Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Christianity

Church and Better India

Catholic Bishops of India had met in Bangalore on 1-8 February 2012 and after having reflected on “The Church’s Role for a Better India” have given their message. They have quoted the Preamble of the Constitution, talked about India’s condition, what the Church has done and what the Church intends to do.

Bishops should know that the words Socialist Secular were not part of the Preamble when the Constitution was adopted on 26/11/1949. They were added by 42nd Amendment in 1976 which came into effect on 1/3/1977. Bishops should be inspired by the Bible and not the Constitution.

The good work the Church does through its educational institutions, hospitals, orphanages etc. should continue.

It is wrong to blame economic development for inequalities, gap between the rich and the poor and tensions spilling over into violence. There was inequality before economic development. On the whole the people of India are better off than 20 years before. Some policies and actions of government have benefitted industrialists at the cost of others. Bishops can speak against devaluation of currency, stimulus, bail outs and corporate debt restructuring.

Jesus was not a do-gooder, social worker, activist, revolutionary or evolutionary. He was not a rebel without a cause or rebel without a pause. He spoke of the Kingdom of God. He did not speak of a better society. Jesus did not come to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. He said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”

If a major cause of violence is injustice, bishops should strive for quick justice. Cases drag on for years and there are appeals and people lose hope. Bishops should ask for death penalty in all cases for murder, attempted murder, abduction, acid throwing, character assassination, hijacking, kidnapping, piracy and such high crimes. Bishops should ask for change in legal system. There should be no lawyers. Then the cases will be heard and settled fast.

Female foeticide is a concern. The Church can ask for ban on abortion except in cases of rape and saving mother’s life.

It is good that bishops want to root out untouchability and caste system wherever it exists from within the Church. I have heard that segregation is practised in churches and cemeteries of Tamil Nadu and parish bulletins in Goa carry matrimonial advertisements that mention caste. CBCI should put an end to it. However it is wrong to ask for reservation for some Christians because they were once Dalits. CBCI should fight for abolition of reservations as they are discriminatory. Reservations perpetuate caste system.

It is good to stand for protection of environment. It is not good for bishops and priests to lead agitations against illegal mining, deforestation, mega projects, pollution and so on. Lay people can lead agitations and bishops and priests can lend moral support. Governments crack down on protestors and politicians change their colours as we have witnessed at Koodankulam protests. Tuticorin Diocese was targeted and inquiry conducted about its finances.

Bishops have not said anything about corruption. Corruption is the root of many evils. As long as there is corruption there cannot be Better India. The Church can have some days of prayer and fasting against corruption.

It seems bishops have forgotten about evangelization. They have not said anything about use of media to make Christ better known. Fight against injustice or oppression can be fought by anyone but the Church is needed for evangelization.

Bishops can do something to promote Christian Unity in India. Anglicans who wanted to join the Catholic Church were granted personal ordinariates in UK and USA. Similar arrangements for Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants and other Christians can be made in India.

Mary Magdalene not a sinner

There are misconceptions about Mary Magdalene. Perhaps she is the most defamed person in the history of the world. There are people who say she was a great sinner by which they mean she was an adulteress or a prostitute. Many of them have heard that from others and repeat it.

It is wrong to say Mary Magdalene was a great sinner because Jesus cleansed her of seven demons. It means Jesus cured her of sickness. At that time people did not know of epilepsy. According to the Bible in one case Jesus cast out many demons from one person. Those demons entered pigs and ran into the sea and those pigs died. One pope, probably St. Leo I, identified seven demons with seven deadly sins, lust being the worst. After that Mary Magdalene was defamed.

Mary Magdalene is not the Mary of Bethany, who anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair or the penitent woman whose sins Jesus pardoned for anointing him with oil worth 300 denarii mentioned in the Gospel of St. Luke. Mary Magdalene was from Magdala. St. Gregory I wrongly identified the three as one.

Mary Magdalene is not the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus as mentioned in the Gospel of St. John. This wrong identification led many to believe Mary Magdalene was an adulteress. We do not know what Jesus wrote at the time. Some say he wrote the sins of people who wanted to stone the woman. Some say Jesus did not condemn anyone and did not write the sins. Jesus had used harsh words against scribes and Pharisees and could have written their sins to save the woman.

She was one of the women who accompanied and aided Jesus in Galilee. She witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. She stood by the cross, near Mary, mother of Jesus, and the beloved disciple of Jesus who is said to be St. John. Mary Magdalene is the first person to whom Jesus appears after his resurrection. He instructed her to tell the Apostles that he was ascending to God. She is the Apostle of Apostles. According to the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke there were other women with Mary Magdalene when she saw Jesus.

Every saint may have a past and every sinner may have a future but it is not proper to say someone is a sinner based on wrong interpretation or wrong identification. Mary Magdalene is a saint and her feast day is 22 July.

Ohio bishops and death penalty

Sometime back California bishops had opposed death penalty. Now Ohio bishops oppose death penalty.

Do Ohio bishops want Ohio to end up like Mexico? Why bishops ignore the dangers of not having death penalty? The bishops have eyes but they do not see. They have ears but do not hear. Death penalty is according to the tradition of the church. Christianity is not opposed to death penalty.

Pope Benedict XVI may be opposed to death penalty but sometimes popes have been wrong. One pope was declared a heretic in 681.

Justice is a virtue. Justice demands suitable punishment for crimes. In some cases it is death penalty.

Prudence is a virtue. Allowing dangerous criminals to live is not prudent.

The church is opposed to abortion. Ohio bishops can direct their zeal and energy to have a legislation that will punish parents and doctors who abort foetuses who have resulted from marital acts and there is no danger to mother’s life. There is excommunication for abortion but that has not been effective. Prayers and vigils in defence of unborn are not enough.

The bishops can also try for gun control in USA. They can ask for repeal of second amendment. That will make it hard to own guns and reduce murders. In USA it is easy to buy guns in spite of several checks and then go and shoot anyone anywhere. There are vested interests who oppose gun control. What are bishops for if they can not take on vested interests?

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