Who Destroys Indian Christian Families? Dr.James Kottor

Peddlers of Pure Blood: Deadly Virus

The sprawling field hospital called the Catholic Church, as described by Pope Francis, its Chief Physician, the mortally wounded in the family ward in India are victims hit by the shrapnel called Endogamy which cuts in to scatter what God has united. Why do doctors resist treating these victims, nay even refuse to take note of them in this year of the Family?

dr.james kottoor

What is that deadly virus, the terminator first and foremost, that destroys Catholic families in India? All know it, all see it, the affected laity alone cry for help, but none in the hierarchy dares to open its mouth to name it in public due to the shame and revulsion attached to it in this day and age. It is Endogamy, promoted in the Kottayam diocese by the triumvir in the Syro-Malabar Church (SMC) by their written approval and blessing. Proof? Please read in subdued voice, lest others hear and get scandalized, the instruction below in Mar Jacob Angadiath’s letter head:

Bishop. Angadiath’s Signed letter of Sept.19/14

Prot.No.1799/2014

Dear & Rev. Fathers & Knanaya Community Members,

Glory to God in the highest. Amen

I am glad to inform you that the membership in the personal parish/mission for Knanaya Catholics is settled through the discussion of the issue in the Synod of Syro Malabar Bishops and final agreement reached by His Beatitude Mar George Cardinal Alencharry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church, His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakatt, the Archbishop of Kottayam and Mar Jacob Angadiath, the Bishop of St.Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago.

A personal parish/mission for Knanaya Catholics will have only Knanaya Catholics as members. If a Knanaya Catholic belonging to a Knanaya parish/mission enters into marriage with a non-Knanaya partner, that non-Knanaya partner and children from that marriage will not become members of the Knanaya parish/mission but will remain members of the local non-Knanaya Syro Malabar parish/mission.

Please pray for our new Auxiliary Bishop-elect Mar Joy Alappat and for the blessing of his Episcopal ordination on September 27, 2014. Let us support and pray for our St. Thomas Syro Malabar Diocese of Chicago.

May the Lord bless you.

Your loving Pithavu

Singed

Mar Jacob Angadiath,

Bishop

Fence Eating the Crop?

I leave you to judge the beatific and graceful content of the letter. If this is not equivalent to fence eating the crop what else is it? Wolves in sheep’s cloth devouring or scattering the flock? Who will guard the guards themselves (Qui custodiet ipsos custodes)? Aren’t the

SMC bishops doing just the opposite of what Jesus bluntly and forcefully commanded: “What God has united, let no man separate?”

But according to SMC’s understanding, non-Knananites married to Knananites can unite freely in their bed rooms to make love and multiply but neither they nor their children have any right to be together in parish activities and worship. Is this the marriage bond Jesus envisioned to promote? Is this what Pope Francis is trying to cultivate among Catholics with his two-year synod study on Christian families?

During the last one year of world-wide survey to identify unchristian hurdles that beak up Catholic families, no bishop in India raised this painfully pestering sinister Indian problem for public discussion and resolution, although they cited some very minor peripheral issues like inter-religious marriages, national birth control norms that do not gel with Christian ethics, dowry etc. But many right thinking lay people in Kottayam diocese itself highlighted this central sore issue, conducted seminars, sent several memorandums to bishops, even to Pope and made protest demonstrations against what is considered a callous, calculated silence to cover up the issue by SM Bishops and those belonging to Latin and Syro Malankara Churches for their connivance, complicity and silent approval of the deadly practice.

Lay Voice Ignored

In fact right thinking sections among the Knananites in Kottayam diocese started highlighting the issue in an organized manner already in 2013 when they conducted a Seminar in the Syro Malabar Cathedral Hall in Chicago on August 3rd 2013. Reports of it were published in Kerala Express, Chicago, Indian Currents, Delhi, Almayasabdam, Kerala and in many other Christian and secular outlets. Visit: http://sites.google.com/site/jameskottoorspeaking/ to read the Keynote address: Endogamy and Knananites.

It brought no response either from SMC or from the CBCI bishops. Then they sent memorandums and made a protest demonstration while the week long 31st CBCI meeting was held in Palai in February 2014 and sent another Memorandum to the Bishops. The SM bishops were contacted again when they held their synod in Kakkanad in August 16-30, 2014, and drafted the letter cited above, all to no avail. The latest is the letter: From: Knananaya Catholic Navikarana Society (KCNS), sent: To: The Secretary of Synod to be held on Oct.15th 20015, also in the above website. The bishops ignore even this to save their face (not their souls) in public.

All this lends weight to the saying:”There is something rotten in the State of Denmark.” It’s stink is suffocating, not only in the SM Church but in the whole church in India divided on three-fold Rite-lines (but wrong) and pulling in different directions. All know it and say, it is the worst curse of the Church in India. It prevents it from acting as one united body, as one family. Also it prevents any of the three Rites, all called Catholic, to utter anything uncomplimentary in public against their “brotherly” Rites, just to appear in public, they are all united in thought, word and deed. They are not. A house divided against itself cannot stand except for the pursuit of power, position and pelf, as do ever so many conflicting political parties. They support each other for survival and stop short of destroying each other by making comments causing displeasure or disapproval to fellow competitors in the musical chair for Episcopal thrones by any means.

The question is, whether this rotten, stinking issue in the Indian Church will again be swept under the carpet even during this second year focused on family, to prevent it from hogging the lime light and cause utter shame and ridicule for themselves before a civilized world. Like the ostrich burying its head in the sand how long can they go on pretending they haven’t seen it, while it is clear like day light to people at home and abroad? “Hypocrisy” what else is your name for pretending not to see and admit a self-evident wrong and refusing to say “Mea Culpa”, sorry, and take corrective steps?

Coming Concluding Synod

The concluding second session of the two year mammoth study launched by Pope Francis on the Family of man is due to begin in Rome, coming October, in another five months.The extraordinary Synod which concluded last October stood out for its

transparency and open discussion without mincing words — vertical targeting even papal statements and horizontal between bishops on all accepted and controversial issues affecting family life starting from the ideal union of love in the service of life, to broken families, divorced and remarried, one-parent families, cohabitation and lesbian unions.

The standing instruction from that Synod was that Bishops all over the world should duplicate similar discussions and dialogues in their respective dioceses with their priests, religious and faithful at specially convened forums to search and find out problems peculiar to their region, culture and local customs to promote what is good and weed out what is harmful to family well being.

Has anything happened in this area in India in the last six months? None to my knowledge. So is it going to be a repeat like last year of not doing anything to study ground realities? Already in 2013 Pope had sent the first set of 39 questions to be distributed and answered by the faithful for study at the Extraordinary Synod in October 2014, but not done in India. To remedy that shameful failure on the part of the hierarchy, some lay initiative led by Sri Chottebhai did their best to conduct an ad hoc survey and consultation last year in Pune with the support of Catholic Church Reform International (CCRInt’l). Due to their limitations, survey was limited to one diocese and the much publicized meet reportedly was attended by some 30 people only.

CCRI’s Valuable Report

What remains to be done is to get the whole church, both pastors and faithful around the world to discuss and study the Lineamenta (the final basic preparatory draft) sent from Rome for study, and to be reported back to the Synod with suggestions. This in turn will be taken up at the coming Ordinary Synod for final discussion, modification and approval. We do not know at what stage it is in India. The latest news is, that at least the CCRI has been doing a non-stop in depth study of this Lineamenta, in the light of the data it collected from a global network of 100+ reform groups in some 60 countries

The result is a thought provoking 30 page suggestions and recommendations titled: “Response of Catholic Church Reform International to Questions Aimed at a Response to and an In-Depth Examination of the Relatio Synodi” for the Synod Fathers. It is wroth reading and meditating by all, especially by the Hierarchical Church in India which has done pretty little in this regard, as it happened last year. This CCRI response is already dispatched to Rome and is available for study at: http://www.CatholicChurchReformIntl.org.

Commenting on it writes one: “This is a very, very good document. The people who put it together need our heartiest congratulations and support. I hold my hands up in frustration though wondering how many people will even wade through the very discerning and carefully framed arguments they have put together. Partly the problem is simply time: people don’t have the time in their lives. They want — even need and crave — simple, one, two or three line answers. There are so many questions about life that simply cannot be answered in one, two or three lines….. How many progressively-oriented people might read it and, even more so, how many bishops might read any of it?”

The writers therefore urge Catholics who believe that Church teachings do have to be interpreted in new ways need to “seek dialogue with those in the Church who are opposed to change. I think it is literally impossible. You cannot dialogue with these people. Even the Son of God himself couldn’t dialogue with the equivalent elements in his own time who believed they alone were the arbiters and interpreters of “the mind of God” — they bloody well crucified him.”

At one point the CCRI’s response states: Opposition to any change and “Conversion most needed is on the part of the hierarchical church.” Does it not apply doubly or trebly (we in India stand on the tripod of three Rites, each tolerating the other two) to bishops in India who did practically nothing last year and are not seen doing anything special this year either, as of now?

The moot question therefore, is whether the SMC which produced and cultivates the Endogamy virus (some label it as “Racism” of Pure blood promotion), will ever dare to discuss the issue publicly and take drastic steps to stop the rot forthwith, instead of being

seen as destroyers of Christ-willed Unity in Knanaya Christian families where Endogamy is cultivated and allowed to spread both in India and abroad?

If this can’t be done the least the Triumvir who produced the beatific Letter, cited above, to bless and promote the practice should do is to boldly imitate the glorious example of Pope Benedict XVI who quit, instead of sitting tight on his throne like dead road block – emasculated morally and blind spiritually — in the WAY of the Lord, in order to usher in a fertile, clear sighted and courageous Pope Francis. There should be no dearth of such prelates in SMC. What is important is to make straight the WAY of the Lord into the heart of every Christian home.

Contact at: jkottoor@asianetindia.com

++++++++++++++ Published: in http://www.almayasabdam.com, Palai, Matters India, Delhi, Emalayalee, New York, Malayalam Daily News, NY, CCRInt’l. Website: http://www.CatholicChurchReformIntl.org.

1. Tharu BA, April 25/15,

Dear Mr. Kottoor,

I am so pleased to see that you have noted the cancer of endogamy in certain corners of the Church.On whatever grounds – justifiable or not – in a country like India with hundreds of tribes and castes, how can one promote endogamoy? This is not only regarding families. There are tendancies to have priests, bishops, etc only from the same tribe and caste. Then we should have created so many dioceses as these tribes and castes count. In the case of Kottayam Archdiocese, there are two rellgious congregations, that recruit only “Knanaya” candidates. Where are we?

I have strongly prohibited exclujsive parishes in my diocese based on endogamy. If such parishes are created, they start dividing families, outsting members, even from the ecclesial community!!! As long as they are in the “Catholic” parish open to all, that problem can be avoided. I have opposition here bec of that.+Kuriakose, Faridabad,

2.Joseph Mattam,

Dear James,Excellent piece; what you say is very true; it is racism of the worst kind. It should be opposed; the bishop’s letter is very objectionable.Hope some sense gets into their dull heads.God bless you. Keep well,Joe

3.. Thomas Koovalloor,

Dear Dr. Kottoor, Happy to know that still at your golden age your mind is active like the mind of a young Turk. Hope and pray that you could do more. Thank you for sharing the latest article. People like you could change the world.God Bless you. Thomas koovalloor, NY

4.John Dayal, April 26/16

Dear friend James,Thanks for that hard hitting truth-telling. That is your trademark. Has always taken courage.My own experience has been that the Lay faithful have been more hardbound in these matters than the clergy. That makes reform an uphill struggle.

And secondly, once we accept other divisions, Caste, Tribe, Rite, we lose the moral high ground to challenge some one seeking a micro niche in the guise of nurturing culture, tradition, and heritage.But struggle we must for a genuinely catholic Catholic church in India.God bless, John Dayal

5. Larry Carney, April 26/15

James, I’m complete sympathetic with you and your views. Unfortunately, I also experience a bit of a cultural barrier in communications back and forth, & have trouble fully understanding the complexities of the problem. Meanwhile, I pray and wait and trust in the Lord to fill in for what I miss or can’t do.’Larry Carney

6. Sr, Johanna Brandstaetter, April 26/15

Dear Sr.Regis.Kindly note that I have given your ID to Dr.James Kottoor without having asked your prior permission,so he requested me to inform you.I know him from the internet since long. What he communicates is of utmost importance for our Church and Society.He used to write in various periodicals ,including the Indian Currents.Thank you for your patience with me.

7.John Kunthara April 27/15

This is joke what these bishops have settled on the issue of Knanaya and non Knanaya Catholics? In Angadiathes’s letter there is nothing new he simply agreed with the old practice. I don’t think Pope Francis is aware about this letter and he got more important matters to attend other than this silly issue of Knanaya pure blood based on mythical and unproven stories.John K

8.Antony Moonnupeedikkal, April 28/15

My dear James, I hope that peace ill be widely read. According to me every cultural entity is the extension of deep rooted self love in man and diminishes freedom and holiness.

for which Jesus died on the Cross. Hope you are keeping fine, All of a sudden I am in active ministry, as a young priest of 60 had a severe heart attack, Love to you all, Tony Moonnu ,

9.Kirit Mahida, April, 27 2015

Dear Mr. JamesI can only say my prayers that O ! God let this deadly virus not spread and contaminate. Striking at root of Jesus’ message of all are equally the children of God. What more satanic there can be?? If these heedless bishops are allowed to head the people of God where shall we end up?

10,, Dear Sri James Kottoor,

It is crystal clear that words like justice, fair play, humanity equality etc. are anathema to our bishops. From the shameful letter of Mar Alenchery etc. is an attempt to practice tactics of divide and rule among the faithful of Catholic Church. I fully support the heroic fight of the aggrieved faithful in the matter.Regards,

10.Joy Paul Puthussery. April 18/15

Dear Sri James Kottoor,

It is crystal clear that words like justice, fair play, humanity equality etc. are anathema to our bishops. From the shameful letter of Mar Alenchery etc. is an attempt to practice tactics of divide and rule among the faithful of Catholic Church. I fully support the heroic fight of the aggrieved faithful in the matter. Regards, Joy Paul Puthussery.

11. Sr.Carol MSA wrote:

I am from Kerala. Before I came to the North I never heard about this Kottayam business of Christianity history. Some 35 years back I had one Sister from Kottayam in my Community. While discussing one day this Kottayam Christianity topic came up. It was beyond my understanding ‘ why such closed Christian community exist in Indian Catholic Church. I kept on questioning that Sister in order to understand this mystery. But that Sister kept on arguing with me with such pride that she belong to this sect of original Christians; and in no way they want themselves to be polluted, and so they keep themselves pure blood relations without getting married with outside Kottayam community. It is absurd as for me I still cannot understand this. How can we call ourselves as one Body in Christ Jesus

12. Dr Mathew April 25, 2015

If a Knanaya Catholic belonging to a Knanaya parish/mission enters into marriage with a non-Knanaya partner, that non-Knanaya partner and children from that marriage will not become members of the Knanaya parish/mission but will remain members of the local non-Knanaya Syro Malabar parish/mission.

This is not acceptable.The Pope should interfere immediately.It has to be decided by the laity and not by few Bishops. Dr Kottoor is right.When we think of ecumenism in the light of Vatican why the kottayam people are resisting change? There are more burning issues in this group like Sr Abaya case and the murder of Fr K J Thomas in Bangalore.The community should express its solidarity in seeking justice in these cases. 13. Rite Issue, aprill 29/15 I compliment you for your excellent piece “Peddlers …”. But one reaction to it – while intended to be complimentary- is the height of hypocrisy. That is the reaction of Eparch Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, who promotes and gladly presides over another equally deadly “cancer” (to use his own word) in Faridabad. He accuses the Knanayas of “tendancies (sic) to have priests, bishops, etc only from the same tribe and caste” and of “[creating] so many dioceses as these tribes and castes”. Is he speaking of the Knanayas or of his own Syro Malabar church? Purely to create dioceses for so many ambitious prelates, SM bishops go where they are not wanted: force congregations in the US, Canada, Europe, the UK and Australia (the SM church is rarely seen rushing off to Sierra Leone or Yemen!) to accept their “services”. In so doing they create an apartheidwithin these congregations; and repel the youth that has grown up and assimilated (as they should) into the new homes in which they live. How is the SM apartheid essentially different from the Knanaya apartheid? What teaching of Christ justifies the SM church considering itself as “aristocratic” and “the elite” (to use the phrases its own spokesmen used in the media) as against the “Latins” (whom they consider inferior)? The Eparch laments that “if such parishes are created, they start dividing families, ousting members, even from the ecclesial community!!! As long as they are in the ‘Catholic’ parish open to all, that problem can be avoided.” So why is his SM Church “dividing families [and] ousting members” in the Church in Delhi, which has existed for more than a century? Why does it not respect his own declared concept of a “Catholic parish open to all”? Besides still officially preventing marriages between Catholics (with absolutely no spiritual, pastoral or canonical support) by forcing parents to come and bow to SM priests, the SM church has even divided children in Catechism classes! The Eparch bemoans “opposition here bec of that”. Could the real opposition be because

Knanayas (like SM Catholics settled in Delhi) refuse to bow to his dictates? Bishop Angadiath’s rightly denounced Announcement – supported whole heartedly by the SM Cardinal – reads: “If a Knanaya Catholic belonging to a K parish/mission enters into marriage with a non-K partner, that non-K partner and children from that marriage will not become members of the K parish/mission but will remain members of the local parish/mission.” Pray, tell how is this in any way different from Eparch Kuriakose’s own “clarification” to The Statesman: “Our intention was to foster more unity and communion. Those who want to stay in the present parish, let them be. [But] One cannot think of being a “Latin” as long as one is in Delhi and an “oriental” when they are in another place. Either be an Indian or an American, you cannot be both.” Never mind that there is nothing in Canon law that the Eparch has been able to cite to support these “principles”. More importantly, however, Bishop Angadiath is saying the same thing in essence as Eparch Kuriakose: You can be what you want but you have to be out from “our” community (as though each community belongs to its bishops!). Everything you state in your candid article, and particularly the following, applies equally to the Knanayas and the SM Church. 1) Aren’t the SMC bishops doing just the opposite of what Jesus bluntly and forcefully commanded: “What God has united, let no man separate?” 2) Its stink is suffocating, not only in the SM Church but in the whole church in India divided on three-fold Rite-lines (but wrong) and pulling in different directions. All know it and say, it is the worst curse of the Church in India. It prevents it from acting as one united body, as one family. Here we have the Eparch of Faridabad suddenly taking on his own leader Cardinal Allenchery about Knanayas on their absurd stance. That might have been admired as an example of moral courage, were it were not for the fact that he himself is guilty of resolutely holding on to his own version of racism. Unfortunately, at a time of external crisis for the Church in India, it faces a (perhaps far greater) internal crisis of leadership within. The SM church for instance has opened itself to public ridicule by threatening to ban marriages between Catholics and others. Do they think our youth is going to quietly fall in line? Or are they in danger of making their entire church and the sacraments redundant to the next generation? On a larger scale, in what you rightly term “the musical chair for Episcopal thrones by any means”, the so called shepherds of the church have failed the community badly. They will publicly castigate the Govt for dividing the nation, while they themselves collude in dividing the Church. A fit illustration of Mathew 7:5: “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” With warm regards, Kurien Joseph, Delhi 14, Sales Kalayil, April 29/15 Dear Mr. Kottoor, Thank you very much for the well written article:”Who Destroys Indian Christian Families?” to the main stream Catholics. I am pleased to let you know that you were very candid in stating the truth with proof: “It is Endogamy promoted in the Kottayam diocese by the triumvir in the Syro-Malabar Church(SMC) by written approval and blessing.”With such leaders on the helm it has lost its credibility. Rome must stop exclusive parishes on the basis of “Pure Blood” in the Syro-Malabar Church. Trough baptism all become equal members without considerations of class, caste, race or creed. There are to be no distinctions between Jew and Gentiles, slave or free, male or female. We are all one in Christ Jesus.The practice of expulsion from Church membership is not only unchristian but also inconsistent with Gospel values. It is a human right violation and per your proof the head of Syro-Malabar hierarchy headed by Cardinal Alencherry supports this sin. Thanks much for taking the aaction to save the family humiliation where in a Christian marriage in a Chrisian marriage the bride and groom are consecrated and they build the body of Christ and are a domestic Church, namely the family

16.Alex Esthapan, May 1st 2015

Dear James Kottoor, I sent your article to all the Kna priests in America, Kottayam bishops, Chicago SM bishops, Mar Alenchery and other supporters and promoters of Knanaya purity just to show how others “appreciate their noble and heroic acts” for Christian ideals in this year of family. Bishop Mar Angadiath’s circular letter of September 19, 2014 is a blatant violation of divine law, canon law, court decisions in Kerala, decisions of the Supreme court of India, scientific evidences, historical evidences and physical evidences. A policy of exclusion to protect non-existing racial purity of Knanaya is unfit to the mainstream social values of our time, immoral and destructive to Knanaya families and community.

This Circular has the effect of practically nullifying the 1986 Rescript of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. I do not understand why Mar Alenchery and Mar Angadiath surrendered Christian ideals to the racist ideology of Knas. I do not understand why them approving and participating in the lawless behavior of Kottayam diocese. Why they are participating in the humiliation of their own brethren by the Kottayam diocese. Why the Supreme Pontiff and Congregations hesitate to tell Kottayam bishop and others to stop this non-sense in the Church. As an endogamous Knanaya Catholic, I would like to know, if anybody is listening.

Regards, Alex Kavumpurath 16. Sri Jose Paul,1st/15 Dear. Dr.James, Your article on “Peddlers of Pure blood” brings out certain important doubts about the existence of a Catholic Church in our country as envisaged by the teachings of Jesus. Do we, the Catholics, belong to any church at all? The happenings in the so called official church are all in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught us that love, unity and equality as the main theme of his teachings. He taught us that all human beings are God’s own children and that he created each one of us in His own image. The prelates of the official church teaches us to hate one another. We are divided into groups such as people having pure blood, people with high traditions of culture and heritage, people who are backward classes, dalits and so on. We are taught to look at each group of people as separate group of Christians without having any relationships to each other. We are being taught to consider the other groups of Catholics as untouchables . Some persons in the church call themselves shepherds and behave like butchers. The latest butchering of Jesus Christ is done by the decision taken by the three such shepherds about the pure blood of the Knanaya Syrian Catholics. These three wise kings took the decision for the people of their kingdom as dictators. They think that they are the Church. They presume that they can do anything that they feel like for preserving their power and position. They are not in touch with either Jesus, his teachings or his followers. In their anxiety to cling to power, they have forgotten not only the basic tenets of Christianity, and its divine sanctity, but also human ethics, secular morality, natural Justice, human rights, illegality of their actions and the constitution of the nation they are living in. The three prelates who cannot understand what family life is, who cannot understand the relationship between the husband, wife and the children in a family, took the most heinous decision to separate them into two different social and spiritual groups because these prelates discovered that the blood of one of the members is pure and that of the spouse and children is impure. Their Syrian Theology taught them that God, while creating people, had blood of various qualities in store the and He consciously supplied the purest blood to Knanaya Syrian families and asked them to preserve its purity. We are sure that with these kind of prelates inleading positions, there will come a time that the Catholic Church will be divided and new dioceses will be formed according to the blood groups of the Bishops. Did they not find any other poisonous thing to inject into the Catholic Church to destroy it? The most shameful part is that when three shepherds are going ahead with these kind of venom to destroy the teachings of Jesus while all the other shepherds of the Catholics Church, whether they belong to Syro Malabar, Latin or Malankara, keep solemn silence giving approval to this kind of break up of Catholic families. Are we the lay people to believe that all of these prelates are unaware of the intentions of Jesus? We the lay people have a right to know this. We would like to know whether a Church of Jesus exists or not. Otherwise it means that the clergy has nothing to do with Jesus or us. As far as we can

judge, if there is Jesus in our country, it is only in the hearts and minds of the lay people. Those who cannot live with Christ Jesus and His basic teachings, should leave the church and lead a worldly secular life. At least there is dignity in such a life. This is a call not only to those who do these crimes. Those who are silent are aslo committing a crime of omission. Shame on you who put on the cassock and habit pretending to live in the service of Jesus but have no courage to speak for Christ. This is our sincere request to the clergy and the shepherds. Please stop the Sunday sermons as you all speak words of Jesus without any substance in the personal life, congregational life or church hierarchy. We find these sermons are phony as your actions are just the opposite of what Jesus taught us. There is a small silver lining in the Horizon. We would like to congratulate Mar Kuriakose Baranikulangara for jis letter to Mr. James Kotoor disagreeing with the decisions of the three Shepard’s including the cardinal, since realization has come to him about the injustice and inhumaneness of the pure blood. We are sure that he has realized about the folly of dividing the people of the so called high culture and heritage from the one catholic and apostolic Church. Let us hope, that He will get up like St Paul and distance himself from the theory of pure blood, high culture and heritage and be a soldier of Jesus fighting for the one and only Catholic Church. He does not have to be frightened of anyone in the country as he is directly answerable only to Pope. We the lay people are hoping for a day when the Catholic, whatever may be their rite, to sit together and learn their Catechism, when the Catholic matrimonial services are not being restricted by unnecessary bits of paper from this rite and that rite. Jose Paul, Delhi. 17. Benjamin Chinnappan, May 4/15

Dear Father Kottoor, thanks for your article and discussion on Kananya community. This is Father Ben, Hines VA hospital, Chicago. All these groups are not based on rites but caste divisions which are very visible in our Indian society. It is unfortunate situation. That’s why Christianity never took deep root in our country. There is no witness value. We, Christians are not different from others in abiding with Christ. Unfortunately our bishops do not take tough stand on this issue and enforce justice and equality. Ben 18, Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, 5 May 2015 <asklobog@gmail.com> wrote: Dear James, Thank you for circulating the attached letter of Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath. I received it before I left for an ITA (Indian Theological Association) meeting in Kottayam. The meeting was on the Family and so I brought up the issue of the Knanaya Diocese and it was discussed on the floor. Many, like me, condemned the Church’s sanction of this endogamy which differentiates between one human being and another on the basis of “blood”, and promotes a “purity of race”. I had asked that we condemn this in our Statement. To my mind this is a form of eugenics. There is an implied superiority in the selective breeding. Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such a basis as being unsuitable for marriage or for other close personal relationships. Eugenics, claims to improve the genetic features of human populations through selective breeding and sterilization, based on the idea that it is possible to distinguish between superior and inferior elements of society. What is even more shocking is that according to Bishop Kuriakose of Faridabad there are “two religious congregations, that recruit only “Knanaya” candidates”. How can we fight the caste system when the bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church support such divisions

based on “blood”? Just curious. Is the Knanaya tribe financially rich and high caste? Has Pope Francis given his stamp of approval? I have read this letter over and over again and I am asking myself: “What would Jesus have said?” I really admire the response of Bishop Kuriakose of Faridabad. He has the courage to stand up and condemn what is counter to the Gospels. He has rightly pointed out that “If such parishes are created, they start dividing families, ousting members, even from the ecclesial community!!!” Where are all the other “Shepherds”? Their silence is deafening. Since the Church is preparing for a Synod on the family this issue needs to be brought up. I doubt though that any bishop will bring it up, so it will be left to the Faithful to publicize what is happening in the Indian Church. We can use our international networks to do this. Astrid 19. Jothi SJ, May 8/15 Dear Dr. James, I am Jothi SJ, working in Kolkata.I read your article with pain that the Caste system so deep in our Indian society manifested in different forms in the Church. When we see this deep rooted superiority complex being well played by members of this community, be it lay faithful or Religious and Clergy, it is painful. I don’t see any solution from outside, like this pure blooded group there are other caste catholics silently working for their group’s well-being is not unknown to all of us! it is not certainly Christianity..!we should pray for the conversion of hearts of this and other so called high caste Catholics in Indian Church. Perhaps, CBCI, with an official circular declare, “A week of prayer and action for IndianChurch to root out caste” ..since most of the church leaders are from Higher castes, they would consider this as trivial for such a holy body to waste time on! Thanks, Jothi SJ 20.Kurian MJ, May 13/15

IT is very unethical and unchristan to expel a knanaya catholic from his or her paish merely because he or she has married a non=knanaya .Since the practice has been in vogue in the Kottayam diocese for long it is logical that it is not denied to knanaya catholics in USA if they are members of a parish. They have been of an embarrassing confrontation with syro-malabar bishop on this score. Ultimately the diocese gave in to pressure . One really cannot imagine the reasons that weighed with Holy see in allowing such a cruel practice totally unchristain and opposed to christain principles. Legally it is denial of human rights guaranteed under Indian constitution or UN charter.Even American Law prohibits such discrimination.Rather than a method of confrontation there should be a continuing dialogue between the faction opposed to endogamy .A formulae could be: Each parish of knanaya should have a knanaya assosiation.Those who marry for outside may be expelled from the Association but not the parish. Ushavoor knanaya parish reported dozens of expulsions due to marriage from other community. The local Syro-malabar parish in Monippally used to accommodate all such evictees form Uzhavoor. When a friend of mine so expelled from uzhavoor approached Monippalli church the parish priest reluctantly accommodated him with a caution that Monippally cannot accommodate such continuing inflow for Uahvoor. When that happens expelled knanayas face the ordeal of having no parish compelling them to migrate to

other religions or faiths. m.J.Kurian. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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The Church should not support illegalities by remaining silent

Marinagar situated in Mahim was one of the many  projects on Church land which is mired with illegalities.

Some of the highlights of the said project are:

1. Deal signed in 1991 with builder. Charity Commissioner grants sanction that flats would be sold @ Rs.1500 per sq foot. In reality builder sold flats @ Rs.2200 per sq foot and not carpet but super built up a 710 sq foot flat was sold as  960 sq feet.

2. 3 buildings were to come up A- 12 storied, B- 2/3 storied and C- Ground plus seven in the layout. 3 gardens having a total area of 25% of the plot shown as an amenity for flat purchasers/residents.16 open car parks for flat purchasers

3. Quinny House which was also in Marinagar demolished in 1993 and on the same spot Building C came to be constructed . Occupation Certificate given by BMC in 1996 and Society Registered in 1998. All tenants of Quinny House accomodated in Building C also called Our Lady of Lourdes.FSI of 1.33

4. In 1999 Government of Maharashtra declares Quinny House as an A grade cessed building.

5. In 2007 MHADA conducts an inspection and video shoots consents of 4 persons original tenants of Quinny House who state that they are yet to be rehoused and give affidavits to that effect.

6. MHADA officials give a report that Quinny House is not yet constructed and give a photograph of a garden to show that no construction has begun .

7. Builder granted an  increased FSI of 2.5.

7. Church passes a plan on two gardens without the consent of flat purchasers who had purchased flats at rates much above Rs.1800 which was the then prevailing rate.

8.Gardens area reduces from 25% to 8% and 16 car parks disappear in the new plan.

9. Tenants who had been rehoused once permanently and who were members of the Our Lady of Lourdes Society to be rehoused again.

10. Church does not give conveyance of the land to the society within 4 months of society registration.  Building A- 2004 and Building C-1998.This is also a criminal offence.

10. Bishop Agnelo Gracias states that the Builder told him that tenants can be rehoused multiple number of times and that we are jealous but refuses to write about this to MHADA.All other builders in Mumbai are fools not to take this benefit of rehousing of tenants again and again.

11. The tenant benefits as his area of the house increases from minimum 180 sq feet to 300 sq feet. The Church gets more money as the FSI increases  and the builder laughts his way to the bank.

12. Who loses

The flat purchasers/residents of Marinagar lose their amenities ie the gardens which they had paid for and  and which belongs to them.

There will a much greater density of residents on the same land area.

There will be a strain on the infrastructure.

My question should the Church remain a silent spectator merely because it would stand to benefit in terms of money?

What is the difference between the Church and a corrupt businessman?

In true Christian spirit we  have been writing and meeting Church authorities since the year 2008 but the church authorities have turned a blind eye but not a single problem has been signed.

Its sad but the sanctity of even Churches have been destroyed.One such instance was the Mass was used to defame Mr. Gordon Jacobs one of the persons who was supporting the Marinagar Cause. This is a grave liturgical abuse. Till today nothing has been done.

Remaining silent amounts to supporting corruption as the buck stops at the Archbishops table.

A.M.Sodder

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We are five years old!

Five years ago exactly on this day Mumbailaity was started. Today many hits later we have still survived.

We ,do not take any donations.

A parallel Mumbailaity site was started by one Mr. Benwen Lopez which folded up.

We, thank all our readers and persons who have contributed to Mumbailaity.

A.M.Sodder

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Forum of Discussions on Family -dr.james kottoor

Almayasabdam Records 13000 daily Visitors

Forum of Discussions on Family

Dear Bishops, Get open discussions started on national and diocesan levels. Don’t miss the boat this time, like last year. Time and tide wait for no man. Only 11months left to announce and execute your time-bound plan, if you have any.

dr.james kottoor

The idea of India is unity in diversity. The idea of Christianity is also Unity in Diversity. It is unity in the humane Humanity inspired by the Man from Nazareth, Jesus, who presented himself as the Son of Man, in 85 recorded statements. He is the ideal Human Being of peace personified, with whom and around him the whole of humanity can stick together, work together and serve one another with love and care, as brothers and sisters of one extended Global Family.

That is the full meaning of the loaded question: Is Christ divided? He unites north and south, east and west, heaven and earth. Humanity has to move together in the direction of global fraternity, saying with Narayana Guru: One God, one religion one humanity without distinction or division.

Central to the whole debate is the Family of Man seen globally but built on individual families at the rock bottom which are facing untold challenges, threats and hammerings – financial, social, moral, and cultural – making them crumble and go to pieces. Pope Francis has been calling world attention for the last one year through the Extraordinary Family Synod closed a month ago, to focus on remedies to heal and care effectively to strengthen individual families by the time the concluding ordinary Rome Synod is to take place from Oct.4 to 25/2015.

This goal is to be reached trough free, fair and forthright public discussion conducted transparently, as it happened at the Rome Synod. That discussion has to be continued on local diocesan and parish levels in each diocese in every country around the world. To do that Bishops in each country should have an existing open Forum of discussion or create one. With this already in view, the Church Citizens in India, based in Kerala have been working for the last one year to make its website a national and global forum for sharing views, discussing issues and suggesting humane and rational solutions to all family problems.

Started for Church Renewal

Almaya Sabdam (Church Citizens’ Voice) was started originally for the reform and renewal of the Syromalabar Church four years ago. It completed its 4th anniversary of its founding on last Nov.6th. It started out its work of reaching out to Church Citizens through out the length and breadth of India and to the four corners of the world already with the announcement of the Extraordinary Synod. Today it is a global network for Church Citizens around the world. Believe it or not, daily visitors of the site on Nov.19th were 13,363. Ever since the graph of daily visitors hit over a thousand two weeks ago, the rise in the daily rise of visitors has been beyond the expectations of the dedicated team which has been working behind the scene.

According to the Administrators of this Church Citizens’ Website it is now ready to host any public discussion on Challenges Facing Families in India, initiated by the CBCI or individual Bishops at their beck and call in the true Christian family spirit. To make sure our respected bishops take note of this offer, this write up is being sent to all Indian Bishops through emails available in the CBCI website, some of which of course are faulty.

After all Bishops in India, like their counterparts around the world, are fully aware of the parting instructions they were given at the close of last Synod. While exhorting the bishops to shift the Synod discussions to dioceses they were told: “Bishops from all over the world will have to listen to the laity in their respective dioceses…. I expect lay persons to be protagonists who search for real solutions with their heads held high!” According to Bishop Bruno Forte the Synod Secretary.

Time and tide waits for no man. One month has already passed. So only 11 more months are left, not only to give polishing touches to the 62 family topics discussed (on three there was no consensus) but also to search and discover burning family issue proper to Church in India, starting with promoters of pure blood in the Knanaya Community in Kottayam diocese and around the world. All know it to be a human right violation pure and simple, a trampling underfoot of the Christian teaching “let no man separate what God had united” and a shameful blot on the fair name of the Church in India.

Besides there are unnecessary impediments created by the so called Rite-based Churches (like fence eating the crop) posing hurdles against the smooth functioning of inter-Rite marriages like making parties run from pillar to post to get clearances for marriage courses to be undergone where and how, as well as “Safe Status certificate” for groom and bride from deputed persons only, all reminding one of the License Raj in politics. All these caused a joint petition to Pope and the inter-Rite explosion in Delhi, discussed in secular press and silenced or censored in Catholic press.

Doctor heal yoursef first, it is said. Similarly before discussing challenges facing families, Rite based churches have to come clean first and cease to become the biggest destroyer of human families, especially in cases where church men support pure blood promoters. So let the ordinary people — all Church Citizens — speak out their grievances and suggested solutions Almayasabdam is ready and waiting to publish their views without fear or

favour, say the Administrators. All are invited to verify the veracity of this report by visiting: http://www.almayasabdam.blogspot.com, and writing to :almayasabdam@gmail.com, to post any of your considered comments and to get instant replies to any of your reasonable queries seeking further information. Can be contacted at: kottoorj@yahoo.com, or jameskottoor@gmail.com

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1 comment:

1. Theresia ManayathNovember 21, 2014 at 1:29 AM

The bishops in India can not ignore this loving and respectful plea from Dr. Kottoor, a well known journalist and church activist to come down from their lonely thrones and start taking seriously the admonition of the Pope. Contrary to their pretensions, the Christian families in India face a lot of crucial problems in their social and religious situations. They are quite different from those faced by families in western countries. The clergy and the bishops living in glass houses might be unaware of the problems of the common man, but that doesn’t excuse their ignoring them or reporting to Rome that everything is well here and under control. This is an invitation to the bishops to be frank and earnest. They may not get another chance of the like.

They have been fooling the faithful as well as Rome so far. The church citizens have become very conscious of their rights and are watching them closely from every corner and from house tops. Now there’s no place for them to hide away from the people. Their only choice now is the come to terms with the various lay organizations and start a country wide discussion on the basic issues affecting the Christians as believers and citizens of a secular country. Reality is not what the bishops have been assuming it to be so far. It is complex and very urgent. So please get started and act. We no longer live in the dark ages. An authority that is unwilling to serve will be regarded as obsolete and void.

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Medicine of Mercy, not Severity!- dr.james kottoor

Medicine of Mercy, not Severity!

Can’t Say: Neither do I Condemn you?

Note: “If you can’t say: “Neither do I condemn you”, as Jesus did, you in positions of power, have only one heavenly option left: just quit and get out of His Way, as Benedict XVI did to steal yourself into heaven like the good thief. Even if you are the 11th hour worker in the Vineyard, you will be given one dinar. Doors of heaven, our Father’s house, stay wide open always before you, in case you happen to be the worst prodigal in this world.” This is the conclusion of my prayerful reflections. None of you have to accept it, but you are welcome to it. Perfect freedom, perfect openness, perfect readiness to embrace every one deformed or crippled and perfect humility to take the last place are the sine qua non (things you can’t do without) for being a true follower of Jesus. If to think so, is to be biased, then I am. You may accept or reject the following reflections in the same vein.

dr.james kottoor

Family of Man is seriously sick. It needs emergency treatment to save it from imminent death. Its ailments are too many to recount. Doctors who examined it in Rome agreed on most of the symptoms but could not, on three afflictions: 1.Gay and lesbian relations masquerading as families – claiming marital status as between man and wife, 2. Broken families floating as divorced ones – with new partners civilly recognised but not religiously, 3. Divorced without annulment and cohabiting with new partners.

These patients are all in the war-zone Field Hospital called the Catholic Church with its Chief physician, an Argentinean called Francis whose trump card is a generous medical mix of mercy and compassion with any and every treatment to achieve infallible healing. Recently he treated 20 couples – living together in a sexual mess — with or without children, no legal bonds and outside church regulations but held together by the bond of what they call “love”. No questions were asked for blessing them and none raised any objections either. All went hale and happy.

Doctors under him treating families – all families’ not just Catholic families – are bishops and medical practitioners called pastors. At the two-week Rome Synod some 191 doctors examined 62 common sicknesses and reached consensus, meaning agreement by two-thirds called Super majority on all except three. The one-third or more who differed are asked to continue discussion to reach a possible hundred percent agreement in identifying illness and medication to be prescribed by next October 2015 latest, when a final call will be taken on each case. So they will have to start with the three most contested issues first. The first one among them is gay-unions which fell short just by two votes for two-thirds, reportedly. So the margin of “Nay”-Sayers is expected to disappear fast during the current year. Here those with opposing views are not aiming at reaching a balance of terror as between political power blocks on a war path but the bonhomie of a palliative nursing home exuding love and care

Define Human Family?

We are not here to define first what a “Family” is and then apply it to what constitutes a marriage and what marriages deserve to be called families etc. What we call human family is all inclusive: an aggregate of married, divorced, cohabiting to stay permanently or for a short period – a Noah’s ark if you like. Living together will not make it a marriage, said one of our cardinals on his return from Rome. But “If a same-sex couple has been in a relationship for thirty years, I can’t call that nothing…although it is not “all ok”, Pontier, the President of the French Bishops’ Conference said and added: I’ll be surprised if we don’t reach a consensus on the Synod’s final document. And Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich, President of the German Bishops’ Conference and a member of the 9-member Council of Cardinals said: “Exclusion is not the language of the Church!” So let

discussion continue till Oct.2015, to see what types of unions of love pass for family. What is important to note here is that traditionalists and conservatives follow the top-down approach, while Francis and his field hospital group start from harsh ground realities — bottom–up route — saving the dying without wasting time checking minor things like cholesterol.

This is what Jesus also did. He was the WORD made flesh, but never wrote even a single word to define dogmatic prescription principles to start from. What comes from Jesus is the only valid route, and what is valid can come only from Jesus even if it is difficult for weak stomachs to digest because only he can write straight with crooked lines. Francis explained it beautifully when he said: “One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God.”

To the lady caught in adultery he said: “Woman has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you (Jn.8.11) Had Jesus met a divorcee, lesbian or cohabitant (he had met one at Jacob’s well), in a similar situation, what else could have been His response? That of the advocates of doctrine or discipline? The stick of severity or the caress of compassion and mercy? And whom are we supposed to follow, Jesus washing the feet of a traitor Judas, or a self-styled upright leader Peter rebelling and admonishing Jesus not to make cheap jesters? Jesus had to tell him: “You will understand later.” In an earlier similar instance he had to tell him point blank: “Get behind me Satan, your ways are not mine”. Was not Francis imitating Jesus when he answered journalists on the plane:”Who am I to judge?” about gays in the Vatican, searching for Gods mercy? Was Francis frankly admitting he was just an ignorant infallible idiot? Or was he boldly burying once and for all, the man-made doctrine of infallibility, manufactured to appear Jesus-like before man? Pope Innocent III, of the time of Francis of Assisi, did it when on his own he promoted himself from the then held title of “Successor of Peter” to the “Vicar of Christ” and finally ended up naked in a Cathedral, as I remember reading Theologian Hans Kung. Pride goes before an ignominious fall.

No to Communion?

In spite of such glaring examples staring in the face, why are some of the Synod Fathers hesitating, dithering, nay on a war path, some saying: “Definite NO to communion,” think instead of the “doctrine of sacramental indissolubility” etc., while the other “Casualty Field hospital in a war zone” group say: “Save the dying from permanent death, admit them to Table fellowship with sinners, publicans and prostitutes?”

For Jesus, for Francis, for Walter Kasper, for Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, our God is God of Mercy and compassion who never “never tires of forgiving……it is we who get tired of asking forgiveness” (Pope). The first group of Synod Fathers who stay-put with their: NO, have also any number of supporters, including mighty cardinals and zealous lay groups. For example American Cardinal Raymond Burke (some called him the Ottaviani of this synod) reportedly said: Francis owes the world an apology by issuing a clear statement of Catholic doctrine. A Conservative American Catholic group called “Voice of the Family,” had earlier called the interim report a “betrayal,” and added: Kasper’s “medicine of mercy” had spread “sickness and disease.” The International Coalition of Pro-family Groups tore to pieces the detailed article of Bp.Bonny pleading for table fellowship for divorcees, saying among other things, he (Bonny)“gives no criteria for worthiness to receive Holy Communion, and no explanation how mortal sin could possibly be compatible with receiving Holy Communion.”

Mortal Sin?

That reminds me of what a crazy writer wrote demolishing MORTAL SINS and sins in general. “I still have to find that guy smart enough to commit a mortal sin in this world,” he wrote, “and win the priced price of a Hell in the next. For example what are the conditions for rating a sin mortal? They are three: 1.Grave matter, 2. Full knowledge and 3. Full freedom. Grave matter could be committing a murder in an attempt to rob a Crore of rupees or raping a girl one is infatuated with. Full knowledge: when one is busy weighing various crooked ways to succeed in a dastardly act, where is balanced mind to study and analyse inherent goodness or

wretchedness of the act he plans to commit? Full freedom: How can there be any freedom in a person intoxicated with enjoyment of the dream of possessing a Crore or his paramour in his embrace? Also remember that no crime, however dastardly it is, is ever committed except under the aspect of the good it brings to the doer. In other words, no one embraces evil seen as evil or tasted as bitter. That is still the Catholic theology. So is it impossible for any one to commit a mortal sin?.

But all of us, the best and worst of us, commit small and big mistakes and blunders, unknowingly or half heartedly like the little child trying to walk, and falls down many times, before it succeeds. Such falls can cause hurt, fracture or even death. But we don’t call them sins. We call them unintended mistakes, or costly blunders. Learning and making mistakes will come to a stop only when we die. So just forget about mortal sins. It is like calling a dog a bad name just to hang it.” One who wrote it was the Editor of New Leader some 40 years ago and he got a fitting rebuke from his then Archbishop but not a convincing explanation to prove him wrong. I for one still hold on to that view. Hence my staunch refusal to believe in a Hell. What other message is Francis giving by his “who am I to judge”? While he does not condone homosexual behaviour, in the end is he not saying that it’s up to God to decide what does and does not qualify as sinful behaviour?

Communion to Divorcees

Now think of the plight of many a divorcee. Before finding that out, we should first define: What is marriage? The best description I have come across is: “Union of Love in the service of Life,” that is, fulfilling Love flowering eventually, not necessarily, in a new life. How many marriages can claim to possess these two characteristics to the hilt? First, what are the marks of true love that never fails? One has only to read Cor.l, 13: “Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.”

If this is what love, Christian or otherwise means and should mean and ought to bind together a married couple, how can there be a broken marriage? Even the possibility of a breakup is to be ruled out if all these ingredients of love are present in every marriage. On the contrary if any or many of these ingredients are missing, hasn’t one to conclude that such a marriage is flawed at the very source? That may be why Francis said: “Many people, without really knowing what they are doing, get married without knowing what it means to get married and what it involves.” So half of the marriages are invalid, he is reported to have said. Another controversy in The Times, NY ,is that Francis permitted an Argentinean Lady living with a divorcee to receive communion.

Factors that prompt one to marry are too many to list. Few of them are: sexual urge seeking fulfilment, falling in love at first sight, need of companionship among adults, mutual attraction based on beauty, personal traits like position, possession and other benefits and finally external pressure coming from parents and relations in arranged marriages.

In spite of many objections to love marriages, normal course should be the love between two persons leading to marriage, not marriage leading and coaxing two to love one another. In the later instance marriage becomes a cage for a male-female pair to learn to fall in love. Where arrangements play major role, such marriages are to be discouraged. Even in so called ideal marriages, one may find many flaws. As for the second part of our definition:”in the service of Life”, three lives are contemplated, lives of existing partners and the life or lives of children they plan to bring into this world.

But in today’s work culture, when one gives precedence to one’s career and while commercials are clamouring to them: “Say good bye to motherhood, until career is built up,” there is the compulsion to postpone or follow the Chinese model of one Child homes, for two reasons: it helps one to build up a fat bank balance, provided one has a good job, 2. Christians can boast they are following the ideal Nazareth Family of one child (Just forget for

the moment some bishops giving awards to families with four or more children.) Forgive them for they know not, what they are talking. Just recall the comment: “Celibate old males sitting in boardrooms, should not decide the fate of young couples in bedrooms.”

One Litmus Test for all?

The heart of the conflict is, some say, there should be a general rule on the basis of which each instance of divorce must be judged to see if their first marriage was valid or not because of the presence or absence of essential ingredients. The opposing group say every marriage is singular or exceptional and so will find itself like a square plug in a round hole when applied to man-made general rules. In fact according to Archbishop Marx of Munich “majority” of German bishops were for admitting divorcees to communion even long before Kasper made his position known and even before Francis was elected Pope. That discussion can go on endlessly. For me the overriding principle is totally different. It is the answer to the simple question: What is the biggest wonder of creation?

It is that no two individuals in this world are exactly the same: you are not like me and I am not like anyone else. No one’s dress will suit me. To make a long discussion short, no church court or civil court can sit in judgement over the validity or nullity of a marriage. The only court that can give a verdict with minimum margin of error is the honest commanding conscience of individuals concerned before God. To prevent anarchy in the field of marriage and divorce, what I could suggest is that divorced couples should be mediated to settle issues between them, by a religious or civil authority which is cost free, not time consuming but plays more an advisory role of a mother rather than the prescriptive or judgemental role of a court imitating the way Francis dealt with the 20 couples. Also let us remember all sacraments were man-made after the 3rd century and not God-made and so have to keep on changing, change being the only unchanging law of nature. Sabbath is for man and not man for Sabbath and who wrote the Bible: God? Jesus?

Beautiful, Enticing & Convincing

Some of the very beautiful statements I read and readily agree with are the following: Life centred on Jesus will begin only when last are first in Christian communities, when serving the poor, sick, homeless, despised and marginalised become our first priorities. Church is the house of God where the doors are always open wide to the prodigal. In addition it is the emergency field hospital busy attending to the mortally wounded, not a mortuary to perform autopsies on the spiritually dead. Revere the church calling it holy, catholic, apostolic etc but don’t forget, whole of it, is made up of holy sinners (santi peccatori). Weren’t all the apostles sinful, cowardly deserters of Jesus in custody. Yet he chose them.

What is truly of God: mercy or punishment? Gentleness and acting tough? Hence the call of John XXIII: go forward with the medicine of mercy, and the cry of Cardinal Kasper: “Name of our God is mercy.” To be graceful and merciful like Jesus, both rigourism and laxism are to be avoided; so too “hostile rigidity” of conservatives and “destructive good-will” of liberals.“ As for table fellowship, “communion should be withheld only in situations where we can visualise Jesus turning someone away from the table empty-handed and that is NEVER.” Let all argumentative theologians bent on finding out how many angels can stand on the pin point of a needle, put the above statements in their pipe and smoke it for one whole year! Contact at: jkottoor@asianetindia.com; Mob:9446219203

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Published in: Alamaysabdam, Kerala, Indian Currents, Delhi, Matters India, Delhi, Daily News, NY, Joychenputhukulam, Chicago

On 5 November 2014 17:29, louis menezes <louismenezes@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Mr. James Kotoor, a masterly piece. I am with you in everything you say. Do not be discouraged. More and more people are coming round to these positions and avidly read every word that Pope Francis utters. I am forwarding this to many friends.

In our own fraternity in Chennai, we keep on asking whether we are walking the path that Jesus expects us to walk. We know we fall short very badly. We also know that this cannot be corrected by our novenas, litanies, rosaries, pilgrimages and retreats. Nor by sermons. You have rightly brought out what position Jesus took in each difficult situation. That is what we should be doing.

Thank you for bringing Jesus into my heart and my home today. Warm regards. Louis

PS pl send me your phone number

Alphonse Bernard <alpho11228@yahoo.com>

Dear Dr Kottoor,

Your latest take on the theme of Pope Francis [Mercy over Punishment] makes a wonderful reading.

Perhaps I should call your reflections prophetic and provocative.

Every prophet in the Biblical tradition – from Isaiah to Amos, from Jeremiah to Joel-Jonah-John the Baptizer – dared to be provocative and subsequently prophetic.

A Christian prophet could is not man of lame words, singing the glories of the ruling party.

I am a regular reader of Almaya Sabdam and Puthukulam’s magazine.

It is a pity that there is no counter Vaideeka Sabdam to sound your views loud and clear.

There is emerging a new and counter “pontificate” against Pope Francis in certain quarters of the United States. Many bishops, by being silent as they haven’t nothing to say, are encouraging such

teachings.

Many hierarchs are boldly preaching counter messages. Many more lay members of the Church are becoming mini-popes. Media is full of them. Daily “blogs” are unfortunately becoming alternate Gospels, Letters, Infallible pronunciation and Encyclicals.

May be, that is a by-product of over-democratic journalism in the WEST!Catholics, non-Catholic Christians, non-Christians, and non believers are part of this new teaching authority in the Church.

If a Church educates clergy exclusively in Canon Law with a subtle plot to ordain every one of them as bishops, surely such bishops can’t have non-canon-law-perspectives on life.

The Franciscan Images of FIELD HOSPITAL or POOR CHURCH FOR THE POOR do not get into the heads of Capitalist market watchers.

Cheap unmarried men who have put on expensive ecclesiastical episcopal garbs have serious difficulty to listen to the anxious cries and existential needs of families.

Kindly continue to tell the King, “It is not right for you…”

I will pray that God spares your head/

Affection. GITANJALI A BERNARD, NEW YORK,Alphonse Bernard

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Synod Shifts to Parish, Diocesan Levels-dr.james kottoor

Synod Shifts to Parish, Diocesan Levels

Mature Thinking Year long on

Debatable Family Issues – Pope

Total transparency, away to all secrecy, enlightened Church Citizens to speak up, willing Bishops to listen, learn and dialogue at all levels, readiness to admit & correct mistakes publically by all are to be traits of Year long Reflection.

dr.james kottoor

Rome Synod Extraordinary, ended without ending! It was a two-week transfiguration on mountain top in Seven Hills city. They have now come down to ground realities of scorching heat at local parish level. For what? To brood over vexing family realities at home for another year — till October 2015 – to become more mature before taking final decisions on what they (bishops): 1. Have rejected for the moment, 2.What they have accepted with proviso and 3. What they have embraced unthinkingly, just because they were the things they always did.

One thing is logic and arithmetic of this mundane world; quite another, that of the world inside the bark of Peter in which the Nazarene takes a deep sleep like Kumbakaranan least bothered by thunder and lightning, fury of winds and waves tossing up Peter’s bark to dash it on giant Rocks. Peter thou art Rock, He had said. Which rock is to crush which rock? You and I have to find the answer.

The kingdom of God has its own logic. The last will be first there, the winners end up as losers there, because it is in giving that we receive, it is in losing that we win, it is in dying that we are born to life eternal. Did these thoughts prompt a Washington Post to run the headline: “Pope Francis and gays will win by losing this round on synod draft”? Will they? They should, if the logic of the Gospel is to stay last and lost to come first; if the God of Francis is not a Catholic God, but a God of Surprises! So wisdom, both worldly and other worldly forbid us to open the mouth in judgment, until the juice extracted from ripe grapes crushed extraordinarily at this sitting and kept in sealed jars, is allowed to ferment for one whole year to mature with needed kick and modest sweetness for all to take a sip and dance in joy.

Thorny Synod Topics

What are the thorny topics we have to ponder over at parish and “Domestic Church” (family) levels to which the debate is shifted now and to which the pastors have to listen with humility to learn and grow mature? They are broken marriages, divorced relations, remarried without annulment of the earlier one, cohabiting youngsters as well as elders, gay unions, lesbian relations and all that is included in the nomenclature in abbreviation LGBT taking in four groups — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender—all of them seeking admission to Table Fellowship (communion).

Which of these broken families are found in India? None? Who has ever done a survey? “Inter-religious marriages is problem here” says one of the three cardinals who returned from the synod. It is not clear on which survey his conclusion is based. Without conducting a Vatican ordered survey of families, Indian bishops sent their secret reports. It could have been an exercise in talking from their tops, an exercise in guess-work. Even if

no data on inter-religious marriages is available, there are any amount of data gathered and sent to Rome on inter-diocesan, inter-Rite and inter-blood (pure and impure blood) marriages and complications created. They are very much discussed by Church Citizens in the Capital (Delhi Explosion), in Chennai, in Kerala and in USA. Bishops of the Indian Church refuse to take part in it. It is a forbidden topic for Catholic publications but a festive item in all websites run by Church Citizens.

Is Christ divided and broken up, is the title of the 155 page petition sent to Pope. It highlights the messy Indian Church history from the creation of Kalian Eparchy, then leapfrogging across the ocean to Chicago, Melbourne; now spreading to Faridabad and planning to plant one in Chennai etc. All these are done by diktats from above while the Rome Synod demands: “Bishops from all over the world will have to listen to the laity in their respective dioceses…. I expect laypersons to be protagonists who search for real solutions with their heads held high!” according to Bishop Bruno Forte the Synod Secretary.

So the first duty for the three Rite-based (not Jesus based) churches in India, to my mind, is to put their own houses in order first, by conducting a pew-survey of the three Rites and then acting on it to wipe out all conflicts. If one year was wasted doing nothing, there is still one more year left, to study ground realities and to make course correction to make themselves, led by Jesus, and not by their respective Rites, which is wrong.

Migration Breaking Familiies

Another issue that causes the break up of families is poverty leading to migration to find at least unskilled work in gulf countries, causing prolonged separation for young couples who do not have the charisma to practice celibacy which the consecrated lot claims to have but fails many. And think of marriage described as a Sexual Sacrament of Intercourse by an Australian couple Ron and Mavis Pirola, from Sydney with four children, one of them notably gay. Describing their 50 years of happy married life Pirola told some 200 celibate prelates: “the only feature that distinguishes our sacramental relationship from that of any other good Christ-centred relationship is sexual intimacy ….. Marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse.” He found Church teaching on sex impenetrable and when their gay son wanted to bring home his partner for Christmas, Pirola’s grand children could be satisfied with a three-word explanation: ‘He’s our son.’

The synod gave Pirolas a round of applause according to British Cardinal Nicolas for their out of box eye-popping talk. It also set off conservative critics to term it, “damaging” and “Scandalous”. This is just an example of how open the synod discussions were and what Francis wants to see taking place at parish and diocesan levels, to which unfinished Synod discussions are shifted. Possible? The concluding ordinary Synod is to take place from Oct.4 to 25, 2015. Are parish priests and diocesan bishops ready to listen and learn from talks like Australian Pirolas during this one year period?

Pope Admits & corrects Mistakes

Readiness to admit mistakes and correct himself in public was a remarkable trait Francis exhibited at the Synod. “Welcoming” gays into the church and giving them “fraternal space” were the objectionable phrases in the original draft… While referring to them in his concluding speech Francis said: “The task of the pope is to guarantee the unity of the church; to remind pastors that their first duty is to feed the flock — feed the flock — that the Lord has entrusted to them and try to search to welcome — with fatherhood and mercy and without false fears — the lost sheep,” he said. Then, saying, “I made a mistake,” Francis corrected himself: “I said welcome. Go find them!” is the correct wording.

What a great example on the part of the supreme pastor to admit that he made a mistake and equally correcting the mistake instantly and publicly. It is not the first time that Francis responds positively and quickly to reasonable critics. For instance, when he hand-picked a slate of six prelates to shape the synod’s final document, Africans objected saying none from their continent had been selected. So Francis immediately added to the list Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, on Thursday.

Quite legitimate was the African criticism since Church is flourishing there. Africa fascinates both the Catholic left and right in the West, in different ways. Liberals are fond of empowering the “Third World” and hearing their voices, but that tends to end when those voices say things liberals don’t want to hear, especially on sex and family. Most of them in Africa oppose lesbian trends.

But It is to be noted, says a report, during the last century, the Catholic population of sub-Saharan Africa went from 1.9 million to more than 130 million – a staggering growth rate of 6,708 percent. Vocations are also booming across the continent. Bigard Memorial Seminary in south eastern Nigeria, with an enrolment of more than 1,100, is now said to be the largest Catholic seminary in the world. Compared to such abundance, what has the Syromalabar Church to boast of? It had an overflow of vocations, but we all know, it is fast declining now.

3 Failed Topics & Transparency

Of the original draft of 62 topics to be put to vote, only three failed to get two-thirds. They were 1. Pastoral care for gay people, 2. Communion to divorced and 3. Handling the remarried who did not obtain annulments before remarrying. These three topics did not get the traditional two-thirds majority support, that is, 122 of the 183 prelates who were present during voting. But Francis wanted both the original and corrected versions to be published to hide nothing from the Bishops to help them reflect during the one year still left to weigh the pros and cons.

According to reports “Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said Saturday the pope decided to publish the synod’s entire final document, including the three paragraphs without a two-thirds majority, “to ensure maximum transparency on this whole process” and to allow bishops’ conferences around the world to use the document in preparation for the 2015 synod.

Calling the synod a “journey” Francis continued:”Like every walk there were moments of running fast, as if to win time and reach the goal as quickly as possible; other moments of tiredness, as if to say that’s enough; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour… There were moments of profound consolation, listening to the testimony of true pastors that wisely bring in to the heart the joys and the cries of the faithful”

Temptations on Journey

But calling it “a journey of men,” the pope said “there were also moments of desolation, of tension and of temptations, of which you could mention some possibilities.” Listing those temptations, the pope began with “the temptation of the hostile rigorist.”

“From the time of Jesus, it is the temptation of the zealots, of the scrupulous … considered — today — ‘traditionalists’ and even ‘intellectualists,” he said. The pope then warned against “the temptation of destructive do-Gooding, which in the name of a false mercy bands wounds and cures them without first medicating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and roots. It is the temptation of ‘do-gooders’.. considered ‘progressives’ and ‘liberals,'” he said.

Three other temptations mentioned by the pope are:

* “To transform the stone into bread to break a long fast, heavy and painful, and also to transform the bread into stone and throw it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick, namely to turn it into ‘unbearable burdens;”

* “To come down from the cross, to please the people, and not to stay to fulfil the will of the father; to bow to worldly spirit rather than purify it and bend it to the Spirit of God;”

* “To neglect the ‘deposit of faith,’ considering us not preservers but owners and masters or, the temptation to ignore the realty, using a meticulous language and a language of polishing to say many things and to not say anything! They call them ‘Byzantineisms,’ I think these things.”

The pope, described himself, not the supreme lord but “the supreme servant — the servus servorum Dei [the servant of the servants of God]; the guarantor of obedience and conformity of the church to the will of God, the Gospel of Christ, and the tradition of the church,”

Concluding, the pope referred to the upcoming 2015 synod and said the bishops “now still have a year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families face.” Francis was given five minutes of roaring applause by Synod fathers for his inspiring talk, Joshua McElwee and others report from Rome.

But to be down to earth what are the challenges this report demand from the Church in India, on national, Diocesan and Parish levels? It looks there are three for the consideration of responsible persons at the helm of affairs in the Church, if they are ready to follow the example of Pope Francis:

1. Practice of total transparency in Church administration by saying goodbye to all secrecy?

2. Admitting mistakes publicly, knowing well, we all, however highly or lowly placed, make mistakes and blunders knowingly or unknowingly,

3.

4. To show courage to own up mistakes publicly (not privately) and say “I have goofed” as Francis did publicly. That is real confession, not the “sacramental one” done in secrecy.

To achieve all this what is needed at the diocesan level are outstanding Church citizens who hold their heads high to speak up clearly and fearlessly, and bishops with vision and conviction to listen to learn through dialogue until working solutions are found.

Can be contacted at: jkottoor@asianeindia.com

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Published in: Malayalam Daily News, New York, Joychenputhukulam, Chicago, Almayasabdam, Kerala, Matters India, Delhi, Indian Currents, Delhi, V2Catholic.com A voice for the poor, Hong Kong, Catholica, NSW, Australia

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Let us Choose Reforms Don Aguiar.

Below is an article in the latest issue of the SECULAR CITIZEN that will be on the stands this – 25 May

Do comment / respond on the article – Let us Choose Reforms    

Happy Reading

Don Aguiar

Mob – +91 9820603927.

Let us Choose Reforms                                                                       Don Aguiar.

One of the most honest statements from a clergy official of the Archdiocese of Bombay in recent times came from the inner circle of the clergy team who said big reforms are not applicable to a community like ours. At a recent event, he said, “If you look around the world, big dramatic reforms happen around crisis.” He also added, “Big reforms are not easy to happen in a community like ours that follows the principle of democracy. In democracies, you have multiple veto centers, multiple decision-making centers and it is very difficult to push through decisive change and if you look at our community at this juncture, we are not in crisis.”

There you go. All you big change seekers, the party is over even before it started. The inner circle of the clergy and their chief has, in effect, said they don’t want to rock the boat. Things won’t change much and things won’t change fast. For the community it will continue to be pray, pay and obey while for the clergy and their chief who belongs to the secular / diocesan order will still not have to take the “Vow of Poverty”. In such perfect settings why would the secular / diocesan clergy who control the Archdiocese of Bombay want change as suggested by the community?

People in the community are turning impatient, their trust and confidence have started to slip, and while none in the community will publicly criticize the clergy leadership, the profuse praise has certainly stopped. The only thing going for the clergy leadership right now is the civic and political associations they have thrown their weight behind, who at least at present are struck more by power lust than the lust for responsibly and honestly helping the community.  Any reasonably organized association from another community would be able to take on this power lust civic and political association, and this just without much difficulty. Look how easily the ‘non interference’ and ‘I do not care’ attitude labeling has stuck. Or how our Churches and institutions are attacked and damaged. Or how there is little certainty about the future of our community being able to practice and profess our religion and customs as guaranteed by our constitution.

Sometimes, for purpose of amusement, the inner circle of the clergy and their chief asks, ‘What reforms do you want us to do anyway?’ Well, that is pretty clear. They revolve around opening up and being transparent in the areas of church and parishes institutions finances and properties, building houses and infrastructure for the community on these properties, interact with the government in safeguarding the community interests, looking after the welfare of the community and making it easier for the community to do business and live a peaceful and prosperous existence, which in turn creates jobs, growth and raises revenues for welfare projects.

I think the intention is there. Many in the inner circle of the clergy and their chief are extraordinarily capable people, fully aware of what it will take to restore the community’s confidence and the like.

So why don’t they do it? The issue is what the chief of the clergy stated. ‘In a democracy, change isn’t easy. Though the community people feel things need to change, everyone has a different idea of what that change is. I might think a more cautious approach is better.’

And since our community is closet socialists, trusting a more cautious setup is proving difficult for our community. Abuse can occur both in socialist and cautious systems, but a cautious set up does tend to get people impatient. However, it appears that the inner circle of our clergy and their chief would prefer that the community would rather have lesser opportunities and be in a familiar, oppressive system than trust a new system. Until that mentality changes, which means until the entire clergy and their chief change, there cannot be reforms. The risk of shoving in change the clergy and their chief are not ready for is simply too high. The only time it happened was some years ago, when we had a crisis, and that is somehow the only time our community and clergy become one and listen to reason.

This takes me to my trip to Chennai a few weeks ago, a lesson worth sharing, where I had the pleasure of eating what were without question the best idlis that I ever have had. This was at a small stall in Cuddalore going by the name of Shri Idlis. This place is a little shack on a small road in a desultory residential colony and is basic enough not to have any sign that displays its name. The idlis were divine, the upma even more so, but they had run out of dosas, which is what they are really famous for.

Like many other stalls of this kind there were clear codes to be followed – they were open only for breakfast – once they run out of batter, they shut shop for the next day and idlis that become cold are not served to customers. They have been in operation for around 30 years, were used to receiving guests from all over the world, but they couldn’t be bothered to add a bench for people to sit down.

All over India there are these wonderful places, most of these places have no branches, little by way of marketing and almost every single day they run out of food to serve. They serve absolutely brilliant food and they all have one thing in common – they know when to stop..

If we do want big reform, many tiny changes are required in the mindset of our community and the clergy and their chief. The rich vs poor, land owners vs tenants, outsiders vs desi conflicts that we have created in our heads deny us the belief that win-win situations are possible but the need is to know when to stop… and follow clear codes… just like the wonderful eating places do for maintaining their clientele, getting good reviews enabling them to increase their clientele and keeping their staff vibrant by ensuring democracy, goodwill and the welfare of their staff.

A vibrant community is important for democratic traditions and those who are peacefully seeking change are not anti clergy. The community has an ‘inalienable right’ in a democratic community like ours to argue peacefully and asking questions to the clergy or challenging their actions does not mean that one is trying to weaken either the clergy and their chief or their secular / diocesan order on the whole

All this doesn’t mean the inner circle of the clergy and their chief doesn’t have to do anything. They promised change, and they have to somehow deliver on it. Some risks for the community’s good will have to be borne – what else is a bold inner circle of the clergy and their chief anyway?

Yes, our community and the inner circle of the clergy and their chief want change but are scared of it at the same time. The trick is to come up with creative solutions that lead to reform and minimize damage. Interacting with the government in safeguarding the community’s interest and making transparency in areas of Church and Parish institutions finances and properties for example, is a less of an issue than building houses and infrastructure for the community, and perhaps that could be taken up first.

A few big items, along with proper communication to change mindsets, would do us all good. Giving up, being too cautious or going too slow won’t. Sometimes, in life, not taking a risk is the biggest risk.

Perhaps the  mistake the chief of the clergy made was to project himself as a cautious leader the community always wanted. The truth is: Much as we may all like to believe in the myth of the cautious leader, in reality we are looking for benevolence, simplicity, a leader who can hold together so many disagreements. That is the challenge. We are only a community in idea. Actually we all pull in different directions   No, there is nothing wrong with that. We hold together because we are all so unlike each other. It’s our diversity, our plurality our multiple mysticisms that bind us together.

Each of us in our community represents a unique identity, a different culture, a different background, a different caste, language and yet coming together to build our amazing community. For a great community the future will not be built on uniformity or on forcefully erasing differences but by celebrating them. If the chief of the clergy can lend shape to that, we will have the community we want, where we can all have our own share.

A community that will help us all to be what we are. Irrespective of what we believe in, where we come from, what we eat, what we wear, the language we speak, the cast we belong to, the saints we worship, the gender we are, the calling we pursue. Nothing will matter but the fact that we all stand proudly under one flag/leader, unafraid of what we are.

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