(Devil’s advocate for Church reform)
This call from Jesus makes the Church an embodiment of love. Its members, lay as well as clergy, are the flag bearers of this love. It is easy to love the virtuous. The real Challenge is to love whom we consider as sinners. Though Jesus Christ condemns the sins, he extends his special love for the sinners. He took the incarnation as a human being to save these people. Thieves and robbers, cheats and liars, bribe givers and bribe takers are all sinners. These sins are not usually accidental, they are mostly preplanned. Most people indulge in it with full understanding that it is a sinful act, still most of us as well as the church easily forgive these people. Somehow we consider that sins connected with gender and sex as the most heinous ones.
The people having same sex orientations like gay people; lesbians etc are considered by us as people sinning against the human nature. It may be true. But who am I to judge them as sinners? Some scientists state that people are acting against the natural laws. A few scientist are bringing proofs that their genes are responsible for their actions and that nature has made them so and that it is not in their power to act in any other way. They are acting only accordance with the laws of nature. Nobody is suggesting that their behavior and actions are not sins also. But who are we to Judge them as sinners? Can’t we give them the benefit of doubt and respect them as good and respectable human beings? Even if it is a sinful act, Jesus will go in search of them?
The question of Divorces is another problem. Usually the Church does not give annulment for a marriage. Do the church authorities, I mean the clergy, who uses their power to give or not give annulment understand the nuances of a family life? Should a man and a woman who does not have any happiness in their sexual and emotional life, who cannot find happiness between each other because of their difference of opinions, behaviours (very often mental torture or physical torture) live together all through their life? Do they need to go through a life equivalent to that in hell fire? Nobody is suggesting that all such people should run for divorce in their married life. But the question is who can take a judgment on their ultimate decision to separate completely and go their own way when life becomes desperately hopeless. They only know what was happening to their lives. Sometimes, it must have been a blessing in the eyes of God that they are separated instead of falling into greater sinful ways of life. Even if you and I think that they are sinners, respect them as Jesus loved and respected the sinners. They should not be kept away from the church and restrict them from receiving Jesus into their heart. When the church denies them the Holy sacraments, we act as judges. It will be the blind leading the blind. Allow Jesus to guide them. The presence of Eucharist in their hearts will not contaminate Jesus, He can only cleanse them. We also could very often be instrumental to give them happiness, love and peace in their mind. Let the Lord Judge them if He want. Let not you and I pretend to be God.
This is a time when most of our Sui Iuris Churches wanting marriages to take place between couples of the same autonomous Church. One after the other restrictions is being brought in very recently by these churches. The syro-Malabar Church in places other than Syro or Malabar areas (In areas other than Kerala) is deliberately subjugating ordinary Syro-Malabar Catholic lay people with unnecessary regulations. Kananaya Syro-Malabar Church have decided to throw out the couples (or asked to leave) from the Kananaya church if any of them marries any member from any other sui Iuris Churches including any syro-Malabar Church. And these churches teach “Love one another as I loved you”. The universal Church has to clarify and take serious steps in these atrocities of the Church Hierarchy and ask all the Sui Iuris Churches to respect each other and the right of the human being. For the sake of numbers, if the universal Church is going to tolerate these kinds of atrocities by the so called autonomous church, we will have a Church devoid of Jesus which is not Catholic.
In a country like India, with people of multi-religious and multi cultural back ground, life partners are of a variety of types. It is quite common in India that many a lay catholic fall in love with a person of the other gender from any different religion. In shorts, inter-religious marriages are very common. Some of these marriages are celebrated in our churches, some are conducted in temples or other religious places and some are conducted in Govt. marriage registration offices. Some are conducted in any two or even three such places. The problem is how we treat these couple after their marriage. If both of them are converted to Catholic Church, the matter ends there. If not, what are our reactions to the couples? Will we accept the Catholic member of the couple as a Catholic and give him or her all the sacraments as if that person is a part of the Catholic Church and allow that person to take part in all the activities of the Church irrespective of the fact that their children may or may not follow the Catholic Church? At present it is depending on the parish priest’s whims and fancies. But what we need is an approach which is applicable to the universal church and is synchronizing with the love of Jesus to each and every one of us. A lot of thought has to go into this problem especially in our Country. We may even need to take such people into confidence to understand their problems.