His right hand was raised in the upadesa mudra, conveying a guru imparting what he has himself gainedthrough yogic meditation -
"enlightenment"; the other held a trident, the trishul of the deity Shiva, instead ofthe customary crozier or bent pastoral staff styled after a shepherd’s crook or the one topped by a crucifix.
Suspended from the new Pontiff’s extended right hand was a rudraksha mala, worn by holy men, the Hinduequivalent of the rosary, the rudraksh beads signifying the tears of Shiva. Another Hindu sacred symbol, theubiquitous "OM", adorned the papal mitre. His forehead marked horizontally with a three-stripe mixture ofturmeric or saffron and sandalwood paste and a circular red tilak or bindi, he positioned himself as the trulyinculturated catholic Satguru who accepts that religions are but different paths to the divine.Clad in ochre robes, the sacred colour of Hinduism, his fascia or stole decorated with swastika motifs, again aHindu symbol, he spoke fluently in Sanskrit, the holy language of Hindu priests, in deference to the majorityreligion of his native land and in the spirit of accommodation and interfaith dialogue.To be seen as even more inclusive, he used a few sentences of Arabic, the language of the Koran, and Urdu,understood by many of the India’s Muslims. His discourse -- which sounded suspiciously like Obama-care spiel --engaged on the need for an urgent review of the Church’s 2,000-year-old stand on some thorny moral issues[the new Pontiff referred to them as "public health programs"] that did not jell with twenty-first centurysecularism and with the aspirations of progressives and liberals within the Church.His delivery commenced and concluded with the invocation "Om, Shanti, Om", with a couple of "Allahoakbar"sthrown in for good measure when thanking the Supreme Being and his former fellow-Cardinals for the favorablevoting that led to the triumph of the progressives and modernists over the conservatives and orthodox who hadhopelessly clung to traditional mores and held to outdated ideas of sin. The Church had after all to be in syncwith the changing times, he explained.Of course, a lot remained to be done in the Vatican and worldwide, India itself having already largely beenattended to since the famous April 25, 1969, "12 Points of Adaptation" were cleared by Archbishop AnnibaleBugnini; in fact so much needed to be changed -- and quick -- that a Vatican Council was deemed necessary.To ensure that such sweeping reforms in the Church would be approved at Vatican Council III, a number of redhats from Asia who would concur with the mind of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India which wieldsconsiderable influence with the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, needed to be appointed.After all there were still many Benedict XVI loyalists like Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith Patabendige of Sri Lanka whoabhorred the very thought of a progressive, inclusive, syncretised Catholicism.Meanwhile, behind the scenes, there were more immediate concerns. The confederates of the new Pontiff hadinformally convened to secure the safety of the nascent New Church Order. Only, this time around it would nothave to be surreptitious and sneak out of theologates and convents with the help of sympathetic bishops; itwould instead be officially sanctioned by the Pontiff and his coterie of red hats already in place.The inaugural Mass, which would be televised worldwide, must herald the new trends in the Church.The Sacred Liturgy would have to be given a makeover. Indo-Asian liturgists and theologians had to be short-listed and rushed to Rome. Latin, Gregorian chant and the pipe organ had to give way to Carnatic music andIndian musical instruments that supported it and the bhajans that would be sung, OMs and all.Experts in the squatting Mass, arati and bharatanatyam dancing for the liturgy would have to be consulted.Suitable sacred scriptures of other major world religions would have to be selected, and it would be a good ideaif they could be proclaimed by priests of the respective faiths at the new Pontiff’s inaugural Mass.Ad-libbing and improvising on the rubrics would not pose a problem since clerics had being doing it withincreasing expertise and daring for decades. So, too, the citing of other religious texts during the homily.A few women theologians and feminists might have to be accommodated at the altar as a prelude to their beingordained deacons, priests and bishops. Poor things had been discriminated against enough for years.With that issue sensibly dealt with, it would be pointless to discriminate against other minorities by excludinggays from the priesthood and banning same-sex marriages, or by insisting on priestly celibacy.If the "shortage of priests" problem was not solved by the ordination of women, there was always the possibilityof recognizing that, after all, the community may be perceived as a priesthood of believers who become co-celebrants at Holy Mass, having the authority and power to transform the bread and wine into the Body andBlood of Jesus. Self-intinction and intercommunion would then no longer be abuses.True, it would not be easy street, but with fresh intellectual talent infused into the Church worldwide byreinstating banned and excommunicated liberal theologians, restoring honour to those till now regarded asdissenters [formerly a euphemism for heretics] and appointing as bishops, presidents of Pontifical Councils, andprefects of the Congregations of the Holy See those who would be positively disposed to ushering in a NewOrder in the Church, the convening of Vatican Council III would guarantee the rest.Traditional Church architecture had to be carefully re-examined. The CBCI’S NBCLC temple in Bangalore was apioneering work whose approval by the Indian bishops had to be emulated globally.Embarrassingly exclusivist Catholic representations, especially in and on church buildings, would have to go inorder to showcase the new aggiornamento leading up to and extending beyond Vatican Council III.