Why grin and bear

Varghese Pamplanil

A number of incidents are reported in Almayasabdamand Sathyajwala of the high-handed behaviour of priests in charge of parishes a.k.a “Vikaris” of Syro-Malabar Church. A significant segment of these characters are autocratic, despotic money grabbers. Each and every parishioner is expected to subscribe to their arbitrary dictates and toe the line dotted by them. These vicars strut about as if they own the parish and the parishioners. They often behave like slave masters. The ordinary folk are treated shabbily and quite often made to run panting from pillar to post while approaching them for  matters like admission to educational institutions managed by the Church, for conducting church weddings etc.

The Syrian-Christian community who had been traditionally engaged in agriculture migrated to the isolated interior parts of Kerala in search of land for farming over the past centuries. Being religious by nature, churches were established and priests came among them to meet their spiritual needs.  Before the hijacking of the native church to the suzerainty of the Church of Rome by the Portuguese in 1599 CE, the temporal matters of the parish churches were administered democratically, the priests taking care of spiritual needs of the people. The material wealth of the church was in the custody of the lay trustees. The situation changed totally with the emergence of the monarchical-hierarchical Roman Church taking control of the church assets – built up over years by the charity of parishioners. Once the  clergy took control, they do not let go their octopus like hold on the wealth of the church come what may. The absence of statutory provisions in this regard facilitated the misappropriation. Historically acquisition of temporal power was the priority of the Roman Church.

What is the methodology that enable the Church to have such vicious hold on its members. It is the hatch (baptism), match (church wedding) and despatch (burial in church compounds) set of so called sacraments. 

If analysed rationally, the rites and ceremonies of the Catholic religion are meaningless and assault on common sense. They don’t ennoble or enhance the moral quality of the participants. Most of them are distorted vestiges of bygone era turned upside down. For instance the sharing of food, agape, degenerated to the eating a thin wheat wafer after an elaborate ceremony. The leadership of the Church would have realised centuries ago that feeding hungry multitude would not leave enough for the higher up clerics to lead an opulent life style. Hence the present form of communion. Shamans thrive by cheating. 

Can any rational person repeat ad infinitum the Eusebius (of Caesarea) formulated and Constantine imposed Nicene Creed ( 325 CE ) which later evolved as the Niceno – Constantinopolitan confession by 391 CE. The Syro-Malabar Church thinks that making its members repeat  this creed ad infinitum make it valid. During the Mass select portions of the Bible are read with awe and hula-hula  as the revealed Word of God. Many believers assume that the New Testament books were written shortly after Jesus’ ministry, like newspaper accounts. The truth is that the Gospels and Epistles were written down several decades after Jesus’ death, at least after a generation. To complicate the matter further, the Gospels were written down in a language Jesus did not speak – he spoke  Aramaic. The oldest scriptures quote him in Greek, that rules out they being verbatim record. Moreover, several verses in Mark and Matthew were not in the earliest texts of the New Testament. They include Mark 7:16, 9:44 and 46; Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14 which apparently have been added later.

No Catholic theologian of substance would subscribe to the view that an infant is tainted by “Original Sin" at birth and the presumed blight can be removed by “water dunking." The branding of a child as a sinner is ludicrous to say the least. Infant baptism is a ploy to increase the membership of Church automatically without informed consent of the person concerned. The birth certificate issued by the Church is not a legal document; the one issued by a civic authority is accepted for admission in schools, issue of passports etc. The Adhar card is the most important document now. Why cringe before the parish priest for the obsolete, time consuming, expensive infant baptism? 

Another nefarious practice is subjecting a child of tender age to auricular confession to a priest for small mis-demeanours. Who is this guy to absolve the so called sins? The hidden agenda is to inculcate sense  guilt  from the childhood for future manipulation. The “right to privacy" is a universal fundamental right enshrined in the UN Charter and modern constitutions Hence no religious authority  can force anybody to make  self implicating confession mandatory.  Most people approach the confessional box with trepidation. It is demeaning to disembowel one’s inner self to some stranger.

From the primary school level a Catholic child is forced to attend hours long Sunday catechism classes at the cost of their academic pursuits. A lot of nonsenseis taught in these classes. The joke prevalent is that certificate of passing the course is a “no objection” document for getting married in the church. Catechism does not enable anyone to lead life in harmony with the environment and the society at large. In countries like Australia, imparting religious education to children are banned.

In most of the civilised societies civil marriages are preferred. Even when conducted in a church or a chapel, it is a simple and brief affair. Look at what is happening in Kerala. The guardians of the bride and the groom are often made to run pillar to post  to get the  marriage done in a church. The parish priests concerned raise needless procedural objections and extract maximum amount of money. The ceremony is a prolonged and tedious one with hundreds and, sometimes, thousands of people present. The invitees make a mad scramble for the dinning hall jostling and elbowing and pushing aside  others as if these people have not seen food for years. The  marriage certificate issued by the church has no legal validity. Nowadays marriages are required to be registered with the civil authorities.

The burial of bodies at the lease paid church cemetery is the occasion for the clergy to bare their fangs. In the cities, there are only common cemeteries. In Christian countries where the deceased families have enough land at their disposal burials in church cemeteries are not preferred.  With the shortage of land for burial grounds, cremation is an option.

The various church sponsored functions are meant  for making money. Human efforts are wasted for these unproductive and intrinsically useless activities. The average person’s mind, riddled with anxieties and unfulfilled expectations, is conditioned to believe that the various ceremonies of the Church would enable them to achieve the desired end.

The clerics assume they control the levers of the faithful’s life, moral and secular. There was a time when the parish priests  discharged certain socially relevant functions such construction of buildings for schools and  enhancing communication infrastructure in newly inhabited areas.  With the modern State assuming these functions, relevance of religious organisations in these matters has disappeared. The  clerics  have no worthwhile role to play now. They have become redundant and superfluous. Ultimately in the market place, demand and supply determine transactions. If the believer decides not to consume the products marketed by the clerics, the latter will become unemployed and unwanted. It is happening in developed countries. Hence, it is better not to  waste time and efforts for participating in church charades like festivals, charismatic circuses, novenas, bible conventions, retreats and such other shenanigans. Above all, avoid giving donations to Church and offerings to sundry saints. Do saints need money? Denying the clerics money will make them come to senses. Don’t give importance to them under any circumstance and refrain from treating them with respect and deference. Become intellectually and socially independent. Don’t allow the clerics to interfere in one’s life. It is time to keep away from them like plague. 

Education better be broad based and secular. Children  may be exposed to music – both vocal and instrumental – sports, fine arts, speech and drama, painting  and other artistic  activities. They may be imbued with self confidence, optimism for all round personal development. The Church is more concerned about collecting donations for admissions and appointments of teachers in the educational institutions run by it. Nepotism and favouritism rule the roost in this field. The guardians of wards who approach the clerics for admission to schools and colleges run by them often meet with bitter experience. Unless the supplicant has tones of money for donations or the right connection, his  efforts end up in failure. It may be better to opt for secular education.

Most of the Catholic children are refrained from reading books. The best students are voracious readers. Knowledge doesn’t come in capsules. Keeping children under the tutelage of the clerics inhibit their development potential. Hence the best course may be to keep children away from the church and the clerics.

In the developed world prestigious universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Essen etc. research studies on the Bible and Christianity are undertaken by eminent faculty members. Their findings are available in the public domain. What is the position in Kerala. Reading of books other than church propa-ganda are considered “mortal sin" and down right condemned. The noise made on  the fiction of “The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown show the mind set of the Church. Critical evaluation of Christianity is treated as “threat to religion" which is combined by beating of the breast that “God created Christian religion is in mortal danger" and the Church is “under persecution." Keeping the faithful in perpetual ignorance serves the Church’s nefarious aims.

Varghese Pamplanil

Mob: 004475707161248

Email: pamplanil@gmail.com.

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