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From Dialectics to Dictatorship: Syro Malabar Church in India and its leadership

Fr Paul Thelakat

Editrial/ Light of Truth*

*From Dialectics to Dictatorship*


The Synod has made a decision to open the months old closures of St. Mary’s Cathedral basilica with the condition that only the Mass of 50-50 synodal formula Mass alone is permitted. There will be punishment if the directive is violated. On the larger question of the crisis with the archdiocese the synod is silent or no decision is taken. Or the earlier stand continues.


The synod I am afraid is following a wrong methodology in their approach to the crisis. They are resolving the dialectics in a way that is not at all Christian. A unity is unity of plurality always. Unity can be threatened both by forces outside as well as from within. The question is how you introduce a “difference “ into a system. The difference must be accepted by the plurality within. If not the plurality will become dialectical and enter into conflict. A liturgical “uniformity” was introduced into the church by the Synod without proper discussion within the Synod and in the church. This was a contentious problem which remained for years unsettled. It was introduced with the letter of the Pope cunningly got and hiding certain important facts. With the letter of the Pope the decision was pushed in the name of obedience to the Pope both inside the Synod and in the church and discussion was aborted. In fact there is no need for a letter from the Pope to introduce a decision on liturgical matters, the church has been autonomous since the Synod was established. The archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly saw in the decision of the Synod attempt to divert attention from the problems dealing with the land sale scandal of the Major Archbishop and muster support for him in the public and also to punish the whistle-blowers. The archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly has the tradition for about 50 years of celebrating Holy Mass facing the people. The archdiocese sent memoranda and protests against the unilateral imposition but they were never heard or called for any discussion. They refused to implement the 50-50 formula but they are saying the Synod approved Mass. This stalemate continued and the permanent Synod by their initiative met the top leaders of the Vatican with certain suggestions of punitive measures, it is learned. The Vatican asked them to call the Synod and resolve the issue, it is said. So the Synod was called and they decided what they decided with no resolution for the issue at stake. They opened the Cathedral Basilica closed for months with conditions of saying only the Synodal way of the Holy Mass. It is a pity that the problem remains unsettled. I am reminded of a statement by Lenin, that Marxism is not Class war but dictatorship of the proletariat. The dialectics were resolved by domination and suppression. This is typical of Marxism or Hegelian fanaticism. It is nothing but old Manichaeism to which the Church has reputedly fallen. There is the temptation to reduce any and every crisis as a conflict of good and evil. This unfortunately is not the Christian way but the Hegelian way of master and the slave which clearly smacks fascist. The pluralist idea that a thing has many senses, the idea that there are many things and one thing can be seen as "this and then that" is thinking’s greatest achievement. This and then that is the key phrase here, because it corresponds precisely to the inclusionist logic.



The Syro-Malabar Christians are the ancient Saint Thomas Christians who claimed to have received their faith from St Thomas the apostle. But through their long history of living within India they have two traditional influences. One Hindu which is caste based hegemony and the Christians were seen as high castes. They claim to be the descendants of Brahmins converted. Hinduism is very cultic and cult oriented is also Aryan. This Aryan, caste and cult mentality is alive in one section of the Christians .On the other side there are the Buddhist influences in the Christian community. Their names Pally (Church) Appan (father) Amma (mother) are Pali language remnants of Buddhist influence. The Syrian Christian women wore the dress of Buddhist nuns. Buddhists were very critical of the caste system and were egalitarians who belong primarily not the Aryan but the Mongolian. They were least ritual but known for dharma or morality. The dialectic Hindu Buddhist dialectics was not resolved in a healthy way but the Hindus dominated and expelled the Buddhists from the land . There are so many Christians in the Syro-Malabar Church who are very critical of the Aryan and caste ridden hegemony and cultic reduction of religion. There is an official leaning towards Hindutva. The same type of history repeats.

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