Have you ever heard of a Catholic bishop abducted, blindfolded, hands tied, stripped, locked up and tortured mercilessly by three of his own priests in “Dady’s Home,” an institution run by one of them?
No it is not a fairy tale! It really happened to Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh, India. The culprits are already caught.
It is all about the Catholic Church in India. The truth is that there is no one Catholic Church in India. There is only a conglomeration of three different Rites fighting among themselves privately without being noticed by Rome, for religious colonization, territorial expansion, socio-economic domination and prominent positions through possession of super-specialty institutions in posh cities which have top market value in rupee or dollar.
They are just a carbon copy of the stinking corrupt political system. And each of these Rites is torn apart by the killer disease called the centuries-old caste system – the Brahmins occupying the top executive posts and the laity, like Sudras crawling at the very bottom doing menial jobs for the highly placed. It is to counter this diabolical attitude, tooth and nail, we took on the name: Church Citizens Voice (CCV), proclaiming equality of all, weather Pope or Prostitute.
Whether in politics or in religion what counts and weighs most is not merit but your position in the Class and Caste system coupled with your value in hard cash or ready cash you can squander. Just think of 500 million rupee church in Ernakulam, Kerala.
Of course there are any number of good, sterling personnel among the bishops and the clergy, literally doing foot-washing ministry to the poorest of the poor in God forsaken places.
But the rat race to prove oneself to be one of the top Brahminic class with money and muscle power is so acute that bishoprics lie vacant in India for years because the man fit for the job happens to be a Sudra, or one lower than the class and caste status of a Brahmin and both the clergy and laity who think they are of Brahminic descend refuse to accept or take orders from one who is lower in class or caste position.
The majority of bishops are ready to silently support and promote this caste mentality and wait till such a compromise candidate is found. They never make any complaints to Rome.
Another sad, harsh truth about the Indian catholic Church is that those who are in top, key controlling positions in the various Rites are not men of metal, vision, conviction and courage. None of them believe in dialogue with the lowly placed laity or in transparency.
Therefore those who don’t believe either in transparency or in dialogue have only one heavenly option left: admit their moral, spiritual, physical inability and bankruptcy to do their job, as shown by the glorious example of Pope Benedict XVI who retired and got out the way for the unhindered march of the Lord. He thus opened the way for the advent of a Francis Papa, loved by the whole world and shows his love not only for Catholics but, think of it, to Muslims. He took 12 Muslim Refugees from Greece to Rome.
Are our Catholic bishops listening? “Make clear the way of the Lord,” roared a St. John the Baptist in the desert. Like him scribes like this one has been shouting this for ages. Only that none of the highly placed prelates respond. They pretend they have not heard or seen emails sent to them directly. Why? Because the churches (Rites) in India do not believe in dialoguing or discussing things among themselves or with the laity publicly. Do not expect such bishops to retire on their own. They should be forced to retire.
What the Church in India urgently needs is young and energetic leaders in their youthful 30s, like Jesus bubbling over with life with vision, conviction and action. Of course our present leadership, now bend with age in their Sanyasa years, must have had all those qualities of Get-up-and-go.
But they are now bereft of any of them, because all their get-up-and-go, got up and went. Understandably, what else do you expect in one in his sanyasa years, well past retirement time? Pope Benedict saw his weaknesses, admitted them honestly and courageously and gifted a Pope Francis for the whole world. You can’t expect that from Indian bishops.
The CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference comprising of three Rites) go through the ritual of publicly announced biennial meetings meant to discuss burning issues, but they do it in total secrecy. There is no transparency and therefore no honesty at all in their deliberations. Where is the example set by the two family Synods conducted in Rome or by Jesus himself: “I have spoken things in public, from housetops.”
Therefore the Churches (Rites) in India do not have even an iota of honesty or similarly to whatever Jesus has envisioned and entrusted his followers to do and carry on.
This so-called sleeping church (purposely used by IC, I guess, not to offend their sensibilities) must be awakened, it is argued. Is it possible? Impossible! Why? Because, you can wake up only one who is sleeping, not one pretending to be asleep.
Again it is just wishful thinking calculated to paint a rosy picture about the Indian Church that prompts one to say that “for every corrupt priest there are any number of service minded ones.”
We don’t want many, but just a few, a sprinkling of Mother Teresas or Gandijis or Narayana Gurus. Radical change or reforms are not brought about by a battalion but isolated outstanding individuals. Church in India (Rites in India) has no such person to look up to. That is the misery it faces although Francis recently said that it is “the hour of the Laity now” and it is to the laity “thick in the battle field” that the clergy must look up to and not vice versa – laity to clergy.
The unfortunate thing about caste and class systems in Indian Church is that it is practiced, promoted and patronized by many in the so-called hierarchical Church. If bishops and archbishops are caste minded what do you expect from the priestly class and the laity. “Like the pastors, so the faithful.”
Similar problems reared their ugly heads in the Apostolic Church on questions of circumcision and when Peter hesitated to join the company of gentiles at meals. Then there was tough guy like Paul who was brutally firm on principles and made no bones to tell Peter in the face that he was clearly in the wrong and the problem was solved instantly. As the Church in India miserably lacks any outstanding personalities like him, Caste system will continue wreak vengeance in India for long. Even the Cuddapa incident will not give the CBCI under Cleemis the guts to act firmly.
Kadapa has made history for intimidation, kidnapping at gun point and torturing a bishop by his own priests who had pledged obedience to him.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay has at least come out prompty condemning the incident. It remains to be seen how many of the other cardinals and bishops will follow suit or find reasons to keep silent.
What is more, all the three priests involved should be suspended from all priestly activities and responsible positions in the Church. In the case of Pedophilia the direction given by Francis is that the bishop who simply transfers and not suspend a pedophile priest should be punished. CCV does not believe in the capacity of existing top brass of the CBCI to steam roll the machinery of justice against the perpetrators of this dastardly crime against Cuddapah Bishop.
Church citizens or any existing lay organizations do not have any legal role, locus standi, in the administrative set up of the church. So who will bell the cat? Carthage must be destroyed. Corruption and caste domination must be wiped out. Who will do it? The despairing thought that there is none to do it, in the prevailing ecclesiastic set up, is making many to think with their “feet” – calling quits and just leaving this Church.
The kingdom of God Jesus brought is within you, not in churches of brick and mortar costing 50 crores (500 millions). Its essence is foot-washing ministry to the poor and homeless in our neighborhood or cherries in our cities!
For that you don’t have to go to any well furnished churches or be part of over two thousand denominations, fighting and saying like the publican in the temple : “I am better than the publican at the entrance of the temple.”
So just forget about these incorrigible churches. Follow Jesus!