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DELHI SURP-LATIN RITE EXPLOSION AND DEVELOPMENT AFTER

August 24, 2014 , Dr. James Kottoor

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photoLong standing Rite-rivalries, especially between the Syromalabar (SM) and Latin Churches in India  finally came out in the open and is in public domain with the two reports in a secular daily, the Hindu of  Aug.8 and 11. These reports with a brief introduction was published earlier. Much water has flown under the bridge ever since.

The low-keyed  war of words in Delhi was spearheaded by Laity4unity. Shocked by their en-mass transfer to the newly created Eparchy, they knocked the doors of authorities in the land for explanation and clarification. On finding the impossibility of starting a vertical dialogue they conducted a long drawn horizontal dialogue which culminated in sending a 155-page petition to Pope Francis last May. That is where the confrontation has reached a stalemate.

In the meantime four important things have happened.  1. A more comprehensive article was circulated in India and abroad, 2. It got published in Mattersindia webmagazine in Delhi drawing a wide range of comments from India and abroad, 3. A synod of SM bishops was held in Ernakulam,4. Responses to the article with  a covering letter was sent to the Synod.  Usually Bishops  never respond to mails sent from below although they speak of dialogue as the means to settle issues. Article published in Mattersindia was the following.

kottoor2Craze for territorial expansion of the Syromalabar Church (SMC) has always been an unpleasant topic of heated discussion, more private than public, for years. The tug of war has always been between the laity who oppose it tooth and nail and clergy who promote it with boiling zeal saying to Latin bishops: “We produce 70% of clergy in the Church, but we control only about 0.04% of the territory. We are justified in wanting more territory,” reportedly said by one of the Syromalabar Bishops.

This territorial expansion called “religious colonization” by critics, is seen realized to a great extend and making good progress, in the creation of Eparchies in Bombay (Kalyan), Delhi (Faridabad, recently), Syro-Malabar(SM) Dioceses in Chicago and Melbourne. It all started in the 1960s when the SMC was confined to the boundaries of tiny Kerala state. Its first attempt was to expand in India beyond Kerala borders, first to establish SM parishes all over India, where SM Catholics are found in great numbers, on the plea that it has to cater to their spiritual needs through their home-grown SM liturgy. As the number of SM parishes increased in a region or metropolitan city, the next logical step was to coax Rome to sanction a SM diocese.  Thus there is any number of SM Parishes being created in Chennai and Bangalore and organized efforts are on, to get more SM dioceses sanctioned. 

Since SM priests, Brothers and Sisters are well known for their missionary zeal to serve the poor and marginalized in harsh circumstances, they are most cordially welcomed by all Latin Dioceses all over India. But when it comes to granting autonomous SM parishes or Dioceses, the vast majority  both laity and clergy were found to be against. In fact an elderly missionary Kerala priest now in his 80s and still actively holding an important spiritual office in Chennai told this writer: “James, please do not punish us with a Syromalabar Diocese.”  It was due to pleas like him, also from Catholic Association leaders in Chennai and other well meaning leaders, that I started writing on this thorny unpleasant Church politics. Being a journalist, they were telling: “James, please write a few articles, highlighting many wrongs to be corrected for which we shall provide you proof.” 

 Faith Crowds or Rite Colonies? 

In response, the first article I wrote was in 2011 titled: SMC in US: Faith crowds or Rite colonies? The rather long article started off nut-shelling its contents as: “Church is fellowship not groupism; to rule is to serve, not lording it over; evangelization is not colonisation; harvesting of  souls isn’t cultivating  churches (Pallikrishi) for reaping dollars ($ Koithu); cross is for crucifying self not others; any Rite  is all right  to pray.” (To read full text visi my website: http://sites.google.com/site/jameskottoorspeaking/) 

Besides when an opinion survey was taken in the l970s in the Chennai Pastoral council all were unanimous in welcoming Kerala priests to work in parishes but 90% opposed creating SM parishes. Similar was the result of a 2002 survey in Delhi: while 12 % of SMC Catholics wanted a separate diocese   75 % opposed it. So hard facts clearly indicate that the rush to create SM dioceses, whether in India or abroad is spearheaded and steamrolled by the CM Bishops only. They are now in the third stage of territorial expansion, namely creation of SM Dioceses outside India, in Chicago and the latest in Melbourne, Australia, then in Europe and the middle east.

Unfortunately this territorial expansion is creating divisions within its fold and among locals outside Kerala, in India or abroad. Definitely this is in direct conflict with the views and pronouncements of Pope Francis himself: “The divisions among us Christians are a scandal…There is no other word: a scandal,” he had said recently. He is also reported to have said: ‘A bishop who casts his eyes beyond the borders of his diocese to another is an adulterer hankering for the neighbour’s wife.’ Being Airport-bishops they definitely can’t have the smell of the sheep.

And recall what he had to say lately on converting people: ‘Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs, was one of the “10 tips to happiness” he gave recently   “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope had said. In saying so Francis Pappa literally exposed the hollowness and fears of  many peddlers of “Anti-conversion Laws” in India who see daemons lurking where none exists.

After all Francis was only repeating   what Apostle Paul said long ago:  “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the good news” (1Cor.l, 17).  It only shows how a hierarchical,  pyramidal  church of the day modelled on emperors like Constantine, in whose vision the highly placed lord over the lowly placed, has strayed too far away from the ideals of  equality, fraternity, fellowship and brotherhood of all, taught by Jesus, more by his deeds than words. 

Delhi’s Laity4unity

To come back to Explosion in Delhi, it was triggered by a recent joined pastoral(JP) dated 1/11/13 of bishops of Delhi and Eparchy of Faridabad transferring all Catholics of Syromalabar ancestry, without either consulting them or getting their consent, to Faridabad. The relevant part of the JP signed by the two bishops reads:

“From the day the Eparchy of Faridabad was created in 2012 all the Syro-Malabar faithful once pastorally cared for by the Archdiocese of Delhi have automatically become part of the Eparchy which has been exclusively created for them. Basically, there is no choice in this matter. Consequently the faithful of the Syro-Malabar Church cease to be members of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Delhi; they can continue their participation in parish related organizations (such as Catholic Association, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Youth Movements, Charismatic Renewal) etc.) through a corresponding group in their Syro-Malabar parish. Any exception to this norm will have to be addressed to the bishop of the Eparchy of Faridabad who in turn will apprise the Archbishop of Delhi on the appropriate course of action according to pastoral exigencies.”

Yes “Basically, there is no choice in this matter.” This  forced the boiling pot of rule by Diktats, not consultation; explode with outbursts from a major section of the vocal laity. If “Good governance is critically dependent on rule of law, participatory decision-making, transparency, responsiveness, accountability, equity and inclusiveness,”(Indian President on 68th Independence day) is what a demanded in a civil society, a religious society called Church which claims to be more civilized should exhibit these traits in greater measure.

In Delhi, those who oppose this transfer of faithful by Diktat is led by an organized lay group called Laity4unity (Contact riteissuencr@gmail.com. +9811004214, for more information) who claim to have a signed up membership of 6000 Catholics.  Catholics of CM ancestry in Delhi are estimated at about 25,000. Their relentless efforts to dialogue with bishops and Nuncios, they say, have failed miserably – most of the time their petitions have been slightingly ignored, they say. So as a last-ditch effort they have sent to Pope Francis a well documented 155-page petition (this scribe has a copy of it for those who wish to see) by FedEx on 24 May, feast of Mary Help of Christians. It was received in the Papal office on 27 May. The independent reports in the Hindu given below are the result of the explosive clergy-laity tussle in Syromalabar Church in Delhi to get the JP cancelled. It is an eloquent Sign of the Times that calls upon all to reflect and get ready for a long drawn-out war of words for a peaceful solution.

This article together with the responses received till Aug.22nd were sent to bishops meeting in Synod  for their information and reflection with the following covering letter.

For the kind consideration of SM Bishops gathered in Synod

 Dear Respected and Revered Brothers in the Lord Jesus,

My prayerful wishes for all of you is that the Holy Spirit may descend on each one you with His Power, Wisdom, Light and Discernment, as He did on the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle of Jerusalem and show you the way forward.

He speaks to us through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES according to Vatican II and prominent among them are the mass media, especially the Social Media and the various websites, which only God and no man on earth, civil or religious, can control.

One news item exploding in the Capital through the Hindu and Matters India Website: www.mattersindia.com,  and in Kerala  through the website: Almayasabdam: www.almayasabdam.blogspot.com, is about  the newly created SM Eparchy  in Delhi and all the controversy surrounding it raised by Laity4unity, up in arms against the SM Hierarcy represented by you.

The central Theme of the controversy is the unilateral transfer of SM Laity in Delhi without consultation and consent of the faithful, like a herd of Cattle from one Land lord’s shed to another as highlighted by the opening sentence in the article cited above..

Readers at Home & Abroad React to Rite Explosion in Delhi

 FR SHIBI DEVASIA August 17, 2014

The first past of the article is ridiculous because it shows that the author has no idea about the “Communion Ecclesiology” promoted by Vatican II. The second part is more of practical problems and the leaders could have acted more prudently. But, it does not make the first fully wrong. As a priest working with SM Catholics, I understand what is SMC, and its relevance in the life of the people of SMC. As a regular reader of Matters India, I would say that the responsible persons should not have published this article here.

 Kurien Joseph Aug. 17, 2014, wrote:

Fr Shibi Devasia dismisses the “first part of the article” as “ridiculous”, claiming he has some superior knowledge of  “Communion Ecclesiology”; but of course disdains to give any reasoning behind his judgement! He then papers over the absolute arrogance and insensitivity of the SM Synod and hierarchy with reference to Kerala emigrants by saying they could have been more prudent. Finally, of course, quite typical of this kind of cleric, there is the “I know all” attitude. Father, please have a look at the Petition sent to the Holy Father and refute it, especially the last 110 pages of the sordid history of the SM Church in India, which fed lies to the Vatican, starting with the Padiyara Report of 1980. Your entire assumption is that the clergy knows more than the laity. That may have been true in medieval Europe; today it is arguably the other way round. Instead of objection to publication, come out and debate the issue – because it is an important one.

  K.C.Thomas August 17, 2014

Is it right for mattersindia to wash their hands off by telling that this is just personal opinion of Fr.Kottoor ? The subject is very important and it needs unbiased, humble and christian way of prayerful discussion and dcision.No amount of accusation of any bishops or groups can solve the problem. Will our bishops/priests as well as laity opposing the scheme look at Christ and become humble and seek His will prayerfully ?

 Kurien Joseph August 17, 2014

Mr Thomas is right when he calls for “unbiased, humble and Christian way of prayerful discussion and decision. Unlike the SM hierarchy in this case, however, it is the laity that has studied, discussed and then appealed at various levels in India, before being compelled to appeal to the Holy Father, in a 155-page Petition. A copy can be happily made available to you by email on request. It is an open and public document. After going through it, let us know if you still feel that the requisite amount of study and discussion has not yet taken place.

 Joseph Mattappally August 18, 2014

Serious issues are strangling the Church. In their curiosity to enslave the laity, the Bishops are united in introducing rules on a monthly basis. The problem simply is not administrative. The uprise in Delhi shows how much SMC lay respects their own Bishops. This has been the case in many foreign countries too. In Kerala, what the Bishops play is dirty politics. What they stand for is money and power only. Status libre’ clearance does not guarantee anything precious. Shame on the red belts who is yet to learn that love and authority do not go together.

 Alphonse Bernard, New York, Aug.15, wrote:

Hello Dr KOTTOOR:

Thanks for the article.

I was waiting who would bell the cat.

Your opening sentence is a journalistic Hiroshima bomb-like summary: “Time was when laity could be ordered around like cattle from one landlord’s shed to another, not any more!”

On 16 August 2014 12:40, john menezes wrote:

Dear James,

Thank you for this material. Some years ago, there was a similar move to have a Syro Malabar Eparchy (or Archeparchy) overlapping Goa but Archbishop Raul Gonsalves put his foot down and strongly objected to it. I am sharing your message and article, and my reply, with some associates for information.

Regards,John 

Joseph Mattam, Aug.16, wrote:

Dear James

Good that you voiced the opinion of so many; I think the Church citizens should not give up the fight and get the hierarchy to agree to free membership, as the people want; this cannot be decided by the birth; one must also have a choice when one can make a choice. Keep the fight going.   Joe

 On 16 August 2014, Joseph Joseph from Chicago wrote:

Dear James Chettan,

You are doing a great job.  This stand of the Syro Malabar Church is something I have been struggling to comprehend.  If a non-believer or some one belongs to another religion could become a member of the Latin Church, why not we Syro Malabarians.   What about those Syro Malabar Catholics who live where there is no Syro Malabar eparchy. These Syro Malabar Dioceses were erected not at our request, but for the clergy’s interest.  Just because we were born in Kerala and were baptized in a Syro Malabar Parish, we don’t surrender all our religious rights to the Church Leadership.  What the Syro Malabar Church is attempting could be attributed as imposition of Religious Slavery. Let all of us get louder.

Jose

Zach Nedunkanal, August 11, 2014 at 10:16 PM
റോമാക്കാരും (ലത്തീന്‍) സിറിയാക്കാരും തമ്മില്‍ ഭാരതമണ്ണില്‍ വന്നുകിടന്നു നടത്തുന്ന ഈ യുദ്ധത്തെപ്പറ്റി ശ്രീ ജോര്‍ജ് കട്ടിക്കാരനും അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ട്‌ ആധാരമാക്കി മലയാളത്തില്‍ ഞാനും സാമാന്യം വിശദമായി എഴുതിയിരുന്നു. കാണുക: “അതിര്‍ത്തികള്‍ കടക്കുന്ന ഡല്‍ഹിയിലെ കുട്ടിത്തമ്പുരാക്കന്മാര്‍”
http://almayasabdam.blogspot.ch/2014/08/blog-post_3.html

ഇപ്പോള്‍ വീണ്ടും ശ്രീ ജെയിംസ്‌ കോട്ടൂര്‍ കുറിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നതുപോലെ, ‘Zero മലബാറുകാര്‍’ (ഇവര്‍ക്ക് മലബാറിത്തം ഒട്ടുമില്ല, ഉള്ളത് വിദേശീയത്വമാണ്) നടത്തുന്നത് religious colonization, expansion of the Syromalabar Church, territorial expansion അല്ലാതെ മറ്റെന്താണ്? ഈയിടെയാണ് തന്റെ പുതിയ പത്ത് പ്രമാണങ്ങളില്‍ “നിങ്ങള്‍ ഒരു തരത്തിലുമുള്ള മതപരിവര്‍ത്തനം നടത്തരുത്” എന്ന് പോപ്‌ ഫ്രാന്‍സിസ് വിശ്വാസികളോടും വൈദികരോടും വ്യക്തമാക്കിയത്. ലോകവും വിശ്വാസികളുടെ ചിന്താരീതികളും പാടേ മാറിയതൊന്നും ഈ കുട്ടി ത്തമ്പുരാക്കന്മാര്‍ അറിയുന്നേയില്ല. പണ്ടൊരിക്കല്‍ അദ്ദേഹം ഇത്തരക്കാരെ മനസ്സില് കണ്ട് പറഞ്ഞത് അതിലും കട്ടായമായിരുന്നു. തന്റെ രൂപതക്കപ്പുറത്തേയ്ക്ക് നോക്കുന്ന മെത്രാന്‍ വ്യഭിചാരിയാണെന്ന്. അതും അവര്‍ക്ക് മനസ്സിലായിട്ടില്ല. ദല്‍ഹിക്കാരുടെ നിവേദനം കണക്കിലെടുത്ത്, ഈ കുറ്റവാളികളെ പോപ്‌ തന്നെ സഭക്ക് വെളിയില്‍ എറിയുമെന്ന് നമുക്ക് പ്രത്യാശിക്കാം.

Joseph Mattappally, August 12, 2014 at 8:57 AM
ഇന്നേ വരെ കേരള കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭ അഭിമുഖീകരിച്ചിട്ടില്ലാത്ത ഒരു കടുത്ത പ്രതിസന്ധിയിലേക്കാണ് ഇപ്പോള്‍ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ നീങ്ങുന്നത്. വിശ്വാസികള്ക്ക് ഒരു താല്പ്പര്യവുമില്ലാത്ത പരിഷ്കാരങ്ങള്‍ സഭയില്‍ അടിച്ചേല്പ്പിച്ചതിലൂടെ മാര്‍ പവ്വത്തിന്റെ് നേതൃത്വത്തിലുള്ള മെത്രാന്‍ സംഘം കേരളത്തിലെ ക്രൈസ്തവരുടെ വിശ്വാസ ജീവിതത്തിന്റെ് അടിവേര് അറുക്കുകയാണ് ചെയ്തതെന്നാണ് സമീപകാല സംഭവ വികാസങ്ങള്‍ സൂചിപ്പിക്കുന്നത്. സഭാധികാരികളുടെ അന്ധമായ അധികാര ഭ്രമത്തിനും തോന്ന്യാസങ്ങള്ക്കും എതിരെ ശബ്ദിച്ചു തുടങ്ങിയ അല്മായര്‍, എന്നത്തേക്കാളും ശക്തി ആര്ജ്ജിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നുവെന്ന് മാത്രമല്ല, എല്ലാ തുറകളില്‍ നിന്നും കൂടുതല്‍ കൂടുതല്‍ സഭാംഗങ്ങള്‍ സമരമുഖത്തേക്ക്‌ വന്നു കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നതുമാണ് ഇപ്പോള്‍ ലോകം കാണുന്നത്. കേരളത്തിനു പുറത്ത് മലയാളം കൈകാര്യം ചെയ്യാന്‍ അറിയാത്ത ഒരു ജനതയുടെ ഉള്ളിലേക്ക് മലയാളത്തില്‍ വിഷം കുത്തിവെയ്ക്കുകയാണ് ലോകമാസകലം സീറോ മലബാര്‍ വൈദികര്‍ ഇപ്പോള്‍ ചെയ്തുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നത്. ഡോ. ജെയിംസ് കോട്ടൂരിനെ പോലുള്ള ചിന്തകര്‍ സഭാതലത്തിലുള്ള പോരായ്മകള്‍ ആത്മാര്ത്ഥതയോടെ പരിഹരിക്കപ്പെടണം എന്നാഗ്രഹിച്ചു ലേഖനങ്ങള്‍ എഴുതി തുടങ്ങിയതാണ്‌. പക്ഷെ, ഈ ധര്മ്മ സമരത്തില്‍ പങ്കെടുക്കേണ്ടത് ഒരു കടമയാണെന്ന ചിന്തയോടെ ഇപ്പോള്‍ നീതിക്കു വേണ്ടി അദ്ദേഹം ആവേശത്തോടെ പൊരുതുന്നു. ഈ വ്യത്യാസം വളരെ വ്യാപകമായി സഭയില്‍ ഉടലെടുത്തിരിക്കുന്നുവെന്നത് പരമാര്ത്ഥം. വൈദികര്‍ തന്നെ നടത്തുന്ന പ്രസിദ്ധീകരണങ്ങളില്‍ സഭയെ മുച്ചൂടും വിമര്ശി്ച്ചുകൊണ്ടുള്ള ലേഖനങ്ങളും പ്രഭാഷണങ്ങള്ക്കും ഇപ്പോള്‍ ഒരു കുറവുമില്ല.

ഒരേ മാര്പ്പാപ്പയുടെ കീഴില്‍ ഒരേ യേശുവിന്റെ് വഴിയെ നടക്കുന്ന ജനങ്ങളുടെ ഇടയില്‍ ലോകമാസകലം വിഭാഗീയതയുടെ വിത്തുകള്‍ പാകിയ നമ്മുടെ സീറോ മലബാര്‍ പിതാക്കന്മാര്‍ ഏതു ദൈവത്തിന്റെമ മുമ്പില്‍ സമാധാനം പറയും? എത്രകാലം മാര്പ്പാപ്പയുടെ പ്രബോധനങ്ങള്‍ ഇവര്‍ മൂടി വെയ്ക്കും? വിശ്വാസികള്‍ക്കു വേണ്ടാത്ത ഈ യുദ്ധം എന്തിന് വേണ്ടി? മേജര്‍ ആര്ച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് മാര്‍ ആലഞ്ചേരിയില്‍ നിന്നും നീതി പ്രതീക്ഷിച്ച വിശ്വാസികളും നിരാശരായിരിക്കുന്നു. ഒരു കത്തിന് പോലും മറുപടി പറയാന്‍ ആര്ജ്ജവം ഇല്ലാത്ത ഇങ്ങിനെയൊരു നേതാവിനെ സഭക്ക് കിട്ടിയത് ദൈവം നല്കിുയ ഒരു ശിക്ഷയായെ ഞാന്‍ കാണുന്നുള്ളൂ. വിശ്വാസികള്‍ ഒരേ സ്വരത്തില്‍ ആവശ്യപ്പെടുന്നത് ഒരൊറ്റ കാര്യം മാത്രം; നമുക്കാവശ്യം മാര്ത്തോമ്മായുടെ പാരമ്പര്യമോ, പണം പിഴിയുന്ന അനുഷ്ടാനങ്ങളോ അല്ല പകരം സത്യത്തിന് വേണ്ടി ജീവന്‍ ബലികൊടുത്ത യേശുവെന്ന മഹാഗുരുവിന്റെ പാതയാണ്.

Thekkedam John,USA, August 18th:

Dear James:

I read your article and the articles in Hindu newspaper. I am deeply distressed by territorial issues trying to pull the universal church of Christ. I do not see any spirituality in these divisions, rites and rituals. I do not see Christ approving all these power struggles waged in his name. I greatly appreciate the time and energy you spend in enlightening us about what is going on.

Peace, blessings.

Swami Snehananda Jyoti

 Anthony Moonnupeedikail,19 August 2014 wrote:

To: James Kottoor

Thanks for the regular communication of your thoughts. Congratulations for your remarkable energy. My 80th birthday was on Aug.5th and 60th  year of Jesuit life. Yesterday was the Province seminar on the Restoration Centenary of the Society of Jesus.

By the way, I am kept out of  all Rite controversy, due to my known message: Those who love the country cannot love God; and those who love Latin or Syrian Church  only cannot love Jesus. I have Jesus, Mother Mary, Holy Mass, Confession and Rosary. I say in Malayalam: .enicke Issoyum, Mathavum, Kurbanayum, Kumbasaravum, konthayum mathrame ollu’.  Keep going and smiling in this vale of tears. love 

Tony 

Josantony  Joseph, August 19, wrote:

Dear Dr. Kottoor,

Thank you for your hard-hitting article. 

What must be added to your expose is the fact that this is an issue that needs to be thrashed out not only for Delhi but for the entire world. After all in today’s world where borders are porous and many of the younger generation travel from one city/country to another, it would make no sense to give freedom in only one city – like we managed to get in Mumbai in 1993 through the Pope’s indult – and then the same people when they go to another city (Delhi, Chicago, New York, Chennai etc etc) suddenly fall into the ‘clutches’ of the same SM clergy. Hence there is need for the Pope to make the decision applicable all throughout the world and the Delhi group is pushing for that too.  

This is also what is upsetting the SM hierarchy, since even if they are forced to concede this issue in Delhi, like they were forced in Mumbai twenty years ago, they don’t want to concede it in every place. That would mean the laity in each of these places would have to fight the battle all over again. Sincerely

Josantony Joseph, Mumbai 

 James Kottoor, Aug.22, Ernakulam,

Dear Edior,

A good number of people at home and abroad affected by the Delhi explosion  have spoken, most of them against the unilateral decision of the SM hierarchy. But the decision takers are still stone silent and refuse  to discuss the issue in public. This is the heart of the problem: unwillingness or refusal to dialogue – especially vertical dialogue in the Church – so much preached ad nausea by churchmen but least practiced by them,  with the sole exception of Pope Francis who goes extra one mile to discuss anything under the sun even with an atheist editor  of  La Republia. Most unfortunate is, there is no takers of his example in the SM Church.

Francis is following the example of Jesus who said: I speak  from house-tops (palam locutus sum) He never shut any critic’s mouth, but answered every questioner. Those who are against washing Church’s  dirty linen in public, please  read Mt.23 where Jesus  rains down woes on the priestly class, whitewashed sepulchers, of his times, without mincing words.

The hierarchical church delights in secrecy, there is no consulting the faithful on matters of faith or administration. God speaks to us through the signs of the times. Main among them are the mass media – both secular and religious. Most of the church media are like caged parrots, trumpeting the master’s voice only. Prominent church media are Indian Currents, Delhi, Examiner, Bombay, Herald, Kolkotta, New Leader, Chennai, Sathyadeepam, Kochi, Deepanalam, Palai. Most of them refuse to discuss  Rite-related issues, nay there is a ban on publishing such matters. This must change.

Opinions suppressed for long find exit through safety valves called secular media, in this case The Hindu, and  social media, like Matters India, Almayasabdam, Soul and Vision, Indian Thoughts  and many more – all run by enlightened Church Citizens and beyond the control of any church men. These social media expose all the misdeeds of church men since church media  is concerned about hiding or whitewashing them. Solution to present stalemate is opening up all church publications for a healthy dialogue – vertical and horizontal —  between conflicting views in the Church until consensus is reached before drastic decisions are taken. Chasing faithful through diktats from one Rite to another like a herd of sheep or cattle from one Landlord’s shed to another, as if they should not have any say in the matter, is totally unacceptable since it goes against basic human rights. This is my humble, fallible, still considered view until the opposite is proved right.

james kottoor, Ernaulam

Vertical Dialogue Needed

Church is expected to be the  World-wide Company of Jesus with outstretched hands to embrace the whole of humanity as his brothers and sisters under the fatherhood of God. There are any number of churches claiming to strive for this ideal or to have reached it and therefore parade themselves with a pharisaic  “Better-than-thou” attitude. This is acknowledged as the great scandal of divided churches sought to be remedied by ecumenical dialogue.

Divisions exist also  within each church. In the SM Church the present division and confrontation is between Church Citizens(laity) and the Clergy due to lack of  vertical dialogue because of the  refusal on the part of those responsible to enforce  equality of brothers and sisters in the family of God where authority is not for lording it over but to serve one another through “foot-washing” ministry shown by Jesus. May the horizontal dialogue taking place in SM Church, lead to a vertical dialogue, consensus and communion which should characterize a Happy Family.

Contact at: jkottoor@asianetindia.com

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