KOCHI: For all practising Syro Malabar Christians in Kerala, these are trying times for all the questions they have to face from the society and from within. It is indeed a painful admission that, it is quite frustrating to see the kind of catastrophic news emerging out on a daily basis from the clergy, nuns and the administration. Born into a liberal but passionately faithful Christian family I was blessed to be allowed the freedom to choose the faith through experience and not through coercion. It is extremely concerning when the thought moves to the conservative Christian families, who have put their entire faith on priests, nuns and administration as spiritual heads of their families.
I was holding myself from writing this as was battling the ramifications of public perception within me of being labelled as anarchist to the likes of Joseph Pulikkunnel (termed as a social reformer by media but an anarchist critic by the church). He was a contemporary fellow of my late grandfather Chevalier KC Chacko, who worked alongside the church, articulating the differences to build a line of consensus amongst the clergy and the laity community, whenever there was a difference of opinions. A moderate attempt is made for a similar line of conciliation on the widening disconnect between the laity and the church administration.
Let us understand the current situation where there is anarchy amongst the clergy on administration as well as issues related to morality. The land transaction-related allegation almost got scripted as a coup attempt against the cardinal. What was even more surprising is the allegations of various conspiracy theories against the cardinal. This was followed with various allegations against other administrative priests from various parish’s and cooperatives.
The sexual scandals reached its epitome when the allegation made against the Jalandhar Bishop and its relative mismanagement by the authorities. The Catholic laity community is divided, confused, angry.
We should understand that the community, in all real terms is facing an existential crisis in the country, due to vested political interests. It is extremely important for the community to stay together in commitment and in alignment with its binding values during these trying times.
The clergy, nuns & administrators have gone blind while establishing their sides and lobbying for support. In the Roman Catholic Church we have encountered a bigger crisis than this but has emerged stronger every time by embracing the required changes and taking course corrections in accordance with the time.
Taking a cue from the origin of Christianity, Jesus Christ, lead the life on the principles of
selflessness, humility and sacrifice. Anyone born as a Christian is raised on the basic values of Christianity which are encrypted as, to forget and forgive and to love each other. When it comes to the priests & nuns, they take the vows of celibacy, abstinence, to live in poverty, to live in detachment, to live in faith and prayers.
Having addressed those, let me try to dissect the current issues which have affected the church.
The large laity following consciously curated to follow the rigid strictures imposed from the church from time to time. This helped to create wealth and compounded administrative powers of the church over the laity. Like any other enterprise where wealth compounds, personal ambitions, favouritism and evil ambitions made inroads in the church too which went unchecked.
What the Church administration need to realise is that the society has undergone a transformation in the last one and half decades, the society no longer takes things as a silent recipient of strictures and gag orders.
The most important part which the church needs to pay attention to is that it is increasingly visible to the laity, that the passion of faith is deplorably missing in the clergy & nuns. The fundamental correction has to be undertaken to reflect on how to reignite the passionate faith Nothing else is important, the bishops, nuns, priests, the assets are irrelevant but faith should remain paramount. That is the only resolution to the current crisis we are battling with.