Shri Jose Paul (Delhi), a gifted wordsmith, is quite disappointed to see a fruitless Syro-Malabar Catholicism in India. The present status of it pains this veteran heavily. Almayasabdam invites Shri Jose Paul to share his profound thoughts - Administrator)
I believe that the cannon laws are also man-made and as such they have no divine sanctity or infallibility for these. They were not made by Jesus or even by His Apostles in the early days of the church. When the church became an organisation big enough that it cannot be managed or administrated easily, the laws started being made one by one by people who administered this massive organisation. These laws and rules are made only for administrative purpose and it is not on matters of faith. I am not denying the fact that these administrators made these laws with good intentions and for the salvation of the faithful. But many of the laws and rules were made for the protection, sustenance and prosperity to the so called clergy the administrators.
1. Once, these Cannon laws aided the sale of certificates of indulgences for lay people. It is as good as being real estate agents of the land in heaven for people who are willing to pay to the Clergy. As people became aware of this an unchristian and inhuman practice, the laws had to be changed.
2. Inquisitions were held and many valuable lives were sacrificed by the Catholic Church Hierarchy. These people were freethinkers, scientific thinkers and people who were searching for truth. In order to eliminate any kind of rational thoughts that goes against the beliefs and comforts of the Clergy of the time, the very same cannon laws were used. When people exposed this folly, and when they realised their mistake, the laws were revised.
3. When we were young, the rules for days of fasting and the number of fasting days were many more, the days of obligations were more, the fasting before receiving communion was from the previous day. We were not allowed even to swallow the saliva, forget about water or any other form of beverage or food from the previous night till we receive the communion. All these laws have changed in time.
4. The latest is that the synod of syro-malabar church has accepted that burial can be in the form of cremation. The comical part of it is that the dead person has to apply for a permission for cremation from the Syro-malabar bishop of the diocese to which the dead man belongs to. So far their clutches were only at the time of birth (baptism) and marriage (the most important event of our life). Now the hold is extended even after our death. They have accepted burial and cremation as a process of disposing the dead body of a catholic lay person. But the dead man or his relatives cannot take a decision on their own. But even for this you have to get the sanction of the Bishop of the area. It seems that a catholic soul will have salvation only if the diocesion bishop and his council take an ecliastical decision depending upon the pastoral excengices and the dead body’s fitness to be buried or cremated. Even a fool can understand the reasons for the need of this necessity of permission and pastoral needs. Our country and states were famous for being a licscence Raj. This permission is a Holy relic of this dying Raj.
5. Every now and then, the rituals of the sacramental services are changed. I will not be able to give a long list of these kinds of changes in the Cannon Laws and I am very poor layman without deep knowledge of the Cannon Laws or Civil Laws. I can think of only natural laws dealing with our life. But changes in the man-made laws are inevitable. We have a Parliament or legislative councils because the changes in the laws are inevitable depending upon the changes and growth of civilisations. If this is not there, the world will be a dead frozen world without any progress and without any new thoughts.
6. One of my friends mentioned about the Syrian born priests, nuns and brothers. It is true that these people had to forgo their rites when they joined the Latin Rite congregations or dioceses. It was really unjust practice. According to my understanding (Which you may call my ignorance)., the priests, nuns and brothers of my age group from the Syrian rite had to forgo their rite and accept the Latin Rite as you mentioned. If I am right in my understanding, the laws have changed in the last quarter of the 20th century. And the priests, nuns and brothers retain their riite. Now any Syrian lay person who joins a Latin Congregation retains his or her rite even though work as a member of the Latin congregation or Diocese and follow the Latin rituals. The rite of a person is his birth right if I am not mistaken. Nobody can deny it. Changes are taking place in the Laws of the Church in order to correct past mistakes. It is taking place and it has to go on.
7. I am trying to tell you only one thing. The laws of the church have nothing to do with faith. The church did not build the faith. The faith in Jesus built the church. The church does not mean the clergy which forms not even 0.001 of its members. The administrative laws and rules of the church which runs an organisation of such magnitude are made by just a miniscule of people who are not even representatives of the people and are not at all infallible. I believe that most of these laws are made for the good of the church and its members with all sincerity and honesty. Now the members of the church are losing their faith in these people. Because very often these laws may be made to protect the vested interest of some interested clergy or congregations.
This is where young people who believe in Jesus and who thinks rationally has to come forward and help the clergy in making them realise there is only one Jesus and only one church. It is the same Jesus who sacrificed his life for the salvation on the humanity. He did not sacrifice his life for Jews or Samaritan, but for the whole humanity. For Him, there is no different caste, different creed. Let us all be Catholics in the real sense of the word “catholic”.
I want to thank one of my friends who made me think on these things in a rational way.