28 February, 2013

Pope of the century

On 24th April, 2005, I remember that with so many other friars I was also seated in a TV room in Kerala, waiting to see the new pope. As the window opened and Joseph Ratzinger came out, so many of the viewers went out of the room with disappointment.

I still believed that there is something going to happen in the church and after all my belief was not based on the Pope or the Catholic Church but on Jesus. A renovation with him as the Pope was impossible and no one expected anything other than what he did till today. Nothing special about that.

But still I personally think that there were three good occasions that make be remembered for a long time.
In 2012 he met Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary icon as a friend and urged for some changes. My theme is not on what he discussed with him but he had the openness to meet him at least. Fidel Castro was never considered or taken positively by the church. To me it is more important as I come from a land (Kerala), where the Bishops and church representatives consider the people who follow communist ideas as infidels and treat them not as friends. During the time of state elections pastoral letters were read urging not to give vote for these ‘atheists’.  May be because I do see some metal in their life, I have photos of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara on my wall.

In 2011, Pope called on 12 astronauts circling the earth in space shuttle Endeavour from Vatican. This is history, and absolutely history. He appreciated their efforts and courage to do that and told that they are ‘our representatives spearheading humanity’s exploration of new spaces and possibilities for our future’. This gesture is from a person representing the Catholic Church, which one made Galileo pay his life for telling a scientific truth. This is from a Pope who is the head of the Catholic Church which once were reluctant to accept anesthesia when it was first discovered.

In December 2012 he became part of the social networking site of Twitter sending his tweet through @Pontifex from an iPad. He was a modern pope in a narrow sense but still looking at a person from the angle of positivity helps me to stay positive in life and in church.

25 February, 2013

Feb 25....... a day of controversial decisions

It is not a surprise to the catholic faithful to know that Pope Benedict is very conservative and he doesn’t want anyone of progressive thinking to take a lead role.

The two decisions that he took yesterday make me think a little more critically and to approve those decisions in my heart is very difficult. After announcing his decision to quit the papacy and just before the date of the end of his office, hurriedly he made these.

What I am referring to are the matter of accelerating the already decided resignation of the lone cardinal from England on March 17th to February 25th and then changing the rule of the conclave allowing to meet immediately after the resignation of the pope. He has the power to do that but the timing and the intention behind it is very dubious.

Just two days before Cardinal Keith O’Brien announced that the new pope should allow priests to marry citing his reasons and said that he would initiate a discussion on this matter among other Cardinals when he reaches Rome on March 1st. he also said that he has not decided on anyone as the next pope. He is the lone representative of the mainland British Catholics.  Now pope anticipated the already decided date of his resignation based on some ‘sexual allegation’ from March 17th to yesterday.

Then the second decision to anticipate the conclave without any delay was announced on the same day.

My subjective conclusions are that Pope Benedict, who remained as the strong opponent of any progressiveness and dedicated his whole life for the rules and traditions of the church without initiating any deliberations on the issues church faces in this century, doesn’t want any progressive ideas being discussed among the carefully selected cardinals according to his plan through any progressive thinking person. This cardinal Keith O’Brien’s absence can guarantee no such moves and by the anticipation of the conclave he makes sure that no extra days are given for further reflections.  Till his last breath he tries his best to delay the much awaited solutions to the various issues.

My only prayer is to wait and see whether at least this time Holy Spirit will intervene or not.

What Cardinal O’Brien said? -
"the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry – Jesus didn't say that."

"many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy," and while he had never considered marriage himself, "I would be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should get married."

"we know at the present time in some branches of the church – in some branches of the Catholic church – priests can get married, so that is obviously not of divine origin and it could get discussed again."

"open to a pope from anywhere if I thought it was the right man, whether it was Europe or Asia or Africa or wherever."

23 February, 2013

CEO of Catholic Church

Resignation of the pope has happened after 600 years and so to say we have the chance to wish him a good life in his rest of his life. He was clear in his words and message that he cannot do justice to 1,2 Billion Catholics at this age of 85. He is the man of the times. He had proved that he is also a human being with a likely burnout stage as any other human being.

His act of resignation has got a message to the whole world of Catholics who are also unlikely to sense this message. When I say to sense the message, I may be wrong. We all sense that and we all know that but sometimes we are not read yet accept the fact of the humanness in the Popes, cardinals, Bishops, priests and all religious.  They are all human beings and they have the same flesh and blood as all human beings and their thought patterns can also be influenced by any other human beings. They also have emotions and feelings.

He might have got the inspiration to resign from his own friend, Rowan Williams, who also surprised by deciding to resign early as the Bishop of Canterbury. At that time of his resignation, there was really a discussion in the inner circles about the like to be resignation of Pope Benedict also. And at last it happened so.

By the resignations he just proved to the world that he was just a CEO rather than God’s man on earth. He brought the fancied ideas and beliefs to the reality. Faith need to be tied to the reality and life with the threads of rationality and it helps not to jump from the faith realm to superstition.  I believe in Jesus who was the son of God and who reformed the society rather than being projecting him as a magician.

20 February, 2013

City State Vatican

It is the time now, we hear a lot about the new  would be Pope and the election. People waiting for the white smoke outside in Peters Square again.  

Certain facts make me just think that these kind of things are in a way very crude and the system takes us to a time before Jesus.

Pope is to be the head of the state of the Vatican City, a city state (not too many) existing in the world map. Yes it is like the old Greece city states where the democracy made the first coming. They themselves have changed that system of monarchy at the time and democracy was established. But the Vatican still continues to be the only elected monarchy in Europe and the almost 800 people in the city state have no voice and right to elect their leader.

Their Monarch would be elected by some people of religious importance from all over the world and the leader would be someone from outside the state. Even though UNO and EU and also the ‘World Police’ USA try their best to install democracy all over the world, they conveniently close their eyes in from of this system.

As we all know that the election of the pope is not a mystery or based on a revelation from God, and the mystery may be the way he is elected, by whom he is elected, and for what he is elected and for whom he is elected. Catholic religion hijacked the Vatican state and the members of the state have to oblige with the election process.

Women have no right. Even the citizens are excluded by the system. No right to protest and no freedom of expression and no right for a free and fair election. Those who are subjected to law are denied the right to form the law.

It is time to have a separate democratic government for the people and to introduce the system of democracy, or even better a direct democracy (taking into consideration the small number of population). Let the religious head be the head of the church and not of the state.

At the end I always think: Did Jesus mean this or did church want that so? 

13 February, 2013


It is the time of Lent now. And I thought of trying to sacrifice on something this time. I am not really a fan of Lenten fast. But still I thought let me try at least in a very small way to set a check in my life. So I decided not to eat meat. I still wonder how I could make such a decision. After all I say always that I love ‘schweizer fleisch’.

Don’t misunderstand me. I did not take such a small step based on the present horse meat issue.

Last week I was with my colleague for an exam preparation. And he set before me bread, fruits and dry meat. I said, no, I don’t take meat because of lent. The very immediate response from him was, you, you George, you are fasting? I don’t believe this.

The very bad side of this is that my three colleagues have birthdays this month and student friends are back at the university and they call for parties. I need to say a ‘no’ to so many parties and also I need to explain why I don’t take alcohol and meat. It is only when man decides something all these extra temptations occur.
To be true I would say that this is for the first time in my life that I am doing some sort of sacrifice during lent or any other fasting time. How difficult it is to make a sacrifice even on small matters like avoiding meat and alcohol?

No problem. Pope Benedict made a sacrifice on his papacy……….. Why can’t I make a sacrifice on meat and wine?

08 February, 2013


I enjoy being an Indian living in Europe. It is very interesting to encounter a lot of questions from my friends and colleagues. They are all curious about India. The questions raised by them are interesting and provocative.

Is India still a land of snake charmers?

Do you all still practice black magic and believe in spirits?

In which caste do you belong?

The answer to the first question would be a yes and no. you may see a snake charmer anywhere and believe me, we have specially arranged them to continue their work for the sake of tourism. An international tourist comes in search of these and we have special centers or areas where to take them and show them all that they are searching for. Snake charmers, black magicians, cows on the road, tuk tuk, spirit worship and so on. Yes we are marketing them.

Recently in a speech by the present icon in Indian politics, Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, he said that he replied telling that Indians have gone a step back and they are now engaged with mice rather than snakes. Yes, as the highest exporter of software and computer programs, Indians are mice charmers now.

I have already written a couple of times about caste in India. But in the society where I am brought up, I never heard of caste and divisions. I don’t know my caste and even my parents don’t know that. I recently asked them about that since my European friends are curious to know that.

Later, for fun sake, I tell my colleagues whenever they raise this question that I belong to the caste of fighters (kshratriya), because I sense in me a spirit of ‘never die’ attitude. Fight against the odds till the end and one day when we look back we will see the long road of life overcoming all that prevented a forward step.

01 February, 2013

Beyond borders

Just watched a 2003 film ‚Beyond Borders‘, directed by Martin Campbell and starring Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen. The film reflected the real-life interest of Angelina Jolie promoting human relief work. The film was a box office failure. But it could make some sort of awareness about the poverty and war suffering.

What caught my attention was a small scene where Sarah Jordan (Angelina Jolie) and Dr. Nick Callahan (Clive Owen). Sarah rescued a dying woman and brought to the camp where Dr. Nick Callahan works. She was later operated without giving anesthesia. So Sarah got shocked and questions why she is operated without giving an anesthesia. The following dialogue was very catchy.

Sarah: She is in pain.
Dr. Nick: She is beyond pain.
Sarah: Have you asked her that?
Dr. Nick: Hamadi, ask her?
Hamadi: (after speaking to the lady in her mother tongue). She says she feels the pain of hunger. She says hunger of pain is more than death. She says that you stole her away from death which was lighter than pain of hunger.

This film made me lose my sleep. I did have hunger in life when I was in North India but the pain of hunger is something different. Have you had such a pain of Hunger which is more than death? My request would be not to waste even a pinch of food and also to teach our children not to waste any food only respecting the millions who die without food in Africa and in Asia. I come from a country where one third of the population of 1.27 Billion are below poverty line.

Some days a film inspires more than bible and all scriptures.