November 20, 2008
Syro-Malabar Catholics Frustrated With Vatican Offices
NEW DELHI (ICNS): A senior bishop of the Syro-Malabar Church (SMC) says Catholics of his Oriental rite have "lost all faith and hope" of getting justice from Vatican offices.
"Our Church ... (has) patiently waited for justice from the Holy See for the last 42 years, after the Second Vatican Council," Bishop Gregory Karotemprel of Rajkot told a theological seminar in New Delhi, UCA News reported.
The Nov. 14-15 seminar titled "Ecclesial mission of Syro-Malabar Church" addressed various issues including the Church's demand for jurisdiction outside Kerala, the southern Indian state where it is based.
Bishop Karotemprel says his Church has appealed to the Vatican several times for nationwide jurisdiction, especially after it was made sui juris (self governing) 15 years ago.
"But to our great disgust and agony, not even a single line of reply, either positive or negative, was received by the Bishops' Synod," noted the 75-year-old Carmelite of Mary Immaculate prelate, who monitored pastoral care for SMC migrants until a year ago.
The synod, the Church's highest authority, has the power to create dioceses and appoint bishops, in consultation with the pope, but only in Kerala.
The Vatican's silence, Bishop Karotemprel says, creates "an abominable situation" with repercussions such as questioning the credibility of the Holy See.
He accused some Latin-rite bishops of influencing Vatican congregations and the Apostolic Nunciature in New Delhi to block the SMC's "just" right to India-wide jurisdiction.
Bishop Karotemprel says SMC Catholics can no longer tolerate Latin bishops' "ecclesiastical colonization of India" and have "lost all faith and hope" that the Vatican and the nunciature will "ever do justice to their cause." He points out Latin prelates head the important Vatican positions and their people fill other offices in the Vatican congregations.
Nonetheless, he maintains the Vatican alone can find "an equitable and just solution" to the "insoluble disputes" between India's Latin and SMC Churches.
The SMC prelate says his people also wonder whether the Vatican's "culpable silence" requires "another law to implement what is right and just."
In his analysis, "a negative written reply" from the Vatican would negate its own teachings, while a positive reply would "invite very strong opposition" from the Latin Church. Such "games" need "a final whistle," he added.
Bishop Karotemprel regrets the Vatican's new demand that two-thirds of Latin-rite bishops in India should agree to grant SMC nationwide jurisdiction. Since most Latin prelates oppose the demand, the Vatican stand amounts to "absurd" ecclesiastical jurisprudence, he explained.
The SMC prelate remarked that the Church champions truth and justice but "totally denies" those values in "its internal administration."
SMC migrants in Latin dioceses know their just and juridical rights, and "are totally fed up" with the Vatican attitude, Bishop Karotemprel stated.
However, in concluding he recalled that his 2,000-year-old Church "never got separated from the See of Peter" and pledged "filial love and obedience to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI."
Describing the pope as the "ultimate dispenser of truth and justice in the Church," he urged SMC Catholics to remain "hopeful."
The Latin rite accounts for 128 of India's 160 dioceses. The SMC has 26 dioceses in India, including 10 outside Kerala, to which 3.5 million of India's 17 million Catholics belong. It also has one diocese for North America, based in Chicago, the United States.
Latin rite follows the Roman liturgy introduced by European missioners in the 15th century.
The SMC is the larger of the two Oriental-rite Churches in India, both of which follow Syrian Church traditions and trace their origins to Saint Thomas the Apostle. The smaller Syro-Malankara Church, also based in Kerala, has six dioceses.
Until the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), India's Oriental-rite Churches were confined to Kerala. The council set up SMC dioceses outside Kerala, but placed them in ecclesiastical provinces headed by Latin-rite archdioceses.
The Vatican made the SMC self-governing in 1992 but retained the right to decide on administrative matters for its dioceses outside Kerala.
Translation, we like Eastern Catholicism in India as long as it doesn't threaten the latin tradition brought inby the colonial days.