Desecrating Our Sacred Spaces

One can only hang one’s head in shame that a secular press reporter had to highlight the incongruity of the Church venturing out into tourism and such other commercial activities. The report rightly points out the world’s expectation of the church to distinguish itself by its selfless and sacrificial service to the world. It is also surprising that a reporter, with little knowledge of what is happening in the diocese and without having any close contact with Bishop Kuruvilla, has come to such a perceptive understanding of the bishop’s hidden agenda and the mercantile ways of his thinking that he (the church) is “unequivocally on a mission to explore the potential of tourism”.
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The level to which he has degenerated is manifested in the callousness with which he has become a spokesperson of the tourism industry. Bishop Kuruvilla was flaunting the examples of how the church had already engaged in the tourism industry citing the example of the retreat center in Goa. The bishop could only see the many retreats of clergy and churches, and visits of many congregations and church groups led by pastors as tourism activities. Isolated attempts by churches to utilize spaces in tourist locations for the construction of homestay cottages can be understood as human follies, but when it is advertised as well designed plan of action to join the neo-liberal economic band wagon and to work for “the well-being of humanity”, it becomes pernicious.

What many of us have been trying to bring home to the public has now been acknowledged as true by the bishop himself: that his primary agenda is “development” of the church properties, that development for him is to make the church financially rich and also in the process enrich himself, that the unutilized land of the church should be sold and invested in homestay cottages and tourism projects, that the lands in such prime locations should be leased out for good sums and again invested in other economically attractive commercial ventures, and that it should achieved at any cost and with urgency. The bishop views everything from a business angle and that is “spirituality” for him. But people have elected him to be their bishop and not to be the business manager of their properties. In short, he has not been able to rise beyond the level of an average Syrian Christian in Kodukulnaji who judges everything in life from the vantage point of its material benefit to him. He has denigrated his calling to this high office of moral leadership.

The saying ‘the fox’s eyes will always be in the hen’s cage’ is being illustrated by the bishop’s actions and his public utterances. His heart is very much set on things of this world. He is determined to store up “treasures on earth”. All the talk of storing up “treasures in heaven”, he considers as crap.  He is also determined to eliminate anybody who stands in the way of his design for diocesan development- a misnomer for filling one’s coffers. What was started as a Retreat Center in Munnar has been now been given away to SN Tourist home. The Kindergarten school in the Bethel Ashram premises is now a gymnasium and a beauty Parlor; another building on the same premises is now the office of the N.C.C. The English Buglow in Fort Kochi has already been leased out or is awaiting to be leased out. As per the news report, five cottages are under construction in the Vythiri church compound.  The beautiful landscapes of Wayanad are seen more in terms of its tourist potentials and the income that they would generate than in terms of the possibilities of realizing gospel values. What has been once considered sacred spaces have all been desecrated into “houses of trade.”  The gravity of these actions will become more poignant, when one realizes that these developmental initiatives have been undertaken without the knowledge and consent of the appropriate constitutional bodies and officers of the church.

 The gospel of Matthew describes the very calling of the church in the context of Jesus being moved with compassion on the multitude, “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”  (Matt. 9: 35-10: 8). Then he calls his disciples and sends them out with the authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness and to proclaim the gospel of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God by healing  the sick, raising the dead, cleansing those who have leprosy, and driving out demons. Then he sternly advised them to carry forward this ministry by taking on utter poverty and not to fall into the trap of assuming that gospel mandate of proclaiming the good news and of making people whole can be reduced to a market activity of buying and selling. Jesus instructed, “Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff” (Matt. 10: 9). It is in obedience to this command that Peter and John tell the lame man sitting at the gate of the temple called ‘beautiful’, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts.3:6). It is high time that we realize that the proclamation of the gospel is not something that we do with money, but more importantly, it is what we do in total trust in God’s power to transform and in total abandonment to his leading. It is only such a “poor” church can be in the vanguard of God’s liberative mission in the world. It is high time we realize that globalization and its neo-liberal economic ordering of the world and its cultural assumptions are the demons that destroy the word today. 
This is a time that, not only bishop Kuruvilla, but the entire church should sit in “sack clothes and ashes” and repent of the ways we have allowed ourselves to be led astray and make a turn around to God’s ways. We have lost both our vision and mission. Let the coming days be days when we strive to reclaim them.

By,
Dr. Carl Vijayan
[The Author is formerly a professor of National Institute of Technology, Calicut. And also a renowned structural engineer. Formerly he was the lay secretary of CSI North Kerala Diocese and presently, he is the Chairman of CSI North Kerala Laity Fellowship]

22 comments:

mathew K.K. said...

As far as kurvilla is concerned, there is no surprise in commencing homestay,and cottages.Soon these cottages will become bars and homestay will turn to the centres of flesh trade.He is slowly showing his true colour.Before he leaves the diocese ,he may even pledge our recently constructed churches like Immanuel in Ernakulam. How can Kuruvilla represent the the entire Church Of South India?Whether the other 21 dioceses has given permisssion for it?Is he the official spokesman of CSI? Whether the announcement is made with the permisssion of Synod Secretary and respected Moderator?

Theodore,payyanur said...

well done DR.VIJAYAN.CONGRATULATIONS.we are thankful to you.but use simple language so that middle class people may understand easily.

Clifford said...

What to Say reading this!!!!

I have never ever heard our CSI vicars ever drived out impure spirits, healed any disease,sick, raising the dead, cleansing those who have leprosy, and driving out demons.

Because their Faith is Money, Power and honor among people.

Matt. 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Jolly Rachel John said...

CSI is closing down school and hospitals because of lack of funds, and improper management and they are busy building resorts and home stays. The priorities of the church are really not tolerable. When the CMS transfered properties to CSI before leaving India. They would have never though the fate of CSI would be this after 60 years. They might not have visioned such a thing in their wildest dreams. All credit goes to infamous Bishop of CSINKD, K P Kuruvilla. [Criminals in the cassock]

thampi,trissur said...

Now a days kerala tourism turned to 'sex tourism'.what urgency we had to start such cottages in wynad.Is there any concurrence from committees. I do not think so. see the pathetic condition of schools and parishes.This bishop is not interested in gospel work. he is fit to become a manager for hotels or resorts.why munnar,wynad and fortu cochi.let him sell our all saints church and convert it into hindu temple.I don't know why the moderator sitting in madras not uttering.he may also a party to international tourism.All are equally good in sales.

James Joshua said...

Some people have ultimate guts and no shame. Our politicians feel more shameful than Bishop K P Kuruvilla. Why be a bishop when the majority regret electing you as a Bishop and a few support you, just because there is some benefit for them. "35 lakh to Medakh" a handsome bribe to be a bishop, that it self shows that this bishop is not the anointed one. No one knows what is God's plan for Kuruvilla. I feel sorry for this bishop.

laben said...

Thanks to engineer vijayan for bringing out this information.I never thought that things are too much complicated in our diocese.persons like engineer vijayan must take initiatives to expose the ugly face of our men supporting the bishop.I always support persons like engineer vijayan.All the support and prayers are with you.I am not in kerala.

GABRIEL,MALTA said...

Some bishops are always like this.when they get in to the office they simply assume that they are kings.but when people start to react they will see the bottom of power.we know what happened to bishop thattungal thirumeni in the last time of his regime.so consistant pressure is needed to teach this man a lesson.he is not an anointed one.

csipass puthiyara said...

EXCELLENT WORK OF CHAIRMAN.WE HAVE A HUMBLE REQUEST.PLEASE MODERATE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. HOPE THAT YOU WILL COME OUT WITH MANY MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS. WE AT CSIPASS WILL HELP YOU IN ALL MEANS. WE HAVE TO PUT AN END TO THE ATROCITIES. THANKING YOU BELOVED CHAIRMAN OF CSINKLF. LONG LIVE BASEL MISSION+ANGLICAN UNITY. GOD BLESS YOU

csipass puthiyara said...

THANKS TO THE CHAIRMAN OF CSINKLF FOR COMING OUT WITH SUCH AN EFFECTIVE ARTICLE.WE EXPECT MORE AND MORE INFORMATIONS FROM YOU IN THE DAYS TO COME.PLESE TRY TO USE SIMPLE LANGUAGE. WE ARE ALSO GETTING COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE ON OUR BLOG by name- csipass.blogspot.com .
plese note that people residing in various parts are eager to know the latest informations.They are agitated.We request you to publish atleast one article like this weekly.Thanking you.with love and regards..
CSIPASS WORKERS.

Betty,thrissileri said...

Being women I have feeling that a public election should conduct to select a bishop. Instead of selecting a person from outside the diocese let people decide a priest serving any of the churches inside the diocese.For selection US method can be adopted. Democracy without any discrimination. Try this method so that the guilty can not leave the diocese.

Jairaj thoothukudi said...

Dear Dr. Vijayan, Congratulations for the bold position you have taken in this matter. I am excited that people like you have come out openly to call a spade a spade. Let God almighty bless you abundantly!

jayaraj,kannur said...

I am so happy to read this article.even now it is not too late for us to share all the details in connection with corruptions.write more article Dr.carl.

Anonymous said...

Really the chairman of this fellowship very bold.I anticipate more number of stories like this.

Vinod, Kannur said...

Dear Bishop,
Don't you know One Diocesan councilor filed a criminal case against you?? Why don't you take action against him??

you are misguided by Earnest Edapally and another Gunda from Puthiyara Church. These people are Questioned by the Income Tax people. he has nothing from his family, all that he made is out of the way while in Govt. service and from the Church. Try to understand it and chase away these evil spirits. They will be chased like mad dogs in the streets sooner or later.

Give up your false pride Bishop. there is nothing we can FORGET and FORGIVE. But chase away those CRIMINALS beside you like Earnest Edapally. He is trying to create spark between NORTH and SOUTH people for his gains.

Unni and Jayachandra Hermon are the ones to be bexcommunicated from the church. If anything happens to Dr. Carl Vijayan, things will not be the same. We Kannur people are closely watching the entire episode going on. there is a limit for everything. once we are in the field, no turning back.

with all the respect and fear, Please Bishop, Accept the reality. leave your pride. we can sit together and settle, forget and forgive in the name of Lord Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

NO spark between south and north.No pally can create it.

soon a spark between a southern criminal and a northern criminal will happen.NO CRIMINALS ESCAPE FOR EVER. In between the mentally retarded criminal may die due to heart failure. praying for that only.

Thomas, Kakkanad said...

i cant understand why Achans are supporting this Bishop! especially Rev.Fenn (treasurer) and Rev.Jacob John (clergy secretary). i think they also have share in these business. Its time to react. otherwise these people will destroy our diocese.

Edward,palakkad said...

The basic reason behind this is money.Can you explain how many Achans are sincere.Only with the help of Achans and office bearers no bishop can act like this.Number of Achans in our diocese are not that much bad.But few are engaged in making money and other material benefits.Upadesis are also smarter than them.They get no other extra money.So surrounding the bishop for making money.This is a fact we must understand.

Sanal Godfred said...

This is common everywhere and this is an incurable attitude of most church heads

PAUL said...

Corruption is a universal phenomina.But recently we have seen the fate minister raja and cm rosayya.This bishop and my friend earnest are only small kids when compare with above ministers.Once the law catches it is the end of everything.Now i understand that they are in the incurable AILMENT of mental tension

just as I am said...

From the media, it is learned that KTDC is joining hands with CSI North Kerala churches to develop their properties for tourism
destination.

It is an irony that the church of Christ has reached at the footstool
of tourism. In the above referred news, I wonder what is the
‘spiritual ambience’ that this Bishop is speaking about when he is
getting his church married to tourism! The wine and the drinks that
some of the tourists will enjoy in church’s properties will surely
create a different ambience to which millions in Kerala have been addicted.

Clearly, it is a desperate attempt to utilize the huge land-based
infrastructure of the Church which they are unable to initiate any
biblical based philanthropic mission. To dress tourism as a ‘mission’
and to develop the Church’s infrastructure to cater to the modern
commercial tourism is nothing by a bankruptcy of Christian vision and
her philanthropic nature.

Christians have been always identified with healing missions,
educational missions and social developmental missions in society.
Tourism is never in the vocabulary of the Christian mission and it is
a mockery to call it so .

The Kerala government should be aware that this is a dreadful misuse
of the earthly riches of the church. These lands have freely come into
the hands of the church from their colonial past. The British had
handed over these lands with a clear understanding that they would be
used ONLY for philanthropic mission. But today these properties worth
crores of rupees are being either sold or misused in the name of "well
being of humanity". Kerala Government will only become unpopular if
they join hands with these charlatans of Christ's Gospel of the poor.



Abraham

Sunil jose said...

Beware of Bishop of CSINKD. Why i saw is that because there is a half masked man within him. because his activities seems to be like that for a common man like me.

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