Reactions from Readers!  We are in receipt of too many reactions to our recent posts in the CCV. As time and pace permit we shall publish them subject wise or part by part.

First there is heated discussion on Auricular confession on what Joseph Mani and Pamplanil have written. Both are speaking with facts, not with faith related feelings and emotions. Against facts no arguments based on emotions can stand. They have to be based on reason for CCV debate. Given below is what CCV editor has to say brfiely; AS WE FORGIVE IS THE SINE QUA NON (the necessary condition) FOR GETTING FORGIVENESS. 

A very simple method of distinguishing sin from virtue is this: Simply ask the question to yourself: Am  I using people or being useful to people? When you cheat, steal, do not pay your worker or pay less, you are using people. Instead when you help a poor man, the hungry, thirsty, the sick, recall all that Jesus says: I was thirsty, hungry, in prison etc. you are being useful to people. Using people is sin and being useful to people is virtue, if you can’tr get out of the indocrinaed catogorfies of sisn ands virftue.

You can't offend God who is Schidanda and SIN is non existent(creation of Canon law). Both are subjects of long discussion. I wrote about it some 40 years ago in: "Demythologizing Confession.” Impossible to  repeat all here. 

Why do we not make the second, the essential part of what Jesus teaches in his Our Father compulosory? Forgiving others, the second part is the condition for being forgiven, not confessing to a priest. Confessing to a priest is a trick to bury one’s dirty linen from public view. It  is equivalent to giving license to the sinner to do the same any number of times without allowing it to come out to public view.

No one will know, except the priest, and never will it come out in public. It only encourages the hard core crooks to live the dirty life till his death and then to steal heaven with another confession before death. Anything more STUPID? Is that the kind of virtuous life you want to live? Who can’t understand this difference? Be honest and answser: Do confessions change the lives of people for the better? It is a cover up game for the crooks to go on doing the same rape or robbery till death.

Churches should instead teach faithful to forgive others, to repair the damage done to your neighbor as a necessary condition, the infallible teaching if you wish, not telling a priest, for being forgiven by God and even by one''s own conscience. Has the church leadership, the guts to do that? They will not, because then they will lose their lucre – physical, psychological and material(harfd service cash). james

Below please read  Pamplanil’s response: Auricular Confession –A Re-visit.  Pamplanil

I fully endorse the views Mr. Joseph Mani in his article “The Confession Conundrum”. We are inclined to  sin against human beings and other creatures. Above all, we sin against nature because of our greed. 

As you have explained,  we cannot sin against God, if any. I cannot accept  a god who behaves in the manner of humans with human logic, human emotions such as love, hatred, vengeance etc. In my understanding, the life in me is more or less similar to the life that throbs in the worm and the blade of grass or the molecules in a  piece of stone. 

My poser: do we undertake confession  voluntarily? Are we not brain washed and conditioned from our infancy to follow the beliefs, worship and other religious practices of our parents, especially of our mothers, aunts and even grandmothers?

We happen to be  born to Syro-Malabar Catholic parents who were wise  about the ways of the world, but not that well educated or enlightened. They taught us values and modes of behaviour that they thought were required  to make us good human beings. Their rights and wrongs had emerged from the milieu in which they lived. The Church and the parish priest had significant influences on them. In most cases the attitudes of the priests were autocratic, brooking no opposition. In a way, the intentions of the clerics, by and large, could be viewed as “self serving”, if not selfish.

In rural communities baptism, church weddings and internment in prepaid church cemeteries are denied, if confessions are not done as stipulated except for the well healed and the influential. Worst of all, the clerics bargain and harangue the ordinary folk for church dues over dead bodies.

You have stated that confession on voluntary basis is okay. If it is done purely on voluntary basis with no string attached, fine. But are we that free intellectually and emotionally?

Take the case of a Catholic child. Baptism is administered to the infant, without cognitive power, disrespecting the child’s fundamental and inherent right for individual autonomy and individuality and right for informed consent. What about the first holy communion after a confession under controlled conditions. The hidden agenda of the whole exercise seems to be injecting of sense of guilt and sin into the psyche of a child. The whole show, in an atmosphere of surreality,  awe and reverence is calibrated to ensure perpetual bondage to the Church. Compulsory Sunday church attendance, tedious catechism classes focussing on sins along with church propaganda, bathe church’s skewed world view, religious camps during school vacations, frequent confessions, annual retreats, mission league, Jesus groups, strict observance of adventand lent, abstinence from sex, avoidance of non-veg. food, fasting, wailings, breast beatings, assuming responsibility for the horrible death of Jesus purportedly owing  to our sins and all that rigmarole.

Parents force their beliefs and religious practices on their wards, supposedly for their  good. Are these value judgments correct under all circumstances and all the time? 

Most of us are  conditioned to behave in a particular way. Only a few  are able get out of their mental prisons. In most cases, vestiges of old beliefs and habits linger. People justify them and compromise “for getting along with others” especially with their spouses and other family members, for better or worse.

Those who lived and worked in cosmopolitan environs had life experiences quite different to those living in out back communities where almost every gesture is under the scanner. The “Big Brother” of Orwell’s 1984, constantly watches,  24/7especially the activities in the bedroom; sex is sought to be controlled by  ration card mode; solely for procreation.

Let me quote from the book “The Naked Ape” by zoologist  Desmond Morris. Here the “Naked Ape” denotes the ape without hairs like other apes.

“Much of what we do as adults is based on the imitative absorption during our childhood years. Frequently, we imagine that we are behaving in a particular way because such behaviour accords with some abstract, lofty moral principles, when in reality,  all we are doing is obeying deeply ingrained and long “forgotten” set of purely imitative impressions. It is the unmodifiable obedience to these impressions (along with our carefully concealed instinctive urges) that makes it so hard for societies to change their customs and their ‘beliefs’. Even when faced with exciting, brilliantly rational new ideas, based on the application of pure, objective intelligence, the community will still cling to its old home-based habits and prejudices. This is the ‘cross’ we have to bear, if we are going to sail through our vital juvenile ‘blotting paper’ phase of rapidly mopping up the accumulated experiences of previous generations. We are forced to take the biased opinions along with the valuable facts”.

The following is from Kurian Joseph who was in Delhi leading the laity battle on double (Latin-Syromalabar) jurisdiction. He has now migrated to US.

Dr james,

Congratulations on the nearly four years of sustained, courageous and honest publishing.

CCV was there with us while our group Laity4Unity pursued its Petition to the Holy Father about the efforts of the Syro Malabar Church to divide the community in Delhi. You were also there with us when the issue was happily settled once and for all by the Vatican – in such a way that, although ostensibly for Delhi, the principles laid out were very clearly universal. During that struggle by the laity of Delhi, you supported us while still maintaining editorial balance and permitting the SM representatives to have their say.

Am extremely happy – and pleasantly surprised – that CCV leads similar Indian publications by huge margins. All credit goes to your Triumvirate – three committed men of faith.

May God continue to bless you and keep the good work going.Warm regards.

Kurien Joseph, USA

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