We Christians in India missed the boat last year to reach the Rome Synod with family survey results or with knowledgeable spokes persons representing Indian Bishops and families in India. Many countries sent even married couples who spoke at the Synod. India sent none although the synod was all about married people and we were not even informed of the celibate lot sent to speak at the Synod until their names were announced and their photos projected for public view from the Rome meet.
In order to collect a comprehensive data of the harsh realities families face all over the world, Vatican had sent a set of 39 pertinent questions under 9 heads already in November 2013 to bishops all over the world. Sadly bishops in India, barring one or two, did practically nothing to conduct the survey, in spite of constant prodding to get started from concerned Church Citizens in Kochi and Bombay.
It was at this stage CCRI’ntl (Catholic Church Reform International) an association of Pro Church Reform group with 6000 members in 65 countries intervened with help and advise to conduct at least a laity led meet in Pune last August. That a well-meaning group of laity took up the challenge and tried to do what the Bishops chose to ignore was its biggest achievement because in spite of months of preparation, reportedly only three dozen people turned up for the meet.
The CCRI has over 100 registered members in India. It has also good connections with Synod organizers in Rome. Last year it did a scientific study of survey reports in many countries, conducted a two day seminar in Rome with many speakers of repute prior to last Synod and presented its findings to the organizers of Synod. CCRI is trying hard to establish a working vertical dialogue between Bishops and Church citizens in all countries. As members of CCRI, Sri Joseph Mattappally (Kottayam), Dr. James Kottoor (Ernakulam), Sri. Chottebhai (Kanpur), John Dayal (Delhi) and Astrid Lobo Gjiwala (Bombay) are some of the outspoken members in India. almayasabdam.blogspot.com has been publishing all Synod related information and articles without fear or favour. This website, a continuation of almayasabdam.blogspot.com which completed its 4th birth day on Nov.6th, wishes to hear from many more of CCRI members and other Church Citizens on various hardships families go through in India during the remaining span 11months leading the concluding ordinary Synod next October 5 to 23, 2015.
This November 20th will mark one month since the Extraordinary Synod Concluded on Oct.19th. It closed with the clarion call to carry on the Synod discussions at Diocesan and Parish levels in every diocese around the world. At least this time we in India should not miss the boat as we did last year. “Bishops from all over the world will have to listen to the laity in their respective dioceses… I expect lay persons to be protogonists who search for solutons with their heads held high,” according to Bishop Bruno Forte the Synod Secretary. It was always the laity that got the hierarcy moving, when Mary Magdaline ran to wake up Peter sleeping or dreaming to get moving because Jesus had already risen. So how is the Church in India going to respond to this call of Synod in the company of our bishops leading us during the next 11 months, is the moot question.
This vertical dialogue and discussion have to be a continuation of 62 topics deliberated upon at the synod out of which only three failed to get a two-third agreement. To these 62 topics other challenges peculiar to India, threatening or destroying healthy and harmonious families in various regions of India have to be identified and solutions suggested. Which means we have to find a short cut to data collection of ground realities which we ought to have done last year, through shortened questionaies in various regional languages of the country. This would mean doing two years work in the remaining 11 months.
One of the problems peculiar to India pestering family and married life in India are inter-religious and mixed marriages as pointed out by one of our Cardinals. More than that there are inter-Rite marriages between various Rites, inter diocesan marriages, inter caste marriages and marriages between advocates of pure-blood group and those opposing it in the Knanaya Kottayam Diocese community which many are ashamed to discuss in public as the present practice is pure human rite violation and opposed to all Christian teachings. Then there is the dowry system which makes marriage and family alliances a big business enterprise. All these being shameful practices have become forbidden topics for discussion even in the so called Catholic publications. For example how many Catholic publications in India permit discussion, let alone free and frank debates of them, just because they go against the vested interests of promoters of various Rites? It resulted in the Delhi Syro-Latin Rite explosion openly discussed in secular press and 155 page petition sent to Pope Francis, titled: Is Christ Divided?
So the first thing to do for the Church in India is to put its own house in order. First it should rise above the three-fold divisions – each asking the other who will bell the cat even in conducting a survey. In the absence of any of the heads of three Rites taking the leadership role we suggest that Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay who has already agreed to collaborate with the CCRI, to organise a common programme of study of problems plaguing families in all dioceses irrespective of Rite differences. We at Almayasadam.com shall be ready to provide the common forum of discussion on any family related issue in India. So may we therefore invite all readers of almayasabdam.com to boldly and freely come forward to air their views through this website. We wish you all a Happy, Friendly and Enlightening discussion.