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Ashamed and embarrassed - 'temporal turpitude' of Andrews Thazath.Disgrace to Pope Francis and CBCI

Marydasan John,

Former Senior Assistant Editor with The Hindu

Apostolic Administrator is returning to his house with police escort after being blocked by the faithful of Archdiocese of Ernakulam amid liturgical dispute.

An open letter to Archbishop Andrews Thazhath by Marydasan John,

Former Senior Assistant Editor with The Hindu.


Archbishop Andrews Thazhath,

Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese/Archbishop of Trichur

President of CBCI.

Sub: Be a Shepherd with the Smell of the Sheep

Respected Archbishop Andrews Thazhath,

A stitch in time saves nine. I am sure you are not unaware of this phrase. It has its apt application in the case of the bizarre happenings in the Syro-Malabar Church.

A simple, uncomplicated, straightforward decision (one stitch) to maintain the status quo in Syro-Malabar Church in the celebration of Eucharist, which was prevailing for over six decades, would have saved the most unchristian developments happening under your very nose. Now you are struggling to stitch together a ‘torn church’, a church torn into smithereens; I doubt whether you would be able to do it in nine stitches; probably you would give rise to a new English phrase: A stitch not in time would lead to innumerable stitches.

I would keep my arguments brief, to the point; brevity is the soul of wit.

The Synod took the most unkindest decision to implement 50:50 Mass, which is also called Synod Mass, in all its dioceses. I am afraid, the very name sounds ludicrous. I have not heard of such a Holy Mass or Eucharistic celebration. I know only one Eucharistic celebration -- the Eucharist established by Jesus Christ.

Now Let me draw your attention to the following points:

1. The Holy Mass facing the community was in existence for over 60 years in the Syro-Malabar Church. Was it erroneous? Was it against the teachings of the Church? Was it against the Church dogmas? Was it against any of the Canon Laws? Did it violate the core of Eucharistic celebration? If the answers to all these questions are an emphatic ‘No’, what prompted the Synod to go for a kill?

2. The Synod says the 50:50 Mass is for uniformity in the Syro-Malabar Church. Is there uniformity in the dioceses where it is implemented? I can point out several differences/variants in the dioceses which have implemented the 50:50 Mass. Hence, your argument of ‘uniformity’ falls flat on its face.

3. Let me take you to the oft quoted Pope Francis’s letter to the Syro-Malabar Synod which is ‘showcased’ as the ‘fatwa’ for implementing the 50:50 Mass. He has used the word ‘unity’ three times while the word ‘uniform’ finds its place only twice in the letter. The Pope’s thrust is on unity rather than uniformity; hence your argument that the Pope has ordered/instructed ‘uniform Mass’ is against the letter and spirit of his letter.

4. In a subsequent clarification, the Nuncio said: “In the present situation of your Church, the Holy Father’s desire for the prompt implementation of the uniform mode of celebrating (the Mass) is an appeal to unity and not to cause division and thus needs to be contextualized.” Hence, for any sensible mind (not the prejudiced ones), it makes abundantly clear that the Pope is not thrusting the 50:50 Mass down the throat of the Syro-Malabar Church.

5. Can you vouch for the claim that the decision to implement the 50:50 Mass was taken unanimously in the Synod? Weren’t there several Bishops who objected to the decision? Did they not plead for deferring the decision? I realize that they were ‘shouted down’ (Of course, I have not been able to independently verify it, so I cannot vouch for its veracity.)

6. Now let me raise a substantive question. Is the Eucharist a sacrament of Unity or Uniformity? Theologians say it is a sacrament of unity, peace and love. I can quote many of them. Can you quote one theologian to prove your point that it is a sacrament of uniformity.

7. The synod decision has turned out to be a case of spitting in the air lying on one’s back. Heavens would not have fallen if the Synod had skipped the issue till a consensus is reached among all the dioceses.

8. Don’t you feel embarrassed (probably ‘ashamed’ would be the right word) that you had to go back recently from the Ernakulam Basilica unable to offer the Holy Mass? Has it ever happened in the recent history of the Church in Kerala?

9. Doesn’t it make you ill at ease that you have to take police escort, like politicians, when you are in Ernakulam where you have been made the Apostolic Administrator? Think of Jesus Christ who moved around in the company of the ordinary people, some of them like the fishermen in Vizhinjam, without any pomp or show of power.

Though I can go on raising many more questions, it is suffice to prove my point: The whole turmoil is nothing but a camouflage and smokescreen to cover up the ‘temporal turpitude’ in the Church. It has nothing spiritual in it, as it has been made out to be.

It won’t take more than five minutes to settle the present crisis and turn the clock back to the days of co-existence and cooperation, provided some members of the Synod are ready to shed their inflated ego, and self-interest. You have to place Jesus of Nazareth as the role model and his values as the guiding principles of the Church.

You are now the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. In other words, you are at the head of the entire Catholic Church in India with over 20 million members of which half a million are in just one archdiocese – Ernakulam-Angamaly.

You have much more serious issues to deal with. For example, the Vizhinjam issue where the members of the Church are facing a fascist regime and a corporate house which have no interest in the lives of the poor fisherfolk. You should have visited them rather than going to the Ernakulam Basilica where you were sure to face the wrath of the priests and the laity.

Once again, I request you not to stand on prestige. Our prestige is only Jesus Christ, no one else and nothing else. The solution is in sight, provided you keep your eyes open.

Before I conclude, I should make my credentials clear, lest I should be branded as an interested party in the whole issue. I am a member of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala, but not of Ernakulam Archdiocese. Presently, I am a member of a Latin parish in Delhi Archdiocese. Hence, I can approach this issue without prejudice.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Marydasan John,

Former Senior Assistant Editor with The Hindu.

179 A, Pocket – F,

GTB Enclave,

Delhi – 110093

Phone No. 9868830908

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