Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Church demolition - addenda.

Three pertinent questions are raised by ‘anonymous’ about my post Churches on demolition line.

1) Is there any chance whether the Cardinal in Cochin will be able to prevent the demolition?

2)Who is funding these activities?

3)Can these funds be used for more appropriate purposes like teaching the priests the value of cultural heritage?

The Cardinal who is the Major Archbishop and Head of the Syro-Malabar Church can certainly prevent demolitions of old church buildings. Being a learned priest, he certainly would be aware of the importance of preserving the heritage landmarks.

But does he have the will or the capability? The Ernakulam Archdiocese, the seat of the Cardinal, is already involved in court cases regarding attempts to demolish two Parayil built churches - the family’s private oratory (1869 - see A Kerala Tharavad.) and the beautiful St. Rafael’s Church (1859) at Ezhupunna. There could be more such litigation relating to other churches.

Once the Cardinal came out with a strong statement deploring the construction of chapels and other structures flush by roads and disruption of traffic by church processions. An admirable stand. But nothing really happened.

Now, about the funds. Some of the churches like Ramapuram, are rich because of large number of offerings by devotees/pilgrims. Many Non Resident Indians also contribute generously. For them it is a payback to their home church, which of course is noble. But unfortunately, instead of restoration of old churches, the concept of building anew came up. Can the priests escape the responsibility for this? Can anyone conceive of old temples being replaced by modern structures?

The money can certainly be used for much more worthwhile purposes. When incompetent people play architect, cost of construction escalates and concrete monstrosities result. It is a pity that the Syro-Malabar Church (as far as I know) does not have design parameters for its churches. A classic example of the approach of the Church authorities is described in Laurie Baker - A Tribute.

A place of worship, like liturgy, should reflect the hopes, aspirations, ethos and history of the people who are to use it.


Also see:

Amazing Grace.

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