Interview with Father Kejus Rayappan of the Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Patiala
Ninisha Agrawal is a law student, pursuing her B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab (RGNUL). On 9 February 2019, she went for a field work to the Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Patiala, as a part of her Political Science project on “Augustine: The City of God”. She interviewed Rev. Father Kejus Rayappan, Manager of the St. Peter’s Academy, Patiala and a priest of the Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Patiala, belonging to the Roman Catholic denomination. The interview was held in the office of Father Kejus for about 45 minutes.
She found the experience very enriching and she understood the Roman Catholic perspective on God, Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary and Catholic-Protestant dichotomy. Father Kejus frequently used a statement that ‘the Protestants were diluting the teachings of Jesus’, indicating a continued rift between the two Christian denominations. She was disappointed with the views of the Church on homosexuality and baptism, which remain highly orthodox and exclusivist.
Here is an excerpt of the interview:
Ninisha: In 1 Timothy 1, it is written that Jesus is the sole mediator between God and men, yet the Catholics pray to Mary and the saints. Is that against the Bible?
Father: Not at all. Jesus is the sole mediator. We all are mediators in this world. Jesus is sharing His work with all of us. Mary’s role is central to the life of Jesus. Mary is with him. She is helping Jesus to mediate. For instance, in a marriage, Jesus had turned water into wine, at the request of Mary. It was his first miracle of her and Mary was its mediator.
Ninisha: In Romans 3, it says that none is righteous and that all have sinned. Then, why does the Catholic Church teach that Mary is without sin?
Father: It is theology. Jesus is the Son of God and cannot be born of a sinful woman. He is sinless and powerful. God saved Mary from sins. Everything comes from and goes to God. He is the Spirit.
Ninisha: Protestants believe that they are saved by faith alone but Catholics believe that they can ‘work’ their way into the heaven. Why?
Father: Catholics have faith in Jesus but we believe that mere faith is not enough. We have to follow certain commandments given by God. We have to work hard, while believing in God.
Ninisha: Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest rather than going ‘directly to God’?
Father: Both can be done. It is the priest who is at Jesus’ place. Jesus told His disciples that sins of a particular person forgiven by them, are also forgiven in Heaven. Besides, guilty people feel relieved after confessing sins. It is a psychological phenomenon.
Ninisha: What if a priest commits a sin?
Father: (started laughing) If a priest commits a sin, then he goes to another priest. Even I have confessed my sins to another priest.
Ninisha: Why do Protestants not believe in John 6 that Jesus’ flesh is real food and that His blood is real drink?
Father: Jesus took bread and wine and gave it to His disciples and said: ‘Take this and eat. This is My body. Take this and drink. This is My blood.’ Therefore, Jesus is actually present in the bread and the wine. Protestants believe that He is present symbolically. The sacred bread reminds them of Jesus. Protestants have diluted the true faith. Jesus did not say that He is symbolically present in bread.
Ninisha: Can homosexuals be a part of the Catholic Church? In the Bible, are homosexuals abhorred?
Father: All people can be a part of the Catholic Church. Homosexuals are also people. Because they are people, they are children of God. God loves sinners, but detests sin.
Ninisha: Is homosexuality a sin?
Father: (a little hesitant) Any sin, not only homosexuality. All sins are contempt of God. It is for God to judge our sins, not us. We have to be purified. Homosexuals are also children of the Kingdom of God.
Ninisha: The Bible clearly says that Jesus had brothers and sisters. But the Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin. How is it possible?
Father: In the Hebrews, it is stated that Jesus has cousins, not real brothers and sisters. Jesus is born without the help of man. An angel came to Mary and said that she would become the Mother of God, despite her vow of virginity and would conceive without consummation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not through a sexual act. She is a virgin.
Ninisha: If an individual is not baptised, then he or she does not receive the grace of God. But all individuals are the children of God, whether baptised or not. So, why does only baptism lead to salvation? Is it not unjust?
Father: Christians believe that God is one. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God reveals this truth though the Bible. Accepting Jesus as the Son of God and believing in Him, brings us salvation. All are saved through the death and resurrection of Christ. (Father Kejus avoided the point on baptism).
Ninisha: Why do the Catholics believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, founded 2000 years ago, by Jesus Christ Himself?
Father: It is a historical fact. Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church, which means the universal church. The Protestants came in 16th century and they diluted the teachings of Jesus. Catholics say that ‘love thy neighbour’ and do good work, while Protestants only pray and say ‘do whatever you want’. They are incorrect.
Ninisha: Was Lucifer originally an angel of God?
Father: (seriously) Yes, he fell away from God, because of pride and rebellion.
Ninisha: Do I deserve eternal punishment for only one sin?
Father: Depends on your basic orientation. If you commit a sin and then repent, God will forgive you. But if you commit a grave sin, but do not repent, you will get eternal punishment.
Ninisha: If I die tonight, will I go to Heaven?
Father: Only if you are in a state of grace. Most of us are in a state of grace. If we want to do good and not evil, only then, we shall get Heaven. (Father Kejus did not give a straight answer).
Ninisha: Thank you, Father, for your valuable time.