I never thought I was throwing a stone in a hornets’ nest, when I tried to answer Roshan Francis’ request to clarify his confusion on Bishop/Archbishop issue surrounding Delhi/Faridabad Eparchy. Today – had been out of station -- I find Almayasabdam humming with too much activity. As long as civilized language is used I support and encourage any amount of sparring and discussion, which helps us to learn a lot from everyone else.
This is what Francis Pappa told his fellow bishops, when some one told him Bishops fear that their honest views might offend him. NO he told them sternly. Instead he wanted them to speak out boldly, bluntly but also listen with humility to learn. So questions like cohabitation, gay-marriages, admitting divorced to communion etc are discussed freely, openly. Nay the tacit instruction to all is, not to use any more judgemental phrases like homosexuality instead of the civilized ‘gay-unions’, living in sin instead of co-habitation etc.
As for spirited debate in Almaya, I too fully admit, discussion on honorific titles like Bishops with or without Arch is silly, trivial, puerile and fit only for immature, puny minds. But honestly it was news to me when Team Rite wrote: “SM Eparchy carries his name as “Archbishop of Delhi-Faridabad Eparchy” in fund collecting literature, when the name “Faridabad” was given clearly to distinguish it from “Delhi”. If this report is true, I fail miserably to understand how such an oversight could have happened on the part the Bishop of Faridabad. At the same time, it also shows how a discussion even on this silly topic has actually lead us to a profound, howling error and blunder which ought to be corrected instantly. Personally I hope such misleading letter heads, if any, would disappear forthwith.
No Admiration Lost
This does not in any way diminish my admiration for Bishop Kuriakose, for answering my email promptly and giving interviews to secular papers imitating Pope Francis. I have been requesting, encouraging and pleading with bishops I love and admire to do this for years. Unfortunately no one has deigned to take my unsolicited advice seriously. For example, starting last December (2013) a one month campaign led by writers in Almaya – some signed by 18 persons – to the Triumvir of Bishops in Ernakulam to get a vertical dialogue started, failed to get even an acknowledgement from Cardinal and other bishops, except for a solitary response to me from Bp. Puthur which I published here.
When returning from US last year, the vocal sections of the SMC in USA requested me to act as their messenger or post man to carry their repeated petitions and memorandums to the CMC hierarchy for which they could not get even an acknowledgement. I obliged them willingly, distributed the copies to all three bishops, even went to Kakkanad and discussed their issues for one hour with Bishop Putur, who subsequently graciously sent a letter of acknowledgement to Thomas Koovalloor in New York. Their piercing complaint was they could always get a reply in one week from Latin Bishops in US while it was impossible to get any from CM Bishops in Kerala.
Now friends of Almaya in Chennai write saying they have given up writing to Bishops and Nuncios because none of them ever reply. Please see: Chennai CM laity Write to Nuncio, published below. Still all Bishops wax eloquent on dialogue, dialogue, dialogue ad nausea and perpetually indulge in monologue. This is double talk. At the Rome Synod Bishops dialogue with all and on all topics but refuse to do it at diocesan level, where the rule enforced seems to be: “pray, pay and obey” not dialogue to reach consensus.This must be corrected at any cost.
I believe this is what prompted writer and scholar Chacko Kalarical to call Bp. Kuriacose one of the best CM bishops although some of his critics may like to understand it as “Best among the Worst CMC Bishops.” But I am inclined to agree fully with Kalarickal that we in the Alamyasabdam very much need Bishops like Bharanikulangara ready to acknowledge mails and discuss issues with us. Without such persons how can there be any vertical dialogue, any connection between the much maligned hierarchical church, also called the Institutional Church which has long past its “sell-by-date” or “shell life” and the wayfaring Church of the voiceless faithful trudging the dusty road of salvation history.
The first is also known as the Church of Glory (Eclesia Gloriae) with all its triumphalism, royal splendour and honorific titles. The second is called the Domestic Church or the Church of the Cross (Eclesia Crucis) of sinners, drunkards, drug addicts, publicans, prostitutes, divorced, lesbians etc. It is this kind of a vivisection of the Church of Jesus who came to save the lost, last, least, marginalised and crushed under on the peripheries as Samaritans and sinners on one side, and on the other, the church of the so-called, selected, elected, sanctified and glorified, that Pope Francis and the on going Rome Synod is trying to wipe out. To do this we need any number of Bishops like Bharanikulangara, who are ready to dialogue and speak out. Speaking out sometimes can mean speaking rot, or stupid things in the case of all of us due to our “brokenness” from which even the best of us are not exempt, as highlighted in the on going synod.
As for the Joined Pastoral (JP) to the SM Church citizens, I have already written too much in addition to what appeared in secular press. According to reports the enforcement of the JP is kept in abeyance while the discussion continues. On this the only thing I wish to hear from the signatories of the JP is a clear YES or NO to the following question to clear my confusion: “Do they still subscribe to the crucial sentence and Para which says: “From the day the Eparchy of Faridabad was created in 2012 all the Syro-Malabar faithful once pastorally cared for by the Archdiocese of Delhi have automatically become part of the Eparchy which has been exclusively created for them. Basically, there is no choice in this matter.” If they do, I can find no meaning when the Eparch of Faridabad unilaterally talks about or offers all sorts of freedoms and readiness to accommodate.
For me offering freedoms enumerated in the interview has meaning only when this part of the JP stands cancelled or the authors of the JP withdraws the JP issued without the consent of Church Citizens who are of age to decide on their religious and moral practice. It is the mark of the wise to change views (Mutare consilium EST sapientis). Even the wisest among us make mistakes, also the so-called infalible.Don’t we? So more strength to open discussion till true light dawns on all of us.