Interview with Bishop Toppo
Dear True Life in God Readers,
It was recently brought to my attention that a website which is not in receipt of any endorsement, support or authorization of the Church, and is run by an anonymous non-theologian, has posted numerous false statements against the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and the True Life in God messages of Mrs. Vassula Rydén.”1
To obtain clarity on this matter, I contacted His Excellency Bishop Toppo who, on April 25, 2018, provided me with the following answers that once and for all expose the falsehoods posted on said unauthorized website.
Bishop Toppo’s answers are of great service to Christians around the world who continue to receive spiritual teachings and nourishment from the TLIG messages.
+ Rev. J.L. Iannuzzi, STD
Written Interview with His Excellency Bishop Felix Toppo, S.J., D.D.
Fr. Joseph: Your Excellency, on the unauthorized website2 there is the public statement that affirms as follows,
“The nihil obstat and imprimatur were not sought in accordance with Canon Law dispositions. Although Vassula never resided in the Philippines nor was the TLIG One volume of messages published there, the imprimatur was granted by a bishop of that country (Archbishop Argüelles of Lipa). Canon 824 §1 states that the permission or approval to publish should be granted by the local ordinary (= bishop) of the author or of the publisher.”
Obviously this statement is false, as Canon 824 §13 clearly states that “the ordinary of the place where the books are published” is vested with the authority to grant the Imprimatur to a work that is circulated in his diocese even though the author does not live in his diocese.
Bishop Toppo: “I thank you very much for pointing out the false criticisms against Archbishop Arguelles of Lipa and Me (http://www.pseudomystica.info/tlignihilobstat.htm) with regard to Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat given by us to the TRUE LIFE IN GOD.
In response to the false criticisms against us I would like to say that Archbishop Arguelles of Lipa in giving the Imprimatur to the TLIG book did not go against Canon Law as it grants permission to any Bishop to give the Imprimatur for a book that is circulated in his diocese, even though the author does not live in his diocese.”
Fr. Joseph: Thank you for your response. May I ask you to address also the following assertion on the aforesaid website,
“Canon 830 §2 warns the censor that any favoritism should be laid aside, and only the doctrine of the Church as proposed by the Magisterium should be considered. This canon was blatantly ignored… Bishop Toppo of India is a regular participant at the TLIG pilgrimages and has declared that he believes the messages to be of supernatural origin.”
Bishop Toppo: “It is alleged that I, Bishop Toppo, S.J., showed favouritism in giving Nihil Obstat. It is absolutely false. I did not show any favouritism, nor can the contrary be demonstrated. It is to be noted that the CDF never condemned the TLIG writings but rather petitioned clarifications which were then accepted by Rome.
Before I gave the Nihil Obstat to the TLIG messages, I read many times and meditated upon them. The Nihil Obstat is the result of unbiased and uncoerced theological review of the TLIG writings. I found that the Messages were immune of all theological errors. I am a regular participant of the TLIG pilgrimages. The Canon Law does not forbid any bishop from attending retreats or conferences of those individuals whose writings they consider immune from error.”
Fr. Joseph: Lastly, Your Excellency, would you be so kind as to provide for the True Life in God readers a response to the below posting on said website, as it falsely suggests that a canonical advisor overrides your episcopal authority to pronounce matters of Church doctrine,
“Bishop Toppo told in an interview, that before giving the nihil obstat to Vassula's books, he previously asked the opinion of a famous Canon Law expert, who clearly told him that according to Canon Law, he could not give the nihil obstat.”
Bishop Toppo: “It is alleged that before giving the Nihil Obstat to Vassula’s book, I said in an interview that I had asked for the opinion of a famous Canon Law expert who clearly had told me that I could not give Nihil Obstat. After a bishop has consulted with others for advice, he retains his authority to grant the Nihil Obstat. Some assert the opposite, but this is absolutely false. After I consulted with a canon lawyer and a renowned theologian who offered their respective advice, I then brought the matter to prayer before the Eucharist. I did not find anything in Vassula’s book that is contrary to the teachings of the Church, but found that it contains much good for the universal Church, that is, for all the baptized in Christ. It was after advice, prayer and discernment that I granted my Nihil Obstat.
Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, thank you for your suggestions and support! Hope this will be useful to the TLIG readers!”
+Felix Toppo, S.J.
1 The True Life in God messages enjoy the Magisterium’s official seals of approval, the Imprimatur and the Nihil Obstat respectively imparted on November 28, 2005 by His Excellency Bishop Felix Toppo, S.J., D.D., and on November 28, 2005 by His Excellency Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles, STL, DD. The Church considers “reprehensible” the actions of one who publicly condemns a work that bears these Magisterium’s seal. To read the article on the authority of the Magisterium’s Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, cf. the following link: http://www.tlig.org/en/testimonies/churchpos/nihilobstat/sealsofaproval/.
3 CIC, 824 §1: “Unless it is established otherwise, the local ordinary whose permission or approval to publish books must be sought according to the canons of this title is the proper local ordinary of the author or the ordinary of the place where the books are published.”