Introducing James Kottoor-Editor in Chief in Church Citizens’ Voice

Introducing the Introducer

               Our Editor in Chief James Kottoor

If james became a journalist all through his life, he owes it solely and totally to Archbishop Louis Mathias who dreamt of it, planned it and executed it systematically. His motto was “Dare and Hope” based on Psalm(37.5): Entrust your honest plans to the Lord, trust in Him and then jump, He will see you through. He did it for him always, says james.                    

 

By Our Staff Writer

“What a tragic comedy james,” asked this writer, “the one who has been shouting himself hoarse and making hell of a noise saying Leadership is not for the aged, is now sitting tight as Editor in Chief in Church Citizens’ Voice(CCV) even after eight decades young. Can there be a more glaring example of contradiction between preaching and practice?”

dr.kottoor always said, the ideal age for leadership ought to be 30 because he is madly and blindly in love – all love is blind — with Crazy Christ who started his public life at 30 and quit or got eliminated at 33 – so aren’t we supposed to follow his example, he asks. Just three years are enough and more to make an impact on history especially for those who claim to be followers of Jesus, he asserts.

 

Just think of Alexander the great, Ramanuja, Sanjay Gandhi, Sankara, Vivekananda who died at 39 etc. Also no honest leader can survive, he thinks, more than 3 years in public life. Jesus the most honest person could not, then how can anyone else, he asks, although his church props up those in their Sanyasa years as their top leaders.

 

james kottoor loves to sign himself, all in the lower case, because that is the levelling ground of all inequalities and the rock bottom one can go. Even in the use of credentials, decorations like, mr. dr. rev. excellency when necessary, he is for the lower case and points to Bishop Alex Dias of Port-blare (his good friend, though never met), who wants to be called just Alex only. It is also his way of protest against Churchmen who flaunt bombastic titles like “Beatitude” etc. “That is why I prefer to call myself as cheap editor, than Chief. So this is also an Ad for those in the thirties to apply for the Chief’s post in the CCV” he says. Also recall St.Augustine: “I am a Christian with you, but a Bishop for you,” also His Holiness saying:”I am a sinner.”

 

So what is this reluctant cheap editor is all about and how did he sneak into this chair? It all started happening some three years ago by sheer accident, and accidents were his staple food all through his kaleidoscopic life. But he sees them as “Providential Happenings” as he wrote in his book. So he welcomes accidents, often painful but tries to find His hand working inside to draw good out of evil.

It all started when 3 years ago a good Samaritan in New York, prompted by the Spirit, (what else to say) translated one of his articles for its spiritual content, published it in Almaya and sent a copy to him.This came after several websites published an article about organ transplant and his own body donation to Amritha medical college. That heaven sent God’s angel was Joseph Padanamakal a very knowledgeable and forceful writer thanks possibly to his 30 years of work in NY library and of him kottoor had only little information then through friends. That was his first contact with Almayasabdam, run by George Moolechalil, Jose Mattappally, Zach Nedunkanal, Jose Antony etc, who were the backbones.

kottoor stayed with the newly found friends, but didn’t formally join the Almaya as he found it to be too provincial, like a frog in the well, Kerala, totally entangled with Syromalabar Church and Kerala politics. How could he? He wanted first to be an Indian citizen, than a Keralite, then a global citizen than an Indian. How could he be comfortable with frogs in the Kerala well of politics? That is how the idea of a global portal began to evolve and its Masthead of the Risen Jesus was taken from kottoor’s book. It was further developed with the expert touches of Jose Mattappally. But when work load increased and division of labour became necessary, one who came in as a sweeper was asked to become the superintend till a 30 year young was found. That is how kottoor is perching as the Chief or Cheap Editor for the time being.

         Became what He never dreamt of

kottoor became almost everything he never wanted to become – never thought of becoming a journalist, never wanted to go abroad positively, never wanted to come back to Kerala after leaving his home state to become a missionary in the North, never wanted to take up the pen again after writing his longest editorial ever, his resignation from New Leader(NL) on one fine July 3rd the feast of the doubting, questioning Thomas. He was forced to do it all either due to the trap of circumstances, or because it was the mark of a wise man to change decisions or because, “man proposes, God disposes”.

 

“Idiot becomes Editor!” That was the heading he gave to the first chapter in an Autobiographical Scribbling he started long ago, to be published only after he is gone. How then did he become the Editor of NL? Who planned it? This is a fascinating long story, he says. So only a skeleton sketch can be given here.

Suddenly like a bolt from the blue he got a letter from Archbishop Louis Mathias, who ordained him and appointed him in the Minor Seminary, Mylapore to teach with Fr. S Arulappa, who later became Archbishop of Hyderabad and now gone to his heavenly abode. The letter simply said. “You have to go to Rome for higher studies, speak to Fr.Thomas Joseph to arrange your visa and come on Friday to see me.” That sent cold shivers up his spine, says james, and shattered all his plans to study idiomatic Tamil for which he had subscribed to several Tamil magazines.

Without even the haziest idea of what he could be studying in Rome he appeared before the bearded Archbishop, always beaming with a smile. He asked: Do you know what you are going to study in Rome? To james’ lost and bewildered look he said: “You are going to study Journalism, I read your articles in New Leader. You would make a good editor.” james began protesting, because it all had happened by chance, by mistake, accidently so to say. The Seminary Rector had asked james to prepare the Annual issue of Mens Nostra(Our Mind) a seminary monthly, since he knew james used to write in it under the penname: Mandasiromany (pearl among idiots)

 

                         Illiterate in English

That opens the door to another story, story within a story. His life is full of stories within story. When he joined the seminary he did not know to utter even one correct sentence in English. On reaching the seminary his first encounter was with the saintly spiritual director Fr. Valloggia who bent down (james was small) and asked him gently: “Did you eat?” He couldn’t make head or tail of what he asked and the Father had to bend down thrice and ask him very slowly and patiently to make him understand.

Finally “Yes” came the loud answer from james who felt relieved like a hen which has managed to lay an egg. That was the first English word he uttered in the Seminary That shook james to the quick, turned him upside down and woke him up suddenly to the enormity of his ignorance in matters English. Added to that his friends in the Seminary told him: “You have to talk in English, write in English, preach in English, think in English, dream in English.” He wondered how he was going to manage. He had to swim or sink and he was not ready yet to sink.

There started his self-study in all earnest without wasting a single moment to read, check dictionary, make notes etc. That habit started with a strict military discipline has not stopped even now as he gets up at 4 am, go on reading and taking notes from website papers and magazines till 7.30 when there are 3 TV channels reporting top news in dailies till 8 am and then world News etc. none of which he would possibly miss.

To come back to the struggle to improve his English in the Seminary, it took an awful lot of sweating, but slowly he began to understand even Chesterton, who fascinated him most, especially with his paradoxical thought provoking and unsettling sayings: “It is in giving that you receive, in dying that you are born to life eternal…etc.” His another favourite author was Hillarie Belloc. So, he thought he too should write something while working in a country parish to inspire generations to come, as Chesterton even after his death was unsettling and provoking him to think critically and act constructively.

Why not make a trial attempt in Mens Nostra, imitating Chesterton’s paradoxical thinking,he wondered.The title he thought of was: “Splendor of Darkness”. Of course, paradoxical it was. But he had to give a pen name of the writer, and he had to make absolutely sure, he would not be found out as he was very cowardly and terribly ashamed of his English. At the same time he was very particular that the penname should really say the truth about himself and never project more than what he was at that point in history. That is how he landed on the name “Mandasiromany”. So his article came published: “Spleandour of Darkness” by Mandasiromany. Only the Rector knew who Mandasiromany was and it became a great hit more for the howler in the penname than for the paradox or content in the article.

Getting an Annual Ready

Now back to Seminary Magazine, Mens Nostra. There was no way to wriggle out of the heavy burden of getting ready the Annual his Rector wanted him to get ready, though he literally cursed himself for writing in the Magazine and giving an undue impression about himself to the Rector. Since there was no way out, he worked out a plan to bring out the Annual just on one subject: Lay Apostolate, in particular the Teaching Mission of the laity in the Church. He simply divided it into many sub-titles on which different people were asked to write articles.

Since it turned out to be a good symposium, before sending it to print the Rector told james: “We will send it first to the then Editor of NL, Msgr. Eric D:Souza, to make sure there were no English mistakes. It was to be sent to many benefactors abroad. That delighted james since he was never too sure of his own English. When the Rector brought it back corrected, he told james: “The Editor has a request, he wants your permission to serialize, two of your articles: “Theological Basis of Lay Apostolate,” and “Sacramental Basis of Lay Apostolate” in NL.” Since no one was ready to take up those two topics james had to write it himself and they attracted the attention of the Editor.

James was immensely happy to get his annual corrected and asked the Rector to thank the Editor profusely and to do whatever he wanted with the two articles, not thinking about the consequences, especially the unexpected consequence of getting noticed by the Archbishop and putting him on a thinking trail to send him for journalism studies. james blurted out all these like an innocent child trying to get himself freed from the punishment of studying Journalism in Rome.

                   Journalism in Rome?

But the Archbishop would not relent. Then James started imitating Abraham begging God not to destroy Sodom. He made bold to ask the great Archbishop: “I have never heard anyone going to Rome to study Journalism?” To this the Archbishop who was a French man with a lot of wit and wisdom said: “I am sending you to Rome first to take a doctorate in Theology so that you won’t write heresies editing New Leader. Only after that Journalism. For that I will send you to study and work with “La Croix” the French Catholic daily, the Archbishop said.

The Abrahimic streak in james could not be doused easily. So he said again trying to wriggle out: “But I am not going to edit New Leader in French, what is the use of my spending time on French?” Don’t worry, came the answer from the Archbishop, “By the time you finish your doctorate, I will find some schools of Journalism in US where you can take a degree in it as well.” That simply closed the loud mouth of james and put an end to any possible escape from another eight-year minimum study mission abroad. He simply had to grin and swallow everything ordered.

So in nutshell, so far as studies are concerned james did his SSLC in Kerala, ten year of priestly studies in military style and discipline in Chennai, which he enjoyed most and benefited “immensely” from, then four years of Doctorate in Theology in Rome, simultaneously one year of Diploma in Pastoral Sociology (study of man and his problems since theology had to be related to human issues) which included studies of Marxism, Communism, Dialectical Materialism, trade unions, factory workers etc under Russian professors and a week of study-tour of Eastern Europe and East Berlin (it was before the Berlin wall fell) and visit of various factories, then a three month summer curse in French(since he had to consult French books to finish his doctorate in theology) at the Institute Catholic of Paris during summer.

Another summer he was assistant Parish Priest in Lockweiler, Germany, another summer assistant PP in London near Silver Palace, not far from Hyde Park Corner and finally four years of studies at Marquette University, in US noted for Journalism and dentistry. After completing, he worked three months each in various Catholic weeklies as an editorial staff of Michigan Catholic, Detroit, Universe Bulleting, Cleveland, and Catholic Register Denver and returned to Chennai with the sole intent of taking up the Editorship of NL to instantly change the whole world for the better and never to return to US or anywhere abroad.

Kaleidoscopic Happenings

There were any number of Kaleidoscopic happenings during these tempestuous years which he says can’t be gone into in detail. But he narrated one: Fr. Di Fiore, a very jovial and insightful Italian was his philosophy professor. He called him one day and said: “You are doing fine in Philosophy, so you can take up study of Greek and Hebrew. After Ordination you may get a chance to go to Rome for higher studies. Then you will have to study them for sure.” Only those above average in studies were allowed to take up these extra languages in the Seminary.

What was james’ reaction? “I didn’t come here to go to Rome but to Gharro hills as a missionary or work in Tamilndu. So I would rather study Assamise or Tamil, not waste my time on Greek.” Poor Fr. Di Fiore was simply stunned since he expected james to jump at his golden offer.The professor was just trying to help a student who was always busy with study or work. Several of his companions, who opted to study Greek, poked fun at james with barbs like: “When we will return from Rome as Cardinals, you will be working in some Pattikadu(wild jungles).”

             But when after five years, the news of James’ going to Rome was announced unexpectedly, Fr. DiFiore was Rector of St.Bede’s School Mylapore. He walked up to the Minor Seminary across the road and called up james on the first Floor from the ground and asked: “You didn’t listen to me when I asked you to study Greek five years ago. Now you have to, but Congratulation”. james thanked him for his touching thoughtful remembrance of him and said: “Those who studied Greek did not make it to the ordination. But I am still here thanks to the Lord.”

Tempestuous NL Times

His days in the NL as Editor and publisher was tempestuous. He was regular invitee to report all CBCI meets, national Seminars, Biblical seminars in Bangalore Biblical Centre under Fr.Amalore and in Ecumenical Centre under M.A. Thomas. He wrote an editorial why Pope Paul VI should resign when he completed 75, for which some French papers called him “L’Infante terrible d’Land” (Terrible child of India). He wrote why Catholic Press must Die (meaning go secular) and the longest resigning editorial which some called “kottoor’s Swan Song”.At least it helped him add a new phrase: ”Swan Song”, to his vocabulary.

While the Editorial “Cathoic Press must Die” was being published he was invited for the 9th world congress of the Catholic press in Luxemburg for his role to create a healthy public opinion in the Church in India and to the Conference of the Developing Countries in Aachen.

After leaving NL he was Editorial Secretary at the ecumenical Centre, Bangalore from where he was invited as a Speaker to International meet in Hong Kong on “Printed Word in Asia” where he witnessed Jayaprakash Narayanam being arrested during Emergency. So he came back to an emergency declared India.

To Dublin Conference

In 2001 again he was invited for the first World Conference of Women’s Ordination in Dublin. After returning he wrote a book on it at the suggestion of Fr. Xavier Vadakkekara, whose Associate Editor of Indian Currents, he was at that Time and he gave it the name: Woman Why are you Weeping? suggested by Xavier

For one year he was working with his friend and mentor great Fr Balaguer Vicar General of Cardinal Gracias, at Amruthavani doing research on Dharma Vijayam, its project to promote Dharma in Andhra Society, with Professor Ramachandran of Tata Institute of Social Sciences Bombay and another year with Hosanna because it had invited james as editor of a planned English edition. But he ended up editing On the Road to Damascus of Fr. Hegger a friend and benefactor of Hosanna.

His final editorial assignment was with Vaidiakamitram, Its publisher, Fr. Chathaparambil the founder of Pattanakad Public School, came personally to kottoor’s home to meet him for the first time with an SOS, because his editor Fr.Christi Daniel, also a friend of james had gone to US and waned james’ help to prevent it from untimely death. Fr. Christi had already approached him earlier with the same request and james had already rejected saying: “How do you expect a renegade from the priesthood to run a priests’ Magazine?

Unknown Editor of Vaidikamitram

But james could not reject the pleadings of the elderly, exemplary Fr.Chathaparampil for various humanitarian reasons. So james agreed to run it just for three months in-cognito and ended up running it for three years. During those days Hosanna used to translate into Malayalam editorials of Vaidikamitram saying: Vaikeekamitram run by erudite priests says thus, without knowing james was that erudite person. One of the editorials thus published was: Anatomay of a Jubilee Celebration, when Cardinal Parecattil was forced to celebrate his silver Jubilee.

All these were made possible, he says, just because the Good Lord gave him rather good health and readiness to push on as workaholic. So all honour and glory to him alone.

 

       Leaving Priesthood

But tell us something about your leaving the priesthood and settling down in Family life?

All that happened, he says, during the one year he was working as editorial secretary of the Ecumenical Christian Centre. During that time he had already applied for dispensation to Rome while searching for the possibility of settling down to a family life. He wrote about it to all his Bishop friends. And lo and behold, Archbishop Eugene D’Souza of Bhopal alone invited him to stay with him for a few days as his guest, and he did go. He was very paternal guide and told him: “Life in the Ecclesiastical structures is difficult, but be careful, life in the world would be much harder for a priest who left.” He was right, says james.

But kottoor had good Samaritans to help him out everywhere. Imagine dispensation from priesthood came in three months, unheard of those days. james was in Bangalore at that time. Msgr De Mello, the then Vicar General was most gracious to help him and Agnes his fiancée, to get married properly with a few visits to his office. Whenever james rang up to him the voice at the end said: “You servant at this end!”

 

James was simply floored and struck by the rock-bottom humility and spirituality of Mgr.DeMello. He could not believe it and you would not believe it either that that a Mgr. would speak so edifyingly to one leaving priesthood. No other person in the whole world answered james’ phone with such unbelievably humble words, james recalls. . He later became Bishop and has gone to his heavenly abode which shows that there are such heavenly souls among bishops and priests much maligned these days, says james.

Mgr. DeMello was also very human and humorous. When talking to him on the Phone about the marriage which was going to be conducted quietly in a convent chapel he told james: “I had yesterday an intercourse with my bishop about fixing your marriage arrangements etc…” On another occasion he told james on the Phone: “Please don’t call me between 2 and 4 pm because I will be having my Lay-apostolate(taking siesta). May his tribe grow and flourish.” The last thing james wishes to say to you readers of CCV is: “Your servant at this end!” as long as he is.

james was born on Aug.18, 1934, has three daughters – Santhi, Sobha & Subha — all settled as BSc nurses, one also a BIT(Bachelor of information Technology) and a son – Santhosh — who is a doctor (MBBS) still to be settled and lives at: Santhibhavan, Thammanam, Cochin-682032, Mob: +91 9446219203.

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almayasabdam

20/08/2015 at 1:08 am

Zacharias Nedunkanal wrote: 

             That Dr. James Kottor and me happen to be in the editorial team of Church Citizens’ Voice is a happy coincidence. Some two and a half decades ago we had a mutual friend in the person of the late P.V. Abraham, an extraordinary editor of a magazine called Thaliyola, which had a good readership as it had always picked up very controversial issues confronting the society. We three and the good old Fr. Joseph Valiamangalam used to meet now and then at the residence of P.V. Abraham, at Pala. While the rest of us spoke in Malayalam, James mostly used English. After a few meetings, we parted company.

         It is at the auspices of Almayasabdam that we met each other again. Our co-editor Shree Joseph Mattappally and me don’t hesitate to affirm that but for James Kottor the website CCV could never have grown to its present proud stature and it could never have come to grips with the bishops in India.

If we have become a force that the Church leadership can’t ignore any longer and if the bishops are flabbergasted at the questions we throw at them, it is solely because of the stamina and the unchallenging moral stand of our chief editor, that guide and give us undiminishing strength to fight for the right of the Citizens of the Church irrespective of rite and locality. Hats off to you, Chief! — Zach

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This Catholic Bishop Could Be A Pagan

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Threats to Kerala Catholic Families? Kerala Bishops Synor – dr james kottoor

Two week Kerala Bishops’ Synod till Aug.29 – dr james kottoor

Forty three Kerala Bishops are sitting for two weeks till Aug. 29, in Church’s headquarters at St. Thomas Mount, Kakkanad for what is known as Syro-Malabar Synod. That means they can and they will come together for their pet projects; they may not do it for the much more serious two-year Family Synod Survey project ordered by Pope Francis.

 

See the contrast! They did not do a family survey last year, nor did they do it this year either. Pope asked the whole Church in India, that is, the CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India) to do the survey. Its President is Cardinal Baselius Cleemis of Trivandrum. The CCV editor wrote to him beginning of last month asking if he conducted any survey, since there was a controversy and doubts, in response to the Pope. We were not lucky to receive a reply, not even an acknowledgement from him. Last week certain Biju Udup from Bangalore personally went to TVM after sending advance letters. Yet he could not meet the Cardinal. He asked the one in the office: “Why letters are not answered? Are we second class citizens?” According to Udup the Cardinal’s office is in receipt of all letters, Udup’s and CCV Editor’s.

 

In the meantime the Latin Church, we were told did a survey on their own, Rite specific, without any publicity. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay and Bishop Lawrence Pius, Chairman of the Latin Church Family commission wrote to CCV editor complaining how we failed to know about it. How could we without being informed? To this day CCV has not seen a questionnaire distributed. Bombay’s cardinal wrote without our writing to him about the survey.

 

Here again the contrast is, we wrote to the two Kerala cardinals Mar Alencherry and Mar Cleemis but have not received a reply to this day. The question that comes up is this: If this is the way Church Citizens are and going to be treated, without elementary courtesy, should the concerned Citizens continue to write to our so called bishops who call themselves pastors but adamantly refuse to answer letters and refuse to dialogue with their flock and therefore do not have the “smell of the sheep” in the words of Francis? You readers think out your own answers.

           Why silence on burning Synod Issue?

In any case it is good to hear the Kerala Synod of 43 bishops are focusing on youth issues and nation building. But what about broken Syro-malabar families, torn to pieces in Kottayam diocese, Kerala, Delhi and Chicago, due to Endogamy producing divisive families? Bishops have been deluged with questions and petitions ever since Bishop Angadiath of Chicago, Archbishop Moolakat of Kottayam and His Beatitude, (as referred to in Bp.Angadiath’s circular) Allenchery of Ernakulam sent the joint circular of Sept.19th 2014 permitting and promoting (or should we say cultivating?) pure blood Knanaya parishes in Chicago? A Canonical case filed by All American Knanaya Association (KANA) leader and Organiser, stationed in NY, is going on demanding Bishop Angadiath, to withdraw that circular. Reportedly an additional law suit is being planned to be filed in Kerala as well.

 

In spite of bringing all these facts to the direct attention of Kerala bishops and the CBCI at large, not a single bishop has reacted till today, except Archbishop Kuriacose Baranikulangara of Faridabad, Delhi. Why? Why? Again Why? What do they want to convey by their deafening SILENCE? Or should we say contemptuous silence? One, who keeps quiet, says nothing (Qui tachet, nihil dicit) is the only rational conclusion we can draw. It is against this context, Church Citizens ask again and again: Why do Bishops stick to their ominous and scandalous silence to repeated pleas and petitions of the faithful, now for two years?

Family: Living tabernacle

What about building well-founded Christian families, which is what Pope Francis is all concerned about, which alone can be the only SACRED TABERNACLES, witnessing to the living presence of Jesus in this world?

There are Tabernacles galore in every Church made of gold or silver with Jesus locked up as a prisoner, behind a curtains made of silk or satin, depending on the money power of the Church. In a 50 Crore Edappally church, the tabernacle shines like one made of Gold. But can there be the living presence of Jesus there when the Church is locked up most of the time and without the presence of faithful? Jesus never spoke of his presence in tabernacles any where. But he did speak of his living presence: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in their midst.”

Christian Families, where Father, Mother and children live in harmony are the sacred tabernacles where Jesus’ presence is felt and presented to the whole world, round the clock, not tabernacles of gold and silver. It is for this reason the family is called the Domestic Church. Churches built of brick and mortar is dead structures without the living presence of Jesus, nor conceived by Jesus and without good Catholic families, any number of tabernacles in Churches are of no use or fruitless.

. Living presence of Jesus is made manifest only when families live together or get together in his name regularly to know and support each other. It is done   in a spectacular manner when His followers gather together in hundreds or thousands to serve especially the marginalized section of society, the oppressed, suppressed, exploited, the sick and hungry. His presence needs not be that manifest in political rallies even when organized, by the well-to-do hierarchical sections. But the living tabernacle of Jesus can be found even in the poorest families, with or without a roof over their head. These families alone deserve to be called Domestic Churches, not the spectacular constructions like the Edappally Church. This being the case, why are the Churches in Kerala, or the Kerala Bishops’ Synod has not thought it fit to conduct a survey of those on the pews, to listen to what the poor man, the Lazaruses in the  “poor church of the poor” of Francis have got to say – no matter whether “good, bad or ugly” ?

Let no Bishop be sent to Rome Synod

The Pope did not ask the Church in India or the Syro-malabar Church in Kerala to dabble in Indian politics or Kerala politics. He definitely wanted the Kerala Church to put its own house in order first, starting with each families, the domestic church (sacred living Tabernacle) in every parish, every diocese, every Rite, (Latin, Malabar, Malankara), working together as one unit in harmony as the Church in India, and not each Rite doing it alone not caring for other Rites or saying like Cain: “Am I my brothers’ Keeper.”

 

Therefore If the on-going Synod does not even open its mouth on Pure-blood marriages which definitely destroys Christian families (Three bishops’ joint circular cultivates it) and on other inter-Rite frictions (The fact that the 3 Rites can’t conduct a joint survey easily and smoothly is proof that frictions exist), neither the Latin Church nor the Kerala Churches, have any right to send any one as their representative to Rome Synod.

As doctors of the Field Hospital called the Church in India, let them first prescribe the remedy for the mortal Cancer called “Endogamy” which is afflicting nearly two lack members of Catholic families in India and America. The patients who were crying for treatment have a right to hear what medicines they are going to propose at the Synod. What they propose should be the result of their consultation with the suffering patients. But to this day they have not consulted the affected patients.

 

Therefore the option left to Church Citizens in Kerala is to organize a massive protest with placards in front of the on-going Synod at Kakkanad if time permits, or at designated bishop’s palaces or at air ports where they are flying from to prevent any bishop going to Rome more as picnic tour than as a Synod participant. In addition the faithful may think of a mass petition signed by Knanites and supporters to be sent to the Synod secretary Cardinal Baldassery and to the Pope directly.

 

So wake up Church Citizens in Kerala, make your protest loud and clear and make it thunder first in the ears of Synod Fathers sitting in Kakkanad. Depending on the Synod’s reaction let the Church citizens plan their action programme till they ready to fly to Rome drawing inspiration from Jesus. May the Carpenter of Nazareth in his thirties, who appeared in two contrasting or conflicting roles: as “Sweet Jesus meek and mild” and “bitter Jesus rough and wild” with whip in hand, inspire them to act according to the needs of changing circumstances.

Can be contacted at: jkottoor@asianetindia.com, Mob: +91 9446219203

 

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An Open Letter to Fr. Aniceto Pereira of Mount Mary’s Basilica

Fr. Aniceto Pereira presently stationed at Mount Mary’s Basilica has floated tenders for erection of stalls on the steps owned by the Basilica.

Some of the tenders conditions is that a 10 % deposit of the tender amount  is to be deposited with the Basilica.

Stalls have to be erected within 4 days.

All the contractors things have to be taken away from the premises  within 3 days.

So also various other conditions have been imposed which will make it impossible for any normal catholic to compete in the tender process.

My question is that were these conditions imposed on the previous contractor/ broker?

Are tenders called for erection of the Shamiana in the Basilica ?

When was the” hangar arrangement” made for the first time in the Shamiana in the Basilica?

Is it true that it was done for the first time by one Munna Bhai in the year 2013?

Is it true that his quote of Rs.7,00,000/- was given and an amount was added and the broker charged the Basilica Rs.9,00,000/- in the year 2013?

Why are the Basilica premises being presently used by the said broker to paint his things ?

Is the Basilica charging ground rent for use of electricity and for using its premises to store things from the said broker presently and  for the last many years?

Why was the same broker allowed to store his things for two months after the last years novenas?

Was a deposit of 10% taken from the last year broker who did the erection of stalls?

Were income tax returns taken from last years broker who erected the stalls?

What action was taken against the said broker when a fire took place in the year 2013?

Could you give me copies of the third party insurance taken by your broker for the last many years or is it being introduced today for the first time?

Did the Basilica authorities take any compensation from the said broker or did they look the other way?

Is it the policy to take 10% deposit from any contractors in the Archdiocese of Bombay before the work starts?It the above statement is true then please name the Churches where this deposit was taken.

Is it true that Bishop Agnelo told you not to get involved with the stall owners and the contractors?

If the above statement is true what is the reason you are getting involved?

Fr. Aniceto when you were Parish Priest in Salvation Church Dadar, I asked Cardinal Gracias to give me documents on the Ave Maria Deal where the Church has still not got its hall of 11500 sq feet , terrace above it and 24 flats  and yet the builder was allowed to  build his saleable quota and sell it despite the agreement that the Church quota and saleable quota had to come up simultaneously.

Cardinal Gracias wrote to me that since I am not a parishioner you were not giving me the details.

What happens to all the gold/ silver given as donations to the Basilica?

Why cant the same be publicly auctioned just as Lal Baug ka Raja authorities do?

Is something being hidden?

Tell me do you believe in a unified single church or do you believe in divisions.

Do you believe in helping the poor or in making a  rich person richer?

Would Christ have behaved in the same way you are behaving?

A.M.Sodder

 

 

 

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Why does the Church in Mumbai not follow the Popes call on environment ?

Attached below is an extract of the Encyclical Letter issued by Pope Francis on care for our Common Home.

Why does the Church in Mumbai not follow the Popes call on environment?

A bare perusal of the same will show that green spaces are to be increased and preserved.

Yet the Church in Mumbai in the year 2010 passed a plan which reduced the garden space from 25% to 8%. What could be the reason for the same?

Despite a status quo order on the Marinagar plot yet hundreds of bamboo trees and four other trees have been cut. Two trees presently standing have holes in their roots drilled of about 4-5 inches in diameter and acid poured in them as areas on the bark look totally different from the other parts of the said trees.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias do you believe in this encyclical letter of Pope Francis? Or is Money worth more that lives of the common man?

This is indeed a call which you as head of the Catholic community in Mumbai will have to take and which has been thrown to the winds since the year 2009.

My gut feeling is that the said encyclical letter does not apply to the Mumbai archdiocese and hence the gardens are being done away with by the Church.

 

A.M.Sodder

ENCYCLICAL LETTER
LAUDATO SI’
OF THE HOLY FATHER
FRANCIS
ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

Climate as a common good

23. The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes.

24. Warming has effects on the carbon cycle. It creates a vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer regions, and leading to the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity. The melting in the polar ice caps and in high altitude plains can lead to the dangerous release of methane gas, while the decomposition of frozen organic material can further increase the emission of carbon dioxide. Things are made worse by the loss of tropical forests which would otherwise help to mitigate climate change. Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. A rise in the sea level, for example, can create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.

25. Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.

26. Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption. There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy. Worldwide there is minimal access to clean and renewable energy. There is still a need to develop adequate storage technologies. Some countries have made considerable progress, although it is far from constituting a significant proportion. Investments have also been made in means of production and transportation which consume less energy and require fewer raw materials, as well as in methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency. But these good practices are still far from widespread.

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Mahim residents protest hacking of bamboos, trees- Ecological Justice?

  • Read below an article which appeared in the Hindustan Times. The land in question is owned by the St.Michaels Church. There is a status quo order passed by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court on the said land, passed way back in the year 2013.Yet the builder has cut hundreds of bamboo trees , replanted a tree and cut down trees despite the High Court order. I wonder what is the stand taken by the Church or is it just lip service?
  • Mumbai Laity
  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • 14 Aug 2015
  • Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
  • Badri Chatterjee badri.chatterjee@hindustantimes.com

Mahim residents protest hacking of bamboos, trees

MUMBAI: Bamboos have no protection under the tree protection act as they are actually a species of grass, residents of a housing colony in Mahim recently found out.

Residents of Marinagar Colony in Mahim have filed complaints with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) tree department wherein they complained that more than 100 fully-grown bamboos and four trees have been hacked at a redevelopment site by a builder.

The predominantly Catholic housing colony located opposite Mahim station consists two sets of residential buildings. The bamboo and trees were growing in gardens located between the buildings, said residents. “The property is owned by St Michael’s church and the five buildings other than the two housing complexes were built by the private builder. Apart from hacking the bamboo, the builders cut four big trees and poured acid on a few so that the trees would die,” said AM Sodder, secretary, Our Lady of Vailankanni and Perpetual Succour Cooperative Housing Society.

Another resident, Dominic Fernandes, 70, said after trimming the trees, the branches and leaves were not picked up. “When we objected, people employed by the builder harassed us,” he said.

Refuting the allegation, the private builder told HT that the garden department had allowed the felling of the bamboo and no written permission was required for it. “The reason we hacked the bamboos was because residents from one of the buildings adjacent to the ground complained of rodents, mosquitoes and snakes from the area. The garden department gave us an oral permission and we were told that the bamboo is not a tree,” said the builder. “We have permissions regarding the two large trees.” Officials from the tree department said bamboo is not classified as a tree under the Tree Preservation Act. “We have taken cognisance of the complaints and our officer is preparing a report,” said a senior official from the garden department.

 

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Can a non-religious meeting be held inside a prayer hall?

  • 14 Aug 2015
  • Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
  • MANOJ R NAIR manoj.nair@hindustantimes.com

Can a non-religious meeting be held inside a prayer hall?

Can a worship hall be used for non-religious events? Community groups in Mumbai are debating this question after a video clip showed a Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting held a week ago inside a Thane church.

According to people who saw the clip, participants at the meeting were seen smoking and talking on their mobile phones inside the church. The organisers of the meeting had curtained off the altar, but many of the participants, apparently unaware that they were inside a place of worship, failed to keep the required decorum. The meeting went on for four hours before members of the local community stopped it. There have been apologies from people involved in the episode, but this has not been enough for some community groups who have now asked senior church officials to take punitive action against those who allowed the function. They called it a ‘new trend of using a church as a meeting hall’.

There is some confusion whether the Thane building is a consecrated worship place or a prayer hall. This particular parish does not have a church building yet and has sought permission from the local municipal corporation to construct a new structure. In the meanwhile, the priest-in-charge said, they were using a multipurpose hall.

But people who worshipped there said it was a church. “It is a church premise, a holy place. People were using tobacco inside,” said another member of the church.

The event was apparently organised by the principal of the school attached to the church. “When we questioned the principal, we were told that they had the permission from the parish priest to hold the function. We have a large hall where the function could have been held,” said Melwyn Fernandes, a member of the church and the local head of community groups Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC).

After the incident, angry members of the congregation met the priests and nuns. The priest-in-charge said the meeting was shifted to the hall because of rains. “I was out station and many people had turned up for the meeting. The nuns had not expected such a large crowd. I was told that some people were chewing tobacco,” said Father Rudolph Andrade. “The matter has been settled amicably; I wonder why the issue is been raked up again.”

In parts of Europe, where churches are seeing dwindling cong re gation and bankruptcies, premises have been sold or rented out. “In America and in the United Kingdom, churches are being put to multi-purpose use. The churches also allow other denominations to use the premises for prayer,” said Father Joe D’Souza, parish priest at Sacred Heart Church, Santacruz.

D’Souza was of the opinion that a church can be used for non- religious events, provided sections like the altar or the tabernacle – the enclosure where consecrated material is kept – is covered from view. “But drinking and eating should is banned,” he added.

Some community groups want a criminal complaint under section 295 of the Indian Penal Code to be filed against church officials for ‘hurting the religious sentiments of a community’. “My question i s would this amount to defiling the sanctity of a church,” said Joseph Sodder of the group Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC). “The religious sentiments of a community have been hurt by having a meeting in a church which is consecrated.”

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