Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Catholic Nuns In India Enduring Clergy Sex Abuse For Decades


Nuns of Kochi in Kerala, India, in a protest march,
seeking justice for the alleged rape of a
fellow nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal (Sept. 11, 2018)
 
Photo courtesy: PTI via www.dnaindia.com/

Nuns in India are speaking out. They are speaking about certain members of the Catholic clergy (priests and bishops) who have been abusing nuns for years, even decades. 

The latest Associated Press (AP) report speaks of this in detail. It says, "Across India, the nuns talk of priests who pushed [them] into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex. They talk about being groped and kissed, of hands pressed against them by men they were raised to believe were representatives of Jesus Christ."

The AP report continues, "'He was drunk,' said one nun, beginning her story. 'You don't know how to say no,' said another. At its most grim, the nuns speak of repeated rapes, and of a Catholic hierarchy that did little to protect them."

"The Vatican has long been aware of nuns sexually abused by priests and bishops in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa, but it has done very little to stop it, The Associated Press reported last year."

The AP, in its special investigation of a single country -- India --, uncovered "a decades-long history of nuns enduring sexual abuse from within the church." 

Does it sound deafening? Yes, but reality-wise, no. Where there is a sex organ, there is sexuality -- either active sexuality or repressed sexuality. Catholic celibate priests are supposed to live repressed sexuality -- an asexual life, but in reality, it is not so. Celibacy and sexual chastity of the clergy, although hammered into our ears all the time by the Church teaching, have been proven to be a fiction in the two-thousand-year history of the Catholic Church. A lie about these 'men of God,' or 'representatives of Christ,' or 'alter Christus' (the other Christ) is being propagated in a resounding voice without taking the reality of human life into consideration. 

Pope Francis, therefore, on his January 28 return journey to Rome from Panama, spoke to reporters aboard his plane and said: "We have to deflate the expectations [from the Feb. 21-24 world gathering of bishops in Rome dealing with clergy sex abuse of minors] ... because the problem of abuse will continue because it is a human problem, and it is everywhere."  He further said, "It is a human drama that we have to be conscious of, even us, resolving the problem in the Church, but also in society, in families." 

Please read the following for more on the situation of  nuns in India and some other countries:


(Updated on February 8, 2019)

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Action Is Better Than Word


Jesus preaching on the mount
Image courtesy: www.godisreal.today/


Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 25:35-36 how to be a good follower of him more by action than by word. Do we really follow him? The following poem reminds us of our failures in putting his teaching into practice. 

Pope Francis is trying to help us follow the teachings of Jesus in our life, in whatever positions we are in. Let the following poem rouse us to action!



Listen, Christian!
By Bob Rowland

I was hungry
and you formed a humanities club
and discussed my hunger.
Thank you.

I was imprisoned
and you crept off quietly
to your chapel in the cellar
and prayed for my release.

I was naked
and in your mind
you debated the morality of 
my appearance.

I was sick
and you knelt
and thanked God 
for your health.

I was homeless
and you preached to me
about the spiritual shelter
of the love of God.

I was lonely
and you left me alone
to pray for me.

Christian,
you seem so holy; 
so close to God.
But I'm still very hungry,
and lonely,
and cold...



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Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Quotation of the Week (January 27 - February 2, 2019)


A quotation of Henry Miller on 'doing something beyond
one's known powers,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Artwork © Ujjal Peter D'Costa

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Conservative-Progressive Conflict in the Catholic Church


Pope Francis seeks the progressive path 
Photo courtesy: biography.com/

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke 
seeks the conservative path
Photo courtesy: stltoday.com/

The struggle and conflict were always present from the beginning of the Catholic Church when Jesus Christ himself was a progressive, rejecting quite a number of strict teachings and traditions of the Old Testament and Jewish society and giving a new type of teachings based on love and mercy. He was put on the cross for this very action. Later, we also see conservative-progressive contention among Jesus' own disciples and apostles.

Dealing with this subject, this blogger Jerome D'Costa writes in his article: "Conservatives are also called 'fundamentalists' or 'fanatics.' They want to hold on to the roots or traditional beliefs, rules, and institutions. They cling to the old, they are afraid of the new or fresh ideas.

"Conservatives are usually judgmental -- they judge what is right or what is wrong, and what is sinful or what is not. Religious conservatives or fundamentalists prefer to count sins of others. They complain against any deviating from the religious teachings. They consider themselves above any infraction."

"Progressives, on the other hand, are also called liberals. They challenge old rules and regulations, they try to cope with the changes of the era and try to introduce and accept contemporary changes. They are eager to take sides with social justice and accept the poor and suffering. Since they try to follow the principle of 'love your neighbour,' they place greater importance on mercy, justice, forgiveness, and patience. They want to interpret and explain the Biblical teachings in light of new and changing situations of the world."

In modern times, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), called by Pope John XXIII, led the Catholic Church toward a progressive path. He wanted the Church to have fresh air and new ideas instead of the suffocating ones. Later, popes John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI deviated quite a way from the reforms and updating brought about by the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis, since his election on March 13, 2013, has been trying to introduce progressive ideas and reforms, but he is facing tremendous push back from the conservative elements in the Church. This struggle, sometimes vicious, is still on. 

To read the article of Jerome D'Costa on this subject, both in English and Bengali, please click on the following:



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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Homeless in Wintry Toronto


A homeless person sleeping, on a wintry day in 2015,
on a sidewalk of Toronto 
Photo courtesy: cbc.ca/

Another person sleeping on a snowy sidewalk
in Toronto in 2015 
Photo courtesy: National Post

Canada is a first-world country. Outsiders tend to think that this country has much fewer problems than less fortunate countries of the world. 

In reality, this country is not immune from poverty and homelessness. There are a good number of people who are poor and homeless. There are dozens of reasons for poverty and homelessness. Among these are the loss of job, addiction to either alcohol or drugs, divorce, mental illness, loss of government social assistance, inability to pay rents, lack of low-income housing, and lack of housing for low-income people. 

Cold wintry days make it all the more problematic for the homeless, 40% of whom suffer from some kind of mental illness. Many of them cannot cope with the crowded situation and refuse to go to any shelter. They prefer to suffer the cold days on the streets. The city of Toronto has a substantial number of such homeless people. 

You may read the following to have a glimpse at their situation:


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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Sexuality of the Catholic Priests and Religious



The sexuality 
of the 
Catholic Priests 
and 
Religious

One that has life is an animal. As man has life, man is also an animal. Like other animals, man is also a sexual animal. According to the Bible, man, like other animals, participate in the creation of God and proliferate themselves. Life is continuing in this way.

One may ask what ‘the sexuality in the Catholic priestly and religious life’ is. How is it possible to have sex when Catholic priests and Religious are supposed to spend their life asexually – a life chosen completely on one’s own volition and to be lived compulsorily?

Yes, sexuality is a reality, although none will speak about it publicly. Since the teachings of the Catholic Church are given from the standpoint of sin, we always hear of the sexuality and sins of the laypersons – not of the priests and Religious.

Here we will limit our writing to the sexuality of the Catholic priests and Religious.
According to the Church teaching, members of the Catholic Church consist of the clergy (priests, bishops, cardinals, and the pope), the Religious (professed priests, Brothers, and Sisters – also known as ‘nuns’), and the laypersons (ordinary men and women). 

According to the 2017 Pontifical Yearbook, there were 1.29 billion Catholics in the world. Among them, only 5,353 were bishops (all the bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and the pope included), 414,969 priests (of them, 281,831 were diocesan or ‘secular’ priests and 133,138 Religious priests), 52,625 Brothers, and 656,445 Sisters.

From ancient times, certain pagan religions had their own types of priests and priestesses – many of whom were married, but some unmarried.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the monotheistic Hebrews (Jews) had male priests – all of whom were married. Their sons inherited this priesthood, too.

In the New Testament, long before the coming of Jesus Christ, Druid pagan priests in western Europe and Aztec temple priests of South America used to be celibate (unmarried) and it was expected that they absent themselves from engaging in sexual activities with others.

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ was God as well as a full human being. As a man, he, of course, was subject to all temptations and weaknesses. Yet, he lived his celibate life with extreme self-sacrifice and asexuality. Following his example, some of his disciples also lived a similar life. In short, we can say that Jesus’ sexuality was fully self-sacrificing sexuality. His life, mind, and spirit were fully dedicated to the service and salvation of mankind.
Among the married disciples, St. Peter was an important figure (Matt 8:14), who is recognized as the first pope in the Catholic Church. Apostle St. Paul (1 Cor 9: 5) mentions of some married disciples of Christ.

Alike some disciples of Christ, apostle Paul, too, was unmarried. He, in 1 Cor 7: 32-35, mentions of the benefits of the celibacy.

There are two types of priests in the Catholic Church – diocesan or ‘secular’ priests and Religious priests. Diocesan priests work directly under a bishop in his diocese. Although they don’t take any official vow, they remain celibate and abstain from sexual activities. They do not live a community life. If necessary, they can live alone separately from other priests and they can personally acquire and own money and property. The Religious priests, on the other hand, officially take vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty and live in a community, to which all money and property belong. They work in the dioceses with special permission of the bishops.

In the first thousand years of the Catholic Church, priests could marry. In 308 A.D., the Council of Elvira in Spain, after observing widespread extra-marital affairs and unbridled sexual activities of priests, laid greater emphasis on the priestly holiness and sexual chastity, and, for the first time, ruled for the celibacy of their local priests. In 325 A.D., Emperor Constantine called for the Council of Nicea and rejected the celibacy imposed by the Council of Elvira.

 Yet, in the early Middle Ages (5th and 6th centuries A.D.), the trend for celibacy of priests started to gain support in the Western Catholic Church. In face of sexual immorality of married priests, Pope Benedict VIII ruled that children of married priests could not inherit any Church property. Several decades later, Pope Gregory VI banned the marriage of priests. In 1139, the Second Lateran Council officially banned the marriage of priests. In 1563, the Council of Trent supported the celibacy of priests. This tradition of priestly celibacy is continuing till today.

What does it mean to be a celibate priest? Those who want to be a priest, they willingly and with full understanding, become celibate priests by following the example of Jesus Christ. They know that they cannot have a wife or a mistress; they cannot engage in sexual activities with any other male, female, or underage boy or girl; above all, they also cannot masturbate, even by themselves, as all of these are grievous sins – against God and the teachings of the Church. In short, they are supposed to be fully dedicated to God’s work and live a selfless asexual life. It then becomes their responsibility for maintaining their sexual chastity. This is called the sexuality of priests.

On the other side, there is the sexuality of the Religious life. The Religious include professed priests, Brothers, and Sisters. Living communally, they follow their Society’s rules and profess the vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty. They are to remain celibate, be sexually chaste, refrain from owning any money or property personally, and be obedient to their Superior. The sexuality they observe, by following Jesus, is the sexuality of the Religious.

Some people’s unbridled sexuality and sexual activities are pervasive in the world. Irrespective of race, caste, and creed, this situation was present in the past, is on at the present, and will be so in the future. It takes a worse turn and becomes a scandal to others when dedicated religious leaders and priests become part of this degradation. Their only responsibility and duty are to remain firm in their path of God and, through their regular teaching and example, keep others on the right path.

For the last few decades, unrestrained sexuality of some priests, Brothers, and Sisters has been giving scandals in the universal Catholic Church. Not only that, a good number of underage boys and girls, as well as adult males and females, became sexual prey to their machinations. In the past, religious leaders tried to cover up these sins and crimes, but with the spread of modern media and technology today, these come to the open faster and the cover-up became almost impossible.

Under the circumstances, it became imperative that for proper formation, seminarians and candidates for Brotherhood and Sisterhood be imparted formal and appropriate training on sexuality, sexual sins, and sexual crimes.

Pope Francis, by taking some measures, is trying hard to take the Catholic Church forward. He has been placing special importance on the teachings of the Gospel and the ideal of Christ. Every Catholic needs to cooperate with this attempt of his. We are hopeful that the sexuality of the priests and Religious return to its ideal and, at the same time, the glory of God and the Church increase manifold. 

(This is the English version of the Bengali-language write-up of Jerome D'Costa, published in the Pratibeshi weekly of Dhaka, Bangladesh. You may read it here

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Quotation of the Week (January 20 - 26, 2019)


A quotation of Samuel Aun Weor
on 'the healthy man,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (Sample of a healthy diet: 2018) © Jerome D'Costa

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

'Rangar Maar Tia' -- A Bengali-Language Book


Rangar Maar Tia (The parrot of the mother of Ranga) --
a Bengali-language book by David Swapan Rozario
Written by David Swapan Rozario and published by the Pratibeshi Prakashani of Dhaka in July 2018, it is his second book with 167 pages covering 29 topics. 

Written in his usual 'village storyteller's style,' it is attractive to its readers. In these "stories," he provides his personal witness to incidences and events in his village of Rangamatia (in the district of Gazipur of Bangladesh), his Biman Bangladesh offices in Dhaka and abroad, personal encounters with certain persons, celebration of some feasts and festivals, and his visits to places of interest in India. Finally, he also mentions some historical tidbits on the formation of the Bhawal Christian Jubo Samity and his role in it. 

If interested, you may also read about David Swapan Rozario's first book, Angshik Holeo Shotto (It's true, though partially) by clicking here.



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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Quotation of the Week (January 6 - 12, 2019)


Two happy dogs in Toronto
Photo (Toronto: Oct. 9, 2014) © Jerome D'Costa

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