CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
CONCERNING THE WRITINGS OF
FATHER ANTHONY DE MELLO, SJ
Indian Jesuit priest, Father Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) is well known due to
his numerous publications which, translated into various languages, have been
widely circulated in many countries of the world, though not all of these texts
were authorized by him for publication. His
works, which almost always take the form of brief stories, contain some valid
elements of oriental wisdom. These
can be helpful in achieving self-mastery, in breaking the bonds and feelings
that keep us from being free, and in approaching with serenity the various
vicissitudes of life. Especially in
his early writings, Father de Mello, while revealing the influence of Buddhist
and Taoist spiritual currents, remained within the lines of Christian
spirituality. In these books, he
treats the different kinds of prayer: petition, intercession and praise, as well
as contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Christ, etc.
already in certain passages in these early works and to a greater degree in his
later publications, one notices a progressive distancing from the essential
contents of the Christian faith. In
place of the revelation which has come in the person of Jesus Christ, he
substitutes an intuition of God without form or image, to the point of speaking
of God as a pure void. To see God
it is enough to look directly at the world.
Nothing can be said about God; the only knowing is unknowing. To pose the question of his existence is already nonsense.
This radical apophaticism leads even to a denial that the Bible contains
valid statements about God. The
words of Scripture are indications which serve only to lead a person to silence.
In other passages, the judgment on sacred religious texts, not excluding
the Bible, becomes even more severe: they are said to prevent people from
following their own common sense and cause them to become obtuse and cruel.
Religions, including Christianity, are one of the major obstacles to the
discovery of truth. This truth,
however, is never defined by the author in its precise contents.
For him, to think that the God of one's own religion is the only one is
simply fanaticism. "God"
is considered as a cosmic reality, vague and omnipresent; the personal nature of
God is ignored and in practice denied.
de Mello demonstrates an appreciation for Jesus, of whom he declares himself to
be a "disciple." But he
considers Jesus as a master alongside others.
The only difference from other men is that Jesus is "awake" and
fully free, while others are not. Jesus
is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that
all people are children of God. In addition, the author's statements on the final destiny of
man give rise to perplexity. At one
point, he speaks of a "dissolving" into the impersonal God, as salt
dissolves in water. On various
occasions, the question of destiny after death is declared to be irrelevant;
only the present life should be of interest.
With respect to this life, since evil is simply ignorance, there are no
objective rules of morality. Good
and evil are simply mental evaluations imposed upon reality.
with what has been presented, one can understand how, according to the author,
any belief or profession of faith whether in God or in Christ cannot but impede
one's personal access to truth. The
Church, making the word of God in Holy Scripture into an idol, has ended up
banishing God from the temple. She
has consequently lost the authority to teach in the name of Christ.
the present Notification, in order to
protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the
above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause
Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned
Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Notification,
adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its
from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 24,
1998, the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.
+ Joseph Card. Ratzinger
+ Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli