This detailed letter to the Bishops shows the agony of the Syro malabar Church citizens, living far and wide - Editor
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.
I know that I am sending you a long, yes very long letter. The thoughts in this belong to lakhs of Catholics in the Northern part of India.
Sorry for some of the observations which may appear to be impertinent. It is not my intention to hurt the feelings of anyone, even though I am among those whose feelings are hurt by the insensitive nature of the Joint Pastoral Letter (JPL). I am sure what I am writing reflects the feelings of a substantial segment of the Catholics, who by the accident of birth are branded ‘Syro-malabari’ but living in the Northern part of India under the care of the one and only Catholic church known/existed for them for decades, if not centuries.
I hope you will take out time to read this and respond in a manner not belying the expectations of the faithful. If not, it could do irreparable damage to the catholic community. You had been insensitive and even acted deaf to the feelings of the catholic community as such. Hence this open letter.
Archbishop Anil J.T. Couto of the Archdiocese of Delhi and Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of The Bishop of Faridabad Eparchy has jointly written a Pastoral Letter in the ‘year of faith’. It is presumably written ‘in the spirit of Catholic faith’ in order to ‘reinforce catholic unity, nurture faith and love for Jesus Christ’ among all the Catholics in the Northern part of India. Though it is pertaining to all the Catholics in the Northern part of India, the Archbishop Anil Couto being a signatory and being the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Delhi ordered it to be read in all the churches belonging to his Archdiocese. It is not an ordinary pastoral letter by the two Archbishops exhorting the Catholics to come closer to Jesus or to help them lead a meaningful Christian life. It is a set of orders and commands which the faithful have to follow if they live within the territorial jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Delhi and want to continue to practice their faith in Jesus Christ. It appears from the tone of the letter that these two heads of the church believe that they are the only learned shepherds who know what is good for the faithful sheep and that there is a finality about what they think about it, regardless of the sentiments of the faithful. Otherwise it is difficult to comprehend the implications of the sentence, “Basically there is no choice about it”. You believe that you are infallible in matters of the spiritual and temporal in the life of the lay people and that the faithful are not aware of what Jesus expects of them.
You shepherds have given a clarion call to all the faithful to go back to their roots instead of clinging to the One and only Jesus Christ that they are used to be following all through their lives, oblivious of the divisive and casteist notions of rite and of the greater truth that the roots of Indian Christians go much beyond that. If this position is taken to its logical conclusion, we Christians must reconvert ourselves and go back to the original religion we were actually rooted in millennia back. This will have no legal impediments in our country and we all will be welcomed back into its fold. Whether we like it or not, already there are sections in our society demanding such reconversions as coming back home. Problems arise only when the faithful try to evangelise and convert others to our fold. Our shepherds do not appear too worried about these issues as they have a captive followership under their command.
After 2000 years of Christianity in India, some of the stalwarts of Christianity realised that there are two Jesus for North Indian Christians. There is a Latin Jesus and a Syrian Jesus. I am sure some people will realise after some time there is a tribal Jesus also. Good that we will have a variety of Jesus born for each ethnic group. Poor Jesus, how many times he has to be crucified for the sake of the hunger of some so called shepherds of Christ with vested interests for power, money, position and popularity? The pastoral letter has been written with profound show of love, faith and sincerity to the crucified Jesus and to the faithful. The whole of the letter is fully interspersed with words depicting Christian love, peace and unity using plenty of platitudes while the virus of division is very tacitly injected into the faithful to divide them into warring groups. What a wonderful art of duplicity? The great act of stabbing while offering a loving kiss. It has to be so, because the shepherds look after the sheep only to collect the milk, to shear the wool and finally to sell them to the slaughter houses.
Most of those who have expressed their opinion on this pastoral letter are responsible and highly spiritual people and have expressed their thoughts with great dignity, piety and humility. I wish them well. I consider myself endowed with sufficient spirituality, while at the same time I am of flesh and blood, a physical person living in this real world and in the present time, with all the worldly wishes and aspirations. Hence I am expressing some of my rights.
I am a Syrian catholic born in Kerala of Syrian parents. I am now 80 years old. During the first 25 years of my life in Kerala, I was a parishner of my Syrian parish in Kerala. From the time I could recollect my life as a child, I had contributed to the Syrian church in all the children’s activities, as an altar boy, member of sodality, Legion of Mary, Catholic young men’s association and actively participating in all church programmes. But at that time I could feel the tension between the Latin and Syrian churches, priests and Bishops in their cut throat competitions in all the activities such as building of churches, schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions. For the past 54 years I am living in the Northern part of our country. I lived as a catholic in the Northern part of the country with the full faith that I belonged to the catholic church and never felt isolated either from the Catholics of this area or the church of this area. At the same time, I never felt isolated from my original parish in Kerala, its parishners or other Syrian Catholics. I felt one with the churches in the North and south. I felt my faith was intact. As an educator, I have contributed a lot of my energy in conducting workshops for teachers of almost all the schools in the Diocese of Delhi. I was a member of the Board of Education of the Archdiocese of Delhi (B.E.A.D) for several years under the leadership of Archbishop Angelo Fernandez and have contributed in my own ways in the formation of the Educational Policy of the Diocese working along with Fr. Tom Kunnumkal, the C.B.S.E. Chairman at that time.
During these 54 years of my life in the Northern part of the country nobody came from anywhere to salvage my soul from the churches of the North. It seems that now Jesus has called upon some elite clergy from Kerala (as He did to Saul, the soldier) to go to North India to salvage the souls of the suffering Syrian Catholics. The poor Syrian souls who died in the North before 2012 must be waiting in purgatory or gone to hell because Syrian souls had no Syrian Church but yet remained as Syrian souls. At least now they too will have some hope. We welcome the new mandate the Syrian church in Kerala have received from the infallible teachings of the church.