Mario Mazzoleni, a Catholic priest, was destined to meet
Sathya Sai Baba, and after a few interviews with Sathya
Sai Baba, he was convinced that Baba was Jesus Christ
and is God, come in this present human form. He has
written a book 'A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba'
running into 280 pages, in which he has given the
complete description of his transformation. The book is
available at Sathya Sai Books & Publications Trust,
Prasanthi Nilayam. The author hereby reproduces the
Foreword, written by Mazzoleni.
Many of my
friends were alarmed when they learned of my intention to write a
book about Sai Baba. They were aware of my convictions about this
being who is human only in body. With brotherly concern, they
variously advised, begged or beseeched me to publish it under
pseudonym, imagining the unhappy consequences I might encounter
from the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
I asked myself
that I should have no fear in saying what my own eyes have seen.
Why should I be afraid to make known what this poor heart of mine
experiences before an extraordinary presence? Should I feel guilty
for what I have discovered during these years, and be afraid to
announce it? Certainly not! On the contrary, I feel quite
fortunate. Necessitas enim mihi incumbit: it is not possible to
resist the impulse of Truth, and woe to me if I should remain
I write this
book dedicating it above all to the Church preciously because I
could not let pass, without pointing out to Her who is my Mother,
a piece of news which can no longer remain unknown, hidden by
indifference, fear, or by general confusion. This work is an
undertaking which has made use of me, I would say, only as hired
manual labour: I consider its contents the work of Another. It has
been written above all for my bishop, Pope; and then for all my
fellow bretheren, for my superiors, and for all those who
throughout the centuries try to work in the services of, and in
the search for, Truth.
Contrary to what
those friends of mine fear, I hope - and my heart is certain of it
- that these reflections will sound like a call and a warning for
a greater spiritual re-awakening.
This era - the
era of Sathya, the era of truth - is, in my opinion, a unique
moment, which will change the historical and religious order of
nations. Certainly the most extraordinary characteristics of this
study, in an age in which there is so much talk about sects and
religious factions, is that in all the things I have discovered
these years, I have found nothing which would prompt an aversion
to our religion, nothing which would obstruct our faith. On the
contrary! Everything I have meditated on has brought me that much
closer to the mysteries I had been celebrating, often without
knowing them thoroughly. And it is precisely to Sathya Sai Baba
that I owe the renewal of my life as a priest!
In short, my
hope is this: that the same thing might happen for many of my
fellow bretheren, whom I have found tired, strained and
I am grateful to
all those who have offered me precious suggestions, in particular
to Professor Pierantonio Di Coste, who encouraged and supported
the drafting of this book.
I place this
book at the feet of Him who inspired it - the only begotten son of
yesterday, of today, and of always, the immutable Truth - in the
hope that this fruit which He alone has the right to gather will
be pleasing to Him and that He will accept it as an offering for
His greater glory.
Don Mario Mazzoleni
The author would
now like to narrate some of the incidents from the book :
Don Mario writes
in his book: "It happened a few months after my return to the area
Bergamo. It was 1980. An acquaintance told me that a great Guru by
the name of Sai Baba was coming to Italy. With the hunger I had
for masters, that seemed like a golden opportunity.
Sai Baba : Who
was that? The name meant nothing to me, but I managed right away
to get my hands on a little book which was supposed to be the
brief biography of this personage. It was a book written by an
American, a certain Shulman, who was recounting his personal
experiences of being close to Sai Baba in India. I read it lazily
at first, then ever more avidly. The things I was reading were so
unheard of that it made me think that perhaps the writer had just
dreamed up this wild fantasy just to reawaken the appetite in the
reader who were tired of being astonished.
Not long after,
I discovered that there was another book in the market by another
author, Howard Murphet, that dealt with the same subject. It was
called 'Sai Baba, Man of Miracles'. I bought it and read it with
the same voracity as before - except that this time, I could no
longer doubt the authenticity of this individual, for it was
highly unlike that two authors, one Australian and the other an
American, could be coming up with the same lies or inventions. In
addition, all of the phenomena and explanations they discussed
were amply supported by the studies I have been pursuing.
I read many more
books and was looking for a sign from Him or a call from Him. The
moment my eyes rested on His words, I felt an instant thrill which
transported me mysteriously into a divine atmosphere.
yours, whether you like it or not; you are Mine, even if you
hate Me. I am in you, you are in Me. There is no distance and no
distinction. You have come home. This is your house. My house is
your heart. Why fear, when I am here? Put all your faith in me.
I shall guide and guard you."
I was sick, I rushed to a travel agency to book a flight to India.
Final destination; Puttaparthi, the place where even now Sai Baba
spends most of the year.
If what I had
understood was true, I could not afford to reach the end of my
life without having seen at least in the flesh. 'Him who called
Himself' the mother and father of the whole human race.
The moment of
the close counter was drawing near, I was full of misgivings
because I had read that it is not easy to meet Him, and some times
even to see Him. The books I was reading said that often, when
seekers get there He is some place else and seems to elude them.
No. This could
not happen. It was not I who was going to see Him: it was He
coming to me to draw me to Himself.
not choose Me, No, I chose you."
The best thing
to do, after discovering Sai Baba, is to study Him. Nothing in my
life has given me as much joy and filled me with so much bliss as
studying this person. This in itself is extraordinary. When in
school I was forced to study such personages as Napoleon, Cavour,
Mazzini, the emperors of ancient Rome, or the Popes throughout
history. All I got out of it was an overwhelming boredom and a
fervent desire for the end of class. But when I devote myself to
the study of Sai Baba, His work, and His teaching, I never get
tired of it, even when studying things that I already know (or
think I know). In fact I always benefit from it: it is always
uplifting and refreshing.
For me, to study
Sai Baba meant, first of all to see Him, then to investigate His
activities and third to understand His thought, His message.
Although I expected to take these steps one at a time, I soon
discovered that they are not separable. Sai Baba began to be a
message from the moment I first saw Him. Because of this, someone
who sees Him has already an enormous gift. I don't say this
rhetorically, because the things you understand upon meeting Him
may be enough to revolutionize your life, but they still are only
an infinitesimal part of what you did not understand at that time
and will gradually discover in the course of subsequent events.
Just as in the
case of Jesus, His identification as the Messiah did not come
simply from His declarations, but mostly from His work of
salvation. In the same way Sai Baba does not worry about making
everybody know who He is right away, but He works in the hearts of
men, redeeming them.
In the same way
there are many people who charge Sai Baba with indifference to the
sorrow that weighs upon the world, and they ask themselves, "If He
is so powerful, why doesn't He eliminate all suffering there is in
this world?" These people would like to change the mission of the
divine incarnation. Jesus Christ did not change the sorrowful
state of the world either, neither in His own time, nor
afterwards. Everything that had to happen: bloody revolutions,
wars, destruction, prosecutions, poverty, epidemics, etc., it all
happened to schedule.
Even at His
birth all the children under two years of age were slaughtered, by
the insane command of a criminal king who was afraid he would
loose his kingdom. The same kind of thing had already happened at
the time of Krishna: Kamsa had all his sister's children killed,
because she had been told that her eighth son would suppress - his
It is never the
task of the Redeemer to resolve human errors with a magic wand.
Doing so would ensure that the errors would continue to be
committed. It is not the mission of an elementary school teacher
or of a parent to do the student's home work. If that were to
happen laziness would triumph, diplomas would be given unjustly
and degrees would soon prove deleterious to the whole society. No
one amongst us would willingly go to a doctor who had received his
certificate by buying all his degrees: The project to perfect
society is based on understanding one's own errors and on the
efforts we make to avoid them.
No human being
has the authority to declare that God can only incarnate a certain
way, or that He cannot choose to spread His message as He wills,
not only through prophets, but also incarnating as the Christ,
that is, as Avatars. It would be unforgivable theological and
philosophical absurdity to deny the Divine Power the right to take
a human form in other epochs, among other nations, and in other
physical forms. On this point there can be no contrary dogma,
because this truth is self-evident, and even a child can
understand it: God cannot be limited by anything; much less by a
human mind. If we want to have some mental concept of God, the
first attribute we must give Him is all possible freedom.
Artong Jumsai is
a person of high intellectual and moral stature. In the course of
a lecture he gave at Odense, he asserted: "In all my years of
research, I have never found a programme as complete and effective
as the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values. It is a programme
which offers real results in transforming children. The person who
created or invented this programme must really be a genius".
Mazzoleni, was fully convinced about Baba's divinity and he came
out with the book 'A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba'. After the
publication of the book, he writes in his own words.
did not have to be a seer to predict that when this book was
published, there would be a reaction on the part of the Church
hierarchy. The author's aim was in fact to awaken some interest,
of whatever kind, in a great voice from the East, which is
announcing a time of redemption for our ailing human race. To tell
the truth, I did not imagine that the Church would have recourse
to such anachronistic measures. Those measures led me to wonder
seriously (in other words, it was not pure fantasy) what my
reaction would be if, instead of an excommunication delivered by
express registered mail, guards had come to my door, with orders
to burn me at the stake in the public square?
Don Mario was
given an appointment with the Bishop on 16th March,
1992, to have a dialogue with him. In the end of the conversation
Mario told Bishop, "I would like to tell you (and I meant in the
plural) one last thing, before we end this conversation; this
conversation which demonstrates how that divides is always how the
truth is interpreted, not the truth itself, which is pure. Why
don't you take into consideration the fact that many people who
have gone to Sai Baba have felt an impulse to renew their own
Catholic religions faith, which is what Sai Baba himself
Bishop : "I
will make a comparison which, of course, is perhaps
inappropriate for your position: even an assassin can be the
instrument of salvation for someone. This does not make him any
less an assassin."
be honest, your example seems to me ill-chosen"
May Don Mario received a registered letter by express mail from
the Vicariate of Rome. The contents of the letter are as follows :
n The Bishop of
Bergamo has informed the Vicariate of Rome, in a note of December
17,1991, that the writings, the public declarations and the - to
say the least - disconcerting ideas upheld by the Priest Don Mario
Mazzoleni in regard to the Indian teacher Sai Baba, whose
convinced follower he declares himself to be, excite significant
astonishment and scandal among the faithful;
The Priest, on November 23, 1990, dedicated the book entitled 'A
Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba' to the Catholic Church, a book
which, though it begins with the praiseworthy intent of seeking
the action of the spirit of God in every man and in every
religious experience, ends up disowing the truths of the Catholic
reading of the book reveals that the author has lost his Catholic
faith in the holy trinity and in Christ as the only saviour, and,
specially in the letters addressed to a friend (pp. 210-213 &
216-217), the unicity of Christ the saviour is expressly denied;
more ever that accept Sai Baba's claim to be a divine incarnation,
that defends his works, miracles, sayings, doctrines, are grave
affirmation against the faith;
The public declarations of Don Mario Mazzoleni have caused
confusion and scandal because of the fact that they come from a
priest who continues to exercise his ministry in the name of the
Since the good
faith of the writer shows clearly from the tenor of the book's
dedication, it is all the more necessary to call the priest back
from error with an urgent request to cease causing scandal and to
return to the doctrine of the Church.
The Priest Mario
Mazzoleni to retreat from his heritical doctrinal positions, to
cease causing scandal and to explicitly retract his error within
the suitable time of 3 months; with the warning that if the
retraction is not forthcoming the cardinal will have to proceed to
declare excommunication latae sententiae (in the broad sense) for
heresay according to Canon Law 1364, and subsequently to bar the
priest from the exercise of the power of his office, until he
returns to the Catholic doctrine.
invites the same priest to a personal interview on the subject, in
his office at the Vicariate of Rome on the day June 3, 1992 at 10
a.m. or else on June 6, 1992 at 12 noon.
Mazzoleni replies :
In the present
letter, I intend to entrust to writing what perhaps will come out
less clearly in our meeting.
First of all I
would like to express my gratitude for the attention that has been
bestowed on me, and for allowing me to clarify in person the
reasons for what I have done. One might say that I was anxiously
awaiting this call, because regardless of the decisions that my
superiors may make in my case, I wish to communicate to them an
experience which continues to leave a beneficial mark in every day
Sri Sathya Sai
Baba's message is based on an unlimited ecumenism, where ecumenism
does not mean the suppression of the different religions in order
to make one chaotic hodge-podge religion, but rather the constant
search for the points that different religions have in common. The
goal of this search, as the greatest Master says, that there be
only one religion, the religion of love.
When one studies
Sai Baba's teachings, as I have been doing for 12 years, one
constantly sees that his goal is not to find another religion, but
rather to elevate the level of human consciousness. He does this
by directing everyone who comes to him toward a life full of
truth, righteousness, peace, love and non-violence. He tells the
devotees who come to his Ashram to put into practice intensely the
fundamental principles of their respective religions. Often the
people who have turned to him are not practicing any religion, or
else they have strayed away from their own church. The real
miracle that I see constantly repeated, is the desire those people
experience is to return to practicing their faith.
I beg you,
Eminence, let us not shut the door on these people: they are
living rather through a delicate moment, and for our Church it
would surely be a gesture of noble outreachy, as well as practical
evangelism, to include them in our fold. Sai Baba does not want
new churches, He wants to fill the ones that already exist.
I know that the
Church is seriously worried about the formation of new sects. But
I can unconditionally guarantee that Sai Baba has given clear
directives that new religious communities should not be created in
oppositions to the official ones. If groups of devotees gather in
centres, this is to be only in order to carry out charitable works
and to study sacred scriptures. Let me point out that Hare Krishna
or Jehovah's Witness or the Seventh Day Adventist will never set
foot in a Catholic church to participate in Sunday worship, but I
assure you that there are many devotees of Sai Baba who are
praying in our Parish churches with renewed fervour, and that they
take communion with a mystical zeal rarely found among normal
Christians. Sai Baba's devotees gather once a week in order to
pray and sing, but their worship is directed towards the same God
that is worshipped in the Churches.
I am acquainted
with all the Sathya Sai Baba centres in Italy. Many times I have
exhorted there members to simplify their exterior rituals, which
derive from their sympathy for the exotic world of India, and to
ask their parish priests for permission to meet in the parish
church to pray and sing the praises of the Lord. Unfortunately,
misunderstandings and prejudices keep them away, nevertheless
there are now many priests who contact me in order to find out
more about Sai Baba and his teachings. In these last months I have
received innumerable letters of appreciations, most of them from
Catholics. The dissenting voices (which as always, are the
noisiest) make up a tiny minority.
What grieves me
most in this whole experience that I am going through, is to see
the extreme superficiality with which Sai Baba and his message are
being addressed by the Church. Meanwhile millions of people of
every nation, race and religion are continually overwhelmed by his
astounding greatness, and I see the most erudite and intellectual
people surrender one after the other to what they have seen with
their eyes and felt in their hearts.
Eminence, I do
not want to get involved in defending the theological positions I
have expressed in my book. I realise that they are open to
discussion, and that they may be "disconcerting". Believe me, it
was not at all my intention to create scandal. If this has
happened, it is due to my ingenious zeal, I shall try to make
amends. I promise that if I am allowed to continue my ministry as
a priest I shall hold no more public lectures, nor will I give
interviews to the media about Sai Baba. In all these years I have
never contaminated my ministry with any theories foreign to our
Given that the
only thing that really matters to me is that our church come to
know Sai Baba in a serious way, without divisions, I declare
myself available to take part in any committee that might be set
up to study Sai Baba thoroughly. I am willing also to take part in
any trips to visit Him, as long as they are undertaken with a
scientific attitude without prejudices. It may be useful to say
that I am in contact with doctors, physicists and scientists who
have been studying the Sai Baba "phenomenon" for years.
measures are taken in my regard, I declare that I shall always be
happy to serve the Church in any other way through consultations
or studies, because I shall always feel that I am united with Her.
Sd : Don Mario
Rome, June 3,
writes, "When I spoke to the cardinal about Sai Baba and His
mission of ecumenism, He interrupted me, almost worried, in order
to say. There can be no ecumenism, because the whole truth has
been revealed only in Catholicism".
wounded me more than the threat of excommunication.
further expresses, "As the author of the book in question, I
reaffirm that I have not lost my Catholic faith. On the contrary,
after my encounter with the great 'Indian Master' Sri Sathya Sai
Baba, I feel that I live it with greater intensity, in a spirit of
real communion with all other religions. These all share the one
goal of reaching the same God, who transcends all changing names
Between the two
alternatives I am offered, either being exiled from the
institution of Church, or else being exiled from my conscience, I
cannot and will not select the latter. Institutions do not
accompany anyone beyond the grave. While the only reality that one
can present to God is one's conscience. The Lord who 'examines the
heart' is our judge: if in my case I have committed or am about to
commit an error (by refusing to retreat), I beg His forgiveness
and the light to rectify it; if I am acting in accordance with
truth, may He forgive those who condemn me".
be to the Christ, to Him "who was born from the father before all
ages," Him who outlives all the good and wicked actions of man and
who will never die.
September 24, 1992 the fateful letter arrived. This time it was
fully formal decree of excommunication.
The final words
of Don Mario Mazzoleni :-
"Here we have
come to the end of my history as a priest. This is the chapter of
my life which will now be filed away. I felt that I owed this
explanation to the reader, even though the affair is of no longer
of any concern to me: to be suspended from certain ceremonies,
said to be divine, certainly does not preclude access to the
Divine. I can no longer go to Mass, no longer lose myself in the
warm atmosphere of a midnight Mass, to be moved by the sweetness
of Christmas Carols, but I can always speak heart-to-heart with
the Lord, pray to Him, love Him, meet Him. Everyone can, because
of this, even 'atheists' know how to pray. This is the real
consolation, which no one will ever be able to take from me; there
is not a single person in the whole world who can pry you away
To belong to a
religious institutions does not automatically mean that one
belongs to God. To be in harmony with the Divine, one must respect
the conscience of every person and listen to one's own. At that
point one can say: if God is with us who shall be against us? "Why
fear when I am here?"
matter has been taken from the book 'A Catholic Priest Meets Sai
Baba' by Don Mario Mazzoleni).