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The Church won't carry the Cross

The Church won't carry the Cross

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This article was published in Goa Today in Feb 1986 to mark the visit of Pope John Paul II to Goa. It has been updated on request from the forum of the Canadian Goans in Toronto.
This article was published in Goa Today in Feb 1986 to mark the visit of Pope John Paul II to Goa. It has been updated on request from the forum of the Canadian Goans in Toronto.

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Published by: Teotonio R. de Souza on Apr 08, 2013
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pp.”) Has the Church been carrying the Cross Jesus commended it to? ‘No. de SOUZA. The article below is reproduced with permission from the author. 50-51 Note: The February 1986 Issue of GOA TODAY published articles on the impending visit of Pope John Paul II to India. Director of the Xavier . . not for a long time—and it won‘t’ says TEOTONIO R. Source : GOA TODAY – February 1986.(Graphic from original article showing peasant crucified on his spade and pitch fork in the “light of the Cross.Centre of Historical Research.

His proclamation of good news did not exclude the rich.scribd. and the dead raised again to life and the Good News claimed to the poor” (Gospels. lepers are cleansed. From the circumstances of his birth and from the style of his living till his death everything points to his concern for the material poverty and other forms that result from it. Teotonio de Souza’s two most recent columns in Goa’s Herald daily are listed below:  The Next Pontiff – may be consulted at http://pt. and the paschal mystery forms the heart of the Christian kerygma 2. The Passover festival of the Jews has been replaced with the Easter celebration. and the deaf hear. Teotonio R. 1 Aracoeli was the mother house of the Franciscans in Rome following its foundation by Francis of Assisi.com/doc/126167402/The-Catholic-Church-Needs-a-Catholic-Pope Christianity has inherited from Judaism its faith in the God who chose a people after rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. the blind see again.scribd. He does not seem to have been talking of ‘spiritually” poor or of metaphysical poverty. de Souza lives in Portugal since 1994 and heads the Department of History in the Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies in Lisbon. .Dr. The Christians worship the son of God who chose to. especially as taught in the Gospels. Jesus identified himself thus: “Go back and tell John what you hear and see. Matthew 11:4 -5). be born as son of Mary and put aside his divine selfsufficiency to share the human existence of the poor and social outcasts. 2 The proclamation of religious truths. To a commission of inquiry that approached him on behalf of John the Baptist.com/doc/131195019/New-Francis-and-New-Aracoeli  New Francis and New Aracoeli1 ? – may be consulted at http://pt. but was addressed to them with a slant which we designate as “preferential option for the poor”.

A church of the real poor has disturbing implications for a pompous hierarchical set-up. Jesus was accused of being a political agitator and the high priests of his own people endorsed the accusation.The examples could be multiplied. The high priests have condoned. The situation has not changed with times. when not actively joining hands with world capitalism. An important and very vital ingredient of the good news of Jesus is his promise of resurrection to those who follow him with the Cross. The advice to do justice to the poor and not only charity has not found many takers. It does not appear to have been advice to practise charity or to give something out of one’s abundance. One needs only to study the attitudes and statements of the bishops and their conferences regarding the national security regimes in Latin America or closer at home. it has worsened. Mind you the cross was reserved as an effective deterrent punishment for those who were regarded as a serious threat to the Roman Empire! The good news and its denunciation of injustice without fear is consequentially political. because it is essentially evangelical. We are told by the Gospel-writer who narrates the incident that “the young man heard these words and went away sad” (Matthew 19:21-22). during the emergency of 1975. Suffice to recall the instance of the rich young who approached Jesus for his advice and was told: “Sell what you own and give the produce to the poor”. to silence the prophets in the churches of the Third World. The Christ’s stress on the commandment of love and his refusal to allow Peter to defend him with a sword did not save him from ending up on a cross. . It is rather a call to follow Jesus in fearlessly challenging any system of privilege and power that creates and sustains the life-situations of the poor. Even those entrusted with the mission of Jesus have preferred to preach the beatitudes to the poor “in spirit’. Such an evangelical situation always leads to the Cross. The Cross is not an invitation to suicide or passive acceptance of a depressing situation as God-given.

is to be the last word in human history. Ironically. On the contrary. The process of domestication of the Church began early in the 4th century with the emperor Constantine. Even the imperial bed chambers had been invaded by concubines that had secretly welcomed the new dispensation and its nobler treatment of the . It is the good news of resurrection that poses a serious threat and a challenge: If life. a well-organized and convinced minority appeared to be a better ally than a superior number of indulgent and variously minded sectaries. However. their numbers had increased with every bout of persecution. He had trained a band of disciples to continue his work under the leadership of one from among themselves. He had seen that persecutions had not succeeded in getting the Christians to how before the emperor or the pagan gods of Rome. The mission of Jesus did not end with his tragic death. To a discerning prince. Peter. the oppressors and their collaborators can no longer look for solace m their cherished belief that the dead tell no tales. and their fold was drawing increasing numbers from the depressed classes of the Roman empire. Peter was open to correction.It is not the wise caution of their pastors but only their faith in Jesus who died and rose again that gives strength to the poor in the world today. and not death. In this way the good news of resurrection and hope for the poor becomes bad news and a nightmare for those who live at their expense. This first nonItalian pope had his shortcomings. and Jesus even called him Satan when Peter sought to dissuade him from adopting the path of confrontation and inviting a violent death. That has not been the case with many of his successors. it has become bad news for the institutional church which is faced by the challenge of making itself relevant to the Third World.

As the emperors faded out. popes replaced them. The Cross of Jesus came to be less of a sign of protest against injustice and oppression of the poor. The chaos of the empire became the opportunity of the Church. It marked the beginning of papal theocracy run with decretals and codes of (“canon”) law. The popes of the renaissance were splendid mundane figures who took an animated share in the political passions and rivalries as well as in the baser appetites of their age. Constantine decided to co-opt Christianity by making it the official religion of the empire. It also marked the beginning of its alienation from its prophetic moorings. In an over-expanded empire faced with the pressure of German hordes on its frontiers and with a strained and crumbling economy within. The Church had taken over the task of being judge and persecutor.females. They had “nephews” and “nieces”. and the growing accumulation of power gave rise to most sordid developments at the centre of Christendom. . but only as motives for grandiose styles of art and architecture. The manger and the Cross continued to inspire. wars. political murders et al became their routine modus operandi to achieve this. Simony3. 3 Sale of spiritual goods. for whom it was one of their principal ambitions to provide establishments corresponding to their rank and position. it did immense harm to the Church. The Church of the martyrs was becoming a distant cry. the offspring of their illegitimate unions. It began to flutter on the banners of the crusaders and to preside over the autos-de-fé (burnings of infidels). If his bold decision did some good to the empire by staying its collapse for a while. What it was losing by way of moral authority it sought to make up with worldly pomp and jurisdictional controls Christianity was transformed into Christendom with all that was worst in the western culture. The Church followed where the State had led.

It was not surprising therefore that in almost every Third World country the struggle for political emancipation was accompanied by feelings and often actions against the Church for its piggy-back stance in colonial times. and the markets for industrial goods. Faithful to its tendency of understanding the needs of the people a little too slowly and of doing something about it is even more slowly. This would have been timely and would be appreciated when the people had been struggling for their national and cultural independence. Read more at http://pt. The Pope blessed the Portuguese venture ensuring their monopoly of the markets in the East in exchange of their commitment to convert new peoples and establish and maintain the Church institutions.This travesty of good news attained global proportions with the European expansion to Asia. The Iberian nations that led the vanguard of expansion were blessed by the papacy with umpteen bulls that legitimized their colonial spoils. precious metals. Africa and the Americas in search of spices. the Roman Catholic Church has undertaken a very delicate tight-rope dancing.scribd. the Church’s great concern in recent times has been for inculturation.com/doc/9503789/Padroado-portugues-no-Oriente . The preaching of the universal brotherhood and eternal reward in heaven effected a softening and surrender of populations that would have to be otherwise decimated by the colonial arms. The papacy had nothing to lose but everything to gain against the unhappy background of the crusades that had failed and of the fresh protestant threats to its authority. As a result of this unholy alliance of State and Religion the “good news” was thrust upon the colonial populations that were consequently deprived of their material and cultural wealth. The Patronato or Padroado4 concessions gave the Iberian crowns exclusive control over their discoveries with the assurance that other nationalities would not seek a share in the colonial booty under the guise of missionary interest. 4 Accord between the Portuguese State and the Holy See at the time of Disccoveries. With the end of colonialism and with the new stage of world domination by transnational capitalism.

and possibly even an enthusiastic support of the Church. but by then “liberation” that we are concerned about will become a non-issue. such a multiplication of fishes and loaves is not aimed at helping the poor to fish for themselves and bake their own loaves. and with the best of intentions the Church has been a most active collaborator in this deadly game on behalf of the multinationals and their national dependents that need the poor to be kept just alive in order to be further exploited. the Church has preferred to see the ghost of Marxism in the movements of the Christians in the Third World rather than to understand their sorry plight critically. As for its world-wide projects of charity which are generously supported by the transnational agencies. In the meantime the Church will continue to find it safer to carry on with its sermons about unity and its practice of traditional charity. It is certain that peoples’ struggles for Liberation will in course of time find a reluctant.Right now the place of the Church ought to have been with the people struggling under the oppression of transnational capitalism with its base in the United States of America. The unity sermons will continue to toe the line subtly dictated by the capitalist control over the ideological apparatus of communication and information. GT . and while promoting an illusion of unity that undermines the effort of the oppressed to come together iv solidarity. Dependence is the name of the game. the Church may only sporadically and through its few prophetic members denounce the disunity that the capitalist system promotes to “divide and rule the Third World. While obsessed by the fear of social analysis that points to class-struggle. However.

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