A crisis of faith, caused by the hypocrisy of our leadership – Rite Issue (Delhi)

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Catholics of Delhi – and other like-minded people – recently came out in a great show of unity to protest the burning down of one (Latin) church and the stoning of a second (SM) church in the city. The latter case was particularly protested by the Eparch of Faridabad in strong terms against such communal attacks. The Eparch is reported to have made a statement: “We live in a secular country. We need complete protection for all places of worship whether they belong to Christians, Hindus or Muslims. The government has to ensure conducive condition for worship.”
Is he not being hypocritical? On one hand he rails against dividing the nation into communal blocs. On another he is personally involved in dividing the Church into communal blocs!
It is this hypocrisy in our senior clergy that brings most Catholics to a crisis of faith.
Today we are faced with two critical questions:
1.     Who truly constitutes the Catholic Church?
2.     Does the institutional Church heed the Holy Father at all?
1.     Who truly constitutes the Catholic Church?
Is the Catholic Church truly the Mystical Body of Christ, which includes all the faithful as equal beneficiaries of Christ’s death on the cross? Or is it a caste-based body, not unlike Hinduism, with a hierarchical clergy taking up the three top castes and the laity forming the fourth (or being outcastes)? The situation in Delhi clearly indicate the latter, because here the Church seems to ignore the faithful and toprotect the hierarchy.
The Church ignores the faithful
More than a year ago – in November 2013 – the Archbishop of Delhi and the Eparch of Faridabad issued a Joint Pastoral Letter (JPL), which wrought havoc in the lives of the faithful, scandalized our youth and unabashedly challenged the spirit of St John Paul’s Kalyan Indult of 1983.
The faithful protested immediately. It received expressions of sympathy from the Archbishop of Delhi; was ignored by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India; and could not even meet the Holy Father’s representative, the Apostolic Nuncio. It then appealed to the Holy Father through a formal petition in May 2014.
What happened thereafter? More sympathy from the Archbishop of Delhi, who unilaterally put the JPL in abeyance, although not very effectively; still silence from the CBCI; but at last a meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio.
Disappointingly, however, the promise of this meeting was belied by the aftermath; nothing happened. The delegation that met the Nuncio in June 2014 was assured of a fair and equitable solution to what were clearly avoidable and insensitive bureaucratic hardships to our people. It was clearly informed that all sides would be brought to the table for a consensus. Some reference was also made to the (earlier) formation of a committee of lay people.
However, no solution was sought, let alone found. No meeting was held between the two sides.  It turned out that the so-called committee of lay people had been formed entirely to work out modes of sharing infrastructure facilities in the Church in Delhi. That committee had nothing to do with the practical spiritual difficulties being faced by the laity.
The Church protects the hierarchy
It is amply clear that the Archbishop of Delhi and the Eparch of Faridabad have been on completely opposite sides of the question. The former clearly regrets having signed the JPL; while the latter stubbornly refuses to cool temperatures or to show pastoral concern.
It is also amply clear that the Syro-Malabar (SM) Church presented blatant falsehoods to the Holy See to justify the setting up of an Eparchy in Faridabad. It lied that the Latin Archdiocese gave ineffective or inadequate pastoral care to Catholics of SM origin. It fed the Holy See with patently false statistics about the faithful in Delhi. It suppressed the clear mandate of the Delhi Laity Synod of 2002 against its intrusion into Delhi. It admitted its true motive of colonialisation (“we have the right to demand more territory”).  And yet – the institutional Church continues to protect the SM Church hierarchy.
In the last few months, the Eparch of Faridabad has given false declarations to the press (“there is no compulsion” – an absolutely deceitful declaration lapped up by an unquestioning press); and has indicated through its press officer its commitment to apartheid in the church, disdaining the “Latins”, who it contrasts with what it calls “the elite”. The Eparch has raised funds from the general public by assuming for himself the false title of “Archbishop of Faridabad-Delhi”; and he continues to use that title. In various forums he has incorrectly or falsely cited “church laws” to confuse the faithful and to mislead the general public. He has given himself (through the JPL) a superior position to the far senior Archbishop of Delhi, usurping a non-existent right to “apprise” the former of an “appropriate course of action” (in cases of applications to change rites) on the basis of “pastoral exigencies”. All this has been brought to the notice of the Apostolic Nuncio, as have been our rebuttals of his several false statements. And yet there is no word of warning or displeasure to the Eparch, and no response or clarification to the laity; so that the Eparch continues to flaunt his self-given status and continues to misrepresent church laws. Clearly, the institutional Church is protecting the SM Eparch.
2.     Does the institutional Church heed the Holy Father at all?
Is the Holy Father truly the head of the universal Church? Or is there a concerted effort by the institutional church to ignore him completely?
The Holy Father has publicly proclaimed, not just once but on several occasions, that an undivided Christ cannot be reflected in a divided Church. In the strongest language he has emphasized that “there is no other word” for Christian disunity than “scandal”. Yet the SM Eparchy has been set up in Delhi on the basis of blatant falsehoods – aggravated by an evident lack of “due diligence” by the institutional church. And the avowed purpose of this Eparchy is to divide a Catholic laity that has remained undivided for over a century! Does the institutional Church – does the SM Church – heed the Holy Father at all?
In preparation for the Family Synod of October2014, the Holy Father had asked the Bishops to find out the views of the laity on matters that arguably affected the latter much more directly. What we saw was once again, with a handful of exceptions, was the Shepherds of Indiaignoring the Holy Father and giving their own views instead.
Around the time of the recent Synod, the Holy Father urged its Bishops to listen to the peopleHas the SM Bishop been listening in Delhi? Why do our pleas remain unanswered? What are the Nunciature and the bishops concerned still waiting for?
The Holy Father admonishes the hierarchy against dressing “like peacocks”; and he has in fact dismissed a German archbishop for ostentatious living. Do his exhortations mean anything at all to the pomp and splendour of the SM Eparchy?
To many lay people, it appears that this truly inspiring Pope is being ignored or even under-cut by church hierarchies, especially in India.
The above two questions call for urgent answers.
Are the sacraments and pastoral care meant to be subordinated to the clearly worldly and territorial ambitions of a highly politicized SM church?  Is it not obvious that the first step has to be the withdrawal or quashing of the JPL?  In the current situation, when the holy sacraments are being unscrupulously used as weapons to coerce the faithful and frighten some of them into submission, is the Holy Father’s Nunciature in India simply going to sit by and do nothing? When the Church is faced with a crisis of faith, as we have explained, is it merely going to ignore its faithful and protect some of its bishops at all costs?  Would this be an ecclesial equivalent of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt?
To many of us, and especially to our youth, it appears more and more that the universal church moves in utter subordination to the institutional church, which seems more and more, if not exclusively, concerned with the worldly ambitions of its clergy.
In an Indian political ethos where burning or stoning a church in the capital city of India does not even make front page news, there is every danger that a divided Church will become easy prey to its enemies. It is indeed an hour of crisis for the Church in India.
It is high time that our Shepherds faced up to their duty to provide true leadership to prevent the self-destruction of a Church while external forces assail her. An Eparch may bask in his brief spot in the arc lights when he rants against those who divide the country. But thegreatest danger to the Church really comes from within – from such “Shepherds” themselves who are hell bent on “leading” the Church into irrelevanceinsignificance and meaninglessness for Christians themselves.
One church building with a burnt sanctuary is serious enough; but the whole Church as a glittering palace for a few worldly ambitious bishops would  be a catastrophe! 

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