The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

# chhotebhai

Does this question shock you? It should! Over the last couple of years I have been in regular correspondence with Rev Dr Valson Thampu. After retiring as Principal of the prestigious St Stephen’s College, Delhi, he is now settled in Kerala.

But he is terribly unsettled by recent events in what was once described as “God’s Own Country” and the cradle of Christianity in India. Many like him are appalled at the mounting cases of paedophilia, rape, murder, financial misappropriation etc being levelled (and in some instances proved) against priests, bishops and even a cardinal. So he has concluded that the Christian community, not necessarily restricted to Kerala, is in dire need of shock therapy, to shake it out of its complacency and stupor. What is rubbing salt into the wounds are the desperate attempts to shield, play down, obfuscate or interminably delay the path of justice against the accused; and to label the dissenters as “terrorists”. The ultra-chauvinistic Catholic Church in Kerala seems to be beating Modi at his own game of ultra-nationalism. 



The National Consultation “We Too Are Church” has appealed for the convening of Vatican III. In an era of breaking news, and shifting goal posts, it is not enough to hark back to Vatican II that concluded 54 years ago. It is now time for Vatican III to address the rapidly mutating issues faced by the church in the modern world.

This was expressed by the 60 participants from 15 States of India at the consultation held from 9th to 11th February at Proggaloy Pastoral Centre, Kolkata. This gathering of lay leaders, clergy and religious was a collective response to the various political and moral crises that the church finds itself embroiled in, without an adequate or credible response. Various “Pastoral Letters” issued by three archbishops, referring to elections, and the frightening Franco Mulakkal fiasco have been attracting a hostile press. To rub salt into the wound, the bishops of Kerala in a recent statement have labelled those raising their voices as “enemies of the church”!


Calling for a Dialogue within and across Laity Groups

PDF Version

We have FAILED to present and be one Church:
We have conflicting entities with a trust deficit:
We are on the threshold of disintegration

The current issues in the media indicate that there are many problems in the Catholic Church and these are surfacing on numerous fronts. Hence the Church appears to be in a slow ‘Disintegration’ mode with the pace accelerating rapidly. The report on the open rebellion by the clergy against Cardinal George Alencherry in Matters India (29 June 2019) supports this theory.

Read more: We are “One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church” – A Myth or Reality

From Saving the Catholic Church Newsletter - January 1, 2017

During the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to wind down from working on my new book. Unused to this sudden lack of pressure and trying to avoid the large number of overdue housekeeping tasks, last week I picked up my copy of What Happened at Vatican II, by John W. O’Malley SJ.

To my pleasant surprise, since I rarely use a highlighter, for some reason I did when I first read it about eight years ago, and I also wrote some margin notes. It will be interesting to learn if my opinions and feelings are the same this time. It is extensively highlighted.

I probably would have remained a Catholic at least for a considerable time, perhaps until now, even through the sexual abuse debacle had there not been a Vatican II, but the promise of change gave me new enthusiasm. I loved the liturgy in the vernacular. I became Lector and a Eucharistic Minister. I was even one of our parish participants in a group who read passages from the Bible when one of the local TV Channels signed off for the night. Yes, signed off for the night, that’s how long ago that was.

I was so enthusiastic about the prospect of change that I wasn’t aware for a long time of the movement by Cardinal Ratzinger, first through Pope John Paul II and then on his own as Benedict XVI to take us back to pre-Vatican II thinking.

At the same time the world and how it works is changing more rapidly than ever. With cell phones, we may never be out of touch with one another; through Google there are no more unanswered questions; the largest retailer in the world has no stores; and the largest taxi company owns no cars.

Something occurred to me the other day that put this into perspective. I remembered having a conversation while playing golf with my good friend Bill McDonnell. At the time, he had a company that sold hand held recorders and had just come home from an electronics trade show.

As were walking between holes, which in this case involved waiting for traffic to pass, he said, “You won’t believe what I saw at the show the other day. It was a calculator that could add, subtract, multiply, divide, even do square root and although it is a little heavy you can fit it into your shirt pocket”.  

That conversation was five years after Vatican II ended. Until Pope Francis was elected, the Catholic Church has been headed back to there. Why have so many of us gone along?

Why Do We Still Go to Mass?

I assume that many of my readers are still going to Mass, although I personally know that the number is getting smaller and smaller.

I almost never miss Mass and neither do a good number of the others who are there. Some of them have also been in this same parish for more than fifty years. I know that many, if not most of those people, share my lack of support for positions of the Church on certain issues, such as ordination of women; contraception; LGBT issues; in vitro fertilization; stem cell research; re-marriage after divorce; the rights of people of other religions; and a host of others.

However, that is not keeping us coming to Mass. Sometimes the music helps, but most of the Old Testament readings, especially those from Genesis; frequently intelligence insulting homilies; and the failure to address real life issues from the ambo do not. In fact, I tune them out. Looking around I see people reading the equally uninspired Bulletin or sneaking a look at their e-mail.

Why are we there?

The answer is simple. The Eucharist.

At each Mass, nearly 100% of the congregation goes to communion every week. That is much higher than it was before Vatican II.

In truth, there is nothing wrong with that. The Eucharist is the centerpiece of the Mass. But it is all to which people pay attention. I am not suggesting this, but I would guess that if the hour-long Mass were replaced by a fifteen-minute Communion Service the attendance and the collection might increase. 

Our weekly attendance figures are remarkably precise and consistent. For years, I have been amazed at that level of precision, since there is never anyone with a clicker at the doorways either at arrival or departure.

I finally think I have that figured out. There are several people at each doorway, insistent that you take a bulletin, so maybe they just count the number of bulletins they have left. Of course, many people also take one on the way in to read during the Homily.

What Will Happen?

My generation, those seventy-five and older, is dying at an increasing rate and will soon be gone for non-theological reasons. I estimate that we have more funerals than baptisms.

I also suspect that at least some of those baptisms occur just to satisfy the grandparents.  That is unsustainable.

At the end of Mass, if there has been a baptism, the celebrant goes to the front row and blesses the extended family.

About a month ago, there was a very large group of family members, completely filling the first four or five rows. When the pastor turned to extend the blessing, the four or five rows were empty. I had seen it happen. They left as soon as they received Communion. Not a good sign.

The greatest irony is that the younger, John Paul II/Benedict XVI era ordained priests are not going to help. In fact, they are going to exacerbate the decline.

We have such a person now at our parish. This is the first time I have seen a cassock and surplice or a “fiddle back” chasuble (that is really what it is called) in fifty years. At the consecration, we hear that long list of saints. There are many shaking heads in the congregation. When I told a priest friend of mine that he was coming, the comment was “welcome to 1950”.

They just don’t get it. That is no longer our Church.


Despite the work of Pope Francis, we still have a Church in serious trouble and with an uncertain future. We also are seeing signs of resistance to Pope Francis from four Cardinals, albeit of marginal importance. They are threatening “to resist” the Pope’s announced policy regarding remarriage.

The four are the renowned Raymond Burke of the United States; Carlo Cafferra of Italy; and two Germans, Joachim Meisner and Walter Brandmüller. The last three are well into their eighties and retired. Three octogenarians led by a buffoon is not much of a threat, but the philosophy goes beyond them and that is troubling. 

Since this is the first of January, it is time for an issue of our on-line quarterly OMG! A Journal of Religion and Culture. It is available at It happens that our webmaster and her family spent Christmas in Northern Ireland visiting her husband’s family and didn’t get back until the twenty-ninth, so it may be a day or so late{jcomments on}