Vatican Dismisses Official for Declaring He’s Gay and Has a Partner on Eve of Synod

Mgr. Charamsa

Mgr. Charamsa

Father Federico Lombardi S.J., issued a strong statement saying that, “notwithstanding the respect due to events and personal situations, and reflections on the issue, the decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure”

gerard o’connell

The Vatican has denounced as “very serious and irresponsible” the decision by Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), to announce publicly, on the eve of the synod of bishops on the family, that he is homosexual and has a partner.  It said he can no longer work in that congregation, or teach theology in the Pontifical universities


Mgr. Charamsa, 43, a native of Gdynia, Poland, was a middle-ranking official at the CDF when he gave the interview.  He has been in Rome for 17 years, and taught theology at two pontifical universities in Rome:  the prestigious Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome and the Ataneo Regina Apostolorum’, run by the Legionaries of Christ.  He is also assistant-secretary of the International Theological Commission. 


He declared his “coming out” in a front page interview with Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian daily, October 3.  Speaking frankly he said:  “I want the Church and my community to know who I am:  a homosexual priest, happy and proud of his own identity. I am ready to pay the consequences of this, but the moment has come for the Church to open its eyes to gay believers and to understand that the solution which it proposes to gays, namely total abstinence from a love life, is inhuman.”


Within hours of the publication of the interview, the Director of Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi S.J., issued a strong statement saying that, “notwithstanding the respect due to events and personal situations, and reflections on the issue, the decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure.”


As a consequence of his declarations and interview, Lombardi said, “Mgr. Charasma will certainly be unable to continue to carry out his previous work in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Universities, while the other aspects of his situation shall remain the competence of his diocesan ordinary.”    


Asked why he came out now, Charasma responded, “A day comes when something breaks inside one, and one cannot take any more.  Alone, I would have got lost in the nightmare of my denied homosexuality, but God never leaves us alone. And I believe that He has now brought me to make this existential choice that is so strong. “


He acknowledged that his decision is also “strong in its consequences” but, he said, “it should be the most simple one for every homosexual, the premise to living coherently, because we are already late and it is not possible to wait another fifty years. So I tell my Church who I am.  I do it for myself, for my community, for the Church.  And it is also my duty in the face of the community of the sexual minorities.”


The Polish-born monsignor continued: “It seems to me that, in the Church, we don’t know homosexuality because we don’t know homosexuals, yet we have them all over the place, but we have never looked them in the eyes, because they rarely say who they are.”



Charasma, who has worked at the Vatican congregation for doctrine since 2003, explained that “with my story I want to shake the conscience of the Church a bit.”


“I will personally reveal my identity to the Holy Father with a letter. And I will inform the universities where I teach as to who I am”, he added.  He was doing all this “with immense regret since I will probably no longer be allowed to work in Catholic schools.”   Lombardi confirmed this in his statement.


Charamsa admitted that he had chosen his moment to come out:  on the eve of the synod. “I wish to tell the Synod that homosexual love is a family love, that it needs the family. Every person, including gays, lesbians, transsexuals, carry in their heart a desire for love and family (life).  Every person has a right to love and that love must be protected by society, and by laws.”


“Above all – he stated – it must be cared for by the Church” since “Christianity is the religion of love: that is what characterizes Jesus whom we bring to the world”.  He emphasized that “a lesbian or homosexual couple should be able to say to their church, we love according to our nature and this good of our love we offer to others because it is a public, not private fact, and it is not an exasperated search for pleasure.”


When asked how he squares his views with current Catholic teaching,  Monsignor Charamsa acknowledged that while his “positions” are “not those of the current teaching of the Church” they “are present in theological research.”   In Christian theology, in particular, they are present in “a heavy way” and there are “excellent Catholic theologians that are producing important contributions on these aspects.”


When it was pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the basis of the biblical literature, defines homosexuality as “intrinsically disordered”, the Vatican monsignor reminded the interviewer that “the bible never talks about homosexuality. Instead it talks about acts that I would call ‘homogenitals’; acts which can be carried out by heterosexual people too, as happens in many prisons.” In the latter case, he said, “these acts may be a moment of infidelity to one’s true nature and thus a sin” but “those same acts carried out by homosexuals, express their true nature.”   Indeed, “the biblical sodomite has nothing to do with two gays that today, in Italy, love one another and want to get married.”


Charamsa went on to say that “he does not find even one page in the scripture, or in St. Paul, that can be referred to homosexual persons that ask to be respected in their orientation, (it is) a concept that was unknown in that era.”


Asked how he become a priest since Catholic doctrine excludes gays from the priesthood, Mgr. Charamsa pointed out that “this is a regulation that was introduced in 2005 when I was already a priest, and is valid only for new ordinations.”  But, he added, “it was a trauma for me.  It was not so previously, and I believe it is an error that needs to be corrected.”


He had always known that he was gay, he said, but “in the beginning, I did not accept it” and so he “zealously” sought “to subject” himself to the teaching of the Church and the life it imposed on him; that homosexuality does not exist, and if it does then it is to be destroyed.”


He explained that he has passed from “rejection” of his own homosexuality to being “happy” that he is gay, “by studying, praying and reflecting on myself” and by “dialogue with God, and confronting with theology, philosophy and science.”  He now has “a companion that helped me to transform my last fears into the force of love.”


He recognizes that the Church “will see me as one who did not know how to keep his promise, as someone who has got lost, and not for a woman but for a man.”  He recognizes too that he will have “to renounce the ministry, which is also my whole life.” He insisted, however,“ I am not doing it so as to be able to live with my companion”, rather “this is a much wider decision  that is born of reflection on the thinking of the Church.”


He explained this, saying:  “If I was not transparent, if I could not accept myself, I could not be a good priest because I would not be an agent for (communicating) the happiness of God “


Charamsa, who was working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until he gave this interview, expressed his conviction that “on these issues (regarding homosexuality), the Church is way behind in relation to the level of understanding reached by humanity.”


In the past too, he said, the Church has been behind on other matters, but when the delay related to astronomy “the consequences” were not “as heavy” as when they “touch the most intimate part of people.”


His conclusion:  “The Church must know that it is not responding to the challenge of the times!”



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Stop Endogamous Marriages in India & USA

Stop Endogamous Marriages in India & USA

President, Knanaya Association of North

America (KANA) Appeals to Pope Francis

dr.james kottoor

This is the last ditch effort the Knanaya community in USA is doing to put an end to the practice of purity-of-blood (Endogamous) marriages enforced in Knanaya Parishes under the Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chichago in USA and in the Archdiocese of Kottayam(Knanaya) diocese in India.

Well-meaning people in Kottayam diocese and Knanaya community all over the world have been conducting an organized, sincere, systematic campaign both in India and USA to settle this shameful unchristian, racist practice amicably for many years, especially since 2013 when they conducted an all American Knanaya Seminar on July 3rd at the Chicago Cathedral hall with leading speakers dr. james kottoor, editor-journalist from Kerala and Sri Chacochan Kalarical, expert in Syro-Malabar principles and practices from Ditroit.

Ever since appeals, organized letters and memorandums were repeatedly send like a rising tsunami to responsible bishops in leadership positions both in US and India and even to Pope in Rome through proper channels. In addition this scribe himself has written so many articles, too many to name here, in India and US papers and in various independent internationals like Church Citizens’ Voice(CCV).

The shocking fact is that the responsible bishops have not responded to these prayerful, desperate appeals to this day and age even when the church wax eloquent on dialogue, vertical and horizontal. For many church watchers their adamantly disturbing silence speaks eloquently of the kind of their commitment to the principle of transparency Jesus lived and taught: (Palam locutus sum) I have spoken all things in public, not in secrecy or through silence.

What is given below is a Letter sent by the President of Knanaya Association of North America (KANA) stationed in New York, leading the campaign against Emdogamy and requesting for immediate publication. James kottoor, editor, CCV.

KANA asks Holy Father Pope Francis:


How can Catholic Church approve a policy like the one practiced by Knanaya Catholic community in Barack Obama’s America?


How can Catholic Church approve a policy of exclusion for race/blood purity in the Church redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ?


How can the bishops approve a policy splitting the family against the divine commandment: “What God has joined together, let no man separate?”


Attached please find a copy of the letter we have given to Apostolic Nuncio to handover to Pope Francis.



August 31, 2015

To: His Holiness Pope Francis Apostolic Palace Vatican City

Our Beloved Holy Father:


We wanted to meet you in person during your visit to America. However, His Eminence Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio, informed us that it will not be possible to meet you in person given the limitations of your fixed official schedule. As such, we are sending our petition through the Apostolic Nunciature as guided by the Nuncio.


Holy Father, we need your help, our families and children are hurting. We are being hurt by the race obsessed practices in Kottayam Archdiocese in Kerala, India and Syro-Malabar Diocese in Chicago, USA. Your direct intervention is appreciated since other hierarchical authorities find it difficult or unable to end this practice.

Practice in Kottayam Archdiocese Archdiocese of Kottayam is a diocese established in 1911 for Southists (Knanaites). Knanaya people are descendants of a group of Christians who migrated to Kerala, India from Middle-East in A.D. 345. Based on an alleged custom and tradition, the practice of the Kottayam archdiocese is that if a member enters into a marriage with another catholic (non-endogamous marriage), the member is asked to leave the eparchy of Kottayam. The member is compelled to join another catholic diocese along with his/her spouse. Their biological children and adopted children of Knanaya parents will not be allowed to be members of the Knanaya diocese.


This is being practiced to protect presumed racial/blood purity of the Knanaya community. As a result of this practice, many young men and women in the community remain unmarried for fear of the ignominy of getting married to a nonKnanaya Catholic and getting expelled from the community. This unchristian and uncivil practice inflicts psychological and emotional wounds on our families and children.   This diocese does not evangelize and bring people from outside into the Christian fold.

Practice in Chicago Syro-Malabar Diocese For resolving a dispute regarding membership among Knanaya Catholics who migrated to USA from Kottayam, the Congregation for Eastern Churches then under Cardinal Lourdusamy issued Rescript Prot. N. 124/83 dated January 30, 1986 (the “1986 Rescript”) indicating that “the Congregation does not accept the customary practice followed in Kerala of excluding from the community those who marry non-Knanaya spouses, is extendible to the United States of America”. As such, Knanaya Catholic missions established in the USA were directed to include all Knanaites without regard to their non-endogamous marriage status. Though they initially agreed to it, it was scuttled by the effort of the Kottayam bishop.


When the Chicago Syro-Malabar diocese was established in 2001, Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath was instructed by the Congregation through Rescript Prot. No. 85 dated 10-21-2001 that “the Holy See continues to follow the directives outlined in the 1986 Rescript” with regard to Knanaya churches in the Chicago Syro-Malabar diocese. After many years, by the circular of December 20, 2012 Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath complied with the 1986 Rescript.


However, Knanaya bishops and clergy refused to implement the directives outlined in the Rescript, though they pretended to implement it. Although several appeals were filed by Kottayam bishops to revoke the 1986 Rescript, they were rejected by the Congregation after being reviewed by Cardinals


Holy Father, please help us to restore justice, and to end discrimination and exclusion!

Sincerely in Christ,

President, Knanaya Association of North America (KANA)  


  1. Copy of the Rescript Prot. N. 124/83 dated January 30, 1986 (the “1986 Rescript”). 2. Copy of the Rescript Prot. N. 85/2001 which directed Chicago Syro-Malabar bishop to follow the 1986 Rescript. 3. Copy of the circular letter of Bishop Mar Angadiath dated December 20, 2012.   4. Copy of the circular letter of Bishop Mar Angadiath dated September 19, 2014. 5. Letter dated March 20, 2015 from the Congregation. 6. Copy of the Canonical Complaint filed to revoke Bishop Angadiath’s circular letter of September 19, 2014. 7. Copy of the court verdict in “Biju Uthup” case where, after an in-depth analysis of all aspects of the practice of Kottayam diocese, the court ruled against the diocese (a res judicata decision). 8. Copy of a DNA study report showing that Knanaya is a “mixed” community of people of Middle Eastern and Indian origin, and not a “pure” community of people with only Jewish ancestry as claimed.   9. Papal Bull that erected Kottayam diocese which does not say anywhere in it that Kottayam diocese should protect racial purity of the Knanaya community.


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National Eucharistic Congress – Mr.John Menezes

There is much ado over a supposed National Eucharistic Congress in Mumbai in November. The 38th. International Eucharistic Congress in November-December 1964 was of the Catholic Church of all time. The proposed one is of the New Church instituted by Paul VI when, on 21/11/1964, he signed The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church which initiated a slew of revisions, innovations and novelties, starting with the drastically revised ordination rites given on 18/6/1968 to take effect from 6/4/1969, rites which fail to meet the Catholic Church’s criteria for validity, and a New Order of Mass from Advent 1969 which, unlike its predecessor which embraced the theology of sacrifice, now embraces the theology of assembly. In keeping with the latter, the Redemptorist Fathers no longer incorporate the traditional Morning Offering “in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” in their prayer leaflets for Lenten missions because the Traditional Mass no longer exists as the universal parish norm.

Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, as his Legate to the supposed National Eucharistic Congress in November. Is the cardinal going to carry a big monstrance with a dummy wafer as the focus of idolatry and deception?

These are serious questions which require serious answers.

John Menezes

7 Esperanca, S. Bhagatsingh Road, Mumbai 400001.

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Catholic congressman to boycott Pope’s address over climate change

Rep Gosar criticised the Pope for his views on climate change

Arizona Republican says he cannot attend if Holy Father focuses on ‘flawed’ climate science

An American Catholic congressman has announced he is boycotting Pope Francis’s address to the US Congress over his views on the environment.

Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman for the State of Arizona, wrote on the Town Hall website that he could not attend Francis’s address next Thursday because it would mostly be about climate change.

Writing that he was excited when he first learned of the visit, he went on: “Many believed, like I did, that this was an opportunity for the Pope to be one of the world’s great religious advocates and address the current intolerance of religious freedom. An opportunity to urgently challenge governments to properly address the persecution and execution of Christians and religious minorities; to address the heinous and senseless murders committed by ISIS and other terrorist organisations. An opportunity to address the enslavement, belittlement, rape and desecration of Christian women and children; to address the condoned, subsidised, intentionally planned genocide of unborn children by Planned Parenthood and society; and finally, an opportunity for His Holiness to refocus our priorities on right from wrong.”

However, he wrote, according to the media it would mostly be about global warming, and “that this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ‘climate justice’ and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies. If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line. If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly. But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.”

Congressman Gosar described himself as a “proud Catholic” and pointed out that he attended a Jesuit College, where he “was taught to think critically, to welcome debate and discussion and to be held accountable for my actions – a trademark of a Jesuit education”.

He concluded: “If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend. It is my hope that Pope Francis realises his time is better spent focusing on matters like religious tolerance and the sanctity of all life. As the leader of the Catholic Church, and as a powerful voice for peace throughout the world, His Holiness has a real opportunity to change the climate of slaughter in the Middle East… not the fool’s errand of climate change.”

Last week Pope Francis told environment ministers from European Union countries that rich countries owed an “ecological debt” to poor countries.

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We’re heading for ‘ Catholic divorces ‘

New spouses exchange rings as Pope Francis celebrates the marriage rite for 20 couples in St Peter's Basilica (CNS)

A leading canon lawyer argues that the Pope’s radical annulment reforms could overturn an all-important principle of Church law

Pope Francis’s apostolic letter Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, released last week, proposes major changes to the way the Church issues declarations of matrimonial nullity. Many respected canon lawyers and commentators are expressing grave concerns about the text as they study it more carefully. I join my voice to the growing number who are apprehensive. In my view, some changes run the risk of doing more harm than good, creating more confusion than clarity about the truth of marriage and the purpose of the declaration of nullity process.

The most significant proposed change in Mitis Iudex is the creation of the “shortened procedure” whereby marriage cases are given to the diocesan bishop to decide himself in a sort of administrative fiat. This highly problematic change raises serious questions and grave confusion.

Extremely busy diocesan bishops, including those who may not have training in marriage law, will be asked to decide potentially hundreds of canonical marriage cases each year by relying almost solely on the report of assessors who themselves may not be canon lawyers. This is supposed to “streamline” the process. Yet practically it is difficult to see how this could possibly be so without the diocesan bishop either rubber-stamping decisions without consideration or rushing through them at the expense of thoroughness. Either would be an injustice.

Canon law already uses a shorter “documentary process” for cases involving a lack of capacity to marry (canons 1073-1094) and a lack or defect of canonical form (canons 1108-1123). For the third kind of marriage cases – those involving defect of consent (canons 1095-1107), which use the “formal marriage procedure” – Mitis Iudex will now allow the new “shorter process” to be used where these cases seem to be null “by particularly evident arguments”.

This is where the problems begin. How would such “evident arguments” be properly considered before an appropriate process?

What Mitis Iudex has effectively done is overturn in practice the all-important principle found in canon 1060, where marriage is presumed to be valid until proven otherwise. In allowing the shorter process for cases deemed to be null “by particularly evident arguments”, Mitis Iudex is allowing a sort of pre-judgment of a marriage as null before a process is even selected.

The result is that some marriages will be presumed invalid even before the process starts. This runs directly against the presumption of validity required by justice, logic and canon 1060. Mitis Iudex has created a situation where marriages are presumed to be invalid and that validity must now be proven. This is tantamount to adopting a “guilty until proven innocent” approach and will be detrimental to the notion of the indissolubility of marriage.

Worse, Article 14 of the “Procedural Rules” attached to Mitis Iudex gravely adds to the confusion. Article 14 presents a jumbled, inconclusive list of principles and situations that may warrant a request for the shorter process. These examples range from merely difficult marriage situations to some that are actually canonical grounds for a declaration of nullity.

Article 14 will cause two unfortunate errors: the belief that a marriage in one of these situations is invalid even before proper investigation, and the fallacy that some of these are new grounds for invalidity. These errors will be used or misunderstood as justification for easy annulments, creating in effect “Catholic divorces”. In fact, no less a figure than Dr Kurt Martens, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, has decried the expedited process and these situations as “providing a path that looks like the Catholic version of no-fault divorce”.

The second major change proposed in Mitis Iudex is the elimination of the required review by a second instance appellate tribunal. Some see the review as an extra step that is redundant, unnecessarily delaying the final outcome. While many have seen this change as positive, I believe that we will lose valuable pastoral and historical wisdom that the Church has applied to marriage cases.

The purpose of the review is to help keep local tribunal judges close to the case from being careless or manipulative and to check them if they are. The idea is to help to ensure that the proper procedure is used and that judges make a properly objective decision.

Dropping the mandatory review was already briefly allowed in the past – with dreadful results. From 1971 to 1983, the so-called “American Provisional Norms” were allowed on an experimental basis for tribunals in the United States where a dispensation from the mandatory appeal was granted when it seemed superfluous. The result was that very few cases during those years were ever reviewed in second instance.

Scrutinising those 12 years, the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest judicial authority, expressed concerns regarding not only the way some local tribunals handled certain marriage cases but also that cases clearly needing to be appealed were never actually appealed by the parties, the defender of the bond or the Ordinary.

With this experience in mind, the current universal Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983 maintained the second instance review. Mitis Iudex will effectively reinstitute the situation of the “American Procedural Norms” but go even further by making the lack of the mandatory appeal the standard.

The reality is that where first instance tribunals follow the process appropriately and objectively, a properly staffed second instance tribunal can generally arrive at a favourable decision rather quickly. If, however, there are unnecessary delays because of understaffing or sluggish attitudes on the part of tribunal officials, this is not the fault of the canonical laws.

The problem can be solved by proper staffing and management.

Rather than eliminating the second instance review, we need norms that ensure that it is used effectively and efficiently. If the sublime dignity and beauty of marriage is truly what we believe it to be, would the presumed validity of a marriage not make it worth a second review to safeguard it from possible sloppy or arbitrary decisions?

One must also ask why changes as important and dramatic as these were not offered for consultation beyond a very small committee working with seemingly no transparency over the period of a year.

Why was there no consultation with the synod of bishops, which will be held next month, pontifical faculties of canon law throughout the world, professional canon law societies, and select bishops and Church tribunals who will be charged with the difficult implementation and pastoral fallout of these reforms? North America is where nearly three-quarters of all declarations of nullity are issued yearly. Why was there no American or Canadian on the committee?

As Mitis Iudex does not take effect until early December, it is not too late to rectify the many serious problems in this document. I echo the call of some for a delay in implementation in order that a much-needed wider consultation can be carried out.

Finally, one must wonder whether the time is right for such jolting reforms.

As numerous crises in marriage and family continue both inside and outside the Church, perhaps it is not the best time to embark on changing the declaration of nullity process, which is a product of centuries of the Church’s pastoral experience. As the old adage goes, a time of crisis is the worst time to make law.

What is needed now is not new procedures but rather faithful implementation of the ones we have; not derogation from marriage laws, much less their abrogation, but rather a new appreciation of their purpose and pastoral wisdom.

What we need now more than ever is clarity about the Church’s teachings on marriage – especially its indissolubility – rather than hasty reforms that may further confuse them. What we need is mercy based on truth and not a false mercy based on convenience or a misplaced compassion which, as St John Paul II reminded us, could degenerate into a sentimentality that is only pastoral in appearance.

Benedict Nguyen is a canon and civil lawyer and serves as canonical counsel and theological adviser for the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. He is also an adjunct professor for the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation (

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Pope asks cardinals to review how the Church vets future bishops

Bishops attend the canonisation of St John XXIII and St John Paul II in St Peter's Square (CNS)

Council of Cardinals will study the way the Church identifies and appoints bishops

Pope Francis has asked his international Council of Cardinals to study the way the church vets, identifies and appoints bishops around the world, looking particularly at the qualities needed in a bishop today.

The council met in Rome in the Pope’s presence from Monday to Wednesday.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said the nine-member council’s main task is to assist Francis with the ongoing reorganisation of the Roman Curia. But from the beginning the Pope said he wanted the group to advise him on matters of Church governance in general.

With more than 150 new bishops being named each year in the Latin Rite Church, identifying suitable candidates is a normal part of the governance of the universal Church, the spokesman said.

“There is a long process” for naming bishops, Fr Lombardi said. It includes “questionnaires that are sent out to people who may know the candidates and then the information is gathered, usually by the nunciature”, and recommendations are forwarded either to the Congregation for Bishops or, in the case of the Church’s mission lands, to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. The congregations make recommendations to the Pope.

Obviously, Fr Lombardi said, the key part of the process is formulating the questions and collecting information based on the characteristics essential for a bishop “in the world today, what might be the requirements and, therefore, what questions should one be attentive to in [developing] the questionnaires.”

The need to review the questions and the process as a whole is constant, he said.

A statement issued after the meeting said, “naturally the theme will need to be explored further and developed in collaboration” with the Roman Curia offices assisting the Pope in identifying candidates.

The Council of Cardinals also continued an earlier discussion introduced by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, “especially with regard to the possibility of accelerating the resolution of the many cases still pending” of clerics accused of sexually abusing children and vulnerable adults, the statement said.

As for the planned reorganisation of the Roman Curia, the cardinals discussed a possible preamble to the papal constitution setting out a new structure for the Church’s central offices, but Fr Lombardi said it appeared that the project as a whole is not approaching completion.

On the other hand, he said council members gave Pope Francis a formal proposal for establishing a Congregation for Laity, Family and Life, which would bring together the current pontifical councils for the laity and for the family and would place the Pontifical Academy for Life under the new office’s jurisdiction.

The council members had been discussing such a move for months. Pope Francis asked Italian Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the retired Archbishop of Milan, to do a feasibility study on the idea. The council’s proposal to the pope was made after they had heard from Cardinal Tettamanzi, Fr Lombardi said.

Discussion is continuing about also establishing a new Congregation for Charity, Justice and Peace, which would bring together three existing pontifical councils responsible for promoting Catholic charity, promoting justice and peace and providing pastoral assistance to migrants, refugees and other itinerant peoples.

Father Lombardi said the Council of Cardinals had not yet reached the point of making a definitive proposal about that new congregation.

The council will meet again on December 10-12, he said.

Besides Cardinal O’Malley, the other members of the council are: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; George Pell, head of the Secretariat of the Economy; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

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Shun Christian Names! Follow Jesus’ Incarnation Principle – Dr. James Kottoor

Shun Christian Names!

Follow Jesus’ Incarnation Principle

Should followers of Jesus sport Christian names to proclaim their identity? No, it may easily make them a target of attack and discrimination. Follow the principle of leaven in the dough, the incarnational principle Jesus showed. You are to bear witness to Him by your deeds, not name, as a tree is known by its fruits.

dr. james kottoor

The Synod of Kerala Bishops has directed its faithful, according to reports published in papers to go for Christian names and to parade or exhibit them in public as their Christian Identity. That is news to me because I always thought otherwise.

Your name is not to exhibit your communal divisive identity but to proclaim your God given mission in life. The Latin saying: “Nomen est Omen” says it all. Your names is your sign or unique identity card. That is how it was from Old Testament times. “Peter thou art Rock, upon you I will build my Church” Jesus said. The Old Testament is full of such examples.

The wonder of creation is, no individual is identical with another. “Your names are written in the palm of my hands”, it is said. This is to indicate that God has a mission for each individual which is distinct from that of everybody else’s mission.

A new borne child is not destined to become one of the 12 Apostles and go about sporting names like Thomas, Antony, James, Judas, and Mathew etc. or of saints like Mary, Anne, Alphonsa etc. In Old Testament times parents prayed over and decided on a name for their offspring. That is how Zachary, when he recovered from being struck dumb said: “John is to be the name” which produced St. John the Baptist.

Therefore I made it a point not to baptize any of my children with an already existing Christian name. Instead I gave them following names: Santhi, Sobha, Subha and Santhosh as the baptismal names of my three daughters and one son. I told Santhi that she is to be a messenger of PEACE which her name proclaims, to Sobha, to be a LIGHT shining in darkness, to Subha, to be a sign of GOOD omen, good ending to all, all is well that ends well, and to Santhosh to be an instrument of JOY wherever he is.

Felix means What?

In fact when I visited my former Archbishop Arulappa with my son in Chennai, I told him I refused to give any of the much publicized Christian names to my children. But then he retorted, half in joke half in earnest, commenting on the name: Santosh. “But you gave him a Christian name ‘Felix’ which is what Santosh means.”

I can give hundred reasons for not aping any of the existing saints or famous Christians. In India we have any number of names which have a spiritual content and even a Christian message. I had a Capuchin friend (now in heaven) whose original names was Angelo. To people in the North it did not make any sense. They used to call him “Anglo” — meaning “English” or foreigner. Tired of this he changed his name and started calling himself “Devadass”, very meaningful and describing his mission in life.

And what did Jesus do? He did not take on the name “Christ” meaning anointed. It was given by man. Jesus has been the embodiment of the “incarnational” principle which demands one to identify oneself with the people of the place. He did not impose himself on a Jewish nation as some one other worldly descended from heaven. He inserted himself into the Jewish community as the lowliest one among them to serve self-effacingly. To project his

identity as something different or heavenly, was totally alien to his thinking. He emptied himself of his heavenly status and grew up as a Carpenter of Nazareth.

If Jesus were born in India, he would have been a Hindu, part of the majority community here to transform it from within like the leaven in the dough. That is the incarnational principle, to get you inside the mass of the majority community and transform it to become humanely human, embracing all together to become “Vasudaiva Kudumbakam”. Jesus was totally against projecting his identity as something different, as proposed by the Syromalabar Synod of Bishops. In recommending to sport Christian names, to stand out in society as someone unique, different and Christian, they are counter witnessing Jesus, in my humble opinion.

Origin of “Christian”

Followers of Jesus came to be Called Christians only in Antioch, nearly 100 years after the death of Jesus. St.Thomas who landed in India in AD 52 was not a Christian (that name was non existent then) but a Jew and he called his followers “Margam koodiyavar” (those who followed the way of Jesus). The one who literally followed Jesus in this respect was Narayana Guru, who spoke of one God, one religion, one caste, that is, human caste. Humane humanity was what Jesus preached with his life and mission. That is what we have to promote as his followers. It should not be our mission to create or invent or form new communities to proclaim we are different from others.

Therefore, I would say, shun sporting any of the existing Christian names – it will also protect you from being persecuted, as I explained in another article — and go for something beautiful, inspiring, bridge-building and compelling you to live up to the meaning of the name you sport, in order to be Jesus-like. Jesus means saviour; be a saviour to the community and country you are borne into by being one with it, not different from or in conflict with it, by projecting a different identity.

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Published 8/9/15/, in CCV,, Malayalam Daily news, New York

Zacharias Nedunkanal

Indians using Inidan and Sanskrit names is just commonsense. It is in any case far better than adopting a name from another culture. The Church (at least in Kerala) insists that a child should be given the name of a Christian saint at baptism, on the pretext that they would have a heavenly patron to look up to. Any sensible person can ask, who did these saints had as patrons when they themselves were given a name. Borrowing a name from other culture makes it devoid of any sense as its etymological meaning is often unknown or at least unfamiliar to us. On the other hand, Indian and Sanskrit names contain a meaning that is known to us and give us a sense of value. Trying to give some vague strength to church tradition by means of repeating names used in the past is a futile exercise. What is more important than that is that one likes the name one bears. All other considerations are secondary and shouldn’t be forced upon. My friend Jijo Kurian commented in FB: “Now another Synod will have to give the list of Christian names. Most of the so-called Christian names are pagan in origin (eg: Alexander). Does Christian name mean Western name? Interestingly, my favorite Christian saint has a funny name Francis (His father called him “Francis” because he said “A boy was born to me when I was in France. Therefore he shall be called Francis).”

Wanting to give my sons the names we as parents chose for them were not allowed by the then parish priest because they belonged to no saints, and we therefore refused to baptize them here. We had absolutely no problem with those names In the country where we worked at that time. That’s the kind of narrow-mindedness the priests here entertain! Now the bishops have confirmed that they cling on to this nonsense.

Posted in Church in India | 4 Comments

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