What is given below are the thoughts of an ordinary lay person who has no expertise in civil, criminal or canon laws. The only asset of the person is the understanding of the moral laws of human society and the social norms to be followed by humans in their interactions and also a clear conscience. If some of the thoughts are wrong according to anybody, please forgive. What is typed in bold italic is the full text of the Joint Pastoral letter. What is typed underlined are the repeated sentences in the JPL. What is in normal type are the comments on the different aspects of the J.P.L - Jose Paul
The Joint Pastoral Letter By Archbishop Anil J T Couto, The Metropolitan Archbishop of Delhi & Mar Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, Bishop of Faridabad Eparchy
To all the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful in the Archdiocese of Delhi and the Eparch of Faridabad.
It is a matter of great joy in the Holy Spirit that the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad has now been erected from March 2012 and the clergy and faithful who were once entrust
ed to the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Delhi of are n ow under the jurisdiction of t he Eparchy. The creation of this Eparchy is an expression of the pastoral solicitude of His Holiness Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and the realisation of a cherished dream of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Your statement that “It is a matter of great joy that the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad has now been erected from March 2012” and that this creation of this Eparchy is the realisation of a cherished dream of the Syro-Malabar Church” is 100% true. Yes, it was joyful for the Hierarchy of Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala. Whether Holy Spirit was happy about this or not is not for us to conclude. He can never be happy in tearing the mystical body of Christ, the Church. Poor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in reality was forced by tremendous pressure from influential and vested interests to take an administrative decision in this regard. This is not a matter of faith to be infallible in decisions. Are human beings a commodity or property of somebody to be entrusted to the care of another and taken back when they feel so? No wonder that you call them sheep and as such human beings are for you a commodity and can be bought and sold or given for safe keep as in a bank locker.
The sentence that “the clergy and faithful who were once entrusted to the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Delhi are now under the jurisdiction of the Eparchy” has been repeated three times in this letter.
Some people believe that a lie when repeated a number of times will take the shade of truth. In the eyes of God and true believers, a truth is always a truth and a lie is always a lie. Keralites from all over Kerala, irrespective of their religion, have left that part of the country looking for livelihood from times immemorial. For generations on, Kerala Catholics (Syrians and Latins) were going to every part of the world to work for their livelihood. Quite a lot of us had come to Delhi. When we left Kerala, none of us went to the Syrian Hierarchy asking them to request the Latin Churches to accept us and take care of our spiritual needs (safe keep for heaven). The Syrian Hierarchy never cared about any spiritual needs of anyone anywhere outside Kerala. The Syro-Malabar church is meant to be a church in that part of the country (Malabr) as its name suggest. In Kerala, we don’t know what spiritual needs they cared for the Catholic Church except to compete between the Syrian and Latin Churches in Kerala to raise up more and more church buildings, Schools, colleges, orphanages, Hospitals, professional colleges and so on.
There is no single documented evidence to show that any of the Syrian Dioceses requested the Delhi Archdiocese to take care of the Syrian born clergy and lay people from Kerala.
We the Syrian and Latin Catholics who came to Delhi were accepted as Catholic church of the Archdiocese of Delhi (For that matter all the churches of the North of India accepted any catholic as catholic). None of us even once felt any segregation as Syrians or Latins even though we remained as Syrians in the Catholic Church. All of us lived together, worked together, and prayed together. The Catholic Laity had one Vincent De Paul Society, one Legion of Mary, One friends of Mary and one pastoral council in each church. The Syrians and latin laity participated in all activities of the church and parish councils as the parishners of the church. The Youth of the Catholic community had one Youth Association and one Jesus Youth, recollections, retreats and night vigils as one Catholic family. Our children had one catechism class for all catholic children. Thus we believed in one Jesus and one catholic church, in one faith.
The church considered us as members of the parish without any discrimination and we considered this church as our parishes. We don’t believe that we contaminated the church or the church was contaminated by us. We were members of the parish and not orphans taken care by the benovalence of the church. As parishners, we have contributed spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically and financially for the spiritual growth of the community and building of a number of church buildings and also for the maintenance and up-keep of the churches, cemeteries and seminaries as integral part of this congregation.
The Second Para. “Since, apart from the creation of the Eparchy of Faridabad for the faithful Syro-Malabar Church with its territorial demarcation and the appointment of its Bishop there was no other information given to the faithful.
You have neither given any information to the Laity about the developments taking place in the secrecy of the clerical domain. As a matter of fact you were hiding these developments which affect the life of the laity spiritually, emotionally and socially. I may add it will affect the life of the laity even financially. You have never consulted with the laity about the desirability of all these circuses with any open scientific survey from the laity. On Sundays, on the pulpit, you will exhort that the church is not the clergy; it is the community of the faithful. When we hear the Sunday exhortations about the oneness of the church, the mystical body of Christ, we do not know what to think of meaningless words being thrown out through the mike. You must be ashamed of the words you speak from the pulpit and also the words you have written in this JPL about the unity and love of Jesus.
We, being your Shepherds, thought it opportune to share with you some information that you need to keep in mind for the purpose of deepening our communion and help each other to be a witnessing community of the Lord in our respective places. Especially, in this year of Faith, it is intended that the faith that we have received from our ancestors be strengthened and our common witness of faith may be better manifested in the modern world. It is our ardent wish that through ecclesial communion between different sui juris (Autonomous) Churches, we may be able to render better witnessing to our Christian faith in our country.
We would like to let you know that the poor sheep expected from the two great shepherds of Catholic Church in the country some information regarding the spiritual uplift of the faithful. This paragraph and the next two paragraphs are hollow platitudes of common witness of faith to our country, and ecclesial communion. This is equivalent to Devil quoting the Bible in order to attain his ulterior motives. Every word in these paragraphs are words of love and care which proves to be hollow as the small but operative part of your whole joint letter is a devilish division of the mystical body of Christ.
Teachings of the Church. The second Vatican Council of which we celebrated the 50th anniversary last year stressed the splendour of the unity in diversity of the Catholic Church recognizing the multiplicity of the undivided Church (Luman Gentium 23). It also emphasized the equality of various ecclesial traditions in the Catholic Church to be preserved and fostered as a common heritage of the undivided Universal Church. Every faithful therefore has an obligation to retain one’s own rite and follow it to the best of one’s ability. (Orientalium Ecclesiarum 4) The establishment of the Eparchy of Faridabad is another step to strengthen the unity and foster harmony between different sui iuris Churches.
Further justifications for tearing the mystical body of Christ into pieces. The second Vatican council 50 years ago stressed the splendour of unity in diversity and multiplicity of the churches in order to protect the church that it may not be broken into pieces due to some prelates of the sui juris churches.
Now you, two Shepherds, are using the same words in order to break a church which is already in absolute unity. We know that our learned shepherds here as well as at higher level administrators in the two rites are experts in interpreting the laws and documents which they themselves have written in order to get what they want. The real church, the community of faithful have no place in the formation of these laws and documents. Why should they? They are only sheep. This is akin to a surgeon using his surgical knife which is supposed to save the life a person consciously to murder the patient. It depends on what purpose it is used or who is using it. Beautiful words can be used to create an appearance of unity in diversity. It can also be used to diversify unity. Please create any number of Eparchy as a step to strengthen the unity and foster harmony, if such an action will help your ulterior intentions. But do not step on the freedom of the individual.
It is in the mind of Holy Mother Church that each member of a sui iuris Church should practice their own tradition and rite, when there is a possibility for doing so. (Who says so?) Where there was no particular Orient structure for the Syro-Malabar faithful available in Delhi, the Archbishop of Delhi
had been looking after their spiritual and pastoral needs envisaged in the Code of Canon Law (CIC 383/2). Now Holy See has established an Eparchy for syro-Malabar Catholics who live in the northern part of the country, including the area that comprises the Archdiocese of Delhi. Hence the Syro-Malabar Catholics have a right and duty to avail of the ministry of this new Eparchy for all the sacraments, in particular Baptism and Marriage. Nonetheless, the faithful of any sui iuris church are certainly welcome to participate actively in the liturgical celebrations in any other sui iuris church. Our faith must be practiced in peace and serenity and without any tension.
The mind of the mother church (clergy) can be interpreted by anybody (again clergy) in anyway according to the vested interest of any concerned party. The clergy are clever enough to quote the Canon Law numbers and also words like “sui iuris” “Luman Gentinum 23” “Orientalium Ecclesiarum 4” which many of the lay people won’t understand. They are right. There are many catholic lay people who blindly believe that the clergy are the ultimate in spiritually and divinity and all these words are God’s words. Jesus himself has said “Man is not for Sabath but Sabath is for man” He clearly said that the laws are made for the comfort of man and man is not made for the comfort of the law”. When he went and asked the Sameritan lady for drinking water and when he cured the blind man on a sabath day, He showed clearly that the church should stand for the people and not bend and break them for the sake of organised church laws which are only administrative and authoritarian in nature.
If any of the eccliastical authorities feel that they should have a new set up, go ahead and have it. Get as many people as possible who want to join such a new set up. Nobody objects to it. We wish every success to this attempt and also to the new members that joined this group. But joining this group must be voluntary. It cannot be forced. Catholic Church is one and only one. The Hierarchy commands “The faithful..........are now under the Jurisdiction of the Eparchy” (from 2012.). Hey, what do you think? The human beings are not automatic machines.
When somebody makes a switch on, or when somebody decides to come to Delhi and establish authority over people over whom they had no authority so far, they expect that people automatically come under their Jurisdiction. When God created man, other than the needs of existence (food, cloth, and shelter), he gave them three blessings which nobody on this universe can deny them. The first one is freedom. God has given this freedom only to human beings. He is given free will to take decisions on his life. Nobody can touch that freedom. It is sacred. If any of the so called representatives of God tries to take away that freedom, He or they do not represent God in anyway. Nobody is bound to obey such autocratic orders and laws and rules which they created for their vested interests. The second blessing he has given us is our conscience which helps us to lead our life in this world and choose the right and wrong actions of ours and direct us to do justice and accept justice in our actions. Yes. I was born as a Syrian and I am a Syrian and will remain as a Syrian throughout my life. That is what I was doing when I was a member of the Delhi Archdiocese. They never asked me to be a Latin. I never offered to become Latin. They accepted me as I am and I lived with them as I am. Nobody can throw me out or force me to get out and join them.
It is against the freedom and justice God has vested in me. The third blessing God has given every human being is the power and ability to relate to one another. There was beautiful human connection and relationship between the members of the Catholic Church which gives tremendous healing power to human heart. We were Malayalees, Madrasies, Manglorians, Goans, North East peoples, Assamese, Bengalies, and from every part of the country and we were Syrians, tribals, dalits and all varieties of people. The healing power, the connecting power of Jesus united us into one family. The operative part of this letter goes against human freedom, justice and healing.
Now let us look at the last part of the pastoral letter. The two sections which is left will be given at the end. They are mere financial and administrative matters which also are unjust. According to our simple knowledge, the seven sacraments are instituted by Jesus. And we believe that all the seven are instituted by the one and only Christ and accepted by one and only Catholic Church. What are the problems with Baptism and Marriage? Are they special for each sui juris Church. Is there any difference in the essence of the sacraments or difference only in rituals?
From the day the Eparchy of Faridabad was created in 2012, all the Syro-Malabar fai
thful once pastorally cared fo r by the Archdiocese of Delhi have automatically become part of the Eparchy which has been exclusively created for them. Basically, there is no choice. Consequently, the faithful of the Syro-Malabar Church cease to be members of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Delhi; they can continue their participation in parish related organization (such as Catholic Association, St. Vincent De Paul Society, Youth Movements, Charismatic Renewal etc.) through a corresponding group in their Syro-Malabar Parish. Any exception to this norm will have to address to the Bishop of Faridabad who in turn will apprise the Archbishop of Delhi of the appropriate course of action according pastoral exigencies.
These two pargraphs are the most operative part of the combined pastoral Letter. Both the members of the Hierarchy think that they have the power to make a choice for thousands of catholic lay people. They both conclude that they are the church and lay people are simple slaves. They both don’t have the courage to ask the Syrian born Bishops, priests, nuns, brothers who are a part of Latin Diocese and the Syrian born priests, nuns and brothers of the different Latin congregations in the area of the Archdiocese of Delhi to come out their comfort zones and join the Eparchy. For this lapse on their part, they will quote rules, canons and exigencies and so on. A law is a law. A Syrian born is a Syrian whether he is a priest, or she is a nun or he is a brother. The laws of the church, according to these high priests, apply only to the lay people. These two paragraphs goe against the spirit of moral laws, spiritual principles, clergy made and known only to clergy the canon laws, the civil and the criminal laws of the land. You are playing with the freedom of the individual to remain where they are at present. You are playing with the justice.
No Clergy has the power to state where the lay people have no choice. The community of faithful are the Church and not the clergy, a mere miniscule of the Church. No Bishop or clergy can state that a lay person cease to be a member of a church because of his birth. You can sack a person from the church for misbehaviour. You cannot sack a group of people who had been a part and parcel of the church as a parishners who contributed in the spiritual, social and material development of the Church for generations and participating in all respect to build many church buildings for the Diocese from their hard earned wages and making them really believe and feel that they belong there. Where is your conscience in making a statement like this? Is this the catechism that you teach to the laity by your action? Can any one of you be a bold follower of Christ and give the people their freedom to chose to live as Catholics. Did you ever look at the heart of Jesus who bled for you and me and then take a decision to live with us in justice and peace of Christ.
As for the human connections, relationships and companionships, Your combined statement that "the laity can continue to take part in all the activities and organisations” (It appeared beautiful) but the next part of the sentence that these social, spiritual activities must be done as separate group in a Syrian parishe” is an example of your building of human connection in the love of Christ. Whom are you fooling?
If we have to contribute our efforts in a Vincent De Paul society or any other organisations as earlier, we have to apply to the Eparchy to get permission and he will give the permission after considering the pastoral exigencies. We can understand that if a person is to work in an organisation which may be considered having principles in anyway contradicting the church, it is good to get a sanction from the church authorities. For a catholic to work in a catholic organisation, if we have to get permission from a Bishop appears to be comical. Where are your one and only one Jesus Christ and one and only one Catholic Church gone? What are we the lay people to think of your intellectual and spiritual and emotional relationship to Jesus?
When we were small, the catechism classes have tried to instil in the minds of young children that whatever that the clergy does is for Christ and he is always right. Even today there are lakhs of catholic adults who believe that this is true and divine. No wonder whatever injustice the clergy do, there will be lakhs of lay people follow them blindly. They are afraid that if they disobey the clergy, the hell is the answer. Many of them are following them because of the fear in them about the future of their souls or their social relationships. It is easy to get numbers. Please go ahead. Wish you all the best. But please allow us to use the God given freedom, conscience and the human connection intact. Don’t attack that.
Paragraph dealing with Delhi Archdiocese extends a helping hand.
You can well understand the many new challenges a new Eparchy faces at its initial stages, not only in terms of human resources but also in terms of financial resources and infrastructural facilities. In a spirit of solidarity and cooperation we earnestly request all the parish priest and superiors of the Religious houses in the archdioceses of Delhi to continue to allow the use of their facilities where ever needed until hopefully sometime soon the Syro-Malabar faithful of Faridabad Eparchy has their own. The same is applied in a situation where the Archdiocese of Delhi has no infrastructure to hold its activities while the Eparchy of Faridabad has his own infrastructure.
Human resource is no problem. If the Eparchy applies the same yardstick he applied to the laity to the bishops, priests, nuns and the rev. Brothers to leave their present positions and join the Eparchy, the Eparchy will have an avalanche of human resources. But the laws of the church are only for laity and that is made by the clergy looking at the pastoral exigencies and their comfort zone. The remaining part of the paragraph is only mutual adjustment for the convenience.
The organization of the parishes in the new Eparchy.
It goes without saying that “Personal Parishes” and “Mass centres” of Syro-Malabar church do not exist anymore under the Archdiocese of Delhi with the creation of the new Eparchy of Faridabad. It is up to the Bishop of Faridabad to create, modify or reorganize the parishes in this Eparchy. Accordingly at all the Mass centres of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad functioning in the premises of the Archdiocese of Delhi, the Parish Priests of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy will take the collections and make announcements at their Masses. The Syro-Malabar Parish Priests should ensure under the supervision of their Bishop that a reasonably agreed upon contribution be made to the Latin rite parish towards the use of its infrastructural facilities. The same applies vice-versa. The parish priest of the host parish will have the authority to decide on the use of the church and its premises in accordance with the pastoral needs of his parish as a primary concern. An agreement to this effect may be locally drawn up with approval of the Bishop of the host parish.
This is only about the collection of contributions and the compensation for the use of the premises of the existing churches. Only one feeling is that a church which was built by our partnership is to be hired for us to pray. Comical!!!!
We look forward to your generous cooperation in ensuring your witness to the unity of the church in living in peace and harmony in the capital and its environs.
Under the circumstances which you both, the great shepherds have created in the Capital and its environment, you cannot witness to the unity of the church in peace and harmony without giving the faithful freedom of choice, not presumed but visible Justice and human connection in Christ. You call yourselves shepherds. Please for the sake of your own salvation and our salvation in Jesus, don’t cheat your sheep. He went in search of the only lost sheep and gave comfort and safety to the sheep. We expect you to be courageous to take decisions worthy as a catholic yourselves.
We the laity humbly and earnestly request you to bring out a joint pastoral letter explaining to us in simple language the commonness and the differences of Latin and Syrian rites in matters of faith (creed) in the catholic church and also about the sacraments. This will be a challenge for you both. This will help us laity to take an intelligent decision so that our spiritual needs are looked after properly.
Jose Paul (Delhi)