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David Frawley, about The Pope's Apology

Sacrificer           David Frawley
Sacrifice code       wfor0106
Sacrifice date       25 march 2009

Source text=

  • www.hindunet.org
  • shish Sharma, Indian Express, the Express Magazine, March 12, 2000
    Introduction: Who is Dr. David Frawley?

    David Frawley is one of the few Westerners ever recognized in India as a Vedacharya or teacher of the ancient wisdom. In 1991under the auspices of the great Indian teacher, Avadhuta Shastri, he was named Vamadeva Shastri, after the great Vedic Rish Vamadeva. In 1995 he was given the title of Pandit along with the Brahmachari Vishwanathji award in Mumbai for his knowledge of the Vedic teaching. Vamadeva has received many awards and honors for his work from throughout India. He works with many different aspects of Vedic knowledge on which he has written over twenty books and many articles over the last twenty years. In India his translations and interpretations of the ancient Vedic teachings have been given the highest acclaim in both spiritual and scholarly circles.

    Dr. Frawley is a teacher and practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine and of Vedic astrology (Jyotish) and has done pioneering work on both these subjects. He was recently (Sept. 2000) regarded as one of the 25 most influential Yoga teachers in America by the magazine Yoga Journal. He is now working closely with Deepak Chopra, particularly on his internet projects.

    It is very difficult to get authentic knowledge about Vedic teachings and its related traditions of Yoga, Tantra, Vedanta, Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology. Yoga is often reduced to mere asana or yogic postures. Tantra has become little more than sex. Vedanta has often been reduced to a mere philosophy. Academic presentations of these subjects, not being done by practitioners, remain caught in semantics and theoretical issues. Indian presentations, even authentic and given in English, are often hard to understand and poorly written.

    Dr. Frawley (Vamadeva) presents authentic Vedic knowledge in the Western world and in a lucid presentation recognized by the tradition itself. He has worked extensively teaching, writing, lecturing, conducting research and helping establish schools and associations in related Vedic fields. He has studied and traveled widely gathering knowledge, working with various teachers and groups in a non-sectarian manner.

    The Pope's Apology
    By Vamadeva Shastri (Dr. David Frawley)

    Pope John Paul II recently made an almost too well publicized apology for the wrongs and injustices, the sins committed by Catholics throughout the centuries. He mentioned the Crusades, Inquisition and the mistreatment of the Jews, among other actions that led to hatred, oppression and genocide. The event was more a great media show than a sincere and humble statement of the heart. The whole gesture was broadcast with great ceremony, almost as if it were a piece of propaganda.

    The Pope's first concern was the Jews, who have been persecuted by the Christians during the last two thousand years, with the Nazis being perhaps the greatest of a long series of episodes of Anti-Semitism in Europe. There have been many criticisms of the Church for its role in tolerating, if not supporting the Nazis. The Pope's apology is also meant to counter criticism against his recent effort to get Pope Pius XII canonized as a saint. Pope Pius XII was the Pope during World War II who never tried to stop the Nazis.

    Many Jews are critical of the effort to canonize Pope Pius XII and suspect him of collaborating with the Nazis. The Pope's seeking of forgiveness from the Jews is a way to redress that as well.

    His second concern was the Muslims. The Pope wants recognition in the Islamic world. Today the great majority of devoted Catholics are in similar Third World circumstances and Catholic missionaries are competing with Islamic missionaries, particularly in Africa. The Pope made a very high profile visit to Israel recently, appeared arm and arm with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and made a public plea for a Palestinian State, almost as if he were more a political than a religious leader.

    The place of Hindus and Buddhists in this mistreatment can be inferred but the silence about these religions is poignant. The Pope failed to mention these religions by name, as has been his general tendency not to want to recognize them as valid religions - a courtesy that he does yield to other Biblical beliefs. The Inquisition came to India, specifically to Goa. The Catholic Church has been quite active in Asia as well throughout the centuries and often using the same questionable tactics. The Pope also failed to specifically mention the pagans of Europe that were the object of much Christian hatred and violence from the destruction of pagan temples to the burning of witches in the Middle Ages. Even today pagan groups in Europe have to deal with strong opposition from the Church.

    I don't mean to say that the Pope's gesture has no value or cannot be a step in the right direction. Hopefully, Protestant Christians and Muslims, whose history is just as bloody relative to other faiths, can follow suit. But the Pope's apology is perhaps more notable for what it did not say. We should not read into it more than what he indicated. Unless it is followed by more genuine actions, it may only be an effort to avoid real scrutiny.

    According to Catholic doctrine, the Church is a heavenly body, the bride of Christ and can therefore suffer from no real deficiency. Hence, the Pope is not apologizing for any real mistakes done by the Church because, by definition in Catholicism, the Church is capable of no real wrong. He is apologizing for mistakes made by church members, which can include priests, bishops and even previous Popes, but which only occurred by their failure to live up to the heavenly status of the Church. So the Pope's apology is not really for the wrongs of the Catholic Church but only for the wrongs of individual Catholics. In this regard it is an attempt to maintain the purity of the Church and to uphold its power. It is the Church apologizing for the deficiencies of its members, not for its own mistakes.

    Secondly, the Pope's statement does not contain a repudiation of any Catholic doctrines; particularly those that require that Catholics convert the world to their belief, which notion was responsible for most of the violence that he criticizes. The Pope's apology is not an acceptance of other religions or a statement that salvation is possible outside the Church or apart from Jesus. It is not a declaration of respect for the religions of the world. It is not a proclamation of religious pluralism. The Pope did not say that other religions are as good as Christianity or that Jesus is the only Son of God and the sole redeemer of humanity. In fact, his recent statements in Asia, his call to evangelize the region and convert Asia to Catholicism, proclaim the opposite.

    His plea for forgiveness was to God, not to other people and certainly not to other religions. He was not apologizing to other religions for the Catholic Church failing to recognize their truth or their holiness in the eyes of God. He was not reaching out to other religions, so much as making an appeal to members of other religions in order to draw them closer to Christ and the Church in order to convert them. He preserved the exclusivism of Catholic belief in tact.

    That this forgiveness coincides with a new church initiative to convert Asia to Christianity should not be forgotten. It is an attempt to give the Church a more liberal modern face to aid in its conversion efforts. It represents only a change of style. In the past conversion often occurred along with force and intimidation. This policy cannot work in the post-colonial era, when the Church does not have military support. So the Pope is trying a new, more friendly style. But the goal is the same - Christianity for all.

    When a person confesses his sins to a Catholic priest he is always given some sort of penance. It is easy to ask for forgiveness but it should lead to some sort of action or it may be sincere. It is not enough to say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness if you have hurt others. You must stop the hurtful actions and make amends. The Pope should follow up his words with real efforts to rectify past wrongs, many of which are still continuing. If someone runs over you with a car, it is not enough to ask for forgiveness and walk away. The Catholic Church has ruined entire civilizations in its history, and has cast a pall over others.

    Perhaps it should make a memorial to the victims of its Inquisitions. Above all, it must recognize that the religions that it has trampled over must be addressed as well. The Pope should arrange meetings not only with Jews and Muslims, but with Hindus, Buddhists and Pagans, asking their forgiveness and seeking ways to address the wrongs that the Church has done to them and being open to real dialogue with them. Let the Pope ask forgiveness not simply of the people the Church may have harmed, let him ask forgiveness of their religions and religious leaders. Let him ask forgiveness of the Shankaracharyas or the Dalai Lama for denigrating their religions. Let him say that these other religions are as good and holy as Christianity. This he has not done and will not recommend. In fact, he has warned his priests and nuns against following yoga and other eastern practices, which he called selfish.

    Many people were forcibly converted to Catholicism. Their native holy places were replaced by churches. Will the Pope tell such people to return to their original faith? Will he even tell them that their original faith was as good as Christianity? Will he work to restore at least a few native places of worship that the Church has stolen? If not, how can his apology be taken seriously?

    Above all, the Pope should stop the policies that have led to such inequities. The entire Catholic process of proselytization has a sordid history. To ask for forgiveness for its excesses, but to continue with these conversion efforts is insincere.

    The real question is whether the Catholic seeking to convert the world to its faith, based upon its declaration - recently affirmed by the Pope - that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity, is inherently a cause of intolerance, social disharmony and violence. When a missionary goes into a community and tells its members that salvation is only possible through Jesus and that their existing religion will not save them, that already is a form of intolerance and violence that must lead to disharmony and conflict.

    The Pope has made great efforts to portray Catholicism as a force of social liberalism, allied with leftist causes as in the Liberation Theology, that is the defender of the poor and a force for social equality. At the same time he is asking for the canonization of Pope Pius XII who stood silent before Nazi and Fascist aggression and genocide. Mussolini was a good Catholic in frequent communication with the Church. Catholic priests and bishops are well known to have blessed Nazi and Italian Fascist troops.

    Catholicism was long a natural ally of fascism. Theocracy, authoritarian and military rule are as old as Constantine, the first Roman emperor to become a Christian. Spanish and Portuguese colonial rulers, who indulged in genocide of populations in America and Asia, acted with the sanction of the Church on their regimes. The military dictators of Central and South America in recent times, up to Pinochet were good Catholics and had Church leaders allied with them.

    The Liberation Theology that arose in the Americas in recent years was a new phenomenon and often opposed by the Church. In fact, Pope John II has put an end to most of it in the Americas. He only promotes this Liberation Theology in India because of its conversion value.

    The fact is that, historically, the Catholic Church has been allied with military dictatorships, theocracies, and colonial oppression. Jesuits functioned as spies to study and undermine countries for conversion purposes. The older history of popes, anti-popes is there for all to see. The actual Church is not the bride of Christ or purity but a house with many dark corners and many skeletons in its closets that have yet to be cleaned out.

    If the Pope is a true social liberal let him work not just for the equality of people but for the equality of religions as well. Let him not just say that all human beings are equal; let him also honor other religions as great. Let him honor not just Biblical religions, but the dharmic traditions of Asia as valid ways to God or Truth.

    The problems that the Pope has asked forgiveness for are inherent in the very nature and structure of the Church. When you create an exclusive organization to dispense salvation to the entire world, you endow it with a kind of absolute authority like that of a dictator that naturally leads to corruption. The future does not belong to the Catholic Church or to any institutionalized belief. No group can claim to own or represent God or dispense salvation by belief in its doctrines. Truth is universal and eternal and the time of exclusive beliefs, products of the Dark Ages of humanity, is long past.

    It is clear that so far the Pope's apology is only meant to sidestep greater criticism. It is more of a whitewash than a sincere plea for forgiveness that a truly spiritual leader would ask for. Without bringing about an end to proselytization that has caused most of these problems it means little.


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