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Scandal of Cardinal Alencherry on Psalm Sunday. Mockery and betrayal of Jesus Christ

Scandal of Cardinal Alencherry on Psalm Sunday. Betrayal of Jesus Christ.

By Varghese Alengaden

Indore, April 13, 2022: The Catholic Church in Kerala witnessed a painful event on April 10, the Palm Sunday.

Social media groups have circulated video clips of Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, celebrating Palm Sunday Mass in St Mary’s Basilica in Ernakulam (Kochi).

Ironically, the cardinal came to the church with a posse of police force — 3 Deputy Superintendents of Police, 4 Inspectors, 12 Sub-Inspectors, 12 women police, 31 Special branch police and 12 Commando force, besides an Additional Magistrate and several police personnel in civil dress.

The Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holy Week, commemorates the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem on a mule. The Holy Week allows Christians to relive the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. It is a time for reflection and renewal through prayer, fasting and penance.

Around 500 police personnel stand guard as Cardinal Alencherry led the Mass at the St. Mary's Cathedral. A scandal and shame to the Catholic Church

Despite having great popularity, Jesus had no intention of capturing power. Instead of riding on a horse he chose to come on a mule symbolizing humility and peace.

What we saw in St Mary’s Basilica was a mockery and betrayal of Jesus Christ.

I have written so many times that the root cause of all problems in the Church is due to drifting away from the way of Christ. Distorting Christ’s teachings by its leaders leads to divisions and conflicts in the Church.

On Holy Thursday, the Church commemorates the ritual of washing the feet of disciples by Jesus. After setting an example of servant leadership by washing the feet of his disciples, Christ spoke in very clear terms, “If I, your master, has washed your feet, you also shall do this ….. The first among you shall be the servant of all.”

The drifting away from the way of Christ and distortion of His teachings can be seen among the Church leaders who imitate the fascist politicians and dictators who suppress dissent. Pluralism of accepting, appreciating and promoting difference is the heritage we have received from Jesus.

By drifting away from Jesus, the institutional or imperial Church and its leaders are following the fanatic ways of imposing uniformity in silly matters like facing or not facing congregation during Mass.

The entire conflict on liturgy is proving the spiritual and intellectual bankruptcy of the Church leaders. Instead of following the example of the Good Shepherd leadership of Jesus, the bishops are betraying Jesus and acting like political leaders with hatred, revenge and violence.

Going to offer Mass in a church with a posse of police personnel for security is a shame and scandal. It is a shame that the head of the Church was afraid of attacks from priests and people. There was no sign of any threat from anyone.

Even when Mahatma Gandhi was warned of serious threat to his life, he had insisted not to have any security check of the people who were coming to his prayer meeting in Birla house on January 30, 1948. He was ready to die for a cause.

It is a spiritual bankruptcy and scandal that Cardinal Alencherry wanted police protection to offer Mass in the church. He should be ready to die, if he is doing the right thing. That is what Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If you have not chosen the cause for which you should die, you have no reason to live.”

All Church leaders who cause scandal and betray the teachings of Christ should remember what Jesus had said,” It is better for him that a millstone was hung about his neck, and he was cast into the sea.”

On Good Friday bishops and priests would preach about Judas betraying Christ for thirty silver coins. What is the credibility of bishops and priests to preach against Judas when they themselves indulge in scandals, hypocrisy and politics with money power and muscle power?

The bishops and priests shall repent and change their lives, following Jesus who accepted the foolishness of the Cross. Reconciliation and fellowship are more important than insisting on the uniformity of celebration of rituals. Following the teachings of Christ is more important than the imposed institutional discipline.

We need to ask at every moment “What would Jesus do if He were here? What is the mind of Christ? What is the heart of Christ?” Like St. Peter, the first Pope, each bishop, priest, religious and lay person should have the courage to say, “We must obey God more than man.” Following the example of Christ, each one of us should have the courage to disobey and reject all the laws and rituals which do not help people to grow in spirituality.

All who are obsessed with the rituals and indulge in conflicts, hatred and scandals shall meditate on the words of prophet Amos, “I hate your religious festivals. I cannot stand them! When you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. I will not accept the animals you have fattened to bring me as offerings. Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your harps. Instead let justice flow like a stream and righteousness like a river that never goes dry.” (5: 21-25)

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