(Note: Both Swami Sachidananda and Varghese Pamplanil are esteemed friends, columnists and contributors of CCV. We congratulate both for coming out as the opening batsmen, to set an example of what it should mean by “Silence breakers”, which we are celebrating in “Social Media”.
To read the article under discussion: “Who will stand by Pope Francis?” by Sachidananda, see CCV 5 December, 2017.
“Silence breaking” is not incensing each other or patting one another’s back. It includes that as well, but more than that it should mean showing how to disagree in an agreeable way, how to say even nasty things in a nice way, or better how to do the good service of a “devil’s advocate”, which we in the CCV ask from our readers.
We often request our bishops to do just that service when we regularly send our path-breaking news and views. But we are not lucky to get any such response from our bishops. Usually they don’t respond to anything from below, as they are used to talking down to people only, not dialoguing. For that reason we could see our hierarchical church only as a dead church, without the blood circulation of dialogue – vertical and horizontal.
May this dialogue between two of our friends prompt them to join the newly dawning culture of “Silence breakers” for which Papa Francis is the best example. Congrats to our two opening batsmen. james kottoor, editor, ccv.)
Please read below Pamplanil’s response!
Dear Swami Sachidanda Bharathi,
It is very rarely one comes across fresh thinking on the Roman Catholic Church. Hence a big salute to Swami Sachidanda Bharathi. Your name with emphasis on Bharath is praiseworthy.
I too am a son of this land and proud of it. I happen to be born into a Syrian Catholic family which boasts of, without a shred of historical evidence, having been baptised by none other than the Apostle Thomas from a Namboothiri family Viz. Kottakkali of Kottakkavu, N. Paravoor, in CE 52. Nobody with even a rudimentary idea of how Christianity evolved in the Malabar Coast will subscribe to this yarn.
Let me, with my limited knowledge, touch upon the highlights of your well-intentioned message:
a. The role of the Holy Spirit in the election of a Pope:“Nowhere is the blend of political, religious and social elements more apparent than in the papal elections. In their intensity and passion, they matched, and in some cases even surpassed, the turbulence surrounding imperial elections. Many papal elections involved violence, chicanery and corruption on a grand scale. Blood ran in the streets of Rome, gold changed hands in the corridors of power, rival factions pumped out propaganda and ambitious men caballed around the deathbeds of the popes.
The high passions and low intrigues that this involved have a familiar, almost contemporary ring. The fire and the spice of those times come through to us in the surviving documents of the period. This is the raw red meat of papal history, this is not the desiccated, prepackaged portions often served up in the guise of papal history”. (Michel Wash, ex-Jesuit priest, a prominent Catholic writer, erstwhile Editor of The Dictionary of Christian Biography, columnist on the Catholic ‘The Tablet’, long time Librarian of Heythrop College, London, quoting from Jeffrey Richards’ book’.
The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages in his book ‘The Conclave’: Even today such shenanigans and skulduggery are reported to be widely rampant in the election of a new Pope. The oft repeated saying is “the only place on Earth the Holy Spirit, never visited and refuse to visit is the Vatican”, the morally decadent, stinking cesspool of corruption, infected and infested with the criminal Dons of Sicilian Mafia and Opus Dei.
b. On consumerism: It could be the urge to better the living conditions such as improved diet, more comfortable attire, weather-protected shelter that led to the invention of a plethora of consumer goods and services. For a very large segment of the population, there seems to be the restlessness of insatiable wants, that agitates them to inventing new devices and services, whether in the long run they are beneficial or not. Demand, often artificially created, seems to drive the market to produce ever new products and artefacts, wanted and unwanted, tantalising the general public.
Only a philosophically inclined ascetic can discern the futility and meaninglessness of it all, can thrive on, “bread and onion” and be contented about it in the Hilaire Belloc way. We are generally creatures of imitation and like to do things as our neighbours do.
They travel in bullet-proof luxurious limousines, opt for executive lounges in aircrafts etc. It is among them, one encounters the worst example of mindless conspicuous consumption. Will, even the by and large humble and humane Francis walk about in the tattered, dust laden and humble cloths of the Galilean? It is not for them to “leave this chanting and telling of beads……(they) are not there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones. (They) are not there where he is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. (They will not) put off (their) holy mantle and even like him come down to the dusty soil. (They) will not come out of (their) meditations and leave aside (their) flowers and incense, (They are not aware of) what harm is there if (their) cloths become tattered and stained. (They don’t) meet him and stand by him in toil and sweat of (their) brows. (From Gitanjali).
The theology of the Catholic Church, whatever it is, focuses on Zeus/Apollo-modelled Christ the King and when the vast majority of the Catholics in the poorer parts of the world go with empty stomachs and distended bellies, their bones sticking about,unclad with no protection from the harsh elements of nature, the Church leadership mouthing platitudes about the virtues of poverty and abjuring of pleasures, indulge in all sorts of luxuries, free of cost; enjoy the rarest types of spirits, exotic items of food such as caviar, choice cuts of meats, fish specially selected and marinated with herbs and spices and what not.
Hence, is it worthwhile to perpetuate “a creed, a ritual and an ecelesiastico-politico-financial organisation regarded as necessary for man’s salvation?“ (Aldous Huxley). Organised religions are on the decline being replaced by NONE (No Church people). The day when the abomination called the Catholic Church vanishes for good from the face of the Earth, the “cattle class” will heave a sigh of relief. Many a time, I asked some of my cousin Catholic priests: why not attire themselves, after a bath, simple freshly washed cloth similar to the minimum cloth worn on a largely bare body by a Hindu ‘poojari”, for saying Mass and other prayers. Alas. no answer.
c. On Kerala becoming the vanguard of a resurgent spiritualised Catholic Church: It may be too much to expect judging from the ground situation as seen in the Facebook trivia of die-hard believers. The Syro-Malabar Church of Kerala does not count much in the corridors of power in the Vatican. In fact, till the Portuguese conspired and forcibly brought the followers of the Nazarene in the Malabar, under the suzerainty of the Roman Church in 1599, they had no truck with Rome. Scholars are of the opinion that some Jewish spice traders, followers of the Galilean, escaped from Israel and found sanctuary of the Malabar coast probably during the first Jewish Revolt against Rome, resulting in the total destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in CE 70, deportation, enslavement, slaughter and similar cruel punishments to the Jewish population.
d. Some of the Jerusalem followers of the Galilean who were pepper traders would have fled from there to the welcoming Malabar coast. With the suppression of the Second Revolt of the Jews in CE 130, Judaism was uprooted from its moorings in Israel. By this time, Pauline Christianity had curried favour with the Roman Empire by putting the entire blame of the Galilean’s crucifixion on the Jews while in fact it was the Roman authorities who “hung him on a tree”, a common punishment meted out to those who rebelled against Rome.
e. As is in Rome, so is in Kakkanadu. The Lords of the Syro-Malabar Church may be worse than the cabal in the Vatican. With the average gullible “goats” of Syrian Catholic Church made to imbibe various types of mind-numbing rites and superstitions and fed on continuously with the “opium” of religion, and walking like zombies, only a catastrophe will force open their eyes. By the time, the rest of the world would have put the nefarious outfit called the Syro- Malabar Church into the dustbin of history.