Catholic Archbishop of Delhi Anil J T Couto, through a pastoral letter of May 8 (which was released on May 12) calls its laity for prayer campaign (an undeclared civil war?) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. No doubt, it is an ecclesiastical political melodrama. Anyhow, it should be taken seriously. Consider it as an early warning. His provocative call for reciting of prayers for a political game until the next general election with fast and performing of the Eucharistic (holy Mass) adoration of the faithful of every parish is not an ignorable move.
It is a calculated one and part of an international conspiracy against a nation and its people. Above all, it is in order to generate chaos and an insecurity in the nation as well as to defame a Hindu nation with time- honoured tradition of democracy and peaceful coexistence of religions (upasana systems). The only available weapon of the Mgr. in the Indian specific situation has been unsheathed well through the ‘pastoral letter’. He knows well that the pastoral letters power in the Indian scenario. This weapon was tested in Kerala successfully several times, including during the ‘liberation struggle’ against first democratically-elected Communist Ministry of Kerala during 1958. Even though the Indian Communists are suffering from amnesia, to the students of history it is a significant milestone in the annals of our history.
The Vatican is a 110 acre Sovereign State which is ruled by an absolute monarch, the Pope. Catholic Church is the only religious organisation ruled by a hierarchical structure and has no relevance to democratic principles. This hierarchy is not answerable to any terrestrial authorities, especially in India. But they are being derogatory to the Indian democracy. While talking of India they forget the excesses committed through the Inquisition Court. The Church burned thousands of innocent children and women through the court. The people of Goa had to say a lot about the atrocities of the Church. Francis Xavier was the man solely responsible for the establishment of the Inquisition Court at Goa in 1560, under which Hindu women were raped and burnt alive and the Hindu temples were demolished. (Kanayalal. M. Talreja, Holy Vedas and Holy Bible, New Delhi, 2000, p 170).
So far the Church has not tendered an apology for this excess. Then what is right of the Church to talking about secularism? Is Vatican a secular country? If they are secularist why can’t invite other religion to Vatican? Why they are not allowing the construction of Mosque or Protestant Church or a Synagogue or a Temple in Vatican? Are they truly secular? Then what is the locus standi of the Delhi Bishop’s blame on the Indian democracy? No doubt, it is ‘his master’s voice’.
Then what is the moral right of the” Church’s call to its believers to pray for guiding our country in which the poor, tribal and Dalits are considered and respected with equal dignity”.
This pastoral letter is prima-facie against the spirit of Bible and teachings of Jesus. Jesus was against religious interference in the politics. Without any hesitation, he cleared this question, “Well, then, pay the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay God what belongs to God” (Mark, Ch XII, Line 17). Catholic Church from the days of Roman’s conversion to Christianity (325 CE) blatantly interfered in politics. Ecclesiastical interference resulted in the ‘struggle between empire and papacy’. After the Italian unification, Pope lost his small name-sake kingdom. From 1861 to 1929 Papacy reduced to ecclesiastical status. For regaining the lost statehood of Vatican, Pope Pius XI opposed Communism, Nazism and supported all cruelties of Benito Mussolini and his Fascism. Finally, on February 11, 1929, the Lateran (Palace) Treaty between the Holy See (Pope) and the Kingdom of Italy was signed by Benito Mussolini, prime minister of Italy, on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III and by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri for Pope Pius XI.
Hereafter, the Pope became a ruler as seen today. As a gratitude to it, later popes forced to be loyal to the dictators of the day. Pope Pius XII supported the butchering of six million Jews by Hitler and justified Hitler’s invasion in Russia as a “gallant action in the defense of foundation of Christian culture.” The Church justified this stand until 1998. Finally in 1998 the Vatican was forced to apologise to Israel for its eunuch policy towards Hitler’s Jew hunting. (March 17, 1998, Washington Post).
Church and Dalits
Delhi Bishop’s concern about Muslims, tribals, dalits and the concern of equality are thought-provoking. Hence, he ignores the Church’s approach towards Dalits, tribals in the Christian majority states of India. Untouchable churches are very popular in these areas. “Their churches had started out by encouraging converts from low castes, but after some time Syrian Christians could not stomach former untouchables sitting side by side with them on the same pews, and there had been a cleavage. Now, there were separate churches at some places, though converts were still admitted.” (Nirmala Aravind, A video, fridge and a bride (novel), p181,).
Bishop’s observation of Indian situation of a “turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation” is a hypocritical one. His lamentation for the cause of Muslims is not sincere but intended to inflame communal turbulence. He is well aware of the condition of Christianity under the Muslim regimes from the medieval times onwards. But he is closing his eyes towards this reality in order to destabilise and balkanise mother India. Is he satisfied with the condition of Christians in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Middle East, Egypt, China or in the Protestant Countries? Are they better than Hindu India? The freedom to issue such pastoral letter is sufficient proof of the religious freedom guaranteed by all tolerant Hindus.
The image of the Catholic Church in general, particularly in India now-a-days, is at its lowest ebb. Sr. Jesmy (52) Congregation of Mother Carmel Convent (CMC), Principal of St. Marys College quit her 30 years nun life in 2008 on the ground of licentious life of in the nunneries, harassment and mental torture She was in distress out of the ‘licentious life of priests and nuns’. (Sr. Jesmi, Amen, An autobiography of a Nun).
Paedophilia is the worst virus which hounds the Church all over the world. Pope Benedict XVI accepted this truth and confessed “shock to me and great sadness”. “Pope Francis started the trial of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, (65) a Polish cleric on a charge of paedophilia. He was placed under house arrest. He was defrocked in June. He had abused minors during 2008-13. He was charged with two counts: sexual abuse of minors and possession of child pornography”. The Christian Priests in India are not above this viciousness.
The vote-bank and money power of the Church bail them out of all sins of the priests and nuns. It is the exclusive Catholic tradition that priest in the Church should be chronic bachelors. Unfortunately, the sky is the limit of their licentious life. Check and balance system of the Church do not function effectively and they are not answerable either to laity or god or inside the hierarchy of the Church. If they are in need of money, they would fulfil their requirements by looting the laity.
(The writer is a retired professor of History and Vice-President, Bhartheeya Vichara Kendram, Thiruvananthapuram)