Clergy should stop acting like kings, come down from their ivory towers and walk with the poor and downtrodden
Catholic Church in Kerala (India) has fallen into the money trap. Church and clergy are running after money, power and position. Dioceses and parishes are rolling in money. They are buying land, renovating buildings and constructing multi-crore churches. Middlemen and brokers are calling the shots in bishop’s houses. The craze for mammon has brought church to a perilous state. Believers are perplexed and stumped, watching the spectacle with consternation and trepidation. Real estate brokers and middlemen are calling the shots in the church.
Bishops and priests – including independent congregations -- want to control the accumulating money, land and institutions. They are not ready to give up their claims. On the contrary, they want more power and live a life king size. Each diocese is a kingdom where the bishop acts like a king. Bishop and the curia (administration) do whatever they want with the money collected from the believers who always remain in the dark. Money is diverted. Taxes are not paid properly. Duty evasion is rampant, especially in land transfer.
This was going on in a brazen manner in several dioceses but never came out in the open. That’s until it happened in Ernakulam-Angamally diocese in Kerala where land was sold at the whims and fancies of some curia members. Money is lost. Church didn’t get the full money. Middleman and broker took everyone for a royal ride. Church is now sharply divided in Kochi – church headed by Cardinal Alencherry and his backers on one side and priests who oppose him on the other side. Catholic church is going the European way. Satan has tightened the grip.
Syro Malabar Catholic church needs to undergo glasnost and perestroika – that too asap. Otherwise, we will witness an outflow of believers from the church.
1.Church should cut down the financial powers of bishops and priests. Let a body of clergy and laity take decisions on financial matters.
2.A committee comprising experts, including clergy, should take decisions on financial matters. There should be complete transparency in decision making. Laity should be informed of the decisions.
3. Dioceses and parishes should put a ban on building multi-crore opulent church edifices, five-star hospitals, engineering colleges and medical colleges. Use this money to build houses for the poor and help children from poor families or fund their healthcare needs.
4. Bishops and priests should only concentrate on spiritual matters… not on buying land, accumulating bank balances and building palatial churches and institutions. They should come down from their ivory towers and walk with the poor and downtrodden. In short, clericalism must end.
Currently, actions by bishops and dioceses are opaque and authoritarian. This must end lest the land mess in Kochi will repeat elsewhere. The High Court recently came down heavily on Cardinal Alencherry, head of the church, and asked whether the "Cardinal is the King.” Yes, there are several kings in the church today.
Church in Europe was once vibrant and contributed maximum to its growth nearly 100 years ago. They later digressed, constructed huge church edifices in every nook and corner across the continent and started “celebrations” instead of evangelization and mission work. The fall was faster and steeper. European churches started declining in the middle of last century and they are in a pathetic stage now with huge edifices abandoned and believers deserting them.
Clergy must stop running after land, buildings, expensive cars, luxurious life, buildings and bickering over liturgy. It should not remain a toll-house. Church should not end up as a museum.
They must also stop extravagant feast celebrations which have turned out to be a money spinning exercise for the church. Church needs good governance and transparency. This is sorely lacking now.