Where are the People of God in the Synod of Bishops?

dr. james kottoor
What is it that strikes or bothers you when you think of the Family Synod going on in Rome? With not a single family having any voting right, are you family people part of that Synod? Or is that just a male club of bishops, cardinals and the Pope? Are Catholic families which form the bulk of the church represented properly there? In that sense, does the Synod truly represent the Church? Therefore should feeling one with the church mean feeling one with the Synod?
From a global internet high vantage point – as high as the moon – what I see and therefore bothers me is this: Looking at the Synod participants I see majority of them advanced in age and driven by a 12th century mind set. What makes it worse is they are sitting there to tackle problems of the 21st century! What are they? They are problems mostly of pious peace-loving Catholic families caught In the coliseum of Rome to fight against wild beasts. The scene before me is a flock of sheep (Catholics families of 12th century in Kerala and India) being torn apart by ravenous wolves like cohabitation, same sex marriages, broken homes or one parent families etc most of them foreign in their origin and growth.
The Colosseum manager is a lone person like Gandiji, always in his loin clothes, I mean Francis, a man of simple living and high thinking, always in his simple white clerical garb, which is garbage for modern day bishops. Yes I really mean it. He doesn’t even go for an ordinary dress of an Ordinary with patches of red and purple and gold flashes to attract the on looker or public attention. They are all episcopal garbage for the present bishop of Rome. For contrast just look at the gorgeous way other bishops and cardinals decorate themselves when they step out of their rooms, especially to parade themselves at the Synod or at reception halls which Francis graphically describes as “Pecoacking”. Why even our great PM Modiji changes, 4 times a day, when he is busy visiting countries on the globe.

Go out, Get out
Go out, go out to the periphery, get out, get out of the Church of the Sacristy, he always said from the start of his pontificate, making many including myself to wonder what he meant or was referring to. You see it now. He explains it through his deeds on travels, his ten-day tour of Cuba and US, his constant mixing with people, as Jesus always did on his preaching travels spreading the good news. “Even hardened reporters are realizing that, for Francis, homeless shelters, prisons and soup kitchens are not mere photo-ops. They are the places he prefers to be and they are the places in which he wishes to see the church” as an NCR editorial very rightly describes.
Unlike other state officials or former Pontiffs, you never see Francis being given state receptions in decorated state auditoriums or in palace surroundings. He is always a man on the foot path, a pedestrian who often sneaks into orphanages, lesbian hideouts, and prisons to embrace those whom the state calls “criminals”. He is like his master Jesus telling the woman caught in adultery “Has no one accused you… nor do I accuse you, go in peace but sin no more.” To the lady against gay marriages, he said :”Be Strong” and he also found time to embrace two homosexuals, one a former student of his.

He used 20 times the word “dialogue” in two speeches points out an editorial published in CCV. Rather when is he not dialoguing every time he is projected on TV screens? Compare it especially with our Indian Bishops, who give the impression, they even don’t know what vertical downward dialogue is all about. For example, have you seen any of the over 200 Indian bishops (except one) dialoguing with the laity on the very moot, painful and shameful racialism called Pure blood marriages, widely discussed among Church citizens, just because it happens to be promoted by a group of Indian Hierarchy in spite of an organized section of the laity clamoring to them for response and dialogue for the last two years?
They instead sent down monologues for blind obedience to their subjects called faithful. A great number of them are not, they have been made faithless by the scandalous behavior of bishops themselves. A good number of them have become rebels who vilify bishops by publicizing their misdeeds and refuse to obey their diktats. Are these so called faithful bound to obey their bishops who don’t obey their pope? That is the question they raise and the reason they resort to for justifying their disobedient actions.
So the question raised is this: Is the old saying “Sentire cum Ecclesia” (Seeing and feeling with the Church) seen even in its slightest form and size even between the Pope and his bishops in the world, and especially with Indian bishops building up parallel churches in the name of Rites as their Right? If there is no sense of oneness with the Pope how can there be a sense of oneness between people of God and Bishops in three different Rites – Latin, Syromalabar, and Syromalankara? In that case is not the one Church in India the biggest question mark?
Contact at: jameskottoor@gmail.com

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1 Response

  1. It is a shame. With all the respect to the Pope, one can't but ask, where the Christian families in the much acclaimed synod are? All we see are a group of red hats discussing on subjects they know very little about, namely the role of the women in the Christian community, living situation of the families in various parts of the world, epceially in Africa and Asian countries like India. The Indian bishops are silent about such things as they are at home. Many African bishops have complained about the Synod fathers of not being sufficiently informed about or interested in the situations in countries other than those in America and Europe. As I had wanred in my previous comments, this synod is bound to end up in a fiasco. It is badly planned, badly prepared and very badly represented. The participation of those actually concerned about it are totally missing. No one except the invited bishops have a vote. Families and women have no say in it. What is it then? A synod for the Bishops? Why on earth should then we care about it?

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