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
5. All our sacraments are established by the organised Catholic Church after centuries of Jesus’ Crucifixion. But they all have some connections with events in the life of Christ. You have mentioned two sacraments the baptism and marriages. If all the other sacraments can be acceptable by both the groups as sacraments of the holy church, what happened to these two sacraments? Is baptism and marriage differently constituted in the early Church?? The baptism which was in remembrance of St. John the Baptist, baptising the Jews and gentiles and also Jesus himself was given the sacramental status by the ancient Church .There was no Syrian baptism or Latin baptism anywhere in the early years of the church. In early church, there were no Catholic priests. The elders of the family did it for their children. The sacrament of matrimony is the remembrance of the marriage at Cana where Jesus did His first miracle of converting water into wine. And that marriage was also that of a family of Jews. In the early years, there was no Syrian and Latin marriage. Even today, according to our faith, there are only three people involved in a marriage contract. The groom, the bride and Jesus, the God. The priest is only a witness. Anybody can be a witness. Then why this catch on Baptism and Marriage? An opportunity to milk the sheep!
6. There is one area you have forgotten. The Christian cemeteries in Delhi. The share of these cemeteries now belongs to the Catholics who are under the Archdiocese of Delhi. I am 80 years old and waiting to be called by the Lord. I don’t mind my body being buried, cremated or even thrown into the sea. But my Syrian children must know where I can rest in peace (R. I.P). You have clarified about the birth and marriage. Please clarify what happens at death also. A man who is born as a Syrian has to die a Syrian! Will you please explain the modalities for this too? Who has to do the last rites? Where is to be done? Is there place for “both type” Catholics demarcated? If we could not get the right “rite pastor”, will our bodies be eaten by the vultures?
7. What we lay-Catholics see now is a competition between the clergy of the two rites to take control of the laity who is the real source of finance and power. Only thing is that these clergy are experts in using many synonyms of love, peace, unity, fraternity and so on to achieve their cynical designs. To these shepherds of different shades of the church, we have only one appeal - Please for the sake of Jesus; don’t try to divide the followers of Jesus into two or even more diverse group. This is a serious crime and a
cardinal sin for which there will be no absolution from the divine presence. In these challenging times we need to stand together as one and face the communal and material forces in the world.
8. There is a very ironical statement given in one of the pastoral letters by one of the shepherds. “The church has the good tradition of giving one tenth of the income to the church”. The intentions are coming out of the bag. The government of this country allows the people not to pay any tax by those who earn less than a certain amount. This is to make sure that this amount is needed for the survival of the people. The people have to pay house rents, house loans and personal loans educational loans and educational expenses for children, expenses for the marriages of their children from their earnings. Many of these are exempted by the government tax. Only after deducting some of these expenses, the payment of income tax starts. I can understand if the church asks for a share from the “savings” of a family but not income. Most of these Catholics are lower-middle class families surviving on the meagre income. For what does the church need this money to be used? To create a duplicate catholic church? To build mansions for the shepherds and their officials. A catholic church does not need a palace. It is the reminiscences of the colonial and feudal system. Learn to live like your flock that live by their sweat and blood. Shun the luxurious and the pompous life you lead at the cost of the faithful. Follow your leader Pope Francis. He is a real shepherd of the Catholic community. He says that the shepherds are supposed to serve and not to be showmen like the peacock.
9. Again the people are exhorted not to give money out of this ten percent of their income to anybody who comes and ask money for any charitable activities in the name of God. It must be given either to the parish priest or with his permission to agencies which he recommends. But one thing the shepherd forgets is that anybody who is in need of our help is coming to us another form of God. I must have the right to decide who needs my help and service more. Nobody on earth has a right to decide who the God in need is. We are asked to pay the parish priest his share of ten percent of our income and only with the remaining I am supposed to help others or other organisations which are helping the needy. This means that all the N.G.Os, orphanages, hospitals for poor, sisters of charity of Mother Terasa, Don Bosco orphanages and many other activities though run by congregations of fathers, sisters or brothers of the church are not serving God unless the parish priest decides so! According to our understanding of the cannon law, this man has got no infallibility in matters of faith or in any matters. Who is he to decide which God’s work is and which is not? Are you suggesting that we the lay people, regardless of our education, age and experience do not possess the discretion, prudence and intelligence to decide on such matters as this holy of holy man can ?
I have put down some of my thoughts and doubts in this letter. I hope that as true followers of Jesus Christ, you stand for the love and justice which Jesus stands for. We expect of you to be the real witness to the Jesus Christ who died on the cross for all our sins, the Jesus Christ who resurrected for us, and the very Jesus Christ still living in our midst. We, the Lay Catholics expect of you to take decisions on the lives of people not as dictators but as partners in the church of the one and only one Jesus. Please do not sacrifice Jesus again on the cross and tear his mystical body for our worldly powers. Also be aware of the moral laws and be respectful of the laws of this great country of ours.
With all the pride in being Catholics, and that too as Syro-Malabar Catholics, with love and respect for both of you.