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Differential moral standards and the colonial mindset of Vatican.

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Paulose Vareed

Differential moral standards and the colonial mindset of Vatican. The high moral standards and notions of good governance are reserved only for the ‘White Catholics’. The black and the browns have to be governed by an iron fist. ‘Order’ and ‘obedience’ are the only values that are applicable to them.

Photo Credit to public domain: Reginald Dyer, a British military officer, ordered the gunning down of hundreds of unarmed Indians peacefully protesting at the Jallianwala Bagh. Cardinal Alenchery and apostolic Administrator, Andrews Thazath.


“Our people don’t understand this new talk of ‘Committee Ki Raj’ (Rule by Committee) and ‘Dyarchy Raj’…. But they understand ‘Hukum Ki Raj’ (Rule by Order). In fact, it’s the general opinion that prompt action in the Punjab has fairly well steadied India – for the present at least”

Wrote novelist Maud Diver in her book Far to Seek published in 1921. She was justifying the actions of the butcher of Amritsar General Reginald Dyer. ( British Military Officer). On 13 April 1919 General Dyer ordered the gunning down of hundreds of unarmed Indians peacefully protesting at the Jallianwala Bagh. In a well-researched biography Nigel Collett notes how the British public opinion was in favour of General Dyer. The debates in the House of Commons and the House of Lords clearly show the preference to maintain law and order in a colony than upholding the principles of justice, equity, good conscience and the rule of law.


One is reminded of all these with the continued support that Vatican extends to Cardinal Alenchery as courts after courts in India have found prima facie evidence of his wrong doing. The Supreme Court of India ordered last week that Cardinal George Alenchery should stand trial in a criminal case. The details of the criminal case against the Cardinal is described in an earlier post https://www.laity4justice.com/post/kerala-high-court-order-and-lessons-for-catholic-church The Supreme Court, in its order, noted “No doubt, summoning of an accused is a serious matter and therefore the Magistrate before issuing the summons to the accused is obliged to scrutinize carefully the allegations made in the complaint with a view to prevent a person named therein as accused from being called upon to face any frivolous complaint, nonetheless one of the objects of Section 202 Cr.P.C. is also to enable the Magistrate to prosecute a person or persons against whom grave allegations are made. Just as it is necessary to curtail vexatious and frivolous complaints against innocent persons, it is equally essential to punish the guilty after conducting a fair trial. In the instant cases, all the three courts below have discussed in detail about the prima facie involvement of the appellant in the alleged offences, and therefore it is not necessary for this Court to reiterate the same. Suffice it to say that having carefully examined the record of the complaints in question, we do not find any illegality or infirmity in the orders passed by the trial court issuing summons against the appellant-Archbishop for the alleged offences.” The order of the Supreme Court is available here <https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2021/26982/26982_2021_5_1502_42818_Judgement_17-Mar-2023.pdf>


While the Supreme Court order did not come as a surprise to anyone, especially the faithful of the five million-strong Syro-Malabar Church, the continued support of the Vatican to the Cardinal surprises many. Vatican, especially under the present Pope is known for its no-nonsense stand against corruption. Many senior officials of the Church have been asked to step down when allegations of corruption surfaced against them. But why this differential standard in the case of Syro-Malabar Church? The colonial mindset of the Vatican is the only plausible explanation. The high moral standards and notions of good governance are reserved only for the ‘White Catholics’. The black and the browns have to be governed by an iron fist. ‘Order’ and ‘obedience’ are the only values that are applicable to them. This was made very clear by the Pope when he met the Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam – Angamaly Archdiocese last October. In a general audience that lasted barely thirty seconds, Pope apparently asked the priests and the faithful to obey. He repeated ‘ask them to obey’ many times. The video released by the Administrator after the meeting is available here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnIjZukuC6g.


Autonomous Church

The argument that different standards apply because Syro_Malabar Church is an autonomous Eastern catholic church and therefore it is the Synod that has to take a call does not hold good.

The autonomy of the Church did not come in the way of the Nuncio to force Archbishop Kariyil to resign. His only sin was to stand for the cause of the Archdiocese. It also did not come in the way of Vatican appointing an Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese over the Synod. Apparently, his only job is to discipline the priests and the faithful of the Archdiocese. One is again reminded of the Parliamentary debate on General Dyer. The Marquess of Salisbury supporting the General said: “There is need to teach Indians that self-government does not mean disorder. Order must be maintained.” As Collett commented on the speech of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who called Dyer ‘a brave, public-spirited patriotic soldier’, as empty of any moral or Christian imperative, Vatican’s actions are unchristian and smacks of racism and hypocrisy. It once again shows that the Valladolid Debate is still going on among the mandarins of Vatican. Be as it may, Vatican is proving to be the butcher of Ernakulam – Angamaly Archdiocese as General Dyer was for Amritsar.

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