තිස්ස බාලසූරිය, ten years dead, an enemy

The name Father Tissa Balasuriya was brought to mind in the past week. He was a “liberation theologian” from Sri Lanka, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, excommunicated for a while because of his many and disgusting heresies regarding our Blessed Mother. He died in early 2013, a week or so after Pope Benedict XVI did what he did (whatever it is that he did). It was Cardinal Ratzinger who had published the excommunication so many years earlier (1997). Here’s an excerpt:

“A fundamental aspect of the thought of Father Balasuriya is the denial of the dogma of original sin, held by him to be simply a product of the theological thought of the West (cf. pp. 66-78). This contradicts the nature of this dogma and its intrinsic connection to revealed truth. The author, in fact, does not hold that the meaning of dogmatic formulas remains always true and unchangeable, though capable of being expressed more clearly and better understood. [In contrast, I was able to demonstrate the “mechanism” (well, God’s justice precisely in view of how He created us), regarding the transmission of original sin not by imitation but by propagation, showing the inescapable logic of this from the Hebrew text, a first as far as I can tell after a quite exhaustive examination of millennia of commentary on the matter.]

“On the basis of these positions, the author arrives at the point of denying, in particular, the marian dogmas. Mary’s divine motherhood, her Immaculate Conception and virginity, as well as her bodily Assumption into heaven, are not recognized as truths belonging to the Word of God (cf. pp. 47, 106, 139, 152, 191). [In contrast, in my own work, I demonstrated how all these dogmas are necessary upon the examination of the text of the Sacred Scriptures, again, a first as far as I know in the history of Judeo-Catholicism.] Wanting to present a vision of Mary free from «theological elaborations, which are derived from a particular interpretation of one sentence or other of the scriptures» (p. 150) [In contrast, I demonstrated how Genesis 2:4a–3:24 is a tightly scripted equation, a syllogism], Father Balasuriya, in fact, deprives the dogmatic doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin of every revealed character, thus denying the authority of tradition as a mediation of revealed truth. [In contrast, I demonstrated the revealed character of all the present Marian dogmas, and more, that is, regarding Mary as Advocate, Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix.]

“Finally, it must be noted that Father Balasuriya, denying and relativizing some statements of both the extraordinary Magisterium and the ordinary universal Magisterium, reveals that he does not recognize the existence of an infallibility of the Roman Pontiff and of the college of Bishops cum et sub Petro. Reducing the primacy of the Successor of Peter to a question of power (cf. pp. 42, 84, 170), he denies the special character of this ministry. [In contrast, I have attempted, as a courtesy, to correct Francis’ assertions of power as an attempt to control Sacred Tradition (he taking up Balasuriya’s heretical assertions), pointing Francis instead to correct philological exegesis of Matthew 16 regarding the limits of infallibility apart from Sacred Tradition. This is speaking with parrhesia, with charity. I must say, this has been quite the exhaustive, comprehensive examination, though spread out over very many articles over very many years.]

“In publishing this Notification, the Congregation is obliged also to declare that Father Balasuriya has deviated from the integrity of the truth of the Catholic faith and, therefore, cannot be considered a Catholic theologian; moreover, he has incurred excommunication latae sententiae (can. 1364, par. 1). [In other words, the automatic nature of the excommunication was now also declared, therefore having external penalties imposed and supervised.]

“The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Notification, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.

“Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2 January 1997, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Joseph Card. Ratzinger Prefect” [So, that’s weird. I think the multiple dates here refer, perhaps, to the approval, and/or the signing, and/or the publishing.]


A year later, in 1998, this excommunication was lifted upon Tissa’s admission that there might be “perceptions of error” in his writings, whatever that means. While teaching in major seminaries in Australia a few years later, I saw a BBC interview with Tissa in which, if I remember correctly, he mocked this decision of the foolish Holy See rehabilitating him. I was intent on getting him excommunicated once again (with full encouragement of the Holy Office), and so contacted the BBC to get a DVD copy of the interview (which they advertised at the end of the program). To their credit, they responded and took my phone calls. But they got nervous and said that sharing a copy was, in this case, forbidden by the interviewee. Who would’ve guessed? The BBC guy was super nervous, as denial is against government policy (the BBC being a government agency). Anyway, you can fool what is now called the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith some of the time, but not Jesus, not Mary at any time. One way or the other, now Tissa knows the rest of the story, with great clarity. I hope he turned around before he died. I don’t wish anyone any harm, even with the infliction of penalties which are medicinal in nature. For the eternal repose of Tissa’s soul (We’re to pray for our enemies, right?): Hail Mary

Whatever the perception of Tissa as a full-on heretic, he did get due process. That’s charity, right?

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Filed under Immaculate Conception, Mary

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