Anthony de Mello (1931—1987) was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who became widely known for his books on spirituality. He hosted many spiritual retreats and was considered by some a gifted public speaker. Father de Mello was born in Santa Cruz, a suburb of Mumbai in India. He traveled to many countries to study and later to teach, most notably Spain and the United States.De Mello established a prayer center in India. He died suddenly in 1987. His works are still in print and additional writings were published after his death.
In 1998, after his death, some of his opinions were condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, wrote for the Congregation:
‘But already in certain passages in [his] early works and to a greater degree in his later publications, one notices a progressive distancing from the essential contents of the Christian faith. … With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.’
The ban was later lifted, though the books were supplemented with the insertion of a caution: ‘The books of Father Anthony de Mello were written in a multi-religious context to help the followers of other religions, agnostics and atheists in their spiritual search, and they were not intended by the author as manuals of instruction of the Catholic faithful in Christian doctrine or dogma.’
Regardless of the ban and the later caution, his writings are available in many Catholic book shops and he is read and respected by many Catholics and other Christians.