End to all Rite Rivalries? Letters to CCV Editor

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James KottorThe following two letters are  reactions to our article: “End to all Rite Rivalries?” published in CCV on Oct.10.

Kurien Joseph reacted to it from USA on Oct. 14ths and P. C. Joseph from Chennai wrote to us on Oct.16  raising 10 Dubia (doubts) possibly imitating the four cardinals who raised  five doubts for Pope Francis to answer.

Those doubts are still hotly discussed. So we suggest that all our readers join in the discussion and try to answer P.C. Joseph.  Many of them are already answered in the article published. Besides foreseeing this possibility we have published also another article on16 OCT, 2017 in CCV: “Two documents from Rome: Stress on Unity, Equality, Universality among the followers of Lord Jesus.”   It may help clarify more doubts. But we suggest, let there be free and frank discussion on issues. Doubts must be clafrified. james kottoor, editor, ccv,

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 8.17.25 am KJ, kurien.joseph@gmail.com

Dear Dr James

I liked your article, "Any Rite is all right …". It is indeed good news that the Holy Father has made it clear that all Rites are equal, although for most reasonably minded Catholics, that is only stating the obvious. Of course your question, "End of Rite rivalries in India?", will remain the next big question in everyone's hearts.

I also read the UCAN report, apparently on the basis of Cardinal Allenchery's webcast. UCAN seems to have descended – like much of modern media – to reporting with neither application of thought nor verification of facts. 

UCAN reports that  the Pope "authorized [the Eastern Churches] to have pastoral powers across India", Whoever it is quoting has inadvertently given the game away – the key word is "powers". Very rarely, if at all, has the Syro Malabar (SM) Church spoken of "pastoral services"; its concern is always "powers". Interestingly, the LETTER OF THE HOLY FATHER POPE FRANCIS TO THE BISHOPS OF INDIA dated 9 October 2017 formalizing this development, uses the word "power" only once – in Section 9 – and in this specific context: "May this extension of the pastoral area of the Syro-Malabar Church in no way be perceived as a growth in power and domination, but as a call to deeper communion, which should never be perceived as uniformity". Otherwise his references always use "pastoral care" and similar phrases. Not unexpectedly, the SM church has missed the point.

UCAN further "reports" that this effort [to grab more and more "powers?] "has been resisted by the majority Latin-rite bishops in the past", UCAN goes on to repeat that "the Kerala-based church’s clergy [who] began working in several places outside Kerala… often faced resistance from Latin-rite bishops." 

The truth is that the actual resistance came, not so much from Latin Bishops (who, in fact, were often too timid, apparently overawed by the wealth and political power of the SM Church), but overwhelmingly from the thousands of lay Catholics who had emigrated from Kerala decades ago and found themselves warmly embraced by the Latin Churches in the various cities of India (and later abroad). It is these lay Catholics who saw – and still see – no reason for themselves, their children and their grand-children to be ordered about or bullied by an arrogant SM bureaucracy, which seems to believe it has divine sanction to "rule" the laity. Things had come to a pass where the SM bureaucracy refused to accept status liber ("no objection") certificates for marriage, if issued by Latin pastors of parishes to which these lay people had belonged for six or seven decades! In Chennai, SM priests and nuns had surreptitiously set up parishes, camouflaged as prayer centres, in direct contravention of the then (Latin) Archbishop's orders. 

The central problem has been encapsulated perfectly in your article. "If there is to be  a competition among followers of Jesus, it is competition to serve one another, not dominate or rule over." How wrong you are, Dr Kottoor!  And not just you – how wrong the Holy Father is! Here is a worldly unwise Pope, who places himself "one step below the laity to deserve the title: Servant of Servants".  Don't you both see that the SM Church begs to differ from both of you. If they didn't, we wouldn't have had the problem in the first place.

If they didn't, we wouldn't be seeing "tricks of the trade, like increasing one’s geographical control, production of Bishops (like MPs and MLS), one’s  clerical and religious personnel, and construction of eye popping Churches, educational institutions and super-specialty hospitals etc", which, as you rightly predict, "are bound to continue for some more time at least".

In fact, if you read the above  LETTER of 9 October 2017, the Holy Father shows that he is well aware of the danger that the Church in India could face now, unless our Churches "compete" in the manner you stipulate in your article. This is why, in Section 8 of his 9-section Letter, the Holy Father reiterates the two substantial points of the "Instruction" (Prot. No. 197/2014, 28 January 2016) issued by the Vatican: "No dispensation is required from the law currently in force for the faithful to practice their faith serenely," What does this sentence mean?

First, no Indult ("dispensation") needs to be sought (something for which the laity of Mumbai had had to fight so valiantly and which the Holy Father refers to in Section 6) by the SM faithful in Latin parishes anywhere. As the Pope explicitly states,"a member of the Syro-Malabar parish where he or she is domiciled … can remain fully involved in the life and activities of the parish of the Latin Church." 

Second, these people, referred to above, should be able to practise their faith "serenely". So no bullying; no refusal of NOCs, no bureaucratic hurdles, no unreasonable or burdensome financial demands, and so on. Clearly, any violation would be against the Holy Father's Letter and could be protested, if not challenged. 

Every SM Catholic – whether in India or the UK or Europe or the US or Canada or Australia or New Zealand or anywhere else – needs to read both the Holy Father's current Letter and the earlier "Instruction". Both are attached and well reflect why Pope Francis has been the most inspiring Holy Father in decades, and why he is easily the singlemost admired public figure in the world today. 

As you know, the "Instruction" from the Vatican cited above was in direct response to the Petition, "Is Christ Divided?" by a group of ten lay people from New Delhi, India, representing and strongly supported by lay people who had settled for decades Delhi and surrounds. I was a member of that group and have been authorized by it to explain to the world the protection the Holy Father has so caringly built into the latest "Letter". We believe it is necessary that all lay people everywhere, not just in India, should be aware of this protection. 

I conclude with this excellent summing up of the Holy Father's Letter by Mr P J Antony, one of our group members: 

"The very fact that, in conceding the seemingly justifiable demand of the SM, the Holy See has made a proper reference to the Instruction, clearly citing the Number and date, is a message to the SM hierarchy that they better behave themselves, factoring in people like us across the world. Now it is for the similarly placed people to invoke it as and when the situation so demands."

Warm regards, Kurien, USA

(Note: Sri Kurien Joseph was in Delhi leading a long fight against the Faridabad Eparchy there and finally settled the issue after getting the Order from Pope Francis. That is a long story. Now his family  has moved to California, USA, jk. ed.)

2. P. C. Joseph, email. peeceej@hotmail.com. 16 October 2017

Ten doubts few catholics regarding the “End of Rite rivalries in India” to Dr. James Kottoor.

Dear Dr. J. Kottoor,

Based on your articles on the “End of rite rivalries in India" we few who  reside out of Kerala request you to enlighten us in simple words, by another article or by email to the sender.

  1. How the new order will help establishing “Equal right, duty, responsibility of all three rites in spreading the “Good News” ?
  2. What is the extent of the domination among the rites in and out of Kerala?
  3. Is there caste discrimination among Kerala Catholics and who perpetuate and promote?
  4. What are the examples of step-motherly treatment of the Latin rite to eastern church?
  5. Which rite is going after the political parties in Kerala?
  6. Which rite is trying to expand one’s geographical control, and production of Bishops?
  7. Who builds eye-popping Catholic Churches, educational institutions and super speciality Hospital?
  8. In plain language which is the cattle class Catholic community in the eyes of other business class community among Kerala Catholics.?
  9. How by the present situation will promote meaningful equality, which will lead to unity, universality, liberty, transparency, and meritocracy among Catholics in India?
  10. Do all rites in Kerala evangelize, baptise and accept non-christians into their churches? (It is understood that SMR does not). Is it not mandatory for all Christians to evangelise? As you know, in Chennai, almost all Latin parishes baptise 30 to 40 families in a year and accept them as fullfledged members in their churches.

For the group of a few Catholics in Chennai

P. C. Joseph. email. peeceej@hotmail.com. 16 October 2017

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