Better be atheist than a hypocritical Catholic – dr. james kottoor

James kottoorWhat is the best or worst ‘to be’? Even on this topic, people on various  parts of the world think differently. Once upon a time people in the US thought “to be a Communist” is the worst thing. So they fought against it tooth and nail. 

In India, called a religious country, people thought the worst thing to be is to be “an atheist”, so it gave birth to so many gods and world religions. ‘Religion’ etymologically and content-wise should unite people, but unfortunately, it is becoming a divisive force all over the world and fighting one against another.

Today one of the most loved and admired and at the same time bitterly criticized world figure is Pope Francis – miracle of humility for some and grave digger of Catholic Church (last Pope according to prophets like Nostradamus).

Nice or Nasty?

He is so sweet, that many can’t spit him out, and so bitter that they can’t swallow him either. So many try to size him up and ask the question: “What is he actually – ‘a nice guy? a nasty guy? a soft or tough guy?’ Even Jesus asked such a similar question to his disciples: “What do people say that the Son of Man is?”

For Christopher Lamp who wrote an article in the NCR (read it below) the question raised is: “Pope: a nice or tough guy?” A person has hundreds of facets, not just one or two. That is what makes any of us incomprehensible to  others. Indira Gandhi was not a long protruded nose, but that is how cartoonists portrayed her most of the time. The same rule is applied by writers to Francis.

A sweet or bitter Jesus?

What was Jesus during his public life?: To the blind  Bar Thimeus, the woman caught in adultery, the paralytic and to every receipient  of his works of mercy? To them he was “Sweet Jesus meek and mild”. But what about the traders and sellers in the temple whom he chased out with a whip and to the High priests, scribes and Pharisees? To them, he was just the opposite: “Bitter Jesus rough and wild!” But it was totally different to Peter who answered the question: “You are the Son of the living God…” etc.

What Francis does

Francis is trying just to follow his master, nothing else. Where he has to be firm he puts his foot down and says: “This far and no further!” There is a universally accepted norm: “Spare the rod and spoil the Child!” But in the US a minor can complain to the police for caning and parents could be punished. As a result, it looks there is more disorder there than anywhere else in the world today.

The principle is one  has to love the sinner and hate the sin. It is because the parent loves the child and hates the mischief it does, it is punished. Francis is dead against double-speakers and doers. So was Jesus. Their name for Jesus is: “hyprocrites”. Recall Chapter 23 of Mathew and the litany ‘woes’ he spits on them.

Hypocrites or Christians?

That is the choice for followers of Jesus. Jesus did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. So does Francis when he says that  it is better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic, that is, one who says one thing and does just the opposite. Apply this to the whole world or Indian church – bishops and laity. Will there be enough good Catholics who can be counted on one’s fingers in India? But one may be rest assured that the number of hypocritical Catholics  — that  may include more bishops and priests than laity — far outnumber those who openly and honestly  admit to be atheists or agnostics.

Among the hypocritical Catholics against whom Francis took the stick to drive sense into their heads, are the grand master of the Knights of Malta; Cardinal Raymond Burke of US, priests in Nigeria who refused obedience to their bishop; Archbishop Alfredo Zecca of Tucumán, Argentina and many others.

One lesson Francis drives home to every one of his admirers and critics is: “Be honest to God, to yourself and others, in what you think, speak and do and never be a Hypocrite.” Let others the freedom to call you an atheist, agnostic, communist, capitalist, globalist, patriotic, an all-knowing wise-crack or a know-nothing idiot. In practice all boils down to this: ‘Follow your commanding conscience – primacy of conscience –, since you are free to do either of the two in case of doubt and since you have to act now, not later.’

They all go to make up the crowd of confusion confounded, with which this world is made. In the meanwhile  Stick to what is bright and beautiful to be tolerably happy during the fleeting time we are on this earth. james kottoor, editor, ccv.

Please read below the article: Pope, nice or tough  guy!

Pope Francis nice or tough guy?

Nice guy or tough guy? two faces of Pope Francis

Christopher Lamb  in National Catholic Reporter  Jun. 19, 2017

In the top pic: Pope Francis meets Robert Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, during a private audience at the Vatican on June 23, 2016. (Courtesy of Reuters/Gabriel Bouys)

VATICAN CITY: To the vast majority, Pope Francis is the compassionate face of Catholicism today.He's rescued refugees, opened the Vatican's doors to the homeless and told Catholics there's no sin God won't forgive.

But there is another streak to the Argentine pontiff that has been on display in recent days: A willingness to flex papal muscle and lay down the law.Underneath the pope's compassion is a steely side, which he's particularly ready to use when it comes to priests, bishops or cardinals he feels are undermining the church's mission.

It was evident last week when the pope delivered a stinging rebuke to priests from the Diocese of Ahiara in Nigeria. The priests had refused to accept the 2012 appointment of a bishop from a different clan. When he met with the Ahiara clergy he ordered each one of them to apologize in writing, pledge their "total obedience" to the papacy and accept whomever he appoints to lead the diocese. 

To top it off, he told the priests they must send their letter within 30 days or face automatic suspension. As papal disciplining goes, it doesn't get much tougher.The pope was furious, clan differences were being put before the church’s unity and mission. If there is one thing Francis really dislikes, it's the church being used for political, sectarian or tribal agendas.

"It's a mistake to think of Francis as a 'nice guy,'" one of his aides said. The pope, he explained, is a "radical" with a mission.  The next day, Francis made another tough move. The Vatican announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of Archbishop Alfredo Zecca of Tucumán, Argentina, for health reasons.

The letter stated that the 68-year-old would not simply go into an early retirement but would remain as a "titular" archbishop, meaning that technically he still has to serve. Was this some sort of punishment? Zecca has reportedly upset the pope for a failure to defend one of his priests, Fr. Juan Viroche, an outspoken voice against local drug traffickers.

In October, Viroche was found hanged, but Zecca resisted calls to put up a plaque in Viroche's parish commemorating the priest. Instead he accepted the official version of events that Viroche committed suicide. Many locals suspect the suicide was staged.

Driving both these moves is Francis' passionate aversion to hypocrisy. The pope has repeatedly denounced Christians who live a "double life," even arguing it is better to be an atheist than a "hypocritical Catholic" who condemns others but fails to practice what they preach.

Instead, the pope wants an inclusive church. He wants Catholic leaders to be peacemakers in their respective societies and be able to "bind up the wounds" of division. To see a bishop doing the opposite has made his blood boil.

Eighteen months ago during a visit to Africa, Francis made an appeal in Kenya against the "spirit of evil" that "takes us to a lack of unity." In unscripted remarks during a meeting with young people in Nairobi he then asked them to hold hands as "a sign against bad tribalism."

The pope also demonstrated his stern side by taking action against the Knights of Malta, an ancient Catholic chivalric order, after its then leader, Matthew Festing, was accused of improperly sacking a senior aide in a row ostensibly over the distribution of condoms by medical projects for the poor.

When the pope announced an investigation into the matter, the dispute mushroomed into a proxy war between Francis and those opposed to the direction of his papacy with Cardinal Raymond Burke — one of the pope's fiercest critics who had been appointed the Vatican liaison with the order — playing a key role in the saga. The pope won.

When it comes to rebukes, it's worth remembering Francis is a Jesuit, a member of a religious order founded by former soldier, St. Ignatius of Loyola, who incorporated military principles into its internal governance. One of these is obedience. At the relatively young age of 36, Jorge Bergoglio led the Jesuits in Argentina, a period during which he later confessed to making mistakes due to an "authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions."

While a lot has changed since that time, part of him still performs the role of religious superior.This week, a letter was leaked revealing the pope wants cardinals living in Rome to inform him when they are out of town, and where they are going.

Written by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, it asks that prelates revive this "noble tradition" of informing the papacy and the Vatican of their movements, particularly if they are gone for a long period.Such a practice would be routine for any priest or religious living in a monastery, convent or seminary, but it shows the pope wants accountability from those who are his closest advisers. It is also tactically savvy, as it ensures the pope knows if a cardinal is about to deliver a major talk or address that might be critical of his papacy.

Francis has throughout his papacy sought to govern the church collegially, setting up an advisory body of cardinals that met in Rome for the 20th time this weekThey have been discussing how to delegate more power to local churches while the Vatican has also announced it wanted to hear the views of young people before a major church gathering for youth in 2018.

His defenders argue the pope needs to be tough to implement church reforms as he faces down internal opposition.The irony, however, is that to bring about the more merciful, people-centered church he so passionately desires, Francis is having to exercise some firm authority in the process.

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