Stop practicing  Catholic Casteism!

Gay Sex, LGBT, Caste, Religious bias, Violence

This is a reflection on the article LGBT bashing must stop. published in CCV  in the aftermath of the notorious Orlando shoot out and massacre in US. There are ever so many similarities between this dastardly act and what is happening in India

Here what CCV wishes to highlight  is the spontaneous reaction of Catholic bishops in US to the mass shoot out in Pulse Gay club in Orlando and in contrast the near total lack of reaction or studied silence of Indian bishops to something similar that happened and happens in India.

The root cause  in Orlando was a detestable attitude coupled with hatred towards gay sex. Comparisons are odious, but they help us to see where we stand. Orlando attack was the worst ever since the 9/11 which destroyed the twin towers in New York. Both were done by single individuals. 9/11 brought world wide condemnations from both political and religious world leaders. Orlando was compared to Paris terrorist attack and also to San Bernadino in California and is condemned first by world’s political leaders and then by religious heads. Few Catholic bishops who roundly condemned it and mentioned in two reports (more bishops must have spoken out) are Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Cupich of Chicago, Orlando diocese Bishop John Noonan, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, Fla., Bishop Robert Lynch besides Jesuit Fr. James Martin, a priest and popular writer, many Catholic leaders  and of course Pope Francis to start with. Six bishops are  named here.

Something similar comparable to an ISIS terrorist attack happened also in India recently. A gang of 14 remote controlled goons by three Catholic priests waylaid an innocent Catholic bishop Gallela of Cuddappah diocese, blind folded him, stripped and tortured him for money and plump posts in the diocese on April 25th last and abandoned him on the highway at 2 a.m. past midnight to fend for himself. Heard of anything similar happening in the world?

Indian Bishops Caste minded?

Still if no hue and cry come from Indian bishops, and no systematic public action is taken against culprits, if stony silence is deliberately maintained by the hierarchy and if no mention at all of the kidnap was made by the honourable CBCI secretary general bishop Theodore Mascarenhas when he recently criticized and condemned the racial attacks on Africans for some hidden reasons,  what is the public to conclude, if not that our bishops too are racists,  caste conscious, practioners of it in their private life and promoters in society by their silence as a sign of approval, all  for their vested interests?

If hatred for gay sex was root cause in Orlando, in Bishop Kidnap, it was racism, casteism and assumed superiority of Reddies in Andhra. Here in Andhra, India  it was contempt for a low caste bishop by three priests belonging to high  Reddy upper caste, besides, of course their craze to make quick money and grab commanding positions in the Diocese that  prompted the attack.

To this day even after nearly two months, we have not seen any public condemnations coming from his brother bishops, except a brief, ceremonial immediate reproof from Archbishop Osward gracious of Bombay and a casual, routine public statement of Andra bishops. In both cases what is condemned is violence towards minorities, not casteism practised by priests and bishops. There was no mention of Caste in either case. No public statements came so far from other eminent Cardinal “Beatitudes” like Mar Alancherry of Ernakulam, Toppo of Bihar, not even from the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India Cardinal Baselius Cleemis of Trivandrum even after letters were sent to him by concerned people in Cudapah.

Solidarity rally, but no Catholic Bishop

According to Jesuit Father AXJ Bosco, even he, an activist for Dalit cause and adviser, Citizens Forum for Justice could not get a reply from the CBCI Chairman. So Fr. Bosco conducted a solidarity rally attended by more than 1000 laity, priests, nuns at which the CSI bishop Prasad Rao of Cudappah participated and spoke expressing his hurt feeling and promising his support but there was not any Catholic bishop to show support. Can anyone think of that? What can you make of their eloquence in preaching on family spirit and Christian brotherhood?

Fr. Bosco in his letter suggested that a bishop who keeps silent on Caste practice and discrimination must be transferred from the diocese to other dioceses where there is no caste discrimination. Actually what is needed in such cases is to get such bishops retired. If that rule is applied to around 180 Catholic Indian bishops will there be any one left with the Episcopal  office? So unbearable and revolting is their silence on Cudapah kidnap, conniving or promoting casteism everywhere  and pure blood marriage variety of racism  in the case of Endogamy practised and promoted in Kottayam diocese by an Episcopal circular (recall Chicago Bishop’s circular of Sept.19/2014)  that any honest follower of Jesus would find it extremely difficult to be a member of the Catholic church in India without being pointed out as a counter witness to the  equality of brothers and sisters preached by Jesus.

Opponents of same-sex gay relationships hark back to the Bible and Sodom and Gomora times to justify their aversion. If Sodom got that name it was because of Sodomy practiced by people there and for which, it is said, God burned it down. But we are not living in Old Testament times, although most of our Indian Bishops and many Bishops of Africa still are as they ahhor it. In India, only Cardinal Gracias of Bombay came out in public to speak in support of gay people. But in India the deadly disease disfiguring the  Catholic Church is not gay relationships but the age-old cancer of caste system drilled into the Indian psyche by the ancient Hindu scriptures.

What is most deplorable and appalling is that our Indian bishops refuse to change their mindset towards caste system, endogamy and gay relationships even after two years of indoctrination against it at two Rome-based Family synods and all the scientific evidence widely spread that  an attraction towards the same sex could be  quite natural for some and therefore not contrary to nature or sin before God. This is what prompted Bishop Robert Lynch  to lament the role religion has played in breeding contempt for the LGBT (read Low caste dalits  in Indian context) community. Bishop Lynch even wrote: “I do not wish to lend our voice to notions which might suggest that same-sex couples are a threat incapable of sharing relationships marked by love and holiness and, thus, incapable of contributing to the edification of both the church and the wider society.”

What is most astounding and sad is that during the past two years (2014-15) of study ordered by Fraancis to identify  threats to Catholic family the Indian Bishops never had the honesty to admit at the synod discussions that practice of Caste system was the killer disease not only in Indian families but brotherhood as well among Indian priests and bishops. Nor are they willing to admit that they  are colluding with caste practioners in the Kidnap episode and supporting and  promoting them by their prolonged stony silence.

How can a sick patient recover if he/she doesn’t accept to be sick? Then how can Indian hierarchy  be different from the hypocritical High priests of Jesus’ times? Can one hope that Indian Catholic bishops will learn anything good from the example of US bishops? Doctor, heal yourself first!

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