LETTER TO THE EDITOR – PRIESTS, PREACHERS AND POLLUTION

 

With reference to the article PRIESTS, PREACHERS AND POLLUTION by Joseph Mani, I find it rather illogical.
 
Perhaps some statements are made tongue in cheek, but there are several others that warrant a reply or rebuttal:
 
1. The writer says that there is nothing wrong in a priest having consensual sex with a married woman. Other than the morality of it, it is also an act of adultery to have sex with a married woman without the "consent" of her husband! This is a crime u/s 497 of the IPC, and is punishable with imprisonment up to five years. Further, even consensual sex, by a person in authority, constitutes rape u/s 376.
 
2. The analogy of the signboard ‘KOTTAYAM’ not going anywhere is childish.
 
3. Is the writer supporting the view that clerics are not bound by the laws that they impose on others, or is he just being sarcastic? He quotes Jesus saying "You must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not however imitate their actions, because they don't practice what they preach" (Mat 23:3). The writer chooses to overlook Jesus' condemnation of the Pharisees in the same chapter, "You snakes and sons of snakes! How do you expect to escape from being condemned to hell?" (Mat 23:33).
 
4. I would concede the writer's point that an overemphasis on sin and confession helps in retaining/ reinforcing clerical control of the laity. However, we cannot therefore claim that all of salvation history is a clerical myth. We cannot rush from one extreme to another.
 
5. The hypothesis that a person can commit heinous crimes like rape and murder, seek absolution in confession, say a couple of Hail Marys, and go home scot free is patently absurd. Firstly, a hardened criminal is unlikely to go for confession. Even if he did so, the confessor would require him to make restitution/ retribution before getting absolution. In such an eventuality the "penitent" would first have to surrender before the law to prove his sincere contrition. If I were to rob a bank,go to confession and keep the money I would not be absolved of my sin or my crime. I would first have to return the money! So let us not over simplify complex issues and draw stupid conclusions.
 
6. How does the writer claim that Canon Law is outdated, contradictory and confusing? The new Code of Canon Law was promulgated in 1983, and the Oriental Code in 1990. They are not perfect, as no law can ever be; but they are a vast improvement on the old code of 1917. There are also other church teachings, as found in Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The former refers to the rights of workers, trade unions and going on strike. The latter calls drunken driving a sin. Such things did not exist in Biblical times. So the Church is trying to keep abreast of the times. Let us not write it off so soon. In contrast the Indian Penal Code dates back to 1860, and still retains archaic provisions like Sec 377 for "unnatural sex", and 497 for obtaining a husband's "consent" to have intercourse with his wife! I would also add that there are many enlightened laity today who know Canon Law better than the clergy. The wheel has turned full circle, and we are now in a position to throw the Rule Book back at them.
 
7. It is grossly absurd to allege that the entire Christian faith is based on the sinfulness of humanity. This again is a horrific over-simplification. Jesus clearly gave a new commandment "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34). If, on the other hand, we accept the writer's insinuation, then we might as well throw the Bible out of the window, accept Jesus as one among several other great human beings, disband the Church, and choose one's own pet philosophy of life. There would also be no need for a portal like "Church Citizens' Voice"!
 
8. Those familiar with my writings will know that I am often a harsh critic of organised religion and clericalised Christianity. But I will not go so far as to cut my nose to spite my face, or throw the baby out with the bath water, as this writer seems to have done.
 
chhotebhai

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2 Responses

  1. Denis Daniel says:

    Fantastic Chhotebhai. I stand by every word you pen on very very importatant issues. God bless!

  2. Isaac Gomes says:

     

    This is the beauty of Church Citizens' Voice.  Through its thought-provoking articles/ reports, it makes the reader sit up and ponder; at times the articles provoke the readers unlike the stereotype one-way-traffic of eulogies or all-hunky-dory stories in most Chrisian journals/ newsletters.  It gives a level playing field to all our readers, to give their points of view without gnashing of teeth or fisticuffs!

    Chhotebhai deserves kudos for his counter.

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