius X did not possess the diplomatic ability and versatility of his predecessors. He permitted the Catholics to take part in the parliamentary elections provided the diocesan bishops approved. Pius X lived to see the outbreak of World War I, of which he spoke forebodingly. The war broke out late in the summer of 1914 and within three weeks the pope died on 20 August 1914. His kindness, simplicity and genuine piety had won for him the love off Catholics and the esteem of the non-Catholics.

Benedict XV (1914-1922)

Giacomo Paulo Battista Della Chiesa, the archbishop of Bolonga, was elected pope on 3 September 1914. He took the name Benedict XV in memory of his predecessor Benedict XIV (Lambertini). His coronation was on a September at Sixtine chapel.

Benedict XV was born on 21 November 1854 at Genoa. He had two brothers and a sister. He was ordained priest on 21 December 1878. In 1882 he was appointed to the cong. for extraordinary affairs, then as secretary to Card. Rampola. In 1887 he was appointed minutante of Secretariat of State. In 1901 he became the Sostituto, in 1907 archbishop of Bolonga. He was ordained bishop by Pius X at the Sixtine chapel. In 1914 he was made cardinal. When his mother complained about not promoting him to cardinalate, Pius X said to her: “your son takes few but long steps”.

Benedict was the ideal choice. He had experience in Roman curia as well as in pastoral work. He continued the reform works of Pius X. In 1914 he created a commission on the correction of the Vulgate and in 1915 he issued an encyclical on preaching. In 1915 he created a congregation for seminaries and in 1917 the congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Benedict XV and the World War I

The First World War (1914-1918) broke out in the summer of 1914. It is called a world war for nearly every nation of the world became involved in it. Since Italy was neutral the conclave could be done in tranquility.

            The war caused the pope great pain. He followed a fourfold policy: perfect neutrality, protest violations of the moral law, perform works of charity for suffering humanity, attempt to end the conflict and to bring peace. He perused this with diplomatic skill and with a heart full of charity.

Benedict XV issued several documents appealing all to peace. In his encyclical Ad Beatissimi (I Nov.1914) the pope speaks of four causes of unrest that produced the war: 1. a general contempt has developed for authority, 2. mutual love no longer governs human relations, 3. class relations are dominated by injustice, 4. people are possessed of a universal fever to amass riches. The pope’s appeal to peace went unheard. Again on 28 July 1915 he exhorted all to end the conflict and to make peace.

Unable toymaker peace, the pope concentrated on charity work. He converted the church’s organization to the relief of suffering and the minimizing of the hardships attendant upon the war. He sent alms to help those areas devastated by the war. In December 1914 the pope set up a Prisoners of War bureau in the Vatican. This office obtained the lists of the missing soldiers and informed the missing men’s families. Arrangements were made through the bureau for communication between prisoners and their families.

Benedict XV also offered to mediate peace between the belligerents. On 1 August 1917 he invited all to agree upon his seven peace points:

1. The moral force of right should replace the material force of arms.

2. Simultaneous and reciprocal disarmament.

3. Acceptance of arbitration with proper sanctions to punish nations that did not abide by the decisions.

4. Freedom of the seas.

5. A general and reciprocal condonation as regards damages and cost of the war.

6. The reciprocal restitution of territory.

7. The promise to examine territorial disputes in a conciliatory spirit and taking into account the aspirations of the people concerned.

The pope’s note was not even answered. The war continued more than a year later. Then the peace was signed at Versailles, but Papacy was excluded from the negotiations.  It was at the request of Italian government which, afraid that Vatican would bring up the Roman question and place it on the agenda for discussion.

After the peace of Versailles, Pope Benedict wrote his encyclical Pacem Dei Munus expressing his joy and pointing out that there can be no lasting peace unless there be a return of mutual charity to appease hate and banish enemity. He stated explicitly that Christian peace alone can work a reconciliation that will be just and lasting. He promised Church’s full support to the Leagge of Nations.

The neutral policy of Benedict was appreciated by all. It resulted in a number of steps in various countries toward reconciling the church and the government. Meanwhile Holy See’s diplomatic prestige had increased. England appointed an ambassador to Vatican in 1914, Holland in 1916, and France in 1920. Political persons visited the pope. A statue of pope was erected in Constantinople. Its inscription reads: “To the great pope of world tragedy, Benedict XV, a benefactor of peoples without distinction of nationality or religion, the East, in token of gratitude 1914-1919. He died on 22 January 1922 at the age of 68.

Pius XI (1922-1939)

            On 6 February 1922 the cardinal archbishop Of Milan Ambrose Damian Achille Ratti, was elected pope. He took the name Pius XI. Achille Ratti was born in Desio near Monza on 31 May 1857. He was ordained priest on 20 December 1879. From 1882 to 1886 he was professor in Milan Seminary, prefect of Ambrosian Library from 1888 to 1907, then prefect of Vatican library. In 1918 he was appointed apostolic visitor and nucio to Poland and in 1921 he was named archbishop of Milan and cardinal. He had doctorate in Canon Law and Philosophy. He was a strong man with keen intelligence and universal interest. He had vast encyclopedic knowledge of the modern world.

            Pius XI was a compromising candidate. Cardinals Lafontaine of Venice and Gasparri were the candidates. In the 14th ballot Ratti obtained 42 votes out of 53. He took the motto “Pax Christi in Regno Christi”. He was the scholarly pope since Benedict XIV (1740-58). He had considerable knowledge of languages and acquaintance with modern scientific investigation. Re was pious and active in pastoral care. As nuncio he acquired experience of ecclesiastical politics. He had excellent health, had a regular walk in Vatican garden.

“Life in action” was one of his maxims. Another one was: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can today”. It seems that he was born to command. He had a strong consciousness of authority. His model was St. Ambrose. He used to say “Laws are to be observed, not to be dispensed with”. He was strongly against nepotism. He received his relatives in the official reception hall. The first blessing of the pope from the external loggia shows a move toward a solution of the Roman question.

Pius XI and the Room question

The Roman question was settled in 1929. It was largely the, personal work of Pius XI. It ended the 59 years of anomalous existence the church had endured since 1870.

In October 1922 Fascism under the leadership of Benito Mussolini seized the power in Italy and soon eliminated all other parties. Fascism- from the word fasci or clubs – was organised by Mussolini in the industrial centers. Its members wore black shirts and had as their symbol the fasces or bundles of rods enclosing a battle axe and saluted Mussolini as il duce with outstretched hand in Roman manner – took a friendly attitude toward the church which it considered primarily of course as an element Of natural culture. Religion instruction again became obligatory in the elementary schools; clerics were granted exemption from military service, military chaplains were appointed; the crucifix was returned to a place of honour in the schools, hospitals and law courts; churches and cloisters, that had been seized were given back, catholic holidays were acknowledged by law. Mussolini fully recognized the immense importance of a settlement of the differences with papacy. So he was very anxious to settle the Roman question. He wanted the full support of all Italians and he knew that this was impossible until the church officially accepted the loss of Rome and Italy recognized the papacy as a sovereign state. He believed that he could identify Catholicism and Italian nationalism to enhance his own power and prestige. Since Italian people is almost totally catholic, he explained, and Catholicism is the ancient glory and tradition of Italy, the state which is the judicial organization of the Italian nation, the representative of its spirit and the heir of its traditions, is not and can not be aught but catholic”.

Pius XI on his part intimated at the beginning of his pontificate that the church would accept much lose than the city of Rome and she recognized the unification of Italy as an accomplished fact. He explained that he needed only a little corner of the earth. In his first blessing he expressed his desire to negotiate with Italy. Then in his first encyclical he invited the Italian government to settle the question.

            Informal negotiations were begun in August 1926. Francesco Paccelli, brother of Pius Pius XII, represented the Holy See, Dominico Barone, the Italian government. Both had 110 conversations. And they prepared a draft treaty in April 1927. Then the last stages of negotiations were carried on by Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri. Finally after two and half years of negotiations on 11 February 1929 was concluded the Lateran Treaty.

This treaty has three parts: 1. The treaty proper, 2. A financial settlement, 3. A concordat.

1. The Treaty proper. It is a bilateral settlement. Pope’s sovereignty was recognized by Italy. It created Vatican City, a sovereign state governed by pope. It has 108 acres. It declared the person of the pope sacred and inviolable and acknowledged his right to send and receive diplomatic embassies. The pope, on his side, recognized the kingdom of Italy with Rome as its capital. The treaty also provided for the extra territoriality and immunity of many buildings outside Vatican City including the major Roman basilicas (Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul) the palaces of various Roman congregations and papal summer residence at Castel Gondolfo. It also recognized the cardinals as princes of the Church.

2. The financial settlement. The treaty also made a financial settlement. The state had seized tremendous amount of church property since 1870. Italy promised to pay the pope 1750 million Lire for the loss.

3. A concordat. The treaty included a concordat between the Holy See and the Italian government. It established the catholic religion as the state religion of Italy. It granted to the bishops full freedom in the exercise of their pastoral office, it placed Christian marriage, Christian schools and religious societies under the protection of the state. The state promised to recognize the holydays established by the church. The church, on her part, promised to recite liturgical prayers for the king of Italy and the Italian nation.

The Lateran treaty was a great achievement of pope Pius XI. It brought to the foreground the religious and pastoral functions of the papacy and pushed into background its worldly and political interests.

Pius XI and the Concordats

Pius XI believed that the church could effect a contribution to the consolidation of the new political situations and to the peaceful and cultural development of Europe. Therefore he entered into general concordats with various European powers. In this work he was supported by his Secretary of the State Cardinal Gasparri (+1934) and his successor Eugenio Paccelli. Pius XI concluded concordats with Latvia (1922.), Bavaria (1924), Poland (1925), Lithuania (1927), Romania (1927) Prussia (1929) Italy (1929). Baden (1932), Austria (1933), Germany (1933), Yugoslavia (1935- not ratified). So his pontificate can be called a new era of concordats.

The results of the concordats

1. The church obtained legal autonomy and freedom from secular rulers.

2. Provision is made for the nomination of bishops. Pope is free to nominate anyone he wishes and submits his name to government to make sure he is not politically a persona non-grata.

3. Freedom to exercise public worship, recognition of right of the church to promulgate laws binding on all Catholics.

4. Full freedom for communication between Holy See and bishops in the country, between bishops and their faithful.

5. Ecclesiastical organizations obtained official recognition and legal right to acquire and manage property. These organizations are recognized as corporate persons.

6. Freedom for religious orders to operate as cooperate entities within the country.

7. Special status of ecclesiastics according to the canon law was accepted: clerics are free from military service and from duties and public offices that are unbecoming to clerical status.

8. Some measure of the state support for the church in return for property confiscated in days gone by.

9. Various arrangements are made for matters that are a concern to both church and state eg. Education, marriage etc.

10. The concordat guaranteed the church the right to follow its divinely appointed mission freely in return the church recognized the legitimacy of certain political and social interests of the state as education.

Pius XI and fascism

Fascism was a source of trouble to Pius XI almost from the beginning. Certain accomplishments of the fascist government for eg, suppression of secret societies, its protest against materialism etc. deserved to be applauded, but fascist violence could never be condoned. Its doctrine of the state was a modern form of idolatry. Against this Pius XI said; “It is not the function of the state to absorb, to swallow up, to annihilate the individual and the family. This would be absurd, contrary to the nature of things, for the family existed before the state, as it existed before the society”.

            In 1930 and 1931 Mussolini conducted an insulting campaign against papacy and catholic action groups. Therefore on 5 July It 1931, the pope wrote the indignant and strong encyclical “Non abbiamo bisggno”. In it the pope described fascism as an ideology which openly resolves itself into a true, real pagan worship of the state. Then Mussolini withdrew the decrees against the catholic action and never dared to declare open war against Vatican and the church.

Pius II and Nazism

            In Germany the church was persecuted by Nazism under Hitler. Pius XI condemned the doctrine of Nazism and its terrorist activities. In France there was an ultranationalist movement called L’action Francaise which aimed at the restoration of monarchy.  Its activities were anticlerical.  Pius XI condemned it in 1927. In Spain the Revolution of 1931 overthrew the royal rule and passed several antireligious and anticlerical laws. The church’s legal rights were abolished, the ecclesiastical property was put under the state control, the religious instruction was excluded from education and provision was made for the suppression of religious orders. Churches were burned, priests murdered, nuns outraged and slain by the radicals. The government watched passively. On 3 June 1933 the pope condemned this anticlerical legislation. Pius XI and Catholic Action

Pius XI realized that the priests cannot by themselves adequately perform their apostolate in the modern world and that they need the help of laity. He defined catholic action as the participation of the laity in the work of hierarchy.  He reminded the laymen of their obligation and duty to preach the gospel to all people. Catholic action groups are formed to spread gospel. Its aim was to create a sacred militia that would bring true, spiritual and moral principles to bear on the problems of the time. Catholic action stands above and beyond all party politics for it aims at the common good of the souls rather that at the welfare of particular bodies. The members of catholic action are always to remain under the bishops’ authority and subject to their jurisdiction. Pope obtained legal recognition of catholic action groups in many countries. Thus different youth groups developed in Europe.

Other activities of Pius X1

Pius XI was able to take the lead in every field of ecclesiastical and religious life and to reveal to all the world the eminent mission of the apostolic see. In line with his motto in 1925 he introduced the feast of Christ the King together with the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He presided over many canonizations: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Mary Vianney, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. John Bosco, St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More etc. In impressive encyclicals he gave clear instructions for the defense of human dignity and Christian personality. Thus in the encyclicals “Divini illius magistri (1929) and Casti connubi (1930) he demanded support for christian education and christian marriage against the modern errors and abuses. On the 40th anniversary of the encyclical of Leo XIII Rerum Novarum, he issued a new and most important encyclical Quadragessimo anno (1931). It gives an outline of a reasonable social order. It reiterates the basic principles of rerum novarum and brings their application up to date. Within a few years Q.A. was known throughout the world, and many of its principles became commonplace among the sociologists and economists.

Main points of Quadragessimo anno.

-the church had the right and duty of exerting its authority in social and economic matters.

-pope points out the errors of socialism and communism on the one hand and rugged individualism on the other.

-pope established the right of private property which has a social character and cannot be employed against the common welfare.

-pope insists that ownership of property entails obligations as well as rights. He lists e rights and unjust claims of capital and labour.

-he dwells on the reconstruction of the social order on the basis of vocational groups and respects for the principles of subsidiarity.

The other encyclicals of Pius XI are:

            Ron abbiamo bisogno– a powerful protest against fascism. In this the pope accused Italian government of attempting to monopolize all the young from the tenderest years up to manhood and womanhood.

            Mit brennender sorge- a more incisive indictment of Nazism. Pope denounced the neopagan exaltation of race and blood.

            Divini Redemptoris– a denunciation of atheistic communism.

            Divini illius magistri- a classic statement of the catholic theory of education. Pope says: “there can be no ideally perfect education that is not a christian education for sound education must take into consideration man’s final goal in life. It must deal with the whole man.

            Casti connubi- the pope states the traditional catholic doctrine on marriage.

1922- Celebrated tercentenary of Propaganda

1922- Authorized the transfer of the headquarters of Propaganda from France to Rome, and placed it more directly under papal supervision.

1923- Institution of Syro-Malabar hierarchy.

1923- First indigenous bishop in India for Latin rite, Tuticorir

1924- Cardinals -New York and Chicago.

1925- Jubilee year, instituted the solemnity of Christ king missionary exposition and founding of a missionary and theological museum in Lateran.

1926- Officiated at the consecration of six Chinese bishops in St. Peter’s.

1929- Extraordinary Jubilee on the occasion of the golden Jubilee of the pope.

1930- Cardinal -Rio do Janeiro.

20 Sept. reunion of Jacobites in Kerala.

1931- Jubilee of council of Ephesus.

1932- 11 June institution of Syro-Malankara hierarchy.

1933-34- Jubilee of Incarnation and redemption of Christ.

1935- Cardinals Buenos Aires, pat. of Antioch.

1936- Foundation of the academy of science.

The pontificate of Pius XI was a fruitful period. The missions were solidly organized and the church began to spread outside Europe. Internally also the church grew greater and stronger. Pius XI also did all he could to facilitate the reunion of the Eastern Churches. The Oriental Institute in Rome was given strong papal support. The pope ordered that all seminaries institute course dealing with the Eastern Church to help to do away with the mutual ignorance and scorn, which have perpetuated the schism. He published his encyclical “Rerun Orientalium” of 1928 on this question.

Pope Pius XI died on 10 February 1939 after 11 years in papacy. At his death the New York Times wrote: “He was a man of ample and various gifts, a humanist, a quiet scholar… a singularly able administrator, a lover of antiquity, his settlement of the Roman question will always be memorable…”

Pius XI made his little domain – larger he would not have -a centre of freedom and of the defense of religion against the new cult of worship of the state. In this defense he was as brave as he was wise. The free men and women whose battle he fought will not forget him”. Pius XI wanted all to bring all into the kingdom of God. The institution of Archaeological Institute in Rome and instruction to the bishops to preserve existing archives show his love for antiquity. He instituted a historical section for completing of the process of beatification and canonization as a part of the congregation for the Rites.

Pope Plus III (1939 1258)

On 2 March 1939 Cardinal Eugenio Paccelli was elected pope. The conclave lasted but one day. He took the name Pius XII

Eugenio Pacelli was a Roman by birth. He was born on 2 March 1876, He attended the state secondary school Visconti and, after finishing these, he pursued philosophy at the Gregoriana from 1804 to 1899, while he was a member of Collegio Capranica. He studied theology at Sant Appollinare as an extern, but at the same time for an entire year he heard lectures at the state university of Sapienza. He was ordained to the priesthood on 2 April 1899 by the cardinal vicar of Rome in the latter’s private chapel.

After the completion of legal studies at Sant’Appollinare (1899-1902), Pacelli entered the congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs as a minutante in 1904. Pacelli became its undersecretary in 1911 and secretary of the congregation in 1914. From 1909 to 1914 he was also teaching at The Academia dei Nobili and performing pastoral work as confessor, preacher and lecturer.

In 20 April 1917 Pacelli was appointed nuncio in Germany. Benedict XV himself ordained him as archbishop of Sardes on 13 May 1917 in the Sistine chapel. After the overthrow of the monarchy, Pacelli was on 22 June 1920 made the first nuncio to the German Republic. In 1925 he moved to Berlin. He was qualified as the most skilful diplomat of the Curia.

            He was recalled to Rome and on 16 December he was created Cardinal. On 7 February he became Gasparri’s successor as secretary of state. He became known to the universal church through legations to Buenos Eires in 1934, Lourdes and Lisieux in 1935 and 1937 respectively, and Budapest in 1938. In 1936 he visited the United States in a private capacity.

            Pacelli spoke a variety of languages. Though he had no experience as the administrator of a diocese, he had a long experience in dealing with men. He had a high intelligence, a combination of charm and dignity in public and private address. He was ascetic and religious and had great devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary. He consecrated human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1946 and defined the Assumption of Mary in 1950. When he was in the curia he used to hear confession in a parish and teach catechism. He had a sense of duty and sought to make the church more Catholic.

Pius XII was the man of the hour He possessed the diplomatic skill and experience of Leo XIII and Benedict XV. He was deeply religious like Pius X. He was a teacher on the model of Pius XI. He added sensitivity to changing social and economic conditions.

The beginning of the Pontificate of Pius XII was overshadowed by the impending outbreak of the World War II. Pius XII worked and prayed incessantly to avert the outbreak of the conflict.

The three main concerns of Pius XII were:

1. Peace

2. Protection of Church’s rights throughout the world

3. Adaptation to changing conditions in the world

1. Peace efforts of Pius XII

Peace was a great concern for Pius XII. He worked a programme for a true, just and lasting peace. In the first months of his pontificate he tried desperately to prevent war. He prayed and pleaded for peace. He also employed church’s world wide organization to relieve suffering caused by the war.

            Before the war the pope launched a crusade of prayer to Bl. Virgin Mary and to Sacred Heart of Jesus to prevent the war. He also made a direct appeal to the leaders of the nations, for eg. the radio message of August 24 said: “nothing is lost with peace, all may be lost with war”. In spite of his appeals and peace efforts, the pope hurried I. diplomatic efforts to reconcile the great powers. He proposed to hold an international conference to settle the German -Polish and French-Italian disputes, but it was turned down. (The Germans invaded Poland on l Sept.1939).

At the outbreak of war Pius XII published his first encyclical “Summi Pontificatue” on 27 Oct 1939 –analyzing the dangers that confront the church and the pressing problems of modern time. He asked: “what age has been for all its technical and purely civic progress, more tormented than ours by spiritual emptiness and deep-felt interior poverty”.

            The pope points out two principal errors that lie at the source of all troubles: 1. the denial or forgetfulness of the unity of the human race, 2. the divorce of civil auth it from dependence on God. From these derive nationalism and totalitarian state which denies human, family and even divine rights. The pope stressed the role of the church and her obligation to build up a new world order based on the truth. In the hour of darkness of war he was optimistic saying: “God can do all things. He, therefore, exhorted the Catholics to pray for a lasting Peace based on charity and justice.

Pius XII can truly be called a pope of peace. The problem of peace was always nearest his heart. His Christmas eve address on peace constitute the most complete analysis of the nature of peace. Peace is fundamentally a spiritual and moral condition -”a tranquil living together in order” (St. Augustine). Peace is a threefold thing: 1. it is an interior state of soul and condition of mind within each individual, 2. it is a domestic matter within each nation, social peace among the classes within the country, 3. it is a tranquil living together in order by all the various nations of the world.

In his Christmas message of 1939 Pius XII laid down the essential points of international peace:

i. the right to life and independence of all nations

ii. Deliverance from the economic and psychological slavery.

iii. Creation of some international institution to guarantee agreements entered into by the nations of the world.

iv. Satisfying the real needs and just demands of all nations and all minorities.

v. striving by all people and governments to attain justice rather than promoting selfish interests.

Pope said that the mutual distrust and suspicion are the grounds in which the seeds of war are fruitfully cultivated.

According to Pius XII there are certain victories which are preliminary to any lasting peace:

i. victory over the hatred which divides the nation in our day.

ii. Victory over distrust which makes honest understanding among nations impossible.

iii. Victory over the “dismal principle that utility is the foundation and aim of law, that might can create right”.

iv. Victory over conflicts arising from an unbalanced world economy.

v. Victory over nationalistic selfishness.

Pope stressed that lasting peace must be based on justice among the nations and among the classes within nations and that its foremost foundation lays in the principles given to mankind by Christ.

In the Christmas eve message of 1942 pope laid emphasis on the development and perfection of the human person, on the rights of the family, the dignity and prerogatives of labour and the christian concept of the state. In the Christmas eve message of 1944 pope showed that the same democracies, accepting right political principles can solve international problems and promote peace in the world.

The Church and the War

The war interrupted the normal communications within the church. Many priests were forced into armed services; thousands more left their dioceses to serve as chaplains. Several priests were killed. Millions of faithful suffered and millions were found themselves behind the iron curtain.

Pius XII followed two lines of action in regard to the war. He mobilized the church’s resources for relief work and he used his moral prestige and diplomatic service to shorten the war and advocate terms on which a sound peace could be reached.

1. A Pontifical Relief Commission was set up to help the devastated areas of Poland. Then new relief stations were set up as the war spread into other countries. Food, medicine and clothing were passed out by Vatican relief workers to people of all creeds and nationalities.

2. Protection of refugees: After 1943 when the allies began the invasion of Italy the pope found Rome a particularly pressing problem. There were half a million refugees in Rome and Vatican served them meals at the cost of about $7000 a day. The relief centers helped thousands to find a permanent settlement.

3. Looking after the prisoners of war. Vatican looked after the prisoners of war in many countries. Vatican representatives were given free access to the camps of the prisoners everywhere except in the Russian territory. They contacted the prisoners personally and provided them with all possible helps.

4. Information service. Vatican also set up an information service whose aim was to supply information about the missing persons to their relatives. It started with two volunteers and by 1945 it had a staff of 600 full-time volunteers.

5. Appeal for peace. Throughout the war the pope used his office to mitigate the harshness of the war. In 1940 he appealed for a Christmas truce. 24 November 1940 was declared a day of penance and prayer: for those who died, for those who mourned, and that “true peace may unite as brothers all peoples of the holy family’. May of 1941 was made a crusade for peace month; a special prayer was composed by the pope.

Pius XII negotiated with both sides to have Rome declared an open city. But it was not done; Rome was subjected to several severe bombings until it was taken by the American troops.

The loss of the Church

The church suffered serious losses in personnel and property during the war. Three bishops and at least 2000 priests had died or been killed in Poland and 1597 German priests had been killed and similar numbers of religious had lost their lives in the other countries of Europe. Japan had killed many missionaries in China. War damages to the church alone estimated at more than six billion.

The reconstruction of the church

Pius XII began to rebuild the church on a world-wide basis. He increased the number of the cardinals and gave to the College of Cardinals a universal character. The Italians lost the majority. (23/70). On 18 February 1946 he created 33 cardinals.

Russia thwarted the reconstruction works of the church. The church behind the iron curtain was cut off from Rome. 53 millions of the 425 million Catholics in the world are in this church of silence. The Holy See was powerless to offer more than prayers and encouragement to them. The influence and guidance of the pope checked the communist advance in Italy in the years after the war.

Pius XII and adaptation to a changing world

Pius XII was deeply concerned with keeping the church abreast (up-to-date) of the times. As bishop of Rome he took possession of the basilica of St. John of Lateran, the first pope since 1846. In 1939 he visited the king of Italy in Quirinale.

            Pius XII also effected changes in certain aspects of ecclesiastical life. He encouraged the religious congregations to modernize their dress and suggested some reforms to effectively fulfill their duties. In 1952 the superiors of 200 Congregations met in Rome.

Pius XII insisted that the renewal of religious life should be marked by fidelity to the traditional heritage as well as by courage for wise adaptation. He strongly emphasized the obligation not to attack the essentials of religious life and of the particular institute, and not to be unduly influenced by the current views and opinions.

The Roman congregation of the Religious took up the aim of renewal of religious life in accord with the time. In the Holy Year 1950 it convened at Rome an International Congress for male religious. This general Congress discussed the life and cloistral discipline of religious, their formation and apostolic work. Two years later a congress of superioresses General took place at Rome which also treated the question of reform of the institutes. In 1957 the Congregation summoned the second general congress and discussed the theme “the timely renewal of the state of perfection”.

National and international conferences were instituted in various countries to reform the religious life;

1. Union of superiors general for male -1957

2. International union of the superioresses general for female religious -1965

3. Confederation of Latin-American religious 1959, Bogota. On 21 November 1950 the pope published the apostolic constitution Sponsa Christi on nuns. It was followed two days later by the directives for its implementation from the Congregation of Religious. These documents first underscored the inalterability of the contemplative life, the propriety of solemn vows, and the unrenounsable papal enclosure for all nuns. In adaptation to new requirements the rules on the enclosure were modified, namely, by the creation of the so-called little papal enclosure, which permitted a meeting of nuns and outsiders in an area of the enclosure that was intended for work directed to the outside. A high apostolic value was acknowledged in the very life of the nuns and definite works of apostolate were approved in so far as the constitutions provided. These documents also recommended the uniting of autonomous monasteries of nuns into federations so that they could give effective help to one another in this work of renewal.

Pius XII was very much concerned for a good formation of religious, especially of the Priests. On 31 May 1956 he published the apostolic constitution Sedes Saplentiae and it was followed on 7 July by general statutes of the congregation of Religious in the form of directives for its implementation. These documents treated not only the formation of the candidates, but attributed great importance to their education in pastoral theology as good shepherds of souls. One additional year devoted to pastoral introduction and practice and a sort of second novitiate were prescribed. In order to equip the orders of women the Congregation of Religious on 31 May 1955 erected the papal institute Regina Mundi at Rome with a three year course for sisters.

Liturgical reforms

            On the liturgy in 1947 Pius XII published an encyclical Mediator Dei. In this the pope explains the nature and purpose of liturgical services and encourages active participation in them by the faithful. He introduced some significant reforms, including the approval of numerous rituals with vernacular texts and songs, the introduction of a new translation of the psalms, but especially the renewal of the Holy Week and Easter Vigil liturgies. In Mediator Dei the pope made use of the keyword of “active and personal participation”. The liturgy is “the public worship which our redeemer, the Head of the church, gives to the heavenly Father and which the community of believers offers to its Founder and through him to the eternal Father… It displays the total public worship of the Mystical body of Jesus Christ, namely, the Head and his members”. The precept of the Eucharistic fast was greatly mitigated in 1953 and 1957 and thereby the way for the general permission for evening mass was opened. He permitted to use native languages for certain sacraments. The faithful were allowed to receive Holy Communion on Good Friday. Reading of epistle and gospel in the vernacular was permitted.

In 1928 pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus by his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor. He also recommended the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus as a means of salvation in the encyclical Caritate Christi compulsi of 3 May 1932. Under Pius XII the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus reached a climax especially in regard to teleology. On 15 May 1956 he published encyclical Haurietis aquas which made clear that the devotion to the Sacred Heart “can look back to an advanced age in the church and has in the Gospels themselves a solid foundation, so that tradition and liturgy clearly favour it”. The reason for this cult which is distinguished as the most effective school of the love of God”, is twofold: the first consists in this, that Christ’s heart, “the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united with the person of the divine Word; hence to it must be paid the same worship of adoration by which the church honours the  person of the incarnate Son of God … The second reason results from this that his heart more than all other members of his body, is a natural indication or symbol of his unending love for the human race”.

Marian devotion: Pius XI and Pius XII promoted the Marian devotion. Appearances of Mary at Fatima in 1917, in the Belgian localities of Beauraing in 1932-33, and Banneux in 1933 obtained ecclesiastical approbation. At Fatima Mary demanded especially the praying of the rosary for the peace of the world, the consecration of Russia to her immaculate heart, and communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month. Pius XII (ordained on 13 May 1917) regarded himself throughout his life as bound to the aims at Fatima in a special way. On 8 December 1942 he consecrated the entire human race to the immaculate Heart of Mary. On 7 July 1952 he dedicated all people of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To spread the aims of Fatima there was established, at the urging of the Canadian bishop Dignan, a “Rosary Crusade”. In 1947 there arose in Vienna, under the Franciscans the Rosary Atonement Crusade.

The Legion of Mary founded by Frank Duff in Dublin in 1921 spread rapidly on all the continents. Then there appeared also the Militia of the Immaculate Conception founded in 1917 by Fr. Maximillian Kolbe (1894-1941), the Blue Army of Mar founded in 1947 by Harold von Colgan. Pius XII by his apostolic constitution Bis seculari of 1948 encouraged the lay apostolate of Marian congregations. In 1953 was founded the World Association of Marian Congregations. The Pallotines, the Schonetatt Movement by Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968), Marian sisters, Marian brothers, Schonstatt priests are the agents of the work

In 1931 Pius XI in the encyclical Ingravescentibus malis recommended rosary, with clear allusion to Fascism and communism, in view of the threatening world situation. A series of Marian feasts was introduced:

i. 1931 -feast of the maternity of the Bl. Virgin Mary on 11 October.

ii. 1944 -feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 22 Aug.

iii. 1954 -feast of Mary our Queen on 31 May.

The climax of the papal initiatives came with the proclamation of the dogma of the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven on 1 November 1950. In the dogmatic bull Pius XII stated that Mary who was already a share in the full redemption, is a sign for the mankind, threatened in a secularistic world of materialism; mankind should recognize in Mary that human fulfillment is to be found only in God; it is to be hoped, said the pope, that through the contemplation of the glorious example of Mary there may grow ever stronger the insight into what high value human life has, when it is used to carry out the will of the heavenly Father and to act for the welfare of the fellow man. And it can also be … expected that the truth of Mary’s Assumption may show to all clearly to what noble end we are destined in body and soul. Finally faith in the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven will strengthen faith also in our resurrection and lead to energetic activity” (Munificentissimus Deus).

There was a powerful increase of Marian literature and it reached its climax in the 1950s. Thus between 1948 and 1957 about one thousand titles per year appeared. The theologians treated Mary in the framework of the divine economy of salvation. Thus Mariology was seen in its relations to Christology, ecclesiology and eschatology.

Marian congresses were organized on regional, national and international levels. Further there were formed societies for Marian studies and in 1950 an international Marian Academy was founded. In France the Institut Catholique at Paris received a special chair for Mariology; at Rome Mariological Academy was made a papal academy by John XXIII on 8 December 1959. Pius XII declared Marian Years 1950, 1954, 1958 (centenary of Mary’s appearance at Lourdes).

Pius XII on 18 February 1946 named thirty two cardinals from all parts of the world. Then on 19 January 1953 he internationalized the College of Cardinals by promoting twenty-four cardinals. He canonized thirty-three saints including St. Pius X in 1954.

The encyclicals of Pius XII

Mystici Corporis Christi, 29 June 1943

Divino afflante Spiritu on Holy Scripture, 30 Sept.1943

Sacramentum Ordinis, on 30 November 1947, defined as the essence of the sacrament of orders the invocation of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands; the symbolic presentation of chalice and patent do not pertain to it.

Muniticentissimus Deus, on 1 Nov 1950, defined dogma of Assumption of Mary.

Sempiternus Rex, Sept. 1951

Haurietis aquas, 15 May 1956 on devotion to Sacred Heart.

Humani generis, 12 August 1950, accepted theological progress, but warned against the relativization of dogmas and the all too close accommodation to the trends of day

Sedes Sapientiae, 31 May 1956, extended the circle of theological departments of study in accord with the demands of modern pastoral work.

Numerous are the carefully prepared addresses of Pius XII. He spoke on human dignity, formation of conscience, marriage family, mass media, sacraments, ecumenical movement etc.

Mediator Dei, 20 Nov 1947, on liturgy

Christus Dominus, 6 Jan. 1953 on Eucharist.

Provida Mater Ecclesia, 2 Feb.1947, rules for secular institutes.

September 1956 -the first liturgical World congress at Assisi. The pope also issued new decrees on he conclave and the papal election: photographic and radio apparatus could not be brought in, and television speakers and writers could not be employed; one vote over the two thirds majority was needed to elect the pope ( Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis on 8 December 1945). In the constitution Episcopalis consecration is of 30 November 1944 he clarified the role of the two consecrators in Episcopal ordination; in the constitution Spiritus Sancti munera of 14 Aept.1, 1946 the priests were given authorization to administer the sacrament of confirmation in the territory of their parish, to the faithful who as a result of a serious illness are in danger of death. The motu proprio Sacram communionem of 19 March 1957 brought further mitigations of the Eucharistic fast and the extension of the faculty to permit evening mass. The premarital investigations were minutely regulated in 1941. The constitution Exsul Familia of 2 Aug 1952 introduced and exhaustive ordering of the pastoral care of refugees, exiles and emigrants.

Under Pius XII the codification of the canon law of the eastern churches reached its maturity. The following parts were promulgated; on 22 January 1949 the law of marriage; on 6 Jan. 1950 the law of trials, on 9 Feb.1952 the law of religious institutes and of property as well as the stipulating of specified concepts; on 2 June 1957 the constitutional law.

Neutrality of papacy in the world war

Reasons:-neutrality of Benedict XV

– The characteristic of Pius XII. He was a diplomat and an outspoken man of peace.

– The international law. In the Lateran treaty the Holy See had assumed the obligation of holding itself aloof from the properly political problems of international politics.

Pius XII preferred the term “impartiality”. He declared to the cardinal of Munich: “Neutrality could be understood in the sense of a passive indifference, which in a period of war such as this was unbecoming to the head of the church. Impartiality means for us judgment of things in accord with truth and Justice”. He declared that the church “does not have the function of intervening and taking sides in purely earthly affairs. She is a mother. Do not ask a mother to favour or to oppose the part of one or other of her children”.

Pius XII observed the policy of impartiality almost rigoristically. During the war he refrained with difficulty from any explicit condemnation of many aggression of the part of Germany, Italy, Soviet Union and other Allies. He was likewise careful to see that Vatican did not become entangled in any crusade propaganda of one of the warring sides. Even the term “communism” disappeared from the vocabulary of the Holy See.

The war made impossible the communication with the rest of the world. Mussolini withdrew the extraterritoriality of the papal buildings contrary to the Lateran Treaty. The curia continued to function in the Vatican itself. Though there were restrictions and limitations the central authority of the universal church could continue to operate essentially intact and keep contact with its nuncios and the bishops. During the German occupation of Rome in 1943 the pope managed to hidden the papal documents in his palace and microfilm photographs of others sent to Washington in order to save them.

Pius XII was without doubt was the most brilliant Pope. He appeared as the perfect Pontifex. In the most difficult days of war he stayed with his people and had been their single protector. Although he had three Germans in his immediate entourage -the Jesuits Robert Leiber and Augustine Bea, and Ludwig Kaas, the former leader of central party, and his housekeeper Sr. Pasqualina, he was far from favouring Germany or even of pursuing a pro-German policy. After the death of his secretary of state, Maglione, on 22 August 1944, he appointed no successor and governed in direct contact with the heads of the two departments of the secretariat of state, Montine and Tardini.

The pontificate of Pius XII was remarkable. The international prestige of papacy reached a new height under him. The administration of the church was vastly improved; its spiritual Life had grown richer. The homage paid to him on his 80th birthday (2 March 1956), and the deep and universal mourning at his passing proved his greatness. Pius X11 died at Castel Gondolfo on 9 October 1958.

Pope John XXIII (1956-1963)

Angelo Giuseppe Cardinal Roncalli, patriarch of Venice was elected pope on 26 October 1958 after a brief conclave (25-28 Oct). Roncalli was born in Sotto il Montel province of Bergamo) on 25 November 1861, the fourth of fourteen children of the farmer Battista (d.1935) and his wife Marianna Mazzola (d.1939). After attending the minor and major seminaries at Bergamo from 1892 to 1900, he continued his theological studies at the Roman Seminary of Sant’Apollinare from 1901 to 1905, interrupted by one year of military service at Bergamo,”un vero purgatorio” as he wrote to the rector of the seminary. From his professor of church history Benigni, he received the advice “Read little but well”. He took a doctorate in theology on 13 July 1904 and was ordained priest on 10 August 1904. In 1905 he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and from October 1906 he also lectured on church history in the seminary and later on petrology and apologetics and edited the ecclesiastical journal La vita diocesana. He also began editing the visitation documents of St. Charles Borromeo. After the death of his bishop Radini Tedeschi, he wrote his biography (1914). During the world war he served as a military chaplain (1915-18). Then he served as the spiritual director of the seminary (1918 20). Then he went to Rome for four years as president of the Italian work of the Propagation of the Faith. On 3 March 1925 he became apostolic visitor in Bulgaria and on 19 March was ordained as titular archbishop of Areopolis and as his motto he selected “obedientia dt pax”, Baronius’s motto.

Roncalli’s stay at Sofia was not so easy. It was a period of “acute, intime sofferense”. After ten years he was, on 24 Nov. 1934, named apostolic delegate in Turkey and Greece and at the same time administrator of the vicariate apostolic of Istanbul. This activity satisfied him: “I feel young in body and mind” he wrote in 1939 in his spiritual diary. On 27 May 1939 he visited the ecumenical patriarch.

On 22 December 1944 Roncalli was made nuncio to France. He was made cardinal on 12 January 1953 and three days later named patriarch of Venice. When he was elected pope at 78, the people thought that he would be a papa il passagio. In fact, he became a pope of aggionrnamento.

Personality of John XXIII

John XXIII had a different temperament and experience of life unlike his predecessor. His temperament was to rejoice in the good and to be slow to rebuke. His experience of life-Sotto il Monte, Bulgaria, Istanbul, Paris -had led him to accept the world as it is and to recognize and try to build upon the good in all men both inside and outside the church. It was his experience among the non-Catholics that nurtured within him the seeds of a new ecumenical attitude which ultimately found expression in the decrees of Vatican Il.

Pope John’s motto was obedientia et pax. He believed in the strict observance of law and his temperament was conservative. This is seen in his life especially in liturgical discipline etc. But he wanted certainly a renewal of the life of the church and especially a new approach on the part of the church to the world outside. But he did not look to any relaxation of the inner discipline of the catholic life.

There is a great intellectual difference between John XXIII and his predecessors. John did not attach much importance to differences of philosophy. When his predecessors had seen implacable the liberals and the communists, whose philosophy, if tolerated, must subvert the church, John XXIII was more inclined to see men and women, of greater or less good will, in error, certainly, but an error which contact might help to correct, or at, least would not tend to harden, as would ostracism and estrangement.

            John’s spirituality was thoroughly traditionally catholic. He frequently read The Imitation of Christ and regularly made the Ignatian exercises. He recited rosary daily, breviary, mass, a half hour’s meditation, weekly confession. His spiritual models were Francis de Sales and Philip Neri and as a pastor, Charles Borromeo. He lived a simple life. I am one of you, he said to the faithful of a Roman suburban community. He himself wanted “to be born poor and to die poor”.

Though John served the Roman curia for a long time, he was no “curialist” but constantly desired to be only a “good shepherd”. On I August 1959 he published an encyclical on the Cur d’Ars, imago sacerdotis.

John XXIII, Pope of “aggiornomento

Aggiornomento means bringing up-to-date. It was an attempt to ensure that the church was fully and sympathetically aware of the changing character of the contemporary world. Pope John disagreed with the attitude of the curia that the world was going further and further astray. In his encyclical Mater et Magistra he made it clear. The world, he insisted, gave great cause of encouragement and hope. The movements among the emergent people of Africa and Asia, for example, for natural independence, were to be welcomed. The wind of change was a wind that brought life. It was colonization that was wrong. It was the duty of the wealthiest nations to assist the poorer, helping them to win their political and economic independence, and moreover, to do so without imposing their own cultural ideas or setting up a new economic control over them. Once the church allowed herself to become identified with the ruling political power, when the ruling power was overthrown, she had to suffer the same fate.

In his programme of aggiornamento pope John was not departing from the teaching of his predecessors, but rather he was building upon the foundation they had laid, bringing their teaching up-to-date in the light of modern developments.

Pope John was more revolutionary that he cared to admit it. This is evident in matters social and political and in his determination to enter into fruitful dialogue with other christians. For him it was high time to recognize the Orthodox and the Protestants not as schismatics or heretics but as fellow workers in the vineyard of the Lord, He was very font of repeating the prayer of the Lord “ut unum sint”. This now attitude or approach was a part of the teaching of the church. It was a turning of the attention of the Catholics towards something that had been neglected. There had been a tendency to warn and censure, but” Pope John’s tendency was to encourage and pursue it dwelling on the positive side.

From his experience pope John understood that the work of renewal must be   begun within the church. He knows that the development of the church was being impeded by over-centralized and ultra-cautious control from the Roman curia. The solution for this -to enable the church to find her own voice- was a general council according to Pope John. “He was a man sent from God whose name was John” (Pat. Athanagoras of Constantinople about Pope John).

Pope John XXIII and Vatican II

The convoking of the II Vatican council was the action of Pope John XXIII. In the presence of the cardinals on 25 January 1959 he announced a Roman diocesan synod and an ecumenical council. He understood the council as the challenge of God, divinum incitamentum, but not in no way was it the implementation of a long prepared plan. There is no evidence that he resumed the project of a general council pondered by Pius XII. He wanted to carray out the will of God to follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Pope John intended to convoke a general council of the Catholic Church, but from the start he expressed his desire for the particlization of the Christians separated from Rome as a first step toward church unity. On the basis of the suggestions collected from the whole catholic world, the pope by his motu proprio Superno Dei nutu of 5 June 1960 introduced the proximate preparation of the council. It determined for the first time the name of the future council: The Second Vatican Council. Then ten preparatory commissions were formed to work out the draft of decrees to be laid before the council.

1. Theological commission -Holy Office

2. The commission for bishops and the governments of dioceses -consistorial congregation

3. The commission for the discipline of clergy and the Christian people -congregation of the council

4. The commission for the discipline of the sacraments

5. The commission for ecclesiastical studies and seminaries

6. The commission for sacred liturgy

7. The commission for the Eastern churches

6. The commission for the Missions

9. The commission for the Apostolate of the laity

After the preparatory work the council was opened on 11 October 1962. 2540 council fathers with the right to vote took part in it. The opening ceremony was very solemn. In his opening talk the pope repeated the conviction that the summoning of the council followed an inspiration from above and to bring to mankind the sacred wealth of tradition in the most effective way, with regard for changed conditions of life and social structures, not to condemn errors but fully to declare the strength of church’s life. This two main aims of the council were: an aggiornamento of the church and the unity of the Christians.

            The events of the first session of the council made it clear that there existed a conservative group of bishops and a progressive majority of bishops.  The first session was also significant. 1. It was the first time that so vast an assembly of bishops from all over the world gathered together (they numbered 2540, Africa- 296, Latin America -600, Far East -100t U.S.A.- 217 etc. 2. The meeting together of these bishops was an event of unique significance. They have faith in common, but had enormous differences of experiences and ideas. What they decide, is going to affect the direction of each policy everywhere. The fathers of the council could acquire a different perspective about Church’s attitude towards the schematics, Protestants and the Communists. The so-called schematics and the Protestants were seen occupying the best seats in St. Peter’s and were provided with the council’s agenda papers. They were received with every mark of respect and affection by Pope John at Vatican. They were pope’s friends.

Many council fathers encountered a twofold challenge. The first one was a challenge to their traditional habit of difference towards the curia, the second a challenge to their traditional attitude towards the enemies of the church. They were invited to think afresh about their own responsibilities which given to them by God, and not by the Vatican. Schemas on liturgy, sources of revelation, communication, christian unity, nature of the church were discussed, but no conclusion was taken on them. In these circumstances the first session was closed on 8 December 1962. Pope exhorted the Fathers to work hard during the interval.

Pope John could not see his brother bishops again when they assembled. The six months after the first session he was fully preoccupied with the urgency of seeking after peace. The dangerous confrontation between America and Russia over Cuba disturbed the peace of the world. Pope John’s passionate appeals for peace had impressed the world. In March 1963 the Balzan peace prize was awarded to him. Soviet representatives were present there. Some of the bishops behind the iron curtain were released. In April 1963 John issued his most famous encyclical Pacem in terris – in which he extended his appeal for peace on earth to all men of good will. It insisted in clear tones, upon the right to religious freedom of all men of upright conscience, It encouraged Catholics to work together with all men of good will for the good of the mankind.

Pope John died on 3 June 1963 offering up his severe final sufferings to obtain abundant blessing for the ecumenical council, for the holy church and for the mankind as whole which yearns for peace.  The whole world loved his transparent goodness.

Paul VI (1963-1978)

The cardinals assembled on 19 June 1963 to elect Pope John’s successor. On the 6th ballot they elected Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, archbishop of Milan who assumed the name Paul VI. The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano observed that Paul VI is “a symbol of ecumenical unity”.

Montini was born on 26 September 1897 at Brescia, Italy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920. He was created cardinal on 5 December 1958. He had spent most of his time in Rome. He was in the secretariat of State from 1924-1954. In 1954 he was appointed archbishop of Milan. In that large industrial centre Montini had his first experience of diocesan work. He vigourously undertook a renewal of his archdiocese. He was known for his patient intelligent and a sympathetic work at the Vatican. He was also a strong supporter of Pope John’s intention to summon a general council.

            Pope Paul VI opened the second session of the council on 29 September 1963. He showed a keen interest in the work of the council. The constitution on sacred liturgy was promulgated (4 Dec.63) in this session. It led to the adoption of the vernacular in the Mass, its deeper purpose was no less than to remodel the prayer of the church. The constitution had chapters on:

1. General principles for the restoration and promotion of S.L.

2. The most sacred mystery of the Eucharist.

3. The other sacraments and sacramentals.

4. The divine office.

5. The liturgical year.

6. Sacred music.

7. Sacred art.

            In an essay in response to the Const. on Sacred Liturgy, Prof. Jaroslav J. Pelican of York University says: If the constitution can be translated into action creatively and imaginatively- and that still remains to be seen- it will indeed, as the council Fathers hope, “contribute to the unity of all who believe Christ”. The second session ended on 8 December 1963.

The third session started on 14 September 1964. It passed and promulgated the important document of Vatican II: the constitution on the Church, the decrees on Ecumenism and the Eastern Catholic Churches. It also discussed the documents on religious freedom, the Jews, lay apostolate and the Church in the modern world. The constitution on the Church is considered the most important work of Vatican II. Its purpose is “to unfold more fully to the faithful of the church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission”. It has eight chapters:

1. The mystery of the Church.

2. The people of God.

3. The hierarchical structure of the church with special reference to the episcopate- collegiality.

4. The laity.

5. The call of the whole church to holiness.

6. The religious.

7. The eschatological nature of the pilgrim church and her union with the heavenly church.

8. The role of the Bl. Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and the church.

The principle of Episcopal collegiality has not in any way diminished the authority of the pope. This college of bishops exists only when the pope is present as its head. This principle has already led to the setting up of national Episcopal conferences. Pope promised to convoke an Episcopal synod to meet at R me and to advise him on policy. Accordingly given bishops’ synods were convoked by Paul VI.

1. 1967 -on the present danger of faith, Canon Law, Seminary, mixed marriage, liturgy.

2.1969 -on Holy See and Episcopal conferences.

3.1971 -on ministerial priesthood, justice in the modern world

4.1974 -on Evangelization.

5.1977 -on Catechism.

The fourth session of the council started on 14 September 1965. The constitution on the Church in the modern world emerged during this session. It reflected the mind of John XXIII. It looked however tentatively, to a new and more positive relationship between the church and the contemporary society and it promised the establishment of an organization to promote the study by Catholics of the special problems of the underdeveloped countries. The matter of birth control was not touched and it was decided to entrust it to a special committee.

The pope and most of the bishops wanted to conclude the council with the fourth session. So the procedures were accelerated and on 8 December 1965 the council was dispersed.

Pope Paul VI had two things to say about the council after its close: 1. He disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to go back to their old ways of doing the religious and moral habits. He also disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to continue to bring into perpetual discussions truths and laws already clarified and established. He says: the true task is to study, understand and apply the councils work. 2. The conciliar renewal was to be measured not so much by the changes in outward usages and rules as but by a shaking off of habits of inertia and an opening of the heart to the truly Christian spirit. The conversion of the heart was what counted.

The pontificate of Pope Paul and the period of Vatican II witnessed a revolution in the life of the church. During these years the whole approach of the Catholics to the vital questions affecting the church changed. A new ecumenical attitude was formed. A new secretariat for Christian unity was set up for this end in view. Pope John was concerned to encourage rather than to condemn. Pope Paul followed the same policy.

The Church after Vatican II

The results of Vatican II are:

1. Great increase of open-mindedness

2. Some sober self-criticism.

3. A new enthusiasm for discussion

4. An enthusiasm for joint action with its own members and other people

5. A new sense of political responsibility-a tolerance and sympathy for political option.

The post conciliar Church has undergone a crisis of authority. The renewal has worked tension and impatience as well as enthusiasm. There is a division between the traditionalist and reformist elements. This is confirmed by Pope Paul’s teaching on birth control, celibacy, his approach to ecumenical movement. Catholic Church is still not a member of the World Council of Churches.

In 1969 a group of leading theologians published in Concilium a declaration that “the freedom of theologians and theology in the service the church regained by Vatican II” must not be lost again”. In the same year cardinal Suenens called for a reappraisal of authority at All levels (in co-responsibility in the church). Paul responded that the attacks on the curia were tantamount to attacks on himself. There are important contributions to the catholic theology on the nature and structure of the church: The Church (1967), Infallible? An enquiry (1971), Fallible? A balance sheet (1972) – Hans Kung, Structural change in the Church (1972) -Karl Rahner.

The papal rulings on birth control and celibacy were issues of major importance. The Humanae Vitae in 1968 provoked a major crisis. The encyclical condemned all forms of contraception except the rythm method on the ground that they were contrary to natural law. The reaction ranged from protest to disappointment.  “It might provoke scandal or even revolt or laughter” (French Jesuit). The pope has won the applause of the future (Spain). There were demonstrations in USA. In Western Europe many priests advised the faithful to practice contraception where in conscience they felt it was right.

The celibacy encyclical sacerdotaliscaelibatus (1967) caused considerable tension within the church. In France and Holland priests left the ministry and many clergy openly disagreed with the ruling. A survey of priests in the USA suggested that the majority were against compulsory celibacy and expected a change in the law. In Italy 40 percent hoped for relaxation of the rule and 15 per cent might marry if allowed to. In 1970 the Dutch pastoral council voted for abolition of the rule. In 1971 the National Federation of priests’ council in the USA voted in favour of abolition. The Congolese bishops and a meeting of European priests in Geneva supported the ordination of married men. The Latin American Bishops’ council called for an abolition of the rule. But pope criticized his opponents for “the moral mediocrity by which they pretend it is natural and logical to break a long premeditated promise”.

Peace efforts of Paul VI

Paul VI made repeated pleas for an ending of the American bombing in Vietnam. He conferred with the leaders of USA, Vietnam, Russia and China. He offered prayers for the peaceful settlements in Northern Ireland and Middle East.

According to Paul VI peace can be achieved only through justice. The elimination of hunger and misery must be the first step towards bringing Christian values and social justice to the developing world. In 1966 he set up a Vatican agency to fight world poverty and 1967 he devoted a major encyclical Populorum Progressio to the welfare of the developing nations. He visited Latin America Africa, Far East and Australia.

In some of countries the church’s work of justice has been handicapped by ultra conservative factions in the hierarchies. In Brasil in 1970 the government accused the bishop of Volta Radonda of subversion activities. When Rome protested the government retaliated by threatening to take actions against archbishop Holder Camera who had recently returned from Europe on ground that he had defamed Brazil. As a result cardinal Rossi stated that “one can not attribute to the government responsibility for isolated acts of torture”. In 1971 he was removed from his post and given a Roman curial appointment. It was a sign that Paul VI disapproved his action -support to the government. In 1969 the hierarchies of Brazil, Peru and Argentina denounced their governments. Fr. Camillo Torres, a revolutionary guerrilla priest said “the only true christian is a revolutionary”. He became a secular martyr. In South Africa the church kept silence about the oppression of the black community.

            Latin America has also originated the major new theology of the decade -the theology of liberation founded by Gustavo Gutierriez. The theology of liberation attempts to reflect on the experience and meaning of the faith based on the commitment to abolish injustice and to build a new society; this theology must be verified by the practice of that commitment, by active effective participation in the struggle which the exploited social classes have undertaken against their oppressors.

            In Spain , too, there are signs that the church is aligning itself with the oppressed. In 1966 a group of Spanish priests accused the hierarchy of compromising with the regime and demanded the implementation of the council’s decrees on religious and political liberty. In 1968 Basque priests were goaled for taking part in May Day demonstrations and in 1970 the bishops called for freedom of assembly and for representative trade unions.

In Rhodesia the bishops’ pastoral “Crisis in conscience” (1970) openly defied the government. They said: “we can not in consideration and will not in practice accept any limitation on our freedom to deal with all people irrespective of race, as members of the one human family”. In South Africa individual Catholics condemned the situation, but the hierarchy kept silence. In USA the priests were gaoled for their opposition to Vietnam War in 1970. In 1972-73 the missionaries revealed to the world the massacre techniques of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.

The catholic approach to ecumenical movement has been cautious. In 1969 Paul VI attended the world council of churches in Geneva. He spoke of it “as a truly blessed encounter, a prophetic movement, dawn of a day to come and yet waited for centuries. In 1967 Paul VI met patriarch Athanagoras, in 1968 archbishop Makarios. Catholic observers attended the World council of Churches in Uppsala. The Christian churches agreed to a mutual recognition of baptism and the catholic ruling on mixed marriages has been relaxed.

The publications of common Bible (1973), first Protestant Catholic Catechism (1975) are important steps in the ecumenical movement. A major contribution to it has been the reform of the liturgy. Simplified vernacular rites have been introduced with a new emphasis on participation and understanding. In the celebration of the Eucharist importance is given to a sense of community and fellowship.

Adult catechism has been given importance and there has been a movement for concretization of the underprivileged masses in Latin America which owes much to the new catholic social awareness. The number of the vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life has fallen, but catholics are expected to be more conscious of the social implications of their faith, and to practice their responsibility. One of the major secular watchwords of the age, ­“truth is concrete”- has been seen in its religious reference too. What looks like a serious crisis may “mark the moment of a new life … for identity consists only on its variability, its continuity only in changing circumstances its permanence in varying outward appearances” (Hans Kung).

Education comme Evangélisation en Inde

Colloque organisé par l’AFUI et l’ISTR sur L’Inde et le fait Chrétien  le 19 Octobre 2005

A la Salle de l’Horticulture, 84 rue de Grenelle, Paris-7.

Education comme Evangélisation en Inde

Dr Vincent Kundukulam
Dr Vincent Kundukulam



Tout d’abord permettez-moi de remercier sincèrement les responsables de l’AFUI et de l’ISTR qui m’ont fait venir d’Inde pour participer à ce colloque. Ils ont tout à fait raison car comment fait-on un colloque sur l’Inde sans avoir les Indiens comme  interlocuteurs ? Tous ceux qui travaillent pour le bien-être de l’humanité sont intéressés au service de l’éducation car d’une part le futur de tout pays dépend du progrès de l’éducation et d’autre part l’éducation est l’instrument le plus efficace pour assurer l’égalité entre les hommes. J’espère que cette réflexion sur le service éducatif chrétien en Inde nous ouvrira de nouveaux horizons et nous aidera à faire un pas en avant dans nos efforts de développer un monde meilleur.

Le Père Rossignol nous a très bien présenté l’histoire de l’évangélisation en Inde et Dr. Jeyaraj a fait un exposé enrichissant tout en expliquant les soucis, le succès, la peine, la joie et les défis que les missionnaires expérimentent lorsqu’ils essayent d’enraciner le christianisme dans le pays. Le sujet de mon intervention dans ce colloque est l’éducation comme évangélisation en Inde. En d’autres termes je vais expliquer les divers types de services éducatifs entrepris par l’église en Inde hier et aujourd’hui, mettre en évidence les problèmes qui existent dans le service de l’éducation en général et montrer également comment les initiatives chrétiennes dans ce domaine deviennent une manière d’annoncer l’évangile dans le sous-continent indien.

Je vais diviser cet exposé en quatre parties. Nous commencerons par un bref aperçu de l’histoire de l’éducation en Inde de la période Védique à notre ère contemporaine. Après nous verrons en détail les divers types des services éducatifs faits par les chrétiens parmi les différentes catégories de la population indienne. Dans la troisième partie nous verrons comment ce service éducatif devient une mission évangélisatrice. Nous conclurons avec les défis que les établissements éducatifs chrétiens relèvent en Inde, un pays qui est profondément affecté par le mondialisation et le nationalisme hindou.

Clarifications des termes

Education: Aujourd’hui on parle de l’éducation à deux niveaux différents: l’éducation ordinaire ou formelle et l’éducation informelle ou non-formelle. L’éducation formelle est synonyme de l’enseignement conventionnel à travers les écoles. Dans un sens plus large tout ce qu’on fait pour élever les hommes à la perfection de la nature humaine est compris aujourd’hui en Inde comme éducation informelle ou non-formelle. Par exemple, le travail d’alphabétisation des adultes, l’éducation donnée hors d’écoles ordinaires, etc. Ces deux formes d’éducation sont intimement liées car les deux préparent l’individu à être de bons citoyens. (Collier’s Encyclopedia, 582) Dans ce colloque nous utiliserons ce terme dans son sens plus large.

Evangélisation: Que voulons-nous dire par l’évangélisation ? Jusqu’à un temps récent, mission ou évangélisation a été comprise par l’Eglise catholique comme l’annonce explicite de Jésus Christ et de son Evangile dans les pays païens et lointains et l’implantation des églises pour les baptisés. Mais aujourd’hui plus que cette vision écclésio-centrique ce qui est mis en valeur est une mission centrée sur le Royaume de Dieu. Cette mission n’exclut pas le baptême, pourtant on y donne l’importance à répandre les valeurs du règne de Dieu à travers le combat pour la justice, les efforts pour améliorer la bonne entente inter-religieuse, le développement, etc. partout où les Chrétiens sont en mission. Ici nous parlerons de l’évangélisation avec ce sens actuel du terme.

Partie 1 : Un Aperçu Historique

L’histoire de l’éducation en Inde est longue car l’Inde a un passé très ancien. Pour des raisons pratiques je la divise en trois périodes: périodes antiques, période occidentale et période après l’indépendance. Nous les étudierons brièvement excepté la période occidentale parce que l’Inde actuelle doit beaucoup à l’éducation occidentale pour ce qu’elle est aujourd’hui.

1. L’époque ancienne

L’impact le plus ancien de l’éducation en Inde était celui de la civilisation aryenne, qui a dû entrer dans ce pays entre 1500 et 1200 avant notre ère. Pendant la période aryenne l’éducation a été principalement donnée aux classes sacerdotales et plus tard aux kshatriyas (des nobles et des guerriers) et aux vayshiya (des agriculteurs et des commerçants). L’apprentissage était très lent car les étudiants devaient en même temps travailler pour leur professeur à la maison et dans le champ. Ils étudiaient lors de leur temps libre. Par conséquent l’étude d’un Veda prenait 12 ans et ainsi seulement quelques uns pouvaient achever leurs études. Le deuxième impact était celui du bouddhisme. Les systèmes d’éducation brahmanique et bouddhistes étaient presque semblables mais le bouddhisme a ouvert l’éducation à toutes les castes. Pourtant puisque les cours ont été tenus dans les monastères le public n’a pas pu en profiter. Alors est venue l’éducation musulmane au 10ème siècle de notre ère qui a eu lieu dans les madrasah, les écoles primaires attachées aux mosquées. Ces établissements étaient principalement pour Musulmans et donc n’ont pas eu un impact sur le public. (Education in India, 5-18)

         Parmi les systèmes d’éducation antiques en Inde ce qui avait le plus marqué l’ensemble de l’Inde était celui des Brahmanes. Mais alors on peut se demander pourquoi  le système Brahmane n’a pas eu de succès à l’époque moderne ? Je pense que le souci du monde céleste a fait que les éducateurs hindous se sont éloignes du contact avec la vie ordinaire. Pour certaines écoles de la philosophie indienne le monde terrestre est une illusion ou Maya. Le Bhagavad Gita, II dit : “l’homme qui chasse de soi tout désir et marche sans désir, sans la pensée du moi, hérite la paix” Les bonnes actions aussi bien que les mauvaises contribueront à la prolongation du cycle des naissances. La vraie sagesse est le pouvoir de libérer les âmes des chaînes mondaines. Par conséquent les Brahmanes ne pouvaient pas être intéressés à l’étude des sciences modernes qui favorisent l’attachement au monde en s’abstenant ainsi au moksha. (A History of Education in India and Pakistan, 183- 189)

2. La période occidentale

Les écoles ordinaires ont démarré en Inde d’abord pour les enfants d’Européens qui ont habité le pays. Ainsi une première école, celle de Santa Fe School est ouverte à Goa (1540) par les franciscains et plus tard d’autres écoles de missionnaire à Bassein (Vasai) en 1546, à Cochin en 1549, à Punnaicayil au Tamil Nadu en 1567, à Madurai en 1595, à Pondichéry en 1713 et une école tamoule à Ellacurichi au Tamil Nadu en 1731. (G. Palackapilly, Christian Contribution to Education, Language and Literature, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, 84). En 1784 le Gouverneur Warren Hastings a établi un Madrasa pour l’éducation des garçons musulmans à Calcutta et en 1791 Jonathan Duncan, le résidant britannique à Bénarès a ouvert une école universitaire de Sanskrit. Le but de ces écoles était de former des hommes capables d’interpréter les lois musulmanes et hindoues qui étaient nécessaires dans l’administration de la justice. (A History of Education in India and Pakistan, 197-199)

On reproche souvent aux Anglais d’avoir eu des intérêts personnels dans l’éducation des Indiens puisqu’ils ont ouvert les écoles en vue de former les secrétaires nécessaires pour leur administration. Ceci peut ne pas être entièrement vrai parce que ce n’était pas le seul but de ceux qui avaient pris des initiatives dans le domaine éducatif. Par exemple, Macaulay, le membre du Comite pour  la loi du gouvernement Indien de l’époque avait exprimé en Chambre des Communes comme suit : “sommes-nous pour maintenir le peuple de l’Inde ignorant afin que nous puissions les maintenir dociles ? Ou voulons-nous les laisser sans le passage légitime après avoir éveillé chez eux l’ambition? Il se peut que l’esprit public de l’Inde puisse augmenter sous notre système jusqu’à ce qu’il le dépasse” (Education in India, 22)

En 1792 en renouvelant la charte d’East India Company, Wilberforce, le chef de la partie évangélique, a demandé à la Cour des directeurs d’envoyer des professeurs de temps en temps en l’Inde pour la promotion de la connaissance des habitants. En 1857, la Cour des directeurs a créé des universités à Calcutta, à Bombay et à Madras sur le modèle de l’université de Londres. (Education in India, 21-24) Lorsque les Britanniques ont quitté l’Inde il y avait environ 196.000 institutions de formation. (A History of Education in India and Pakistan 212; Pour étude  plus approfondie de la contribution de la période britannique à l’éducation voir également A..A. Zellner, Education in India, New York : Bookman Associates, 1951 ; S.N. Mukerji, History of Education in India, Baroda : Acharya Book Depot, 1957)

Les efforts du gouvernement dans le domaine de l’éducation ont été renforcés par les missionnaires en créant des écoles et des collèges dans les villes et les villages. Indépendamment des établissements éducatifs les missionnaires ont un vif l’intérêt pour étudier les cultures, les religions et les langues régionales et communiquer leurs résultats au monde extérieur. Les premiers dictionnaires et grammaires modernes et les alphabets d’un grand nombre de langues et de dialectes indiens doivent leur existence aux missionnaires.

Examinons le brièvement dans les Etats différents de l’Inde.  En Inde du nord les services éducatifs chrétiens ont débuté avec la mission du Tibet en 1704 et plus efficacement avec l’établissement de l’archidiocèse d’Agra en 1886, la mère de tous les diocèses du nord de l’Inde. Les 13 diocèses qui existent dans le nord ont entrepris des campagnes d’alphabétisation dans leurs villages. Il y a presque 800 écoles Catholiques y compris primaires et secondaires et cinq écoles universitaires dans cette région. (P. Celestine, Christianity in Northern India, Indian Christian Directory, 98-99)

Grâce aux jésuites portugais, Mission Etrangère de Paris et églises protestantes le taux d’alphabétisation et en particulier des femmes ont été élevé dans les sept états sœurs du nord-est de l’Inde:  Arunachal Pradesh 42 % ; Assam 53.42 %; Manipur 60.96 %; Meghalaya 48.26 % Mizoram 82. 27 % et Tripura 60.39 %. (J. Puthenpurakal, The Rising Sun: Christianity’s Contribution to India’s North Eastern Region, Indian Christian Directory, 107-110). Les baptistes et les presbytériens ont contribué à la formation du dictionnaire Assamese-Anglais, la grammaire et les manuscrits de la langue d’Assamese, alphabet de Khasi, la langue de Garo, le dictionnaire de Naga, prose bengali, etc. (G. Palackapilly Christian Contribution to Education, Language and Literature, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, 91-92.)

Dans différentes régions de l’Ouest de l’Inde notamment à Goa, Bassein, Bandra, Bombay et Gujerat les initiatives éducatives ont été commencé par les jésuites portugais. Sous la direction d’évêque Hartman (1850ff) une école primaire a été attachée à chaque paroisse à Bombay. La diffusion des écoles primaires dans les villages éloignés de Bombay doit considérablement aux missions protestantes. Jyotiba Phuel ancien étudiant d’école écossaise à Pune a lancé le premier mouvement non-Brahmin contre la pratique de caste en Inde. (M. D. David, Christianity in Western India, Indian Christian Directory, 114-115)

Le progrès éducatif s’est produit dans la côte est de l’Inde – du Bihar, du Madhya Pradesh et de l’Orissa – par la mission de Tibet-Hindustan (1707), la mission de Bettiah (1707-1745) et la mission du Népal (1715-1769). L’influence de l’éducation parmi les chrétiens de Bettiah qui  appartenaient aux castes élevées et moyennes et qui forment maintenant une communauté autour 13, 000 membres était si significative que dans les années 90 qu’ils étaient tous alphabétises. Leurs métiers ont changé de les traditionnels en les travaux de secrétaire, d’enseignants et de cadre professionnels. En tout dans ces trois Etats l’église a 36 écoles universitaires, 384 lycées, 555 collèges, 615 écoles primaires et 300 centres d’éducation professionnelle. (J. Kalapura, Dignit Re-discovered :Christians in Eastern India, Indian Christian Directory, 102-104)

Venons à l’Inde du sud, au Kerala. Quand les Portugais y sont arrivé au 15ème siècle il y avait des écoles conduites par tous les Hindous et pour les chrétiens. C’est évident des décrets adoptés par le synode d’Diamper selon lequel on devait déplacer les sanctuaires maintenus dans les écoles chrétiens pour les étudiants hindous et qui accordait la permission aux enfants chrétiens d’aller à des écoles hindoues mais sans montrer n’importe quelle vénération à des idoles. L’éducation occidentale a été présentée par les Prussian missionnaires, The Church Missionary Society (CMS) et de Basel German Evangelical Mission. Selon les statistiques en 1901 le taux d’instruction chez les femmes au Kerala était déjà 31 sur 100 tandis qu’il était 1 sur 1000 à Gwalior et 11 sur 1000 à Bombay. En 1901 les chrétiens avaient déjà 1920 écoles au Kerala. (C.V. Cherian, Kerala-Empowernment through Enlightenment, Indian Christian Directory, 130-131). En ce qui concerne la langue de Malayalam, son premier dictionnaire est fait par un missionnaire allemand John Ernetus Hanxleden, connu sous le nom d’Arnold Padiri ; la première grammaire par l’évêque Anjelo Francis de Verapoly et le Nigantu Malayalam-Anglais  par Hermann Gundert. (A. Sreedhara Menon, A Survey of Kerala History, 339-340)

Au Tamil Nadu, les missionnaires comme Robert de Nobili, Constantius Joseph Beshi, Bartholomew Ziegenbalg, G.U. pape, Robert Caldwell, ont travaillé à la prose tamoule moderne, au premier lexicographe scientifique du Tamoul, aux dictionnaires Tamoule, Latin-Tamoul, et Portuguese-Tamoul, une grammaire comparative des langues Dravidiennes du sud, etc… (G. Palackapilly, Christian Contribution to Education, Language and Literature, Contribution to Nation Building, 93-94)

Au Karnataka les dominicains, The Church Missionary Society et The Basel Mission ont commencé des écoles. Le Vicaire apostolique de Mysore Msgr. Charbonneaux MEP en collaboration avec les soeurs du Bon Berger a commencé des écoles à Mysore, Bangalore, Bellary, Kolar, Udipi, et par l’année 1895 elles ont eu 77 établissements éducatifs à la mission de Mysroe pour des étudiants venant toutes castes. Ils ont écrit des livres de grammaire et les dictionnaires de Kannada. La Presse catholique qui a été commencé par le Msgr. Etienne Charbonnaux à Bangalore a facilité la publication des littératures de kannada. (T. Anchukandam, Christian Contribution to Karnataka, Indian Christian Directory, 116-119) ]

Résumons l’impact des missionnaires européens sur l’éducation des Indiens en disant qu’il a créé une grande révolution dans la mentalité indienne. Les idées occidentales de la liberté, l’égalité et la dignité humaine ont agi en tant qu’agent catalytique et provoqué un changement social radical dans le pays. Citons à ce propos Les historiens éminents comme R.C. Majumdar a dit la chose suivante : “Si nous devons choisir un facteur qui a aidé plus que d’autres à la grande transformation de l’Inde au 19ème siècle sans n’importe quel point d’hésitation on peut dire que c’est l’éducation anglaise” (R.C. Majumdar (ed.), The History and Culture of the Indian People, X.31) Selon Syed Nurullah et J. P. Naik, les deux auteurs célèbres de l’histoire de l’éducation en Inde, l’acquis le plus important de l’éducation britannique était de présenter à l’Inde la langue et la littérature européenne et à travers elles toute la pensée, le développement industriel et scientifique, et la philosophie sociale et politique de l’ouest. L’éducation anglaise a libéré l’esprit indien des idées archaïques et a créé la base de la Renaissance indienne. L’Inde doit l’étude scientifique et critique de sa propre culture antique aux européens. L’ouest est également responsable du réveil de plusieurs tendances humanistes telles que la croisade contre l’intouchabilité et l’esprit du service social. (A History of Education in India, 865-867)

3. Après l’indépendance

À l’heure de l’indépendance seulement 14 % de la population était instruite et seulement un enfant sur trois était inscrit dans une école primaire. (Government of India, Ministry of I & B, India 1995, p. 79) La Constitution Indienne a déclaré dans son article 45 déclarant que l’Etat essayera d’assurer une éducation obligatoire pour tous les enfants jusqu’à l’âge de quatorze ans. Depuis, plusieurs commissions telles que la Commission pour L’université sous la présidence de Dr. Radhakrishnan en 1948, la Commission pour L’éducation Secondaire sous la présidence de Dr. S. Lakshmanasamy Mudaliar en 1952 et la Commission d’Education sous la présidence de Dr. D.S. Kothari ont été nommées pour aborder le problème de l’éducation. En juillet 1993 la Cour suprême a déclaré l’éducation élémentaire comme droit fondamental : Chaque citoyen du pays a droit à une éducation gratuite jusqu’à l’âge de 14 ans”. Le Gouvernement central et ceux des Etats ont pris des mesures pour l’expansion des écoles élémentaires. En conséquence le taux d’instruction a atteint jusqu’à 62 % en 1997.

Partie II : Différents types de services éducatifs

Si les chrétiens sont respectés en Inde c’est non en raison de leur croyance religieuse, mais à cause de leurs établissements éducatifs et leurs services de santé. Les établissements éducatifs jouent comme une porte d’entrée pour les chrétiens pour créer un bon rapport véritable avec la société. Les chrétiens sont seulement 2.34 % de la population indienne mais, leurs institutions assurent

5 % de l’éducation primaire,

10 % de l’éducation et de santé,

25 % des soins  des orphelins et des veuves

30 % des soins aux handicapés mentaux et physiques, lèpres et les victimes des SIDAS. (Alain De Lastic, Inaugural Speech, Proceedings of the National Consultation on Education, 9. 48.)

Selon le Catholic Directory of India 1994 les Catholiques qui représentent 1.68 % de la population indienne dirigent 17, 000 établissements éducatifs.

3.785 écoles maternelles

 7.319 écoles primaires

3.765 écoles secondaires

1500 professionnelles et écoles techniques

175 écoles universitaires

2 universités de technologie et

2 universités médicales. Maintenant nous pouvons voir de près les différentes initiatives prises par les églises pour l’éducation des tribus, des dalits, des femmes, des pauvres enfants, etc.

4. Éducation des Dalits (intouchables)

Durant l’époque des Britanniques, éducation et évangélisation étaient extrêmement liées chez les Dalits, la classe la plus opprimée de la société indienne. Les missionnaires ont ouvert des écoles et les Dalits ont perçu la conversion comme un moyen efficace d’acquérir une bonne éducation. Le mouvement de conversion des Pulayas (groupe d’intouchables) en 1930 au Kerala était un exemple. Peu après la conversion les Pulayas chrétiens ont créé leurs propres écoles qui sont devenues si prestigieuses que même les autres, les hautes castes ont envoyé leurs enfants dans ces écoles.

Le programme éducatif réalisé chez les Musahars, un groupe de Dalit du Bihar, par le centre social situé dans le département de Rodtas (il s’appelle Rhotas Education and Associated Programme – REAP) montrerait comment l’éducation de Dalits devient vraiment une activité évangélisatrice. Comme le mot Musahar lui-même dénote – vient de deux mots musa (rat) et ahar (nourriture) – le Musahars survivent en mangeant des rats. Ils font aussi l’élevage de porc et le travail agricole. Sur le plan économique ils dépendaient des hautes castes qui les manipulaient. Les femmes étaient des illettrées et aucun enfant n’allait à l’école.

Le REAP a apporté à son centre les groupes de 40 étudiants trois fois en une année, pendant une période de 20 jours. Un problème majeur de ces enfants était le manque d’image de soi. Par conséquent le centre a visualisé des programmes pour en faire des individus bien dans leur peau. Dès qu’ils sont arrivés on leur a fournis deux ensembles d’uniforme, une paire de chaussures, une photo et une carte d’identité. L’uniforme a beaucoup fait pour l’image de soi. Le contrôle médical et l’enregistrement de leur poids ont mis en valeur leur corps. On leur a appris l’histoire de Musahars, les statistiques de leur population, les noms de leurs héros mythiques, des personnes significatives contemporaines de leur communauté, etc. Les enfants ont été présentés à la bibliothèque et ceux qui ont lu le plus de pages ont recu un prix le dernier jour.

Un autre aspect de la personnalité de Musahars était le sentiment de l’intouchabilité. Le REAP a fait de telle sorte que l’intouchabilité n’existé pas dans le centre. A leur arrivée on a pu noter un regard soupçonneux vis-vis des autres et alors grâce au programme, leur distance soupçonneuse c’est lentement transformée en proximité physique. Ils ont commencé à se tenir près des animateurs, à serrer la main et à saluer les gens. Ils ont commencé à apprécier les jeux, qui ont rendu nécessaire un contact plus physique. Le dernier jour du programme des fonctionnaires de gouvernement, des chefs politiques et des chefs de service de l’éducation ont été invités afin que les étudiants aient une occasion de mélanger avec eux. Des journalistes et des groupes de télévision ont télédiffusé leurs programmes culturels. Ainsi le REAP leur a redonné une enfance normale. (J. Velamkunnel, Christian Commitment to Education of Dalits in India, Education as mission, 42-68)

En bref, la croix est devenue pour les Dalits un symbole qui permet de gagner l’identité et la dignité en tant que personnes humaines. Le peuple qui n’avait pas accès aux temples et aux Ecritures était heureux d’avoir le Christ, la Bible et une église dans le christianisme. Shri K.R. Narayanan, ancien président de l’Inde, est un Dalit et il a publiquement reconnu que c’était seulement grâce aux établissements éducatifs chrétiens qu’il a pu être éduqué à une époque où la discrimination de caste était importante dans la société.

5. Éducation des tribus

       Pour évaluer l’impact de l’éducation chrétienne chez les tribus nous analyserons le cas de Chotanagpur, Jharkhand (Inde du nord-est à l’Ouest du Bengale) d’aujourd’hui. Cette région est composée de 29 tribus et les tribus principales sont Santhals, Kharias, Mundas et Oraons. Ces habitants originaires de la région connue sous le nom de Khuntkattidas étaient innocents et accueillants. Mais ils étaient exploités par des Dikus, les hautes castes qui sont entrés dans leur secteur. Les Zamindars, les Thikedars ou les Jagirdars ont pris possession de leur terre et ils les ont trahies par le commerce. Ils ont été réduits au statut de travailleurs et de coolies. (J. Toppo, Education and Change among the Tribal Peoples of Jharkand, Education as Mission, 81-88)

C’est l’insurrection de Kol de 1831-32 qui a ouvert les yeux des Anglais sur la situation déplorable des tribus. La première école pour eux a été fondée en 1834 à Chotanagpur. Les missionnaires luthériens ont fondé des écoles à Ranchi en 1845 et l’Eglise Angleterre a crée l’école St. Paul’s à Ranchi en 1868. Les jésuites sont arrivés en 1869. Parmi eux Constant Lievens a  commencé le travail chez les Topra en 1885. Toutes les fois que Lievens a occupé sur un village son premier souci était de bâtir une chapelle et une école. Presque partout le même bâtiment, a été utilisé dans deux buts : prier et apprendre. Là les enfants ont appris leurs prières, catéchisme, ainsi que les sujets séculaires comme arithmétique, géographie, etc. L’évêque Oscar Severin a insisté sur le fait que dans n’importe quel nouveau secteur une école doit être construite d’abord, et seulement après une église. (L. Clarysse, Education in Chotanagpur, Constant Lievens and the Catholic Church in Chotanagapur, 54. 63)

       Les étudiants tribaux éduqués sont revenus dans leurs villages natals avec une confiance forte  et ils ont dépassé les étudiants d’hautes castes à plusieurs niveaux. Cela a mis le feu à reformuler la motivation pour l’éducation parmi les jeunes tribus. En 1907 le nombre d’écoles a augmenté jusqu’à 588. Les missionnaires ont commencé également l’éducation au commerce et à l’industrie dans les écoles. La menuiserie, forge noire, maçonnerie, tissage et la fabrication de tissu, le soin de récolte, les qualifications de production animale, médecine de fines herbes, etc.., ont été les sujets d’étude. En cinq ans, 30, 000 personnes se sont converties au christianisme. À cause des écoles de mission il y avait presque trois fois plus d’éduqués chez les tribus chrétiennes que chez les non Chrétiens. Aujourd’hui l’Eglise de Chotanagpur comporte d’environ 29 tribus avec environ 400 000 Protestants et 1.2 millions de Catholiques

       Les missionnaires sont souvent accusés d’avoir instruit les tribus simplement pour les convertir au christianisme. James Toppo s.j. l’ancien directeur de l’école à Ranchi, lui-même fils d’un tribal converti, se défend contre cette accusation. Il admet qu’il était difficile d’évangéliser les tribus sans les instruire. La foi sans éducation serait comme planter des arbres dans une terre aride sans prévoir d’eau. Selon lui, les tribus devaient abandonner leur vieille croyance afin de changer leur vie qui la maintenait en arrière par leurs superstitions et la crainte des esprits mauvais, qui existaient chez les ancêtres. Dans les villages où il y a des tribus convertis au christianisme en grand nombre  les hindoues d’hautes castes n’ont pas osé à imposer leur loi. Évidemment grâce à l’éducation, les milliers de tribus occupent des postes bien placés aux gouvernements et dans la société. (J. Toppo, Education and Change among the Tribal Peoples of Jharkand, Education as Mission 93-105)

6. Éducation des enfants pauvres

       En parlant  de l’éducation des pauvres nous voulons insister sur les efforts spéciaux accomplis par les établissements chrétiens pour intégrer les enfants les plus pauvres dans les écoles ordinaires en leur donnant un soutien  scolaire additionnel ou en donnant une instruction à ceux qui ont laissé tomber l’écoles à mi-parcours ou encore à ceux qui n’arrivent pas aller en classe régulièrement parce qu’ils travaillent. Prenons l’exemple de l’école de Loreto Day Sealdah à Kolkata. D’après la direction de cette école, les écoles chrétiennes ne sont pas vraiment chrétiennes si elles ne prennent pas en compte les enfants marginalisés. Donc elle admet délibérément 50 % d’enfants des milieux pauvres tous les ans. Parmi les 1400 étudiants réguliers 700 viennent de la rue et de bidonvilles. Parmi eux pour ceux qui ne peuvent pas suivre les classes régulièrement ils mettent en route un programme spécial. Les enfants intelligents sont formés pour être enseignants quand ils atteignent l’âge de dix ans. Ils enseignent à leur tour les enfants des rues. C’est comme une école dans l’école. (S. M. Cyril, Education for Transformation of Society, Education as Mission, 176-177)

       Autre initiative intéressante : les cours d’été. Pendant l’été ceux qui ont arrêté leurs études sont rassemblés et ils reçoivent des cours intensif. Après quelques semaines ils obtiennent un niveau leur permettant de rejoindre les écoles ordinaires. Ceci semble bien marcher. Au Tamil Nadu il y a des écoles spéciales qui s’appellent Grihini pour les jeunes villageoises qui ne peuvent pas se permettre d’aller à  l’école. On leur enseigne à l’hygiène, à gérer leur budget et à élever les enfants, etc. Une fois qu’elles ont terminé leur formation elles sont capable de gérer une famille de manière responsable et de s’occuper de l’éducation de leurs enfants. (F.P. Xavier, Future of Education, Education as Mission, 205-207)

7. Éducation technique ou professionnelle

Les missionnaires ont créée des écoles pour donner une formation technique  aux étudiants. La première de ces écoles a été ouverte à Aleppey, Kerala, en 1842, d’autres ont suivi à Kottayam, Thrissur et dans d’autres parties du pays. Dans le nord-est de l’Inde Rev. Le M.C. Mason en a ouverte une à Goalpara parmi les Garos. L’administrateur apostolique d’Asam a ouvert une école commerciale à Shillong en 1901. Les Salvatoriens qui étaient des experts en matière de menuiserie, de cordonnerie et de forge ont dirigé les jeunes Khasi dans les filières de commerces. En 1922 les Salésiens de John Bosco ont remis en route l’école de commerce à Shillong et plus tard à Guwahati. (G. Palackapilly, Christian Contribution to Education, Language and Literature, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, 86)

       L’école universitaire de la Communauté (Community College) fait une autre aventure dans l’éducation professionnelle. Avant de commencer l’école, on étudie d’abord le potentiel des emplois dans un secteur. Ensuite on forme des gens pour les adapter à la demande locale. Les cours sont assurés en collaboration avec le personnel des industries voisines. Ceci assure non seulement l’emploi pour l’étudiant mais également le travail de qualité aux industriels. Actuellement il y a environ 140 écoles professionnelles de ce genre en Inde principalement dans les Etats du Sud. (F. P. Xavier, Future of Education, Education as Mission, 205)

8. Donner le pouvoir aux femmes

Il semble qu’à l’époque Védique les femmes aient eu un statut social élevé et qu’elles l’ait perdu lorsque le brahmanisme est devenu dominant. Selon les règles établies par Manu au 2ème siècle avant notre ère les femmes n’avaient pas d’indépendance même dans leur propre maison. Dès l’enfance, une femme devait être soumise à son père, dans la jeunesse à son mari et quand le mari était mort à ses fils. Depuis la période des Anglais, l’éducation des femmes s’est développée en son importance. La première école pour les filles a été ouverte par les missionnaires au Kerala en 1819 à Kottayam et un an après à Aleppey. Depuis il y a des progrès dans l’éducation des femmes. (G. Palackapilly, Christian Contribution to Education, Language and Literature, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, 85)

Selon le recensement du 2001 le taux d’alphabétisation chez les femmes atteint 52 % dans le pays. Elles sont chef d’Etat dans des 26 Etats de l’Inde. Il y a de plus en plus de femmes qui assument des métiers qui étaient auparavant réservés uniquement aux hommes – cadre professionnel, armée, police, etc. Néanmoins la société actuelle reste patriarcale et discriminatoire. Elles sont traitées, comme image de beauté et de la femme au foyer, mais rarement comme des personnes. Selon les statistiques publiées par le Bureau d’Etude sur la Violence en Inde toutes les 26 minutes une femme est molestée, toutes les 42 minutes il y a un harcèlement sexuel et toutes les 34 minutes un viol. (Hindustan Times, 27 Novembre 2002)

Le programme d’autofinancement (Self Help Programme) mis en oeuvre par le diocèse d’Aleppey au Kerala est représentatif de l’éducation informelle qui a lieu parmi les femmes en Inde rurale. Chaque group SHP se compose de 10-20 familles. Il y a 175 groupes de ce type dans le diocèse d’Aleppey. Leur opération principale consiste à faire “une petite banque de crédit”. Chaque membre contribue RS 10 chaque semaine. La quantité recouvrée ainsi de chaque membre est déposée à la banque au compte du président et du secrétaire. Un prêt avec un petit intérêt est donné aux membres selon l’urgence du besoin et la disponibilité des fonds. Habituellement les banques leur donnent trois fois en dépôt. L’intérêt sur le prêt est le bénéfice aux membres. D’avril 2002 à mars 2003 toute la transaction a été faite pour un montant de Rs 16 millions i.e. environ 300, 000 E. A travers ces programmes les femmes apprennent à signer,  à écrire et lire, à faire des démarches de réunion, des transactions de banque et à développer des habitudes de gestion du budget familial. Comme les femmes apportent l’argent à la famille et qu’elles ont une certaine autonomie économique elles obtiennent plus de respect dans la famille et dans le voisinage. (A. Thottakara, Empowerment of Women through Education, Education as Mission, 148-150)

9. Éducation de Valeurs

L’éducation de valeur n’est pas un programme en soi. Les établissements chrétiens, dans toutes leurs activités cultivent des valeurs humaines et religieuses chez les étudiants. Pourtant quelques mouvements ont adopté l’éducation de valeurs comme leurs propres charismes. L’Institut national de Dharma Bharati, qui a été fondé le 16 juillet 1993 à Indore, est une telle O.N.G. C’est un contre- mouvement qui lutte contre les querelles ethniques, les émeutes communales, le terrorisme et les menaces de guerre. Eduquant la jeunesse aux valeurs de l’amour, de la fraternité, de la justice, de la paix, du partage, de la tolérance et du respect est le but du Dharma Bharati. C’est un programme de reconstruction nationale par la transformation personnelle des citoyens.

Le mouvement du Dharma Bharati a des buts à long terme et à court terme. Les buts à long terme sont de préparer la jeunesse à prendre des responsabilités dans leurs propres situations de vie; d’en faire des citoyens responsables qui travailleront pour l’harmonie inter-religieuse, la solidarité globale et la régénération de valeurs dans la nation. Le but à court terme est de transformer les attitudes de jeunes en valeurs humaines. Pour la transformation personnelle des individus il y a cinq voies à suivre. a) Dire une prière par jour pour la paix selon sa propre tradition religieuse ; b) se dispenser d’un repas par semaine pour exprimer sa solidarité avec l’affamé et pour contribuer à l’épargne des pauvres ; c) faire un bon acte par jour; d) honorer les parents, les enseignants et tous les êtres humains e) respecter la terre et sauvegarder ses ressources. (V. Alengaden, Dharma Bharati : A Movement with a Diffference to Build a Civilization of Love, Education for the Third Millennium, 209-215) Jusqu’an janvier 2003, le mouvement s’est répandu dans 600 écoles de 19 Etats de l’Inde. Plus de 400, 000 étudiants et 32, 000 professeurs ont jusqu’ici assisté aux programmes qui sont organisés par le dharma Bharati. 104 colloques ont été déjà organisés pour les chefs des établissements éducatifs. (Annual Report of Dharma Bharati Service Society from 1st April 2003 to 31 March 2004)

En conclusion nous voudrions faire les remarques suivantes :

a) Des établissements chrétiens ont été classés au premier rang en ce qui concerne le niveau d’études et les valeurs spirituelles et séculières.

b) Les écoles chrétiennes prêtent attention au développement intégral des étudiants à travers les activités de sport et de jeux, l’encouragement des talents en art, musique, danse, peinture, et l’écoute des étudiants.

c) Les étudiants sont également invités à devenir conscients des problèmes sociaux par le biais des stages et enquêtes faites dans les villages.

d) L’éducation des femmes est une priorité de l’éducation chrétienne. 50 % des écoles universitaires catholiques en Inde sont réservées aux femmes. Ceci aide les femmes à obtenir un travail dans les centres de soins,  dans la médecine, dans l’informatique, dans la pharmacie, dans la production alimentaire, dans les services administratifs et même dans l’ordre judiciaire.

e) L’Eglise donne de l’importance à l’éducation des illettrés et des opprimés. 70 % des écoles sont dans des secteurs ruraux où habitent les désavantagés.

f) Plus de 90 % des étudiants des établissements chrétiens sont non-chrétiens.

Partie III : Réflexions théologiques

Nous avons vu l’investissement énorme des chrétiens dans le domaine de l’éducation dans diverses régions de l’Inde. L’éducation est une affaire publique aujourd’hui. En plus des chrétiens, les Etats, les O.N.G. et les individus privés sont implantés sur le terrain de l’éducation. De quelle manière le service éducatif chrétien est-il alors spécial et unique ? Les établissements chrétiens sont-ils les canaux de l’évangélisation ? Les réflexions suivantes montreront que bien qu’il n’y ait aucune prédication directe de l’évangile dans les établissements chrétiens ils sont témoins des valeurs du royaume de Dieu et qu’ils remplissent ainsi la tache de la mission.

10. L’éducation est une activité évangélisatrice

Comme nous l’avons dit plus haut par mission nous indiquons tout ce que nous faisons pour promouvoir les valeurs du Royaume de Dieu inauguré par Jésus. Redemptoris Missio explique la nature de cette mission orientée vers le Royaume : travailler pour le Royaume signifie reconnaître et favoriser le dynamisme divin, qui est présent dans l’histoire humaine et la transforme. Construire le royaume signifie travailler pour la libération du mal dans toutes ses formes (n° : 15) Du coup, l’éducation est un service qui met en valeur le progrès du royaume de Dieu. Le RM dit la chose suivante : L’Eglise est efficacement et concrètement au service du royaume et cette mission inclut divers éléments comme le témoignage, la conversion, le dialogue inter-religieux, la promotion du développement humain, l’engagement à la justice et à la paix, l’éducation et le soin du malade et de l’aide aux pauvres et aux enfants. (n° : 20) Jésus a dit : “qui accueille en mon nom un enfant comme celui-là, m’accueille moi-même” (Mt 18, 5). L’éducation et le soin pour  enfants sont les constituants essentiels de l’évangélisation car ils jouent en le essentiel en favorisant l’amour de Dieu sur terre.

       La nature de l’enseignement de Jésus comme maître, indique également le lien étroit entre l’éducation et la mission. Kuttianimattathil constate que Jésus est nommé environ soixante fois comme maître dans les Evangiles. Même ses ennemis lui ont attribué ce titre “Maître, nous savons que tu es franc et que tu enseignes les chemins de Dieu en toute vérité, sans te laisser influencer par qui que ce soit, car tu ne tiens pas compte de la condition des gens.”(Mt 22, 16). Évidemment, Jésus n’était pas un enseignant qualifié comme les rabbins qui ont appris scientifiquement à interpréter les Ecritures. Il était plutôt un professeur charismatique qui a donné son message aux gens par un appel personnel. (J. Kuttianimattathil, Education is Mission : Some Considerations from the Perspectives of Theology, Education as Mission, 152-154)

La force de l’enseignement de Jésus était son caractère libérateur, remarque Soares-Prabhu. Son enseignement a libéré des personnes de l’avarice et de l’esprit concurrentiel. Son enseignement a renversé les structures qui favorisaient l’injustice et il a invité ses disciples travailler pour un monde nouveau où les hommes et les femmes vivraient ensemble comme frères et soeurs. Ceux qui ont accepté l’enseignement de Jésus sont devenus libres sur le plan psychique et spirituel. Cette libération interne est également le but de l’éducation. Celui-ci rend conscient les personnes de l’injustice et le guide à faire des actions de libération. Par conséquent, l’éducation authentique est par nature un acte d’évangélisation. (Soares-Prabhu, Biblical Themes for a Contextual Theology Today, 136-139)

Le lien fondamental entre l’évangélisation et l’éducation est également évident dans leur souci commun de promotion de la vie. Evangélisation signifie proclamation de la Bonne Nouvelle. La partie essentielle de cette bonne nouvelle est l’amour sans conditions de Dieu qui a été révélée en Jésus pour chaque être humain. (EN 27) L’Evangélisation ne sera alors pas complète si la Bonne Nouvelle n’est pas directement concernée par la vie des personnes. C’est pourquoi les évangiles contiennent les messages explicites concernant les différents aspects de la vie tels que les droits et devoirs humains, la vie de famille, la vie sociale, le développement, la paix, la justice, la libération, etc. (EN 29) La vie est un cadeau à célébrer. La Bonne Nouvelle apparaît sous la forme du pain aux affamés. Quand les maladies perturbent la vie, l’évangélisation prend la forme de santé. Quand la vie est perturbée par l’ignorance, l’évangélisation les touche par l’éducation. (T. P. Kalam, Animation et Evangelization in Catholic Educational Institutions, National Consultation on Education, 89-91)

De la même manière, le but de l’éducation est de donner la vie aux êtres humains. Etymologiquement parlant, le mot éducation vient du mot latin educare ou educere qui signifie « apporter vers le haut ». Beaucoup de définitions ont été données à l’éducation dont l’idée principale est bien dite par le Collier’s Encyclopaedia que voici: c’est un processus social par lequel une communauté, une société, ou une nation cherche à communiquer à la génération émergente les aspects traditionnels de sa culture qu’elle considère fondamentaux et essentiels pour sa propre stabilité et survie. (p. 564) En d’autres termes l’éducation vise à bâtir une société humaine juste par la formation de citoyens mûrs et responsables. Elle vise au changement intégral de la personne humaine pour être témoin des valeurs de l’égalité, de la justice, de la coopération, et de l’harmonie. Ainsi l’éducation par sa voie libératrice favorise la promotion de la vie, le même souci de l’éducation.

En bref, si par évangélisation nous voulons dire forcer les gens à adopter la foi l’éducation chrétienne ne peut pas être une voie de mission. D’autre part, si nous la comprenons dans un sens plus large en tant que notre contribution à faire du monde un endroit meilleur où  les êtres humains se libèrent de toutes sortes de servitude et apprécient la plénitude de la vie alors pouvons nous dire que l’éducation est l’évangélisation. Les documents de l’Eglise  soutiennent une telle mission d’éducation orientée vers le Royaume. Par exemple, le Concile  Vatican II Gravissimum Educationis dit : “L’école catholique, en s’ouvrant comme il convient au progrès du monde moderne, forme les élèves à travailler efficacement au bien de la cité terrestre. En même temps, elle les prépare à travailler à l’extension  du royaume de Dieu, de sorte qu’en s’exerçant à une vie exemplaire et apostolique, ils deviennent comme un ferment de salut de l’humanité”. (n° : 8)

Le document “Ecoles Catholiques” publiés par la Congrégation de l’Education Catholique en 1977, précise que les écoles catholiques assurent un service essentiel de l’Eglise dans le monde d’aujourd’hui. Elles participent au dialogue culturel par des écoles, apportant sa propre contribution positive à toute formation humaine (n°: 15). La Constitution Apostolique « Ex Corde Ecclesiae » sur les universités catholiques par le pape Jean Paul II daté du 15 août 1990 indique : De par sa nature, chaque université catholique est un témoin institutionnel vivant au Christ et à son message, d’une manière extrêmement importante dans les cultures marquées par sécularisme, ou où le Christ et son message sont toujours pratiquement inconnus. Toutes les activités de base de l’université catholique sont reliées à et en harmonie avec la mission évangélisatrice de l’Eglise. (n°: 49). Le document “Personnes Consacrées et leur Mission dans les Ecoles” publié par la Congrégation de l’Education Catholique en 2002 rappelle que les personnes consacrées travaillant dans les écoles mènent à bien une mission ecclésiale qui est extrêmement importante puisque tandis qu’elles instruisent elles évangélisent également. (n°: 6)

Partie IV : Problèmes et défis

11. Manque d’infrastructure

Bien que les gouvernements, les groupes religieux et les agences privées aient pris beaucoup d’initiatives pour améliorer le niveau d’éducation, pourtant, sur les 600 mille villages en Inde il y a encore 102 mille villages sans école;

 29 % des villages manquent d’écoles primaires ;

77 % des villages manquent d’écoles secondaires

60 millions d’enfants n’ont jamais vu l’école

40 % des écoles ont des bâtiments sommaires et pas de tableau noir, etc..

60 % d’entre elles  n’ont pas de service d’hygiène et ni d’eau potable.

35 % des écoles fonctionnent seulement avec un enseignant

2937 n’existent seulement que sur le papier

L’Inde a la plus grande population illettrée du monde (424 millions). (P.Arockiadoss, Brief Analysis of the Education Policies, Education as Mission,18 : Bertille, Strategies in Primary and Secondary Catholic Education, Proceedings of the National Consultation on Education, 39, 48)

12. Politiques non équilibrées d’éducation

Les études prouvent également qu’il y a une grande disparité dans le système d’éducation indien.

– La moitié des enfants en Inde ne finissent pas l’école primaire tandis que le pays dans l’ensemble produit plus de diplômés qu’il ne peut employer.

– “L’état des enfants dans le monde en 1992”, un document de l’UNICEF, note que 50 % de toute la dépense du gouvernement indien sur l’éducation est utilisé pour subventionner les 10 % mieux-instruits “.

– Selon le Human Development Report 2001, parmi les 143 pays énumérés, l’Inde est en 104ème position en ce qui concerne la part du PNB dépensée en éducation

Est-ce que l’Eglise a pris en compte ces faits dans ses politiques éducatives ?

– Tandis que le taux de croissance d’établissements ecclésiaux augmentait de six à dix fois en général, il n’y a eu que des 25 % de croissance en nombre d’écoles primaires.

– 60 % de prêtres, 69 % de soeurs et 56 % de frères travaillent dans le sud de l’Inde où vit seulement 25 % de la population totale. (Bertille, , Strategies in Primary and Secondary Catholic Education, Proceedings of the National Consultation on Education, 31-35)

Tous ces points montrent que l’éducation primaire n’est pas le souci principal des chrétiens.

13. Education profite aux élites

Malgré les d’initiatives prises parmi les tribus, les dalits, et autres classes privées, le système d’éducation en Inde est essentiellement centré autour des élites et il est absent des besoins de la majorité du peuple. Il est évident que 80 % des étudiants qui sortent des universités viennent des 20 % des classes riches de la société indienne. C’est une minorité qui possède et gère les ressources du pays. Ceci perpétue un ordre social injuste avec la pauvreté, les inégalités, le chômage et le sous-développement de masses pauvres. (The Statement of the Seminar, Education for Social Change, 25-27) Le système actuel encourage les étudiants à accepter le conformisme, la sécurité, le prestige et l’entretien du statu quo. Il renforce toutes les structures injustes et va l’encontre de l’Inde rurale, où habitent 70 % de la population indienne. (Babu Mathew, A Joint Presentation: The Present Educational System, Education for Social Change, 14-20) Les institutions chrétiennes dans les villes ne sont pas privées de ce danger. On a pensé qu’en instruisant le riche on pourrait facilement conduire la société dans la bonne direction.  Mais parfois on doit humblement accepter que d’une part les étudiants qui ont été formés dans les établissements chrétiens sont devenu des oppresseurs et d’autre part à cause de leur association avec les riches, les écoles chrétiennes sont parfois devenues corrompues.

Dans ce cadre il faut souligner que ce type d’éducation crée de la frustration chez les tribus aussi. Ils estiment que leurs garçons sont aliénés du reste de leur société. Certains d’entre eux coupent des liens avec leurs familles et leurs villages après avoir trouvé un emploi. C’est parce que l’éducation est superposée à la culture des tribus dans sa structure et son contenu. Les livres font rarement appel aux milieux culturels des tribus. Ils doivent d’abord fournies  les informations concernant leurs propres communautés, vie de village, organismes sociaux, croyance et pratiques et puis passer à la scène nationale. (N. Hasnain, Tribal India Today, 128-129)

14. L’éducation professionnelle coûte une fortune au public

La vague de la commercialisation de l’éducation a pratiquement éclipsé le but des établissements chrétiens qui ont été fondés pour l’éducation des pauvres. Plusieurs des nouveaux cours présentés dans les universités ne sont pas gratuits. Les gouvernements ne donnent pas de bourses. Donc les étudiants doivent payer chère pour la formation professionnelle qui donne accès à un bon emploi. Par conséquent, l’éducation des pauvres devient impossible. Les établissements chrétiens sont dans un dilemme : intégrer les pauvres ou diriger les établissements avec l’aide de ceux qui peuvent payer l’éducation ?

15. L’opposition des communalistes hindous

Le caractère séculier d’éducation qui a été assidûment sauvegardé dans la période post-coloniale est mise en danger par l’interférence croissante des nationalistes hindous aujourd’hui. On s’en rend compte en examinant le programme d’étude préparée pour l’éducation à l’école en 2000 par le gouvernement central mené par le BJP. Il y a une tentative d’imposer leur idéologie monolithique sur le système éducatif. Les écoles sont soumises à des impôts exorbitants sur l’emploi et sur le revenu de l’école. Ils interviennent dans l’admission des étudiants et dans la nomination des enseignants. Parfois il est difficile d’obtenir le permis pour démarrer de nouvelles écoles. Des motifs chrétiens sont remis en cause dans les secteurs ruraux alors que ces agents de l’Hindutva veulent bien profiter des établissements chrétiens dans les villes. Cela explique le grand besoin de renforcer la culture séculière afin de cultiver un esprit de bonne entente inter-religieuse chez les  étudiants et d’éviter de tomber dans les préjugés et la haine.


Pour presque 97 % d’Indiens, le seul contact avec le christianisme se fait par des écoles, des universités et des hôpitaux dirigés par les Chrétiens. Par conséquent, une des manières décisives pour diffuser les valeurs de l’Evangile, est, sans aucun doute, l’éducation en Inde. Il est difficile d’imaginer que les hindous se convertiront au christianisme dans un avenir proche, mais ils accueilleront des initiatives éducatives chrétiennes qui les rendent plus humains et religieux. C’est pourquoi le Swami Vivekananda disait aux étrangers : “Le seul service à faire aux Indiens est de donner une éducation afin qu’ils développent leur personnalité. Si on leur donne des idées, leurs yeux seront ouverts à ce qui se passent autour d’eux, ils découvriront alors leur propre salut.” Malgré les difficultés rencontrées, les chrétiens en Inde continueront leurs services éducatifs car l’éducation est le moyen le plus efficace pour l’Eglise de devenir un catalyseur de changement social et de justice dans la société indienne.


Second Vatican Council.


Catholic Directory of India 1994, New Delhi: CBCI Centre.


Indian Christian Directory for the New Millennium, Kottayam: Rashtra Deepika Limited, 2000.


Collier’s Encyclopaedia vol. 8, Halsey W. D.  & Johnston B., New York: Macmillan Educational Company, 1990.

Alengaden V. (ed.), , Education for the Third Millennium, Indore: Dharma Bharati, 2000.

Hasnain N., Tribal India Today, Lucknow: Hannam Publication, 1991.

Keay F.E., A History of Education in India and Pakistan, Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1959.

Majumdar R.C. (ed.), The History and Culture of the Indian People, Bombay: Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, 1965.

Mudaliar A.L., Education in India, Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1960.

Nurullah S. &  Naik J.P.,  A History of Education in India, Bombay: Macmillan & Co. Ltd, 1951.

Palackapilly G. & Burman N. (eds.), Proceedings of the National Consultation on Education, (April 27- May 1,        1999, Kristu Jyoti College Bangalore), New Delhi: CBCI Centre, 2000.

Ponnumuthan S. (ed.), Christian Contribution to Nation Building: A Third Millennium Enquiry, Palarivattom:       KCBC, 2004.

Soares-Prabhu, George M., Biblical Themes for a Contextual Theology Today, Pune: Jnana-Deepa               Vidyapeeth, 1999.

Sreedhara Menon A., A Survey of Kerala History, Madras: S. Viswanathan Printers, 1991.

Stanislaus L., Education as Mission, Pune: Ishvani Kendra, ISPCK, 2004.

Tete P. (ed.), Constant Lievens and the Catholic Church in Chotanagapur, Ranchi: Catholic Press, 1993.

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Hindustan Times

De la conversion au dialogue en vue du Royaume

De la conversion au dialogue en vue du Royaume*

Dr Vincent Kundukulam

Vincent Kundukulam

St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Aluva (Kerala)

            Aujourd’hui, beaucoup de prêtres et de religieux sont découragés dans le champ de la mission en raison d’une propagande anti-chrétienne militante issue de milieux néo-hindouistes (hindutvas). Ils sont désolés parce que leur travail n’aboutit pas à la conversion de non-chrétiens comme autrefois. Cela soulève plusieurs questions théologiques. Quel pourrait être le mode d’une authentique évangélisation dans un contexte de conflits interreligieux croissants ? Jésus a-t-il considéré comme nécessaire l’implantation de l’Eglise pour accomplir le commandement de la mission ? Si le salut est possible dans d’autres religions quel est alors la nécessité d’un travail missionnaire ? Si l’évangélisation vise la réalisation du Royaume de Dieu, quels sont les chemins pour remplir une telle tâche missionnaire ? Cet article se veut une réponse théologique (il peut y avoir aussi des réponses politique et sociologique) au problème de la conversion auquel doit faire face l’Eglise en Inde.

1. L’attitude du Sangh-Parivar[1] quant à la conversion

Il y a différentes tendances en ce qui concerne l’attitude du RSS [2] et de ses alliés à propos des conversions. Quelques-uns sont violemment contre la conversion tandis que d’autres autorisent une telle possibilité sous certaines conditions. Les raisons qu’ils énoncent pour leurs positions sont diverses (cf. Kundukulam 2000: 31-40). Nous n’avons pas besoin ici de les détailler, il suffira de mentionner les positions principales et leurs arguments.

Des conversions sous conditions:

a) La conversion peut être autorisée si la personne concernée a une connaissance suffisante aussi bien de la religion qu’elle a pratiquée que de celle qu’elle veut embrasser. Le terme matham (voie religieuse) signifie une idée ou opinion particulière dans le contexte indien. La formation d’une opinion est principalement une activité intellectuelle, et elle doit être menée à bien après une réflexion suffisante. b) La conversion individuelle peut être permise, mais non la conversion de masse. Le droit de changer de religion est un droit individuel. En cas de conversion de masse un individu n’est pas en capacité d’exercer sa liberté personnelle. c) Une conversion due à l’ignorance, la séduction ou la force doit être condamnée. Le Sangh-Parivar se plaint de ce que les missionnaires manipulent l’ignorance des pauvres analphabètes : « Les missionnaires mettent les statues des dieux tribaux dans un récipient plein d’eau et ces statues sont englouties. Puis ils mettent dans le même récipient une croix de bambou. Quand la croix surnage à la surface de l’eau, ils disent : « le Christ est plus puissant que les dieux tribaux ». Les autochtones (tribals) analphabètes sont convertis au christianisme. » (Janmabhumi [3], 10 mars 1999) « Les missionnaires offrent aux pauvres des possibilités de travail et un meilleur traitement dans les hôpitaux chrétiens s’ils rejoignent la communauté chrétienne. » (Interview de U. Issrani, Pranta Sanghchalack de Madhya Bharat, Bhopal, décembre 1993).

Une opposition absolue à la conversion :

Alors que certains leaders du RSS permettent en principe la conversion, d’autres s’y opposent catégoriquement pour plusieurs raisons.

a) Le concept de conversion d’une religion à une autre est contraire à la nature même de la religion. La religion est ce qui montre le chemin vers Dieu. Si toutes les religions conduisent l’homme vers le même Dieu pourquoi changerait-on de religion ? (Cf. Mishra 1980: 118-121)

b) L’Inde (Bharat) a suffisamment de religions adaptées à sa culture et par conséquent n’a pas besoin de religions supplémentaires : «  Les Indiens sont déjà religieux. Il y a diverses religions dans le pays aptes à répondre à leur besoins religieux. Même les autochtones (tribals), qui n’ont pas de religions instituées, mènent une vie vertueuse et en ce sens ils sont religieux. Il n’y a pas besoin de les convertir à une autre religion. » (Interview de R. R. Mishra, President du Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram à Surguja, Madhya Pradesh, janvier 1994).

c) Les conversions créent des conflits dans la société. Quand les chrétiens revendiquent la supériorité de leur religion et gagnent des adhérents provenant d’autres religions, celles-ci se sentent désolées d’avoir perdu leurs adeptes. Ceci augmente les possibilités que surgissent des conflits entre religions. Pour maintenir la paix dans un pays multi-religieux comme l’Inde, les conversions doivent être interdites.

Plus que les raisons susdites, ce sont les facteurs culturel et politique qui font que le Sangh Parivar se retourne contre les conversions chrétiennes. d) la conversion de l’Hindouisme au Christianisme crée une aliénation culturelle ou « déculturation » des gens convertis. Quand quelqu’un devient membre de l’Eglise, il laisse de côté les coutumes, fêtes et rituels hindous, et souvent il se met à ternir les Dieux et les pratiques hindous. Arun Shourie écrit, dans l’introduction à La moisson de nos âmes (Harvesting Our Souls) :

« La conversion même d’une seule personne cause une grave perturbation. Sa famille est mise à part. Des tensions surgissent dans la communauté. On va ainsi au pire parce qu’après l’avoir convertie, les convertisseurs font que la personne fait et dit des choses qui offensent gravement la communauté dont elle provient. Cette seule personne est conduite non seulement à répudier mais à dénoncer les Dieux et les rituels dans lesquels elle a grandi, jusqu’à faire des choses qui sont interdites dans sa religion ou communauté d’origine – par exemple, de manger de la viande qui est prohibée » (2000 : 1-2)

e) Le point principal est que la conversion est devenue une affaire de nombre et qu’elle a des conséquences politiques. L’augmentation du nombre affecte le scénario politique du pays. En démocratie le nombre compte : nombre signifie pouvoir, nombre signifie argent et nombre signifie bien d’autres fins désirées. Si la conversion est permise cela réduira le pouvoir « hindou » dans le pays. Deoras, le Sarsanghchalak ( le dirigeant suprême) du R.S.S. entre 1973 et 1994, explique cela avec l’exemple du Kerala : « Aujourd’hui il y a 25% de Chrétiens et 20% de Musulmans au Kerala. C’est pourquoi leurs votes deviennent importants, très importants au moment des élections. Il y deux groupes politiques principaux : le Congrès et les Communistes. Les deux ont à faire des compromis en raison de ces bulletins de vote. » (1985 : 12) Le séparatisme augmente dans d’autres Etats à majorité chrétienne comme le Nagaland, le Mizoram, etc. et c’est pourquoi les conversions doivent être stoppées. Pour reprendre les mots de Golwalkar, le Sarsanghchalak entre 1940 et 1973, la conversion subvertit la loyauté. « La conversion des Hindous à d’autres religions revient à faire mourir le pays en proie à une loyauté divisée, au lieu d’avoir une loyauté indivise et absolue envers la nation. C’est dangereux pour la sécurité de la nation et du pays.» (1980 : 225)

Arun Shourie écrit que l’Eglise comme institution est obsédée par l’idée d’avoir la plus grande part sur le marché mondial des religions. La pression pour évangéliser est commerciale. Les publications missionnaires apportent un ample témoignage au fait que la mission est une grosse affaire (big business). L’Eglise doit avoir des cibles définies, des plans détaillés de stratégies de marché, au moyen desquels multiplier la récolte : une église doit être plantée dans chaque village, une Bible doit être placée dans toutes les mains : les femmes, les castes qui bénéficient de quotas (scheduled casts), les autochtones (tribals), doivent être ciblés, etc.  Quelques groupes missionnaires ont même budgétisé la dépense d’une telle activité, en gros autour d’un milliard et demi de dollars. (Cf. 2000 : 25-33)

Evaluation : Nous n’avons pas l’intention de défendre ici d’une manière apologétique la position chrétienne contre les accusations du Sangh Parivar. Nous les examinerons simplement pour en tirer les principales questions théologiques qui doivent venir en discussion, face à l’éveil de la conscience hindoue (hindutva).

Nous pouvons être d’accord avec le R.S.S. pour dire la place importante de la connaissance pour la poursuite de la vérité. Mais nous ne pouvons restreindre la découverte de la vérité à une recherche purement intellectuelle, parce que l’expérience personnelle, les intuitions, la foi, etc. jouent aussi un rôle vital dans la compréhension de la vérité. De la même manière la possibilité d’une conversion de masse ne peut être complètement exclue. L’homme est un être social. Un groupe de gens qui vivaient sous l’oppression peuvent réfléchir ensemble à propos de leur état d’opprimés, et peuvent faire collectivement un sérieux pas sur le chemin d’une libération religieuse et sociale. En ce qui concerne la conversion par séduction et par force, il est vrai que dans le passe des milliers de pauvres gens ont été convertis durant la famine. Les missionnaires se sont souvent servis du catéchuménat comme de centres de secours et dans quelques cas ont transformé les centres de secours en catéchuménat (Fernandez 1984 : 289-306). Mais aujourd’hui l’Eglise ne favorise pas cette sorte de conversions. Elle interdit par tous les moyens les conversions qui bloquent l’usage par quelqu’un de sa liberté personnelle. « L’Eglise propose, elle n’impose rien. Elle respecte les personnes et les cultures et elle honore le sanctuaire de la conscience. » (Redemptoris Missio 39)

Les raisons données par le Sangh Parivar pour arrêter les conversions sans exception aucune semblent plus importantes, parce qu’elles ont de sérieuses implications théologiques. Si toutes les religions conduisent au même Dieu et puisque l’Inde a déjà diverses religions de très haute réputation, pourquoi l’Eglise favoriserait-elle les conversions ? Est-il chrétien d’insister sur la conversion comme une voie légitime d’exercer la liberté religieuse si cela cause des tensions sociales et des conflits interreligieux dans notre mère patrie ? Pouvons-nous nous opposer aux croyances des autres religions si elles ne trompent pas les gens dans leur recherche de la vérité ? Ces questions sont importantes non seulement pour la réflexion à l’intérieur du Christianisme mais aussi pour améliorer les relations entre Chrétiens et Hindous. Les quatre conditions qu’Arun Shourie place devant nous pour cette amélioration de la relation entre Hindous et Chrétiens touchent aux mêmes points : a) rendre compte avec honnêteté des calomnies qui se sont amoncelées  à propos de l’Inde et de l’Hindouisme ; b) refuser l’inerrance de la Bible et l’infaillibilité du Pape ; c) reconnaître la valeur salvifique des autres religions ; d) arrêter les conversions (1994 : 214-230).

L’Eglise, appelée à poursuivre sa mission en recevant l’inspiration du mystère de l’incarnation, se doit de prendre en considération ces défis pour rendre témoignage à l’Evangile. Nous allons pouvoir maintenant développer des orientations pour la mission, qui aideront l’Eglise à témoigner du Christ en Inde.


            2. Les autres religions comme “moyens” de salut

Dans la période qui a suivi la deuxième Guerre Mondiale, à cause du développement rapide du commerce, des médias, des transports et communications, les chrétiens en Occident ont pu avoir contact avec beaucoup de non-chrétiens vivant les valeurs de l’Evangile. La diminution du pourcentage des chrétiens pratiquants en Occident et l’acceptation du pluralisme comme une valeur positive a aussi changé la perception par l’Eglise des autres religions.

Karl Rahner a modifié l’ancienne perspective selon laquelle les autres religions sont des religions « naturelles », le Christianisme seul étant « surnaturel ». Il a justifié son point de vue à partir de deux principes chrétiens fondamentaux : l’être humain est créé à l’image et ressemblance de Dieu et Dieu désire que tous les humains soient sauvés. L’être humain, par création, est un être ouvert au Transcendant. Chaque fois qu’il élève son esprit vers Dieu il peut recevoir le message de celui-ci. Les autres Ecritures sacrées sont alors le résultat d’une expérience transcendantale des saints hommes des autres religions. C’est pourquoi les religions non-chrétiennes ne contiennent pas simplement une connaissance naturelle de Dieu mais des éléments surnaturels. (1983 : 163-168)

Raymond Panikkar insiste sur la liberté de Dieu de se révéler Lui-même à qui Il veut : « La croyance que Dieu a parlé aux chrétiens, et la conviction que Dieu leur a fait part à eux seuls d’un secret, n’exclut pas la possibilité que Dieu ait révélé des aspects identiques ou d’autres du Mystère divin à d’autres peuples… Dieu est libre de dire un secret et même un secret différent quand et à qui il plaît à Dieu. » (1990 : 115) Cela signifie que l’unique auto-révélation de Dieu en la personne de Jésus-Christ n’empêche pas Dieu de parler à travers d’autres manifestations.

La compréhension positive de l’Eglise envers les autres religions est aussi fondée sur la théologie du Logos développée par saint Justin martyr. Le Logos divin, la Parole de Dieu créatrice, était présente et active depuis le commencement même de toute la création. Chaque être a été créé dans et par le Logos (Jn 1, 3). Dieu est entré en alliance avec l’humanité entière avant l’incarnation de Jésus avec Adam et Eve (Gn 1, 28-30), avec Noé (Gn 9, 8-17), avec Abraham (Gn 15), avec Moïse (Ex 19), etc. A cause de ces alliances il peut y avoir des révélations de Dieu par la médiation de l’Esprit en dehors du Christianisme, ce qui n’est d’aucune manière en défaveur de Son auto-révélation dans le Christ. Des théologiens font le raisonnement que des chrétiens à la différence des Pères de l’Eglise proclament la Parole-dans-l’histoire au détriment de la Parole-dans-la-création. A partir de quoi leur attitude envers les autres religions devient plus exclusive. « Nous réduisons Jésus-Christ à une divinité tribale ou nationale alors que nous étions partis de la position d’un Dieu-avec-nous pour tous les peuples, races et nations dans leur identité la plus profonde. Aussi la tâche est-elle pour les théologiens de travailler à retrouver une présentation équilibrée de la présence salvifique de Dieu dans la création et sa venue dans l’histoire. » (Karokaran 2000 : 36-37)

Il y a des textes dans la Bible qui confortent cette attitude ouverte et inclusive vis-à-vis des autres religions. Bien que Paul fût enflammé de zèle pour le message du Christ il use à l’Aréopage d’un langage inclusif. Il reconnaît les goïm qui sont observants en matière de religion. « Dieu n’est éloigné d’aucun de nous, puisque c’est en lui que nous avons la vie, le mouvement et l’être, comme aussi bien quelques uns de vos propres écrivains l’ont dit : nous sommes tous ses enfants. » (Act 17, 26-28) Paul propose le message chrétien comme complétant la religion grecque. L’attitude de Pierre envers Corneille est ouverte. Dieu semble avoir rendu clair pour lui, à travers une vision, qu’il ne doit pas qualifier quelqu’un de souillé ou d’impur. (Act 10, 28) Dieu ne fait pas acception de personnes, mais qui que ce soit, de quelque nation qu’il soit, qui craint Dieu et fait ce qui est juste Lui est agréable. (Act 10, 34-35)

Le Concile Vatican II reconnaît qu’existent des “éléments de vérité et de grâce (Ad Gentes 9), « des « rayons de vérité » (Nostra Aetate 2), et des « semences du Verbe » (Ad Gentes 11) dans les rites et coutumes des peuples (Lumen Gentium 17), et dans leurs traditions religieuses et nationales (Ad Gentes 11). Soulignant l’universelle volonté salvifique de Dieu, le Concile écrit : « Car puisque le Christ est mort pour tous, et que tous les hommes sont en fait appelés à une seule et même destinée, nous devons tenir que l’Esprit Saint offre à tous la possibilité d’avoir part, d’une manière que Dieu connaît, au mystère pascal. » (Gaudium et Spes 22) Dialogue et annonce, publié conjointement par la Congrégation pour l’Evangélisation des Peuples et le Conseil Pontifical pour le Dialogue Interreligieux en 1991 confirme une telle perspective : « Les membres des autres religions sont orientés à l’Eglise, sacrement du Royaume de Dieu (…). Quand ils répondent à l’appel de Dieu qui se manifeste dans la loi de leur conscience, ils sont sauvés en Jésus-Christ et partagent donc en quelque sorte la réalité signifiée par le Royaume » (n° 35).

A la lumière de ce qui vient d’être dit, réflexions théologiques, citations bibliques et références du Magistère, nous pouvons conclure que les autres traditions religieuses peuvent être des voies de salut pour leurs croyants respectifs dans la mesure où elles sont compatibles avec les valeurs de l’Evangile et la grâce salvifique qui vient du Christ. La médiation du salut est rendue accessible aux autres religions par le biais du Saint Esprit, qui est le principe de communication entre Dieu et les hommes depuis les commencements de la création (Dupuis 1989 : 168). Une telle médiation de l’Esprit n’est pas opposée à l’unique et universelle médiation du Christ parce que l’Esprit intervient dans l’histoire par la médiation du Christ.

            3. La mission comme développement du Royaume de Dieu

            Ce changement d’attitude envers les autres religions a eu un impact sur la théologie de la mission. Les théologiens trouvaient le fondement de l’activité missionnaire de l’Eglise dans la mission du Fils et dans celle de l’Esprit Saint (Ad Gentes 2). L’Incarnation est devenue le modèle de la mission. La prédication a cessé d’être à sens unique. De la même manière que Jésus s’est incarné selon les modèles culturels de l’humanité, les missionnaires ont commencé à assimiler tout ce qui est bon dans la vie culturelle et religieuse de ceux à qui ils s’adressaient avant de leur présenter la spécificité de l’Evangile.

            Il y a eu un changement aussi dans l’objectif même de l’évangélisation. Les théologiens ont réalisé la prééminence du thème du Royaume de Dieu dans la prédication de Jésus. Le Christ s’est servi seulement deux fois du terme Eglise alors qu’il a employé l’expression Royaume de Dieu quatre-vingt-douze fois. Aujourd’hui les théologiens distinguent entre Eglise et Royaume de Dieu. Le Royaume de Dieu ne sera pas réalisé par la seule expansion de l’Eglise parce que l’Eglise est seulement le signe et le sacrement du Royaume de Dieu (Lumen Gentium 1. 48.) Elle a vocation à préparer le Royaume de Dieu. Elle ne peut prendre la place du Royaume. Redemptoris Missio affirme la même perspective : « Il est vrai que l’Eglise n’est pas une fin en elle-même puisqu’elle est ordonnée au Royaume de Dieu dont elle est germe, signe et instrument. » (Redemptoris Missio 18) L’Eglise aura son achèvement seulement lorsqu’elle sera assimilée au Royaume. Karl Rahner dit : « L’Eglise, quand on la comprend bien, existe en proclamant son caractère provisoire et la destinée vers laquelle elle marche à travers l’histoire, pour réaliser que sa fusion dans le Royaume de Dieu arrivera dans le futur. » (1965 : 35) Dans cette perspective, la mission ne doit plus être centrée sur l’expansion de l’Eglise institutionnalisée mais sur le témoignage en faveur du Royaume de Dieu.

Une compréhension appropriée du sens de la conversion a aussi aidé les théologiens à considérer  l’expansion du Royaume de Dieu comme le but de l’évangélisation. Depuis longtemps, l’acte de conversion était identifié avec le changement de religion. Mais une étude de l’étymologie fait voir que l’élément important dans la conversion est la conversion du cœur à Dieu. Le terme de conversion est dérivé du latin conversio. Sa racine con-vertere signifie se retourner comme en un demi-tour, dont l’équivalent grec est la métanoia.

La conversion s’oppose au péché dans la Bible. Si le péché est se détourner de Dieu dans l’isolement et l’auto-suffisance, la conversion est de se retourner de tout soi-même vers Dieu. Par conversion les prophètes ont désigné le retour à Dieu dans l’amour et la sincérité, une ré-orientation de soi tout entier, de tout son être, vers le Dieu de l’Alliance. La conversion appelle une nouvelle relation ave Dieu, qui doit se manifester dans tous les registres de l’existence, particulièrement dans la pratique de la justice et de la charité. Jésus commence sa vie publique en annonçant la venue du Règne de Dieu. Il invite chacun à se laisser convertir aux valeurs du Royaume de Dieu. Pour saint Paul la conversion est l’avènement d’une nouvelle création. Selon Jean elle signifie le passage des ténèbres, de la fausseté, de la haine et de la mort à la vie et à la lumière. (Saldanha 1993 : 215-227)

Si la mission doit être centrée en tout premier lieu sur la conversion du cœur, comment alors comprendre le commandement de Jésus d’« aller, de faire des disciples de toutes les nations, et de les baptiser » ? David Bosch est d’opinion que l’expression faire des disciples doit être resituée dans le contexte pastoral de Matthieu. L’évangéliste invite les membres de la communauté à ne pas laisser passer l’occasion de porter témoignage en se mettant au service des gens autour d’eux. Le verbe principal de la péricope est faire des disciples, et les deux participes en baptisant et en enseignant lui sont subordonnés. Cela indique le chemin à suivre pour faire des disciples. L’état de disciple est plus important que d’enseigner et de baptiser. Etre un disciple du Christ signifie vivre à partir des enseignements de Jésus. L’état de disciple implique un engagement pour le Règne de Dieu, pour la justice et l’amour, pour l’obéissance à la volonté de Dieu tout entière. (1993 : 53.77)

Un missionnaire peut-il se contenter d’introduire les gens aux valeurs de justice, d’égalité, d’honnêteté, de fraternité, de service et d’amour dans la société indienne ? L’Eglise accomplit-elle son devoir missionnaire si elle ne peut faire en sorte que les gens appartiennent à  l’Eglise ? La réponse est oui dans certains contextes. Saint Paul abandonne la moisson au temps que Dieu a prévu en son dessein. « J’ai planté, Apollos a arrosé, mais c’est Dieu qui donnait la croissance. » (1 Co 3, 6-7) Dialogue et annonce dit : « Dans ces situations où, pour des raisons politiques ou autres, l’annonce est pratiquement impossible, l’Eglise accomplit déjà sa mission non seulement par sa présence et son témoignage mais aussi par ses activités et son engagement pour le développement humain intégral et le dialogue. » (n° 76)

            4. L’évangélisation comme dialogue

Nous avons vu que l’évangélisation vise la construction du Royaume de Dieu. Cela comprend toutes les formes de construction du Royaume : témoignage, annonce, implication dans les luttes de libération de l’humanité, dialogue avec les autres religions, inculturation, et œuvres de charité. Comment déterminer la forme de construction du Royaume de Dieu en Inde ? Cela doit avoir lieu en prenant en compte les contextes particuliers de notre pays. L’Inde est le berceau des grandes religions du monde comme l’Hindouisme, le Bouddhisme, le Jaïnisme et le Sikhisme, et beaucoup de religions traditionnelles (tribal). Il y a aussi dans ce pays des Musulmans, des Chrétiens, des Parsis [4] et des Juifs. Ainsi d’être naturellement interreligieuse est un trait basique de l’Inde. En Inde, être religieux signifie être interreligieux. Si l’Eglise se doit de témoigner du Royaume de Dieu comme un avant-goût de l’harmonie et de la paix, alors le premier chemin de la mission serait le dialogue interreligieux, sans exclure cependant les autres formes. L’Eglise se doit d’être une communauté qui fait des ponts. Comme le dit Pathil, l’Eglise doit être une « communauté de communautés » traversant toutes les castes, races, religions et dénominations linguistiques (2000 : 89. 99) Le dialogue interreligieux est le moyen  fort pour cette manière d’être l’Eglise.

Accepter le dialogue comme le moyen de la mission n’est pas sans cohérence avec l’esprit du Concile. Ad Gentes invite tout le monde à vivre dans la bonne estime et l’amour envers les croyants des autres religions, à partager leur vie culturelle et sociale au travers d’échanges variés et d’entreprises favorisant une vie humaine. Ad Gentes 9. 11) Le Cardinal L. T. Picachy a dit au Synode des Evêques tenu à Rome en 1974 que le dialogue est bon en lui-même, et que l’Eglise en Inde voit le dialogue interreligieux (inter-faith) comme une expression normale de l’évangélisation (Amalorpavadass 1975 : 155). « Le dialogue interreligieux est une part de la mission évangélisatrice de l’Eglise. Compris comme méthode et moyen de connaissance et d’enrichissement réciproques, le dialogue ne s’oppose pas à la mission ad gentes ; bien plus il en est une expression. » (Redemptoris missio 55) Jean-Paul II dans son adresse au Conseil Pontifical pour le Dialogue Interreligieux en 1984 a dit qu’à travers un dialogue authentique la tâche missionnaire de l’Eglise est accomplie : « Tous les chrétiens sont appelés au dialogue. Dans cette activité ecclésiale, il est nécessaire d’éviter l’exclusivisme et les dichotomies. Un dialogue authentique devient témoignage, et la vraie évangélisation est accomplie en se respectant et en s’écoutant les uns les autres. » Nous avons trouvé que le dialogue inter-religieux est l’une des formes privilégiées d’annoncer l’Evangile dans le contexte indien. Comment l’Eglise peut-elle fonctionner comme communauté de dialogue en Inde ?

            5. L’Eglise, une communauté de dialogue

La première et principale manière d’entrer en dialogue avec les autres religions est le témoignage de vie. Jésus n’a pas seulement indiqué ce chemin mais il a été ce chemin. Il n’a pas seulement parlé de la vérité mais il a été la vérité (Jn 14,6). Les chrétiens, au travers de leur présence auprès des croyants des autres religions dans les situations variées de la vie et des activités  humaines, peuvent annoncer l’Evangile comme une rose, qui n’a pas besoin de prédication sur son parfum. « Le témoignage dans la vie de tous les jours est inséparable du dialogue » atteste Sara Grant, qui fut une pionnière du dialogue en Inde depuis 1956 (Grant 1991 : 95).

 Le développement humain est un autre domaine où l’Eglise peut être une communauté de dialogue. Le chrétien est d’autant plus profondément concerné qu’il cesse d’être chrétien s’il manque à porter  radicalement le souci des pauvres et des opprimés et à les aimer. Prendre soin des exclus est témoignage de l’amour du Christ dans un monde d’égoïsme. Dans la scène du Jugement dernier (Mt 25, 31-46) et dans la parabole du riche et de Lazare (Lc 16, 19-31), Jésus renvoie au souci de compassion pour les dalit [5] comme condition nécessaire pour entrer dans son Royaume. Tandis que les missionnaires cherchent les moyens pour faire progresser leurs compagnons humains sans se soucier de leur conversion, ils diminuent le fossé entre les communautés et développent une communauté d’amour dans le monde.

L’activité de libération est une autre manière de mettre en actes le dialogue avec les autres religions. La Bonne Nouvelle n’est pas seulement réalité d’un autre monde. Dans son discours inaugural (Lc 4, 16-22) Jésus mentionne que libérer les anawim de toutes sortes d’oppressions est sa première mission. De même l’Eglise a le devoir d’apporter son aide aux missionnaires de la libération sociale – hommes de loi, sociologues et travailleurs sociaux -, qui ont au premier chef le souci de la justice et des Droits de l’Homme. Ils ne prononceront peut-être pas le nom de Jésus devant ceux dont ils prennent soin. Là n’est pas le problème. Dans la parabole du Jugement dernier, ceux qui se sont engagés en faveur de l’Homme et qui ont été placés à la droite du Père ne savent pas que leurs actes de compassion étaient des actes de compassion envers le Christ lui-même.

Les efforts en faveur de l’inculturation font aussi partie du dialogue interreligieux. Les ashrams chrétiens produisent un climat favorable où les croyants de différentes religions peuvent se rencontrer dans leur condition commune de pèlerins. A travers des prières, des méditations, des discussions et des célébrations interreligieuses, et par un mode de vie marqué par l’austérité, l’hospitalité et la simplicité, ils peuvent témoigner des valeurs du Royaume. Les récentes attaques contre les chrétiens ont été la cause d’un développement parmi eux d’une attitude négative envers l’inculturation. Aussi devons nous particulièrement prendre soin de promouvoir des rassemblements populaires interreligieux dans les ashrams chrétiens, qui sont de nouvelles manières d’être l’Eglise.

Même si la conversion au Christianisme n’est pas le point focal du dialogue orienté vers le Royaume, cela n’exclut pas la possibilité d’accueillir dans l’Eglise ceux qui en expriment le désir sincère et acceptent la catéchèse nécessaire. Les statistiques de la Mission montrent que toutes les dénominations chrétiennes prises ensemble forment seulement le tiers de la population mondiale, et que la population musulmane peut dépasser les catholiques dans le troisième millénaire. En Asie où vit 60% de la population, il y a seulement 3% de chrétiens. La présence des communautés chrétiennes doit être renforcée si l’Eglise doit remplir son devoir d’être le levain du Royaume de Dieu en Asie. Si nous proclamons un moratoire pour les conversions cela affectera la construction du Royaume de Dieu. Cela va aussi contre la liberté religieuse de la personne humaine.


            Le dialogue est la nouvelle manière d’être l’Eglise. Cette manière d’être inclut de travailler ensemble pour la défense commune des droits de l’Homme, pour la promotion du développement humain, pour faire vivre les valeurs spirituelles et culturelles, en partageant les expériences spirituelles, en échangeant les réflexions, etc. Il y a des manières indirectes de témoigner du Royaume. Ce que nous voudrions avoir est la confiance dans l’Esprit Saint et le courage d’entrer en dialogue avec les Hindous et le R.S.S. Notre ouverture, notre sincérité, l’amour et le désir d’un enrichissement réciproque mettront en valeur les multiples manières de témoigner, à l’échelle d’une fraternité universelle, des idéaux qui sont ceux du Royaume de Dieu : « Dieu en tous et pour tous, qui donne et garde pour toute la terre habitée bonheur, paix et plénitude » (vasudaiva kutumbakam, loka samastha sukhino bhavantu).

(Traduction François Bousquet)


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Bosch D. (1993)                      : Transforming Mission, New York: Orbis.

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Dupuis J. (1989           )                       : Jésus-Christ a la rencontre des religions, Paris: Desclée.

Fernandez W. (1984)               : “Conversion: the caste factor and dominant reaction in Indian                                                      Missiological Review, Vol.6, 289-306.

Golwalkar M.S.            (1980) (66)     : Bunch of Thoughts, Bangalore: Jagarana Prakashan.

Grant S. (1991)                        : “Dialogue” in Pilgrims of Dialogue, A. Pushparajan (Ed.), Munnar:                                                             Sangam Dialogue Centre, pp. 93-97.

Karokaran A. (2000)               : “Mission: An Alternative Model” in Third Millenium, III (2000)1, 29-44.

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            * Vincent Kundukulam, prêtre syro-malabar, Docteur en Théologie (ICP) et Docteur en Histoire des Religions et Anthropologie religieuse (Paris IV Sorbonne) est Professeur au St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary d’Aluva au Kérala.

            Cet article, reprenant une conférence donnée le 28 août 2000 à Mount St Thomas, au Colloque de la KCBC, a été publié dans Third Millennium, vol., IV /3, July-September 2001, pp. 16-26. Toutes les notes de bas de page sont du traducteur.

Résumé : Le problème de la conversion prend un aspect particulier en Inde avec l’avènement de courants néo-hindouistes. Le Sangh Parivar s’oppose violemment à la conversion des Hindous à d’autres religions, qu’il considère comme un acte déloyal et communautarien. A l’intérieur de l’Eglise un nombre important de missionnaires est divisé en ce qui concerne la nécessité d’avoir la conversion comme objectif premier de la mission. Cet article essaie de comprendre les arguments des néo-hindouistes contre les conversions. Il montre comment le changement d’attitude envers les autres religions affecte le style de l’activité missionnaire. Il suit l’évolution du concept de mission et étudie la signification réelle de la conversion. A la lumière de cette étude il propose un chemin pour la mission, qui fasse justice à la fois au contexte indien et à la théologie de la mission. La priorité de l’évangélisation en Inde est de contribuer à la pleine croissance du Royaume de Dieu, le dialogue interreligieux étant une forme privilégiée de cette évangélisation. Celui-ci comprend un travail en commun pour la défense des Droits de l’Homme et pour le développement humain, dans le partage des expériences spirituelles, la promotion d’un éthos culturel de la nation, etc. Nous pourrions avoir confiance en l’Esprit-Saint et entrer en dialogue avec les Hindous et le R.S.S. C’est une manière indirecte de témoigner de l’Evangile.


The problem of conversion takes a special turn in India with the advent of hindutva forces. The Sangh Parivar vehemently opposes the conversion of the Hindus into another religion as they consider it as a communalist and disloyal activity. Inside the Church, a considerable number of missionaries stand divided on the need of projecting conversion as the primary objective of mission. This paper tries to understand the arguments of hindutva forces against conversion; it shows how the changed attitude towards other religions affect the style of missionary activities; it assess the evolution of the concept of mission and it studies the real sense of conversion. In the light of above study, it proposes a path of mission, which does justice both to the Indian context and to the theology of mission. The priority of evangelization in India is to contribute to the full growth of the kingdom of God, of which inter-religious dialogue is a privileged form. This inter-religious dialogue comprises working together for the common defense of human rights and for human development, sharing of spiritual experiences, promotion of cultural ethos of the nation, etc. We should have confidence in the Holy Spirit and enter into dialogue with the Hindus and the RSS. It is an indirect way of witnessing the Gospel.

[1] Le nom qui signifie l’ensemble des mouvements nationalistes et fondamentalistes hindous.

[2] Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha, c’est-à-dire Corps National des volontaires, l’organisation mere des mouvements nationalistes et fondamentalistes hindous, fondé en 1925.

[3] Janmabhumi : un journal quotidien en malayalam, la langue locale au Kerala, qui veut dire la Patrie.

[4]  Nom en Inde des adeptes de la religion zoroastrienne.

[5] Les Intouchables.