24 July 2012


I. When your unfriendly host first started blogging in 2009, he posted an essay entitled Vulgar Radicals, wherein the dire ramifications of the Counterculture Revolution were analyzed. One subject discussed was the emergence of that hodgepodge of Determinisms which, when their main message is neatly summarized, contend that most human behaviours and inclinations are effectively beyond personal control. Given the topic addressed in this post - the claim that suicide is a "disease", what was explained in that essay warrants restating. That is, since the 1960s numerous socio-psychologistic, environmental and biological determinisms have been widely disseminated by book and broadcast, now well entrained into the mainstream. People who promote whatever type of Determinism will ascribe a "scientific" status to their respective hypotheses, arguing them to be corroborated by empirical data, regardless of how poorly gauged and inaccurate these data may be, or of the spuriousness of documentary "sources". Since these deterministic worldviews are now established in the mainstream, they are assumed, uncritically, to be factual aspects of the human condition.

II. Academic celebrities, like E.O. Wilson and his "sociobiology" theory,[1] are very good at this sort of thing. Indeed, so much is Wilson's biological determinism in vogue that he's an Honourary Board Member of the enviro-radicalist David Suzuki Foundation, along with other celebrities like Paul Erlich (author of the demonstratively bogus The Population Bomb), Margaret Atwood (most boring, overrated writer ever produced by Canada), Gordon Lightfoot (The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald song), including internationalist busybody Gordon Sumner, otherwise known as "Sting", formerly of The Police. They were a good band, admittedly, though it would benefit humanity greatly if such bimboesque-pop-idol-wannabe-Heideggers would just shut up and sing.

III. One thing you will notice is that Determinists use a euphemistic or vague idiom whenever communicating their main views. The language of Determinism must be expressed imprecisely because specificity in terminology and personal responsibility are correlative. This non-specificity in wording (contrary to what science as a subject demands) thus allows them to claim that certain behaviors or actions, beforehand deemed (very specifically) as immoral or depraved or illegal or manageable through self-restraint, are (in our modern, allegedly "enlightened" era) "somewhat natural" or "innate" or "commonplace" or "inescapable". Or that one is "strongly motivated" to act this way or that way, or that externally-operative economic "structures" are at work. Always, there is some outside factor involved, a shape-shifting abstraction, ambiguously defined, rooted predominantly in speculation, thereby negating responsibility for one's personal actions and diminishing the social consequences thereof. And when whatever Determinism is wielded by the neophyte popularizer, it becomes an even more dangerous ideational weapon that morphs the principle of human freewill into some form of fatalism.

IV. Keep the abovementioned in mind because that Concoctor of Sweet-Tasting Poisons for the Catholic babyboomer demographic, namely Ron Rolheiser, has again proclaimed suicide to be a "disease". I've written a number of harsh posts on Rolheiser's views, which can be found here, here, here, here and here. Quite a lot, yes. Given that for years his influence has been widespread (books, seminars, retreats, column in 70+ newspapers worldwide, YouTube videos, etc.), it's puzzling that there isn't much criticism of his writings in the Catholic blogosphere. This lack of being challenged also appears to be existent at the parish/chancery levels, where his sway is evidently most pronounced. A commenter at one of my posts remarked thusly: "Rolheiser and his book Holy Longing are absolutely insufferable. I only wish his legions of fans in my parish, including the RCIA team, questioned him one iota". But it was another commenter whose words really struck a chord in me, as her reported experience relates directly to the subject of this post:
At a time of deep grief and confusion, I picked up Ron's Shattered Lantern. MMMmmm, it reminded me of the old yoga days when I sunk into my couch and watched the sun rise while listening to my heartbeat. So far, (not?) so bad. My rationale was weak, I was frustrated with the recent relentless rehash of Priest scandal and wanted to escape. I actually re-read the book with my spouse over morning coffee. Happy as clams. After ignorantly basking in Fr. Ron's folly for a few months, we pursued one his earlier books, Against An Infinite Horizon (1995) YIKES! Suffering thru Rolheiser's condescending treatment of Church teaching, defense of radical feminism and trite circular analogies, I begged my husband to stop reading this BS. I actually found myself reacting in a most un-ladylike manner; my verbal objections descended to the depths of crudeness, the expletives issued forth without hesitation [Good lady, TH2 fully understands the reasons for, and sympathizes with, your descent into symphonic profanity :) ]. When will these clowns realize that they insult not only our intelligence and decency, but waste our precious time and energy?
Thankfully - because it is a good thing, I've also received criticism from Rolheiser's adherents in the com boxes. And as the saying goes: if you're not getting any flak, you're not over the target. Yet there is a raison d'être for semi-regularly setting my B-52 bombing sights onto someone who publicly announces himself to be "in exile". Notice: the most excellent lady just quoted started off by saying: "At a time of deep grief and confusion... my rationale was weak, I was frustrated... wanted to escape..." - and that's the thing. Whether intentionally or not, Rolheiser's inwardist, psychologism-drenched writings are perfectly tailored for, or appeal to, the mindsets of vulnerable persons - those undergoing some type of crisis, to whatever degree. They are therefore more prone to be manipulated and misled as their defences are down, openly trusting of some seeming "authority" or "guru" regarding whatever emotional, psychological or spiritual cross they're enduring.

V. Accordingly, we come to a recent column by Rolheiser entitled "Our Misunderstandings About Suicide". Note the patronizing use of "Our", as if readers are in agreement and that which follows issues from a supreme authority. Below is the pertinent part of the opinion piece, with TH2 emphasis/capitalization:
At the risk of repeating what I have been writing year after year... it's a DISEASE, something that in most cases takes a person out of life against his or her will, the emotional equivalent of cancer!, a stroke, or a heart attack... I also receive a lot of very critical letters every year suggesting that I am making light of suicide by seeming to lessen its ultimate taboo and thus making it easier for people to do the act: Wasn't it G.K. Chesterton himself who said that, by killing yourself, you insult every flower on earth?... Chesterton is correct, when suicide is indeed a despairing act within which one kills oneself. But in most suicides, I SUSPECT, this is not the case because there is HUGE DISTINCTION between falling victim to suicide and killing oneself... In suicide, a person, through illness of whatever sort, is taken out of life against his or her will...There is an INFINITE DISTANCE between an act done out of weakness and one done out of strength. Likewise there is an ABSOLUTE DISTINCTION between being too bruised to continue to touch life and being too proud to continue to take one's place within it.
However fancily it is worded, when suicide is classed, say, as a "disease", or characterized as the "emotional equivalent of cancer!" (note exclamation mark to show his insistence), we see that an act of the will (behaviour) is made proximate with, if not equal to, a biological condition. A disease as such, cancer, a stroke, a heart attack - these are physiological in aspect. Meaning, the unfree mechanical laws of the natural world are preponderant. Determinism, that is. The act of "most suicides", says Rolheiser, are "against his or her will". In the final analysis, there actually is no free choice for the majority who commit the terrible act.

VI. Notice what is happening here: Rolheiser is severing the tensile yet balanced dualism between the material (the body, biology, "disease") and the immaterial (the mind, the will). This is why he states there exists a "huge distinction", an "infinite distance", an "absolute distinction", between: (i) falling victim to suicide vs. killing oneself, (ii) an act done out of weakness vs. strength, (iii) being too bruised vs. too proud. Seen in its proper Catholic mode (not in Rolheiser's transmogrification), the dualism of mind and body are two through-going yet distinct units (so to speak), they are separable but still contingent, not necessitous in regard to one another. Making them separated, which is what Rolheiser is obviously doing, means a total detachment of these two units. A helpful analogy here might be the Nestorian heresy. It disconnected the divine and human natures of Christ, refuting the God-Man union.

VII. Right. Let's break things down and categorize Rolheiser's notion of suicide into its two types:
  • Type 1: "falling victim", "done out of weakness", "being too bruised": points to some outside force, an external factor, triggering someone to commit suicide. Claimed to be the "most" frequent cause. No personal responsibility involved. Akin to Determinism.
  • Type 2: "killing oneself", "done out of... strength", "being too proud": implies that only the self, freely with full knowledge and awareness, commits suicide. Claimed to be an infrequent cause. Personal responsibility is involved. Freewill seemingly affirmed.
What is ridiculous is the so-called justification for differentiating the two: "in most suicides I suspect...". He suspects! That's it! This is conjecture, subjectivity, without empirical validation. What about references? Data sources? Some sort of deduction? If attribution for suicide is to be placed primarily outside of the self, to some "other" force or factor, then why not speak of the proportional relationship between the secularization of Western society and the rise in suicide rates. Indeed, statistical studies in recent decades evidence suicide increases with a decline of the population's participation in "institutionalized religion", i.e. church attendance.[2] Moreover, the rate is significantly high for youth since, during the last five decades, they've been less likely to attend "church services", to speak generically - and this in large part encouraged, if not prompted by, precepts of the Hippie Revolution during the 1960s: anti-authoritarianism, antinomianism, anti-Western political posturing, drug-induced escapism, hedonism, self-actualization, gnosticism, misology, irresponsibility, incivility. Take a gander at the graph below to understand what's going on here...

From the 1960s onward, trends in data collected by Statistics Canada[3] exhibit a precipitous rise in the suicide rate (number per 100,000) for Canadian males in the 20-29 age range. There was also a slight, but still noteworthy increase in the female suicide rate. And is it not interesting that, after a long period of relatively low suicide rates from the 1920s to 1950s - when anti-Christian sentiment and the rejection of Western values belonged principally to the mind of the intellectual, there occurs an abrupt rise in suicide starting in the very decade when such corrosive views entered mainstream culture? More interesting are the trend lines during the Great Depression (ca. 1930s) and World War II (1939-1945). There are no upticks in suicide trends during these times of economic and geopolitical crisis, when an increase would normally be expected. Look closer at the graph and notice even a small decrease in the male suicide rate from the 1930s to 1940s.

VIII. Within a Catholic context, haven't read much in Rolheiser's writings on Mass attendance, the sacraments (with emphasis on Confession), devotion to the saints, pilgrimages to holy sites, the Blessed Mother, the Rosary, the Catechism - in how these and other elements of Catholic Tradition would aid in mitigating suicidal attempts. However, a perusal of the column archive at his website will demonstrate favourable quotes and references to the likes of Malcolm X, Jung, Freud and others whose stances are not so, shall we say, commensurable with Catholicism. Indeed, Rolheiser has this penchant for deferring to, and associating with, dubious characters. Like, for example, Fr. Richard "Enneagram" Rohr, with whom he collaborated at a surreal conference earlier this year. Reportedly, Rohr is "well known for his 'Wild Man Retreats' where men sometimes take their clothes off and touch each other in certain parts of their bodies - to release the demons".[4] One wonders if Rohr, an unabashed advocate of homosexuality,[5] is aware that suicide death/attempt rates for homosexuals well exceeds those of the overall population.[6]

IX. True, a wide array of causes have been put forward endeavouring to explain suicide: those associated with an impairing neurobiological condition, of course, but also alcoholism and drug use, heredity, climate, unemployment, poverty, work and income related stresses, engagement in deviant sexual activity, alienation, public exposure of a personal fault or wrongdoing, a betrayal and other incidents actuating mental anguish. Suicide as such is not the outcome of any one specific cause but, as the Catholic Encyclopedia states: "it is undeniable that the religious factor is by far the most important, the increase in suicides keeping step with the de-Christianization of a country".[7] Canadian suicide rate trends presented in the graph above is but one piece of attesting evidence.

X. Not a few academics will contend ancient pagan societies, like that of the Greeks, Romans, Japanese, or the Brahman caste of India, "tolerated" suicide, or deemed it "acceptable", even "dignified", and so on with the candy-coating routine. Greek tragedy dramas involve suicide, therefore - so goes the inference - it was, in a way, "part of life", or death rather. Sure, Jocasta commits suicide in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. So what? Proves nothing. In actuality, heightened suicide was concurrent with periods of nihilism and debauchery. As for suicide in the modern era - the drugged-up kamikaze pilot chained to the cockpit seat whilst screaming his Zero into the deck of an aircraft carrier, the Mohammed-enthused, box-cutter slashing barbarian plowing a passenger jet into a skyscraper - these are not signs of "honour", "glory", "righteousness" or "martyrdom". They indicate, rather, a hatred of life, contempt for the material world, and the abyss of despair. They're driven purely by emotion and willpower, eclipsing reason, and their so-called inspiriting "faith" or "religious belief" or "divine wind" or "jihad" is but a soul-putrefying penumbra which would even make those berserker gods of the Norse pantheon avert their eyes in disgust. The Catholic Encyclopedia again regarding suicide: "In fact, despair and anger are not as a general thing movements of the soul which it is impossible to resist, especially if one does not neglect the helps offered by religion, confidence in God, belief in the immortality of the soul and in a future life of rewards and punishments".[8]

XI. Instead of relying on the opinion of someone who apparently doesn't put much reliance in Catholic Church teaching, let's now make reference to the Catechism. It states that "voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law" (no. 2282). The Baltimore Catechism (Q. 1274) more specifically calls suicide a mortal sin. And what makes the Church's teaching on suicide considerably different from Rolheiser's ruminations is this: "Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him" (no. 2280). In evident disagreement, Rolheiser inserts a qualifier: only the relatively few commit suicide by force of "strength", by being "too proud" (cf. Type 2), not "Everyone is responsible", as the silly Catechism instructs. To be sure, "most suicides", according to Rolheiser, are "against his or her will" (cf. Type 1). Why? It is a "disease". How is this known? "I suspect". Really? And is there not something very important missing so far from this analysis?

XII. Catechism, No. 2281: "Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life". It's the natural law thing, teleology. In the classical philosophical tradition of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, it was understood that things naturally tend toward goals, are orientated to certain "final causes". In the context of man, a moral factor is involved because, with freewill, he makes choices that operate either for or against those goals to which nature as such arranges for him. It is in man's nature to survive, it is one of his purposes. Says the Summa on suicide:
...everything naturally loves itself, the result being that everything naturally keeps itself in being, and resists corruptions so far as it can. Wherefore suicide is contrary to the inclination of nature, and to charity whereby every man should love himself. Hence suicide is always a mortal sin, as being contrary to the natural law and charity.[9]
Man can defy nature by the commission of suicide. But not only does he risk eternal salvation with the act[10], he's not fulfilling a purpose as set up within the framework of natural law. Preservation and perpetuation of life is good, the act of ending one's own life is a spectacular evil, like it or not. It is a spectacle to others. It's that simple.

XIII. It's hard to tell exactly what role, if any, natural law features in Rolheiser's suicidal scheme of things. Yet it is clear that the assigning of "most suicides... against his or her will" to some personally uncontrollable, deterministic-like "disease" functioning beyond the domain of freewill belongs to that potpourri of nebulously-defined characteristics of "society" as a formless abstraction. Read what the influential French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) wrote during the second decade of the twentieth century: "We can say... with assurance and without being excessively dogmatic, that a great number of our mental states, including some of the most important ones, are of social origin... it is civilization that has made man what he is".[11] With Durkheim, we have a sociological expression of that diehard mantra of the modern Left: something outside myself is to blame for my affliction or circumstance. Not my own sins, blunders, willfulness, thought processes - but that thing "out there", without myself. The origin of this presumption goes all the way back to Rousseau's Social Contract with its famous line: "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains", and so forth. More immediately, however, Durkheim was following in the footsteps of Auguste Comte's (1798-1857) Positivism. And when Durkheim wrote his book Le Suicide, the main argument put forward therein was that social forces determine the overall suicide rate:
Each social group really has a collective inclination for the act, quite its own, and the source of all individual inclination, rather than their result... tendencies of the whole social body, by affecting individuals, cause them to commit suicide.[12]
Similarly, because Rolheiser seems not wanting to be that precise on the role of personal responsibility in suicide, he must use obscure, feelings-based phraseology, characterizing it as the "emotional equivalent of cancer" (which is downright unscientific), something from without, beyond individual control, something somewhere "out there" in the societal collective that works "against his or her will". Thusly, it wouldn't be unreasonable to opine that Rolheiser's commentaries on suicide causation are strongly influenced by the writings of Durkheim. About two years ago he wrote a column entitled "Being Stretched by Great Writers", wherein Durkheim is mentioned, amongst other not so Catholic friendly intellectuals. He paraphrased advice on what some professors said to him when a seminarian: "Take for granted that because these are great minds they have something to teach you, something that will much help you, even inside your faith. Be careful, but be open!" Not careful enough, methinks.

XIV. Can't help but conclude that Rolheiser's psychobabble-based wizardry of turning suicide into a "disease" gives people a backstage pass to defy the natural law or, straightforwardly, a license to transgress the Fifth Commandment. It provides vulnerable persons with an out... Pop those pills, slit your wrists, put that gun barrel in your mouth, jump from the 35th floor. There's nothing you can do, your suicidal thoughts are the "emotional equivalent of cancer" and there's no cure. To tell your readership that suicide is a "disease" which in most cases is resultant of the nullification of human will... to do that insistently, routinely on a per annum basis, almost with revelry, is disturbing and insidious. It is also very dangerous for those sensitive souls who, weakened through whatever circumstance, are in a state of despair and overwhelmed when thoughts of suicide are presented to the mind. Those who have written to Rolheiser, complaining about his efforts to obfuscate the "taboo"[13] of suicide, are absolutely justified in their criticism. Recommendation: Stay away from Rolheiser's writings. If you do venture to read, then be leery and exercise well your powers of discrimination.


1. Deriving from Wilson's Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, first published in 1975. So popular was this book that a 25th anniversary edition was published in 2000.

2. See, for example, S. Stack, "The Effect of the Decline in Institutionalized Religion on Suicide, 1954-1978", Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1983, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 239-252.

3. See Expert Working Group, Suicide in Canada, Update of the Report of the Task Force on Suicide in Canada, Mental Health Division, Health Canada, Report No. H39-107/1995E, 1994, Figure 4.2, p. 44. More recent data from for the 2005-2009 period show the male suicide rate has decreased somewhat, ranging between 16.7 to 20.1/100,000. The female rate has remained relatively constant, ranging from 3.0 to 6.5/100,000. The male suicide rate is still high when compared to the pre-1960 period. Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, Table 102-0551: Canadian Vital Statistics, Birth and Death Databases and Appendix II of the publication "Mortality Summary List of Causes" (catalogue number 84F0209XIE).

4. See M.C. Abbot, "Priest: 'The boy always gets naked...'", Renew America, January 23, 2006.

5. See B.A. Sibley, "The Fr. Richard Rohr Phenomenon", New Oxford Review, March 2006, vol. LXXIII, no. 3.

6. Cf. S. Langlois and P. Morrison, "Suicide Deaths and Suicide Attempts", Statistics Canada (Catalogue 82-003), Health Reports, January 2002, vol. 13, no. 2, p. 12; and C. Bagley and P. Tremblay, "Suicidal behaviors in homosexual and bisexual males", Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 1997, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 24-34.

7. Quoted in A. Vander Heeren, "Suicide", In: The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912), vol. 14. Available online.

8. Ibid. Cf. also a short analysis by the manualist Fr. Thomas Slater, A Manual of Moral Theology (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1925), vol. 1, bk. vi, pt. v, ch. i, pp. 194-195.

9. Sum. theol., ii-ii, q. 64, art. 5.

10. No. 2283 of the Catechism for consolation: "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives".

11. E. Durkheim, "The Dualism of Human Nature", In: Emile Durkheim, On Morality and Society, ed. R.N. Bellah (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1973), p. 149. Paper first published in 1914.

12. E. Durkheim, Suicide, A Study in Sociology, trans. J.A. Spaulding and G. Simpson (New York: The Free Press, 1951), pp. 299-300. First published in 1897.

13. It is revealing that Rolheiser uses the pagan word "taboo" (tabu, of Tongan origin) instead of the Catholic "mortal sin".


18 July 2012


Look at that little guy on the bottom left. Hilarious! They're all so cute.

You see, they make you smile, they make you happy.

Babies are so disarming and their charms are irresistible.

Life is good, it is very good, the way the good God intended it.

But there is a war going on against these innocents, waged by nihilistic, anti-natalist pro-abortionist forces from without. From within, there is but measured, innocuous, platitudinous language spoken by various quarters inside the Catholic establishment, and that only infrequently. More often than not, an ominous silence on life issues is the order of the day.

St. Michael the Archangel, protect and keep these little ones.

In this context, then, consider supporting LifeSite News and The Interim. Hoping they won't mind an endorsement by the likes of this not so amicable blogger, LSN and TI really are at the forefront in the defence of life, from womb to tomb.

P.S. Just because something uplifting was posted in this space, please don't think that regularly scheduled programming has changed. Another diatribe will be uploaded soon, concerning the ending of life, unfortunately.


12 July 2012


It happened 10 years ago for Pete's sake. On and on and on about it.

In the name of humanity, please stop.

World Youth Day Toronto 2002 is not the "source and summit" of the Catholic Church.

Benedict XVI is now pope, since 2005, and he's done alot of good stuff, you know.

Time to move on.

A finger in every bloody pie and another with potential is compromised.

What I really like is the super duper + sign: "And the star of the show! Introducing..."

Good grief. I need a smoke.


05 July 2012


Isn't that an arresting photograph? Nice composition and kudos to the person who snapped it. The jutting palm leaves set amongst a people assumed Hindu is striking and symbolic, perhaps prophetic. A gem of a moment captured on film. Notice also that look of the woman holding her child. Wow! And those beautiful, colourful saris too. Very dignified and appealing dress. Take note you Western ladies.

I. Anyway, the photograph pertains to reports of "miracles" allegedly occurring in the northeast of India, in a region bordering China, Burma and Bhutan. Here's the article from La Stampa:

India's "impossible" miracles

Unexpected cases of healing are being witnessed in the Diocese of Itanagar. Meanwhile, Catholic presence has increased by 40%

Strange things are going on in the Indian diocese of Itanagar and Mgr. John Kattrukudiyl spoke about them during a visit to Germany for the periodic meeting organised by Aid to the Church in Need, the international organisation that deals with churches and Christians in countries where they face the greatest difficulties.

According to the prelate, the numerous unexplained healings which preceded and resulted from prayer, are the main reason for this extraordinary increase in Catholics - 40% over 35 years - in this remote corner of India. The bishop is informed of things like this on a regular basis; and the stories "baffle me. I have a theological mindset and it is easy to become sceptical about this kind of thing. But the interested parties are absolutely convinced that what happened to them was real".

The prelate mentioned the case of a man who stopped persecuting the Catholic Church after he married a Catholic girl. "After converting to Catholicism he was asked to pray for a paralytic. He did it even though he did not want to; the next day, the paralytic rose and walked towards the church". The newly converted man was so shocked by this miraculous experience that he started attending mass and "is now a very active member of the parish".

Mgr. Kattrukudiyl is well aware of the scepticism with which most of these miracles are met; when he describes miracles that have taken place people in Europe sometimes say: "Hey, bishop, you're telling tales". But despite the incredulity "I am told about many cases of healing which we cannot ignore".

One possible historical-theological explanation is the relative freshness of the local church. "It is the experience of a very young Church that feels the grace of the Catholic Church in the times of the apostles," when healing miracles were frequent, as the Scriptures tell us.

According to the prelate, the faithful of his diocese witnessed these miraculous healings after gathering in the home of a sick person whom they had been praying for. "People who had been sick for a very long time were healed. These people got a real experience of the primitive Church". During the early Church period "healing with God’s prayer attracted many people to the Church. Belonging to the Church they felt a kind of spiritual peace". The bishop revealed that the number of Catholic faithful has grown by 40% over the past 35 years. The situation in the Church has improved a great deal; now, not only is it tolerated, but it is praised for its philanthropic work. "Politicians never miss an opportunity to praise the Church for its humanitarian work".[1]

Quite unlike metropolitanized centres in southern/southwestern India (say, Hyderabad or Mumbai), the people of northeast India, whereat the Diocese of Itanagar is located, are tribalistic. The religion is primarily Hindu, secondarily Buddhist. There was, expectedly, persecution when the number of conversions became noticeable in whatever community, but matters improved with time. ICN reports that: "While in many places new Catholics faced beatings, house burnings, the slaughter of domestic animals and expulsion from of jobs or schools, gradually things improved, and no incidents of persecution or harassment have been recorded in the past twenty years".[2] A significant rise in the Catholic population for the region in recent decades is, indeed, a head-turner. But, as always, there is the positive feedback effect: as persecution increases, the Catholic population increases. So things are "normal" in that sense.

II. It must be stated that conversion to Christianity is punishable by law. Missionaries were once prohibited from entering the region.[3] The Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (1978), a misnomer, was instituted "for prohibition of conversion from one religious faith to any other religious faith by use of force or inducement or by fraudulent means and for matters connected therewith". Effectively meaning, any and all means of conversion. On the national level: if conducting missionary and conversion-related activities, you could be prosecuted under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. Under the Hindu Succession Act (1956), spouses can lose inheritance and guardianship of their children should they convert to a religion other than Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism. So, in a country-wide context, India is not necessarily open and/or accommodating to Christianity in general and Catholicism particularly. To be sure, only an Apostolic Delegation has been resident in India since 1881. Formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See have been existent since only June 12, 1948, about a year after British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan.

III. Getting back on track... Dioecesis Itanagarensis encompasses 10 districts within the state of Arunachal Pradesh, namely Kurung Kamay, Tawang, Papum Pare, East and West Kameng, Upper and Lower Subansiri, East, West and Upper Siang. The cathedral is St. Joseph's church, located in Itanagar. As of 2006, there were 72,000 Catholics out of a total population 670,973 (i.e. 10.7% Catholic). There were a total of 37 priests (13 diocesan, 24 religious), meaning 1945 Catholics per priest. Not too bad, considering that in the highly urbanized Toronto Archdiocese there are 2,340 Catholics per priest. There were 18 parishes and, respectively, 31 and 73 male and female religious (source). Note that the number of religious females well exceeds those male, evidencing the nuns are thriving, doing good, productive work over there. Pray for them and the priests.

IV. VIS reports that the Diocese of Itanagar was established on December 7, 2005. It was part of the Diocese of Tezpur, prior to it being split (Itanagar is also a suffragan of the Guwahati Archdiocese). The Holy Father appointed Bishop John Thomas Kattrukudiyil as Itanagar's first bishop. He hails from Kadavoor in Kothamangalm diocese, in southern India. +Kattrukudiyil was ordained a priest on February 3, 1975. He was made bishop of Diphu diocese on June 10, 1994, where he was also Rector at Oriens Theological College, Shillong. His Grace is also Secretary of the North Eastern Bishops regional council of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI).

Sidebar: Now prepping my next tract on the Canadian situation. Out soon, I hope. In the meantime, here's something nice for the ladies...


1. M. Tosatti, "India's 'impossible' miracles", Vatican Insider, June 29, 2012.

2. J. Newton, "India: reports of miracles in remote region lead to many conversions", Independent Catholic News, June 27, 2012.

3. "Church In Former 'Forbidden Land' Gets Its Own Dioceses", UCA News, December 9, 2005.

4. The historical record is scant on St. Thomas the Apostle, "Doubting Thomas", the reluctant saint. Reportedly, he arrived in southwest India circa 52 AD, on the Malabar Coast specifically, where at he established churches, converted scores, performed miracles and so on. He is mentioned by some of the early Church Fathers, but just offhandedly. There is extensive Apocrypha on St. Thomas, most notably the Acta Thomae, though it is tainted with gnosticism, as per usual with such texts. Still, documentary and archaeological data evidence that St. Thomas ventured throughout India, even to the north. See, for example, S.A. Missick, "Mar Thoma: The Apostolic Foundation of the Assyrian Church and the Christians of St. Thomas in India", Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, 2000, vol. XIV, no. 2, pp. 33-61. So, considering the recent reported occurrences of numerous "miracles" in a region where the Catholic population appears to be exploding, it's fitting that the first bishop of Itanagar Diocese (situated in northeast India) is named John Thomas Kattrukudiyil.