Note: Given below is the Keynote speech at the KCRMA Chicago meet which lasted from 9.30 am to 7 pm. ‘Be an honest atheist than a hypocritical Catholic!’
GREETINGS, good wishes and God bless (if there is a god) to all of you my friends, enemies, (if there are any here), strangers, first timers, curious onlookers or those trapped here to listen to this KNOW-NOTHING for no fault of theirs! Just excuse me for that, because both the God-less and enemies are equally dear to me!
Yes, I am a declared know-nothing, that is what I have become after my long years of earnest study to learn; (worked the whole night and caught nothing) the more I try to learn, the more I discover how little I know – what I know is like a grain of sand on an ocean shore, or like that boy trying to empty the sea with a sea shell into the little hole he has made on the sea shore.
That prompts me to ask you, more knowledgeable people than me, a question. What is the BIGGEST WONDER in this world for you? Ever thought of that? Moonlanding or sun setting in the sea? None of these for me! It is each one of you sitting here. There is not a single person like you anywhere in this whole world and therefore I can learn what is unique to you, only from you. Hence the saying, we have to learn from every one, “even from a grave digger.” It also enjoins on us the duty to look upon one another as our guru, where he is proficient.
It is not humility that prompts me to admit ‘I am a know-noting’, but sheer honesty. That is the truth, ‘a know-nothing’ trying to learn from each of you – GURUS and better informed, time permitting.
4 Types of knowledgables
Since our knowledge differ from person to person, Lady Burton classifies people into four categories to explain things better: “1. He who knows not and knows not he knows not; he is a fool – shun him; 2. He who knows not and knows he knows not; he is simple – teach him; 3. He who knows and knows not he knows; he is asleep – wake him; 4. He who knows and knows he knows; he is wise – follow him.” This fourth group of people may be very rare and hard to find. The great majority of us may fall into the second group: He who knows not and knows he knows not!
james kottoor giving keynote speech
Today we are going to deal with a very simple subject which is too complicated like: as they say in Malayalam: kuthhazhinga Pustakam, a book whose stitches have all gone and its pages flying in the wind aimlessly – the Catholic Church or the fast multiplying and fast disappearing churches.
Once upon a time there was perfect order and discipline: Rome has said and the case was settled, now it is Rome has said and discussion or dispute has started. Formerly Popes used to condemn and silence heretics, today any Tom-dick-and harry calls the Pope a heretic to silence or depose him.
Formerly the Supreme doctrinal authority in the Church headed by Cardinal Ottaviani from the time of Pius Xll used to say: “Semper Idem,” Always the Same, (was his motto) the Church teaching never changes; now the constant refrain is: Church is to the reformed constantly, ‘semper reformanda est’ “aggiornamento”, updating, and quote cardinal Newman saying: “It may be different in a higher world, but here below to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed most often,” shocking but thought-provoking statement, learned it first from Cardinal Valerian Gracias, India’s first cardinal.
All that happens, happened and will happen is for the good, is another Indian axiom. We are simply carried away by a strong current. Those who want to survive must swim against the current.
Path of Faith or Reason (Homo: Animal Rationale)
And what is the basis of our discussion today? Faith or reason? Man is a rational animal – animal always, rational at times. So rational!
Parcial view of the audience
There are too many things to discuss today but I want to touch upon just three points only: 1. The suffocating “Clergy Sex Abuse flood” breaking in as though from hell and therefore more hurting than the stench of Augean stables and drowning the Catholic Church.The roaring headline shouting at us everywhere is: Priesthood is crucified on the cross of Celibacy.
2. The Church of Constantine of imperial splendor and glory with perks and privileges in which we live, a Church of the sacristy which exploits the poor and marginalized where no reform is possible to be implemented;
3. A Community of the Cattle Class, that is, the community of Jesus born as a carpenter boy in a Cattle shed, and lived with the God forsaken, without even a home address: “Birds have their nests, foxes their holes, the Son of Man has no place where to rest his head. He was never even called a Christian, but INRI!(Friedrich Nietzsche said: There was only one Christian and died on the cross)
Cleansing Augean Stables
Augean stables is used to highlight the herculean, Hymalayan task involved in a Greek historic or mythical happening. In the Greek Mythology there was a King called Augeas of Elis, extremely rich with over 3000 oxen and his stables which had not been cleaned for 30 years. Knowing the need of Augeas Heracles an expert at the task, like ‘Swatch Bharat men’ of Modi perhaps, went to him, offering to clean up his stables in just one day , if he would give him at least tenth part of the cattle for his trouble, or a part of his territory.
Augeas, thought Heracles could never, never succeed to do what he promised in one day; so promptly agreed, but Heracles took Phyleus, the son of Augeas, as his witness, and then led the huge rivers Alpheius and Peneius through the stables, which were thus cleaned in record time fixed upon. (It finally ended in war and peace since Augeas failed to pay.) This only high lights the enormity of the task involved in cleansing Church’s Augean stables.
But the Augean stables in the Catholic Church (called whore of Babylon) had not been cleansed, not just for 30 but for the last 1700 years from 313 AD when Constantine installed himself as its king and emperor. It was for this one purpose that Vatican council II was convened. Pope John XXIII said it very clearly: “To sweep clean the dust of the empire accumulated on the throne of Peter ever since the time of Constantine!” That is, from 313. It is now over 54 years since the council ended. Have we at least started the cleansing process?
Break up Hierarchical structure
To do that we have to first break down the hierarchical ladder – clergy laity divide — with more than thousands of steps than the Indian Caste system has; all to bring about the leveling: “You are all brothers only,” Mt. 23.8. Definitely this is not going to happen in my life time or in the life time of anyone of you. Francos and Alancherries will be going about projecting themselves with red hats, sparkling red garments making all the bulls in the country go wild.
When the question was raised some ten years ago there was only one bishop: Bishop Alex Dias of Port Blair, who wrote an article (A church shorn of Grandeur, in IC 2012) to say: “Call me my pet name “Alex” only, not even my sirname ‘Dias’. No other bishop in India supported it, when I wrote an article calling him: Dear Alex in IC; many laity wrote in support. So just forget about any reform taking place in India. Just like Abhaya case all sex abuse cases against priests and bishops will continue to be fought in the courts spending any number of crores.
Covering kottoor with Ponnada to honor him
Church of Constantine
All through the centuries Church delighted to present itself as the militant, triumphant Church of glory. Listen to the words of St.Bernard to his former subordinate Eugenius III (pope from 1145-1153): “When the pope, clad in silk, covered with gold and jewels, rides out on his white horse, escorted by soldiers and servants, (during crusades) he looks more like Constantine's successor than of Peter, the fisherman.” Yeves Congar the famous French Theologian always compared bishops’ dressing up for public functions to that of ladies on their marriage day. Pope Francis spoke of all the trouble some take to become a bishop. Once they become one, they start peacocking, parading in all variety of colours like a Peacock.
Did the apostles ever call Jesus, “your holiness, eminence, excellency?” Call me just “TU” Pope speaking on phone to youngsters in Milan. And who is encouraging them to stay put in their demand to be called “Excellecy, eminence?” You and I the laity, who fawn and kneel to do menial service for them! Stop doing that from today, because you are all brothers only.
“Get out, get out of the Church of sacristy, go, go to the peripheries to meet the homeless, jobless living in slums, cherries without bathrooms, Francis used to say from the outset of his papacy and as Cardinal in Buenos Aires he used to walk those dirty, filthy streets with coffee and breakfast in hand.
Presenting a plaque with his crdentials
That is what it means to live the Cattle Class life, to be constantly busy with the foot-washing ministry, not once in a year on Holy Thursday for show & publicity. (My Sr. always travelled to MP in general compartment!) To put into practice the life of the Cattle class ministry you have to imitate the publican in the parable of the Pharisee and publican in the Temple – live in a rented St. Martha’s as Francis does, ride in ordinary cars, carry your own bags on travel, to live the motto: “a poor Church of the poor for the poor” without getting involved in financial and money matters discussed in “Church Act”, leaving such things like Church finances to the laity, to honest men “Viri probati”.
For how many years you have been trying to get the Church in India to accept the Church act bill and enforce it. Make this day, Aug. 10th memorable by accepting it, imitating Pope Francis’ example in competing for the last place to serve, (one step below laity in the hierarchical ladder) avoiding the first place to rule over.
Just think of Jesus presenting himself as the Son of Man and his exhortation: “When you have done to these little ones of mine, you did it to me.” This is what mendicant, bear foot preachers like Peter Reddy, Sadu Ittiyavira, Vivekannda, Narayana Guru, Kabir, Christ of the East all did. They were correcting the aberrations of the ancient theology: Humanize, civilize and Christianize. NO, it is more than enough to humanize, what is humane is Christian. Think of Jesus calling himself “SON OF MAN” 85 times in the Gospels and Chesterton calling Jesus the “Everlasting Man”. Think of Narayana Guru’s teaching.
Try to become the ideal humane human being for all times, places, cultures and peoples. That is what Jesus did by calling himself and presenting himself as the SON OF MAN, the ideal human being.He never became a Christian even! When you become a humane human being you identify with those who live at the lowest strata of life to raise them up to a higher level.
That is what all organized religions should do, including the Catholic church but don’t do. Jesus did not come to found a new religion but to unite the human race by making it more humane. The name ‘Christian’ came in use first in Ephesus only many years after the death of Jesus. So try to be a humane human being like Jesus, That is more than enough if you are a fan of Jesus. And what was Jesus?: INRI = Jesus of Nazaret king of the Jews. So away with all multiplicity of organized religions for a posh gala living, like our political parties!
Today Aug. 10th 2019 we are holding a historic meeting in Chicago to find answers to reforming organized religions, more precisely organized Churches, still more precisely organized Catholic Church and its life both in the US and in India.
If this meeting is to be relevant to the times we live in we should be answering a few disturbing questions on: 1.God, 2. Religion and 3. Its Practice raised by thinking sections this day and age around the world. The top authority, universally accepted, on these 3 topics, no doubt is Pope Francis.
What does he speak of God? From the very beginning of his pontificate he regularly met with Eugenio Scalfari, a 93-year-old atheist philosopher, who co-founded, La Repubblica, the only Italian daily the Pope reads regularly. Even recently they met. It is common knowledge that Pope openly said: My God is not a Catholic God. Simultaneously he also said, many atheists are far better than hypocritical Catholic believers. In so saying what message does he convey to Catholics, if not: that a professed atheist can be a good Catholic?, Nay a better Catholic among Catholics? (Rather than a hypocritical Christian?)
Jesus: Man or God?
Seondly Scalfari also said, he does not believe in the divinity of Jesus, who for him is just a human being only. So does it mean that one does not have to believe in God or in the divinity of Jesus, to be a good Christian?
To find answers to the many provoking questions raised by the media — both printed and visual, we have to reflect and each has to decide for himself/herself. It is assumed or commonly believed that Christians believe the Bible to be the ‘word of God’. Do they? Or how many actually do?
Bible: Word of God or Man?
Without giving concrete proof, it is generally believed that God (Himself/ herself) wrote the Bible! We know many religions have their own scriptures, not necessarily written by God himself. In the case of Old Testament, God is supposed to have given the 10 commandments written in stone to Moses, which he broke to pieces when he came down from the mountain seeing his followers worshiping the golden calf and wallowing in all sort of illicit sex.
In the case of the Trinitarian God, Christians believe, and we know for certain, we have no records of Jesus going to any school or leaving behind, anything written. Nor has God the Father or the H. Spirit left anything written behind. Then where do we search for any concrete proof? People are free to dream dreams and spread them as concrete facts. If our dreams were horses, we all would have been riding horses in the air, it is said.
3 Gospel Facts!
As for the Bible, New Testament, what is self-critical about the churches are three: 1. The Parable of the Pharisee and the publican in the Temple, 2. The Story of the God Samaritan, and 3. Mt.23, the entire chapter, with its central message, Verse 8: “You are all brothers only” (not, Rabbi, Fathers or teachers), all equals called to delight in doing ‘Foot-washing’ ministry to each other, never to rule over.
So to be avoided in our daily life is the example of the Pharisee praying in the temple. Does not the Catholic Church present itself even today as the best or topmost of all religions in this world? What does it know about life after death? Famous theologian Karl Rhaner was asked at his deathbed: “What do you think of the next world?” He answered saying: “What can I say, since we see those things only through that DARK light called FAITH! Faith does not take us for a ride beyond this world.”
When the same question was put to St. Thomas, the Angelic Doctor of the Church, he simply answered: “It will be totally different!” (Tottaliter aliter). Hence my repeated answer to all such questions is this: As I am a declared ‘KNOW-NOTHING’, call me anything, an agnostic, atheist, unbeliever, as the little light of reason in me literally militates and rebels against all these cock & Bull stories the fertile poetic imagination of man has given birth to. Time was when I too willingly and avariciously, swallowed all such stories, not any more.
Releasing an 80 page souvenir of Chicago meet 2019
Papal Election & ‘Bar Jona’, St.Gallen
Another myth that is being exploded is that the Papal elections are all held under the guidance of the Holy Spirit alone. It has some similarity with the Makara Vilakku lit in Sabarimala by some heavenly spirit or Sabarimala authorities!
“Bar Jona” literally means ‘Son of Jona (Peter)’ or the Bar at St.Peter’s where the Cardinals during election time go for a coffee break or a ‘sip’ of a soft or strong drink to break the election monotony. ‘St. Gallen’ in switzerland’ is the quasi institutionalized election campaign machinery of the Papal election campaigners’ group who meet around the year as needed to discuss possible or promising good candidates to be promoted to become the next Pope, They meet more frequently when such an election is imminent. One of the key players in that group was Cardinal Martini of Milan (now dead), who made history with his remark that the Catholic Church was ‘200 years behind times’.
Monsignor Antonio Livi, a dogmatic theologian at the Pontifical Lateran University, signatory of the “correctio filialis” gives names of member bishops in St.Gallan, like Godfried Danneels, Walter Kasper, Martini, Popemaker cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and others, who want Bergoglio to build “a Church without priesthood, without magisterium, without dogmas, without an official interpretation of Sacred Scripture etc.” His thesis is that heretical popes are already in power for the last 50 years, that is, since Vatican ii.
This group of St.Gallen campaigned to get Francis elected during the election of Benedict XVI but could not succeed. They got him only as the first runner up. But after Benedict’s resignation they eventually succeeded to make Francis to say YES or at least not to say NO if he was chosen. All these details are recorded by various writers. So both the Holy Spirit and worldly spirit are fully active in the election of new Popes.
God=Mercy & Jesus=Footwashing
With the advent of Francis a new Theology is being developed with Cardinal Walter Kasper as his theologian par-excellence. All through the two Synods of the Family, Cardinal Kasper was the leading light. He coined the phrase: “The name of our God is MERCY. He projected the image of the PRODIGAL FATHER out on the courtyard looking far ahead to see if his prodigal son was returning to his Father’s embrace.
Crticizing the institutional Church and the priestly class is part and parcel of Church reform according to Francis. It was for this Jesus went to the Jerusalem temple, said Pope to a group of Brazelian youth, ‘to chase out those making it a den of thieves’. Even otherwise, Francis had constantly exhorted youngsters to go around and make a “Mess” where Church leaders sat idle and refuse to get out of the Church of the Sacristy to meet the Lazaruses living in the periphery.
james between two friends Kalarickal, Detroit & Jose Padnamackal, N.York
Conflict in theological thinking & practice
If Jesus is to be: “Sweet Jesus meek and mild; how can he be at the same time bitter Jesus rough and wild, even to incorrigible sinners, priestly class whom he chased out?” How can one see the Church as a battle field after war, and we as red cross workers going around with the medicine of mercy, treating first the mortally wounded and others later? Where is place for punishing those guilty for war?
Or is there no punishment for the wicked and perpetrators of evil in the new theological thinking? How can then be there any place for true justice, to implement the principle: “Let justice be done even if the heavens were to fall?” (Fiat Justitia, ruat coelum!)
We have no ready answers to these conflict situations in a world without rearward and punishment, in a Godless world! “Liberty, equality, fraternity, unity” — these and more demands of the French revolution, we may shout out in unison but who will implement it without brute force, violence and blood shed? Peace on earth to men of good will! But what about a world infested with ill-will everywhere?
Where does Jesus fit in?
Definitely he can’t fit in anywhere as the Son of God! What we need is not a heavenly but an earthly, mundane solution. The hero worshipers of Jesus ask us to imitate him. If he is God, it is stupid, impossible to do so. Are you crazy to play God, they ask. If he is God, is it possible to lock him up in a tabernacle or in a Cathedral? – a Notre Dame was crumbling down to ashes! Just forget it!
Jesus is and has to be human, because he was born, brought up and died. One may question his resurrection, ascension to heaven and all that stuff. We may not have any cogent proof of any God having done any of these things. Yet the whole world is ecstatic about Jesus’ pliability for imitation by anyone. Then imitate him, first in the act of his self-emptying to serve, not in the act of grabbing, lording it over at which our bishops are experts!
You have all heard the story of “Pushpaka Vimanam” carrying all that humans need for a comfortable survival here on earth and the way they were distributed, to each one according to his/her need without any fight.
Jesus never entered into any physical fight with anyone, verbal fights yes! That will at least make our countries, India and US, stop being LYCHISTANS`. Once we make our land violence free, won’t all other good things flow in? Why not make a TRY?
Beyond portal of death
In another context it was said: “You have made me a Communist!” Today faced with all sorts of religious extremism, exploitation and blind beliefs and violence my sense of reason revolts against all such things and I am forced to say you have made me a know-nothing, a non-believer, an agnostic, an atheist, may be a prayerful atheist! Equally all such things force me to continue my study and search beyond the portals of death since you all believe there is a heaven or hell beyond, don’t you? Is there anyone who don’t?
If like doubting Thomas, I happen to see, touch and believe, the many things you people believe in, as existing beyond death, I shall surely come back to report it to you. Till then I refuse to believe in any of them. This is not to say that those who disagree with me are all wrong. I wish them well, and promise to rejoice with them even more than they, once they are proved RIGHT! God bless you all, if there is a GOD! Stop being a hypocritical Christian, start being a better honest atheist!
To contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob. +9446219203, kochi.
Note: I have given my body to Amrutha Institute of Medical Sciences, Ernakulam ten years ago signed by all family members, not to invite any priests or pujari for any religious service, and children not to come if abroad, but to give that money to feed the starving. james
Says Tagore: “Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee. He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path maker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil”. Coming down to the dusty soil to be of help to His little ones is the essence of being the CATTLE CLASS!
On a lighter note a religious sister said that at Vatican III priests would come with their wives, at Vatican IV priests would come with their husbands, and at Vatican V they would address Her Holiness!, at the Vatican vi we will have a pregnant Pope. With that all gender inequality will be wiped out from the Church. Because if you believe in God and he wrote the bible, ‘Male and femaile he created them because, and therefore Gender inequality exists in the Catholic church it is not true.
“Men and women forget they cannot be "fully human" without one another. “Man without woman is not fully human. And woman without man is not fully human either. Each without the other is a piece of humanity, incomplete." Cardinal JoãoBraz de Aviz, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Religious was addressing the triennial meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), a membership group for approximately 2,000 leaders of Catholic sisters around the world.on Aug.12/13
Cleansing Augean Stables,
Church of Constantine,
Cattle Class or Jesus community
God Exists? Seen him?
Jesus: Man or God?
Bible: Word of God or Man?
by H.Spirit or worldly?
& ‘Bar Jona’, St.Gallen
Present theological thinking!
Pope’s Catholic God, Hell, Heaven!
Beyond portals of death