Attending SSPX Mass in Bandra, Malad and Vasai is now valid


15_09_01_SSPX_livesHuge news. This was under embargo till noon, Rome time, which must be honored. [UPDATE: The Bollettino is now available HERE]

The Year of Mercy begins 8 December 2015 until 20 November 2016.

It is about to be announced that the Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization about the upcoming Extraordinary Year of Mercy.

In this letter the Pope says that he is granting to all priests the faculty to absolve from the sin of abortion.  He writes: “I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”  Interesting way to word it.

He also says that the faithful may go to … well… read it yourself.  Here is a screenshot from the doc:


This is HUGE news.

Let’s examine this.

First, note the language.  This letter says that he hopes that the SSPX will be reconciled.  He says that he hears good things about the priests of the SSPX.  But he says that the faithful may approach the priests of the SSPX for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance) and that they shall validly and licitly receive absolution.  He doesn’t say that he is granting the priests the faculty to receive sacramental confessions.  He places the emphasis on the faithful.  In effect, the priests are being given the faculty to hear confessions, but there is a different emphasis.  I have the sense that it is the need of the faithful who otherwise might not go to a non-SSPX priest that the Holy Father is stressing.  Think about the case of a person who is dying and there is, say, an ex-priest -a guy who was “laicized” because he committed certain crimes, present, the Church’s laws says that in the circumstances of the person’s danger of death any validly ordained priest automatically has the faculty validly to absolve.  The need of the dying person is of such overwhelming importance that the law itself grants the ex-priest (or suspended priest, etc.) the faculty.  The stress is on the need of the dying person, not on the priest.  I think this is an analogous situation.

Along with this, the fact of Pope Francis’ move, together with the wording, confirms what I have been saying all along about the priests of the SSPX: they do not and have not had the faculty validly to absolve sins!  The fact that this is being granted for the Year of Mercy bears out what I have been saying.

That said, if the Holy Father is willing to go this far with the priests of the SSPX, is it hard to imagine that this merciful concession might not be extended beyond the Year of Mercy?  I would like to think so!

Next, this concession also underscores a point I have been making all along.  If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Pope Francis is the Pope who will reconcile the SSPX!

Additionally, this could irritate some bishops in, say, France… Germany….  And even though this may not be well received in certain circles, the Pope is doing it anyway.

Moreover, earlier in his pontificate, this Pope was pretty hard on priests.  He seemed to be bashing them on a daily basis.   This move to grant all priests in the world the faculty to lift the censure which results from procuring an abortion is a sign of his confidence in priests… for a change.

I take heart from this bold move – which makes so much sense (to me at least) – in favor of the access the faithful will have to sacrament of penance.  I hope that it will also spark a wider discussion on the positive things that will come from the reconciliation of the SSPX.  I hope that discussion takes place even among the SSPXers themselves.

May all the followers of the SSPX , please God, look at this move with joy and with gratitude for the concern the Pope is showing to them.

And… to everyone… GO TO CONFESSION!

But… remember, the Year of Mercy hasn’t started yet and the SSPX does not yet have their faculty.  GO TO CONFESSION with priest with faculties!


The Fishwrap has posted on this now. They get it wrong, of course. They openly call the SSPXers “schismatic”.


The SSPX has issued a statement.  HERE  It may contain a touch of snark (in the comment about learning about it through the press), and it reveals a consistent (wrong) position, but at least it was polite.

The Society of St. Pius X learned, through the press, [snark?] of the provisions taken by Pope Francis on the occasion of the upcoming Holy Year. In the last paragraph of his letter addressed September 1, 2015, to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Holy Father writes:

«I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Society of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.»

The Society of St. Pius X expresses its gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this fatherly gesture. In the ministry of the sacrament of penance, we have always relied, with all certainty,

on the extrdaordinary [sic] jurisdiction conferred by the Normae generales of the Code of Canon Law. [which Code?] On the occasion of this Holy Year, Pope Francis wants all the faithful who wish to confess to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X to be able to do so without being worried. [and without leaving unabsolved]

During this year of conversion, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X will have at heart to exercise with renewed generosity their ministry in the confessional, following the example of tireless dedication which the holy Curé of Ars gave to all priests.

September 1, 2015

UPDATE: I thought I heard a touch of snark in that remark about having heard about this through the press (rather than from Francis himself or one of his minions ahead of time).  I dunno.  Maybe my antennae are overly extended in that line.

UPDATE: 2 Sept 0024 UTC:

A priest reminded me in an email that John Paul II gave priests the same faculty regarding abortion in 1983.

Posted in Church Worldwide news | Leave a comment

Bergoglio: Be careful of who you admit to the seminary

Rss Feed Twitter Facebook


Some young men are too rigid or fundamentalist and join the priesthood because of mental deficiencies. The Pope recalled the importance of the family and the personalisation of human formation. He told bishops: “Be present in your dioceses of resign”

iacopo scaramuzzi taken from Vatican Insider
vatican city

“Be careful of who you admit to the seminary,” because there could be people with mental deficiencies among the candidates to the priesthood. Pope Francis said this in an audience with participants of a Conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy marking the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Vatican II decrees “Presbyterorum ordinis” (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests) and “Optatam Totius” (Decree on Priestly Training) (Pontifical Urbaniana University, 19-20).


Speaking off the cuff, Francis told a story about when he taught the novices of the Society of Jesus. A “good” boy didn’t pass the psychiatrist’s test and she said to Bergoglio: “These boys are fine until they have settled, until they feel completely secure. Then the problems start. Father, have you ever asked yourself why there are policemen who are torturers,” the doctor apparently asked Francis. The Pope told clergy that they must think twice when a young man “is too confident, rigid and fundamentalist”. Hence, his invitation to them to beware when admitting candidates to the seminary: “There are mentally ill boys who seek strong structures that can protect them”, such as “the police, the army and the clergy”.


In his speech, the Pope remembered the reform Benedict XVI wanted to introduce. He put the Congregation for the Clergy, now headed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, in charge of the seminaries so the dicastery “can start dealing with the life and ministry of the presbyteries  from the moment candidates enter the seminary, working to ensure vocations are promoted and nurtured and can lead to priests living saintly lives. A priest’s path towards sainthood being in he seminary!”


A priest, the Pope said, “is a man who is born in a particular human context” and there, staring from the family, “he learns his first values, absorbs the people’s spirituality, he gets used to relations. Even priests have a life story “and are not ‘mushrooms’ which sprout up suddenly at the Cathedral on their day of ordination,” said the Holy Father. “It is important for formators and the priests themselves to remember this, and know how to take this personal history into account along the formation path.”


“A good priest is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his own history – with its treasures and wounds – and has learned to make peace with it, gaining a profound serenity, characteristic of a disciple of the Lord,” he said. “Human formation is therefore needed for priests, so they may learn not to be dominated by their limits, but rather to put their talents to use.” The Pope said a priest is “a man of peace” who surrounds himself with serenity, even during hardships. “It is not normal for a priest to be often sad, nervous, or of a hard character; it is not good, and does no good, neither for the priest nor for his people,” he said.


Knowing and remembering that priests exist for the people, helps the them not to be self-centered but authoritative, not authoritarian, firm but not harsh, joyous but not superficial. Basically, pastors, not officials. The priestly mission is for the people of God and the whole of humanity. A priest, Francis said, “is always surrounded by other people”, he is not a pastoral care professional or an evangelisation professional who come and does what he has to do – he may even do a good job but it is still like a job – and then goes away and lives a separate life. One becomes a priest in order to be among the people. The amount of good priests can do depends above all on their closeness and tender love for people. They are not philanthropists or officials, but fathers and brothers. Closeness, a deep sense of mercy and a loving gaze: this is what we need in order to evangelise, to pass on the beauty of a life lived according to the Gospel and the love of God which becomes concrete also through his ministers.”


Francis reminded bishops that the decree on residence is still in force: “If you don’t feel like staying in your diocese you should resign,” Francis says referring to bishops who travel too much and are not close enough o their flock. “How often do we hear priests complaining.” Addressing the bishops he said: “If someone calls you and you can’t answer at that moment, at least pick up the phone and call them.”

Posted in Church Worldwide news | Leave a comment

Francis: “The Church must not worship ‘holy bribes’”

Rss Feed Twitter Facebook Print
Francis: “The Church must not worship ‘holy bribes’”


At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House, priests, bishops and cardinals “must not be obsessed by money or power” and must steer clear of “corruption”. May the “Word of God” be their strength and joy

domenico agasso jr taken from Vatican Insider
vatican city

Power and money are temptations that go against the Word of Christ, so priests, bishops and cardinals must be careful not to by them. There is one “saint” they must not worship because it represents “holy bribe”, an evil and a form of “degradation”. Pope Francis sent out a fresh appeal against corruption and worldliness at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House, Vatican Radio reports.


Today the Pope reflected on the reading from the Book of Maccabees, which tells of the people’s joy following the reconsecration of the Holy Temple, which had been destroyed by pagans and those obsessed by worldliness. The people of God celebrated, they rejoiced because they had rekindled “their true identity”.


The Pope explained that “those who indulge in worldliness do not know how to celebrate – they can’t celebrate! At most, the worldly spirit can provide amusement, it can provoke excitement, but true joy can only come from faith in the Covenant”. In the Gospel, Jesus drives merchants away from the Temple saying ‘It is written: my house shall be called the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves’. Pope Francis noted that at the time of the Maccabees, worldly desire ‘displaced the Living God’.”


But now, it is happening “in another way altogether”. “The Gospel says the chief priests and scribes had changed things. They had dishonoured and compromised the Temple. They had dishonoured the Temple! The Temple was a symbol of the Church. The Church will always – always! – be subject to the temptation of worldliness and power. Jesus did not say ‘No, do not do this inside. Go outside instead.’ He said ‘You have made it a den of thieves!’ And when the Church enters into such a state of decline, the end is bad. Very bad indeed.”


This is the risk Pope Francis often cautions against: corruption. “There is always a danger of corruption within the Church. This happens when the Church, instead of being devoted to faith in Our Lord, in the Prince of Peace, in joy, in salvation, becomes dominated by money and power. This is exactly what happens here, in this Gospel reading. These priests, chief priests and scribes were driven by money, power and they ignored the Holy Spirit. And in order to be able to justify their actions, they poisoned the free spirit of the Lord with hypocrisy. In Matthew 23, Jesus speaks of their hypocrisy. These were people who had lost their sense of Godliness, and even the ability to rejoice, to praise God. They did not know how to worship the Lord because they were too distracted by money and power, and by a form of worldliness”.


Francis recalled that the Scribes and the Pharisees got angry with the Son of God and underlined the reason: “Jesus did not chase the priests and scribes away from the Temple; he chased away those who were doing business there, the businessmen of the Temple. The chief priests and scribes were involved in their dealings: this is ‘holy bribery’! The Gospel is very clear. It says: ‘The chief priests and scribes wanted to kill Jesus, along with the elders of the people’. The same thing happened under the rule of Judas Maccabeus.  Why? Because ‘they did not know what they were doing, since everyone hung on his every word’. Jesus’ strength is to be found in his words, in his love.”


The Pope concluded by saying: “We ought to pray for the Church. We must hold in our hearts today’s martyrs, who suffer and die, so as not to be ensnared by worldly desires, by obsession, by apostasy. Today! Today, there are more martyrs of the Church than there ever were before. Let’s think about that. It does us good to think about them. And also to pray that we may never fall into the trap of worldliness, where we will be obsessed only by money and power”.

Posted in Church Worldwide news | Leave a comment

Italian Church to help families pay off utility bills during Year of Mercy

Vatican prelates read excerpts from a papal bull in which Pope Francis proclaimed an extraordinary jubilee Year of Mercy (Photo: AP)

Bishops’ conference initiative will assist people who face having their utilities cut off

The Italian Church plans to help struggling families pay overdue utility bills for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Bishops have launched an initiative to help people who face having their utilities being cut off because they cannot afford to pay their bills as part of the Jubilee tradition of forgiving debts.

“We are starting a project for the Jubilee that sees mercy as debt relief,” said Fr Paolo Gentili, director of the Italian bishops’ conference’s office for the pastoral care of the family.

Fr Gentili launched the initiative on the Italian channel TV2000, explaining that his office was concerned about the growing number of Italian families who find it hard to make ends meet due to the economic crisis over the last few years.

He said daily expenses were a struggle, with families making every effort to pay the necessary bills to live but still facing problems.

“The last bill becomes excruciating, a tear that turns into a river,” Fr Gentili said.

He added that he was trying to get in touch with various companies that handle everyday utilities.

Fr Gentili said the Church has “always given, but is now called to give something even more concrete, to forgive debts, to give oxygen to the families”.

He added that the initiative will start off with Rome, because of the Jubilee, but the conference will look at other large cities to see if the same scheme can be introduced elsewhere.

The Year of Mercy runs from December 8 to November 20, 2016

Posted in Church Worldwide news | Leave a comment

Pope condemns priests and bishops who ‘defamed’ Oscar Romero by Jo-Anne Rowney

Oscar Romero was beatified in May (AP)

Taken from Catholic herald uk

Pope Francis made the remarks to a group of Salvadoran pilgrims

Pope Francis has strongly denounced the Catholic priests and bishops who “defamed” Archbishop Oscar Romero even after his murder in a campaign that delayed his beatification.

The Pope spoke off-the-cuff on Friday to a group of Salvadoran pilgrims who had travelled to Rome to thank Pope Francis for beatifying Salvadoran Oscar Romero, who is seen as a hero to the continent’s poor and oppressed.

Pope Francis said that Romero suffered martyrdom not just by his murder on March 24, 1980, but afterwards.

The Pope said: “I was a young priest then and I was a witness to this: he was defamed, calumnied and had dirt thrown on his name — his martyrdom continued even by his brothers in the priesthood and episcopate.”

He said Romero was “stoned with the hardest stone that exists in the world: the tongue.”

Romero was gunned down by right-wing death squads as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador. He had spoken out against repression by the army at the beginning of El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war between the right-wing government and leftist rebels, a conflict that killed nearly 75,000 people.

Romero’s sainthood case was held up by the Vatican, apparently due to opposition from some Latin American churchmen who feared his association with liberation theology would embolden the movement.

After a 35-year delay, Romero was beatified in May earlier this year.

Pope Francis, speaking to the pilgrims, said he hoped God would continue what Romero had hoped would come to El Salvador: “the happy moment when El Salvador’s terrible tragedy of suffering of so many of our brothers thanks to hatred, violence and injustice, disappears.”

In a message sent for the beatification, Pope Francis said Archbishop Romero “built the peace with the power of love, [and] gave testimony of the faith with his life”.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, who celebrated the beatification Mass, said that while those who persecuted him had died or are in obscurity, “the memory of Romero continues to live in the poor and the marginalised”.

His homilies often pleaded for better conditions for the poor, for a stop to the escalating violence in the country and for brotherhood among those whose divisions ultimately led to a 12-year conflict.

Posted in Church Worldwide news | Leave a comment

Thunder and lightning in Synod? Shocking Flashes from World Press james kottoor

Thunder and lightning in Synod?

Shocking Flashes from World Press

  1. james kottoor

                     If we are to believe reports appearing in the world press – both secular and religious (there is no uncensored Catholic press in India) — the three week Rome synod to find solutions to challenges facing families, was possibly the most stormy session in the recent history of Catholic church with any number of vested interested factions bent on pushing   their partisan agendas.


                     Some of them already preplanned their agenda and came to the synod well prepared. Proof is the letter of 13 bishops furtively given to Francis, ignoring all transparency rules, already on Oct.5th the second day of the Synod. That means the arch conservatives were busy preparing the draft of their letter when Francis was trudging the streets of New York, Washington and Philadelphia kissing kids, hugging the sick and infirm. It also highlights the fact that Pope Francis who endeared himself to those on he pews and streets had already alienated those on the thrones.

                     To the ordinary folks his enticing humility and simplicity was something unseen among the clerical class. For bishops well cushioned on their thrones, they were and are not ready still to give up their perks of power. As a result those who were singing his paeans and praises were not his episcopal fraternity but ordinary people, especially the poor, the abandoned, the marginalized and those on the periphery.

New York Times

                     Now listen to what some of the independent writers have written in world press. The New York Times’ Laurie Goodstein and Elisabette Povoledo describe the drama and intrigue in the synod this way:


                     “The meeting (synod) has exposed deep fault lines between traditionalists focused on shoring up doctrine, and those who want the church to be more open to Catholics who are divorced, gay, single parents or cohabiting….it is increasingly clear that Francis is struggling to build consensus for his vision of a more inclusive and decentralized church. The question is whether the pope, who has won the hearts of those in the pews, can persuade the bishops to help create a church that fully welcomes people with the kinds of family situations it now condemns…”

Washington Post

                       The Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola writes that the synod “has erupted into a theological slugfest over Pope Francis’s vision of a more-inclusive church, and it has displayed the most bitter and public infighting since the head days of Catholic reform in the 1960s.”


                       “Archbishop Tomash Peta of Kazakhstan captured the magnitude of the divide, raising eyebrows — and a few incredulous laughs — as he decried some of the policy changes floated at the meeting as having the scent of “infernal smoke.”

                       “It was just another day at a gathering that, more than any event since Francis began his papacy in 2013, has highlighted how the pontiff’s outreach to once-scorned Catholics has triggered a tug of war for the soul of the Catholic Church. More important, it underscored just how hard it may be for the pope to recast the church in his image.


                         “The chances of fast changes on contentious family issues — whether to offer Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics or to craft more welcoming language for gays and lesbians have substantially dimmed, if not died….The divide is not just a liberal-conservative split; it is also geographic, with prelates in Africa, for instance, denouncing the “Eurocentric” and “Western” fixation with issues such as gay rights. Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah linked the push for gay rights to abortion and Islamic extremism, comparing them all to what “Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century.”

America Magazine

             Thomas Reese, former editor of the Jesuit “America”magazine, drew an analogy between Pope Francis and US President Barack Obama: “Francis has the same problem that Obama had,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter. “He promised the world, but Congress wouldn’t let him deliver. If nothing much comes of this synod, I think people will give the pope a pass and blame the bishops for stopping change.”


                        The NCR editorial of Oct.30th says: the Synod “bared one long and widely known truth that church leaders have desperately tried to hide from those outside the hierarchical culture: The men who inhabit the highest levels of church governance often disagree deeply over important matters…. It is essential to note here that the sense of “together” is yet missing a significant component. Women, more than half the church and certainly its most active participants in most places, had no voice or vote in any of the discussion. Married people were little more than minimal adornments to the proceedings.”


           So it looks Francis wants his Church to change fast but his parliament of bishops is posing itself as the biggest road block, of course not all bishops. He had started the 2014 synod on a very happy note with Walter Gaspers’ speech telling everyone “the name of our God is MERCY. He is never tired of forgiving, it is we who are tired of asking forgiveness.” Similar is the stand of Francis who repeats times and again, that Jesus came for sinners, not the just, that communion is also a remedy for the sick and dying, that his church is mostly made up people who should be described as “Holy, Catholic, Apostolic but ‘Holy sinners’(Sancti peccatores’)

God weeps, Church Condems?

                     “God weeps for me when I move away from him: God weeps for each one of us: God weeps for the evil people who do so many bad things, cause so much harm to mankind… He is waiting, he is not condemning us and he is weeping.  Why?  Because he loves us!” says POPE FRANCIS Then why should his Church uses language of condemnation against divorced, civilly married and gay people?


           If nothing works Francis may have to sack many of his cabinet members and ministers in various countries and pick up men approved from among ordinary folks. After all is it not precisely what he said in his famous speech, Oct.17, on Synod=Church, that people are to be above bishops and cardinals and to be a Minister, one has to be one step below the laity in an Inverted Pyramid Church to do the foot-washing ministry like Jesus, to serve and notg to rule?

                                  Contact at:



Posted in General Articles | Leave a comment

Reflection on Pope’s Synodal Speech Church: Synod, Pyramidal or People of God? Dr. James Kottoorr



Reflection on Pope’s Synodal Speech

Church: Synod, Pyramidal or People of God?

                 “Development is the new name for Peace” Pope Paul VI said during his time. He started the now popular institution called “Synod” on Sept.15/ 1965, fifty years ago. Now Francis says in effect: “Synod is the new name for the Church”. In his speech on Oct.17th he gave a clear exposition that Church is not a pyramid of concentrated circles of authority stacked one over another until it reaches the supreme authority Pope seated at the pinnacle as the infallible monarch. Instead, it is diametrically the opposite, an Inverted Pyramid, with Peter doing the foot-washing ministry like Jesus. The heart of the Church, the driving motor of this institution is the throbbing in every heart to vie with one another in doing foot-washing ministry to the last and least in need of most help In the house hold(church).

  1. james kottoor

           What is   the Church? In the cacophony of words and phrases used loosely and indefinitely to refer to the Church, are not the following some examples: People of God? Hierarchical Church? Synodal Church? Domestic Church? Teaching Church? Learning Church? Militant Church? Triumphant church? Here we take a cursory look at two only the Synodal Church much talked about these days and the Hierarchical Church.


           For ordinary people only two kinds of churches ever existed: The ruling church of dictatorial command and control and the ruled church of unquestioned blind beliefs known as “pray, pay and obey” variety. The ruling group included the whole clerical class starting from the latest person ordained   priest to Pope at the top of the hierarchical ladder. However they did not exceed more than some 5 percent of the members of the Church. The ruled class, commonly known as laity, believers, faithful and lately “Church Citizens” formed the bulk or 95 per cent of the Church. In between there is also the group called the religious, a little below clerics and a little above the laity (Something like Purgatory between heaven and hell. No offense intended and no love lost to any one please! Only certain examples drive home the idea very fast.)

Synod, 50 Year Old Dynamite

           But the one word that has suddenly shot into limelight, eclipsing all other terms referring to the church is: “Synod”. Is it something like Purgatory? For the untutored, YES, for the enlightened, NO. For the last two years, 2014 and 2015, it has been the byword, the central topic of discussion throughout the whole church, from Pope to thinking sections of Church Citizens. Now Pope Francis has brought it up to the pinnacle of discussion on Oct.17th with his detailed explanation on its various aspects.


His talk suddenly reveals that it (Synod) has been an unseen, unheard of dynamite, an unsuspected, unexploded bomb laying low among the Church’s rubbish heap. Actually no one even thought of it in depth even after Pope Paul VI thoughtfully constituted it 50 years ago on Sept.15/ 1965, as an instrument to carry forward or implement many of the reforms initiated by Vatican II.


What did Francis say about Synod in a nutshell? He said something very simple, logical and reasonable, but it exploded like the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. What it actually did was a constructive destruction of all wrong notions which got associated with that spotless shining pearl church (“I will build my church”) that came out of the mouth of Jesus. Gold is purified to regain its original shine by destroying by the heat of the fire all the dirt and dross that get stuck on it during the course of time. So burning in fire becomes, not hell but constructive destruction. That is what Pope Francis did with the fire stored in Synod, the dynamite

Hierarchical Pyramid vs Foot-washing

Years ago when I reflected on the ever growing manmade rituals destroying the mission and message of Jesus, what struck me were two things: the pyramidal hierarchical church structures standing sky high like the tower of babel even now after 2000 years and its actual beginning when Jesus went down on his knees to wash the feet of his disciples at the private dinner party (last supper) he threw for his very close earthly followers, at the end of his three year public mission on earth. For me that was his church, his little flock, a bunch of people who would vie with one another to continue his foot washing ministry on this vale of tears.


The foot washing was a drama that reached its high pitch at the dialogue of Jesus with Peter which almost turned into a verbal dual – or a war of words, Peter objecting, “you don’t wash my feet, I don’t understand etc — between the Master and Peter the servants’ (disciples) leader. Peter admits defeat in the dual, but only reluctantly at the words of Jesus to Peter: “You will understand it later”, that is, the full meaning of his foot-washing. Has Peter and his successors learned it even now after 2000 years of struggle to protect, promote and embellish the pyramidal hierarchical power structure and power struggle in the Church? Kneeling at Peter’s feet Jesus was perhaps foreseeing developments in our own times that would turn his church into an unending pyramidal structure and so he was turning it upside down and making it stand on its pin-point pinnacle buried in the ground, to bring it back to its senses.

                                       Church = Synod = Inverted Pyramid

This scribe wrote it some 30 years ago without knowing that a Pope in the person of Francis would ever come to say it more graphically. Listen to what he said on Oct.17th: “Church and synod are synonymous… within the Church, no one can be raised up higher than the others. On the contrary, in the Church, it is necessary that each person be “lowered “ in order to serve his or her brothers and sisters along the way…. In this church, as in an inverted pyramid, the summit is located below the base. For those who exercise this authority are called “ministers” because, according to the original meaning of the word, they are the least of all. It is in serving the people of God that each Bishop becomes for that portion of the flock entrusted to him, vicarious Christi, (vicar of that Jesus who at the Last Supper stooped to wash the feet of the Apostles (cfr. Jn 13: 1-15 ). And in a similar manner, the Successor of Peter is none other than the servus servorum Dei (Servant of the servants of God)…. The heart of the mystery of the Church” is for the hierarchical church to find it in Mt 20:25-27: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave”

Heart of the Church

This equality of all, nay this foot-washing attitude which wants to go one step below one’s equal is the very heart of the Church of Jesus in contrast to the church of Constantine. This is to be practised not only at the global level with the Pope, but equally at national level in each country’s episcopal conferences and at local level in each diocesan synods and councils of priests, religious and families of   parishes in each diocese. Where this is not implemented there is no Church of Jesus. Now think of the Conference of Bishops of India(CBCI),the Syromalabar Church and Syromalankara Church. We hear of CBCI biennial meetings, but hardly about the other Rite-specific secret gatherings. Is there any representative participation of families in the deliberations of these august bodies? If not should they be called Churches? Here again listen to the relevant passage in Francis’s speech:

“The Pope is not, by himself, above the Church; but inside it as one baptized among the baptized, and within the College of Bishops as Bishop among Bishops; as one called at the same time as Successor of Peter – to lead the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches.” Francis does all these because he says: ”I feel the need to proceed in a healthy decentralization.” Do all office bearers at the diocesan, national, continental and   global level feel this need? Are they convinced of the urgency of implementing this decentralization at their levels? This “necessity and beauty of walking together?” A Church that walks together, listens and learns from each other is a must, because, says Pope: “what concerns all needs to be debated by all.” When that happens the Church can never wrong in matters of faith and morals (infallible?).

Survey was to Listen & Learn

It was to listen and learn from the least in the community(church) that Francis started his two year mammoth study of families by consulting them through questionnaires placed in their hands twice. Listen: “It was this conviction that guided me when I desired that God’s people would be consulted in the preparation of the two-phased synod on the family…how would we ever be able to speak about the family without engaging families, listening to their joys and their hopes, their sorrows and their anguish? Through the answers to the two questionnaires sent to the particular Churches, we had the opportunity to at least hear some of the people on those issues that closely affect them and about which they have much to say.”


But here comes the soul searching question to the universal Church and churches in India. What about their failure or refusal not to conduct any survey or proper surveys last year and this year? If remedies proposed by this Rome Synod fail to heal wounded families in India or other countries, the hierarchical churches which refused to conduct proper surveys themselves are to blame. They refused to brief the field doctors details about their families in various stages of ailment. Those countries which did the data collection in time and sent it to Rome are surely going to benefit.

Fly in the Ointment

There is much more to be said about the Papal speech on Synod on Oct.17th. It was a heart-warming speech to the vast majority of Church citizens, at the same time also a stinging rebuke to the defenders of the pyramid structured hierarchical churches which know nothing about dialogue with the lowly placed but only hand down diktats. In spite of all my admiration for Francis and his speech, I am forced to point out a fly in the ointment. That is the first sentence or appellation in his speech:


                   “Your Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellences, Brothers and Sisters.” How could Francis fail to address his audience as just “dear brothers and sisters”? By addressing the way he did, was he not just rubbishing or cancelling out what his right hand did with his left hand? Or was he actually seeing his audience before him far superior to him as “Beatitudes and Eminences” while seeing himself as a “sinner” not “his Holiness”? Is it not what he said when the Jesuit magazine interviewed him one year ago? In any case we have his instruction, not to hesitate to cultivate the culture of asking hard questions even to the Pope. He had publicly exhorted his participants to do it during the 2014 Rome synod. So let questions fly thick and fast, back and forth, both in the Synod and outside. Where there is honesty of purpose, they are sure to bring right answers at the right time!   (For full text of the Pope’s speech on Synod, see: “Turn Hierarchy into Inverted Pyramid”, Oct.21/15 in Church Citizen’s Voiced (CCV),

                                                 Contact at:


Published 21/10/15/ in Church citizen’s voice,, India, Daily News, New York,

Posted in General Articles | 2 Comments

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 180 other followers