First of all, to my friends at Scroll and/or Wire, please feel free to use this headline when you cover this story. You *will* cover this story, won’t you?
Once upon a time, Mother Teresa had famously declared that “Abortion is the greatest threat to world peace.” When views like this are expressed by a person or an institution, the faithful generally assume that the provenance of such ideas has something to do with love and mercy and stuff like that.
But, being the sceptical pagan non-believer that I am, I knew there had to be a lowdown.
As the Jharkhand Child Welfare Commission found out, the business model is quite simple. Take in unwed mothers who have no place to give birth to their children and then sell those babies to childless couples.
Now you see why abortion is not just a threat to world peace, but also bad for business.
For an organization run by godmen and women, the Church is recently having lots of problems in India staying on the right side of the law … or the right side of humanity, for that matter.
Just last month, the principal of a missionary school was booked for aiding and abetting the gangrape of five anti-trafficking activists in Khunti area of Jharkhand. This news came in around the same time we learned about four priests of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in Kerala using a woman’s confession to blackmail and rape her.
I must also remark that the parade of skeletons tumbling out of the closet in the church has been accompanied by a marked lack of creativity from the ranks of artists, political cartoonists, poets, writers, feminists and sundry “Azaadi” activists in India. Incidentally, I found somewhere on the internet this collage of political drawings that were publicized when the Kathua rape case was at the peak of the news cycle.
With the Church finding itself bang in the middle of accusations of blackmail, gangrape and selling babies, I guess the well-meaning people who drew these pictures don’t really know where to start. So, to these artists and cartoonists, I present this picture of a crucifix to stimulate their creativity. Let your imagination take wing. Don’t hold back now, please.
I see several possibilities here. Do you?
Anyway, I digress. We all know that the Church has often had a hard time understanding how to behave with children. The Church has had to spend at least $3 billion in settlements and other costs associated with sexual abuse. We should note here that much of this was paid out in developed Western countries. How much more sexual crime lies unreported and unpunished in poorer regions of the world is anyone’s guess.
The attitude of the Church towards sexual abuse, such as asking the accused priests to pray as a “punishment” has never inspired much confidence. In any case, the Pope himself enjoys total diplomatic immunity from prosecution because he is the head of Vatican City, which is a sovereign country. Even the last Pope, who abdicated his throne, is immune from prosecution because he stays within the sovereign territory of the Vatican.
A final word. You might wonder how the Vatican got this way. How did this tiny speck of land come to be a sovereign state on its own? Here’s the man you should thank for that:
That’s Benito Mussolini, the guy on the left, seen in this picture with one of his rather famous friends.
You see, at one time the Popes used to control vast amounts of land in what is modern-day Italy. In fact, Italy was just a disparate scattering of city-states back then. But when Italians wanted to form a real country, they took control of these Papal lands.
Understandably, the Pope was very very angry when all this wealth was taken away and given to the Italian people. The angry Pope promptly excommunicated the King of Italy and forbade Catholics from voting in Italian Parliamentary Elections. Evidently, God did not offer to pay his bills.
This impasse between the Italian government and the Pope continued until Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy. The Church wanted cash and Mussolini’s Fascist Party wanted somebody who could give them an endorsement from God himself.
A match made in heaven, if you will. In exchange for sovereignty over Vatican City, a cool $39 million in cash and another ton of money in government bonds, Mussolini became the official messenger of God.
Now you see where Baba Ram Rahim went wrong.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.