Today, 25th January, we celebrate the feast of the “conversion” of one of the greatest figures in our Church; St Paul. On June 29th along with St Peter, the church celebrates the martyrdom of these two greats who gave up their lives for the sake of Christ.
We know about St Paul from the New Testament and from Christian tradition. St Luke mentions him in the Acts of the Apostles and we also know him from the various epistles that he wrote as part of his missionary activity. From my little knowledge of Church history, Except for St Francis Xavier, who comes close, there is no other Saint or Christian who can equal St Paul in his missionary zeal and activity. And even more so, since his work of evangelization still continues 2000 years after his death, through his epistles that we read in the New Testament. However, the earlier part of St Paul’s life, was exactly the opposite of what he is known for now.
Saul was probably a native of Tarsus, Turkey, and was educated in Jerusalem. He is known to be a student of the distinguished rabbinic teacher Gamaliel. The early part of his life, as we will read in the Acts of the Apostles, was basically Anti Christian. He did everything in his power to persecute and kill all those who followed Christ. He consented to the killing of the first Christian Martyr, St Stephen, as we read in Acts Ch 7-8. He was so zealous in his endeavor, that he requested the high priest for letters to drag the Christians in Damascus, in chains, back to Jerusalem to pay the price of betrayal of the Jewish faith. But the road to Damascus was the turning point of his zeal… We read in Chapter 9 of the Acts of how the Lord appeared to Saul and later gave him the command to evangelise. Thus began the journey of the Apostle who may have never met the Lord in flesh, but definitely in spirit (Gal 2:20- yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me).
He is known for promoting the admittance of Gentiles into the Christian community, which was earlier reserved only to converts from Jews. His missionary journeys finally ended in Rome, the centre of world power at that time. His continued missionary work has resulted in later times, the embracing of Christianity in Rome and thus initiating its propagation to the whole world. He was beheaded around the year 64-65 AD.
St Paul has been declared the patron Saint of all forms of Catholic Action. Hence today, many of us Laity, who stand by the Truth of the Gospel and the Church, commit ourselves to the intercession of this great Saint that we may be blessed in our endeavors. We ask a special prayer for the AOCC (Association of Concerned Catholics), CPF (Catholics for the Preservation of the Faith), CSF (Catholic Secular Forum), Mr Michael Prabhu and his ministry, and all other lay movements that stand for the faith and truth, that they be blessed in their endeavors in exposing and fighting the corruption in this Archdiocese in Mumbai and the Church in India.
In our reflection today and with emphasis on Catholic action, we shall reflect on a verse from a letter of St Paul assisted by a commentary of the same verse by St John Chrysostom.
1 Cor 2:14:- Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually.
St John Chrysostom:-
“Dost thou see the craft of the Devil? If any where he saw men speaking anything corrupt, he made all to be of one mind; but if any where speaking anything sound, he raised up others against them”
It is clearly evident from the commentary that the craft of the devil is to horde together those who are corrupt in thought that they may subjugate those who rise up against their corruption. It’s probably from this commentary that the worldview is born “Birds of one Feather flock together”. But St John Chrysostom from his rich experience of his personal life asserts that these ‘corrupt’ birds will rise up against the person who speaks the truth.
Here is where we must ask ourselves; do we know of any such incidents in our diocese?
I KNOW! AND I’M GOING TO TELL YOU.
Fr xxx is known in the diocese as the ‘promoter of SCC’s ‘. But what many do not know is that he was expelled from teaching in the seminary and the laity through the ‘Ministry of the Word’ because of his erroneous doctrine. And what is the reward for explicitly teaching his opinion as church teaching, ‘Promoter of the SCC’s ‘.
The ‘Women’s Commission’, whose function in the diocese is a mystery, has never stepped in to help Ms. Judith Monteiro from Dadar,in her 8+ years of struggle in fighting the false allegation against her. Yet, when a woman is raped in another city, they seemed to have woken up to raise awareness of women’s rights.
When the AOCC were willing to join hands with one of the members, who were making a hue and cry about a Bishop impregnating a Nun, they were suddenly silent lest they be exposed for of their insidious agenda.
Apart from their intentions being sinister, there are indications that these women are of the same feather of those who were advocating for the ordination of women priests. And what is their reward, our Cardinal Oswald Gracias, IMMEDIATELTLY jumps to their demand to have a candle light service.
Certain woman has been very vocal in their support for the ordination women priests and has gone further to state that the words in the liturgy have to be changed in order to support equality of women. One of those womans children remain un baptised, which is a gross violation of the Code of Canon Law with regards to interfaith marriages, and further, her statement that she had a Hindu wedding makes her a Hindu as per the Hindu Law. What’s her reward? Nomination to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council on recommendation of the Cardinal and appointed to the editorial board of the official mouthpiece of the church in Mumbai, India.
On the other hand, let us look at one of the most upright priests in our diocese, Fr Conrad Saldanha and his reward. Fr Conrad is a priest who has written over 500 reflections on the DAILY gospel readings. He has written over 25 articles which compound scripture and Catholic Doctrine in true authenticity. He conducted one of the most successful retreat ministries in the diocese. And what is his reward? He has been charged with FALSE allegations, fabricated by corrupt individuals. The hierarchy have supported, both, the corrupted allegations and accusers in attacking this priest. Norms of Canon Law and deprived this upright priest of his priestly ministry. The notary at the proceedings against Fr Conrad,allegedly ‘DOCTORED ‘ and ‘FABRICATED’ the transcription of the proceedings in order to meet a desired end . The Nuncio, of course, continues to warm his seat. Fr Conrad is isolated in the Seminary and any visitors are told that he is either not in or can’t be reached, when he is very well in the seminary. He is made to eat along with the servants and the food provided is unfit for human consumption. Baseless rumors are continued to be spread in the diocese. All this, with the knowledge of the authoritites.The Cardinal himself has allegedly published a post on a blog which maligns Fr Conrad’s name, as can be adjudged by the presence of his ‘Coat of Arms’. And all of this why ? Because he is an upright priest.
And Fr Conrad is not the only example of an upright person being persecuted. We have read in this blog of incidents of Fr Hugh Fonseca’s name was continued to be maligned, both, nationally and internationally, until the AOCC stepped in and FORCED a clarification from the Cardinal. Mrs. Judith Monteiro was humiliated for 8+ years, and albeit the Cardinals clarification, her name is still to be cleared in the Parish. And why all this? Because they are upright.
Mr. Gordon Jacobs has been working tirelessly for exposing and finding a solution in our diocese with the help of his team of AOCC members. When exposing corrupt practices of a priest in Kalina, his name was maligned and he was declared ‘ Public Enemy No.1’. And why? Because he is upright.
I will not go into details as will be writing an article shortly with regards to this matter, but an old, widowed lady, is still bearing the cost of the funeral arrangements of the late Fr Rufus Pereira and the Cardinal is taking her round in circles. In my opinion, you can take all the priests in the LARGEST deanery in our archdiocese, put them all together and I can guarantee you that still they can’t compare to Fr Rufus’ dedication and service to our Church and the world over. He was SLAPPED by another priest which resulted in permanent damage to his eye, and yet there is no investigation or action against the defaulter. Rumors against him, continue to spread and yet no support from the Archdiocese. And why? Because he is an upright man.
Dear Readers, if you’ll have reached this part of the article, there is no way you’ll can claim ignorance. You now know of how corrupt our officials are. The AOCC have been accused of being ANTI-CLERGY. If they are so, then why are they willing to stand by those, among the clergy, who have been in a way, FED TO THE DOGS?
Today’s focus is not on the corruption. The Church has always had corruption right from the time of its inception. Today’s focus is YOUR ACTION. What are you willing to do? On the feast of the patron Saint of Catholic action, are you willing to set aside your cowardice and fear in order to fight for the Church that you have been assigned to protect by the virtue of your Baptism?
WHAT YOU GONNA DO?
“For all of you are children of the LIGHT and children of the day. We are not of the night or darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober”. (I Th 5:5) NAB
Let us ask the patron Saint of Catholic action, that while the darkness prevails in our diocese, we may behave like the children of LIGHT and expose all that is not of God. ( ref : Eph 5:11)