By Jacob Macwan (Mumbai)
Welcome to Sri Jacob Macwan, a well-read independent, honest GEM of a thinker from Bombay with a journalistic bend. He just bumped into CCV fraternity. Proof? Just read his short introductory letter:
“Dear Dr. Kottoor, I have been a regular reader of Almayasabdam and CCV, and have become addicted to your intelligent, well-argued and full-of-micro humour comments on various articles especially on corruption in the church and clericalism, consequently becoming a great fan of yours.
“I was contemplating writing a full-fledged article for CCV for a long time and finally I have done it. In the attachments please find the article. I would like you to kindly consider the article for publishing it in CCV if found suitable…. ”
We need more Macwans
Thank you, Jacob for the undeserved praise! Yes it is the first time we hear from him and it took over a week to find his whereabouts. We have now also his bio-data which we shall share with you as we go on. Reading his article below, you will find he is a widely read research scholar as he quotes from various writers in the CCV and an independent thinker. It is such writers that CCV urgently needs, to raise relevant questions and dare to offer their own answers for acceptance, correction, modification or rejection as we request readers to deal with our own views.
Whatever you may think, I am a “Know-nothing” and the more I read, study and learn from others, I am more and more convinced of what I am. We all are “know-nothings” only to a greater or lesser extent. We all have to learn from others — the self-styled enlightened or the self-pitying ‘idiots’. All have something to teach us. Hence the saying: “We have to learn even from a grave digger!”
Clericalism and Sex
Clericalism and clerical sex-abuse are the hot-potatoes discussed today all over the world and the remedy Macwan suggests is to abolish the Sacraments. We discussed these and more complicated issues in the past. Researchers have found that Jesus never instituted any of the sacraments. He never called himself a ‘Priest’ either, but the Son of Man(ideal human), not even a Christian, recall INRI posted on his cross, the name Christian came into use in Antioch years after his death. Can you imagine such a critic of the priesthood, himself becoming a Priest?
The last what we wrote was, Jesus and the Priestly class cannot survive together since priests “hypocrites, whitewashed sepulchres and brood of wipers”, have made the house of God into a “den of thieves”. Chapter 23 of Mathew is an indictment with his litany of “Woe to you!” from beginning to end. Therefore he had to use all four tricks of the Indian code of conduct: Samam, danam, Bhedam, Dennam, even the last, taking up the whip to chase them out of the temple.
Biggest Pharisaical Church?
Recall what we wrote about the parable of the Pharisee and publican in the temple? Therefore who is the biggest Pharisee among the thousands of the Churches today and multiplying? That is why we cannot be part of any of the Churches, without betraying Jesus, our only leader and master. Hence our option is for the Cattle Class, or company of Jesus born in Cattle shed and lived among the poor, the least, last and lost, opposing all hierarchical positions, titles or reverential appellations. “Work is worship!” – foot-washing work – recall “When you did to these little ones you did it to me”, not when you pray in an air conditioned 50 crore Cathedral to a God you can’t see.
Ours not a Church of Jesus but of Constantine
As repeated many times we are deeply rooted in the Church of Constantine, who high jacked the simple humble company of the Jesus, where competition is to be the last to serve, to do the foot-washing ministry, not to sit on thrones to be served. Inventing rituals for a pay for “hatch, match and dispatch” (baptism, marriage and burial) is the way of corporates to mint money for themselves, or to worship the ‘Golen Calf’. Macwans deals with all such sacraments.
If there is a God who created intelligent humans, they are to be led by their own God given light just as a fire-fly is to be led by its own little light to reach its goal. The priestly class has made it their profession to coax God to change God’s mind to suit your needs for a pay. It is said Charles D’Gaul’s prayer used to be: “Sacred Heart of Jesus TRUST IN ME” and bless me abundantly. Priests in all religions brainwash the credulous to trust them blindly, to get God do their bidding.
So the fundamental questions to be discussed today are far too many: Does God exist? If he does exist, shouldn’t he be explained by rigid, scientific reasoning? Did any of the triune Gods – write the Bible? None to our knowledge or to anybody’s. There are equally or more valuable writings in many religions. Are not all religions and their Gods products of mere fertile imaginations or dreams of exceptional human visionaries? Questions can be multiplied ad nauseam.
If we have to look for God-spark in this world, since we all search for an ultimate cause of everything, shouldn’t we look for it in “Sathyagraha” (insatiable desire) to know the TRUTH of Gandiji, or “Snehagraha” (unending desire to love and be loved) deeply rooted in every human mind and heart? Jesus told the woman at the well: to stop worshiping God on this mountain or that, in this temple or that, but in the Cave(temple) of your heart as LOVE EVERLASTING!
Follow Commanding Conscience
In short if there is a God he has to be found in one’s rational Convictions in the mind, and the flame of LOVE unsullied in every human heart, not outside of oneself. So shouldn’t the golden rule to be followed be: “Follow your commanding convictions?”, and not the prescriptions of priests and poojaries? james kottoor, editor CCV.
Please read below Macwan’s article:
Abolish Sacrament to bury clericalism!
The word Clericalism has created a storm in the Catholic world in recent times, as Pope Francis has put it forward as the prime cause for the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. He described it as the attitude of the clergy (ordained priests and bishops) in which they see themselves as special and superior to others. I made some further search to understand the word and found the following:
Speaking at a day-long conference 'Healing the Breach of Trust' held on 23 March, 2019 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, as reported by Catholic News Service in CRUX on 31.3.2019, Richard Gaillardetz, a theologian from the Boston College explained Clericalism is seen as maintaining a distinct clerical identity that often lacks solidarity with people of God, a sense of being exempt from criticism or accountability by those outside the clerical guild and an instinct to protect the good reputation of their Guild at all cost.
Chad Recknold, a theologian from the Catholic University of America in Washington speaking at the same conference theorised that clericalism stems from a willingness to turn away from God, and to replace the true priestly ministry as exemplified by Jesus by the desire to maintain power and influence over others.Although offering differring perspectives on clericalism both agreed that clericalism needs to be addressed if the church is to begin recovering from the sex abuse scandal.
Equating clericalism with priest-craft without reference to the sex abuse scandal, Indian scholar ValsonThampu drew attention to the dangers of clericalism in his two articles: ”Protect Kids from Priest-craft”/New Indian Express, CCV/19.3.2019 and “Clerical Class, Hierarchy? Institutional Blasphemy” The Statesman and CCV /4.4.2019. He has so succinctly captured the situation in these words: "The only business of the priests is to mediate between God and believers. Priestly authority is based on the belief that priests have special powers to influence God even to the extent of changing God's will; to force God to act contrary to His natural disposition."
This priest-craft has turned the meaning of religiosity upside down, as Dr. James Kottoor, Editor-in-Chief of CCV says: In true religion the emphasis is on seeking the will of God, but in popular religiosity the obsession is on our imposing our will on God. This brings to mind how the priestly class of all religions has tried to influence and control the believers by making themselves indispensable for offering their services to invoke God's blessings and neutralising God's wrath and any impediments at all important milestones in life of believers from birth to death. These include: Naming ceremonies of the newborn children, coming of age ceremonies such as Bar Mitzwah (jews), confirmation (Catholics), Holy Thread (Hindus), etc.
– betrothal and weddings
– on death, last rites and funeral
– Griha Pravesh while settling in a new house
– starting a new business, or even starting new branch offices
– commissioning a new machine or a vehicle, etc.
The clerics on the pretext of invoking divine favours by their ritualistic mumbo jumbo, usually in ancient, not-in-current-use languages ( Latin for Catholics, Sanskrit for Hindus, Palifor Buddhists,etc.) excercise a stranglehold over the faithful and exploit them to collect donations on any pretext and making them compliant to various demands including sexual favours. This hold by the clergy over the faithful produced clerical narcissism to the extent of them believing in their own divinity, as exhibited by some cardinals, bishops, Parish priests, as well as other self-proclaimed godmen like Baba Ram RahimInsan, AsaramBapu, etc.
Scholar Varghese Pamplanil has also dealt with this topic in his article “Why Grin and Bear” ( almayasabdam, 31.5.2016) and I quote with his kind permission his assessment of the root cause of clerical arrogance as follows: “What is the methodology that enable the church (hierarchy) 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.”
In my opinion, the rot in the Catholic church started after it started being known as Roman Catholic church instead of Christianity. After the Roman emperor Constantine became a Christian and subsequently Christianity became the State religion, it became identified with the Roman empire. Dr. Kottoor has rightly termed the present day Church as Constantinian Church, since the Creed (I believe, the articles of faith) and the title Roman Catholic church were adopted at the council convened by Constantine at Nicaea.
Since the royals and the army were busy in battles and war-mongering for territorial expansion, the church was given the administrative authority over civil populace. This allowed the hierarchy the taste of pomp and power, and they got addicted to wealth, sex, power and royal comfortable lifestyle, as also to honorific titles such as Eminences, Eccellencies, Royal Highness, graces, etc. This unfettered wealth and power made the hierarchy develop narcissistic attitude resulting in their considering religious domain as their personal fiefdom and the faithful as their bonded labour or even sex slaves.
Walson Thampu ends his first article with this note of despair: "No religion is safe in the hands of priests and pontiffs. Christian clerics have turned — of which Jesus had warned — churches into dens of thieves. May be, you can't help that, but surely, you can protect your children from the corrupting, crippling effects of priest-craft."
He begins his second article with this frustrating statement: "If anyone thinks that the church can be reformed and its evils eradicated, or our priests and bishops made less corrupt and more humane, they are chasing a wild goose. It is utterly futile to unseat a bishop or a hundred bishops. One bishop will be followed by another, worse than his predecessor."
He gives the reason for this as our ignoring Jesus’ teaching: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. (Mtt 18.3, NRSV) Jesus puts the focus on our need to change. It is focussed on transformation, which is total and radical change. People want to be transformed but without having to undergo any change. However everyone knows that change is necessary. If the relationship between God and us needs to be improved, one of the two needs to change. But if we don’t want to change, what is the way out of this stalemate? Well, the option is clear, God must change. That indeed is the singular purpose that drives religiosity in its entirety.The singular purpose of any established religion – including Christianity – is to change God to suit our convenience.
Because of this there is a yawning gap between spirituality and religion, and it is most striking in the case of biblical spirituality and Christianity. In biblical faith the emphasis is on seeking the will of God, while in popular Christianity the obsession is on imposing our will on God. All the ardent and fervent prayers, especially of the ‘so-called’ charismatic prayer groups indicate clear and unmistakable keenness to change God’s will to make it subservient to our own.
This is where the priestly class readily comes forward with its expertise to do business with God and to act as middle-men between God and the faithful with their smug confidence pretending that they have special powers to influence God. Priestly authority is rooted on a dangerous lie: that priests have the power and the authority to twist the will of God in favour of this or that person. This belief on the part of the faithful is based on superstition since there is no truth behind it.
What makes it believable is the elaborate and mesmerizing institutional network of the church hierarchy. This hypocrisy is promulgated and institutionalised by the church hierarchy by pretending to be able to manipulate the will of God to suit the whims and fancies of the petitioners. The irrational faith on the part of the faithful in the imagined efficacy of the prayers and mediation of the priests and saints anchored in various shrines designated in their honour as also irrational fear of condemnation by the priests/saints.
This reminds me of the boast made by BJP candidate for the Loksabha seat from Bhopal, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in her election speech that senior police officer Hemant Karkare died by the bullet of terrorists because of her curse on him!
The temptation of fulfilment of desire and the fear of God and of eternal damnation on the part of the faithful by excommunication and denial of sacraments are the weapons in the hands of the priests to control the faithful to keep them in line and to make them dance to their tune. Thampu says ordinary people are open to change, but priests are in the business of reformatting God. Who can change them? Pope Francis can go hoarse telling the bishops to give up their royal life-style, and serve the poorest in their flock, but the hierarchy carries on unheeded.
What gives them the audacity to ignore with impunity their pontiff’s fervent appeals? I have found out the secret. It is their power to administer the sacraments which the faithful consider the keys to the gates of heaven. Also the power priests and bishops wield to deny sacraments to anybody who incurs clerical displeasure. If the Pope denies them the power to administer the sacraments, their narcissism will get punctured as they will lose their divine powers. If the Pope is reluctant to take this step, the laity must take the initiative to not give importance to sacraments and stop being the handmaid of the clergy.
As such, many thinkers and researchers have published articles stating that most of the sacraments lack biblical sanction and validity. Notable among them is CCV’s regular correspondent George Nedumparambil’s article “Searching for Truth in belief! The BODY AND BLOOD CONUNDRUM” ( CCV 21.12.2018) regarding the sacrament of Eucharist. Let me give below my own ideas about the sacraments.
My view of sacraments
Baptism: Nowhere in the Gospels can be found any record of infant baptism. Jesus himself got baptised at the age of about 30 before embarking on his earthly ministry. Roman emperor Constantine, the founder of ROMAN CATHOLIC church got baptised on his deathbed. Infant baptism was initiated on an erroneous dogma of Original Sin, purportedly to save infants from eternal damnation on account of their inherited sin of Adam and Eve; but more likely ‘to catch them young’ to expand the church’s sphere of influence.
Baptism is a public profession of being a Christian which only an adult can make after he becomes old enough to understand the implication and make an intelligent choice. Moreover, Baptism requires repentance (as proclaimed by John the Baptist), which does not apply to innocent children. Any Christian adult is authorised to administer baptism to a desirous candidate.
Confirmation: This is the only sure chance for a bishop to come face to face with a young Catholic, although apparently it does not make any significant dent in the life of the recipient. I have attended several retreats where descent of the Holy Spirit is invoked and experienced.
Confession: It is absolutely wrong to burden young children with the guilt of sins which they may not even understand and subject them to the trauma of confessing sins to a stranger. There are reported cases of priests taking undue advantage of information learnt from the confessional and of some priests blackmailing young females to submit to their sexual advances after the female had confessed to the priest their sexual fantasies and/or instances of adultery. A famous case of two priests repeatedly raping a young married woman in Kerala was reported some time back.
Eucharist: The trans-substantiation of Bread and Wine on the altar at the Mass service into body and blood of Jesus Christ is a creative superstition perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church with misinterpretation of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. George Nedumparambil’s artcle quoted above deals with this superstition at length. To believe that Jesus is truly present in his body and blood in the blessed sacrament and to exhibit a consecrated wafer of wheat bread in the monstrance for public veneration is utter blasphemy.
If the church shows the courage to rectify this grave error, it would save the craze for golden/silver chalices, montrances decorative tabernacles and colourful ritualistic vestments, altar coverings etc. And of course, the daily mass and the obligatory Sunday Mass attendance will become redundant. It would also stop the church to claim exemption from prohibition laws to import and store the so called sacramental wine. Some corrupt elements in a parish of Ahmedabad diocese in DRY Gujarat state were recently caught red-handed by the police selling sacramental wine in the black market!
Matrimony: This is a social event and subject to civil laws and authority. That is why a marriage certificate from the church is not acceptable in the government records just as the baptism certificate is not acceptable for issuing passports. That is why Baptism, marriage and funeral have to be registered with civil authorities to obtain birth, marriage and death certificates which are acceptable worldwide. I recommend civil marriage at the Office of Registrar of Marriages.
Holy Orders: After the priests lose all the powers and influence over the common folks, the priestly vocation will lose its attraction, and only the genuinely pious candidates will come forward to offer their services. Then the ancient Indian tradition of Guru-Shishya can come into practice. The candidate desirous of becoming a priest can seek apprenticeship with a learned priest of his choice and on successful completion of apprenticeship may be launched into independent practice with the blessings of his mentor. This practice will do away with the corrupt behemoth of hierarchy and also save the church the ignominy of running openly homosexual clubs in the seminaries as mentioned in the recent famous open letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI.
Extreme Unction: This sacrament is not an instant mantra or a shortcut to secure Permanent Residency in heaven for the sick and dying recipient. In any case there is no ban on any and all pious relatives or friends/well wishers to pray for the sick.
Huge church buildings!
Abolishing the myth of the Eucharist being the real body and blood of Christ will put an end to the obligatory attendance at Sunday Mass and the high solemn Masses on church festivals. This will make huge church buildings and cathedrals redundant. While a large number of churches all over Europe are shut down and churches in the USA being sold to be converted into Hindu termples; Catholic priests especially the SMC divisions in India are bent upon building new churches at monumental expenses. People should stop forthwith contributions to church building funds.
Chapels for Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and exposure of the consecrated host lodged in the monstrance for public veneration is absolute blasphemy and the practice including the Holy Hour service needs to be abolished. Mr.Pamplanil’s article referred above seems to be complementary to mine, and I would like to close with quoting his following advice to the laity with which I fully agree:
“It is better not to waste time and efforts for participating in church charades like religious festivals, charismatic circuses, Bible conventions, retreats, novenas 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 the clerics importance any more. Become intellectually and socially independent. Don’t allow the clerics to interfere in one’s life.