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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What is the difference?

The great Culture of Our Syro-malabar Church 

Jose Paul (Delhi)

(The author humbly asks the pro-tradition Masters to explain the difference between rites, the meaning of culture and the substance of the Church - Editor)
     
Many a time the existence of two or two dozen different types of faith (rites) have been propagated by the two prelates. But none of them answers one important question which the laity is perplexed with. Nobody tells us one or two or all the differences in faith of these different catholic churches.  At least tell us the difference between the faiths of the Latin faith and Syro-Malabar faith? Is it because there is no answer which they are not willing to give? Or may be because there is no answer at all to this question? If you are two loving shepherds, of the Catholic Church, be bold enough to make these differences plain to the unknowing and spiritually uneducated lay men and women. At least that will clear a lot of cobweb from the minds of the faithful.

We must thank the Bishop of Faridabad diocese for the statement he made in the convention at Faridabad. He said “Those who are proud of their tradition and culture only should come forward and join the diocese” At least he brought out one difference between the Latin Church and the Syro-Malabar Church. The syro-Malabar church has a tradition and culture. The syro-Malabar hierarchy is proud of this culture and traditions. But many of the faithful still don’t understand what it means.  Does it mean that in Catholic Church there are two different cultures? Can these people in the hierarchy specify one or two different items of culture that the Syro-Malabar people should be proud of? Can you mention one or two different items of tradition that we should be proud of?

Don’t these people know that the culture and traditions are things meant to be changed? If not, they become stagnant and sterile.  Are not the culture of the Syro-Malabar Church changed in Faridabad drastically from that of traditions and cultures of Kerala. The Syro-Malabar Eparchy had a fund raising function in Delhi.  Can the Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic hierarchy imagines the Boll hood musicians, beauty queen from around the world, Punjabi dance team comprising of males and females to be the main attraction for diocesan fund raising for churches and for charitable activities in the name of Jesus Christ? I do not mean that anything is wrong in this. I am not a judge of traditions, culture or values. That is the prerogative of the 'spiritual' leaders who are sitting on high pedestal. But we can see the changes in traditions.

Next year we may invite Hollywood actors, belly dancers from Hawaii or even conduct a beauty queen contest on the stage. The essence of culture is money now. In Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, the villain Fagin used to collect money by sending children to the streets to beg to fill his pocket. He even disabled many of them for better collection of his fund. We did not do such things to children. We only used the differently abled children in a highly sophisticated way on the stage to enhance “their happiness and our funds.   No judgments on the actions of the hierarchy.  Go ahead and prosper. Money is the King. Let the uneducated, uncultured, non traditional  Syro-Malabar people who have no respect for culture and tradition, who do not want to be with the Syro-Malabar Church, go anywhere. They will be taught a lesson when they or their dependents come to Kerala for marriage or baptism. That is the culture and tradition of the great church founded by St. Thomas, the Apostle!

പരിണാമ സിദ്ധാന്തവും ബിഗ്‌ ബാങ്ങ് തിയറിയും ശരിയെന്നു മാര്‍പ്പാപ്പ .

ഉല്‍പ്പത്തി പുസ്തകം തള്ളി പോപ്‌ ബെനഡിക്റ്റ് 16 നടത്തിയ പ്രസ്താവന ശരിയാണെന്നും, പ്രപഞ്ച സൃഷ്ട്ടിയുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട മഹാവിസ്ഫോടന സിദ്ധാന്തം ശരിയാണെന്നും കണ്ണടച്ച് തുറക്കും മുന്പ് പ്രപഞ്ചം സൃഷ്ട്ടിക്കാന്‍  മാന്ത്രിക വടി കയ്യിലേന്തിയ മാന്ത്രികന്‍ അല്ല ദൈവം എന്നും  പോപ്പ് ഫ്രാൻസിസ്.

പോപ്പിനെ കല്ലെറിയാന്‍ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്ന വിശ്വാസികള്‍ വരിയായി നിന്നോളൂ ..... വിശ്വാസികളെക്കാള്‍ ഇതു സഭയിലെ മെത്രാന്മാര്‍ക്കും കര്‍ദിനാള്‍മാര്‍ക്കുമാണ്  തലവേദന സൃഷിക്കുന്നത്. ഇപ്പോള്‍ അവര്‍ വളരെ കഠിനമായി ദുഖിക്കുന്നുണ്ടാവണം. ഇപ്പോഴാണ് അവര്‍ക്ക് മനസ്സിലായത്, ഒരിക്കലും ബുദ്ധിയും ബോധവും അതിലുപരി മനുഷ്യത്വവും ഉള്ളവരെ ഈ പണിക്ക് എടുക്കരുത് എന്ന് .

പോപ്പ് അത്ര വലിയ വിപ്ലവമൊന്നും പറഞ്ഞതായി ബോധമുള്ളവര്‍ക്ക് തോന്നിയില്ല. വിശ്വാസിയായിരിക്കുമ്പോഴും ജീവിക്കുന്നത് ഇരുപത്തൊന്നാം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിലാണെന്ന് ബോദ്ധ്യമുള്ള ആർക്കും തോന്നുന്ന കാര്യം മാത്രമാണ് അദ്ദേഹം പറഞ്ഞത്. എന്തായാലും ആ പദവിയിലിരുന്നുകൊണ്ട് ഇത്രയെങ്കിലും പറഞ്ഞുവല്ലോ എന്ന് നമുക്കാശ്വസിക്കാം. പക്ഷേ താനിങ്ങനെ പറയാൻ തുടങ്ങിയാൽ എവിടെ ചെന്നെത്തുമെന്നും പോപ്പിന് നല്ല നിശ്ചയമുണ്ടെന്നു വേണം പറയാൻ. അതുകൊണ്ടല്ലേ, ദക്ഷിണകൊറിയയിൽ നിന്ന് ഇക്കഴിഞ്ഞ ആഗസ്റ്റിൽ നാട്ടിലേക്ക് മടങ്ങുമ്പോൾ, തനിക്ക് അധികകാലം ഈ ഭൂമിയിൽ വാഴ്ചയില്ലെന്ന് ഒരു ഉൾവിളിയുണ്ടാ‍യത്? കാരണം, സഭയേക്കാൾ വലിയ പോപ്പിനെ സഭ ഇതുവരെ അധികം വച്ചുവാഴിച്ചിട്ടില്ല.

വര്‍ഷങളായി നിരന്തരം ദൃഡതയും അനിഷേധ്യതയും തെളിയിച്ചു കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന പരിണാമ ശാസ്ത്രത്തെ  മാര്‍പ്പാപ്പ അംഗീകരിച്ചു. എന്നാല്‍  കേളത്തിലെ സഭയുല്പ്പെടെയുള്ള അനേകം സഭകള്‍ ഇതിനു എതിരായി നില്‍ക്കുമോ? നമുക്ക് കാത്തിരിക്കാം. ഇതിന്റെ പരിണിതഫലം ജന്മപാപത്തെക്കുറിച്ചും  മിശിഹായുടെ ജനനത്തെക്കുറിച്ചുമുളള സഭയുടെ പ്രബോധനങ്ങള്‍ക്ക്‌ എതിരായി മാറും എന്നുള്ളതാണ്.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

സെക്സും കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭയും , സിനഡിലെ രഹസ്യങ്ങള്‍

Source :Daily Indian Herald



















































































No compulsion on rites: Faridabad Archbishop

Faridabad diocese was created in 2012 to cater to the spiritual needs of the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Delhi Latin-rite territory.


By Jessy Joseph

As a section of Oriental Catholics continues campaigns against joining the Syro-Malabar diocese established two years ago in Delhi, their archbishop has said the diocese will not put pressure on anyone to join it.

Although those who have been following Latin rite are supposed to follow their own Oriental rite when a diocese of their rite was established, "we will not compel any one," said Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad diocese.

“Stay where you are comfortable and no one is compelled to join the syro Malabar rite,” he said in his homily for the closing Mass of Santhom Bible Convention 2014 over the weekend.


“Those who are proud of their tradition and culture only should come forward and join the diocese,” he added.

Faridabad diocese was created in 2012 to cater to the spiritual needs of the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Delhi Latin-rite archdiocesan territory.

Archbishops of Delhi and Faridabad jointly issued a pastoral letter in November 2013 stating the transfer of all syro Malabar Catholics from the Delhi Latin-rite archdiocese to the Faridabad Syro Malabar diocese.

Some Oriental Catholics living in the national capital revolted the move to bring them under Faridabad diocese and asked Pope Francis to annul the pastoral letter of the archbishops.

The local Churches should be united to give common witness to the love and compassion of Christ said the prelate. “We need to promote unity and become one family,” he added.

He stressed the need for strengthening family life. It should be based on Bible values and prayerful. “Parents should strengthen the family ties by teaching their children faith education and keep the faith alive through daily family prayers,” archbishop Bharanikulangara said, adding that they should also set examples to their children.

Some 10,000 faithful attended the three-day Bible convention held in New Delhi from October 24.

മൂന്നമത് പ്രത്യേക സിനഡു സമ്മേളനം അത്യപൂർവമെന്ന് ഫാദര്‍ ലൊമ്പാര്ഡി്


Monday, October 27, 2014

മനുഷ്യാന്തസ്സു മാനിക്കേണ്ട അന്താരാഷ്ട്ര നിയമസംവിധാനങ്ങള്‍


അവയവ ദാനം മഹാദാനം...

കാറ്റും കോളും നിറഞ്ഞ സഭാന്തരീക്ഷത്തില്‍ എല്ലാവരും ചീത്തയെന്നോ, എല്ലാവരും നല്ലതെന്നോ പറയാന്‍ ആര്‍ക്കും സാധിക്കില്ല. എങ്കിലും, അപരന്റെ കണ്ണുനീര്‍ ആരു കാണുന്നുവോ, അതാര് തുടക്കുന്നുവോ അവരെ നോക്കി മാലാഖാമാര്‍ പാടാതിരിക്കില്ല, 'അത്യുന്നതങ്ങളില്‍ ദൈവത്തിനു മഹത്വം!


അഴിമതി കടുത്ത പാപമെന്നു മാര്പാ പ്പ



Is the Bible Reliable?

(This is an article which appeared in http://pjsaunders.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/is-bible-reliable.html  - Editor)


                                            Greek Manuscript of 1st Corinthians 13

The Bible is actually a collection of 66 different books written by over 30 different authors in three continents in three languages over a period of 1,500 years which has been carefully complied from reliable copies of the original manuscripts (hand-written documents).

Christians believe that the Bible is both divinely inspired and an accurate record of God’s dealings with man. But many people today question its accuracy. This questioning usually boils down to one of four main questions as follows:

1.Did the events described really happen in the way the eyewitnesses claimed they did?
(Are there errors of fact?)

If the eyewitnesses did not relate the events as they originally occurred, then there are only two possibilities. Either they were mistaken or they deliberately lied.

Individuals may suffer from errors of perception but not whole groups. Unlike the 'revelations' of contemporary cult leaders many of the events described in the Bible were witnessed by more than one person. On examining the accounts we find a remarkable degree of consistency. Consider for example the parallel histories in Kings, Chronicles and the Prophets, the biography of Jesus in the four Gospels or the 500 who were said to have seen Christ after the resurrection. (1 Cor 15:6)

On the other hand would the authors deliberately lie? According to historical tradition, eleven of the twelve disciples of Jesus met a violent death on account of their belief in his resurrection. Would they really have put themselves through such suffering for a faith they knew was false? (1 Cor 15:15-19; 2 Cor 11:23-29)

2.Did the story change before it was written down? 
(Are there errors of verbal transmission?)

Many people in our 21st century world of internet, email and word-processing believe that verbally transmitted information could never remain uncontaminated. But an examination of the way stories are passed on in contemporary non-literate societies quickly puts paid to this kind of cultural arrogance. Oral traditions are composed in easily memorable format and are constantly repeated and checked. Some early Muslim converts have memorised over 6,000 verses of the Qu'ran accurately! The capacity of the human memory is astounding as any mother who has read to her children knows.

Despite this, there was no chain of verbal transmission before much of the Bible was committed to writing. The words and deeds of Jesus were clearly recorded by eyewitnesses (2 Pet 1:16; 1 Jn 1:3, 19:35) or at least by those who carefully interviewed them (Lk 1:1-3). The meticulous detail in some of the observations proves their authenticity (Jn 19:34-5; 20:6-7).

3.Is what we have now what was originally written down?
(Are there errors of written transmission?)

Scribes who copied Scripture were meticulous in their attention to detail. One has only to look at old manuscripts like the Book of Kells in the Dublin Trinity College library, or some of the scrolls in the British Museum to see the truth of this. Even if we doubted this fact there are enough early copies of both Old and New Testament documents to show that they have not been changed over the course of time. Entire copies of the New Testament in Greek dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries (Codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus) can be viewed today. Some of the earliest fragments (eg John Ryland) date from the lifetime of those who knew the apostles personally. Until last century the earliest Old Testament in Hebrew which we possessed was the Massoretic Text (cAD900). However, the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran in the 1940s, (which contain parts of every Old Testament book save one) are 1,000 years older and virtually identical.

When comparisons are made with other documents of antiquity the Bible documents stand alone in terms of authenticating evidence. We know about Julius Caesar (whose existence no-one doubts) from less than a dozen copies of the original documents, the earliest of which post-date his death by 1,000 years. By contrast there are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts alone of New Testament records of the life of Christ and his apostles surviving from the first few hundred years after he walked the streets of Palestine (For more detail on this see here and here)

Apart from the New Testament documents, early Jewish and Roman literature also makes mention of Christ: his teaching, miracles, crucifixion under Tiberius and even the three hours darkness at the time of his death. (see Tacitus, Lucian, Josephus, Suetonius, Pliny and Thallus).

Archeological discoveries have repeatedly confirmed that those who wrote the Bible were consummate historians of the first order. (eg Ezra 6:13-16; Lk 3:1-2)

4.Are there contradictions?

Those who make reference to the 'thousands' of contradictions in the Bible are usually unable to name one. Most genuine contradictions can be attributed to minor errors in hand copying of individual letters or numbers (eg 2 Ch 36:9 cf 2 Ki 24:8) or to verses being taken out of context (eg Mt 7:8 cf Pr 1:28). Others arise when the same story is told from the perspective of different observers (eg Lk 24:1-2 cf Jn 20:1) This is what we would expect. If serial witnesses in court give identical testimonies, one might suspect that the evidence has been fabricated. 

Some contradictions may seem at first difficult to account for, but can be explained satisfactorily (eg Judas's mode of death Mt 27:5 cf Acts1:18 and Jesus's genealogy Mt 1:6-16 cf Lk 3:23-31.) Apparent contradictions confirm rather than cast doubt on the Bible's authenticity. They would be carefully edited out in a fake. The fact remains that there is not a single error in the Bible which casts doubt on any significant historical biblical event or doctrine. Whilst accepting that there will always be mysteries, there are reasonable explanations for virtually all the so-called contradictions (See 101 cleared up contradictions)

Throughout the last two thousand years the Bible has withstood vociferous criticism with flying colours. 

In my experience those who are most vocal in questioning it reject it, not because of the above reasons (these are just smokescreens!) but for one of five reasons:

1.Hearsay. They have never looked at it but have heard that others reject it.
2.Presuppositions. They believe that miracles cannot happen and because the Bible describes miracles it must therefore be false.
3.Science. They think the Bible makes claims which have been disproved scientifically.
4.Morality. They reject the Bible’s moral teaching especially about sexuality.
5.Personal. They are unwilling to accept the personal implications of the Bible’s teaching. 

Peter Saunders

Sunday, October 26, 2014

പതിനെട്ടു വര്‍ഷം, രണ്ടു പൈസ !

രാമകൃഷ്ണന്റെ അടുത്ത് ഒരു മനുഷ്യന്‍ വന്നു. അദ്ദേഹം ഒരു പഴയ സന്ന്യാസി ആയിരുന്നു. രാമകൃഷ്ണനെക്കാള്‍ പ്രായക്കൂടുതലുള്ള ആ സന്ന്യാസി ഗംഗാനദിയുടെ തീരത്ത് ഇരിക്കുകയായിരന്ന അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ അടുത്തു വന്ന് പറഞ്ഞു: 'നിങ്ങളെ ജനങ്ങള്‍ പൂജിക്കുന്നതായി ഞാന്‍ കേട്ടിട്ടുണ്ട്. വാസ്തവത്തില്‍ നിങ്ങളുടെ ജീവനില്‍ ആധ്യാത്മികമായ എന്തെങ്കിലും ഉണ്ടെങ്കില്‍ എന്റെ കൂടെ വരൂ, എന്നിട്ട് എന്നോടൊപ്പം ഗംഗാനദിയുടെ മുകളിലൂടെ നടന്നുകാണിക്കൂ.'
രാമകൃഷ്ണന്‍ പറഞ്ഞു: 'നടന്നുവന്നതല്ലേ, ക്ഷീണം കാണും, അല്പം വിശ്രമിക്കൂ. അതിനുശേഷം നമുക്കു നടക്കാം. ഇപ്പോള്‍ എങ്ങും പോകേണ്ടതായ ആവശ്യവുമില്ല. അതുവരെ നമുക്ക് അല്പം പരിചയപ്പെടാം. ഇപ്പോള്‍ നാം പരസ്പരം അറിയുകപോലുമില്ല. വെള്ളത്തിനു മുകളിലൂടെ നടക്കുന്നതിനു വേണ്ടി എത്ര നാളുകള്‍വരെ നിങ്ങള്‍ക്കു പഠിക്കേണ്ടതായിവന്നു?'
ആ മനുഷ്യന്‍ പറഞ്ഞു: 'പതിനെട്ടു വര്‍ഷം.' രാമകൃഷ്ണന്‍ ചിരിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് പറഞ്ഞു: 'ഞാന്‍ വെള്ളത്തിനു മുകളിലൂടെ നടന്നിട്ടില്ല. കാരണം, രണ്ടു പൈസകൊണ്ട് എനിക്ക് ഗംഗയ്ക്ക് അപ്പുറം എത്തിച്ചേരാന്‍ കഴിയും. രണ്ടു പൈസകൊണ്ട് നടക്കാവുന്ന കാര്യം, പതിനെട്ടു വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍വരെ പഠിക്കുകയെന്ന കാര്യം വിഡ്ഢിത്തത്തിന്റെ ലക്ഷണമാകുന്നു, അത് ആധ്യാത്മികമല്ല. വെള്ളത്തിനു മുകളിലൂടെ നടക്കുന്നുവെന്നതില്‍ അസാധ്യമായ എന്ത് കാര്യമാണുള്ളത്? ഇതില്‍നിന്ന് ജീവനെക്കുറിച്ചുള്ള എന്തു രഹസ്യമാണ് നിങ്ങള്‍ക്കു ലഭിച്ചത്?' Osho..

Saturday, October 25, 2014

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 wexing 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 TopicsWhat 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 FamiliiesAnother 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.               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++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For Son of Man to Rest

         When you are in Rome do as the Romans do! A Malayalam version of it is: In the land of snake-eaters eat its central piece. The thrust of the exhortation is to be circumspect, move with time and place – be it in the style of the dress you wear, the food you eat, the vehicle you drive, the house you live in and the temple you go to worship.

   The topic under discussion is the disturbing  competition so visible all around in erecting churches, mosques and temples of worship in various religions and between religions. Think of the monumental temple planned to be built in the place of demolished Babri Masjid. For Christians, what bothers some  is that their parish church doesn’t grow in length and width and size as their parish community grows in numbers and so how to solve it with minimum modification and least cost. For others it is a God-sent excuse to go in for a new fashionable Church  of their dreams in  style and size and architectural extravaganza  to put their imagined zeal for the house of God  to work to achieve - Nirvana -mental and spiritual fulfillment and also  to exhibit  the faith they believe in, through visible  concrete wonders  in size and shape.

    No one can question man’s innate need to assemble together  to express their brotherhood and to worship together to acknowledge their total dependence on God almighty. Besides when narrow lanes are replaced with highways and old buildings  by  sky-high shopping complexes, glittering  mansions or  multifaceted apartments, shouldn’t old fashioned churches and temples of bygone times  be replaced with modern ones? Thus goes the argument and not without some justification.

For  Carpenter of Nazareth?

   But for whose sake are these churches built? They are made in the name  and for the sake of Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, who said: “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”(Mt.8.20) Listen also to the words of Isaiah on the subject: “Thus says Yahweh: With heaven  my throne, and earth my footstool, what house could you build me, what place could you make for my rest? All this was made by my hand and all of this is mine.” Is.66.1.

   In any case Jesus  didn’t have or want any house of his own from his birth in a stable to his death on Calvary. Nor did he entrust any one to build one.  Nay to those who wanted to follow him didn’t he say:  “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me,” Lk.9.23, leaving behind father, mother, brothers, wife, children and the whole household, in fact after selling everything and distributing to the poor?Lk.18.22 “Every one who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over.”Mt.19.29 And a married Peter’s reply was: ”We have left everything and followed you.”Mt.19.27. Peter himself built no churches, though his name is immortalized by  St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome, fortunately  not the name of his master. Caught in the mental conflict to imitate his master to the last and the realization of his unworthiness to do so, it is said Peter got himself crucified upside down. That was the extent to which he went to imitate Jesus.

   Where then is the biblical basis for churches and shrines to imprison Jesus or God almighty? Jesus did not come to establish a new religion or build temples of worship. He did not ask his followers to worship him but to imitate him. Worshiping him is easy, not imitating! As for worshiping   God he asked them to do it neither in that temple or this temple, but in spirit and in truth in one’s own heart. When he prayed, it is said that he often did it  in solitude and on mountain tops. One of the few times he is reported to have wept,  it  was over Jerusalem and  its glorious  temple which he prophesized would be razed to the ground not leaving a stone upon a stone. After that he  is reported to have gone into that temple  to chase out the buyers and sellers inside. So what is the lesson for those who are busy like bees in  cities and country side putting up monumental mansions of artistic beauty called churches, shrines or Cathedrals and filling wayside corners with eye-catching chapels? Can their fate be anything other than that of the tower of Babel ventured upon by the builders  to make a name for themselves and reach up to the heavens through  lifeless structure of brick and mortar?

Dust of the Empire

   The followers of the carpenter of Nazareth began to be called Christians in Antioch, Acts 11.26. They came out of the catacombs and began to live in Royal style with thrones and dominations wielding spiritual and temporal power only with the blessing and support of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. To sweep clean that dust of the empire accumulated through centuries on the Church starting from the throne of Peter downwards, Pope John the XXIII called the Vatican Council. That process is still going on with fits and fumes, with pulls and counter pulls. Part of it is the Churchmen’s struggle to combine the incompatibles – to run with the rabbits and  to hunt with the hounds, to befriend the powers that  be of this world with possession and position and at the same time to bear witness to the Jesus of Nazareth who  gave up everything to identify  himself with the poor, oppressed,  exploited, sick and marginalized  in order to establish the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of all humans based on love, truth, justice, mercy, compassion and selfless service.

   But didn’t Jesus also say to Peter: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.”Mt.16.18. Yes he did  and wanted to build his   quahat  in Hebrew or  Ekklesia   in Greek, meaning an assembly or community, faithful to his teachings and not a lifeless structure of brick and mortar, which the word “Church” has come to mean.  In this first sense there is an urgent need to build up new living churches (communities) within the confines of every existing parish in every diocese. This  living church is what St.Paul speaks of: Don’t you know that your body is the temple of God and the spirit of God dwells in you.(1Cor.6.19) and  again: ”God…does not make his home in shrines made by human hands.” Ac 17.24.

It is here that we should return to our roots of the concept of Ekklesia  or the prototype of the first Christian  community. There the gathering for the breaking of bread took place in Christian homes, that is, in domestic churches. That did away with need of building up separate edifices where no one lives or assembles except once a week. There was also a clear demarcation  of spiritual and temporal duties. The apostles handed over all administrative and money matters like serving the tables to “seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom” Acts 6.3 and they confined themselves to “prayer and to the service of the word” or preaching.


 The principle was that the spiritual leadership or the priestly class in the Christian community should never handle money  to get tainted or immerse themselves in administrative matters. These are to be left to honest,  service minded experts in  various fields in the community. The spiritual leadership is to excel themselves in two things only: prayer and preaching of the word, to speak out without fear or favour what they have prayed over(contemplata  tradere)  like Jesus and to lead the community like its good shepherd In modern parlance, the laity should take over all administrative matters in the Church and priests should have nothing to do with it. The  great dilemma is, what to do with the magnificent pyramidal hierarchical structure of Judaism which Jesus buried with the washing of the feet and which got resurrected in the church with Constantine! If the present pyramidal structure is to be maintained for the sake of organization and efficiency, how to divest the spiritual leaders from their material and profane worldly duties, possessions and positions?

Living Temples of God

   Building up such living temples or communities should mean going  in search of every home  irrespective of class, caste or creed in the parish confines  to find out the hungry to make sure  that no home in the locality goes to bed hungry, no one in any home is left to die for lack of means for urgent medical care, no one is denied decent clothing due to lack of money,  no one is denied the basic amenities of a rain-proof house, no one is denied basic education due to his inability to pay capitation fees, no grown up girls are denied marriage due to lack of minimum means needed to get engagements clinched etc. This is the way to build up living temples(Churches) of God. The early Christian community did just that, not build churches. There was no one in need among them because they loved each other not in words but in deed, sharing one another’s needs and burdens. That  was responsible for attracting many into their fold.

Today the  same carpenter of Nazareth   would really want to rebuild his church,  not according to the plans of the post-Constantine architects who specialize in lifeless brick work but according to the planners of the church of the catacombs. We have any number of churches and Cathedrals of the first type in Europe which have become museum pieces today and are deserted as centres of prayer. The same fate alone can befall the expensive  concrete churches we now build in India.

However it should be noted that deserted churches in the West need not necessarily mean the death of true Christian spirit there. In fact aren’t they  far  ahead of us in helping with men and material  victims of natural calamities to promote humanitarian  and developmental works across the globe especially in poor and developing countries? Is not that  what the spirit of Jesus is all about, helping the needy? Instead how can going through the motions  of lip-service, body movements such as kneeling, bowing, singing and exhibiting various devotional poses called liturgical  service  at various fixed hours of the day or week be an imitation of Jesus? Where do the much publicized charismatic prayer centers stand in this context?

During the Second World War a lot of homes and churches were razed to the ground. So after the war there was a hue and cry  in Germany from the Christian community to  rebuild the destroyed Churches first, to help the faithful to come together to pray and thank God for the spared lives and property.  But the bishops insisted:: Let us first rebuild the destroyed homes which are the living temples of God. The destroyed churches and Cathedrals can wait. That was a perfect example of building up living churches.

Radical  Rethinking

But what about the dearth of space in many of the existing churches and      man’s pressing need to pray together? Here a whole lot of existing traditional devotional or spiritual practices should be subjected to a radical rethinking. Sabbath is for man, not man for Sabbath. First is the obligatory Sunday worship. For the human soul prayer is like breath for the body. It is not something needed  just for few hours on Sundays only but for all  weak days. So what is the logic of making it  obligatory only on Sundays?

 Assembling for community prayer can’t be an everyday affair either. Today the concrete buildings called  churches  function fully only on Sundays. They are practically a dead investment for the rest of the weak. Therefore what may be done is to make the churches function fully everyday of the weak like Sundays and ask the believers to fulfill their need (or obligation) to pray together any day of the weak  to avoid overcrowding on Sundays or even to assign each day of the weak mainly for the benefit of  one-seventh of the parishioners (or parish units)  in a rotating manner. It would make the Parish priest fully busy with the pastoral work of his flock every day of the week and  provide the parishioners  a more relaxed and easy access to their Parish priest.

One should also take cue from Europe where the same Church building is used by different denominations at mutually arranged convenient times, instead of multiplying churches for any and every new brand of Churchianitiy popping up. Actually Christians who are unable to call upon God as Father together can’t claim themselves to be Christians, that is, followers of the Jesus of Nazareth. He or the God he revealed can’t be in any of the  Churches that can’t pray together with the rest of humanity and least of all with the rest of those who call themselves Christians but are not able to come together to call God: Our Father and Jesus Our Brother. What true followers of Jesus should strive is to  go much further to develop universal prayer-centers where followers of all  existing religions could come together and pray together. That is the kind of unity and human brotherhood Jesus lived and died for. Humanity cannot and should not stop striving until that goal is reached!
 Dr. James Kottoor
E-mail: kottoorj@gmail.com