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Will they discuss Synod topic, Threats to Kerala Catholic Families?

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kottordr james kottoor (Chief Editor, CCV)

Forty three Kerala Bishops are sitting for two weeks till Aug. 29, in Church’s headquarters in St. Thomas Mount, Kakkanad for what is known as Syro-Malabar Synod. That means they can and they will come together for their pet projects; they may not do it for the much more serious two-year Family Synod Survey project ordered by Pope Francis.

See the contrast! They did not do a family survey last year, nor did they do it this year.

The Pope asked the whole Church in India, that is, the CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India) to do the survey. Its President is Cardinal Baselius Cleemis of Trivandrum. The CCV editor wrote to him beginning of last month asking if he conducted any survey, since there was a controversy and doubts, in response to the Pope. We were not lucky to receive a reply, not even an acknowledgement from him.

Last week a certain Biju Uthup from Bangalore personally went to TVM after sending advance letters. Yet he could not meet the Cardinal. He asked the one in the office: “Why are letters not answered? Are we second class citizens?” According to Uthup the Cardinal’s office is in receipt of all letters, Uthup’s and CCV Editor’s.

In the meantime the Latin Church, we were told, did a survey on their own, Rite specific, without any publicity. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay and Bishop Lawrence Pius, Chairman of the Latin Church Family commission wrote to CCV editor complaining how we failed to know about it. How could we without being informed? To this day CCV has not seen a questionnaire distributed. Bombay’s cardinal wrote without our writing to him about the survey.

Here again the contrast is, we wrote to the two Kerala cardinals Mar Alencherry and Mar Cleemis but have not received a reply to this day. The question that comes up is this: If this is the way Church Citizens are going to be treated, without elementary courtesy, should the concerned Citizens continue to write to our so called bishops who call themselves pastors but adamantly refuse to answer letters and refuse to dialogue with their flock and therefore do not have the “smell of the sheep” in the words of Francis? You readers think out your own answers.

Why silence on burning Synod Issue?

In any case it is good to hear the Kerala Synod of 43 bishops are focusing on youth issues and nation building. But what about broken Syro-Malabar families, torn to pieces in Kottayam diocese, Kerala, Delhi and Chicago due to Endogamy producing divisive families? Bishops have been deluged with questions and petitions ever since Bishop Angadiath of Chicago, Archbishop Moolakat of Kottayam and His Beatitude, (as referred to in Bp. Angadiath’s circular) Alenchery of Ernakulam sent the joint circular of Sept.19th 2014 permitting and promoting (or should we say cultivating?) pure blood Knanaya parishes in Chicago? A Canonical case filed by All American Knanaya Association (KANA) leader and Organiser, stationed in NY, is going on demanding Bishop Angadiath, to withdraw that circular.

In spite of bringing all these facts to the direct attention of Kerala bishops and the CBCI at large, not a single bishop has reacted till today, except Archbishop Kuriacose Baranikulangara of Faridabad, Delhi. Why? Why? Again Why? What do they want to convey by their deafening SILENCE? Or should we say contemptuous silence? One, who keeps quiet, says nothing (Qui tacet, nihil dicit) is the only rational conclusion we can draw. It is against this context, Church Citizens ask again and again: Why do Bishops stick to their ominous and scandalous silence to repeated pleas and petitions of the faithful, now for two years?

What about building well-founded Christian families, which is what Pope Francis is all concerned about, which alone can be the only SACRED TABERNACLES, witnessing to the living presence of Jesus in this world?

There are Tabernacles galore in every Church made of gold or silver with Jesus locked up as a prisoner, behind a curtain made of silk or satin, depending on the money power of the Church. In a 50 Crore Edappally church, the tabernacle shines like one made of Gold. But can there be the living presence of Jesus there, when the Church also is locked up most of the time and without the presence of believers? Jesus never spoke of his presence in tabernacles anywhere. But he did speak of his living presence: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in their midst.”

Christian Families, where father, mother and children live in harmony are the sacred tabernacles where Jesus’ presence is felt and presented to the whole world, round the clock, not the tabernacles of gold and silver. It is for this reason the family is called the Domestic Church. Churches built of brick and mortar are dead structures without the living presence of Jesus, nor conceived by Him and without good Catholic families, any number of tabernacles in Churches are of no use or are fruitless.

Family: Living tabernacle

The living presence of Jesus is only made manifest when families live together or get together in his name regularly to know and support each other. It is done in a spectacular manner when His followers gather together in hundreds or thousands to serve especially the marginalized section of society, the oppressed, suppressed, exploited, the sick and hungry. His presence needs not be that manifest in political rallies even when organized, by the well-to-do hierarchical sections. But the living tabernacle of Jesus can be found even in the poorest families, with or without a roof over their head. These families alone deserve to be called Domestic Churches, not the spectacular constructions like the Edappally Church. This being the case, why are the Churches in Kerala, or the Kerala Bishops’ Synod has not thought it fit to conduct a survey of those on the pews, to listen to what the poor man, the Lazaruses in the “poor church of the poor” of Francis have got to say – no matter whether “good, bad or ugly” ?

Let no Bishop be sent to Rome Synod

The Pope did not ask the Church in India or the Syro-malabar Church in Kerala to dabble in Indian politics or Kerala politics. He definitely wanted the Kerala Church to put its own house in order first, starting with each familiy, the domestic church (sacred living Tabernacle) in every parish, every diocese, every rite, (Latin, Malabar, Malankara), working together as one unit in harmony as the Church in India, and not each rite doing it alone not caring for other rites or saying like Cain: “Am I my brothers’ Keeper.”

Therefore If the on-going Synod does not even open its mouth on Pure-blood marriages which definitely destroys Christian families (Three bishops’ joint circular cultivates it) and on other inter-rite frictions (The fact that the 3 Rites can’t conduct a joint survey is proof that frictions exist), neither the Latin Church nor the Kerala Churches, have any right to send anyone as their representative to Rome Synod.

As doctors of the Field Hospital called the Church in India, let them first prescribe the remedy for the mortal cancer called “Endogamy” which is afflicting nearly two lakh members of Catholic families in India and America. The patients who were crying for treatment have a right to hear what medicines they are going to propose at the Synod. What they propose should be the result of their consultation with the suffering patients. But to this day they have not consulted the affected patients.

Therefore the option left to Church Citizens in Kerala is to organize a massive protest with placards in front of the on-going Synod at Kakkanad if time permits, or at designated bishop’s palaces or at airports where they are flying from, to prevent any bishop to go to Rome more as a picnic tour group than as participants of a Synod. In addition the faithful may think of a mass petition signed by Knanayas and supporters to be sent to the Synod secretary Cardinal Baldasseri and to the Pope directly.

So, wake up Church Citizens in Kerala, make your protest loud and clear and make it thunder first in the ears of the Synod Fathers sitting in Kakkanad. Depending on the Synod’s reaction, let the Church citizens plan their action programme till they are ready to fly to Rome drawing inspiration from Jesus. May the Carpenter of Nazareth in his thirties, who appeared in two contrasting or conflicting roles: as “Sweet Jesus meek and mild” and “bitter Jesus rough and wild” with whip in hand, inspire them to act according to the needs of changing circumstances.

The author can be contacted at: jkottoor@asianetindia.com, Mob: +91 9446219203