by Rev. Fr. V.V. Paulose
Corruption - Noitpurroc
“Take no bribes.” (Exodus 23:8)
Corruption - Noitpurroc
“Take no bribes.” (Exodus 23:8)
Noitpurroc, the reverse reading of corruption, is an underneath mythological palace, but in reality, is a death trap to anyone entering its orbit.
“You are stupid people. The minister was asking Rs 15 crores, why didn’t you pay the money?” a fellow industrialist asked Ratan Tata, who denied to pay the bribe for starting an Airline in India. This is the culture that we follow today. Tata said, “I didn’t want to go to bed knowing well that I have set up an Airline by paying Rs 15 corers as bribe.”
Agreed, there are a few exceptional heroes who have turned their backs to bribe and corruption. If that species also ends, then the sun may never rise again giving way to eternal darkness everywhere.
The pontiff of insurance, Madoff is in jail for 150 years in the USA for corruption. Raja, the Telecommunication Minister now famous for the 2G spectrum scam of more than Rs 170,000 crores, was pressurized to resign from the Ministry of Mr. Clean, Manmohan Singh in India. The Commonwealth Games that was recently held in Delhi was an international shame for all Indians because of the corruption committed by the authorities headed by Kalmadi, and the way it was shabbily conducted. Adarash flats in Mumbai earmarked only for the Kargil war heroes completely diverted to politicians, judges and army generals. At last the corruption head, the chief minister was resigned. There is corruption everywhere.
Corruption is the root cause for underdevelopment, poverty, squalor, unemployment and all maladies of the world. This is not an exception even in the religious and spiritual world. The spiritual world should be the correcting catalyst agent for this time old cancerous malady, but it has become the fountain of corruption, from top to bottom. A great awakening rooted in the spirit of Jesus and its action from the bottom - a total revolution is a great cry now in the Christian world. The whip that Jesus had used against the priests and leaders, who were conducting business in the Temple of Jerusalem, is imminent now. Religion is now becoming the sanctuary for corrupted imbeciles and perverted scoundrels.
What was once considered a religion that millions died for and believed, has now partially turned into a business. In the name of subscription, tithe, penny collection, a love offertory, collection to pay the minister, share for festivals, Bishop’s building fund, money for Holy Mass; people are penalized and exploited by the authorities who are supposed to be their guardian and leaders to guide them to heaven. Actually, it is sheer exploitation of the spiritual thirst of the common flocks. The bottom line is that if anything needs to be done, then there is a bribe to pay.
Corruption and bribery are institutionalized in religion. To win a case, both groups of the Syrian fractions of Bishops bribed the same Magistrate, resulting in two different judgements within a few days. Alas! The titles of priesthood, Bishophood and prime posts are on sale in the open markets. Even the Holy Sacrament of Marriage and its annulment can be bought and sold. Any posts in hospitals, schools or any other secular institutions run by the Church go to the highest bidder.
What does the Bible say about bribe and corruption? “You shall take no bribe, for bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right” (Exodus 23:8). The sons of Samuel took bribes and perverted justice. According to Job, “Fire consumes the tents of bribery” (Job 15:34).
David prays to God not to remove him with whose right hands are full of bribes (Psalms 26:10). Solomon says, “The wicked man accepts bribes” (Proverbs 17:23). Delilah was bribed and the power of Samson was squandered. Haman bribed Ahaserus to destroy the Jews. The chief priests bribed Judas and Jesus was betrayed (Mt 26:15,27). The soldiers were bribed to declare that the disciples stole the body of Christ (Mt 28:12-15). Governor Felix seeks a bribe from Paul (Acts 24:26).
I strongly refute the argument put forth for the practicability of this rule - without bribe and corruption, the Church and its institutions can never grow in this 21st century. This is a fallacy against the reality and is an anti-thesis of Christianity.
Christianity has grown through the people who have listened and followed Jesus’ way of life, not by the power of the world - money, influence or any material dependency.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Actually, the decay and the death knell of the Church commenced with bribery and corruption. If you want to pin the last nail on the coffin of Christianity, then allow bribery and corruption.
When I took charge as the vicar of St. Thomas Jacobite Syrian Church in Chennai, Annangar in 1985, it was a small dilapidated shed and had hardly 25 families. The weekly collection was a maximum of Rs. 50-60, and the future seemed bleak - no money and very few members.
The dedicated members trusted in Jesus and they started prayer vigils and fasting. We collectively decided not give bribe and get things done. The General body agreed not to have any compulsory collection in any demanding situation. There was only a voluntary yearly subscription at the members’ will. The first four years had no offertory box inside or outside the church. There were no fees for any sacraments, even for a marriage. There were no special gifts given to the priests and bishops. I faced stiff protests but did not budge.
Miraculously, the Church has grown. The membership has increased to about 300 families. The adjacent land was purchased by taking loans from people and all amounts were repaid meticulously. A beautiful church in a modern design was erected. By God’s Grace, we also built a three-storied rehabilitation centre with parsonage. Now it is the headquarters of the Mylapore Diocese of our Church.
We stepped into the mission field by starting a home for the homeless in 1991. We purchased seven acres of land for setting up the institutions in 1994 and 2002, and started a mission hospital beside the Calcutta National HY in 2004. A building of 20,000 sq. feet area to render palliative care for cancer patients was completed in 2009 costing more than Rs 1.25 crores. We did not bribe anyone to get the electricity connection, telephone connection and water connection or even for the license to run the Pharmacy. There were never ever any compulsory collections made from people to meet our costs. People used to highlighted me for a hedge fund and deposit for running the institutions. But we never caved in.
Our policy was no profit oriented business under our church and no balance of money in the end of the financial year.. People give freely that should be given back to the people freely those who deserve. Once, by the pressure of the people and the dearth of money, we started an English medium school. But it was an aborted attempt., Without any bank balances Jesus has given us monthly Rs two lakhs to run all our institutions with out any deficit. Jesus is great . He runs the church not we. All the glory to Him, Him alone.
Money is the life line of bribery and corruption. So firstly the source of money should be capped. Then everything will be in order. The beneficiaries and the donors should know that you are not doing any business but dealing with death and life of people.. So it’s better to decide not to receive or give any bribe in the name of gifts in cash or kind. Without proper receipts and accounts no collection or kaimotthu or gifts to any dignitaries of the church. People should know that you have the right to know what purpose and where your money was spent. Transparency in all dealings should be maintained. Eternal vigil and checks and bounds for all activities of the church officials should be entertained..
Is it possible to run a church without bribery and corruption? Yes, I believe it is possible. I detest the concept of giving and taking bribes. The Bible prohibits bribery and corruption. We should be the forerunners of cleanliness, both in the spiritual and temporal world. We should be zero tolerant to corruption. It is an alien element in our body and the society. It should be rooted out for the regeneration of the Church and her growth. Other types of growth are superficial and their end is at the door.
“Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and bribe corrupts the heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:7).
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