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No.26, 05th October 2020
 

to print

Whither the Church in India: A Contextual Analysis

 

Paulachan Kochappilly, CMI

 

The Church in India is undergoing a tough time of testing, troubles, and tribulations. At times the developments in the Church give an impression that they not only disturb the people, but that they shake the whole edifice of the Church. But she is neither withering, nor is she withdrawing from the public square. Nevertheless, it is a challenging time; it is a wakeup call for all of us to renew the Church. Apparently, the Church in India has almost come of age to be on her own. The situation is tense: it is a time to awaken, arise, and act. Unfortunately, the institutions of the Church and the institutional Church look robust and vibrant, but they are devoid of the spirit of Christ. Taking into account the numerous external and internal challenges, it is a God given opportunity to reiterate that the Church is a sacrament of salvation and not the slave of any politics, powers or principalities. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the Mystical Body of Christ. To imbibe the spirit of Christ by the members of the Mystical Body of Christ is the essence of being the Church and serving the world in attaining integral liberation. The Church belongs to Christ. Hence there is no question of the withering of the Church. This does not mean that she will not have any temptation or distraction or disillusionment or damage or deviation because of the members of the Church. Since the Church is also human, it is bound to err. But trusting in the providence of God, she can clean up her pristine image and truly be the spouse of Christ adorned with beauty and glory. Seen from this perspective, the current confusions and conflicts will pass away; the triumphalist Church will give way to the ideal of a serving Church. A providential arrangement is discernible in order to recover, revive and restore her genuine identity in the footsteps of Jesus her Master and Saviour. It is indeed a time of transformation and celebration.

The recently concluded General Elections of India and the declarations of its result on 23 May 2019, showcase the direction our Nation is heading for the next five years. In the acceptance speech after the landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections, Shri Narendra Modi declared that his Government would work towards a "strong and inclusive India." In spite of the low standard and wary election campaigns, he said, "We will never give up our ideals, our humility and our culture." Mr Modi gave credit to the people of the country: "This election was fought not by politicians but the people of this country - and it's the people of this country who have emerged victorious." He won the 2019 elections on the political slogan, sabka sath, sabka vikas aur sabka vishwas (together with all, for the development of all, and with the trust of all), which in fact projects the fundamental principle of growth and development of a democracy. The principle is of paramount importance as far as governance is concerned. The foundation of democracy, that is, inclusiveness, dignity, equality, liberty, and diversity, are enshrined in the slogan. Though political hate speeches were exchanged during the electioneering, we cannot ignore the hidden truth to a successful governance in the acceptance speech of Mr Modi, that is, give credit to the people for the victory. However, the editorial of The Hindu carried a word of caution in its editorial, "Values to live by", where it underlines, "These words must be buttressed by the power of example, as India's neighbours will see whether the same values that India hopes to see in its neighbourhood are implemented within the country."[1] This rediscovery of the power of the people, to my mind, holds true of the Church and her diverse ministries.

At this historical juncture, the Church is confronted with a number of issues on both the national and international levels. Some of the issues are burning. Indeed, the Church is passing through a turbulent time. There is an atmosphere of dilemma in many matters and sectors. Nobody can easily wish away the troubles and tribulations. They are real and need urgent attention and action from the entire Body of Christ, regardless of their status and stature in the Church. All need to walk the path of humility - the path of the Lord.

Seeing the turbulent scene, the members though they experience embarrassments, anger, and anguish, the faith in the Lord tells us that there is no need to panic. It is painful to see the development of stories of different natures and stature. These unfolding stories really challenge everyone, from the bottom rung of society to the top. The chaos and confusion and the conflicts of thoughts and stances are real challenges before the Church. She has to address these as a whole, trusting in the providence of God and the working of the Holy Spirit within the Church to lead to fuller truth and greater freedom. In fact, the mutually conflicting stories in the Church reveal that the Church is not withering, but she gathers energy to rise up from her falls and struggles to walk the way of life, truth, and freedom.

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.[2]

Any living organism faces strife and struggles in order to thrive in a given context. Similarly, the Church is encountering a number of challenges. All these phenomena are to be seen from and a growth and development perspective. Hence these challenges are wakeup calls to discern the promptings of the Spirit and to decide the future in light of the person and mission of Jesus and his gospel. If we are guided by the basics of the Christian faith experience - life through death - the contemporary challenges are a grace-filled opportunity to embrace the promise of the Lord within our geographical and chronological time. Vatican II rightly takes these points into consideration and comes out courageously to pump a new thrust and fresh energy into the life of the Church and the world:

Therefore, the council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; that world which is the theater of man's history, and the heir of his energies, his tragedies and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ, Who was crucified and rose again to break the strangle hold of personified evil, so that the world might be fashioned anew according to God's design and reach its fulfilment.[3]

If we follow the path of the Lord and think with the Church, there is always a way to tide over the contemporary pressing issues. They are not entirely new to our times. These issues have emerged in history at different intervals. The marked difference may be the speed with which these issues or scandals are made known and responded to. As there is a heightened speed in disseminating the news and views worldwide, there is also an equal velocity in spreading the counter views and news. To hush up the issues is almost impossible in this world of communications. It is also not Christian to push the issues under the carpet. Instead of covering up, what we need is to clean up the system and structures. Pope Francis has begun such cleaning, though not without stiff opposition. All people, especially Christians, are called to walk the path of truth and freedom, even at the cost of life.

1. Context of the Church in India

Jonas Thaliath, in his keynote address at the Kerala Regional Seminar on the Church in India Today, concisely presents the image of the Church as "the continuation of the person of Christ in the world." [4] While I was going through the reports and proceedings of the regional seminar prior to the Church in India Today seminar, I found some of the key issues of our times echoed in the deliberation at that time; namely, misconceptions of our mission, parochial mindedness, domination of priests and indifference of laymen, pomp and show of our pastors, our faulty attitudes towards politics, insufficient interest in social activities, reluctance to take a stand on the side of the worker and the poor, faulty attitudes towards social work, a relish for power and glory, bane institutionalism, too much diplomacy among bishops and priests, a lack of Church consciousness as a pilgrim people on earth, etc.

Though there are a number of alarming, if not terrifying and dreadful situations encircling the Church in India, there are also silver lines shining in the firmament of her life.
Seen from an ecclesial angle, one of the contexts of the Church in India celebrates her identity, diversity, and unity. The Church in India is a communion of Churches. Unlike in the past, this time Pope Francis has asked the bishops of India to address the anomaly being perpetuated by the Churches in India by implementing the spirit of Vatican II in the context of our country. In his letter dated 10.10.2017, Pope Francis wrote:

The remarkable varietas Ecclesiarum[5] , the result of a long historical, cultural, spiritual and disciplinary development, constitutes a treasure of the Church, regina in vestitu deaurato circumdata variegate (cf. Ps 44 and Leo XIII, Orientalium Dignitas), who awaits her groom with the fidelity and patience of the wise virgin, equipped with an abundant supply of oil, so that the light of her lamp may enlighten all peoples in the long night of awaiting the Lord's coming. (VE 1)

Recognizing the rights and merits of the ecclesial expressions of the same truth celebrated in different rites, Francis admits the tensions in the course of history and pushes the cause of unity, variety and beauty of the Church in India:

The history of Christianity in this great country thus led to three distinct sui iuris Churches, corresponding to ecclesial expressions of the same faith celebrated in different rites according to the three liturgical, spiritual, theological and disciplinary traditions. Although this situation has sometimes led to tensions in the course of history, today we can admire a Christian presence that is both rich and beautiful, complex and unique.

A bold and solid reiteration of Francis, dismissing the centuries old inappropriate debates held in the Church in India in perpetuating discrimination on unreasonable premises, stands abrogated by the Pope. In his ministry as the Pope, Francis articulates the fundamental right of a sui iuris Church and enforces the execution of the vision of the Church:

As Lumen Gentium teaches, it is for the Bishop of Rome to promote unity in the diversity of the Body of Christ. In this task, the Roman Pontiffs faithfully interpret and apply the voice of the Second Vatican Council, which expressed the ardent desire that the Oriental Churches, venerated for their antiquity, should "flourish and with new apostolic vigour execute the task entrusted to them" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 1). Their responsibility is not only to become ever more effective instruments of that "special duty of promoting the unity of all Christians, especially Eastern Christians" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 24), but also to promote their "equal dignity […] for they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world." (Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 3) (VE 4)

Dismissing the oft repeated and orchestrated problem of multiple jurisdiction of different sui iuris Churches within a city, Pope Francis, illustrates the excellent example of a living testimony in Kerala. "In India itself, overlapping jurisdictions should no longer be problematic, for the Church has experienced them for some time, such as in Kerala" (VE 6). Pointing out the right disposition and orientation, Pope Francis wrote:

The path of the Catholic Church in India cannot be that of isolation and separation, but rather of respect and cooperation. The presence of several bishops of the various sui iuris Churches in the same territory will surely offer an eloquent witness to a vibrant and marvellous communion. (VE 9)

At the same time, Pope Francis reminds the members of the Syro Malabar Church that this moment and event of reiteration of jurisdictional justice is not to be taken as "a growth in power and domination, but as a call to deeper communion, which should never be perceived as uniformity" (VE 9). He concludes the letter by presenting the ideal communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The prayerful wish of the Holy Father is that "there be a growth in love, communion and service." (VE 9)

Seen from the view of the mass media, the Church is under heavy attack from different quarters, some of which she deserves because of the handling of the issues at hand, and a few others because of the antireligious sentiments of some of the elite. The scandals of bishops, priests, and religious popping up one after another are matters of serious concern. Sex and land scandals have precipitated the anger and anxiety of a section of the faithful and causes them to be suspicious of the integrity and credibility of the ministries in the Church. Unfortunately, people have taken these scandals to the street and have confused the minds of many, mainly, because of the conflicting arguments and counter arguments. Indeed, they are manifestations of the hurt of one sort or another. Now many of these scandals are being examined by the judiciary of the place. Let us collaborate with the police and judicial investigations that are underway and help the Church to come clean before the already tarnished image of her which has done unprecedented damage. There is little wonder that the members of the Mystical Body are vulnerable and sinful. Whoever has done wrong, has to have a conversion of heart and reconciliation and communion with all. Another unhealthy and irreligious trend in the ecclesial life is the craze in and race for constructing huge and highly expensive places of worship. This has assumed a proportion beyond measure and the trend is growing. It is almost a fashion, succumbing to the pressure of a competitive mentality and the prestige of a few members in a parish. Does such gigantic constructions of the church buildings in any way add to the celebration of the faith and committed religious life of the people? In many instances, it seems that they are constructed merely for a show of power and political ambitions of the people.

The lack of enthusiasm, energy, and zeal for the evangelizing mission of the Church is a discouraging situation of the Church in India. Due to this marked decline and disinterest in the field of evangelization, the Church slowly and steadily ceases to exist and excel in her life. As a result, the faithful do not share their talent, time, and treasure for the welfare of others; they are worried about themselves and there is an unfortunate competition with neighbouring parishes. People are on the lookout to embellish their own petty interests through extravagant spending on building or rebuilding the structures on the Church premises. "Evangelical fervour is replaced by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence." (EG 95) The Holy Father Francis might call this temptation and delineates some of the glaring needs: "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary enthusiasm" (EG 80); "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the joy of evangelization" (EG 83); "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope" (EG 86); "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of community" (EG 92); "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the Gospel" (EG 97); "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the ideal of fraternal love" (EG 101); "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigour" (EG 109). The challenges are real but the moment the Church turns her attention and action towards her evangelizing mission, much of the contemporary confusion and conflict will vanish. Unfortunately, since we are mostly moving to a relativist, hedonistic and utilitarian mindset, problems continue to shoot up one after another. However, "challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filed commitment." (EG 109)

The Indian political scene raises a number of fears and possibilities. After the victory of Mr Modi, Harsh Mander lists some of these in a column he wrote in The Hindu, "Instead of optimism I experience a mounting disquiet. This deepens when I observe Mr Modi's choices for India's Home Minister and for the Minister for Human Resource Development." [6] With the appointment of the ministers in the new government, the author is worried about the advancement of the hard-line Hindutva politics and lists some of his glaring fears:

The messaging is abundantly clear. The signals are of a much more openly ideologically-driven government than even the first tenure of Mr Modi, one determined to advance its agenda of hard-line majoritarianism at all costs. This plays out variously in its approach to fraught questions such as of citizenship, Kashmir, Hindutva terror, the Ram temple, and dissent. The government will feel mandated to rewrite history, deracinate left-liberal universities, abandon the scientific temper, and amend cow protection laws to make these draconian.[7]

Along with these fears, he outlines some other impending perils to the Indian democracy, such as a massive project to rewrite textbooks country-wide, to plant the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's version of history in the minds of young people, the death of progressive thought and dissent in universities and in the institutes of higher learning, dissenting social movements, and civil society institutions will be starved of funds and criminalised; every public institution will be packed with ideological sympathisers, and "the media will become even more pliant in its abject metamorphosis into cheerleaders of the government, and its majoritarian and pro-business policies."[8] These fears and possibilities drawn by Harsh Mander are shared by many intellectuals and genuinely concerned citizens of India across political party lines:

Modi and his cronies have over the years systematically destroyed all Constitutional and other independent bodies. There was also a sizeable section of the media - clearly bought up: without an iota of a freedom based on truth, justice, objectivity and fearlessness. They played a highly partisan and dubious role throughout.[9]

Though these fears may be found sufficiently reasonable, there is an emergent appreciation of what people were celebrating in India, that is, the composite culture and the freedom people enjoyed in expressing their dissent. People are becoming more and more conscious of the necessity to safeguard the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India, which we find summarily stated in its Preamble:

Socialist secular democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens Justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and of opportunity; and promote among the all fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

The context of Indian polity is a bit chaotic. Cederic Prakash in his Cover Story to Indian Currents writes:

In the five years Modi was the Prime Minister of the country he seemed to be mainly on a campaign mode- for himself (and that of his ilk) for a perverted idea of India. There are sufficient objective studies to prove this. He effectively divided and polarised the nation.[10] In the five years Modi was the Prime Minister of the country he seemed to be mainly on a campaign mode- for himself (and that of his ilk) for a perverted idea of India. There are sufficient objective studies to prove this. He effectively divided and polarised the nation.

Added to that, there is no united front to challenge and change the current wave of hard-line religious majoritarianism. In the last analysis, the people of India will decide what is better for them. People cannot be fooled all the time. In the absence of strong alternate leadership, the verdict of the people may not be predictable. People who are convinced should communicate the truth with courage and commitment. There will be a definite following of the leader who can address the need of the hour in a creative and convincing manner. Truth will triumph. Patience and perseverance will bring the desired victory in due time, though it may seem to be a little delayed from our point of view.

On the economic front, it is reported that India is not doing well. Demonetisation did not yield the desired result, instead it led to further unemployment. The former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his speech in Rajya Sabha remarked about demonetisation, "So, all these measures convince me that the way this scheme has been implemented is a monumental management failure and in fact, it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder."[11] Cederic Prakash in his article, "India Lost" gives a graphic picture of the plight of the Indian people. Regarding economics, he observes, "The promised economic reforms did not take place (on the contrary crony capitalism was the new ‘mantra' with a few rich becoming scandalously richer), unemployment reached an all-time high; agrarian distress was the lot of millions."[12] These are facts which have not been proven otherwise by the government. Nevertheless, some of the hired media managed to cover up the real issues of the society and diverted the attention of the public through the mass media and social media.

It is high time to wake up from deep slumber and put the acts together of all who believe in identity, unity, dignity, equality, liberty, community and safeguard the interest of all people of India. "We need to act today cohesively, inclusively, committed to pluralism and to values of our Constitution. Hopefully the day will come when we will proudly say ‘India Regained!"[13] We do not side with any political party or parties, we need to awake, arise, and act in order to work for the welfare of all in India, that is, the public interest and common good of the people of India. We need to be prepared to struggle against every move to make India a land of fundamentalists and terrorists of any kind. This is a land of multicultural, multilingual, multi-religious ethos. This is to be supported and promoted. Whichever party holds the core values and basic vision of our motherland is to be recognised and responded to, to ensure peace, prosperity, wellbeing of the people of India. Manmohan Singh said it aptly, "The very idea of India revolves around unity in diversity and diversity in unity…India is a multicultural, multilingual, multi-religious society…communal harmony is extremely important for citizens."[14] Pranab Mukherjee cautioned, "Let there be debate, dissent but never intolerance." [15] In another context, he reiterated the essential values of democracy, "Discussion, debate, dissent are essential facets of democracy."[16] C. Prakash in his article suggests the path forward to protect, preserve, and promote the equality, freedom, justice and fraternity enshrined in the Constitutions:

The election results are out and could not have been worse. But that only means that our efforts have to be multiplied manifold for the times ahead. It is important that all progressive civil society organisations come together and prepare for forthcoming battles. We need to anticipate what is likely to happen in the next few months and years and be prepared within our capacities to resist.[17]

2. Whither the Church in India!

Assessing the recent revelations of the unprecedented scandalous revelations of the Church in India, anyone apparently would conclude that the Church is in decline as far as the prestigious age-old nature and stature of the Church in the society is concerned, let alone the confusing and conflicting impressions of the faithful people regarding the style of her operation and function. The reported and sometimes the fabricated stories give a sense that there is something fishy in the air. And there is no shortcut to come clean but simply to cooperate and support the investigating agencies to clear the foul air at the corridors of the administration in the Church.In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit,[18] Pope Francis graphically captures some of the rampant abuses prevalent in the Church, which cast shadows and shame on her face and her claims. The Pope humbly admits that some of the abuses are found in the Church and "it also affects the Church and represents a serious obstacle to her mission" (CV 95). While admitting the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors is a widespread phenomenon in all cultures and society, Francis does not mince words in calling it, when they are found in the Church, as "no less monstrous." (CV 96) Citing the text from the final draft of the fifteenth Synod of Bishops, Francis lists different forms of abuses, which erupt intense tremors in the Church of India as well, like the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience, the sexual and financial abuses:

"Abuse exists in various forms: the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience, sexual and financial abuse. Clearly, the ways of exercising authority that make all this possible have to be eradicated, and the irresponsibility and lack of transparency with which so many cases have been handled have to be challenged. The desire to dominate, lack of dialogue and transparency, forms of double life, spiritual emptiness, as well as psychological weaknesses, are the terrain on which corruption thrives" (CV 98).

Pope Francis continues to unearth the causes for the abuses extensively found in the Church, as clericalism, which seems to be the mother of all abuses. It is the hour for the Church in India to be introspective and make a radical return to the image of Christ, the servant washing the feet of the disciples. He traces clericalism as damaging the image of the Church on her pilgrimage:

Clericalism is a constant temptation on the part of priests who see "the ministry they have received as a power to be exercised, rather than a free and generous service to be offered. It makes us think that we belong to a group that has all the answers and no longer needs to listen or has anything to learn." Doubtless, such clericalism can make consecrated persons lose respect for the sacred and inalienable worth of each person and of his or her freedom (CV 98).

On another occasion, Pope Francis names clericalism as the "plague, which is the fertile ground for all these disgraces." (CV 102) The damage and danger due to clericalism is on the increase in the Church in India, as well as worldwide.

Having looked at the disturbing phenomena in the Church, there is a silver-line in the firmament of dark clouds, because there is no explicit attempt to suppress or push any of these scandals under the carpet. Indeed, Pope Francis thanks "those who had the courage to report the evil they experienced: they help the Church to acknowledge what happened and the need to respond decisively." (CV 99). The extraordinary courage and conviction displayed by authority to face the challenges squarely in the court of law is consoling and comforting indeed. Such bold steps are telling examples that the Church has come of age. At this dark moment, Pope Francis champions the cause of hope and joy by reiterating, "The dark moment, «not without the valuable help of the young, can truly be an opportunity for a reform of epoch-making significance», opening us to a new Pentecost and inaugurating a new stage of purification and changing capable of renewing the Church's youth" (CV 102). This is an opportunity to salvage the Church of Christ to be the sacrament of salvation and the abiding presence of the mystery of Christ. This is not the first nor the worse time that the Church derailed from the way of the Lord and embraced the path of the world. In the course of history, time and again the Church has gone astray or abandoned her Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, down the centuries of her existence, the Church has suffered setbacks and has damaged her image. But that was not the end of her meaningful ministry. She has proved her metal by having recourse to the call of Christ for repentance to return to the path of the Gospel.

Every time the Church has fallen short of her image, there has been the working of the Spirit to recover it in pristine beauty and glory, and thus to rejuvenate the Church and fill her with greater zeal and enthusiasm for her original missionary mandate. The numerous visible and invisible, real and fabricated scandals are sufficiently strong signals to pay attention to her detour. The writings on the wall are there for us to read and understand the failures and damaging trends and to show the humility and courage of conviction to navigate through the troubled waters. If the symptom is noticeable to the eyes, it has to be treated and reckoned with. Only a Church that has become attractive, will be in a position to offer hope and joy in the midst of the encircling gloom. If her message is loud and clear to the people of God, the cloud of suspicion and confusion will be cleared and the Church will emerge again as the Mystical Body of Christ.

3. The Crises in the Church in India

The Church of Christ has to be an attractive presence, but she is not as shining as she should be in our times. There might be many reasons for this downfall. A few of them are as follows:

3.1 As the external structures emboldened, so the crumbling of the moral stature of the Church began

The external structures of the Church hamper the visibility of the face and audibility of the voice of Christ. In fact, the imposing structures of the Church do not reveal the image of Christ. People mistake the structures for the stature of Christ, who became poor and a servant to all. Whatever the Church does in some remote areas is discredited because of the gigantic structures we have built around us. They do not reveal the truth of the Church; instead, they conceal the true nature of the Church. These huge structures of the Church make her inaccessible to the people.

Pope Francis illustrates some of challenges the Church confronts in her daily life and exhorts the faithful to take a stance. He admonishes the faithful, "today we also have to say «thou shalt not» to an economy of exclusion and inequality (EG 53), "no to the idolatry of money" (EG 55), "no to a financial system which rules rather than serves" (EG 57), and "no to the inequality which spawns violence." (EG 59) These trends and tendencies the Pope delineates are of great significance and importance for the Church in India as well. We need to have an examination of our lifestyle and to set the priorities right to showcase our allegiance to Christ. All in the Church, from top to bottom, have to undergo this moral scrutiny.

All these point to the necessity of the Church to rediscover her identity in being small, simple, humble, and functional in her structure and nature and to reclaim the moral stature she deserves. The restructuring of the Vatican administration by Pope Francis is a welcome step in the right direction. In simple terms, the Church and her structures should resemble her Master, Jesus Christ. The future of the Church in India must have a transparent and reasonable structure, for this, to a great extent, tells her nature and character to the world. The oft repeated exhortation of the Holy Father for "a poor church and a Church for the poor" is a way to restore the joy, beauty, and glory of the Church in our times. If we do not get back to the sharing of the wealth of the Church with the poor, the witnessing of Christ will be very bleak, for none will be attracted to the Mystery of the Church.

3.2 As externalism increases, so interiority dwindles

The externals of Christian life are on the increase. The festivities are multiplied, the processions of pomp and glory assume huge proportions, extravagant spending is considered normal, the spirit of competition is far beyond imagination, the large firework displays in association with parish festivities is a matter of prestige, etc. All are sheer external activities of faith, often devoid of any inner substance. Moreover, the Church is ready to spend huge amounts of money for these momentary and fleeting events, even when there are people in need in the neighbourhood, very often Christians themselves. The faithful are ready to sponsor events and precious things, if they receive sufficient coverage and prominence. As externals prosper in the Church, interiority shrinks. Much wanted harmony between the exterior expressions and interior experience is missing.

Contemplation, silence, meditation, prayer, serenity, etc., are becoming casualties in the Church in India. In other words, spirituality is almost being silenced and it is being replaced by continuous highly amplified actions: the guiding principle being the louder the better. Everything has a value and significance in the life of a person or of a community. But if spirituality is devoid of silence, serenity, contemplation, and discernment, will it be worthy of its name? Since spirituality is fundamentally a way of life, it has different forms depending on religious and cultural variations. Nevertheless, the core of spirituality is a soul culture, a spirit culture, and a culture of silence. The exterior of spirituality is a manifestation of the interior dialogue and discernment. This does not mean that spirituality is self-centred. On the contrary, spirituality touches all layers of human personality and society. A beautiful blending of body, mind, and spirit is envisaged; earth and heaven are to be given their proper due; the characteristics of Martha and Mary are to be in place; the cosmic and eschatological visions should be meeting and merging in one's life. A genuine Christian spirituality may be described as the way of celebrating our life in Christ in a given space and time. Any celebration presupposes one's varied and diverse relationships, beginning with God, creation, and other human beings. Therefore, spirituality is an invitation to celebrate a threefold relationship. And in the life of the Church all these different dimensions should be taken into account. The Christian spirituality sans these relationships will be partial and incomplete. Unfortunately, at a glance, many of the contemporary celebrations are one-sided and often side-line God and creation. In other words, the life and activities of the Church seem to be ego-centred. Only by rediscovering interiority can we restore and renew the life of the Church in India.

3.3 As business mentality thrives in the Church, so the Mystical Body of Christ becomes the den of thieves

Seeing the various trends in the Church, one gets a feeling that they go back to the practice of simony. Buying and selling divine blessings is on the increase. Money seems to channel the grace of God. Beginning with the house blessing through the burial services, there is a different rate for each. The simple faith of the people is being exploited for the benefit of the custodians of the ministry. Every action in the church seems to be measured and monitored by money. Jesus vehemently opposed the business of the sellers in the temple. Now it is damaging to see that the same disciples of Christ use a business model to administer grace. It is time to discontinue the practice of varied tariffs for the different categories of the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy. If the priests are to be financially supported, a new system must evolve. The present Holy Father has already expressed his mind on the matter. If they trust in the providence of the Lord, the community will take care of the ministers. Provision should be made to financially support religious communities, especially the women religious, who serve the community earnestly and selflessly. Money cannot purchase the grace of God. If we continue the practice of levying money for liturgical and other services, we are in serious danger of losing the faithful.

Reading the growing trend of being spiritual and not religious, there is already a growing phenomenon of people either distancing themselves from or abandoning the Church. It is time that we discern the financial and moral burden attached to the religious and spiritual practices in the church. The churches have been built by people. They have been generous in taking care of the needs of the community. The ministers should be animating the community to be one in the Lord and united in charity for the welfare of all. If the pastors and priests could be relieved of the responsibilities of temporal administration, the Church would not come under severe attack as we see happening today. In the ancient tradition, glorious practices were in place. In order to renew and reinvent a vibrant and attractive Church, perhaps we could revive the ancient customs and practices of the various Churches in India.

3.4 As authoritarianism grows in the Church, so the servant image vanishes

Jesus came to serve and not to be served. If this were the guiding and governing spirit of the ministers in the Church, there would be nothing wanting. If she served the people and the world with the mindset of Jesus, the Master and Saviour, the Church would be a sign of the Kingdom of God. The servant image of Jesus would again shine through the Church and her ministry. Arrogance of some of the clergy spoils the good repute of the Church.

The Church cannot attract people through power. Instead, she must adhere to the image of her Master and Saviour. Nothing else can win the hearts of the people. Even as multinational companies train their executives to be servant leaders, how much more should we be doing in animating the people of God. One who serves will win the heart of the people. The ministers and leaders in the Church, should wholeheartedly reveal the humble and happy servant image of Jesus in their wonderful ministry and inspire the world through their life example. It seems that much of the crises we face in the contemporary Church is due to the authoritative, adamant, and arrogant approach and attitudes of the ministers. This tells us that the evangelizers need to be evangelized by the person and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Church cannot attract people through power. Instead, she must adhere to the image of her Master and Saviour. Nothing else can win the hearts of the people. Even as multinational companies train their executives to be servant leaders, how much more should we be doing in animating the people of God. One who serves will win the heart of the people. The ministers and leaders in the Church, should wholeheartedly reveal the humble and happy servant image of Jesus in their wonderful ministry and inspire the world through their life example. It seems that much of the crises we face in the contemporary Church is due to the authoritative, adamant, and arrogant approach and attitudes of the ministers. This tells us that the evangelizers need to be evangelized by the person and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3.5 As fear builds up, so abounds arrogance

There is an atmosphere of fear building in the Church due to many different internal and external threats, such as the impending danger because of the actions of the central government in India, or the religious fundamentalists and terrorists working round the clock to check the progress of the Church and her institutions, These may be because of the lack of prompt positive response of the people to the preaching of the Gospel, or to the declining demography of Christians in the country. The breakdown of the families and the growing number of divorces in the Church are other factors. Indifference and relativism are also rampant in the society and there is an increase of the aging population in the Church. Many are selling the land and properties and settling in cities. There is a noticeable lack of the sense of the sacred. These and other reasons build up fear in the minds of the people of God and the ministers of the Church. When fear takes possession of people, then they often react arrogantly. In such circumstances, people cannot maintain calm and cool in their responses and emotions explode. And when such arrogance and anger come from the leaders of the Church, the receivers attack the Church and her institutions unwarrantedly.

"Do not be afraid" is the oft repeated greeting of Jesus. Since Jesus is with us, we should have no fear. Unless we turn to the Lord and seek answers for our problem, we will face disillusionment in our life and ministry. Time and again the Church in India is invited to anchor her life in Jesus Christ, who is alive in our midst, to carry out the ministry entrusted to her for our times.

3.6 As accountability and transparency are on the decline, so opens the window to anarchy in the Church

All people, irrespective of their differences, would like others to be accountable in their words and actions. This is also true of the Church. She preaches that others need to be accountable or responsible for their every action, big or small. Today the Church needs the same accountability that she expects of her children. In fact, the members of Church raise their voices against her and her institutions to come clean and to be accountable and transparent in all their deeds and dealings. Everybody is under strict scrutiny. The RTI (Right to Information) is a powerful and useful weapon in the hands of the citizens of India to ask for or initiate investigation on anyone under the Constitution of India; and no one, including any religious leader, is exempt before the law of the land.

We, as the members of the Church or as citizens of India, should have nothing to hide. All are duty bound to be accountable and transparent regarding their personal and ecclesial activities. Those who are at the helm of affairs, if they fail to maintain accountability and transparency, cannot command respect and acceptance from their subjects. People cannot be fooled forever. They will come to understand the cover up of the leadership, if not today, certainly in the days to come. Once confidence is lost in the leadership to lead and guide the people, this will give way to anarchy. This holds true for the Church leaders. We must allow truth to prevail in all our dealings and institutions.

3.7 As the mission of the Church, so her existence

The Church exists to evangelize. She has no reason to exist, if she does not fulfil her mission. Pope Francis reiterates the earlier teaching of the Church on evangelization "as the joyful, patient and progressive preaching of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ." (EG 110) He teaches that "there can be no true evangelization without the primacy of the proclamation of Jesus Christ in all evangelizing work." (EG 110) The Pope exhorts, "Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Jesus Christ" (EG 120). It is good to examine whether the zeal and enthusiasm for evangelization is found among Christians of today. In all honesty we have to admit that there is a confusion among the Christians regarding their missionary discipleship. This confusion or crisis cuts across all different layers of the Church.

Evangelization is the sharing of Christian life with others. It is something natural and spontaneous. The fundamental question we need to ask is whether we are happy being Christians. If yes, then there is a flowing of joy one to another, speaking from heart to heart, attracting people to Christ and his gospel - a celebration of our life in Christ.

4. The Challenges as the Privileges to Renew the Church

The challenges are signs of growth and development of an organism. This is true of the current challenges in the Church. Hence, there is no need to be preoccupied with these challenges, though they are real and colossal in nature. The Church is of Christ; she is the Mystical Body of Christ. And the Spirit of Christ is active within the Church to overcome the contemporary crises. In fact, these challenges are privileged opportunities to restore, renew, and revive the original and ideal shape of the Church.

The Church in India must walk the way of inclusion, integration, celebration of plurality: As in any hermeneutics, we may be able to trace the following antitheses operative in our times as well, namely, "conservatives versus progressive, local versus universal, continuity versus discontinuity, hierarchy versus the faithful, letter versus spirit, theology versus history, process versus product, event versus text, etc." [19] Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski makes a meaningful observation as far as Vatican II is concerned. He observes, "The value of Catholicity for conciliar hermeneutics can be seen in the fact that it does not nullify the antitheses and the tensions I mentioned; rather it integrates them."[20] Rightly he establishes the point through a natural imagery, "Where there is genuine life, tension always exists."[21] He argues that "Such a hermeneutics is geared towards inclusion and reconciliation."[22] And he concludes his reflection with an important insight valuable for our times: "The holistic capacity of a ‘Catholic' hermeneutic becomes evident: pluriformity becomes a theological criterion apt for our times." [23] What we confront today is not anything different from the epoch of Vatican II. Such a hermeneutic provides us the possibility of inclusion, integration, reconciliation, and pluriformity. This provides us with a roadmap to address similar antitheses echoed in the Church in India.

Walk the Way of Dialogue as the Way of Being the Church: Dialogue is the way forward to being the Church. Dialogue of life is fundamental to being the Church in the world. Ecumenical dialogue is vital for the faithful and effective witnessing in India. Interreligious dialogue should be a characteristic of our being the Church in India. This is a unique area where the Church in India can make a wonderful contribution to the Church at large. The long-lived tradition of coexistence, cooperation, incarnational, wayfarer theology should be further explored and expanded. Dialogue with the poor, religious plurality, and cultural diversity are essential elements of being the Church. His Beatitude George Alencherry offers a theological basis for this dialogue that we need to be pursuing:

God is a dialogue of truth and love. It is this dialogue in God that has come down to us through Jesus the Logos made flesh. A Church in dialogue has created a communion of love, both in leadership and in participation in the Church and society. This transformation of the very reality of the Church has pervaded all the fields of its activity. It has also influenced the culture of governance in the political, economic and other social realms of humanity.[24]

Dialogue, as it is with the mystery of Trinity, should pattern our lifestyle. Just as dialogue with the elements of the universe is essential for sustaining and thriving in life, it should be a fundamental disposition in our being and becoming the Church. We are called upon to engage in dialogue without a conquering mentality, competition, or compromising on the fundamentals of the revelation in Jesus Christ. In light of faith in Jesus Christ, we have to dialogue with every vicissitude of life. In other words, theology is to be understood "as reflection on our faith-experience in the light or shade of life lived in its actual conte251" title style="color: blue; text-decoration: underline; text-underline: single">[25] Cardinal Alencherry underlines the importance of the dialogue between faith and the reality of life, "The fact is that theology anywhere, anytime, is born of two interlacing experiences: of the faith and of the reality of life."[26] Such a dialogue must take us to "commitment on our part to justice and freedom for all and God's purposes for our earth and our history."[27] Dialogue in this sense is multifaceted and multi-layered and there is no area of life where dialogue may be absent or relevant; dialogue is like breathing for the flourishing of life.

Walk the way of harmony of life: Jonas Thaliath described theology as "faith seeking harmony of life." It is a vision of engaging with every reality of life and empowering the community on their way to the fulness of life. Samuel Rayan has expressed a similar idea, "Theology has its roots in a Divine-Human encounter, a face-to-face meeting of God and us. It takes place at the inmost centre of our being and in the very heart of the world. It takes place right within the texture of the history which we, with God, are expected to be weaving."[28] It is a lifelong engagement with God, creation, and fellow human beings. The Church in India has to accelerate the efforts to support and promote the triadic relationships of a person with the divine, mundane, and human. As the angels sang at the time of the Nativity of Jesus, "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and hope to human beings," the Church in India and everywhere should be committed to a harmony of life: the glorification of God, the establishing of peace on earth, and the extending of hope to human beings. Samuel Rayan gives us practical tips to walk the way of harmony of life: "The demand is to reweave the ruptured relationships and rebuild God's human family on the basis of mutual responsibility, justice and love."[29] The identity, unity, community, charity, and solidarity of humanity is to be orchestrated in order to live in harmony, happiness, and holiness.

Walking the way of Justice: The Church has a prophetic call to fulfil. She has a responsibility "to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jer 1:10) In this manner, the Church has work to do for the realization of the Kingdom of God, where everybody has everything they need. Under this project of God, the Church should ensure people of all walks of life, peace and prosperity. Samuel Rayan presents a vivid and concise account of the naked reality of the dehumanizing practices in India and challenges us to act courageously:

God continues to dare us act in the face of every dehumanizing practice of ours, be it casteism and untouchability, gender discrimination and oppression of women, including domestic violence and bride-murder and rape and repression; or poverty and starvation-death occurring next-door to fabulous wealth and millions of tons of food grain rotting in sarcari godowns; and the growing number of shabby shanties and squalid slums within sight of splendid palaces of the favoured few feudal-capitalist godlings; similarly the uprooting and setting aside of Adivasis and the poor in order to provide dams and development to the super-rich and the powerful; widespread illiteracy and exploitation of the masses; widespread child-labour that undermines the future of the nation; politician-criminal nexus rebuked by the highest for years on end as under trials; the use of "third degree" methods to extract "confessions" from people; and custodial killings. God detests every kind of injustice, and dares us be human and responsible, and strive together to fashion a different world with at least a minimum of human decency.[30]

In a response to these disturbing and dangerous realities at our door, we have to work towards "a just, gentle, creative, sharing fellowship, the family of God on earth, the Body of Christ, a lyric poem, a work of art of the Spirit."[31] In order to make this dream come true in our neighbourhood and in the whole world, the words of Saint Paul should echo in our hearts:

Therefore, take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In proclaiming the Year of the Lord, the Church needs courage of conviction and commitment. What God wants from us is "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Mic 6:8)

Walk the way of celebrating life in Christ in communion with all: The Church has to be a community of celebration in, with, and for Christ. She has to recover joy. Her faith in the Lord should give the members the necessary zeal and enthusiasm to carry forward the mission of preaching the good news of salvation. Jesus has given us a clue to the reason for his mission. "I have said these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." (Jn 15:11) Joy, therefore, should be a hallmark of Christians and the Church, which will attract people to follow Jesus Christ and embrace the Church in all earnestness. The words of Saint Paul, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice" (Phil 4:4) must ring in our heart always. His theology is "the articulation of that faith-experience. For him doing theology was not an academic exercise. It was his life of commitment to Christ enfleshed in the concrete situations of his life and mission. It was indeed a dangerous enterprise for him (2 Cor 11: 23-33)." [32] But he rejoiced in what he said, wrote, and did, rooted in the faith of the Lord. The celebration of life in Christ transmits the values of Jesus Christ housed in the Church towards the transformation of persons and community. Celebration of our life in Christ, therefore, presupposes "a transforming reflection and a transformative praxis, sometimes dangerous, yet always grace-filled and life giving."[33]

Walk the way of humility, simplicity, integrity, credibility, and mercy: In following Christ, the Church has to clothe herself with these virtues for her faithful mission in the world. All people of God, irrespective of their ministry and status, should be adorned with humility, simplicity, integrity, credibility and charity. Jesus was the personification of these virtues. The Church is in a bad light because often the members manifest the opposite values to these, which forces people to distance themselves from the Church, and in many cases faithful abandon the Church, and, at times, even their faith in Christ. All wish to experience these highly regarded virtues, but seldom do the faithful experience them from their leaders and ministers. The golden rule "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets" (Mt 7:12) holds true in the life and ministry of the Church. This is the expectation of the faithful from leaders and ministers of the Church. In other words, the image of the Good Shepherd, who knows, loves and lays down his life for the sheep should inspire everyone to be the missionary disciples of Jesus. Above all, Jesus who washed the feet of his disciples should inspire and motivate all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ; especially it should be the guiding example for the ministers in the Church.

Walk the way of mystery, mysticism, monastery or Ashram:1 The Church in India, being conscious of India's rich and varied cultural heritage, spiritual outlook, and religious ethos, should not blindly abandon the aspects of mystery, mysticism, and monastic garb of Christianity for cheap popularity or on account of modernity. The mystery dimension of Christian life and faith has to be nurtured and fostered. In the name of modernity and rationality, the aspects of mystery are ignored or intentionally side-lined. Mysticism is connected to the mystery aspect of religious life. India is well known for mysticism and the mystery character of the reality. Monasticism or the ashram movement is linked with the other two important aspects of religion. There was a time when monasticism flourished in India. It is slowly being revived today. In fact, in the past the ashram movement had been active in the Church. Now the interest in the monastic and ashram life has gone down drastically, whereas the overall interest in the Indian subcontinent is on the rise. It is time we have to rediscover and restore the aspect of mystery, which does not mean abandoning the reality. Mysticism is the soul of religious life. Attempts are to be made to inculcate an ambience for mysticism in the Church. Monasteries and monastic traditions were once the powerhouse of the Church. Steps should be taken to support and promote and rebuild monastic life in the Church, which is the sign of the kingdom of God to come. The missionary thrust of the Church was symbolised and realized in and through the numerous monasteries of the country. Urgent measures need to be taken to reinstate the significance of these rich and resourceful elements in the life of the Church.

Conclusion

The Church is passing through a tough time today. On the one side, we notice the resurgence of genuine life in the Church, but on the other, unspeakable shame and scandals abound on an everyday basis. It is not a time of rejoicing and jubilation. Nevertheless, these are not totally new in the Church. The Church has addressed bigger and larger issues and has withstood the temptations and risen from the falls. "The early Church is a permanent reminder and a source of vitality and inspiration for the Church of all times insofar as it shows us the way we have to be going with trust in God's power, allowing the authentic leaders to play their dynamic roles for the realization of God's plans to bring together the whole human community and the entire cosmic order."[34] Joseph Pathrapankal observes, "The Church in the first century and now is a pilgrim community, ready to face challenges and undergo crises."[35] The Church will overcome by the guidance of the Spirit of Christ, provided the leaders and ministers listen to and act upon the promptings of the Spirit in the Church.

This is a process of purification and transformation of the Church that she is experiencing. It is a continuation of the exodus experience; it is a paschal mystery experience. J. W. O'Malley indicates a tension between the two different visons and the possible passage in the mindset and the lifestyle of the Church, which is nothing short of a transformation of the Church in following Christ:

…from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to conversation, from ruling to serving, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to top-down to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from static to changing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from prescriptive to principle, from defined to open-ended, from behaviour modification to conversion of heart, from the dictates of law to the dictates of conscience, from external conformity to the joyful pursuit of holiness." [36]

The Church is on a pilgrimage; it is a people who belong to the Way. Jesus is the true way to life. We must follow Jesus Christ, our Passover. We are margavasi (wayfarers). We walk the way of the Lord in the world so that the will of God may be fulfilled here on earth as it is in heaven, for the glorification of God, for peace and prosperity on earth, and for hope to human beings. The mission of the Church is "to bring Jesus to the people and people to Jesus."[37] The mission of the Church in India may be seen as the celebration of our life in Christ, a sharing of the joy, charity, and hope of Christian life to the world. I would like to conclude this reflection on the Church in India with the reflections of Thomas Kollamparambil, "In reality, the Church has to be incarnated in the world in solidarity and communion with the whole humanity (GS 1-3). The Church through her visible institutions and external senses has to read the signs of the times, scrutinize and map the world situation at every phase of that pilgrimage journey of humanity to the Father." [38]

Notes


[1]Editorial "Values to Live by," The Hindu, Thursday, 13 June 2019, 8.

[2]Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Vatican II, 1965, § 1.

[3]Gaudium et Spes, § 2.

[4]Jonas Thaliath, "The Image of the Chrurch," Kerala Seminar Digest (December 26-31, 1968), Reports and Proceedings of the Kerala Regional Seminar on Church in India Today, Kalamassery, Pastoral Orientation Centre, 1969, 21.

[5]Letter of the Holy Father Pope Francis to the bishops of India, Varietas Ecclesiarum (=VE), 10 October 2017.

[6]Harsh Mander, "A Summary of Fears and Possibilities," The Hindu, Thursday, June 13, 2019, 8.

[7]H. Mander, "A Summary of Fears and Possibilities," 8.

[8]H. Mander, "A Summary of Fears and Possibilities," 8.

[9]Cederic Prakash, "India Lost," Indian Currents 27 May - 2 June, 2019, 15.

[10]C. Prakash, "India Lost," Indian Currents 27 May - 2 June, 2019, 14.

[12]C. Prakash, "India Lost," Indian Currents 27 May - 2 June, 2019, 14.

[13] Cederic Prakash, "India Lost" Indian Currents 27 May - 2 June, 2019, 16.

[17]Cederic Prakash, "India Lost" Indian Currents 27 May - 2 June, 2019, 15.

[18] Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness Pope Francis to Young People and to the Entire People of God, Published in India, Mumbai, St Pauls, 2019. Hereafter cited as CV.

[19]Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, "Towards a Catholic Hermeneutic of the Second Vatican Council," in Revisiting Vatican II 50 Years of Renewal, vol. I, ed. Shaji George Kochuthara, Bangalore, Dharmaram Publications, 2014, 21.

[20]Grocholewski, "Towards a Catholic Hermeneutic of the Second Vatican Council," 22.

[21]Grocholewski, "Towards a Catholic Hermeneutic of the Second Vatican Council," 22.

[22] Grocholewski, "Towards a Catholic Hermeneutic of the Second Vatican Council," 22.

[23] Grocholewski, "Towards a Catholic Hermeneutic of the Second Vatican Council," 22.

[24]George Card. Alencherry, "Presidential Address," in Revisiting Vatican II: 50 Years of Renewal, vol. I, ed. Shaji George Kochuthara, Bangalore, Dharmaram Publications, 2014, 29.

[25]Samuel Rayan, "Doing Theology in India," in Theologizing in Context. Statements of the Indian Theological Association, ed. Jacob Parappally, Bangalore, Dharmaram Publications, 2002, 11.

[26]S. Rayan, "Doing Theology in India," 11.

[27]S. Rayan, "Doing Theology in India," 11.

[28]S. Rayan, "Doing Theology in India," 12.

[29]S. Rayan, "Doing Theology in India," 13.

[30]S. Rayan, "Doing Theology in India," 13.

[31]S. Rayan, "Doing Theology in India," 20.

[32]Jacob Parappally, "Theologizing in Context: Commitment to Discover the Challenging Presence of the Divine in the Context of Life," inTheologizing in Context. Statements of the Indian Theological Association, ed. Jacob Parappally, Bangalore, Dharmaram Publications, 2002, 23.

[33]J. Parappally, "Theologizing in Context," 26.

[34] Joseph Pathrapankal,"The Church at its Origins in the Jewish Milieu," in Church on Pilgrimage. Trajectories of Intercultural Encountered, ,Kuncheria Pathil, Bangalore, Dharmaram Publications, 2016, 52.

[35]J. Pathrapankal, The Church at its Origins in the Jewish Milieu"

[36] John W. O’Malley, Vatican II: Did Anything Happen?, New York, Continuum, 2007, 81. Cited from John Mansford Prior, "New Daybreak in Mission: From Ad Gentes to Inter Gentes," in Revisiting Vatican II: 50 Years of Renewal,vol. I, ed. Shaji George Kochuthara, Bangalore, Dharmaram Publications, 2014, 394

[37]Davis Varayilan, "Asian Churches at the Crossroads: FABC Perspectives," ed. Kuncheria Pathil, Church on Pilgrimage: Trajectories of Intercultural Encounter,Bengaluru: Dharmaram Publicatons, 2016, 295.

[38]Thomas Kollamparampil, "Ecclesial Life on the Road of Salvation," Jeevadhara ,XLVIII (July 2018), 19.

   
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