Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is it Right to Call a Bishop a Thief?

Is it Right to Call a Bishop a Thief?

Most letters to the CCC tend to be bouquets. However we do occasionally get brickbats as well. Reader Prashanth Appu had this to say in one recent mail: “Everyone is a thief in one way or other. No one is holy and blameless before God. Therefore, I suggest that you kindly moderate the headlines and make wordings more concrete than lowly personal attacks such as using the words like "Broker" Dyva and "Thief" Prabhakar Rao. I wonder if all Bishops and Reverends are squarely blamed like this, they may not respond positively to such criticisms. We should find a different way of accountability like the Lokpal for CSI..”  

Let us assure you dear reader we have thought long and hard about the controversial headlines used. We agree that nobody is blameless before God. As the Bible itself says all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. But our concern is not with the private lives of bishops (or anybody else for that matter) but with the crimes they commit against the very church they are duty bound to protect. If a bishop were to cheat on his personal taxes or maintain an unofficial wife in addition to his regular one (as some of them indeed do), it is not the concern of the CCC. This even though many will argue  bishops have to set a higher standard of personal behavior than the rest of society.

But if a bishop (who in many ways is a public servant) abuses his official position of trust and steals money from the church (as in the case of  Bishop Prabhakara Rao of Karnataka Northern Diocese or his counterpart in Bangalore) or misuses his authority to victimize ordinary church members who object to his  illegal deals (as in the case of Bishop P.J. Lawrence of  Nandyal) or physically attacks opponents (as in the case of Bishop Manickam Dorai of Coimbatore ) strong language is indeed justified to highlight the shocking nature of such crimes.  After all when Jesus Christ saw people turning  the temple into a market, did he walk up to them and merely counsel them to leave? He took the whip and physically chased them out.  The sad truth  is that the risk averse middle class of this day and age is not willing to follow Jesus’ own example to cleanse the church. Many are quick to mouth their concern but very very few are willing  to lift a tiny finger to do anything about the problem. This has only emboldened the corrupt bishops to become even more corrupt.

So no apologies for the language we use against corrupt bishops, particularly as our allegations are often backed by  incontrovertible proof of wrongdoing. We have no illusions that the corrupt bishops of the CSI will show remorse and mend their ways, as the writer of the letter seems to suggest. Jesus’ use of the whip remains, in our view, the best medicine there is to cleanse the church. Now that does not mean using a whip literally, but showing some fight to protect God’s church from the actions of corrupt bishops who are vandalizing it . Till that happens the CCC will  continue to "offend" middle class sensibilities with our controversial headlines.

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