SM Catholics Oppose joining EparchyDivisive Rite-Issue (Latin-Syro) Explods in Delhi
Note: The craze for territorial expansion of the Syromalabar Church (CM) has always been a topic of heated private discussion for years. The tug of war has always been between the laity who oppose it tooth and nail and clergy who promote it with boiling zeal saying to Latin bishops: “We produce 70% of clergy in the Church, but we control only about 0.04% of the territory. We are justified in wanting more territory,” reportedly said by one of the Syromalabar Bishops.
This territorial expansion called “religious colonization” by critics, is seen in the creation of Eparchies in Bombay(Kayan), Delhi( Faridabad,recently), CM Dioceses in Chicago and Melbourne. The recent joined pastoral of bishops of Delhi and Eparchy of Faridabad transferring all Catholics of Syromalabar ancestry, without consulting them or getting their consent to Faridabad has forced the boiling pot explode with outbursts from major section of the laity.
In Delhi, those who oppose this transfer of faithful by Decree or Diktat is led by a an organized lay group called Laity4unity (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. +9811004214, for more information) who claim to have a signed up membership of 6000 Caholics. Catholics of CM ancestry in Delhi are estimated at about 25,000. Their relentless efforts to dialogue with bishops and Nuncios, they say, have failed miserably – most of the time their petitions have not been slightingly ignored, they say. So as a last-ditch effort they have sent to Pope Francis a well documented around 200-page petition by FedEx on 24 May, feast of Mary Help of Christians. It was received in his office on 27 May. The report in the Hindu given below is the result of the explosive clergy-laity tassel in Syromalar Church and an eloquent Sign of the Times to reflect and get ready for a long drawn out war of words for a peaceful solution. james kottoor
The Hindu, NEW DELHI, August 8, 2014
Syro-Malabar Catholics oppose transfer to new Eparchy
Pheroze L. Vincent
Many have lost touch with Malayalam, and unlike the Latin rite, which conducts services in several languages, the Syro-Malabar Church services are in Malayalam. A view of Sacred Heart Cathedral Church, New Delhi.— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty
A section of Catholic Christians in the capital have opposed the church’s move to shift them to the newly created Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad.
The Syro-Malabar Church (SMC), headquartered in Ernakulam, is one of the 22 Oriental Churches that maintain distinct rites of worship within the Catholic Church.
A distinct eparchy — a religious administrative jurisdiction for the SMC in northern India — was created in 2012. It was officially “erected” in Faridabad so that it would not be confused with the Latin rite Archdiocese of Delhi, which caters to Catholics only in Delhi and parts of U.P. and Haryana.
Opposition to the new body came after a joint pastoral letter signed by the Archbishops of Delhi and Faridabad in November 2013 transferred the membership of the 24,000-odd SMC Catholics in Delhi to the new Faridabad eparchy from their respective parishes in the Latin rite archdiocese. Although, these families trace their roots to SMC ancestors in Kerala, several of them have settled in Delhi for decades and are more familiar with the Latin rites. Most of the children have lost touch with Malayalam and, unlike the Latin rite, which conducts services in several languages, SMC services are only in Malayalam.
An official survey among Delhi’s Catholics in 2002 recorded that only 12 per cent of SMC Catholics wanted a separate diocese and 75 per cent of them wanted freedom of choice in choosing the rite of worship. The dissenters, who have also invested in the Latin rite archdiocese by virtue of their contributions in building the community, banded together to form the “Syro-Malabar Faithful of Delhi Archdiocese” — to oppose their transfer.
“Priests are confused and SMC children, who are of age to join preparatory classes for sacraments of communion and confirmation, are being prevented. Few months ago, a man had to fly back from Kerala a night before his wedding to get a ‘status libre’ clearance from an SMC parish priest in Delhi as the letter from his regular parish priest was not valid,” said Kurien Joseph, former editor of catholic newsletter Voice of Delhi .
The dissenters approached Latin Archbishop Anil Couto, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, and the Apostolic Nuncio — the ambassador of the Vatican to India Salavatore Pennachio — to have the decision overturned but were not successful. Finally they petitioned the Pope in May this year to withdraw the edict.
Many have lost touch with Malayalam and, unlike the Latin rite, which conducts services in several languages, Syro Malabar services are only in Malayalam.
Another report in the Hindu of August 11/14 titled : Caste card crops up in church tussle, by the same author reads:
The Hindu had reported on Friday that a group of Roman Catholic Christians, currently members of the Archdiocese, had petitioned the Pope to annul the Joint Pastoral Letter of 2013 that transferred them to the Oriental Eparchy, created in 2012.
The petitioners — who are early migrants from Kerala to the Capital — complained that multiple spiritual jurisdictions were creating practical problems in conducting marriages and baptisms. They also claimed that the Oriental Church promoted dowry and segregation of the sexes.
In response to the report, the Eparchy’s Public Relations Officer Sajo Padayattil claimed that the opposition to the transfer was casteist.
“Apparently, this group (which wrote to the Vatican) does not want it because they want to be the “elite” in the Latin Church in Delhi and once they return to their homeland Kerala, they do not want to be seen belonging to Latin Church, which is considered there as OBC (Other Backward Community). Once in Kerala, they want to be the “aristocratic” Syro-Malabars,” he wrote.
Addressing the objection of the petitioners that services in the Eparchy’s parishes were only in Malayalam, which most of their children do not understand, Fr. Padayattil said: “In Karol Bagh Forane Church, in Dwarka Church, in Noida Church and in Mayur Vihar, we have services in English and Hindi. For the youth, Masses and Jesus Youth Services are conducted in English or Hindi.”
Interestingly, the Eparchy has not denied the accusations of dowry and segregation, nor has it countered a church-supervised survey among Delhi’s Catholics in 2002 which recorded that only 12 per cent of SM Catholics wanted a separate diocese.
One of the petitioners to the Pope, Kurien Jospeh, who is the former editor of Catholic journal Voice of Delhi , termed the SM Church’s move as “ghetto-isation”. “The entire history of this Church, as well as its attitude even today is to look down with contempt on what it calls “Latins” in Kerala. This latent caste system actively nurtured by the SM Church has led to deep resentment among Latins. This apartheid is solely of the SM Church’s making,” he told this paper.
“Growing up in a cosmopolitan city like Delhi, Malayalee Catholics, those who have been here for decades or who have been born here, have no concept of any distinction between “Syrian” and “Latin”, much less about superior and inferior,” he added.The petitioners have met the Vatican’s Ambassador Salvatore Pennachio and the Latin Archdiocese has ordered a status quo on the transfer after it became a diplomatic affair.
Members of the Archdiocese of Delhi had petitioned the Pope to annul Joint Pastoral Letter of 2013 that transferred them to the Oriental Eparchy; currently there is a status quo on the transfer.
|Bishop Joy Alappaat|
With Warm Regards,
Dr. James Kottoor,
Dr. James Kottoor,