Mr Chacko Kalarickal makes two main points:
1) That the Bishop/Archbishop matter is a triviality, on which we need not spend time. He says, if the Pope gave the Eparch this particular title, “I believe the Archbishop. I don’t need any documentation.” Fair enough!
2) That Eparch Kuriakose is “one of the best bishops in SM hierarchy: and has “understood the Rite issue in Delhi and he is trying his level best to rectify the situation to help the church citizens”. Sorry, to us either one or both parts of this statement are wrong.
As the Petitioners to the Holy Father, we cannot let these two statements pass without clarifications.
1) That Bishop Kuriakose was given the honorary title of “Archbishop” has not been questioned and is not at issue. But when the official fund-collecting event of the SM Eparchy carries his name as “Archbishop of Delhi-Faridabad Eparchy”, that is certainly objectionable. It is not just objectionable in itself but gets unbearable when it reflects a consistent pattern in everything that this SM church does. The name “Faridabad” was given clearly to distinguish it from “Delhi”. It is incorrect, if not unethical, for the Eparchy to pretend to being something that it is not. More than that, however, it seems to behave as though it is somehow superior. For example, in the matter of change or rite (for those very few people who wish to do so), canon laws say both bishops have to agree. But Eparch Kuriakose appropriates to himself a non-existent “right” to “apprise” the far senior Archbishop of Delhi of “the appropriate course of action”. He is self-admittedly a newcomer to the North of India, its culture and the culture of Kerala immigrants here. What is resented here is the sheer authoritarianism that he and his Eparchy exude in all their actions and sayings.
2) Mr Kalarickal is of course entitled to his opinion that the Eparch is “one of the best bishops in the SM hierarchy”. We are sure he has good reasons for thinking so and there is nothing to dispute there. But this is not quite the impression he has made here in Delhi. In fact, if he is indeed “one of the best”, it scares us to imagine what the rest might be like!
Much more importantly, however, we would disagree strongly with your next statement. You see, here’s the contradiction: If he has indeed “understood the Rite issue in Delhi”, then he is really responsible for the entire mess here – the viciously bureaucratic and un-pastoral lack of concern for the immigrants and their families.
Frankly, it would be more charitable to believe that he has NOT “understood the Rite issue in Delhi”, because he is certainly not – as Mr Kalarickal seems to believe – in any way “trying his level best to rectify the situation”. Actually the situation can be rectified overnight; that it is not is due to pure stubborn bureaucracy. Nothing stops the church – and both the bishops – from delegating powers to administer Baptism and Matrimony to ALL parish priests, both Latin and Syrian. The ten Petitioners personally had a full discussion with him in front of our Archbishop – and that is where our opinion of him went down: it was not the people he cared for, nor the universal church; his entire and exclusive concern was about the SM institutional Church’s – and his own – display of “authority”. He insisted that we must go to an SM priest, even though we have explained (a) we have been nourished by our Latin archdiocese for decades, (b) we do not know the so-called SM “parish priest” and (c) we do not need one or have asked for one.
Incidentally, before you say that these are “church rules”, we have written enough (and have no desire to repeat everything) to establish that that is simply not true; on the contrary it goes completely against the spirit of Church laws.
We reiterate that it is clear by now that this Eparchy was established on blatantly false premises (the need, the numbers, the people’s desire, the Latin archdiocese’s “failure”, etc.). Perhaps Eparch Kuriakose inherited a bad situation, but nobody here believes he has covered himself in glory in dealing with that situation!
Team Rite, New Delhi