By Dr James Kottoor. Editor, CCV
A Church in dialogue, vertically and horizontally, is what constitutes the essence of a living Church. It becomes a living community only when it dialogues constantly between the so-called leaders and followers. Jesus did it with his discouraged disciples, Pope Francis does it with the entire church and the world in conflict and confusion, a living example!
But what about bishops with their flock, Christians or otherwise in the diocese?
Now think of the scandalous state of affairs all over the world in dioceses everywhere or in countries with well established national conference of bishops? Constantly, daily we hear complaints from the faithful whose concerns are met with mute silence by their bishops. How can this be the Church of Jesus? It can’t. A Church with leaders, bishops. who don’t speak to those below, who don’t even acknowledge letters from below is a MUTE Church. A mute church is dead. It must be buried immediately before it does further damage.
On the road to Emmaus, we see a bunch of dispirited disciples in despair thinking of going back to their known trade of fishing for a living. It is here Jesus intervenes uninvited and strikes a conversation with them to uplift their hopes: just the opposite of what our bishops do today. Even when the faithful want to talk to them or write letters, they never even bother to respond.
In India we have umpteen examples. When we tried to start a vertical dialogue with the Syromalabar hierarchy on many burning issues we failed miserably. We regularly send our publications --- articles and questions requiring immediate answers --- but never receive even an acknowledgement. Is there any semblance between the way Jesus treated his followers and the way present day bishops treat their faithful?
The crying child gets the milk, it is said, but that does not happen in the Catholic Church. No wonder many thinking sections are deserting the Catholic Church and join friendlier charismatic churches. No use calling it “sheep stealing”. They are leaving on their own accord, disgusted and in despair.
In contrast see the example of Pope Francis, “I desire a church that knows how to insert itself into the conversations of people, that knows how to dialogue. It is the church of Emmaus, in which the Lord ‘interviews’ the disciples that are walking discouraged. For me the interview is part of this conversation of the church with the men and women of today.”
“Ask me your questions” is the title of his new book to be released on 21 October. Francis delights in interviews and what he says always at the beginning of any interview is: “I desire a church that knows how to insert itself into the conversations of people.” We will be sending this editorial also to all Indian bishops, of course with no hope of receiving response from any one.
In case anyone responds we shall let you know. May our bishops learn to imitate Jesus and his exemplary servant Francis. If they can’t, let them stop calling themselves, “Vicars of Christ” which is an insult to JESUS!