Given below are some of the WhatsApp messages received from members of the laity and the clergy in response to our posts, ‘Elephantine Blunder’ and ‘Does our Sensus Fidei need Renewal?’, dwelling on an issue that has wounded the core of our Christian being: relativism, syncretism, idolatry… by some of the very people who are supposed to – and claim to – respect and protect it. St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica says that violation of the First Commandment is ‘the most grievous sin’.

The present catalogue of sentiments does not include general messages of appreciation and support received. Writers’ names do not appear; in the case of Priest writers, the same is specifically mentioned. Some messages have been slightly edited, for clarity; and those straying into other areas have been left out altogether.

Meanwhile, it is reported that His Eminence Cardinal Ferrão has expressed consternation at the turn of events and has justified the laity’s angry outbursts. In his address to the Deanery heads of the Archdiocese, he allegedly condemned idolatry, appealing to his priests to exercise caution when on social visits to people of other faiths. On insisting that Christians use the word ‘Lord’ to refer exclusively to Jesus Christ, His Eminence purportedly said that he does not visualise a repetition of such ugly incidents in the future. Unfortunately, there is still no official confirmation of the sentiments expressed by our Cardinal.

It may be said that in face of such a heinous scandal, an oral warning to the Deans or to the entire Goan clergy is not enough. Verba volant; scripta manent! Spoken words fly away; written words remain. Hence, only a Circular issued to that effect by His Eminence condemning the scandal and explaining the doctrine of the Church regarding the sin of idol worship can set the record straight and bring the issue to a logical and just conclusion, not least because the Archdiocese’s official organ – Renovação /Renewal/ Novsornni – in a recent issue (16-30 September 2022) sang a different tune. This is our request.

To great evils, greater remedies! Here is a cancer that is not amenable to chamomile tea! The laity expect clear-cut directives; a stern rebuke to the perpetrators; and acts of reparation – all of which the Church habitually does in grave matters – indeed, grave as it, as the messages below bear out:

  • ‘You did well, indeed, in just two words: “Elephantine Blunder”! Now that this topic has come up, let me say that on this particular Sunday [12/9/22] our priest explained at length all the mighty attributes of the ‘lord’: the fine eyes, trunk, the arms and the articles they are holding, the big paunch, the carrier-vehicle, the first transplantation surgery, and the broken tusk – and went on to say that all these attributes are already Catholic and we should have no qualms about it […] Lord, have mercy on us! …’
  • ‘I totally agree with you. Thanks for raising your voice against paganisation in the Church.’  
  • ‘This is one of the reasons why other sects such as New Life, many self-proclaimed ministries, attack the Church, stating that she’s impure. The Church is not impure, she is holy; but just because of some fallback/practices done by some of the religious ministry – such as this idolatry – she takes a hit. It is so sad. God bless us.’ – [Fwd] 
  • […] I have stopped looking at what they are doing and read and teach Jesus’ Gospel Word. Please follow and try to obey Jesus New Testament Word. If you don’t mind, I will send you some Word from Jesus Gospel […] I have spoken to the [clergy] and find that they do not have the Holy Spirit to understand Jesus’ Gospel, so let us forgive them and work to understand Jesus’s Word for our own Salvation.’ – My reply: We can’t overlook what they are doing! They are supposed to show the way; they hold souls in their hands… Forgiveness is one side; Justice is the other. And this is what we want… God also wants us to be alert and stop being naïve. They are pulling the rug from under our feet… Counter-reply: The Devil also uses people in authority to build his own church.
  • ‘Just because the position is facing the idol in no way does it mean he is praying to the idol. I would like to bring to your attention that Jesus narrated the three parables to the Pharisees who considered themselves better than the tax collectors and other sinners… Pictures deceive.  I know very well that he has caused no scandal. Again, I say the prodigal son’s parable was addressed to the pharisees who made life difficult for others.’ – PRIEST [Fwd] – My comment: The priest is clearly in prarthana position. And it is reported that he led the parish youth to pray and sing (hymns from Gaianancho Jhelo).
  • ‘This is abominable. Who is this priest?’
  • [Your article] has been a big blow to false inculturation and to the pan-ecumenical revolution.’ 
  • ‘To me, it looks as if Ghar Whapsi has begun in Goa.’
  • ‘[…] a total abomination in the sight of our Living God. This is so utterly disgraceful… Bowing to […] idols by a Catholic clergyman. Shame on him and the system he follows…’
  • ‘Oh, my goodness! Where was this? That’s so alarming. This is actually against our First Commandment, is it not?’
  • ‘[…] And since these are teachers/Shepherds who lead the faithful in idol worship they will be severely judged as Jesus has already stated. God! This is so scandalous and we thought only […] were idol worshippers…’
  • ‘[…] next time do not share items against the Church… By sharing we become part of those who are against us…’ PRIEST [Fwd] – My comment: What a shallow remark! Well, this is not against the Church but against a scandal performed by a Priest, tarnishing the image of a true Pastor…  Were the Popes who condemned Luther and the Modernists enemies of the Church?
  • ‘It’s good that you called this out. About time that someone did it… Maybe you should send it to Dr Taylor Marshall!’
  • ‘So, this is one of our own priests!… Really!!… And is our Archdiocese not aware? I wasn’t!… That amounts to testing Almighty God Himself… Shudder at the thought… We have no Moses anymore… It cannot be an accident that the very First Commandment covers this issue… it means that this is topmost on the list of God’s mind.’
  • You are so right to express your justified anger against this idolatry despite God’s express Command. God must have mercy on us, before His wrath consumes us!…’ 

Finally, I transcribe part of a comment from a priest holding a high position in the Church:

  • ‘[…] I agree with you a hundred per cent that the photograph that you have published shows a priest whose “prayer posture absolutely begs an explanation.” He is seen praying with his body turned towards the idol. As ambiguous and compromising as his prayer posture may be, would you like to think, even for a second, that he is saying something like, “O Lord Ganesha, please hear our prayer”? At least I would not.’ – PRIEST – My reply: ‘Thank you, […]! I don’t wish to guess what the priest is saying, much less put words in his mouth. He will have to give an account to God. But a pic is worth a thousand words, hence the criticism on social media. It has its reason for being.’ – PRIEST: Agreed.

(To be continued tomorrow)