The Growing Years of the Catholic India and the Special Contribution of NBCLC and Fr. Amalorpavadas to the Catholic Biblical Movement

Essay, 2013
16 Pages


Table of Contents


2.1. From NCLC to NBCLC
2.2. The Contributions of the National Centre through its activities
2.2.1. Survey of Catholic Translation of the Bible into Indian Regional Languages
2.2.2. Getting the Bible to the People – Bible Diffusion

3.1. The National Centre and the National Episcopal Commissions
3.2. His Engagements at the International and National level

4.1. Word and Worship – the Journal since
4.2. The National Seminars – the Animation of the National Church
4.2.1. National Seminar on Holy Scripture
4.2.2. First All India Consultation on the Biblical Apostolate
4.2.3. The All India Catechetical Meetings




Christianity is not merely a set of religious principles; it is a covenant in the same lines of the covenant of the People of Israel for whom the Decalogue, the principles of their life, was a Testament. In a similar fashion, for a Christian, the Holy Bible is the Testament of one’s covenant with Christ and the Abba whom He revealed, in the Holy Spirit. Rightly are its two parts called, the Old and the New ‘Testaments’. Bible is the foundation of the faith experience of an individual who professes to be a Christian and it is in itself the faith expression of generations of people whose faith the individual makes one’s own. However, the place of this testament today, within the faith expression of an individual or the community has undergone a long process of evolution in history. Within the Christian community of the original times, it was merely used by the elders or the priests during worship. Later it was used by those persons who sought to teach and guide the communities and individuals to instruct them from the examples and the teachings of the people who were originally instruments of the faith experience recorded in the Scriptures. Further later, it was considered a privilege to hold the Scriptures and read or proclaim from it. There was a moment in history in which the community of faith felt the need to assert that the Scriptures originated from the community (which was trying to record the foundational experiences), for the community (so that the community of faithful could find their ground in those experiences) and that the Scriptures should go back to the hands of the community and not remain merely in the hands of a select few. This feeling and conviction gave rise to a movement in history towards making the Bible the most important factor within the ambit of making sense of one’s faith and its expressions in life and worship.

1.1. Biblical Movement and the Catholic Biblical Movement

Biblical Movement “actually developed outside of the Catholic Church among liberal Protestant Scripture scholars of a rationalist bent, who utilized an approach called “historical criticism” to call into question the historical truth of the Bible.”[1] And about two centuries of development later, Hermann Gunkel, a liberal Old Testament scholar, came up with another “historical-critical technique known as “form-criticism” in the 1890s, and it was at this time and with this technique that the method of historical criticism was brought into Catholic biblical research by Father M-J Lagrange and others.”[2] In his book entitled, The Bible, Word of God in the Words of Men[3], published in English in the year 1961, Fr. John Levie notes that Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu of 1943 gave the Catholic scholars a breath of liberty to approach the Bible scholarship with a little more scientific temper, though it “neither approved of the form-critical method of literary forms nor did it diminish the condemnations of this method by Popes Leo XIII and Benedict XV.”[4] However, the text that traditionally comes to the aid of these scholars is the Conciliar document Dei Verbum nos.11 and 12.[5] Hence the Catholic Biblical Movement really begins after the Vatican Council II and the spirit of renewal brought in by the Constitution on the Word of God.

1.2. Catholic Biblical Movement in India

Just as in the case mentioned above, in India too, the Biblical Movement began with the Protestants and the Bible Society of India (BSI) came into existence in 1811 at Calcutta. The Catholic Biblical Movement begins, naturally after the Vatican Council II, with efforts of translating the Bible in regional languages like Assamese, Gujarati, Malayalam, Mandari, Hindi, Ho, Konkani, Nepali, Tamil and Telugu.[6] However, it was the founding of the National Biblical Centre in June, 1971 that “gave the Biblical movement in India an official set up and organization Centre.”[7]

The National Centre played a vital role in the Biblical Movement in India and as the Founder Director of the Centre, Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadass, a person who has a giant share in the post conciliar renewal of the Indian Church, has had a phenomenal role to play in the process. This paper, though not a thorough research on the topic, is an attempt to highlight the special contribution that the Centre and the person have made to the Biblical Movement in the Indian Catholic Church.


A pioneer to the National Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) can be found in the Regional Centre at Tindivanam, Tamilnadu, today known as Tamil Nadu Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (TNBCLC). Immediately after his Ordination in 1959, Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadass (popularly known as ‘ Amalor ’) was assigned to assist the Director of the said Regional Centre, Fr. Edward Becker. The Centre had already been doing a yeomen service to catechetical biblical and liturgical renewal in Tamilnadu and the arrival of Amalor enhanced its bounds.[8] With the inspiration that he received from this centre and the experience there, and with his own exceptional gifts of nature and grace, Amalor became instrumental in founding the National Centre at Bangalore, which would become right from the start, an indelible element of Catholic Renewal in India.

2.1. From NCLC to NBCLC

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) in its first post-conciliar meeting held in 1966 was very enthusiastic about the renewal that the Vatican Council II had proposed and yearned for ways and means to implement them at the earliest. A major decision in this direction was taken at this meeting, to establish a Centre at the national level, aiming at an application of the insights of Vatican Council II to Indian situation. Two important commissions, the one for Liturgy headed by Msgr. D.S. Lourdusamy, the then Archbishop of Bangalore and the other for Catechetics led by Msgr. Mark Gopu, the then Archbishop of Hyderabad, were set up. Apart from being chosen as the secretary to both these commissions, Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass was given the responsibility of being the founder-director of the new Centre proposed and approved. Thus was born the National Catechetical Liturgical Centre (NCLC), inaugurated on March 7, 1967, to exist initially in the premises of the Pastoral Centre of the Archdiocese of Bangalore.[9] Inaugurating the Centre, Msgr. Valerian Cardinal Gracias, the then Archbishop of Bombay and Chairman of CBCI had outlined the specific role of the Centre as, “to bring about the renewal the Council calls for.”[10]

Right from the moment of its inception the NCLC felt the importance of the Biblical aspect of the Church renewal. “Convinced of the importance of a solid biblical foundation for the Catechetical and Liturgical renewal in India, the National Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NCLC) had set up as early as 1967 a Joint Sub-Commission for the Bible in Catechetics &[sic] Liturgy.”[11] This sub-commission aimed at ensuring a Catholic participation in the Bible Translators’ Institute organized by the BSI. It launched the Theological Publications in India (TPI) along with the Commissio Technica for Seminary training. Due to its varied activities and important services, Amalor felt the need and proposed the plan to upgrade the sub-commission into National Biblical Centre (NBC). Simultaneously, in September 1968, the Catholic Biblical Association of India (CBAI) was set up with one of its aims being to foster the Biblical Apostolate at the national level and the association felt the need for a Centre and a Secretariat for this all important role. Thus the CBAI and the NCLC came together according to the direction of the CBCI and drew up the guidelines that would define the newly proposed Centre. As a result of all these efforts finally on June 1, 1971, NCLC had a new centre attached to it National Biblical Centre and was rechristened as NBCLC – the National Biblical Catechetical & Liturgical Centre was born![12]

An integral part of the NBCLC, the National Biblical Centre (NBC) had its aim and scope well defined. The aims of the centre, as presented by the original guidelines, were
1. to foster biblical apostolate in India;
2. to give a solid biblical foundation to the present movement for catechetical and liturgical renewal in India;
3. to facilitate organic contacts and institutionalized dialogue with the Bible Society of India (BSI);
4. to serve as the National Body to correspond officially and collaborate effectively with the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate (WCFBA) and to make its services available to India;
5. to help the various local and regional Catholic Bible associations to fulfill their purpose.[13]

2.2. The Contributions of the National Centre through its activities

The NBC was to function within NBCLC as one unit and the erstwhile director of NCLC, remained the director of the new NBCLC, and hence for NBC as well. One of the primary duties of the Centre was to enter into contact with various bodies and persons concerned with Biblical Apostolate in the country – to begin with the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church in India, and the other organizations like the CBAI, the Consultors of CBCI Commissions for Liturgy and Catechetics, the World Catholic Federation for Biblical Apostolate and the Bible Society of India.[14]

The Centre had no pretentious claims and declared at the outset that it can only “foster, advise, harmonize; local initiative remains basic.”[15] Accordingly, the centre set out on two major missions, one, to survey the process of Bible translation in the Catholic Church in India and the other, to undertake Bible diffusion among the people.

2.2.1. Survey of Catholic Translation of the Bible into Indian Regional Languages

The initial survey (made in 1973) stated that there existed in progress already projects of Catholic translation of the Bible, in over 10 regional languages in India – Assamese, Gujarati, Malayalam, Mundari, Hindi, Ho, Konkani, Nepali, Tamil and Telugu. It is agreed that the first ever translation of the Bible into Indian languages was in Tamil by the Lutheran German Missionary Ziegenbalg (in 1715) but he himself refers in his notes to a pre-existent Tamil translation by tamil catholics which he remarks was full of mistakes. He refers also to a set of Old Testament Stories which were ‘well done’ in their translation, in a question answer form, with no stories left out, undertaken by tamil catholics in Madras.[16] Besides the well advanced projects of bible translation by the BSI, already in the 1930s there existed catholic translation of parts of New Testament in Hindi and by 1940 the four Gospels and the Acts were done too. A complete Hindi translation of the New Testament was printed in 1958 by the Sanjeevan Press, Patna and the complete Bible was brought out in Hindi by 1965 published at Allahabad. By 1957 complete New Testament was brought out in Marathi.[17] Apart from the age old initiatives, in the Tamil translation of the Bible, the task was undertaken in 1956 at St. Peter’s Seminary, Bangalore initially by a three person committee consisting of Fr. Legrand, Fr. Mariamudiyappan and Seminarian D.S. Amalorpavadass. The task however took a long time and the various others were inducted into the task and finally by 1970 the whole of New Testament was translated into Tamil and by 1972, the entire Bible.[18]


[1] John F. McCARTHY, “The Biblical Movement” in (browsed on 26.04.2012) No.120.

[2] John F. McCARTHY, “The Biblical Movement”, No. 120.

[3] Jean LEVIE, The Bible, Word of God in the Words of Men (London: Chapman Publications, 1961).

[4] John F. McCARTHY, “The Biblical Movement”, No. 122.

[5] Cf. John F. McCARTHY, “The Biblical Movement”, No. 124.

[6] Cf. Legrand L, “National Biblical Centre: News Letter No.1” in Word and Worship V (January, 1972) 1, 29.

[7] Legrand, “National Biblical Centre: News Letter No.1”, 27.

[8] Cf. Cyril DE SOUZA, Catechesis for India Today: An Appraisal of the Catechetical Proposal of D.S. Amalorpavadass (Bangalore: Kristu Jyoti Publications 1994) 31.

[9] Cf. Cyril DE SOUZA, Catechesis for India Today, 34.

[10] Cyril DE SOUZA, Catechesis for India Today, 34.

[11] Amalorpavadass D.S., “National Biblical Centre” in Word and Worship IV (June-July, 1971)6, 254.

[12] Cf. Amalor, “National Biblical Centre”, 254.

[13] Amalor, “National Biblical Centre”, 255.

[14] Cf. Legrand, “National Biblical Centre: News Letter No.1”, 27-28.

[15] Legrand, “National Biblical Centre: News Letter No.1”, 28.

[16] Cf. Legrand L, “Catholic Bible Translation in India” in Word and Worship VI(April, 1973)4, 113-114.

[17] Cf. Legrand, “Catholic Bible Translation in India”, 110-112.

[18] Cf. Legrand, “Catholic Bible Translation in India”, 114.

Excerpt out of 16 pages


The Growing Years of the Catholic India and the Special Contribution of NBCLC and Fr. Amalorpavadas to the Catholic Biblical Movement
Biblical Catechesis
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
572 KB
biblical movement, church in india, catechetics, church history
Quote paper
Antony Christy Lourdunathan (Author), 2013, The Growing Years of the Catholic India and the Special Contribution of NBCLC and Fr. Amalorpavadas to the Catholic Biblical Movement, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Growing Years of the Catholic India and the Special Contribution of NBCLC and Fr. Amalorpavadas to the Catholic Biblical Movement

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free