An open letter to
Most Rev. Anil J T Couto, Archbishop of Delhi and Most. Rev. Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, Bishop of Faridabad Eparchy on the issue of rite.
Also for the information to Most Rev. Salvatore Pennachio, Apostolic Nuncio in India
Part II (Followed from Part I)
It was a shock for me to see a pastoral letter from the Archdiocese of Delhi that we people who had been a part and backbone of this Diocese for generations are “no more part of the Delhi Archdiocese”. It is ironical to see we are not part of the diocese not from today or tomorrow but with retrospective effect from March 2012. What happens to the baptisms and marriages which have taken place during the period March 2012 to Nov 2013? According to your own statement, all these sacraments have to be annulled. What about the communion we the Syrian Catholics received all these years. Are we to do a washing of the stomach also to cleanse ourselves of the Latin Jesus?
Generations of Catholics of Syrian origins in the North believed that they were worshiping in a church that belonged to them. As such, they have shed their sweat in the form of involvement in the activities of the church. They were providing the financial and other material support for the development of the church. Today you are stating that these Catholics have no place in the same churches which they also contributed to build physically, emotionally and spiritually. The pastoral letter states that these churches were only taking care of the spiritual needs. Don’t they realise that these people whom you want to throw out were taking care of also the temporal needs of the church for generations?
In my 54 years of life in the North, I have three children and four grand children. The only connection my children and the grand-children have with the Syro-Malabar Church is that two of them happened to be baptised in a Syro-Malabar Church as their mother was sent from the North to her home in Kerala, in time for delivery as that was the best option in our given situation. All the other five members were baptised in the North in the catholic churches (I don’t want to call them with the name of a rite) within Delhi. So according to your diktat “no choice”, we will have members of two churches living together in the same house in harmony, peace and unity for the sake of the love for Jesus as you have advised in your pastoral letter.
You have mentioned that all those who are born as Syrians have to be a part of the new Syrian church and there is no choice. We cannot understand who has taken that decision. Who has given them this power? While the Church is magnanimous when it comes to attracting non-Christians to its fold unconditionally, you are coming up with so many conditions for the original faithful in sustaining their faith fundamentally within the catholic fold. This is because you suffer from a ‘congenital’ defect of the so called ‘rite’. This essentially implies
That the true faithful have to bend backward to meet the idiosyncrasies of the bureaucratic clergy to sustain their faith in their Lord Jesus. This will be attested from the fact that for a Catholic marrying a non-Christian in any Church would not warrant production of any certificate, to be obtained from anywhere. A Catholic of Syro-Malabar rite marrying one from same rite would be penalised by insisting on the production of certificates not from the priest of the church he or she is receiving spiritual nourishment but from a priest who is ‘rite’ly puristic. Can you please enlighten us: where does faith come in this?
If your own logic of “basically there is no choice about it” is extended to the larger society and even globally, the Church should put a full stop on evangelisation first and therefore on Conversion. Your own position categorically implies that those born in any other religion or in a particular community or ethnic group have no choice to leave their religion and can’t become Catholics (cannot be converted). They have to remain in the religion they are born into. If your own ancestors and your predecessors in the Church-hierarchy were to subscribe to such thinking, Christianity would have ended with Christ himself and we all wouldn’t have had to undergo the agony of the situation you all have created today for us.
Again the statement above about no choice is interesting. Is it only for the laity of the church? Or is it for all the Syrians? What about the Syrian born priests, Bishops, nuns, brothers who belong to the North Indian and several foreign dioceses/congregations/Orders? The new Eparchy of the Faridabad should first get all these shepherds into their fold before they come to the lay people. The very fact that not a single Syrian born priest from any of the Latin churches are asked to join the new set up shows that the “no choice” clause is only for the gullible lay people. Who gave these Syrian born Bishops, fathers, sisters and brothers this freedom to remain in Latin dioceses? Who has the power to do that? A law cannot be discriminatory. Ours is a democratic country. Please check if this law or rule or statement will stand the scrutiny of the court of law in our country? You may say that these priests and nuns have given an agreement signed by them. Please publish that agreement so that those lay people who may wish to give such an agreement can be free to decide what they want to be. Who has got the right to accept such an agreement? Jesus or a priest or a Bishop or the Pope? Whoever it may be, they have to accept such an agreement from the Lay people also.
This is part II; part III will follow.
With all the pride in being Catholics, and that too as Syro-Malabar Catholics, With love and respect for both of you.