Laity4Unity, New Delhi, responds to SM Church’s proxy “Friends of St Thomas”

Background

A group of ten representatives of the Delhi-based laity of Syro Malabar (SM) ancestry had petitioned the Holy Father on 24 May 2014 against a Joint Pastoral Letter (JPL) of November 2013, which sought to transfer them (on the absurd principle “Basically you have no choice”) from the Archdiocese of Delhi, of which they had been members for three or four generations, to a newly erected SM Eparchy in the same area. As a means of communicating with the people involved, this group, Laity4Unity, later started a Facebook account called “Rite Issue”. Recently some people and/or groups, notably “Friends of St Thomas” have been writing against Laity4Unity and the Petition. It is not known (nor does it matter) whether “Friends of St Thomas” are a group of lay persons or (most likely) a proxy for the SM Eparchy. What is interesting is that the vast majority of the Delhi laity, having assimilated into their Delhi home for up to six decades, have lost familiarity with the Malayalam script; and, other than the first generation of migrants, most are unable to read or write Malayalam. Yet the “Friends of St Thomas” insist on writing in Malayalam. This helps them to write without fear of rebuttal. We first warned them on FB that only English entries would be accepted and others would be blocked. They still persisted with their Malayalam commentaries. Finally, we decided to take one of their entries at random, get it translated and responded to, as given below.  In future, we have no intention of responding to every one of their commentaries; if they are serious, let them write in English – for the whole world to see – or send us their own translation. If someone alerts us that they have brought in a relevant point, we may choose to respond.

Our Response

Dear “Friends of St. Thomas”

We had first declined to respond to your comments, which you had deliberately written in Malayalam, even though you know well that a very large proportion of the three or four generations of Syro-Malabar migrant families living in Delhi for as many as six decades are not familiar with the script. However, some among us felt that the considerable ignorance presented in your comments needed to be exposed. Someone therefore took the trouble of translating your comments on your behalf. If you feel the translation is incorrect, do send your own translation, but do not hide your lack of understanding behind a Malayalam script. Also, we certainly do not intend to respond to all your comments unless you send them to us in English – so that the whole world can see what you have to say. This one is just to give our readers a broad idea of whom and what you are promoting with such devotion.

——————————————————————————————————————— “സീറോ മലബാർ സഭ വിശ്വാസികൾ ഫരീദാബാദ് രൂപത സ്ഥാപിതമായതിനുസേഷവും ഡൽഹി ലത്തീൻ അതിരൂപതയിൽ തുടരുന്നത് സെരിയല്ല എന്നും അവരെല്ലാവരും ഫരീദാബാദ് രൂപതയിലെവിശ്വാസികൾ ആണെന്നും അതിനാൽ അവരെല്ലാവരും ഫരീദാബാദ്, ഡൽഹി പ്രദേസങ്ങളിലെ ഫരീദാബാദ് രൂപത പള്ളികളിൽ അംഗങ്ങൾ ആകണമെന്നും ഇനി ആർകെങ്കിലും ഫരീദാബാദ് രൂപതയിൽ അംഗങ്ങൾ ആകുവാൻ ബുധിമുട്ടുടെങ്കിൽ അവർക്ക് ഡൽഹി ലത്തീൻ രൂപതയിൽ തുടരാം എന്നും എന്നാൽ അങ്ങിനെ തുടരുന്നവർക്കു ഏതെങ്കിലും ഒരു റീത്തിൽ മാത്രമേ നില്ക്കുവാൻ കഴിയൂ എന്നും ഒക്കെ പറഞ്ഞു നവംബർ 1,2013 ഡൽഹി അതിരൂപത മെത്രാപ്പോലീത്ത മാർ അനിൽ കൂട്ടോയും ഫരീദാബാദ് രൂപത മെത്രാപ്പോലീത്ത മാർ കുര്യാക്കോസ് ഭരണികുളങ്ങരയും കൂടി ഒരു ജോയിന്റ്പാസ്റ്റൊരൽ ലെറ്റർ ഇറക്കി.  

Translation received. A Joint Pastoral Letter was issued by the Archbishop of Delhi Archdiocese Mar Anil Couto and the Archbishop of Faridabad Diocese Mar Kuriakose Bharanikulangara stating that (1) after the erection of the Faridabad diocese it is not right for the Syro Malabar faithful to continue to remain in the Delhi Latin Archdiocese and (2) they are all faithful of the Faridabad Diocese and (3) therefore they must become members of the parishes of the Faridabad diocese in Delhi areas and (4) if anyone has difficulty to become members of the Faridabad Diocese, they can continue to remain in the Delhi Latin diocese and (5) then those who want to continue to remain in the Delhi Latin diocese can only remain in one rite.

Laity4Unity reply: The JPL did not say “it is not right” but that “basically there is no choice”– something that goes blatantly – and absurdly – against fundamental concepts of faith and conscience! It also It claimed that the setting up of the Eparchy was a “cherished dream”.

It was well outside its authority – with no sanction in Canon Law [read our Petition] – to unilaterally move the faithful of one diocese to another diocese, based entirely on rite. 

Finally, in the SM Church’s anxiety to grab territory and increase its authority, it completely missed the basic issue – that Catholics of SM ancestry have no intention to relinquish their ancestral rite (and right), but want to continue receiving their sacraments from either Latin or any other rite, wherever they might be in the world. Nothing in Canon law says this cannot be done – the new “rule” is a creation of the SM hierarchy. If you or your prelates can quote such a “rule”, do let us know. Your Bishops are the ones who want us to shift to the Latin Rite! First of all, Bishops don’t own any Rite. Second, no one’s ancestry can be taken away from us: your Bishop, your entire hierarchy needs to face the basic fact that – like it or lump it – they simply have no say in our ancestry or heritage.

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അതിനെതിരെ ഫരീദാബാദ് രൂപതയിൽ അംഗങ്ങൾ ആകാതെ നില്ക്കുന്നകുറച്ചുപേർ സീറോമലബാർ കത്തോലിക്കർ ഡൽഹി ലത്തീൻ അതിരൂപത എന്ന പേരിൽ ഒരു സംഘടനഉണ്ടാക്കി Laity4Unity (Facebook – Rite Issue) 2014 മെയ്‌

 24 നു മർപാപ്പക്കു പരാതികൊടുത്തു. പരാതിയിൽപറയുന്ന പല കാര്യങ്ങളും ഉണ്ട് അതിൽ പ്രധാനമ്മായി ഉള്ളത് വളരെ വലിയ കുർബാനയാണ് സീറോമലബാർ കുർബാന എന്നതാന്നു. 

Translation received. Against this, some people created an association called “Syro Malabar Catholics of Delhi Archdiocese Laity4Unity” (Facebook-Rite Issue) and on 24 May 2014 sent a petition to the Pope.  There are many things in the said Petition, but the important one is that that Syro Malabar Mass is a long one.

Laity4Unity reply : Clearly, you are a little less than familiar with the English language. If your entire understanding of the Petition, richly documented to expose all the naked ambitions and falsehoods perpetrated by the SM church (starting from the discredited Archbishop Padiyara Report of 1980) is that ours is essentially an objection to the “long” SM mass, it is time you arrange for  a Malayalam translation of our Petition. First understand the Petition (it might be an education), then comment on it.

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പരാതി കൊടുത്തിട്ട് ഒരു വർഷം കഴിഞ്ഞതിന്റെ ആഘോഷം കഴിഞ്ഞഞായറാഴ്ച അവർ നടത്തി. മീറ്റിംഗിൽ ജോയിന്റ് പാസ്റ്റൊരൽ ലെട്ടെരിനെ അടിച്ചമർത്താനുംപോരാടാനും മാണ് തീരുമാനം. ഇതുവരെ റോമിൽ നിന്നും മറുപടി വന്നിലെ ?

Translation received. Last Sunday they observed the completion of one year of having sent the Petition. At the meeting it was decided to ask for quashing the JPL and continue the fight. Has any reply come from Rome?

Laity4Unity reply: To begin with, ask yourself: if we did receive a reply from Rome, are we likely to let you know until Rome formally announces it? 

Second, please note that it took as many as five years for a Pope (who was later canonized) to issue the Kalyan Indult in Mumbai. Our Petition documents the stinging rebuke he delivered the SM hierarchy during that period. It also documents that, realizing that the SM Church was giving false information and responses, the then Pope actually sent a neutral observer (a bishop from New Zealand) to verify the truth! The SM Eparch in Mumbai tried to use his supporters to muscle away the laity Petitioners who had gone to receive the New Zealand bishop at the airport. And yet – and yet – that Bishop saw through the game; and the result was the Kalyan Indult of 1993, a glorious event in Indian Church history, which exposed the SM Eparch and the falsehoods perpetrated by the SM Church. 

The Kalyan Indult took five years to come; our Petition is a year old. Are you perhaps a little apprehensive about our persistence? Is that why you are keeping tabs on our meetings?

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Laity4Unity കൂട്ടരേനിങ്ങൾക്ക് നാണമില്ലെ വീണ്ടും വീണ്ടും മീറ്റിംഗ് വിളിച്ചു ക്രിസ്തുവിനെ വിഭജിച്ചു എന്ന് വിളിച്ചുകൂവാൻ. നിങ്ങൾ എന്തുകൊണ്ട് ലത്തീൻ റീത്തിൽ അംഗങ്ങൾ ആകുന്നില്ല ? രണ്ടു വഞ്ചിയിൽ കാലുവെക്കുവാൻ നിങ്ങൾ എന്തിനു പരിസ്രെമിക്കുന്നു ? മലങ്കര സീറോമലങ്കര റീത്തിനു ഗുഡ്ഗാവ് രൂപതനെല്കി. അവിടെ ക്രിസ്തു വിഭജിച്ചിലെ? എന്താ സീറോ മലബാർ സഭക്ക് രൂപത കിട്ടുമ്പോൾ മാത്രമേ ക്രിസ്തു വിഭജിക്കുന്നുള്ളൂ? ധൂർത്തപുത്രന്റെ ഉപമ ഓർത്തുകൊണ്ട്‌Laity4Unity കൂട്ടരേ തിരിച്ചു വരിക. ഫരീദാബാദ്  രൂപത മെത്രാൻ നിങ്ങളെ സ്വീകരിക്കും

Translation received. Friends of Laity4Unity, aren’t you ashamed of organising meeting after meeting shouting that Christ has been divided. Why don’t you become members of the Latin Rite? Why are you trying to set foot in two boats? The Syro Malankara Rite has been given the diocese of Gurgaon. Has Christ been divided there? Why is Christ divided only when the Syro Malabar Church has been given a diocese? Remembering the parable of the prodigal son, friends of Laity for Unity, please come back, the Bishop of Faridabad will accept you.

Laity4Unity reply: Ashamed? We are proud of what we are doing. Unlike you, we are aware of what the Church stands for; and we are proud to protect it from the political and territorial ambitions of some members of its SM hierarchy.

Look at what your prelates do. (1) They make public statements supporting endogamy. (2) They order couples in this day and age to procreate more (and the couples find them hilarious!). (3) They say they will refuse to permit marriages with people outside their “superior” community. (4) They cry crocodile tears about throwing Rs 50 crores ($ 8 million) – including black money, no doubt – to construct a church, pretending they did not know it was being constructed. (5) They lie to the Vatican, cooking up statistics of an imagined SM population that is far in excess of the entire population of local Catholics, as documented in official Indian statistics. (6) They expose their racist disdain – that too in the secular press – for the “inferior” Latins; and claim that those who are "proud of their culture" will join the SM Eparchy! (7) They promote themselves from “Eparch of Faridabad” to “Archbishop of Faridabad-Delhi” in order to mislead people to donate money (in the final analysis it is always money for them!) for a Bollywood-type night.

Do you seriously believe any of us wants to be “accepted” by such Bishops or such a Church? It would be more to the point to question whether we want to accept them.

As for the Syro Malankara rite having a new diocese, leave it to the members of that community to decide what they want to do. In any case, please note that, after our Petition, no one has dared to make the fatuous statement, “Basically you have no choice”. Indeed, if this absurd “no-choice declaration” was withdrawn, how many members do you honestly think will remain in your SM Eparchy rather than rejoin the Archdiocese of Delhi?

We made it clear, as far back as in the Delhi Laity Synod of 2000, that we were against the setting up of this Eparchy. However, through blatant falsehoods and crass politicking, the eparchy was indeed established – even against Canon laws (as we have shown in our Petition and which your hierarchy has not been able to refute so far). If indeed it was a response to a “cherished dream”, why should it be forced down people’s throats? Doesn’t that clearly prove it was nota cherished dream?

As for your “two boat theory”, please understand that the SM Church is only one of over 20 boats that make up the ship of the Catholic Church. As long as we are in that ship, it is quite possible to be in two or three or 15 small boats. We choose to be in the ship.

Finally, please give your “prodigal son” homily to the hierarchy of the SM church and urge them to return to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, whose divisions, in the term used by the Holy Father (assuming they recognize him!) are a “scandal”. Incidentally, please check whether your homily is perhaps using the wrong parable: what you probably meant to use was the one of the Pharisee and the Publican, with your SM hierarchy cast in the glorious, “upper class”, “sophisticated” role of the Pharisee!

We leave you with two questions for reflection. First, did St Thomas (whose “friends” you claim to be) set up a “Syro Malabar church”? Or did he (doubtless without permission from your hierarchy) set up “a church”? Second, would Jesus Christ, who was a “Latin” (being in the Roman empire), be qualified to be accepted into your "superior" SM Church?

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