Letter to the Editor – Paul Zacharia on the Basilica on Palatine Hill



Varghese Pamplanil


The article by Paul Zacharia is relevant, timely and topical.


I just wonder whether Emperor Constantine constructed and donated the original Basilica as atonement for his sin of murdering his son and boiling alive to death his wife! If that is the case, the acquisition of Basilica by Zero church with the funds looted from the credulous faithfuls is quite appropriate. Considering all aspects, the blessing of the Basilica and first “razza” may be done by Bishop Franco Mulakkal assisted by Robin Vadakkancherry.


But Zacharia’s remarks on the contribution of the Syro-Malabar church in the field of education and health care seems to be affected by the shade of grey and is far-fetched.


I had witnessed,  first hand,  how parish churches and schools were built by Christian farmers who had to settle down in newly cleared forest land in the 1950s for sheer survival.The option available for these poorly educated Syrian Christians was cultivation of food crops, mainly tapioca. Once settled down, being religious, they searched for some place of worship. They, by their sweat, voluntary labour and meagre funds initially put up rudimentary structures with jungle woods, thatched roofs and walls with leaves as churches. Once in a while, mostly on Sundays, a priest from the nearby church used to conduct Masses and other services. He would never stay overnight in the premises.

In order to impart education to their children, these people established primary schools.The mostly non-influential illiterate population were forced to seek the guidance and leadership the clerics. The Shylock clerics, by and large,  extracted their pounds of flesh; by siphoning of funds with impunity. Once a school building was ready, the parishioners were edged out; admissions and appointments of teaching and other personnel became the exclusive prerogative of the clerics. Vacancies were filled up at the whims and fancies of the ecclesiastical.  Nowadays, appointments to these educational institutions require  huge and mind-boggling  dowries called donations which are pocketed by the clerics – unaccounted for and without any prick of conscience. The parishioners are edged out in the manner of the camel pushing out the Arab from the tent. Thus the song and dance about the contribution of the clergy in the educational field needs to be done with a pinch of salt.


In the health sector, the Cash Making Institution is quite active. The CMI order was making money initially by selling rosaries, medallions and prayer books. Now they are engaged in more lucrative printing and publishing, running of schools and colleges, hospitals. Eventually they may turn to hospitality industry with the usual allurements, one may  guess of the components.


“Vinasakalaevivareetha buddhi”. The Italian Catholics visit churches for sightseeing, young females carrying condoms in their handbags according to a bigwig Catholic cleric as reported in Sunday Times some years ago. All over Europe church buildings are being converted to libraries, bars, may be even to brothels!  Who knows?


Good luck Zero  Church, make merry while the sun shines. But be prepared for the encircling gloom and darkness at mid-day.


 Varghese Pamplanil



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