Goa BJP makes minorities feel insecure: MLA

Sardesai also blamed the BJP for remaining silent when a central leader wrongly accused the Church of being against HIV infected children.

Posted on July 24, 2014, 11:30 AM

Porvorim:
An independent member of Goa legislative member says state BJP government’s language has changed since the BJP came to power at the Centre and minorities in Goa are feeling insecure as more are applying for Portuguese passport.

Fatorda independent MLA Vijai Sardesai said on Tuesday that among things that worry minorities is the soft stance of the state towards Ram Sene chief Pramod Mutalik’s planned entry into Goa, The Times of India reported.

During a discussion in the legislative assembly, Sardesai said accused BJP of moving in directions that make minorities feel insecure.

A sign of more people feeling insecure in the state should be seen more applying for Portuguese passports. He said he has learnt that daily about 47 Goans are applying for Portuguese passports.

He also accused BJP of “double talk.” While the party proclaims it is against moral policing, the BJP mahila wing rails against pub culture in Goa.

“They say this is Portuguese culture, by which, they blame the minorities. This language has started only after the BJP came to power at the Centre. This double talk will ruin tourism. This double talk will result in a self-goal,” Sardesai said.

Sardesai also accused the BJP government of invoking the special marriage act just to facilitate the marriage of one girl but in the process, diluting the very definition of Goan-ness. Sardesai said that this had diluted the unique uniform civil code of Goa and wondered why the government was hankering after special status for the state.

He also wanted to know why BJP was silent when its central leader Subramaniam Swamy wrongly accused the Church of being against HIV infected children.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, however, interrupted Sardesai saying he could rake up all these issues when he spoke on the demands but that he could not do so when he was speaking on the budget.
Source: Times of India

 

Financial irregularities in Church Establishments: views from Calcutta;

 This is similar to what has been happening in the Archdiocese of Bombay. Transparency in Financial Dealings at Parishes as well as at Archdiocese level is a far cry.

Pope Francis has expressed his apprehensions in various ways and began to act. Reshuffle of Vatican Bank is one of his prominent act.

Will the Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias take cue from the Pope and follow his foot steps to cleanse his home of  corrupt practices?

GREG

POPE AND CARDINAL

 

In his Editorial “From ‘Receiving’ to ‘Giving’ Church” (The Herald July 11-17, 2014) the Editor has presented a picture of Church Finance, rather the drying up of Church Coffers! He writes “Gone are the days when financial help was given by foreign donor agencies in order to educate and empower the developing India; but the donor agencies have seen that India is no more poor and its resources are adequate to educate all the children, feed every hungry stomach of the nation, and have withdrawn their support.”

The main reason for stoppage of donations from abroad is continued economic slowdown in Europe and the US which try to thrive on the Economics of War as Pope Francis has said so aptly. Without big wars, their arms & ammunition and warplane manufacture facilities have virtually closed down. No war, no reconstruction, no money, no donation to India!

Another reason is the Vatican Bank Scandal. The Bank reported on 8th July 2014 a huge drop of 97 per cent in its profit in 2013 after it took €28.5 million ($38.7 million) in write-downs on investments made during 2012 and early 2013. The losses stem, in part, from a €15 million loan to a company owned by a friend of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who served until last year as the Vatican’s Secretary of State. Because of this donors do not take churches on face value anymore. In case of India, they first want to see a Church which is uniformly transparent and accountable in finance and administration of its temporal goods. Unabashed loot of Church (Laity’s) money by some priests without any accountability (Fr K.K. Sebastian alias Sebastian Kuzhipala who with the full knowledge of his Provincial Thomas Ellicherail vanished from Auxilium Parish Kolkata in June 2014 without any formal handover of cash, bank and assets to the new incumbent) is a clear case in point. Foreign donors have come to know of this and therefore without a transparent system in place, donations from bona fide sources will be hard to come by. Also international banking norms and consequently Reserve Bank of India norms are changing. One of the new stipulations say that all charitable associations including Church bodies will from now on be allowed to operate only Current Accounts and no more Savings Bank Accounts.

The editor has written “in the absence of any external help, the Church in India is going through a crucial phase of trying to make both ends meet.” Does this mean churches have closed their FCRA Bank Accounts which require them to maintain separate account book listing all overseas donations received, get it audited by a Chartered Accountant and submit it to Home Ministry every year? How is it that all on a sudden the Indian Church is finding it quite hard to “make both ends meet?” This means when the foreign donation was in full flow, it was making merry without any accountability or perspective plan. During the Laity Sunday Seminar at Seva Kendra Kolkata on 29th June 2014, one well-known Priest speaker said on the theme “Laity’s involvement in the decision making” that the Laity should be always alert and question the clergy. He narrated an anecdote where a powerful priest was handling a very big project and siphoned out good sums of money to buy a four-wheeler for his brother and also to fund house-building for a newly married relative. He came to know of this case from his priest students whom he had taught! Quoting from the Exhortations of Pope Francis he said that the Laity should be “Bold and Creative” to keep the clergy on its toes.

Regarding being a ‘giving’ Church, the one which would take care of the needs of pastors and pastoral initiatives, first each parish priest has to come clean on all receipts and payments. Receipts would include overseas and local donations and not only “meagre Pastoral Support collection” which the Editor has written. Let the parishioners see for themselves and through Parish Finance Committee decide how to deal with shortfall / surplus (in case of rich parishes). The Parish Priest has to be very Transparent armed with Audited Accounts before he appeals to parishioners for donations. The more transparent he is, the more fervent and fruitful his appeal will be.

The editor has stated that those who have benefited from the Church and are now well-off should support the initiatives of their respective parishes. For this also transparency in parish finance is a must. Creation of a computerized family database in each parish will generate data on parishioners’ financial health and will give a clear picture of how equipped a parish is to meet its pastoral needs. Rich parishes may set up a Corpus Fund to help poor parishes particularly in Education and Health.

Talking of transparency in church, the President of the oldest Laity Association of Bengal is yet to settle huge cash account for last financial year, though he represents the Laity on various Commissions of Calcutta Archdiocese including the newly formed Archdiocesan Pastoral Council! With the Archbishop as Ex-Officio Chairman of the Association being fully aware of this and keeping mum, one can imagine what will happen to transparency and accountability in Indian Church with such complementary collusion!

The Editor is playing with words by stating that “All the parishes have been urged to form Parish Finance Committees.” No such Circular from the Archbishop has been received by the parishes under Calcutta Archdiocese nor has it been published in the Herald, the official mouthpiece of Calcutta Archdiocese.

The Editor’s remark “Building the Church is a Corporate Venture” is interesting. Corporate Venture will give the Church access to funds earmarked for Corporate Social Responsibility which has come into effect from 1st April 2014 as per the Indian Companies Act, 2013 (the “New Act”). Under this act, every company with a net worth of at least Rs 500 crore, or a minimum turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, or a minimum net profit of Rs 5 crore, is obligated to spend two per cent of its net profits for undertaking and promoting socially beneficial activities and projects in India such as promoting education, gender equality, women’s empowerment, improving maternal health, or ensuring environmental sustainability. As reported in the Economic Times dated 11 July 2014, India’s second largest IT firm Infosys said it will contribute Rs 240 crore this fiscal to its philanthropic arm, Infosys Foundation, for funding corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. The Bangalore-based firm has already contributed USD 8 million (Rs 48 crore) in the first quarter ended June 30, 2014, to Infosys Foundation.

So without looking out for foreign funds, the Indian Church can tap huge funds within India only provided it puts in place proper system with appropriate checks and balances. Is the clergy ready to go make a clean breast and go the extra mile to convert begging into an art?

PS: A shortened version of the above article was given to the Herald. But it has not been published as the Editor relishes choking the voice of the Laity, with the support of the Archbishop.

Isaac Harold Gomes
Kolkata

Cardinals Rodriguez, Gracias open up about Curia reform

 |  
National Catholic Reporter;
The work of reforming the Roman Curia is not easy, but it is going well, according to Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, chair of the Council of Cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to advise him on reform of the Roman Curia. Rodriguez hopes that the council will have a new constitution for the Curia by December to replace Pastor Bonus, the 1988 apostolic constitution of Pope John Paul II.

POPE FRANCIS' COUNCIL FOR CURIA REFORMS

I interviewed Cardinal Rodriguez and Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, another member of the council, when they visited Washington, D.C., at the beginning of June.

The work of the council began with each of the eight members collecting suggestions from his part of the world. For example, most of the bishops’ conferences in Asia asked Cardinal Gracias why liturgical translations could not be done at the conference level, especially for languages in which Rome has no expertise.

Cardinal Gracias recognized the irony of this suggestion coming to him — he is a member of Vox Clara, the group appointed by the Vatican to oversee the recent English translation of the liturgy.

“I know about this issue,” he said. “I think they have a point. But I also worry about a bad translation leading to misunderstanding and dogmatic error 50, 100 years from now. So there has to be a balance.”

07-04-2014.jpgT

He also noted, “Some conferences are too small to do the work. On the other hand, maybe the conferences would do a better job if they thought they would be responsible. Now they know that someone in Rome will check it. I am not sure on this.”

Gracias also mentioned other things that could be decided at the local level, like releasing from their vows religious who want to leave religious life. He also felt there could be a role for bishops’ conferences in supervising diocesan finances.

After collecting suggestions from all over the world, the council met with Pope Francis. At the first meeting, the cardinals came to the apostolic palace in full regalia for photos, but subsequent meetings were held in Casa Santa Marta in simple attire. The council has no staff of experts but meets alone with the pope and the secretary of state, who the pope recently made a member of the council. A bishop secretary takes notes.

“None of us knew very much about the Curia since we had never worked there,” Cardinal Gracias said. “We spent a lot of time just getting to know it. We went through Pastor Bonus and then studied each congregation, council, and office.” Each cardinal would look at a dicastery and report on it to the group.

Both cardinals report that the council focused on financial reform of the Curia first because it was so pressing. This led to the creation of a secretariat for finance headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell. “This will lead to a very good coordination of all the finances,” Cardinal Rodriguez said.

Next came the Institute for the Works of Religion, or the Vatican bank.

“There were a lot of suggestions to close it and to start something new,” Rodriguez said. “After the evaluation of all the positive and negative things, it was decided that it was more prudent to reform it, not to make it disappear, because most of the funds that are in that institution are from religious congregations and it could have been a big loss for all of them.”

He acknowledged that there was some resistance, but the new system will be transparent. “Now everything has to be very clear. Nobody can hide or help the old system coming back in order to help launder money or something like that,” he said.

Both cardinals report that the council is considering the creation of a new Congregation for the Laity, which would absorb the responsibilities of the pontifical councils dealing with laity, family, and perhaps some other offices.

“Bishops have their own dicastery,” Rodriguez said. “Religious people and the clergy have theirs, but the laity is the majority of the church, and they only have a council.”

Talk of reform and closing offices has caused some in the Curia to worry that they might lose their jobs as a result of the reform, Cardinal Gracias said.

Just as threatening is the suggestion, which both cardinals support, of limiting service of priests in the Curia to five years rather than having them stay indefinitely.

“The pope decided that this is not the way to serve,” Rodriguez said. “Those who are to serve should serve in their countries, serve in the Vatican, and go back to their countries.” Gracias felt that bishops would be willing to send their best men to Rome if they knew they would get them back in five years.

“In the Curia, they wanted to make careers,” Rodriguez said. “This priest has been here so many years, now it’s time to be undersecretary, and then secretary, and then prefect, and then cardinal. But this is over, I think. It’s not the way.”

Rodriguez also complained of appointing a “cardinal as prefect of an office, and he doesn’t have the preparation. No, we don’t need that anymore. It’s necessary to not look for a place for a person, but a person for the place. This maybe will take time, but it will come.”

Both cardinals also question making Vatican officials bishops and cardinals.

“The role of a bishop is quite different,” Rodriguez said. “It is to be a pastor in a flock, not to be a bureaucrat in an office.” However, he thought it might “be necessary to have a cardinal as prefect of a dicastery, but the rest is not necessary.”

“They could be even lay men and women — why not?” he asked. “I dream of having in the family maybe a couple. That would be wonderful.”

Gracias agreed that there should be fewer bishops and cardinals in the Curia. People who do not have dioceses should not be made bishops, he said, although he would make an exception for the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who should be a cardinal.

Cardinal Rodriguez has also been thinking about the makeup of the committees of prelates that oversee the staffs of congregations and councils. It has been suggested that they have more diocesan bishops and fewer members of the Curia. For example, the Congregation for Divine Worship could have on it chairs of liturgical committees in bishops’ conferences. “That could be the best way,” Rodriguez said. “In CELAM [the Latin American bishops' council], we did it like that.”

The interview took place before the council met in July to discuss the Secretariat of State and its coordinating role in the Vatican, but clearly, the cardinals were thinking about the topic.

“There is a big movement of suggesting the reformation of the secretary of state,” Rodriguez said. The secretary of state currently acts like a prime minister, but numerous media stories report that many did not like the way the office was used by the former secretary, Cardinal Tarcisio ​Bertone. How it would change is not clear. There has been talk of a moderator of the Curia who would play a coordinating role, a job that was done in the past by the sostituto in the Secretariat of State.

The Council of Cardinals still has a lot of work ahead of it if it is going to meet a December deadline for proposing reforms, but it is clear that the council is looking at comprehensive reforms like limiting service in the Vatican to five years, bringing more laity into the Curia, not making Vatican officials bishops or cardinals, and appointing more diocesan bishops with expertise to serve on congregations and councils. These would be earth-shaking reforms for the Vatican.

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Thomas Reese’s column, Faith and Justice, is posted. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.

Chhattisgarh asked to reverse ban on non-Hindu missioners

 

Christian leaders in Chhattisgarh say the move also should be seen as a ploy by iron ore mining barons to clear the area, muffle the dissent and hand it over to the miners.

(Villagers of Sirisguda. Photo courtesy: The Hindu)

New Delhi:A Church group based in New Delhi has launched a campaign urging Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh to act against some 50 village councils that have passed resolutions banning non-Hindu missioners.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s (CBCI) Office for Justice Peace and Development that launched the campaign yesterday said media reports show that some 50 villages in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region have passed resolutions banning non-Hindu missioners.

These resolutions passed over a period of last six months banned all non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in villages. The ban also has negatively affected rationing of food to local non-Hindu citizens– in violation of their right to food and, consequently, their right to life, said Father Charles Irudayam of the CBCI office in a sample letter he prepared and circulated.

“The ban is in blatant violation of such fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India as the right to freedom of faith, the freedom of movement, expression and association, and the right to right to food,” the letter said.

Chhattisgarh is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party) that now heads the federal coalition government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

By providing a background of the situation, Father Charles said local Christians consider the ban as an outcome of “aggressive campaign by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (world Hindu council) to curtail the spread of non-Hindu religions, especially Christianity.”

Christian leaders in Chhattisgarh say the move also should be see as a systematic ploy by iron ore mining barons to clear the area, muffle the dissent and hand it over to the miners.

The sample letter appealed to the chief minister to immediately reverse the ban and to restore peace and normalcy in the area. It also wanted his intervention to check “hate campaigns by certain organizations that seek to engineer communal tensions and conflicts by polarising local communities.”

Source: UCAN News

 

Pope Francis is set on clearing up the Vatican’s finances

Vatican bank clean-up wipes out profit for 2013

 

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Pope Francis is set on clearing up the Vatican’s finances
The Vatican bank has seen its 2013 profit almost wiped out largely due to a clean-up process which has seen it end relationships with 3,000 customers.
The bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works, reported a 2.9m euro (£2.3m) profit for the year, down from 86.6m euros in 2012.
Most of its losses came from the winding up of investments made before its reform programme began.
Without these, it said profit would have been 70m euros.
Pope Francis has sought to stamp out corruption and other abuses at the Vatican bank, which handles funds for the Catholic Church.
He pledged to clean up the bank following accusations of money laundering and a lack of due diligence which allowed non-religious, and even crony, businessmen to hold accounts.
Between May 2013 until June this year, outside experts combed through all the bank’s accounts in what the Vatican said was a “systematic screening of all existing customer records”.
As a result, it said it had terminated 2,600 “dormant” accounts which had seen no activity for a long time, as well as 396 customers who didn’t meet the criteria for doing business with the bank.
It said a further 359 customer accounts which didn’t meet its criteria were in the process of being terminated.
“I repeatedly said that I would proceed with zero tolerance for any suspicious activity. We have carried out our reforms in this spirit,” said the bank’s President, Ernst von Freyberg.
His statement came ahead of an announcement on Wednesday which is expected to detail further expected re-structuring at the bank

                  Vatican bank chief to step down amid restructure

By David Willey

BBC News, Rome

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Pope Francis is appointing a cardinal as head of a new economic affairs department at the Vatican
The president and four non-executive members of the governing board of the Vatican bank are to step down.
French financier Jean-Baptiste de Franssu will take over as head of the bank from Ernst von Freyberg as part of a restructuring of the Catholic Church’s central government.
Pope Francis has sought to stamp out corruption and other abuses at the bank, which handles the Church’s funds.
The bank’s profits fell last year to 2.9m euros from 86.6m euros in 2012.
Ernst von Freyberg was appointed by former Pope Benedict just before his retirement in February 2013 after allegations were made that the Vatican bank had been used by money launderers,
However, attempts to create a more transparent banking system for the Catholic Church will continue under new management.
“Our ambition is to become something of a model for financial management rather than cause for occasional scandal,” the former head of the Catholic Church in Australia, Cardinal George Pell, told reporters.
He will head a new economic affairs department at the Vatican, with oversight of all the Vatican’s financial dealings and will report directly to the Pope.
The cardinal was called to Rome as a result of a year-long attempt to clean up the Vatican’s accounts.
Balance sheet woes
The Vatican’s precarious financial situation was revealed by the simultaneous publication in Rome of balance sheets for 2013 of the Holy See, of the Vatican City state, a separate entity, and of the Vatican bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).
The IOR moves money around the world to finance Catholic missions and provides banking services for the Pope, clergy and religious orders.
Alongside the bank’s massive drop in profits, the Holy See, the administrative headquarters of the Church, ran up a deficit of 24.2m euros (£19.2m) last year.
However Vatican City state, the tiny sovereign enclave in the heart of Rome, which derives a large part of its income from tickets to the Vatican museums, reported a profit of 32.3m euros (£25.7m).
Vatican bank president Ernst von Freyberg says the bank’s problems have been blown out of proportion
The bank’s losses were attributed in part to writedowns of investments made before the bank’s reform programme started and when less vigilance was exercised.
The cost of bringing in American anti-money laundering experts to comb through and vet some 18,000 individual accounts at the Vatican amounted to 7.3m euros.
The Vatican bank has lost 3,000 of its customers, leaving about 15,000 current accounts still active
In an interview with the BBC in his Vatican bank office overlooking St Peter’s Square, I asked Mr von Freyberg if he had discovered many skeletons in the cupboards of the IOR during his term of office.
“Only small ones,” he replied. “There is much less to the IOR than people think. We are smaller than most small town savings and loans [banks] in the world and the same is true of our skeletons.”
“Whatever we found is much smaller than you might believe reading up about the Vatican bank in the media,” he added.
According to the IOR website, the total assets of the Vatican bank amount to 5.9 billion euros.
Under Mr von Freyberg’s management some 3,000 customer relationships have been terminated, leaving about 15,000 current accounts active.

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