“THE JERUSALEM CODE” Released
Kanpur (16th January): “The Jerusalem Code”, the fifth book written by chhotebhai, Convenor of the Indian Catholic Forum, and former National President of the All India Catholic Union, was released at a Corona restricted function at the Mega Mall here.
The book that has about 400 pages, over 600 references and even more scripture quotes is an attempt at studying the past of the Church, analysing the present and making a realistic projection for the future . It was released by Dr Roshan Jacob IAS, Secretary cum Director, Mining, Govt. of U.P., before an ecumenical gathering.
The book goes back to the origins of the universe and the human race, the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel, the birth of the Church at Pentecost, and the persecution of the early church; till it mutated into Christendom. It looks at what is called the Dark Ages, the Reformation, Revolution and Renaissance, colonialism and missionary outreach, leading up to Vatican II; and then goes beyond to Vatican III and Jerusalem II. It studies the claim of the apostles Thomas and Bartholomew coming to India and even if Jesus was buried in Kashmir! It also looks at the apocalyptic prophesies of Malachy and Nostradamus.
It explores delicate issues like a celibate clergy, women priests, family planning, abortion, divorce and remarriage, pre-marital sex, papal infallibility and clericalism. It draws heavily on the Word of God and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. While expressing divergent opinions on the one hand, it shows utmost respect for church teachings on the other. This is an honest attempt at the reform, renewal, demise and resurrection of the Church; constantly asking, “What is the Spirit saying to the churches?” (Rev 3:22). It has a surprise ending!
In his Foreword senior Jesuit theologian Rev Dr T.K. John SJ of Vidyajyoti, Delhi, describes the author as one inspired by St Francis of Assisi, as a radar or antenna of the church. He brackets him with erudite lay writers G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc of the last century.
Having known the author from the time she was posted in Kanpur as its District Magistrate, seven years ago, Dr Jacob, known in the bureaucracy for her honesty, courage and compassion, described chhotebhai as a true Catholic, in the original sense of being universal or all embracing. Though she had obviously not read the book, she was familiar with his writings which she said went beyond Christianity, as it was based on Christian love and its emphasis on service.
Speaking of the Covid challenge she said that it made us question the utility or role of religion, when there was no access to Communion, Confession or even the clergy. Was religion just an external vestige or a burden? Of what use was religion if it did not give meaning and purpose to life? Institutional or organized religion was of no value if it was not backed by an individual faith that was manifest in actually reaching out to others and touching their lives.
Describing his motivation for writing the book chhotebhai said that he was challenged by the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown that was a subtle attempt to demystify and deconstruct Christianity. It made many tall claims, but gave no references to verify them. In contrast he chose to write “The Jerusalem Code”, to strengthen Christian belief. That is why all the arguments were backed by references or scripture quotes.
In his invocation Rev Walter D’silva, Principal, St Aloysius’ School, said that St Paul had written to the Corinthians that we are all blessed with various gifts of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church. Rev Rolfie D’souza, Parish Priest, St Xavier’s Church, read the Gospel passage on faith having a firm foundation, while Kanpur Catholic Association (KCA) Secretary Agnes Peter read from Revelation on what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.
Book extracts were read by Ajay Singh of Christ Church and Coreen Anderson of St. Patrick’s Church. Ashley Fernandez, Vice Principal of Jaipuria School, compeered the release. Meera Noronha welcomed the gathering and KCA President Noel George gave the vote of thanks. The choir was led by Praveen Dungdung of St Patrick’s, while the guests were honoured with shawls and bouquets by Rachel Buck, Dr Anjali Bajpai and Shitika Pare. The final prayer was led by Rev Nitin Lal and the blessing was given by Rev Abhishekh Lyall, both of the Methodist English Church.