Vatican gets tough with Indian archdiocese, in Land Scandal….

Vatican gets tough with Ernakulam archdiocese
Three prelates removed from administration of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese as apostolic administrator is appointed.

Kochi: In an unprecedented move, the Vatican has bypassed the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church’s decision-making synod and taken away the administrative jobs of three prelates of an archdiocese beset with financial controversy and infighting.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat as the apostolic administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese on June 22 with a mandate to stem financial controversies aggravated by disputed land deals.

“There remains the grave and worrying” situation of division between priests, auxiliary bishops and Cardinal George Alencherry, said a letter from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Oriental Congregation.

It said the administrator’s primary job is to seek “healing of these fractures and eventually propose solutions that require the intervention of the Synod of Bishops,” the supreme decision-making body of the Syro-Malabar Church based in Kerala.

The archdiocese was embroiled in a controversy in November 2017 when the presbyteral council, the canonical body of priests, publicly accused Cardinal Alencherry, the major archbishop, of being part of dubious land deals.

The priest-representatives told media that the cardinal, two senior priests and a real estate agent had sold several plots of land at undervalued prices, incurring a loss of more than US$10 million. They also accused the cardinal of bypassing the canonical body.

The letter from Cardinal Sandri said the administrative powers of auxiliary bishops Sebastian Adayantrath and Jose Puthernveetil have been suspended. The letter also suspended all archdiocesan offices and its council, giving the new administrator the freedom to reshape them or constitute new ones.

The letter asked the new administrator to conduct an audit of the archdiocese by an independent agency and send the result to only the Apostolic See in a confidential manner.

It said Cardinal Alencherry “should absolutely not be involved” in any decisions. However, the administrator may appoint a synodal committee to help him, but it should have only a consultative role.

The new administrator is also mandated to ascertain the responsibility of people “who have wounded church unity with unfounded allegations, lacking the spirit of obedience and ecclesial sense,” which resulted in a “public scandal damaging the Syro-Malabar Church.”

It is first time in the history of this Asian Church that the Vatican has suspended the administrative powers of all the bishops in a diocese, said a senior priest who asked to remain anonymous.

“It shows a grave situation of ethical violations and the inability of the synod to effectively settle the issue,” he said.

The situation forced the Vatican to bypass the synod that became self-governing in 1992, he noted.

Call for reconciliation

The apostolic administrator has appointed a new vicar-general, financial officer, chancellor and pro-vice-chancellor in the archdiocese. He also issued a circular sending a message of reconciliation to Catholics, which was read out in all parishes on June 24.

The allegations of financial irregularities have sullied the reputation of the archdiocese. “We will be able to rebuild this if everybody cooperates,” it said.

Cardinal Alencherry refused to comment on the developments. However, his supporters do not see the Vatican intervention as a setback for him.

Santhimon Jacob, a vocal supporter of the cardinal, claimed the Vatican move does not mean anything as the cardinal had already delegated his administrative powers to the two auxiliary bishops in the wake of the land controversy.

He also noted the assertion in Cardinal Sandri’s letter that the Vatican move comes at the recommendation of the cardinal and the synod.

The cardinal’s critics, however, feel that an impartial investigation into the land deals could even lead to his exit from his current positions.

Father Kuriakose Mundadan, former secretary of the presbyteral council and a member of the six-member committee that probed the land deals, said the Vatican has given clear instructions to get to the bottom of the issue.

“The instruction to have an independent audit and to send its report only to the Vatican shows that they want to know the truth. We are confident that Pope Francis will side only with the truth,” Father Mundadan told

He said he and other priests are not worried about disciplinary action. “We have been raising the issue in the internal forums of the church since September 2017. None, including the members of the synod, gave us any convincing explanation or moved to act.”

Father Mundadan said they were forced to speak in public because of inaction. He said the Vatican intervention comes after the priests’ body made two representations to the Vatican.

Bishop Manathodath, 71, who was ordained a priest in Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in 1972, will continue as bishop of Palghat while having the additional responsibilities of administrator.

Source: UCAN


Constitution in danger, human rights trampled: Goa Archbishop

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao urged lay Catholics to play an active part in politics.

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao Panaji:

The Indian Constitution is in danger, Goa’s Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao has said, adding that a “new trend” of mono-culturalism, which demands uniformity in what and how one eats, dresses, lives and even worships, is putting human rights at risk.

In the latest annual pastoral letter to Catholics in Goa, Ferrao also exhorted agencies of the Church in Goa to actively participate in social movements and urged lay Catholics to play an active part in politics.

“At the time of elections, the candidates confuse the minds of many people by making false promises. And the people, on their part, often sell their precious vote for selfish, petty gain.

“Today, our Constitution is in danger, (it is a) reason why most of the people live in insecurity,” Ferrao said in his pastoral letter for 2018-19 which was formally released on Sunday but circulated only on Monday.

“In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it.”

In the letter, which comes two weeks after Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto warned about an emerging threat to India’s “democratic and secular fabric”, Ferrao also alleged that human rights were being trampled in the name of development and mono-culturalism.

“In recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we ear, dress, live and even worship: a kind of mono-culturalism. Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril.

“The various minorities fear for their safety. In short, respect for law is frankly on the decline in this country,” said Ferrao, who is the spiritual and religious leader of Catholics in Goa who account for 26 per cent of the state’s population of 1.5 million.

“People are being uprooted from their land and homes in the name of development. Pope Francis says that ‘the first victim of development is the poor person’. It is easier to trample upon the rights of the poor, because those who will raise their voice for them are very few.”

Calling for the participation of Catholics and Church communities in politics and social movements, Ferrao said such involvement was “vital” to the creation of a just community.

“Our parishes and small Christian communities ought to be immersed in this mission of the Church. They should be open to the problems of the world… this social concern should not only remain within the confines of the parish community but should reach out to the whole state and country at large,” Ferrao said in the letter.

“It is advisable that the lay faithful play an active role in the political field; they should, however, follow the dictates of their conscience while doing so and shun ‘sycophantic’ politics. They should thus strengthen democracy and, on the other hand, help to improve the functioning of the state administration.”


Courtesy: UCANews

OFFICIAL – APPOINTMENTS VI – 2018, Archdiocese of Bombay,

MAY 31, 2018

Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias: to be on the Staff of St Pius College, Goregaon (E)

Fr Cajetan Simoes : to be Parish Priest, Infant Jesus Church, Dombivli

Fr Calistus Fernandes : to be Priest-in-charge, St Francis Xavier Church, Mahad
(and not as previously announced)

Fr Benedict Kerketta OPraem : to continue as Parish Priest, St Joseph the Worker Church, Bandra (E) (and not as previously announced)

Fr Elton Namory : to be Secretary to the Archbishop of Bombay

Fr Emmanuel K. T. : Judicial Vicar of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal, to be Additional Secretary to the Archbishop of Bombay

Fr Lester Vaz : to be associate Judicial Vicar of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal

Fr Shavito Correia : to be Vice-Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Bombay with residence at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Mazagaon while continuing as Judge, Archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal

Fr Cleophas Fernandes : to be Director, Snehalaya, Family Service Centre, Mahim while continuing to be Parish Priest at St Pius Church, Mulund (W)

Fr Cajetan Menezes : to be Director, Kripa Foundation while continuing to reside at Our Lady of Salvation Church, Dadar

Fr Savio Rodrigues : to be Moderator of Collegians at Our Lady’s Home Training Centre, Dadar (E)

Fr Prashant Padu : to be on the Staff of St Pius College, Goregaon (E)

Fr Dilip Donke SFX : to be Assistant, Our Lady of Fatima Church, Ambernath

Fr Johnson Sequeira Fernandes SFX: to be Assistant, Our Lady of Fatima Church, Ambernath

Fr Hendrick Itur : to be Assistant, Our Lady of Nazareth Church, Bhayandar

Fr Steven Kika : to be Assistant, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Malad (W)
(and not as previously announced)

Fr Carlton Kinny : to be Assistant, Infant Jesus Church, Dombivli

Fr Jodman Pereira : to be Assistant, St Francis Xavier Church, Mahad
(and not as previously announced)

Fr Donald Rodrigues : to be Assistant, St. Thomas Church, Goregaon (E)

Fr Sleeva Raju Bondala :(on loan from Vijaywada diocese) to be Assistant, Our Lady of Egypt Church,Kalina

Fr Joseph Gorumuchu : (on loan from Vijaywada diocese) to be Assistant, Infant Jesus Church, Ghatkopar (E)

Fr Milton Gonsalves : to be on the Staff, Holy Cross Church, Kurla

Fr Ivan Mascarenhas : to be in residence at Sacred Heart Church, Worli

Fr Bismark Fernandes SFX: to be on the Staff, Sacred Heart Church, Roha

Fr L. Jerome Vungbiakdika: (from Aizawl diocese) to assist at the Archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal, with residence at St Joseph Church, Colaba

Fr Biju Thomas : (from Shimoga diocese) to assist at the Archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal, with residence at St John the Evangelist Church, Fort

Fr Mathew Mattathil CST: to be in residence at St Francis Xavier Church, Dabul while pursuing studies for Masters in Social Work

Fr Pravin D’Souza : deputed for specialization in Theology, Rome

Fr Walter D’Souza : deputed for specialization in Scripture studies

Fr Jervis D’Souza : released for service as Deputy Secretary General, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, New Delhi

The above appointments take effect from June 1, 2018


Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay

Lay Catholics express solidarity with Delhi Archbishop;

The persecution of Christians is at its height, in almost every state with Tamil Nadu, now in a total anarchy, the statement said.


India’s largest lay Catholic organization, The All India Catholic Union, has expressed solidarity with Archbishop Anil Couto ofDelhi, who is being accused of trying to tarnish the image of India after he launched campaign to pray for peace in the country.

The Catholic union in a statement May 24 expressed solidarity with Archbishop Couto and commended “his courage, integrity and spiritual strength in calling attention to this rising tide of targeted violence against Dalits and religious minorities.”

In a pastoral letter read out on May 13 in all the national capital’s parishes, Archbishop Couto called on Catholics in his archdiocese to start a campaign of prayer and Friday fasting ahead of elections in due in April 2019.

The Archbishop’s letter sparked a political controversy after Hindu groups accused the prelate of undermining Indian interests and working with the Vatican to tarnish the government’s image.

The following is the full text of statement issued by its president Lancy D Cunha and John Dayal, its spokesman and former President.


The All India Catholic Union expresses serious concern at attempts by the Union government, the ruling party and its ideological affiliates as well as a section of the media, to divide the Christian churches, pitting bishop against bishop, and targeting individual religious leaders who dare speak of the multiple threats posed to India’s democracy and its secular and plural character.

This malicious exercise wants national and world attention to shift from state violence against the people as in the police sniper fire in Tuticorin which killed 11 persons, including several Catholics, inured a priest and other innocents protesting the expansion of a dangerous Sterlite plant which will poison underground water resources of the community. This plant is owned by the powerful Vedanta group, one of the several crony capitalists who have the benign support of the government. AICU demands arrest of the police officers and their trial for this unprovoked violence. Police had not fired at upper caste miscreants who burnt and looted government property during violence in Rajasthan, Haryana and other northern states. Any self-respecting chief minister would have resigned in such a situation.

As the largest and oldest movement of lay Christians in the country, the AICU is deeply concerned at the government’s failure to condemn and contain the threats to freedoms of faith, livelihood and expression in the country. Our beloved land has been ravaged by caste violence. Dalits have been beaten to death in several states of the country. Dalits and Muslims have been lynched from Assam to Rajasthan on mere suspicion of eating beef or transporting cattle.

The persecution of Christians is at its height, in almost every state with Tamil Nadu, now in a total anarchy, topping in communal violence too. State impunity and often the collusion of local police and civil officials aggravates the situation. Police routinely file cases against the victims, even against relatives of people who have been beaten to death.

As followers of Christ who taught us to love everyone as we would love our brother, we cannot close our eyes when our citizens, who are among the poorest of the poor and are ostracized for their caste origins and religious affiliations, are being targeted and often beaten or hanged to death in full public view. The killers film the murder as if were an act of valor. The police look on. Ruling party members often take out processions seeking the release of the guilty. The rape of the shepherd child in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir state, is the most heinous such act. Government has admitted to the death of 111 persons in822acts of communal violence in 2017. As we go towards the 2019 general elections, communal forces widen the polarisation by communal violence. It is crystal clear as to who benefits from the polarisation.

The Catholic Union stands in solidarity with Archbishop Anil Couto of the Delhi Latin Catholic Archdiocese and commends his courage, integrity and spiritual strength in calling attention to this rising tide of targeted violence against Dalits and religious minorities. Archbishop Anil has been hounded since his letter to his clergy asking his people to pray for the people, and to keep a special fast every Friday seeking blessings for India and peace in the land. We demand of every Bishop in India to issue such call for prayer for the country. We hope religious heads of all communities will also join in these prayers.

The Catholic Union had, in fact, organised such a prayer meeting In Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, earlier this. Alarmed at the very large number of incidents of violence against the Christian community in India in 2017, and specially in Madhya Pradesh, religious leaders of the Hindu, Muslim and other religions had come out strongly in support of the minority community, demanding that the government take strict and urgent action against the groups responsible for such mayhem. Acharya Sushil Goswami and Indore Shahar Quazi Mohammad Ishrat Ali had then led a galaxy of religious leaders of Madhya Pradesh who spoke out against communal and extremist forces targeting the Christian and other minority groups. We hope to organise more such meeting.

The Catholic Union has heard Central tourism minister Alphons Kannanatham saying that no Christian has been persecuted in the Modi regime. Mr. Alphons has also led the government brigade targeting Archbishop Anil Couto. Ministers have their compulsions. He must answer his own conscience. As must leaders of the Church who have been coerced or persuaded to issue certificates to the central government. The Church cannot close its eyes to violence against other marginalised communities even if not a single Christian is harmed, the Catholic Union affirms.

The Catholic Union has consistently decried the growing misuse of religion, religious symbols and places in the political discourse. We note with regret the increasing tendency of religious leaders to seek votes and support for the Central government and the ruling party in elections. Religious heads must educate their communities and the citizens large on strengthening the democratic traditions, including religious freedom and human rights, participation in the electoral. Religion must infuse Truth, Morality, Ethics, in the body politic, and not be divisive, incite violence or polarize people.

The Catholic Union has been in the forefront of the rights of Dalits and Tribals, specially those professing the Christian faith. AICU has filed a writ in the Supreme court together with others demanding Scheduled Case rights for Dalits professing the Christian Faith. We hope the courts will take a decision at an early date as this impacts the civic and human rights of a large number of people in the community.

Courtesy: UCANews

OFFICIAL: APPOINTMENTS V – 2018; Archdiocese of Bombay;

MAY 25, 2018

Archdiocese of Bombay.jpg 2

Fr Ronald Fernandes CSC: to be Parish Priest, St Louis Church, Dahisar
(this appointment takes effect from July 8, 2018)

Fr Sunil Martin D’Souza OP: to be Priest-in-charge, Our Lady of the Forsaken Church, Ghansoli

Fr Leslie Almeida: to be Assistant, Our Lady of Salvation Church, Dadar (W)

Fr Manuel Fernandes OFM Cap: to be Assistant, Our Lady of Fatima Church, Kirol

Fr Oscar Gonsalves to be Assistant, St Francis Xavier Church, Kanjur

Fr Vernon M. Aguiar: to be on the Staff, Holy Family Church, Pestom Sagar

Fr Simon Borges: to be on the Staff, St Michael Church, Mahim

Fr Victor Dalmet: to be on the Staff, Our Lady of the Sea Church, Uttan

Fr Michael C. D’Costa: to be on the Staff, St Stephen Church, Cumballa Hill

Fr Elias D’Cunha: to be on the Staff, St Joseph Church, Vikhroli

Fr Philip Falcao: to be on the Staff, St John the Evangelist Church, Marol

Fr Hilary Fernandes: to be on the Staff, Our Lady of the Sea Church, Uttan

Fr L M George: to be on the Staff, Our Lady of Health Church, Sahar

Fr Albert Gonsalves: to be on the Staff, Our Lady of Egypt Church, Kalina

Fr Sanjeev P. Pereira: to be on the Staff, St Francis Xavier Church, Vile Parle

Fr Walter Pinto: to be on the Staff, Sacred Heart Church, Santa Cruz

Fr Joel Savio Fernandes: (newly ordained) to be Assistant, Our Lady of Salvation Church, Dadar

Fr Savio Dominic Lobo: (newly ordained) to be Assistant, Good Shepherd Church, Andheri (W)

Fr Joseph Valliampoikayill: (newly ordained) to be Assistant at, Our Lady of Nazareth Church, Bhayandar (W)

Fr Evan D’Souza: on Sabbatical Leave

Fr Conrad Saldanha : on Sabbatical Leave

The above appointments unless stated otherwise takes effect from June 1, 2018

(To be continued)

Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay

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