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"Addressing the Allegations: The Truth About the Smear Campaign Against Priests in the EKM Archdiocese"

A smear campaign against priests of the EKM archdiocese.

"Fr. Jose Vayalikkodath’s Deceptive Agenda: Betraying the Ernakulam-Angamaly Faithful to Sabotage the Syro-Malabar Church" – Special Correspondent: CC, Rome

A Response

Mr. Johny Chengalan

The above article by the Special Correspondent of CC, Rome, establishes beyond doubt that he is the special spokesman for Syro Malabar Synod that seeks to destroy the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese. To this end, he has embarked on a smear campaign against Fr. Jose Vayalikkodath, often a spoke person of the Archdiocese.  If pointing out errors and falsehood is construed as attacks on someone, then not only Fr. Jose but several priests of the Archdiocese and this writer himself are guilty of the crime.

“The Church’s response to disobedience and dissent among clergy members is not a regression to a bygone era of darkness but a reflection of its responsibility to preserve the integrity of the Catholic faith in community”, the correspondent argues . What is the disobedience that Fr. Jose and the clergy of Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese are guilty of? Their stand has always been that they are following the text of the Eucharist approved by the Pope except in the matter of facing the altar during the ‘Anaphora’, which was not a part of the text but later interpolated at the instance of one member of the Syro-Malabar Synod. So, who is guilty of wrong-doing, the Synod of bishops or the clergy of Ernakulam?

“Synodality… is a collaborative and communal approach that seeks to engage all members of the Church in decision-making processes.” Has the Syro-Malabar Synod ever engaged the members of the clergy and the laity in the decision-making process? When the Papal Delegate Archbishop Cyril Vasil made his first visit to Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese, his sole intent was to bring the Archdiocese to obedience and so, he behaved like a dictator, and had to leave empty-handed. In his second visit, he was compelled to meet with representatives of the clergy and the laity and became convinced that the Synod led by the Cardinal and the Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese was responsible for compounding the problem within. In a short time, the Cardinal was ousted from the position of head of the Syro-Malabar Church.

“Claims that the hierarchy is not practicing synodality are not only misleading but also undermine the very essence of unity and communal discernment within the Church.”  The hierarchy is not practicing synodality is not merely a claim but a fact. Justice Kurian Joseph had repeatedly called for dialogue among all stakeholders.  Did the bishops heed the call?

“Disturbing reports of …. abuse of the Eucharistic Celebration as documented by Rome.” Who abused the Eucharist? It was Fr. Antony Poothaveli appointed by Mar Andrews Thazhath, abused the Eucharist, whereas the priests of the Archdiocese were simply blamed for it. The report on the matter by the Susaipakiam Commission is yet to see the light of day.

His charge that “crores of Indian rupees and gold have been misappropriated is an allegation but he conveniently avoids the fact that the Cardinal, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, himself was guilty of money laundering.

“The Holy See, under the leadership of Pope Francis, has rightfully taken steps to ensure discipline and adherence to the unified mode of celebration of Holy Qurbana across the Syro-Malabar Church.” We hold on to our stand that the unified mode of celebration is a compromise formula arrived at by a powerful lobby within the Synod. Threatening disciplinary action will not change our mind. Even when we are labelled rebels or as being disobedient to the Pope, we find comfort in the fact that despite the allegation of disobedience we continue to imitate the Pontiff in our daily celebration of the Eucharist. We cannot understand how we undermine “the Church’s moral and doctrinal standards”, when we follow the Pope himself in celebrating the Eucharist!

The special correspondent oversteps his limits when he speaks of the establishment of “tribunals to determine appropriate disciplinary actions… potentially resulting in excommunication.” He has already prescribed the punishment to be meted out to the defiant: excommunication. Indirectly he rules out room for dialogue and insists that synodality is just a euphemism for hierarchical high-handedness. “Labelling the tribunal as an “inquisition” may be misleading or inflammatory as it carries historical connotation that are not applicable to the current situation.”  Historically, the Inquisition had several helpless victims, but corrupt cardinals and immoral Popes were not their victims. If tribunals are set up, Cardinal Alancherry, should be the first to be brought before such bodies.

The Inquisition was a medieval institution; it may not make a comeback. But there are people in the Church with medieval mindset who still have the potential to drag the Church into the medieval mode of functioning. We are still in the dark about disciplinary actions initiated against any priest in Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese. In any case, what disciplinary action can be taken against half a million believers? “The Church’s efforts today are focused on promoting transparency.” This may be true in the Roman Curia headed by Pope Francis. Is there an iota of transparency in the Syro-Malabar Church? The Synod of this Church is dominated by bishops who still behave like medieval lords. For them the word transparency exists only in the lexicon.

“Fr. Jose is a contemporary voice echoing Martin Luther’s Protestant Spirit.” I like to remind the special correspondent about the statement of St. John Paul II on Martin Luther. The venerable Pontiff referred to Luther as the theologian who “''contributed in a substantial way to the radical change in the ecclesiastical and secular reality in the West.'' He continued: ''Our world still experiences his great impact on history.'' The special correspond has cast aspersions on Fr. Jose Vayalikkodath because he cannot refute the arguments the latter has put forward against the Synodal Mass and its imposition on Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese. Fr. Vayalikkodath’s is a prophetic voice. It will continue to ring at all times. Its suppression can only be wished for.  We condemn the attempt of the special correspondent to malign Fr. Vayalikkodath’s image. We stand up for him. We stand up for the priests who celebrate Eucharist Versus Populum. We boldly proclaim to the world that we are true followers of Jesus and like to celebrate the Eucharist in the way He did and in the way the Pope and ninety-eight per cent of Catholics all over the world do.

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