Roshan Francis provoked me. So this response. Honestly I don't know much about him although, I read several of his postings. So kindly post this, to help clarify many things also in the Delhi-explosion debate. With all good good wishes
Dr. James Kottoor
“How to make a Bishop an Archbishop? Those who know please answer.” This request of Roshan Francis yesterday in Almaya prompted me to write this note. He was discussing the title of Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, Eparch of Faridabad in Delhi as Archbishop. Honestly this created a puzzle even for me.
For all I know the Eparch of Faridabad is quite unlike other Syromalabar bishops. I see him as a person like Pappa Francis who gives interviews even to secular papers and atheist editors. Didn’t he give a prolonged interview to Malayala Manorama on the burning issue of Syro-Latine Rite explosion in Delhi? As far as I know, no other bishop has opened his mouth on it although media in India and abroad discussed it a great deal.
What is more for me, he answers mails promptly even by persons like me, which others don’t do. That happened recently and I congratulated him for that and we exchanged a few letters. But suddenly it struck me when I saw him signing myself as Archbishop. So to satisfy my curiosity I added a foot note to one of my letters:“PS: Just a doubt: Which is the suffragan diocese of Faridabad, since you call yourself, Archbishop. Is it like the Archbishop of Kottayam? Only to clarify my doubt. Thanks jk” Because to my knowledge Archbishops are those who have subordinate (saffargan) bishops and dioceses under them. Prompt came his frank reply even for this:
“It is funny to read "I call myself Archbishop". Faridabad is only a diocese. But its pastor is made an Archbishop ad personam. I was about to be appointed Papal Nuncio, (that time Deputy in Germany) and all Nuncios are Archbishops. So, the Holy Father made me personally Archbishop, though my See is only of a diocese. Just like all Nuncios are Archbishops, though they do not have dioceses.” So what Roshan writes and the inferences he makes are perfectly correct.
I know of one other bishop and diocese in India to which an “Arch” is attached. That is the Kottayam diocese which Cardinal Vithayathil reportedly called the 9th wonder. To my knowledge it was he, who took pains to give Bishop Kuriakose Kunnassery the title of “Archbishop” when the latter rebelled to stay with the Syromalabar Church.
The story I heard from Kottayam Diocese Friends is this: “What do you do when one cow in the shed refuses to enter the common cattle shed? You take a bunch of green grass and hold it before that cow. Drawn by its smell and sight the cow will enter the shed and then close the door and give the grass. The grass offered was the Archbishop Title when Rome refused to give suffragan dioceses to Kottayam either in India or in US.” If there is any other solid reason for making Kottayam an Archdiocese, those better informed please enlighten me so that I can correct myself.
It is such “careerist bishops” whom the Pope compared to leprosy and cancer in the Church, who destroy all credibility in bishops before the faithful and the whole world. So I had to nicely tell my communication savvy Bishop friend in lighter vein: Everyone knows that the worldly world is ruled by fools. To that a wise crack added: "But the Catholic church is ruled by Archfools." Please I am not the author of this. So just dump it in the dustbin of history to forget.”
The lesson is no matter how the careerist bishops try to fool the public, Church citizens like Roshan Francis (and his generation is multiplying by legion) are there to see through this tom-foolery and resist it with all might. The sad side effect is, it makes even what very good and exemplary bishops say and do very suspect or incredible in the eyes of the public.