Stand up or perish – Varghese Pamplany on present day Church

VargheseVarghese Pamplany


A number of articles have appeared in CCV on the  autocratic and “holier than thou” attitude of the clergy of the Catholic Church, especially in the Syro-Malabar outfit in Kerala. Another matter agitating the Christians is the perceived  high rate of unemployment among them. The demand is for quota for jobs by the government. 

George Orwell in his allegorical novel ‘Animal Farm’ traces graphically, how Napoleon the Pig  ousts its  human owner and seizes total control of the farm known as the Manor Farm and step by step take totalitarian hold over all other animals by resorting to selective liquidation of friends and supporters on the ground of plotting against Napoleon. What Orwell talks of the pig Napoleon is equally true in the case of human society. The reality is humans may not be able to get rid of the inborn selfish gene predisposed to greed.

Overwhelming  control  over others is achieved on the construct  that the”  idea is always bigger than the man”. The compulsive desire to save and ennoble others is the trigger that eventually fuels brutality,  oppression, wanton slayings, ruthless enslavement et al.  

This pernicious principle has claimed countless human lives throughout human history. “The driving need to do good, to reconfigure the world from imperfection unto perfection, from differences into sameness, from separateness to oneness” and “the pursuit of creating better, purer more egalitarian societies” had and continue to result in the extermination of tens of millions of innocent persons across the world. The urge to reshape the  world commences with the dentification of an evil and dangerous  enemy against whom the “good” of the world must  wage perennial battle relentlessly with total dedication, unity and clarity of purpose. In this surreal world,  language is distorted; colleagues are comrades and brothers; the community is  brotherhood;  the country is fatherland; simple tasks are lofty deeds, destitution is sacrifice, poverty is morally superior  and martyrdom is the ultimate goal. In this scenario the idea is transfigured, idealised and embodied in  the  leader – the sole deified and edified persona representing the idea. 

He is beyond normal human frailties. He should always be reverentially addressed as “Holy Father”, “ His Holiness”, “His Beatitude”, “His Excellency”, “My Lord”, the “Fuhrer”, the “Duce", “Venerable Comrade”, “Great Helmsman” etc.

The leader is isolated, accessible only to the chosen  few through them alone, he speaks and is spoken to. This supreme leader always stays behind the opaque curtain, his doings are beyond scrutiny or accusation; every-one is ever beholden to him and his inner circle. The first symptom of this morbid condition is the compulsive urge to do good, to transform and remodel the world into one of perfection from imperfection, establishment of uniformity and sameness by smothering of differences; total eradication of separate identities and compulsory creation of oneness. The next step is paranoia and grandiosity, identification  and annihilation of the traitor hiding  in  dark recesses with  his diabolical conspiracies. The leader is infallible, he is everything and everywhere, he causes  thousands of flowers to bloom;  annihilates  each and every dissenter, the traitor’s corpse exhibited for being spited at and ultimately fed  to the dogs.

Thus arrives the  hour of the revolution; battle  lines are drawn and  the perceived evil enemy is annihilated by waging battle with total dedication and clarity of purpose. Eventually the Beast  takes over, the vilest greed; treachery and brutality his hallmark. Other beings are treated as  chattel and worthless. 

Hence be beware of the utopia, the catchy slogan and the perfect solution, the claim that the other person knows what is good for you; be beware of the bombast and the dogma; the death of doubt and questioning; keep away from those who preach the only true way which they  themselves do not practice. Don’t  belong to the chosen one with the hype of noble compassion and altruism.

Opt for plurality, manyness and multiplicity of ideas, view points and opinions. Accept diversity and celebrate it. 

The clergy and the laity.

In the Catholic Church of Kerala the laity is generally treated by the clergy with contempt and condensation as "goats or buffaloes” to be controlled by the crook and the stick. The laity’s  role is to obey the arbitrary dictates of the annoying “anointed” in all matters. The clerics believe that the laity is put on planet earth by the Deity to provide every creature comfort to them including sexual gratification to the male priests by nuns, imprisoned in concrete bunkers, widows and other hapless females. Reports are emerging on predatory priests committing sexual offences  on innocent children, male and female. In the US harsh punishments are imposed on the criminal clerics – long term imprisonments and huge monetary damage. In Europe and Australia sexual offences of the clerics are probed diligently and impartially and punitive measures are meted out to the  offenders. Many dioceses in US have become insolvent due to heavy monetary payments  to the sexually exploited persons. But in the God’s Own Country, there is an unholy nexus between the clergy and the ruling cliques on the  fallacious belief that the former can garner votes for the latter. The vernacular press also is  a party to this conspiracy of criminal silence for fear of loosing the patronage of the clergy. 

It is for the laity to defray the bloated bills of gargantuan unwanted and unproductive  bureaucracy of the numerous dioceses and countless churches with Cardinals, Arch-Bishops, Bishops, Auxiliary Bishops, Supernumerary Bishops, Super Chancellors, Chancellors, Monseigneurs and all strutting about with inflated self importance. The believer cattle, quite often is subjected to insufferable treatment.

The Vicars barge into the homes of parishioners without the courtesy of even an ‘excuse me' and berate the inmates and try to disciple even octogenarians. The Income-tax Department or the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence do not  probe the financial position of families and individuals as meticulously as the Church. 

The hidden agenda of the Inquisition is to make every faithful to walk on the dotted line and  p to milk parishioners  dry especially the NRIs. This writer  refused to divulge the incomes of his two sons working in UK and US (the fact being that he himself doesn’t seek this particular information). He had to tell, on one occasion, such a character who barged to his home unannounced and demanded me to to divulge all sorts of unnecessary personal particulars of himself and his family members which resulted in barring him and his minions from entering his premises. The local bishop was informed that  the hours long tedious  Sunday mass was not acceptable.

No more tithes and other levies.

Many are Catholics by the biological accident of birth to Catholic parents. They  had no choice but to be subjected to “water dunking" or “vellathilmukku” in the name of baptism in their infancy. The majority of old generation parents were semi-literate or barely literate. What-ever knowledge they acquired was passed on to them by their parents; their parents had  learned from their parents; the chain stretching back to generations to generations, ages to ages. 

One can pass on only the knowledge one possesses, nothing more. Most of the early Nazaranis, to quote  the writer Kakkanadan, toiled with “thoppipalayude kombum, konakathinte valum madu pole” and survived. The “Katthanars” ruled with harsh authority and the “aadukals” or “kannukalies” obeyed with heads bowed, often on their knees. Most of the early Katthnanars belonged to the locally powerful families and the wealth of the parishes  were the gifts of these families.

The “Metthran” was considered a celestial being to be treated with utmost awe and  deference as will be observed from the early church documents;  the laity was treated with utmost condensation and derision. They were forced to obey with out batting an eyelid the arbitrary diktats of the clergy. No where else in the word a member of any organisation is compelled to suffer hours long pulpit inanities sometimes profusely laced with profanities with no chance to react.

Today's upstart clergy have not abandoned the “dark ages” mindset. The goat  population are yet to get over the old hangover. Their protests are as ineffective as that of an ox tethered to conventional oil press; one whip lash in the form of denial of the so called sacraments, especially permission for  burying the dead in the church compounds is more than enough to make everybody fall in line. How many of the goats  dare to refuse to do away with the “vellathilmukku” of their infants, opt for a civil marriage (the legally recognised one) bury their dead in a  common cemetery or by cremation in their own property.

Every one is waiting for their green card to the “heaven” above. Hence the kannukalies are liable to be beaten with the strongest bamboo pole; grin and bear it, no escape. 

The iron cage one has built around oneself in the name of the traditional faith, which no rational mind can reconcile or accept, is the worst form life long imprisonment. The brainless believer is like Sinbad of Bagdad who could not  get rid of the Old Man of Sea perching on his shoulder  with talons dug deep tenaciously hurting and drawing the life blood.

“There had also been a very strange custom, whose origin was unknown, of marching every Sunday morning past a boar’s skull which was nailed to a post in the garden”. “ …the name of ‘ Animal Farm’ had been abolished. Henceforward the farm was to be known as ‘The Manor Farm’ – which he believed, was its correct and original name…..  But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening.

What was it that altered in the faces of the pigs…..Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three…. An uproar of voices was coming from the farm house…….a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings  on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously……The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” (Animal Farm). 

Unemployment among Christians. 

The 2011 census show that Christians of all denominations put together constitutes only 2.3% of the total population of India of which Syro-Malbar Catholics are only minuscule outfit, though the Lords   Beatitudes, Excellencies and others with bloated ego strut about as if they own the world and everyone and everything it. The crocodile tears of the clergy fool only the gullible goats. Once the Shylocks extract their pounds of flesh, the believers are left to bleed and fend for themselves. The charity of the  church is not even worth a miserable farthings.

The Christian Community is mighty disturbed of its level of un-employment at 4.5% in rural areas and 5.9% in urban centres as found by the National Sample Survey Office. Some ecclesiastics are clamouring for reservation quota for jobs.

Do Christians really count on the RSS-Brahmin-Bania-Marwari-Suit-Boot- Fair and Lovely dominated government; not by a long shot. If Christians want to save themselves, they have to wake up from their stupor on consuming too much of the opium of religion; open their eyes wide  and look at the world outside with a clarity of vision they had forfeited to “faith”. Then and then only they will see the bleak social and  economic landscape in which they live.

They may also have to abandon some of the long held and long cherished view of the world and rediscover convergence with the outside scenario.  

They may be required to equip themselves with an education and knowledge in consonance with the changed time and its ethos, acquire skills suitable to survive in a highly competitive, high-end techno-savvy world. The welfare state or the “Ma-Bap Sarkar” is  on the retreat world over. Too much time spent on churching, confessions, Holy Communions, novenas, retreats, bible conventions, holiday religious camps, Sunday catechisms, Sodalities, Mission Leagues, Jesus Youths, pilgrimages to various hill- shrines charismatic and other jamborees will not  fetch  the daily bread. The community may better gird-up their loins to face the challenges of living in this world with  self confidence and dignity.

Varghese Pamplanil

Mob. 9447152533. Email:

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1 Response

  1. zach says:

    Mr Varhese Pamplnil has written a beautiful article – I would say, things that I would have loved to write, too. The catholic church is actually in a state of irreparable situation. It is in an upside down position. Its members have to be businessmen, if they want to be Christians. So also its prelates.

    The predicament can be explained this way: If you teach your child to become Christian you have to give him a few doctrines; you have to force him to believe things that naturally look absurd. For ex. you have to teach the child that Jesus was born of a virgin mother. Now you are destroying the natural intelligence of the child. If he does not believe you, you become angry. You can also punish the child. But if he believes you, it goes against his intrinsic intelligence. It looks like nonsense to him, but he has to compromise with you. And with that he starts losing his innocence and intelligence, he becomes stupid.

    Any religion is so. It makes people clever. Cleverness is a poor substitute for intelligence. People who are not intelligent, learn how to be clever, like all the Christians and their priests. They become cunning and ugly. It is this ugliness that Pamplanil has brought out so thoroughly in this article.Thanks, friend.32

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