The presentation of Dr. Kottoor on the Future of Organised Religions and his article titled Organised Religions Out, Let in Rational Humanism have prompted this write up.
The disclosures of Dr. Robert Moyniham about the departure of Libero Milone, Auditor General of Vatican and the scenario leading to the rustication of Cardinal William Pell have also impacted. The latest straw in the wind is the revolt of Raymond Burke and co. ( c.f. Dr. Kottoor’s column of 26th instant.)
The latest developments would indicate that the old methods of intrigue and skullduggery continue to rule the roost in the corridors of Vatican. Judging from the track record of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis will not be successful in cleaning the muck encrusted in the “Augean stable” that is Vatican, whatever be his efforts. Old ways seem to die hard in the Church. For the coterie in Vatican, it may not be of much concern. But for the vast majority of the “cattle class” the signals from Rome would be highly confusing.
So long as there is vast accumulated wealth with the Church which the Mafiosi can splurge with impunity and without accountability, they will stay contended. The situation in the Kerala Church is similar. As long as the credulous deposit money in thousands of collection boxes spread across the land and empty their pockets on the demands of the clergy on one pretext or other and pay for the rituals the clerical class have concocted, they will remain happy and satisfied.
For the vast majority of the average faithful “cattle class”, using the grey matter under the skull is excruciatingly painful. It is safe to follow the herd. There is anonymity and safety in the crowd. The various rituals dished out by the Church give them emotional stability. They firmly believe that baptism, receipt of Communion after an Auricular confession, church wedding, and above all burial in the Church compound after an elaborate ceremony, paid for masses to liberate the departed souls from the Purgatory are panaceas that would enable them to escape from their mundane and often miserable life on Earth to everlasting life of happiness in Heaven.
Through out the history of human kind this con game had a free run in various societies under various pretexts. The intellectually developed modern societies have already seen through the charade and give them wide berth. Religion is by and large irrelevant to the modern mind.
Concept of God
I still hold the basic premise that the concept of god(s) is the product of human brain as evidenced by the fact that gods of different people in different regions of the world differ tellingly. God, if any, cannot be joker to fool the humans donning different garbs to different people in different times. Most religions claim that theirs is the True God and the God of the “other is a False God” to be destroyed with all means including extreme violence.
They also firmly believe that their God has revealed to their priestly class and shamans eternal and exclusive truths. They also have the firm conviction that their religion alone is a God made institution from time immemorial. They are also convinced that to stray from the set path is detrimental to their body and soul. But the irony is almost every one has his or her perception of God and his commands depending on personal expectations.
The most prominent and powerful monolithic organised religion in the world today is the Constantine cobbled up Constantianity a.k.a Roman Catholicism which had its birth in the early fourth century. The monarchical popes have been ruling the Church under the obsolete Divine Right Theory claiming infallibility. The Church did enforce its WILL by resorting to ruthless ferocity employing extreme violence; the rake, the pulley, quartering alive the bodies of the dissenters and the most atrocious burning alive of the so called hereticsat the stake for all to see. In the case of Jan Hus the cruelty reached its nadir in powdering his charred bones, burning them to ashes before scattering them in to the wind so that nothing remained to invoke his memory.
The parting of ways between the Western Latin Church of Rome and the Eastern Greek Church of the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1054 was major rapture. While the Latin Church flourished, the Eastern wing dissipated due to the attacks of the Ottoman Turks. The Catholic Church put down dissensions by resorting to Inquisitions and large scale murder in cold blood. The popes had a free run until the Protestant Reformation (1517- 1648) initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli and others in Europe dented the power of the Church significantly.
The new world parted its ways from the mediaeval world with the scientific discoveries of Copernicus, Charles Darwin, Galileo and others in the 16thcentury. The Age of Reason (17th century), the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th century, weakened the role religion significantly. The French Revolution towards the end of the 18th century and seizing of power by Napoleon clipped the wings of papacy. The Unification of Italy in the mid 19thcentury made the popes prisoners of Vatican.
The emergence of humanistic secularism, the emancipation of women, the onset of democracy, the spread of secular education enfeebled the Church as never before. Industrialisation, urbanisation, break up of feudalisation and consequent demise of landed gentry, the emergence of merchant middle class further eroded the influence of religion. At present religion survives in the deceases ridden, economically deprived undeveloped world of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Most of the Europeans are only name sake Christians and to them religion is a non-issue . It seems that the End Days of organised religions are in the horizon. Raymond Burke and his ilk may have commenced sounding the death knell of the Roman Catholic Church.