May 2017

Unspeakable Horrors

I really enjoyed Mary McWay Seaman’s review of Mark Riebling’s Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler (March).

My uncle was a Catholic priest and a member of the partisans in northern Italy. He was captured by the fascists, who imprisoned him in the provincial capital of Modena for three days before turning him over to the Nazis. The Nazis sent him to Dachau and then transferred him to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he experienced unspeakable horrors. My uncle was liberated in May 1945, after which he returned to his parish in the province of Modena and participated in the establishment of the Christian Democratic Party in Italy.

Although born in the U.S., my uncle and his four brothers were orphaned in childhood and sent to be raised by an aunt in the mountains of northern Italy. Three of his brothers returned to the U.S., but my uncle, the Rev. Msgr. Sante Bartolai, stayed in Italy and entered the seminary. After his liberation from Mauthausen, he returned to his village and founded Boys Town of Northern Italy, spoke out against communism in the 1950s and 1960s, created a dairy cooperative in the group of towns in the Modena province, and got others to sponsor ceramic factories so that local people could stay in the area and still have work and a good trade. He wrote his memoirs, From Fossoli to Mauthausen (1966), so that we would never forget the horrors of those years.

My uncle remained active in parish work until his death in 1978. His name is inscribed in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., as a “righteous gentile.” He saved many Italian Jews, and he was heavily engaged in the Underground.

Sadly, once a lie is repeated, it can become an entrenched myth. It is heartening to know that people are working to counter the awful “fake news” that has been perpetrated against Pope Pius XII for all of these years.

Thank you for Seaman’s wonderful review of this necessary book. I hope many will read it.

Lucia Bartoli
Idyllwild, California




Feminist Culture? What Feminist Culture?

A few paragraphs into “The Rise of the ‘All-Conquering Female’” (guest column, March), I concluded that the author must be male (definitely!), probably single, or unhappily married or divorced, and without daughters. He must also be someone with the leisure to see “practically every movie made today” and watch many TV series religiously. He uses the term Nietzschean twice, so he fits a certain intellectual mode.

I cannot disagree with his view of movies and popular TV series because I have seen only two movies in 20 years and have little time for TV. However, as a happily married woman with 10 children (sons and daughters), I live in the real world and do not see an all-powerful “‘you go, girl’ feminist culture” that victimizes young males who now feel “adrift.” Yes, women might be more successful in universities these days. Perhaps that is because they work harder on a level playing field than men and are less distracted by sports or entertainment. But the social power structure — CEOs in business, upper echelons of government, even the Church — is dominated by males, with women in many cases still getting less pay than men for doing the same jobs. And the poverty rolls are filled with single women raising children whose fathers are absent.

The author is willing to accept “you go, girl” (a recent phrase to encourage girls) only if we “say ‘you go, boy’ with as much vigor.” Yet “atta boy” is an old, commonplace phrase that parents, teachers, coaches, and pastors have long used to encourage boys in all fields that dates back to when girls were complimented mainly on their appearance.

Janice Hicks
Oak Ridge, Tennessee






Ed. Note: The author of the column in question is none other than Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles. Bishop Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, a multimedia apostolate (www.WordOnFire.org), and host of the acclaimed and award-winning PBS miniseries Catholicism. Film and television media is his milieu, his corner of the vineyard, so to speak, which explains his familiarity with it. Bishop Barron is “definitely” a male, and he is “single” without biological daughters (though surely he has an untold number of spiritual daughters — and sons).





A Difficult Sell

Anne M. Maloney’s vibrant article (Jan.-Feb.) is a potent reminder of the truth encapsulated in her title, “What Would Flannery O’Connor Say?” While O’Connor was not infallible, her fiction, essays, and letters are a vademecum for Catholics who wish to hear from a woman who looked faithfully at the world through both her own eyes and the eyes of the Church.

In the case of Betty Hester, who occasioned some of the best of O’Connor’s letters explaining the faith of the Church and her own reasoned and free adherence to it, Maloney finds a wonderful response to those with persistent same-sex attraction. O’Connor assured Hester that her personal revelations did not take away the “complete respect” with which O’Connor viewed her. Particularly touching and bracing for this father and godfather is O’Connor’s resolute determination to exercise her office as sponsor to Hester by sharing the burden of Hester’s own difficulties.

Perhaps more difficult are some of Maloney’s suggested lessons. It is exactly right to say that we should all have the attitude and bearing of complete respect for our brothers and sisters who experience difficulties regarding sexual attraction and even sexual identity. But Maloney’s suggestion that the “freakishness” of such problems should be dealt with in the context of recognizing that Original Sin has rendered us all freakish in many ways, those with opposite-sex attraction often no less than those with same-sex attraction, is a difficult sell in a culture that has ceased to ask for tolerance and demands approval and celebration of every kind of sexual attraction and action upon it. We face strong headwinds, since Christian views on sexual morality for those with opposite-sex attraction have been steadily eroded now for almost two centuries. Even many Christians have rejected the “freakishness” of same-sex attraction and behavior, perhaps because they have rejected traditional Christian moral claims about their own sexual behavior. It seems unfair to hold onto claims of “gay” freakishness when we have rejected the claims of our own “straight” freakishness.

Particularly ironic is that in an age that celebrates self-creation in a way that ignores the claims of nature, claims of identity are weighed down more heavily than ever by the claims of the fallen aspects of our nature — we are defined by our own history of behavior and desire. What Christ brings to us all is the claim that redemption, as O’Connor noted, delivers us from being subsumed into our own history of thought, word, and deed. This brings us to the most difficult issue of all: how to carry the cross of our own brokenness and tell others about that possibility. Maloney hints at the end of her article that we must pursue the mystery of purity. Too often we moderns think of “purity” only in negative terms — not acting on illicit sexual urges and, perhaps, rejecting the thoughts that accompany them. But purity in Catholic terms, “singleness of heart,” is focused first on knowledge of the Lord, who alone reveals to us what it means to be human.

A good priest I know once told me that we couldn’t preach Jesus to our culture because it had rejected the natural law. There was, he told me, not enough nature for grace to build on. But while grace theoretically “builds on nature,” the reality is that Christ is the One who reveals to us the fullness of what it means to be human. All of our natures are broken at some level, and it is more typical that an encounter with Christ in art or (better) in Christians themselves will bring people to see what it is to be whole and what is freakish in a person. As Maloney has rightly reminded us, Flannery O’Connor gives us a model for speaking as and, more importantly, being fully Catholic. 

David P. Deavel
Editor, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture and Visiting Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, Minnesota




ANNE M. MALONEY REPLIES:

I agree with Dr. Deavel that Flannery’s response to Betty is both humbling and inspiring. I am also grateful for his observation that it is not easy to follow Flannery’s example. As he points out, contemporary culture overwhelmingly refuses to acknowledge any sort of freakishness, if what we mean by “freakishness” is the brokenness that resulted from the Fall. As Flannery herself said, “The Fall, the Redemption, and the Judgment. These are doctrines that the modern secular world does not believe in. It does not believe in sin, or in the value that suffering can have, or in eternal responsibility, and since we live in a world that since the sixteenth century has been increasingly dominated by secular thought, the Catholic writer often finds himself writing in and for a world that is unprepared and unwilling to see the meaning of life as he sees it” (Mystery and Manners, 1961).

Dr. Deavel is right that it is no longer only the “secular world” that is blind to the Christian mystery. Any doctrinally serious Catholic faces this dilemma. One need think only of the challenge facing a Catholic who tries to explain what “unnatural” means with reference to homosexual sex to someone who is merrily contracepting in his own heterosexual marriage.

Finally, I am grateful for Dr. Deavel’s reminder that for Flannery (and, it is hoped, for all of us), purity is not a negative word implying only rigid control and denial but is, rather, a positive statement of one of the rules for a joyful life. Flannery’s example and witness teach us that our own joyful Catholic lives often will be the only catechism other people will ever experience. We cannot afford to forget this.





Unsound Criticism

David Hartman’s article “A Protestant Considers the Catholic Magisterium” [Sept. 1989; reprinted in Jan.-Feb. as part of the NOR’s 40th anniversary retrospective — Ed.] contains many favorable comments about the Catholic Church. But it also resorts to familiar subjects of sharp criticism — particularly, the Crusades and the Inquisition. There are, no doubt, many readers who understand the unsoundness of these criticisms. There are also, however, many in this world who hold and advance these criticisms. For such people, I recommend a new book that examines not only the Crusades and the Inquisition but other topics of attack on the Church. Titled Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History (Templeton Press, 2016), it was written, interestingly enough, by Rodney Stark, a non-Catholic. The book covers a number of prominent topics in anti-Catholic history and cites historians in support of the unsoundness of these attacks on the Church.

Guy Bosetti
Richmond, Virginia




The Pro-Life Movement’s Major Blunder

Your New Oxford Note “Isn’t It Ironic?” (March) is more than ironic; it is really sad! It contains a statement that made me want to scream: “Half a million people took to the streets for the Women’s March…the day before the anniversary of the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision…. Even after forty-four years of legal abortion, so many…women’s-rights crusaders still seem to be completely in the dark about what abortion is, that it is the willful killing of an innocent human life, that it is violent, that it harms women physically and psychologically.”

It’s not just the women’s-rights crusaders who don’t get it; it’s also the millions of other women who are not necessarily pro-choice but who are, in effect, ignorant of the reality of abortion. They’ve been the target of a fusillade of lies involving the misuse and distortion of the word abortion, which has been drained of any real meaning and is repeatedly defined by code words — reproductive health, choice, equality, etc. These millions of women — even after 44 long years — are vulnerable primarily because most pro-life groups have long ignored the Supreme Court’s critical Doe v. Bolton decision (1973).

Pro-life writers continue the habit of referencing Roe v. Wade as the legal decision that has turned our country into a killing field. But Roe is only half the story. Doe v. Bolton is central to understanding the radical nature of Roe v. Wade. Roe established the legality of abortion, but under Roe, abortion could be restricted during the final three months of pregnancy, unless the life or health of the mother were at stake. With Doe, the Supreme Court defined “health” as encompassing all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the mother’s well-being. Doe destroyed the limits of Roe! Ever since, pro-life groups have failed to educate women that Doe has allowed women to kill their babies for any reason and at any time!

Abortion advocates have worked hard to keep Doe v. Bolton out of the discussion, and, I’m sorry to say, most pro-life leaders have been duped into letting it happen. Is it any wonder Americans are confused, and the slaughter continues?

Ignoring Doe has been and still is the major educational blunder of the pro-life movement. It has helped the abortion industry entrench the pro-choice mindset into the core of our social life. And so we find ourselves engaged in a horrible 44-year-long (and counting) civil war in which Americans are killing Americans.

Charles N. Marrelli
Irvine, California




Intelligent Design: Stuck in an Intellectual Corner

In response to Tom Bethell’s article “Darwinian Departures from Reality” (March): In any reflection on the truthfulness of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, it is necessary to separate his scientific claims from his philosophical ones. It is possible to defend Darwin’s scientific position that living organisms evolve over time through the gradual acquisition of beneficial variations that improve their survivability, while simultaneously denying his philosophical position that this process of natural selection is meaningless and purposeless. Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of natural selection, eventually made that very distinction as he distanced himself from Darwin’s ideological materialism. It is impossible not to see meaning and purpose in the progression of life when comparing the early appearance within the fossil record of simple unicellular organisms and primitive marine invertebrates to the much later appearance of complex, sophisticated mammals such as intelligent primates. Clearly, the evolution of life on earth manifests a telos of increasing self-preservation, self-awareness, and self-direction.

Sadly, many of the adherents of the self-styled intelligent-design (ID) movement are unable to defend the meaning and purpose of life on earth without simultaneously denying the possibility that God used an evolutionary mechanism. Many within the ID movement have backed themselves into this intellectual corner because they have accepted materialism’s false interpretation of the ontological nature of the universe. Scientific materialism looks at the physical world through the lens of nominalism, which erroneously claims that material things are reducible to unintelligible entities without intrinsic natures or agency. To such materialists, there is no meaning or purpose underlying the numeric information obtained through the study of physical things except for what is thrust upon it by the mind of the investigator, just as a watchmaker forcefully imposes his design upon metal to make a time-keeping device.

Unfortunately, many Christian apologists, perhaps intimidated by the esoteric nature of mathematical physics or excessively dualistic themselves in separating supernatural faith from natural reason, make a Faustian bargain. They exchange the correct understanding of God as One who creates the material world in the image of His intelligence, goodness, and power by infusing it from the very beginning with an intrinsic design from which life emerges naturally, for the mistaken view of God as a very intelligent but anthropomorphic “life-maker” who, in nominalist fashion, must impose the design of living things upon what would otherwise be an unintelligible and uncooperative physical universe.

The real God, “by whom we live and move and have our being,” imbues everything He creates with meaning and purpose, including the material world of subatomic particles, whose properties and effects are mathematically describable regularities that constitute genuine natures with true agency. Moreover, the intrinsic laws of physics that constitute the intelligible foundation of this material universe of forces and particles are so beautifully designed that even the slightest departure from their precise mathematical structure would make the emergence of life impossible. Consequently, just as the intrinsic design contained within every seed will eventuate over time into a beautiful flowering plant, so has the intelligent design of the universe from its inception as the “seed” of the Big Bang flowered within some 14 billion years into the beautiful world of living things we experience today. (Man himself would, of course, need to be a separate creation since he possesses more than material powers.)

Douglas P. Miller, M.D.
Hickory, North Carolina




TOM BETHELL REPLIES:

Certainly we should distinguish between Darwin’s materialism and his theory of natural selection. But the latter is not scientific. It is a tautology. Survival of the fittest turns out to be the survival of the survivors. Also, it has never been shown that the history of life is a passage from simplicity to complexity. “Simple unicellular organisms” such as bacteria are with us today, and we don’t know what existed early on in life’s history. Does the doctor know that mammals are more complex than dinosaurs? If so, how? To be sure, the faculty of reason was “installed” into some mammals (humans) at a late stage, but that is as far as we can go.

 Dr. Miller both resents and misrepresents the “self-styled” intelligent-design movement. It is “unable to defend the meaning and purpose of life on earth without simultaneously denying the possibility that God used an evolutionary mechanism,” he says. Elsewhere, he allows that “the universe” is intelligently designed. The ID movement confines itself to science. Discerning “the meaning and purpose of life” lies outside the realm of science. The ID movement has shown that Darwin’s evolutionary mechanism is unable to explain the complexities of even the simplest known life forms.

Dr. Miller seems to want to embrace both God and Darwinism — minus Darwin’s materialism. His position is similar to that upheld by the BioLogos Foundation, which is also shared by Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes for Health. But the ID movement has shown that even the simplest organisms are too complex to have arisen on a step-by-step, or Darwinian, basis. The doctor is emphatic and self-assured in his religion, but ill-informed in his science.





A Letter to the President of Providence College

I sent the following letter to Fr. Brian Shanley, president of Providence College, after reading about his treatment of Anthony Esolen, a professor of Renaissance studies at this Catholic institution of higher learning, in your New Oxford Note “The Cult of Diversity at Providence College” (Jan.-Feb.):

Dear Fr. Shanley:

Recently, my 11-year-old granddaughter asked me what the phrase “fold like a cheap camera” means. I thought for a moment, and then I remembered an incident at your college, so I gave her an answer based on that occurrence.

It seems that a few dozen students with a bullhorn marched outside your office with a complaint about a respected, renowned, and acclaimed scholar who teaches at Providence College. They disagreed with something he had written. (If they read it, they did not understand it, and they did not wish to debate it in a scholarly manner.) Out came the usual name-calling, the negative labeling, and the bullying that one does not expect to find at a liberal-arts college, much less a Catholic liberal-arts college. And how did you handle the situation, given your responsibility to promote true academic freedom and establish an atmosphere of higher learning?

As we say in the business world, you covered your a**. I’m sure you “felt their pain.”

And that, I explained to my granddaughter, is what it means to “fold like a cheap camera.”

When I was a student at Seton Hall University in the late 1960s and early 1970s, some students “took over” a building on the main campus one night. When the president of the university was called, he said, “Shut off the heat and electricity. I’m going to bed.” The protestors abandoned the building in the middle of the night. I wonder if he felt their pain too.

Joseph E. Staskewicz
Southampton, New Jersey




The God of Particles

In his gracious review of my book Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science (March), Philip Lehpamer succinctly nails the major points I hoped to communicate. At the end of his review, he asks why a Catholic book on faith and science does not have a chapter on “Jesus, His divinity and relationship to the God who created everything.”

First, I did not dedicate an entire chapter to the subject, but I do explain (pp. 79-82) how science arose in a Christian culture, with reference to my earlier book, Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki (2014). That research shows how the revelation of the Incarnation and the One and Triune God inoculated the minds of scholars from the errors of pantheism and nurtured the worldview that led to the systemization of physical laws. The Catholic Church is the mother, so to speak, of modern science. 

Second, God the Creator is often attributed to God the Father, so I tend to write in those terms. However, this is not to exclude Christ. Because of the distinct relation (filiation) of the Son to the Father, we understand that Christ is also the Creator. Genesis 1:26 indicates the plurality of Persons in the Deity; our rich Catholic tradition affirms that the Holy Trinity is the source and end of all creation. 

Third, Mr. Lehpamer kindly notes that there is more to my story. As a chemist, I wrestled with the intricacies of nature at the quantum scale. In my personal life, I pushed materialism to its every sad logical conclusion. Then I granted intellectual assent to the truths of the faith. I understood that the God who created atoms not only created the entire cosmos but holds us in existence for our every breath, heartbeat, and thought, and knows everything about us down to every indeterminately orbiting electron, loves us still, and forgives our sins if we repent. “Perhaps when that story is told,” Lehpamer writes, “the reader will find out how she went from the God of particles to the Son of God who died on the Cross.” I hope so, but for now my explanations fail. All I can do is state it: The Son of God who died on the Cross is also the God of particles.

Stacy A. Trasancos
Hide A Way, Texas




The Limits of Religious Assent

Harry J. Booth’s comment that Catholics “have an ingrained DNA, if you will, to respect the Pope and expect whatever he says to be the Gospel truth even if it does not meet the criteria of an infallible pronouncement” (letter, March) describes a problem that I too have noticed. Whereas Protestants give too little recognition to God’s protection of His revelation, Catholics often expect too much by failing to acknowledge that there are varying degrees and definite limits to that protection.

Catholics are called to give the assent of faith to a pope’s ex cathedra pronouncements and to give religious assent to his other explicit teachings on issues of faith and morals. Catholics are always called to be respectful of the papal office and papal authority because Jesus Himself established it. But Catholics also have an obligation to affirm and witness to the truth of the Catholic faith as their conscience understands it.

In order to meet these differing obligations of conscience, Catholics need to have a solid and accurate understanding of how they relate to one another and how to identify when and to what degree each applies to a specific situation. Tragically, faulty information has spread concerning the pope’s infallible Magisterium and precisely how we identify when that Magisterium is present. As Mr. Booth notes, some Catholics erroneously believe that the pope is infallible whenever he teaches anything about faith or morals.

The only comment that I am aware of on the limits of the religious assent that Catholics must give to a pope’s non-infallible teachings was given by Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman. He pointed out that, by its nature, a pope’s teaching on faith or morals has priority over others’ opinions on the matter. The burden of proving any disagreement with the teaching of a pope lies with the person who chooses to disagree as an obligation of conscience. The pope’s teaching is “in possession,” as it were, of the right to guide our conscience.

As I understand it, we must never do what our conscience unambiguously tells us is wrong, but going beyond that absolute obligation to rejecting a pope’s moral guidance and publicly expressing disagreement with him brings into play the requirement for substantial evidence to show that he is indeed wrong.

James J. Harris
San Diego, California




THE EDITOR COMMENTS:

Papal infallibility was a controversial topic in Newman’s time, much more so than in our own, as the matter was hotly debated during and after his conversion (1845) and finally defined by Vatican I (1870). Naturally, Newman himself had much to say on the topic, and, as with much of what he wrote, his thoughts still have import for us today.

Pertinent to what Mr. Harris says, Newman wrote in his book Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (1875) that “conscience cannot come into direct collision with the Church’s or the Pope’s infallibility, which is engaged on general propositions and in the condemnation of particular and given errors.”

Newman elaborated: “Obedience to the Pope is what is called ‘in possession’; that is, the onus probandi of establishing a case against him lies, as in all cases of exception, on the side of conscience. Unless a man is able to say to himself, as in the Presence of God, that he must not, and dare not, act upon the Papal injunction, he is bound to obey it, and would commit a great sin in disobeying it. Prima facie it is his bounden duty, even from a sentiment of loyalty, to believe the Pope right and to act accordingly. He must vanquish that mean, ungenerous, selfish, vulgar spirit of his nature, which, at the very first rumor of a command, places itself in opposition to the Superior who gives it, asks itself whether he is not exceeding his right, and rejoices, in a moral and practical matter to commence with skepticism. He must have no willful determination to exercise a right of thinking, saying, doing just what he pleases, the question of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, the duty if possible of obedience, the love of speaking as his Head speaks, and of standing in all cases on his Head’s side, being simply discarded. If this necessary rule were observed, collisions between the Pope’s authority and the authority of conscience would be very rare. On the other hand, in the fact that, after all, in extraordinary cases, the conscience of each individual is free, we have a safeguard and security, were security necessary (which is a most gratuitous supposition), that no Pope ever will be able, as the objection supposes, to create a false conscience for his own ends.”

Regarding Pope Francis and the present controversy regarding Communion for the divorced and “remarried,” we would do well to recall Newman’s “take” on the limitations of papal power: “No Pope can make evil good. No Pope has any power over those eternal moral principles which God has imprinted on our hearts and consciences…. Infallibility is not impeccability” (letter to the editor of The Times, Sept. 9, 1872).





Grateful in Chungathara

In response to my letter (“A Plea from India,” Dec.), so far eight persons have responded positively and have sent around $4,000 to help the landless and homeless families in Kerala, India, in the Diocese of Sulthan Bathery. I am very, very grateful and much indebted to your generous readers!

For them I pray: May our very loving and lovely heavenly mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, sit you on her loving lap, hold you fast to her maternal bosom, kiss you tenderly on your foreheads, and protect you, quite safe and sound, under her blue virginal mantle, now and forever.

At your deathbed, those poor, hapless, and helpless families who have benefitted financially through your charitable act will be at your bedside, in spirit, to pray for you and to lead you peacefully to our eternal heavenly abode.

Fr. Thomas Thumpailchirayil
St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church, Chungathara P.O., Malappuram Dt.,
Kerala, India 679 334






Ed. Note: We too salute the readers who have responded to Fr. Thumpailchirayil’s plea on behalf of the impoverished people in his parish. Those who are interested in supporting his work may send contributions directly to him at the address above via international post. Due to IRS regulations, the NOR is not permitted to accept or forward donations intended for Fr. Thumpailchirayil.

Four thousand dollars is barely enough for one family to buy a plot of land approximately 1,740 square feet in size on which to build their own house. Countless more families could benefit immensely from such assistance. The American dollar, so overinflated here at home, can do wonders for the poor in Kerala. The letter below represents an additional opportunity to perform an act of charity and goodwill toward our impoverished brethren in foreign climes.

As with Fr. Thumpailchirayil, donations on behalf of Fr. Mattakatill’s parishioners must be sent directly to Fr. Mattakattil at the address listed at the bottom of his letter. Those readers who wish to verify the status of these priests and their objectives vis-à-vis their parishioners may contact the local ordinary, the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thomas, at: Catholic Bishop’s House (Dharamapitam), Sulthan Bathery P.O., Wayanad Dt., Kerala, India 673 592.





God’s Poor in Pathar & Bhoodanam

Affectionate greetings to your kind readers from the poor and God-loving people of Pathar and Bhoodanam villages in the Malappuram District of Kerala, India. We are storming Heaven with our prayers on your behalf so that the choicest blessings from above may shower upon you.

I am Fr. John Bosco Mattakattil, a Catholic priest of the Bathery Diocese. I was ordained to the priesthood on April 23, 1980. For the past 37 years I have served as a parish priest in different poor parishes of the Bathery Diocese. I am currently serving two very poor parishes in Malappuram District, St. George’s Malankara Catholic Church in Pathar and St. George’s Malankara Catholic Church in Bhoodanam.

This area is very backward in all aspects — educationally, culturally, industrially, financially, etc. The life situation of the people here is grim, miserable, and heart-rending. I am now straining my every nerve to wipe away the tears and alleviate the sufferings of the poor people of God without the distinction of caste, creed, color, gender, etc.

I would like to call your kind attention very urgently to the harrowing situation and the poor plight of some of our needy families. They have only a few cents of arid and infertile land that yields very little, even if the whole family is working hard on it. To add to their already pitiable plight, the demonization of the poor brings less value to their crops. Many earn their living by working for daily wages. The bread-winners of most families are either handicapped or suffering seriously from tuberculosis, cancer, heart and stomach complaints, or asthmatic bronchitis. They have only single-roomed or, at most, two-roomed, small, congested, dilapidated, moth-infested, bamboo-plaited leaking huts with mud floors and roofs thatched with coconut-tree leaves or hay. They cannot repair these dilapidated huts due to the shortage of money. Most of their children are not getting basic education because they cannot afford to send them to school.

The poor, innocent, and helpless children are the main victims and suffer the worst. In a family in which hunger and poverty run rampant, the weak and the handicapped children suffer untold and inexplicable mental and physical agonies, anguish, miseries, and hardships.

In view of the aforesaid facts, please remember our poor and needy families and, if you get a leading from above, render unto them a small, tiny financial aid. “Whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you do unto me” (Mt. 25:40).

I invoke God’s choicest blessings upon your kind readers.

Fr. John Bosco Mattakattil
St. George Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, Pathar P.O., Malappuram Dt.,
Kerala, India 679 334



Back to May 2017 Issue