CBCI: Become Aam Aadmi Pastors!

CBCI: Become Aam Aadmi Pastors!

AAP Means Aam Aadmi Pope!
           Can Indian Bishops become aam aadmi shepherds imitating Pope Francis? Church Citizens plead for dialogue & inclusion, their due, in CBCI, through parallel meet, Knanites through prayer march call for expulsion of advocates of pure blood in Kottayam Diocese. Not Rite but be Right!
 
dr. james kottoor
          The new full form of AAP is: Aam Aadmi Pope. He in fact was the first to herald the dawn of an aam aadmi culture in Vatican and among the high and mighty world leaders. How? Wasn’t he the first to put his foot down and tell all in their face: “Carnival time is over” to sweep out the VVIP, Imperial, pompous culture  from the Catholic Church starting with Vatican?

 

 

         Now  the mind boggling challenge hurled  at  over 200 Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) due to begin  their biennial week-long sitting in Palai, Kerala  on Feb. 5th is simply this: Become Aaam Aadmi Pastors like Francis or at least hatch out  a bunch of aam aadmi pastoral chicks, a la Pope Francis, to replace the royal, imperial, feudalistic, aristocratic, even autocratic,  other worldly life style of the Indian Hierarchy totally out of touch with ground realities of the real aam aadmi in India today and modern internet world.

 

 

:       Will their week long sitting succeed to give at least an Aam Aadmi face lift and the much needed structural change to the Indian Episcopal conference?  Pappa Francis has been always talking of a “poor church for the poor”. Our bishops surely can do this instantly and at little cost. How? Just imitate the new Political outfit called Aam Aadmi Party (AAP} even if it may look humiliating for those expected to be role models in society. Bowing to truth wherever you find it, is not humiliating, but ennobling. Simply declare and proclaim at the very out set:

 

 

       “We the Catholic Bishops of India renounce and reject for good the VVIP, flashy, flamboyant  culture starting with our addiction to a soothing royal, imperial,  godly but outdated honorific titles and appellations like:  You Eminence, Your Grace, Your Highness, Your Excellency, Monsignor, Most Rev. Very Rev. Rt. Rev and Rev for the just ordained  – all  wrong and blasphemous — and the all too costly life style  in palaces and moving around  in posh cars – even imported bulletproof ones reportedly  —  and  all sorts of dressing up and make up for  public display like the newly weds,  in silk and satin, gold and silver and matching head gears reminiscent  of  princes of a dead bygone era,  and   the company of a coterie of “yes- men” when in public space,” never alone, also for security reasons perhaps.

 

Ordinaries with Small “o”

 

       Technically and canonically,  Bishops  are known as  “Ordinaries” ” and “Servants of Servants” with capital “O” and “S” It costs far less to become real ordinaries and servants like the rest of us with “o” and “s:” in the lower case.  Bishops  would then become more Jesus-like who started off his life from a cattle shed. He  had no place to lay his head, walked the dusty     roads of Palestine dressed like any other Jew though he bitterly criticized the “long tussles” of High priests of his time.. The famous Limousine he borrowed for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem was an Ass and his final crown a ring of thorns, his burial place a borrowed tomb.

 

        Our Bishops could further add: “Call us instead Brother Cardinal, Brother Archbishop, Brother Bishop, Brother Priest only,” since imitating a Barak Obama called “Mr.  President” may look too secular for a religious Indian Culture. This is what Kejriwal did when he give up security  and Lal Batti culture and won  the hearts of the whole nation instantly, nay the whole world.  Why? Because what makes more sense for the country bred ordinary people with little or no education is semblance than substance, being carried away as they are, more by out ward appearances. Signs and symbols and body language of leaders who readily mix with them, sit with them, walk with them, listen to them and talk to them from the heart not from the head capture their hearts.  Studied speeches delivered with eloquence from distant public podiums will make no sense to them. That is what Pappa Francis means when he says that Bishops should have the “Smell of the sheep” which they cannot have if they are “Airport Port Bishops” more in the air than on earth in their dioceses among their flock.

 

            Francis became an aam aadmi at one shot when he described himself: “I am  a Sinner”. How much more could he belittle or humiliate himself before the whole world?  He went further to say: it is human not only to make mistakes but even to commit sins, to equate himself or empathize with frail humans. He calls up letter writers of different hue. Tells a pregnant deserted lady, he would baptize her baby when borne, tells a youngster in distress to call him “tu” in the singular to make him feel easy and equal in his company, lives in community in common apartment, serves tea for himself and even for the guard at his door, on travel carries own handbag and queues up to board a plane, delights to visit drug infested slums. Still the wonder is, he is not yet accused of being a “friend of drunkards and prostitutes or insane” as Jesus his Master was accused of in His time. In short humility, simplicity, equality, approachability availability and closeness to the poor (aam aadmi) always with a smiling face everywhere are the hallmarks of his papacy, all of which call for imitation, not imposition, by Bishops in India and else where.

 

 

        But it looks; Pope’s example has created ripples and responses more outside than inside the Catholic Church. Archbishop Mar Kurillos of Jacobite Church of Thiruvalla, Kerala, in his pastoral letter read in all churches said that the church should say good bye to gold and silver crosses, flag posts, fire works etc. imitating the simplicity of Pope Francis, according to reports. Similarly in the secular domain AAP’s popularity with India’s poor has prompted even rival parties like Congress and BJP to imitate Kejriwal’s example. But none of these seems to have made an impact on the pompous, hierarchical life style in the Catholic Church. This is a serious point for the consideration of the CBCI in Palai.

 

 

Church Citizens, not Laity

 

       Besides even ahead of the Palai CBCI meet people from different quarters including the second International telephone conference of Syromalabar Church (SMC) citizens (Laity) held on Jan.24th have raised several pertinent questions and objections to the meet. The common people in the SMC now call themselves “Church Citizens,” since the word “laity” has become obsolete and fraught with various pejorative connotations and insinuations pointing to their lowest status in the Catholic hierarchical ladder, similar to Sudras in Indian Caste system. The low castes are considered good only to be ordered about because of their assumed ignorance, illiteracy, incompetence and slavish attitudes.

 

 

        Being called, Church citizens puts the laity on a par  with bishops, cardinals and Pope. That is what Francis wants them to be. So they ask why they are not part of the Biennial Assembly of the Church in India in Palai. Francis had said it explicitly; the Church should be a communion of all believers — Pope, Bishops and all the faithful. Thinking with the church does not mean thinking with bishops. Infallibility of the church is vested in the whole church, thinking and acting alike in mind and heart. It was to find out the heart beats of ordinary folks on challenges the family faces today that Francis ordered last October an opinion poll at parish level, which is in progress in many countries but not even announced in India. The role of Bishops is that of elected political representatives, to work as servants, not masters. The faithful are the masters, as “We the people” are masters in Indian Democracy. Left to themselves Bishops are like generals who are nothing and can do nothing without the army. So the present gathering of Bishops alone in Palai is a non starter as the assembly of the Church since the laity is and was already  acknowledged to be, not only “in the forefront of the church  but of being the Church” itself long ago by Pope Pius XII, and  confirmed recently by Vatican II.

 

                The second moot question is the theme of the CBCI meet reported as: “Reformed Church reforming society” The phrase “Reformed Church” reminds one of the prayer of the Pharisee in the temple. It is an insult to the intentions, intelligence and explicit statement of Vatican II which says unequivocally that the Church is and has to be always in dire need of reform (Semper Reformanda is the phrase used). So the theme is a non-starter too. First the church has to put its own house in order before thinking of the society outside which is ahead of the church, by 200 years as observed by late cardinal of Milan, in thinking, dialoguing, discussing trough teleconferences and taking  joint decisions fast using modern technologies of communication.

 

Ideal Reformed Church

 

                Journey towards the ideal reformed church is going to be a very tedious long, long, thousand times long journey to the roots of Christianity, to those utopian apostolic times when they had everything in common. In those days each one worked according to his capacities and got according to his needs and therefore no one was in need or want in the community. It was the beginning of Christian Communism, when all did what they said: “All that is mine is yours” unlike present day communists who say: “All that is yours is mine,” as stated by  famous   Bishop Fulton J. Sheen of revered memory.

 

               In such a Church the present day spiritual leaders – Bishops and priests or the so-called clergy  –  would confine themselves to prayer, preaching and moral guidance only  without fear or favour (Contemplata tradere = handing over what they absorbed through contemplation) and never touch money to fight the “Idolatry of Money” in Francis’ words. Money matters to take care of the material needs of the poor, orphans and widows would instead be handled by seven or more honest experts prayed over and chosen, as it used to be  in the Apostolic Church. At present we can only prayerfully dream of, and hope against hope that this utopia comes true one day. Only none of us alive today may live to see it happen.

 

Spreading  Good News or Rite?

 

            Two other moot questions pestering the Indian Church and SMC in particular are: 1. The Rite question, 2. Defining the concept of evangelisation. Both need elaborate discussion, not possible here. As for Rites, any Rite is all right,  but the craze for promoting one’s own Rite is disastrous, as bad as creating divisions untold in the place of unity of all followers dreamt of and prayed for by Jesus. It is as bad as promoting religious colonies and territorial out posts and safe zones  as the be-all and end-all of all Rites forgetting Jesus’ words: ”My kingdom is not of this world.”  It is on the same footing as the universally accepted scandal called: “Divided churches”, diametrically opposed to the will and prayer of Jesus who built no church of brick and mortar but predicted the downfall of their only Jerusalem temple built by human hands, as a forewarning to temples yet to be built by brick and mortar.

 

          To replace it he also predicted: “Destroy this temple; I will replace it in three days.” He did it with his resurrection and all through life he was busy building and repairing, not divisive immovable temples, but living, walking temples of flesh and blood  — healing the sick, blind, lame, paralyzed, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted, oppressed and outcast. They belonged to all sections of  humanity, but hardly to his own Jewish blood group which today is promoted under the guise of Community, Patriarchy, Rite etc. After Syromalabar and Syromalankara, we may now have to invent new names like Syro-Knana, Syro-Americana, Syro-Australiana, and Syro-Euro  and all such  Syros  to finally end up in a Zero-Gulf or watery grave.  Personally I can give only that much importance to Rite question.

 

 

            Secondly what are these divided churches, especially of the CMC variety preoccupied with?  Multiplying own brand of parishes, dioceses in all continents — in US, in Australia, in Middle East, in Europe, raising  funds in Euro and  $ to buy  own  posh headquarters very near to the power centre in Vatican? In doing this are they spreading the “odour of Jesus” or the suffocating stench of a particular church-brand,  and acting like “I am of Peter,”  “I am of Paul”?  Is this evangelisation meant to spread the good news of “glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good will” world wide in the fraternal unity of all humans  or  is it not promoting divisive tendencies, nay divisions within subdivisions endless as in our accursed caste system? These are explosive issues or time bombs, which if not checked in time, are bound to explode smashing to smithereens all tall claims these divisive  forces are  indulging in as a sport of kite flying.

 

 

             In any case the thinking sections of Church citizens, at least in the SMC in US and Kerala seem to be very much exercised over these issues and are going ahead with or without the bishops, as the latter has refused even to enter into a dialogue with them in spite of their honest efforts over more than one month. So parallel meetings and prayer processions of Church citizens are being planned by a Knanaya group on Feb.7th in Palai demanding ouster of Kottayam Diocese from the Catholic community for practising endogamy (purity of blood) which is against 1. Teachings of Jesus, 2. Church laws, 3. Human rights and another, a two day seminar in Ernakulam, Feb.8— 9 of Church Citizens excluded from the CBCI meet to plan out future strategy including establishing direct hot line with the easily approachable Francis Papa to revive vertical dialogue gone extinct and harmony in place of in-fighting in the SMC. So the coming days are going to be challenging times of prayer, frantic search and honest introspection to find the right path for the growth of true discipleship in Jesus for all church citizens.
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About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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3 Responses to CBCI: Become Aam Aadmi Pastors!

  1. Do not know who this guy is—- BUT he has hit the nail on the head— but the present heads we presently have are made of cured concrete, a mere nail will not penetrate.
    I sincerely hope this scenario in the Church is not a no win situation.
    There is also a saying ” OLD HABITS DIE HARD ”
    We have the hope of a snowball at the Equator, in getting these cronies to improve

  2. Isaac Gomes says:

    Dr. James Kottoor must be congratulated on presenting our bishops virtually in R.K. Laxman style! What happened at Palai is given below:

    The 187 member-bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in their XXXI Plenary Assembly held at Palai Kerala in February 2014, issued their Final Statement covering the following issues:

    1. The Church exercises her mission in a world marked by a tremendous imbalance: a few very rich and the vast majority poor struggling to eke out a living. The Document on the Church in the Modern World, impels the members of the Church to an involvement in the effective social dialogue to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
    – CBCI has not spelt out how it proposes to close this ever-widening gap.

    2. The Council document on the Laity points out that the lay faithful have a specific role in society – that of penetrating and perfecting the temporal order in the spirit of the Gospel.
    – This statement is hazy. Does it mean sharing of the riches of the church including administration of its institutions with the laity, its co-partner? Will the Church hierarchy decide on the Laity’s role? Or will the Laity which constitutes 80% of the Church arise and decide itself?

    3. Corruption plaguing every sphere of society of our country: In such a scenario, Church institutions must be an example of transparency and probity.
    – For “transparency and probity” first all parishes have to disclose their income & expenses, receipt of donations, disbursal of sponsorship and all assets to their parishioners. At present this is not being done by most parishes. Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) and Parish Finance Committee (PFC) as mandated by Vatican II have to be transparently installed in each parish in India within a given time-frame. Most parishes in India do not have these basic structures in place. How many Catholic institutions will disclose the number of Catholic/Christian students which is far below the norm specified by the Supreme Court of India? Instead of serving its own minority students, our institutions are catering to the 90% majority. A systematic entry-bar has been created by our top-notch missionary institutions through increasingly high fees which most Catholic families cannot afford even after getting concessions. The church authorities have conveniently forgotten that our missionary institutions were founded championing the cause of providing quality education to our own minority children. For this “Minority Institution” status and various exemptions were obtained from the government.

    4. Participatory structures have been established in several regions, dioceses and parishes. Youth have experienced empowerment through training programs and services.
    – These structures, training programs and instances of empowerment have not been specified. The Laity could draw upon these success stories. At least in Bengal youth empowerment is make-believe – everything depends on the whims and fancies of parish priests. No authentic statistics, not even from Calcutta Archdiocese, is available on youth development.

    5. For this, our liturgies have to be well prepared, participative and meaningful.
    – Most of our liturgies are stereotyped and the sermons without substance. In this age of communication, priests and religious need regular courses in oratory skills and in public relation.

    6. We will so orient the formation of future priests and religious that they enter the ministry with an attitude of humility, ready to serve the poor and marginalized of society.
    – For this there is an urgent need, as Pope Francis said in Rome on 23 February 2014, to undergo a “heartfelt conversion: this is something that all of us – especially you Cardinals and myself – must do. Conversion!” Until and unless cardinals, bishops, priests and religious lead by example and shed their CEO air, youth participation and vocation might come to a standstill.

    7. We will speak out against all forms of injustice meted out to them (marginalized and exploited) and we will defend their rights. We listened to the call of Pope Francis urging us to “work to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor.”
    – CBCI should do without jargons and come clear on how it intends to eliminate structural causes of poverty and promote integral development of the poor. In keeping with its statement 5.vi. on Promoting Dialogue, It may come down from its high pedestal and consult Dr Ela Bhatt, founder of Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) who said “We need to recognise that poverty is violence. Poverty is perpetuated with the consent of society.”

    8. Ensuring for our lay faithful their rightful place: Recognizing the God-given talents and potentialities of the lay faithful, we will, in the first place, listen more to their voice. Hence, we commit ourselves to establish Pastoral Councils in every diocese.
    – It is presumed every diocese is a typographical error and actually means every parish. Surprisingly there is no mention of Parish Finance Committees without which “transparency and probity in church institutions” will be like building castles in the air.

    9. Stamping out Discrimination against Women: We will do all in our power to enforce discipline so as to ensure a secure environment in our institutions for women and children.
    – For this first Vishaka Guidelines have to be put in place in all our institutions which employ women. This needs to be followed by teaching children and women child rights, identifying and warding off possible threats of abuse & exploitation and self-defence.

    10. Creating a Christian presence in political and public life. We depend in a special way on our youth, the future leaders of the Church and society. As bishops we realize much more needs to be done for them. We want to embark on intensive programmes for them to enter into the mainstream of public life so as to ensure value-based politics. Hence, we request every region to set up, wherever possible, training centres to prepare the youth for leadership roles in civic and political life.
    – Only wanting will not do. For this a centralised CBCI-led mechanism has to be set up to render assistance to meritorious students through a CBCI Corpus fund, to pursue professional courses like IAS, Judiciary, CA, MBA, Medicine, etc. This financial assistance will be returnable in easy installments after getting jobs which will fetch at least Rs 50,000 per month. For the youth to flourish, each parish needs to set up study centres, spot and encourage talent. Only with professional qualification tempered with spirituality, our youth can serve the nation better. If well-qualified catholic youths enter politics, as encouraged by our Pope, all the more better.

    Sector-wise and diocese-wise data/ mapping (education, health, housing, community-development) of development including areas which need urgent attention would have added objectivity to the CBCI Statement. The bishops deserve kudos for their sincere deliberations. Networking among bishops would go a long way towards implementation and impact study of the above resolutions.

    Isaac Gomes
    Kolkata

  3. We have got to bring these so called “men of god” to earth. Its been years that they have thrown their weight around and caused hardship to the laity. You will soon hear from me on what one so called ‘Shepherd” dis to his flock in the area that i come from, Mumbai. Its time that the church, which are the people stood up and asked these so called men of god for accountability and ensure their nepotism is crushed just like our mother Mary crushed the head of the serpent.

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