A reaction to “The greatest story never told”

The charade and lies ever and always told

(Note: The article “The greatest story never told” in CCV has prompted this submission by shree Vargese Mathew. Those who would like to read the article mentioned, kindly use this link: http://almayasabdam.com/greatest-story-never-told/. Shri Verghese Mathew Pamplani (75), originally from Kerala, is an enthusiastic reader and a gifted writer, who lives in UK now. He graduated in economics with politics and world history, the last zachbeing the favourite subject, from St. Thomas College Pala in 1961. He began his career as a teacher and ended up as Deputy General Manager in Reserve Bank of India – Trivandrum. By temperament, he is agnostic; his extensive reading has helped him to reinforce his thinking and beliefs.  Zach Nedunkanal – asso. editor, CCV)

The Catholic Church projects itself as divinely ordained and incarnate God established. Their God came to the world  by  birth through a uterus unsullied and uncontaminated by any male seed through a vaginal canal of pristine purity; after the birth process the hymen of the virgin maiden  still remained intact for all the ages to come. Further  the Jewish woman concerned did not allow any more  birth  and remained pure on the  ground that the uterus that bore the  God will not allow any normal human being to take birth. In one go, the Church condemned all human beings born out of normal sexual unions between males and females with  the odium of “original Sin” that can be removed by “what dunking” by a Catholic priest. What a dumb story!

The Church also tells us that its Popes are selected by the Holy Spirit. But the reality is quite  different. The Holy Spirit has nothing to in the matter, the track record of election of popes would show. For instance, Pope Martin I who refused to obtain the approval of Emperor Constans, on the orders of the latter   was dragged out of his bed and ferried to Constantinople where he was publicly flogged and sentenced  to death;  later reduced  to exile in Crimea. The Church ignored his plight, he died five months after his return due to the extreme cold he had to suffer and the maltreatment at the hands of his captors. It was only much later the clergy assumed the right to elect the popes. It was Nicholas II , in an attempt to counter  the increasing politicisation of papal  elections,   decreed that only cardinals would bear responsibility for choosing the pontifical candidate. For this purpose,  he convened a ceremonial conclave in 1059. Till 1139, the election required the consent of the clergy and the laity. It was Pope Gregory X  who decreed   the constitution of the formal  Conclave in 1272. The first formal conclave was held in 1274.  How can  the Holy Spirit visit  Vatican ruled by  Popes of unsavoury notoriety  like Pope Boniface VII (984- 985) who locked the previous Pope John XIV in the Castel Sant’ Angelo and let him starve to death. Boniface had his just deserts as he was swiftly murdered by the outraged Romans who dragged his naked corpse through the streets and mutilated it.  He was no worse than Stephen VI (896-97) who became pope thanks to his sponsors, the powerful Spoleto family. In  order to please them, he  exhumed the remains of Pope  Formosus, donned them in papal garments and tied them to a chair before putting them on to a trial –“ the Cadaver Synod.”

The Christian churches of all hues had been competing with each other to bring  all the peoples under their  exclusive domain  on the pretext  of the alleged extortion “go and spread the good news to the whole world“ attributed to their  founder Jesus.

The  Christian empire began inauspiciously in Rome. The Romans and their Emperors condemned this bizarrely monotheistic Eastern cult as heathers and aberrants deserving  the most savage deaths, usually in the arena. Things began to get easier  from 313 CE with the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine allowing Christians to practice their religion openly without fear of prosecution. The privileges accorded to the newly legitimised  religion by the Emperor attracted the upper crust of the Roman society to it. The soldiers in the Roman army joined the religion to avoid excruciating daily drills at least on Sundays earmarked for worship. The lumpen proletariat followers of Christianity mainly consisting of slaves, maid servants and concubines who were lured to it on its  claims of possessing superior magic and the promise of universal salvation,  was left on the wayside  to wallow in the margins of the Roman society.

The  administrative centre of the Roman Empire was shifted  to the newly constructed Constantinople ( now Istanbul in Turkey)  in 327 CE.  The Bishop of Rome eagerly stepped into the power vacuum created by the collapse of the Western half of the Empire in the fifth century.   During the next 200 years the Church consolidated its temporal power and the rest of the first millennium was one of expansion.

In 799 CE   Leo III  accused of perjury, adultery and selling of papal pardons (known as “indulgences”) was dragged into the street, beaten by a crowd and threatened with having his tongue cut out. He was afterwards formally deposed and sent to a monastery, where from he escaped to France. With the aid of Frankish King Charlemagne, he returned to Rome and on Christmas Day 800 CE and  crowned Charlemagne as the Emperor of the new Holy Roman Empire in gratitude. . Charlemagne expanded the Christian Empire across most of Europe. But the attempt of the Church to acquire absolute political power was short-lived .  The Great Schism of 1054 ruptured the communion between Eastern Orthodox wing and the Western Latin wing permanently.  

In 1009 CE the Fatimid Caliph Al Hakim bi Amr Allah sacked the pilgrimage hospice in Jerusalem and partially destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built on the site considered to be the place of  crucifixion of Jesus. In 1095  the  Byzantine Emperor Alexis sought  the  assistance Rome   against the marauding Turks.  The First Crusade army launched by Urban II, on reaching Constantinople, instead  of helping the beleaguered people there, resorted  to pillage,  plunder loot and rape and murder of  the defenceless inhabitants leaving a trail of blood and mayhem before commencing their bloody mission to liberate Jerusalem. The Crusaders retook Jerusalem with horrifying brutality – knee-deep blood  had accumulated in certain  streets of the city. In  less than a century later the Holy Land was recaptured by the Arab Saladin resulting in  no fewer than eight subsequent  Crusades, including the Children’s Crusade, all in vain. The foolhardy enterprise was exorbitantly costly in terms of the innocent  lives lost and hardship caused.

By the thirteenth century with the impotence of the Crusades becoming painfully apparent, the blood thirsty papacy decided to turn its  ire to its own people in the guise of rooting out hearsay closer to home. In 1209, Pope Innocent III instigated the Albigensian  Crusade against the gentle,vegetarian,  peace loving, simple living and deeply spiritual  Cathars in Southern France. On 22 July 1209, the entire population of Bezier, a coastal town in Southern France, was slaughtered – up to 20,000 men, women and children – though the Cathars among them were a mere 500. When asked by a concerned crusader how they would know their enemies from ordinary French citizens, the papal legate  Anrude-Amaury  is said to have responded “ kill them all, for the Lord knows which are his own”. . Apart from appropriating  the vast lands and immense  wealth of this community, the Church wanted to annihilate  the Cathars for their alleged  knowledge of the marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene based on the documents discovered in 1099  by the Knight Templars .

In 1214   Pope Innocent III summoned the Fourth Lateran Council which prescribed  special badges for Jews and Muslims to distinguish them from Christians for harsh treatment and special levies.  He also instituted auricular confession to ferret out the inner most secrets of persons that would aid the hunting down of people suspected of heresy. In 1232 Pope Gregory IX set up Inquisition to hunt down unbelievers and heretics across Christendom.

Despite all the desperate attempts,  papacy’s foothold in the world  was spiralling out of its control. All subsequent attempts to align with the European kingdoms  politicised and weakened the Church. The Avignon Captivity (1305-1378) further eroded the influence of the papacy. The increasing corruption of  the papacy led to deep seated animosity and hostility to it. The Black Death (1347-51) and the fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453) was seen by many as divine retribution.

The Church require its members to address the Pope “ Holy Father” and “ His Holiness” etc. A good number of the Popes were criminals and unsavoury characters. The worst was the murderous, lecherous and probably incestuous Rodrigo Borgia who assumed the papal throne as Alexander VI through manipulation and bribe in 1492. The  papacy hit the nadir of decadence with this Pope.  Borgia was reported to have committed his first murder at the age of 12. After becoming the Pope, he fathered no fewer  than 10 illegitimate children with various mistresses, Ceasare his son and  Lucrezia his daughter were the  favourites.  Prostitutes had a free run in Vatican in his time. Alexander’s passing when it finally came was slow and excruciatingly painful; his face taking  the colour of wine, his stomach  swelling and turning to liquid and his skin peeling of; his tongue was grotesquely gorged and his frozen mouth was foaming. His corpse was so swollen that attendants had to force it into the coffin by jumping  on it, at which point it began to emit  sulphurous gases from every orifice. Then there was John XII (963-64 CE) who became Pope when just 18 at the behest of his mother, the mistress of  Pope John X. He gambled openly, worshipped pagan gods and had his opponents either castrated or murdered and turned Vatican into a veritable whore house . He was either murdered by a jealous husband who caught him committing adultery  with his wife or died of stroke during the act itself. The notorious Borgia was followed by the ferocious, warmonger, drunkard  womaniser Julius II whose main preoccupation was leading his army to recapture the territories lost during the reign of earlier popes. Some of the  other  “Holy Popes” too  were notorious womanisers,  sexual perverts, or otherwise degenerate characters, e.g. Benedict IX, Urban VI, Leo X and Clement VII.

In 1510, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk on a visit to Rome witnessed the horribly decadent Vatican. In 1517 Luther penned  his indignant Ninety-five Theses – a bitter indictment of the papacy’s rampant corruption and nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg and set in motion the Reformation and its offshoot Protestantism vertically splitting asunder Christianity. To make matters worse for the Church,  scientific advances expanded the frontiers of knowledge all over Europe ripping apart the world view in the Bible particularly the contents of the Book of Genesis. The attempts of the Inquisition  to put down  new ideas met with utter failure. The Age of Reason (17th century) and the Age of Enlightenment (18th century) produced such thinkers as Descartes, Voltaire, Hume and Locke; they all condemned the authoritarian attitude of the papacy. Simultaneously, Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions encouraged European powers to opt for progress vis-à-vis  religious diktats. The emergence of a vibrant middle class of merchants and artisans eclipsed the importance of  feudal landed gentry, the rentier class. Social concourse went beyond the confines of  church centred activities.  

The French Revolution and Napoleon ripped apart the powers of papacy. Napoleon put to an end the rump of the Holy Roman Empire. The Revolution also  truncated age old embedded  privileges  and powers of feudal  lords  and ecclesiastics –Cardinals,  Archbishops and the like. The Unification of Italy and installation of Victor Emmanuel as the King of Italy in 1871 clipped the power of the Pope. The Papal States had already been dissolved in 1848 forcing  Pope Pius IX to flee Vatican in disguise. His attempt to bolster his position with the help of the French troops ended in disaster making him the self-proclaimed  “ prisoner in Vatican”. Hardly anyone  took note of his claim of “  infallibility “, his embittered reaction to the loss of political clout.

Prior to the emergence of the Modern Age, Ecclesiastes  headed by the bishops hailing from ruling feudal families had  ruled  the roost as depots in dictatorial manner. They, by and large ,  were more worldly than spiritual. The ordinary people  who had the temerity to stray  from the doted line were hounded, isolated, persecuted, tortured and even put to death in the most horrible manner.

The Popes have been mostly  temporal rulers giving scant respect to the messages purported to be that of Jesus. Many became popes  by resorting to bribery, skulduggery , backstabbing, intrigue, cronyism  and manipulation. A number of them such as  Borgia Pope Alexander VI and Leo X   assiduously promoted the interests of their illegitimate children born to concubines by making them Archbishops of lucrative bishoprics like Milan. They also set about annexing lands and amassing wealth and in the process slaughtered and plundered, pillaged and  conquered  and raped, sexually exploited and enslaved hapless females  of all ages of the territories annexed .They converted  the defeated population at the point of sword and those refused were killed mercilessly; all in the name of their God .

The overview above is to show the absurdity of the pretence of  the Church of its “holier  than holy” attitude and it's claim that it never err. Its annals are full of  tortures, wanton killings and other inhuman atrocities. The cruelties of Caligula and Nero pale into insignificance in front of  Tomas  de Torquemada, Konrad von Marburg and Bernardo Gui. Innocent III, Gregory IX, Lucius III are the  popes who either initiated or sustained the inhuman and cruel Inquisition which made its  bloody entry in the 12th century in  France against the Cathars and the  Waldensians at the behest of Innocent III. Gregory IX , Lucius III and others sustained this inhuman and utterly cruel practice. Inquisitions were also directed against Spiritual Franciscans, the Hussites,  Beguines . Inquisitions did their devilish dance of death and cruelty in Spain, Portugal, Peru, Mexico, Goa etc The Church thus carry with it more scum and dirt and congealed blood than any other religious institution.

History has unraveled that that two religions of Semitic origin have turned out be the harbingers of dissension, disquiet,  hate, violence, cruelty and massacre of innocents and wars. If one dispassionately probe the genesis of conflicts, wanton killings, displacement whole populations, creation of vast numbers of refugees seeking foothold somewhere and somehow, the feeling of abject uncertainty and fear for life and property among the general population, destruction of heritages painstakingly built over the years, the blame will squarely rest on these two religions.

These religions  claim that their holy books are “revealed and dictated” by their particular deity “and  every word in it is sacrosanct, immutable and revealed truth, eternally true, universally valid  and unchanging.” They pour over each and every syllable, comma, hyphen  and punctuation of the books for ages nitpicking  their  hidden meanings and come out with ludicrous claims. They don’t brook any doubts about  what is written in their holy book, any adverse comment thereon  will provoke insane and violent protests, rampage and slaughter.  They wage battles against people of other views and persuasions. They  by and large fulminate against  progressive thinking, intellectual enterprises and scientific discoveries. The  God  “revealed” book of the Christians is the Bible, the rudiments of which could  have been written in the later half of the first century of the Common Era or thereabouts by non-contemporaries decades after the crucifixion of a person stated to be Jesus. The four books of the Bible known as the  Gospels  officially approved by the Church towards the end of the fourth century  has been over the years edited, re edited, redrafted, padded, added, mutilated and what not with the result  they contain obvious inconsistencies, contradictions and inaccuracies.

The Christian religion, especially the Catholic variety has nothing to offer on intellectual or moral terms. It's foundation is myth, miracle, magic and fairy tales. It's theology rests on impossibilities such the “Virgin Birth” of their God in human form and the “Bodily Resurrection” of his dead body after three days of burial;  his bodily ascension to the heaven above after wandering for forty days . It's spiritual world is inhabited by  apparitions such as  angels of varied types and demons.  It's theology is an absurd concoction  of now discarded Greek philosophy, theology and worldview.  It's moral precepts are  concentrated on one part of the human anatomy to the the exclusion of all other aspects of human life. It asks its members to believe “transubstantiation of the consecrated  wafer made of wheat flour”. The Church stands  bewildered before the new frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine and human behaviour. Can any religion be more absurd than Catholicism which continues to venerate body parts of its deceased members as relics and decide the worthiness of its  saints  on non-substantiated miracles and not on deeds done for the benefit of other human  beings or the world at large. It's comic opera style rituals adorning the vestments of the fool in a  circus invite only derision and contempt. Nothing more to say about its discourses on guilt, gore and hell, sin and damnation. In what way the teaching of the church ennoble the human mind and improve the human condition?

The Kerala scene

When the Portuguese reached the shores of Malabar in the late fifteenth century, they found the followers of Jesus who maintained intimate links with the Hindu society. Their churches were modelled on Hindu temples and Vasco da  Gama himself worshiped  in a shrine to the goddess Bhagavathi mistaking it for a chapel to the Madonna.    The  Nazranis  of Kerala had developed a unique way of life of their own and followed quite a different version  of their faith from the one practised in far away Europe. Hindus and   Nazranis  were  interacting  freely  and “there was no distinction either in their habits or in their hair or in anything else” between the Nazranis and Hindus. “ As  late as the closing years of the sixteenth century there was tolerance of intermarriage between those two communities. In the Krishna temple in Ambalapuzha an image of St Thomas used to be carried in procession alongside those of Hindu divinities on festive occasions.” “ There was a fascinating intermingling of faith and culture throughout Kerala, and Christians were integral constituents of this rich social fabric, arguably more cosmopolitan and certainly less fanatic than in contemporary Europe.”

" It was hence that neither the Portuguese nor their pontifical enterprise to unite Christians into one integral bloc against Islam (and  Arab competition) mer any great enthusiasm in Kerala. After all, these Malayalis had been Christians long before Christianity had even reached the outskirts of Europe. They were heirs of a tradition more ancient than the Roman Catholicism of the Portuguese and never, for instance, heard of the Pope; when the Portuguese presumed to claim that the Kerala churches ‘ belonged’  to the Pope, quick came the retort, ‘ Who is the Pope?’. The Malayali Christians,  as it turned out to the great mortification of the Portuguese, adhered not to the Vatican but to the Nestorian Church headed by the Patriarch of Antioch in the modern day Turkey. Their liturgical language, similarly was not Latin but Syriac, by virtue of which they were known as Syrian Christians. In other words, the celebrated  Father of Roman Catholicism held little consequence to them, and besides the common tag of being all ‘Christians’ they  could not be more unlike the Portuguese. Thus the local Christians whom the Europeans ‘ rediscovered’ observed a branch of the faith that Roman Catholicism neither approved of nor upheld.” “ When the Portuguese could not find what they sought in the local Christians, they abandoned all fraternal pretensions and went on to diligently  prosecute the latter.” “ The Portuguese also set out to purge Hindu elements from their rites and ruthlessly applied themselves to rid local Christianity of what they derided as ‘Pagan’ influences. They may have reconciled to not finding the fabled Prester John and his legendary treasures, but the zealous Portuguese could never come to terms with a flock of ‘corrupted’, non-Catholic Christians.” Eventually they rammed the throats of the Nazranis with their Catholicism by devious means.

The issue to ponder is whether the enforced cohabitation with the Church of Rome is advantageous to the ordinary Kerala Christian.

No doubt for the Excellencies, Beatitudes, Princes and Lords ( Mars) disassociation with Rome will deprive them of their junkets and holidays in Italy under various pretexts. They may have conveniently forgotten that the Holy Roman Empire has vanished and that Italy is  the “ sick man of Europe”. The country is a den of cheats, pickpockets and  the dreaded Mafia like the Cosa Nostra of Toto Riina, murderer of 150 people and the mafia Curia of the Vatican.

We are Indians, inheritors of an ancient and hoary heritage, heirs to peaceful and humane religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, where “religion is hardly a dogma, but a working hypothesis of human conduct adapted to different stages of spiritual development and different conditions of life”; where “ an individual is free to roam in the matter of opinion and where  reason freely questions and criticises the creeds in which men are born”, the hot headed RSS notwithstanding. If  the aim is to make life harmonious and livable, the best course could be to opt for  synthesis of different thoughts, ideas and philosophies.

Mob: 00447570161248

Email: pamplanil@gmail.com            





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