dr.james kottoor (Chicago)
Belief in a supreme power – some call it “Sachidananda” (Sat-Chit-Anand), others ‘Embodiment of all goodness’(Summum Bonum), others, the Process of evolution – guiding the destinies of the universe is wide spread and universal.
Equally widespread is the notion that all religions are man-made. Organized religions naturally fight for the first place for prominence and profit motive with money power which finally gets worshiped in all or most religions. That process has produced the ‘God of Money’ or the ‘Mammon of iniquity!’ and also the axiom: “No vulture in the heavens will ever fly above money’s dominance.”
“Pope Francis practises what he preaches!” and is an outspoken critique of money power in religion and politics with his war cry: ‘a poor church for the poor’. Perhaps it is more true to say that Francis preaches more with his deeds than with his words. He is a man of dialogue with all, especially with fighting factions both in politics and among religions.
He calls a spade a spade. He is not afraid to call Catholics, his own followers, who do not practise what they preach, hypocrites. Hence he said it is better to be an atheist than to be a hypocritical Catholic! Today what is happening everywhere in the world? Terror-strikes, suicide bombs, hate crimes, localized wars, violence and brutal killings, most of the time in the name of or propelled by religious fanatics and fundamentalists.
Unfortunately the accusing finger points often to followers Islam. Kabul suicide bomb kills 35 is the breaking news even as this piece is being written. The polite way of putting it is: “Muslims are peace-loving as their name says, although most of those caught in terror attacks are Muslims!” Because authentically and theoretically “Islam” is and ought to be a religion of peace.
Worse things can be said of Christianity. Who started the Crusades? Think of Popes who led Crusades! Anything more shameful than that? In any case history tells us that more blood has been shed in the name of religion than for conquest of territories. Even today it seems most of the local wars and terror attacks are prompted by misguided religious convictions. Man is no enemy to man but his convictions, especially religious beliefs make him an enemy of his neighbour with a different religion or ideology.
What is the Solution?
So what is the solution? A religion-less world? By that what is meant are organized religions. Organized religions are for the organisers, like organized political parties, competing for the first place through proselytizing or augmenting members through multiple birth or canvasing. Prominent among them are Islam, Christianity and Hinduism to a certain extent. “Cujus regio, ejus religio”(the ruled have to follow the religion of the ruler!) That was the principle followed by Christian and Muslim rulers of old. Though that ideology is rejected today, that practice seems to be followed even now, at least stealthily by many powerful religious organisations. It is in this context two programmes of action are suggested: 1. Wipe out all organised religions; 2. Acknowledge all religious beliefs to be equally true!
1. The reason or the basis for saying good-bye to all organized religions is what Vayalar Rama Varma said: “Man created religions, religions created Gods, and Gods and humans concocted among themselves to divide our mother earth among themselves and equally minds of humans into antithetical fighting factions.” But all thinking sections know for certain that religion (meaning to bind together, etymologically) means to unite humans horizontally among themselves and vertically with a God, if there is one.
Matham = Opinion
2. Second suggestion is to accept, all religions as equally true! In Malayalam, religion is called “Matham”, and it means “opinion, view”. That is what all religions are in fact: very deeply rooted opinion, belief or conviction. In the final analysis what every individual is supposed to do in his personal private life is to do things dictated by one’s commanding conscience, even if it is against the teachings of Churches, Popes or reputed spiritual visionaries. We quoted the statement of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in one of our earlier editorials.
As long as humans are limited creatures dependent on an invisible, superior, spiritual power, private religious beliefs in that power and practices to please that power, are bound to continue. Equally, as long as organized religions are encouraged and worse, cultivated, competition to gain the top post among religions is bound to continue as well, till the end of time.
Therefore, there is hardly little chance of wiping out organized, vested interest religions from the face of the earth, in the near future. But it is something worth thinking about and striving after in order to put an end to all on- going ugly, detestable religious wars, once and for all. james kottoor, editor, ccv.
Please read below on Christian-Muslim relations
Best time to build
Christian-Muslim relations: expert
Pope Francis practises what he preaches and encourages the Church to be open to the poor, without discriminating them on the basis of religion.
Posted in UCANIndia, on July 20, 2017
New Delhi: An expert on Islam told an inter-religious gathering here that “this is the best time” for Christians and Muslims to build relation as Pope Francis has been leading the Church for inter-faith actions from front.
Capuchin Father Michael D. Calabria, director of the center for Arab and Islamic studies in St. Bonaventure University based in New York, was addressing a July 17 seminar at India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi.
Some 100 selected leaders from Christian, Muslim and Hindu religions attended the program organized by Interfaith Coalition for Peace, which also includes Catholic organizations and leaders.
Father Calabria told the gathering that he sees this as “best time” not only for “Christians and Muslims to come together” and but also for “inter-faith dialogues” because Pope Francis as leader of the Catholic Church encourages such action as no other pope did in history.
Pope Francis has “gone out of his way” to welcome people of other faiths, including Muslims, in the liturgical acts such as washing of the feet ceremony and set an example, the priest said while delivering his lecture on the theme “Pope Francis and Muslims.”
Pope Francis practises what he preaches and encourages the Church to be open to the poor, without discriminating them on the basis of religion. He also despises violence but does not see it as attached to any particular religion.
Jesuit Father Victor Edwin of Vidyajyoti College of theology told ucanews.com that “the world has accepted Pope Francis as symbol of mercy and peace. As Catholics, it is our turn to practise what the Pope preaches.”
Father Edwin, director of Vidyajyoti Institute of Islamic Studies and Secretary of Christian-Muslim Relations South Asia, said they regularly participate in such seminars so that “we can renew our commitment towards our community.”