Has the pope opened the door for married men to be priests?

Bishop claims he recently declared it a possibility.

A bishop who met with Pope Francis in a rare private audience on 4 April has said in an interview that the two men discussed the issue of the ordination of “proven” married men – viri probati – in a serious and positive way.

Bishop Erwin Kr�utler, Bishop of Xingu in the Brazilian rainforest, spoke to the Pope about Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on the environment, and the treatment of indigenous peoples but the desperate shortage of priests in the bishop’s huge diocese came up in the conversation.

According to an interview the Austrian-born bishop gave to the daily Salzburger Nachrichten on 5 April, the Pope was open-minded about finding solutions to the problem, saying that bishops’ conferences could have a decisive role.

“I told him that as bishop of Brazil’s largest diocese with 800 church communities and 700,000 faithful I only had 27 priests, which means that our communities can only celebrate the Eucharist twice or three times a year at the most,” Bishop Kr�utler said.

“The Pope explained that he could not take everything in hand personally from Rome. We local bishops, who are best acquainted with the needs of our faithful, should be corajudos, that is ‘courageous’ in Spanish, and make concrete suggestions,” he explained.

A bishop should not act alone, the Pope told Kr�utler. He indicated that “regional and national bishops’ conferences should seek and find consensus on reform and we should then bring up our suggestions for reform in Rome,” Kr�utler said.

Asked whether he had raised the question of ordaining married men at the audience, Bishop Kr�utler replied: “The ordination of viri probati, that is of proven married men who could be ordained to the priesthood, came up when we were discussing the plight of our communities. The Pope himself told me about a diocese in Mexico in which each community had a deacon but many had no priest. There were 300 deacons there who naturally could not celebrate the Eucharist. The question was how things could continue in such a situation.

“It was up to the bishops to make suggestions, the Pope said again.”

Bishop Kr�utler was then asked whether it now depended on bishops’ conferences, as to whether church reforms proceeded or not. “Yes,” he replied. “After my personal discussion with the Pope I am absolutely convinced of this.”

Source: The Tablet/UCANews.


Mumbai Christians confused over best candidate

The leaders and priests of the Catholic Church and other Christian groups, strongly urge and influence the people to vote for a “secular party”.

 Yes, Confused they are; and why shouldn’t they be? all along the community has been casting their vote to a so called “secular” party, which is not so Secular. Isn’t it?
It was either because we were being told to do so, indirectly though or the community has no option.
In present scenario, the community is bound to be confused, obviously because there is a new kid on the block, who has attracted the attention of the community and rightly so.
However, the questions are being asked and one of the FAQ is ” If we vote for the new kid, won’t it  be beneficial to the So called communal outfit; which could be detrimental to the Community?
Quite possible, but then are we going to continue with the burden of the Secular Party, which has done nothing but has only taken the community for granted?
It does not matter if the Communal outfit benefits or not…the community will certainly benefit; because, it would be demonstrating to the party which has taken the community for granted; used and abused that the community can do without you, and it would certainly help in the long run as it would be the beginning of the CHANGE the Community is looking out for.
No, we are not trying to influence the community, but only highlighting the facts. Besides, It is always the FIRST TIME…This is the time to take a call, use your intelligence and vote wisely to the candidate who you think will fit the bill of Clean, Honest and Hard working towards the issues of Community…Forget about who will benefit…
Religious at AZAD MAIDAN RALLY, attentively listening to the Speakers.


As Mumbai draws closer to its polling date on April 24, confusion reigns among members of the Christian community over who to vote for.

The Lok Sabha elections found mention in the Palm Sunday mass at St Pius Church, Mulund.

Father Tarsicius Fernandes prayed, “Lord, give us your guidance in voting for the right political representatives. Lord, give our political leaders strength and wisdom.”

Fr S M Michael, chairperson of inter-religious dialogue commission of the Bombay Archdiocese, speaking at the session on political analysis for Christians at Sacred Heart Parish in Andheri (East) on Sunday said, “The main parties do not take Christians as seriously as the Muslims because we are not perceived as lacking political awareness, and not as a significant vote bank.”

According to Dolphy D’souza, former president of Bombay Catholic Sabha, Mumbai has around 1 million Christians. Of these, there were around five lakh registered voters in 2009. Around 58-60 per cent Christians voted in the last Lok Sabha elections.

In veiled messages during mass and religious-social gatherings, the leaders and priests of the Catholic Church and other Christian groups, strongly urge and influence the people to vote for a “secular party”.

In his letter to the community across India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of the Bombay, emphasized that chief among the needs that must be addressed by hopeful candidates, are secularism and protection of rights of minorities, tribals, and Dalit Christians.

Encapsulating the community’s concerns, Gordon Dsouza, President of the Bombay Catholic Sabha (BCS) said, “Catholics are disappointed with the Congress because of inflation and corruption. However, when we try to look at the BJP as a worthy alternative, the party does cause fear among the people because it is backed by Hindutva groups and has a tainted history with minorities.”

Dsouza said, “We have been organizing ‘Meet Your Candidates’ sessions where citizens can interact with the candidates in their constituencies. We have also been trying to create awareness by sending texts and speaking in churches after the Sunday mass.”

At a local-level in Mumbai, the Archbishop has sought to raise the issue of the dwindling space for cemeteries and unreasonable land acquisition from the Church for public projects that “are normally not used for the purpose the land is acquired for.”

Source: Indian Express

Catholic group demands excommunication of priests

The group has already received support from several diocesan and religious priests as well as sisters.


A group of Catholics has demanded excommunication of priests under Karnataka Catholic Priests’ Association and their supporters, who have been creating problems in the Bangalore Archdiocese raising the bogey of Kannada language in liturgy.

The protesters held the demonstration in front of the Archbishop’s House April 12 and later submitted a memorandum to the Archbishop Bernard Moras seeking excommunication of the priests involved in ”un-Christian activities.”

The gathering assembled under the banner of the Federation of Karnataka Catholics and Christians Associations (FKCCA) lead by its President T J Abraham, a social activist.

Federation of Konkani Catholic Associations (FKCA) Chairperson Aida D’Cunha, former FKCA Chairman Charles Gomes and other key leaders met the archbishop and presented their memorandum listing 15-points as the grounds for seeking excommunication of the priests.

The FKCCA, which has also forwarded a similar memorandum to the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the highest decision-making body of all Bishops in India, at its office in New Delhi, said all the priests involved in anti-Catholic and un-Christian conduct and behavior must be Excommunicated from the Catholic Church, under the provisions of the Canon Law forthwith, as they are guilty of willfully violating and deliberately flouting their solemn religious vows of obedience and loyalty to the Ecclesial superiors.

In addition, some the priests are guilty of violating the sixth and ninth commandments and are accused of killing or bearing false witness, which are consequently sufficient grounds for their automatic excommunication,” the memorandum said.

Abraham said the FKCCA has already received support from several diocesan and religious priests as well as sisters.

”However, we have asked all the religious priests and sisters not to openly come out in support at this stage. They can join us later as and when the situation demands. This is our first step. We have mobilized a gathering of 300 persons now. It will be followed up with a gathering of 3,000 and then 30,000 and finally 3,00,000 from all over Karnataka,” he said pointing out that the momentum is building up as majority of the Catholics and Christians feel ”enough is enough and that it is necessary to stand up and fight.”

Source: daijiworld

SOUL Rally in the EXAMINER……

An Article in the Examiner of April 12 – April 18, 2014


Chalo Azad Maidan By:




Champions were born on March 15, 2014, from amongst the people of Malwani – young and old, and all those who decided not to tolerate injustice and inaction any more. They attended the Rally organised by the parishioners of St Anthony Church, Malwani, under SOUL (Save Our Land – Malwani). The main thrust of the Rally was to demand the permanent withdrawal of unjust Land Acquisition notices served on St Anthony’s Church and School (Malwani), Our Lady of Assumption Church and School (Kandivli) and several important community concerns viz: cemeteries on the Western Express Highway, the Dumping issue at Uttan, the ill-conceived SEZ and Tourist Development of Manori-Gorai-Uttan belt, the naming of Gaothans as slums, the desecration of Holy Crosses and notice of demolition served on them time and again, as well as atrocities against Christians all over Maharashtra.

By our estimates, over 10,000 people participated in this historic agitation. Many priests and nuns accompanied their people. There were representatives from over 60 parishes from all over Mumbai/Gorai/UttanThane/Navi Mumbai and Kalyan, and over 30 other activist groups across communities. It was truly a solid statement of Christian solidarity against an unsympathetic Government and Municipal authority.

At the heart of the problem is the issue of unjust land acquisition from just the Church, and not from the other side of the road or river (at Malwani and Kandivali, respectively). At Malwani, the Church has very responsibly handed over to the BMC over 10,000 sq feet of Church land for public development, where the acquisition has been from both sides of the road line. But now, near the Church and School, the BMC is demanding over 25,000 sq feet land from just the Church/School side, instead of equal land acquisition from the opposite side as well. Adding insult to injury is the fact that opposite to the Church/School, residential buildings were sanctioned, just 14 years ago, which until then were open spaces. It may also be noted that St. Anthony’s Church is 400-year-old Grade ll A Heritage Structure, and as such, the precincts of the structure are also heritage. This and other issues concerning the Christian Community were elaborately explained at the rally.

Amongst the Champions who addressed the Rally were Justice H. Suresh; Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, Human Rights campaigner from Ahmedabad; Fr. Allwyn D’silva, Chairman – Archdiocesan Office of Environment; Fr. Lancy Pinto, Chairman – Justice and Peace Commission; Smt Dominica Dabre, activist from Vasai; Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Principal – St. Xavier’s College; Nicholas Almeida, Trustee – Watchdog Foundation; Mr. Joseph Gonsalves, President – Dharavi Beth Bachao Samiti; Mr. Vivian D’souza, President – Mumbai East Indian Association; Mr. Alexander D’souza of IEICC; Mr. Alphi D’souza, Secretary of  Mobai Gaothan Panchayat; Mr. Greg Pereira and Ms Bernadine D’costa of SOUL Team; Ms Jaya Anthony, Chairperson – BCS Unit of Malwani; Fr. Austin Norris Parish Priest and Dolphy D’souza, Spokesperson – SOUL.

Before the Rally began, the members of SOUL met with the BMC, Municipal Commissioner (delegation of Fr. Austin Norris, Stanley Fernandez, Greg Pereira and Dolphy D’souza) and submitted to him a Memorandum of our concerns and demands. Archbishop Oswald Cardinal Gracias’ warm letter of encouragement and support to the campaign and other concerns was read by his secretary, Fr. KT Emmanuel, to the gathering. His Eminence and the Bishops were aware of the Rally, and their encouragement and support was a morale-booster.

A Memorandum of our concern and demands was also presented at the Rally to Shri Munaf Hakim, Chairman – Maharashtra State Minorities Commission who also addressed the gathering, and promised that he was sympathetic to these community issues. The Rally was conducted in a very smooth and dignified manner with competent comparing, sloganeering, singing and ushering by the youth of St. Anthony’s parish, and a disciplined gathering of people who came in solidarity for a cause. Follow-up action will need to be pursued. Suffice it to say that the Catholics and Christians of Mumbai are an enlightened lot, and will not be fooled by the empty promises of politicians who have taken the community for far too long.




A response from Fr. Cedric Prakash to CM of Goa Manohar Parrikar & his ilk

 (9th April 2014)


A response from Fr. Cedric Prakash to CM of Goa Manohar Parrikar & his ilk-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*


Fr. Cedric Prakash
Ever since my visit to Goa about three weeks ago, I have been receiving plenty of feedback on the several talks I gave there.  Most are very appreciative but as expected, there are quite a few critical voices mainly from those Catholics and others who seem to subscribe to the BJP point of view.
At the outset, I want to make it very clear that I hold no brief for any political party.  I do not even tell anyone whom I will ultimately vote for. Most political parties (at least the mainline ones) make tall promises particularly before the elections and never keep them.  Most are corrupt: some get exposed while others have institutionalized corruption (like in Gujarat) in such a way that corruption becomes legitimised.  Over the years, most elected representatives have increased their bank balances / assets to mind-boggling amounts!  As citizens, we surely need to deal with corruption, casteism, the criminalization of politics and much more.  We should demand greater honesty and accountability from all our elected representatives – and at all times.
At the top of my concerns however, is communalism and the way it is rearing its ugly head and poisonous fangs all over the country. One needs to objectively study the fountain-head of communalism in India: the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and perhaps read the ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ of MS Golwalkar or for that matter what VV Savarkar or KB Hedgewar stood for.  They very strongly propagated an ideology called ‘Hindutva’ in which the whole concept of India’s nationhood is defined from the narrow perspective of a ‘Hindu-nation’ State.  Above all, it propagated the dominance of the upper caste Hindus and in their scheme of things, the minorities like Muslims and Christians are meant to be treated as second-class citizens.
The fact that the BJP is the political outfit of the RSS is no secret.  The fact that it was the RSS that named Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP (inspite of much opposition from the rank and file of the BJP) is out in the open. The fact that the RSS has to decide on every single crisis where the BJP is concerned speaks volumes for the fact that both the RSS and the BJP are just one.  Above all, the Sangh Parivar (as the RSS, the BJP and their other affiliates are known) has over the years demonstrated that they do not subscribe to the Constitution of India, to the national anthem and to the secular fabric of the country  - all this has been  consistently and authentically documented.
The BJP chose to release their election manifesto only on April 7th (the day elections began in the country) and it continued with emphasising on its core activities: the building of the Ram Mandir, the abolition of Article 370 and the establishing of a Uniform Civil Code. This clearly shows that they care two hoots about the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court and are not at all sensitive to issues of the minority communities.  Let us then address some of the points which seem to have rankled the BJP in Goa:

  • Freedom of Religion Law 2003

Late last evening, the Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar seems to have lambasted me at a public meeting (as reported in sections of the media )on several accounts and very particularly on “misinforming” people about the ‘Freedom of Religion Law of Gujarat’!
Facts and documented evidence speak for themselves. Without doubt, the so-called ‘Freedom of Religion’ law of Gujarat the single most draconian piece of legislation in the history of any democracy or civilized nation in the world.It is against Article 25 of the Constitution and violates Article 18  of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Mr. Parrikar is intelligent enough to know that I am not speaking about any anti-conversion laws. These in the past have been brought in both by Congress and BJP State. I am speaking of the Freedom of Religion Law of 2003 of the Gujarat Government which necessitates that any person (adult) wanting to change his or her religion must first seek the permission of the District Collector. This is clearly not about whether I have the right to convert you; but it is about, if I am a Hindu Dalit, do I have the right to embrace Buddhism freely – if I feel that Buddhism will help me become a better person? The irony of this law is that the Collector will first have to see if there is any force, or a fraud or an “allurement” (which is material gratification or otherwise). So if the Collector feels that “you becoming a better person” is allurement, he or she can deny you the permission!  As recently as February 9th 2014, the ‘Gir Somnath SDM filed a complaint against a woman for converting to Islam ‘illegally’.
Besides, there are any amounts of forms to be filled out when asking for permission. One also has to provide complete details of all those who will be present at say your “Baptismal ceremony” while applying for permission.
If this is not a draconian and anti-constitutional law, I challenge Mr. Parrikar to tell me what is?

  • “Fr. Cedric Prakash is safe in Gujarat for the last twelve years”.

The very fact that some BJP leaders are making this statement is definitely a serious warning of the possible times to come. Every citizen should be safe and secure in any part of the country. The Government of the day is meant to protect the life and property of every single citizen; the police and the other arms of law and order are meant to help the Government in the execution of this responsibility. Unfortunately, the world knows that the Gujarat Government abdicated this responsibility in 2002 which even prompted the then Prime Minister Vajpayee to tell Modi that he should practice “raj dharma”.
Early in 1998-99, when the Sangh Parivar attacked the Christians of the Dang districts and other parts of South Gujarat, PM Vajpayee flew down to say that this should not happen to anyone, anywhere in India.
Being “safe and secure” in Gujarat is a matter of perception; thanks to the Central Government; there are mechanisms to ensure my safety and security. But this does not mean that I am not intimidated or harassed or even threatened! I have the courage to stand my ground and I am really not afraid of those who are trying to do everything in the book to cow me down. All this is well documented too, but I really do not want the focus to be upon me.
The truth is that Christians of Gujarat are harassed subtly and not so subtly consistently. The same happens to Muslims and other minorities. There is plenty of evidence to substantiate this.

  • “Why should Fr. Cedric Prakash come to Goa?”

Fr. Cedric Prakash was in Goa for the simple reason that he was invited by the Catholic Association of Goa (CAG) and other Goans. Fr. Prakash is a free citizen, he, therefore has the right to travel anywhere in the country and speak / address any group.
Once again, the very fact that the members of the BJP can even think of raising such questions portends ill for the future of the country.  It clearly shows their fascist mindset! In the same breath, these very people have no guts to ask why Modi is seeking election from Varanasi or Advani from Gandhinagar, when both are not residents of these Constituencies.
Above all, there are several who are really rankled that the Church, Priests and religious are taking a stand on what is right and just. These very same persons had absolutely no problem in cheering the Church when in the past elections, the Church asked the laity to take a stand against those who were “corrupt”.  Besides, these very guys also become totally dumb when the so-called ‘Gujarat development model’ has proved to be a bunch of lies, half-truths, myths and highly paid propaganda!
If one is a true follower of Jesus today, one will surely take a stand against all that is wrong in society! The values that are enshrined in the Constitution of India: justice, liberty, equality and fraternity are also core values of the Gospel of Jesus. No disciple of Jesus be it laity, religious, priest or Bishop should fight shy of upholding, propagating and being a witness to these sacred values at all times in all places.
Finally, we should all have the moral courage to give a resounding defeat at these General Elections to all those who are divisive, sectarian, spread hatred and would like to destroy the pluralistic character of our country and the secular fabric of our Constitution.
9th April, 2014
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad – 380052Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333  Fax:  79 27489018
Email: sjprashant@gmail.com     www.humanrightsindia.in

Source: Human Rights India


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