Clarification issued by Archbishop House, on Recent Allegations;


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It has been brought to our attention that there are a number of emails, SMSes and WhatsApp messages doing the rounds, attacking the Archdiocese, Archbishop’s House and, in recent times, even Cardinal Gracias, on a range of issues.  Most of these allegations refer to property matters and/or individual priests.

At the outset we would like to place before our viewers that Cardinal Oswald Gracias, since the time he took over as the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay, has not sold any Church land, nor has he given his consent for the sale of any property belonging to the Archdiocese of Bombay, unless due process of law concerning alienation of land was followed and there was a clear disadvantage to the Church in retaining it.

It would be important to know that, already in the year 2011, Cardinal Gracias had announced a moratorium on sale of Church land unless there was a clear disadvantage to the Church in retaining it, i.e., danger of encroachment, being overrun by slums, big outgoings, etc.  Besides, he had also clarified the Archdiocesan policy and procedures regarding this in The Examiner dated July 16, 2011, page 6.

We give below, the process to be followed for the sale of Church property, which appeared in the said Examiner, for your ready reference:

Sale of Church Property 

Since there have been some reports about the sale of Church property, I think it is necessary to clarify Archdiocesan policy and procedures regarding this.  As a policy, in the Archdiocese of Bombay, no Archdiocesan property is to be sold, unless there is a clear disadvantage to the Church in retaining these, i.e. danger of encroachment, being overrun by slums, big outgoings, etc.  Besides, the following procedures are followed:

  1. 1 If a Parish Priest feels that a particular piece of property is to be alienated, he must first get the consent of the Parish Finance Committee. The proposed sale is informed to the parishioners: either through the Parish Council or by an announcement on the Notice Board.
  2. 2 The Parish Priest then refers the matter to Archbishop’s Office: here the matter is first studied by the Archdiocesan Finance Committee, (a body of experts in finance, law, engineering and administration), whose consent is obtained for the alienation; after this is obtained, or while the matter is being studied by the Archdiocesan Finance Committee, the matter is referred to the College of Consultors, a body of senior priests, who look into the pastoral aspects of the sale.                                                                                                                                                                                   Prior to this, a valuation by a Government-approved valuer is obtained, and the alienation is advertised in the newspapers, inviting offers.
  3. 3 After the consent of both these bodies has been obtained, the matter comes to the Archbishop who may then give his permission. If the value of the property is above the limit set by the Episcopal Conference (presently Rs. 1 Crore), the matter is referred to the Holy See for its approval as well.
  4. 4 After all the above approvals have been obtained, as required by Canon Law and the Archdiocesan praxis, the matter is referred to the Charity Commissioner for his permission

Hence, there are many steps to be gone through before any sale is permitted. The Trustee/Parish Priest’s role is limited to initiating this process, and later seeing to the execution after the required permissions have been obtained.

The funds received from the sale are to be put in the Corpus of the Trust, and are not to be used for any running expenditure. If any amount is to be spent from the Corpus, specific permission has to be obtained for this, both from the Archbishop and the Charity Commissioner.

– S/d. Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, July 12, 2011]

In view of the misinformation that is being shared to a wider audience through emails, SMSes and WhatsApp messages, which has no reference point to authenticate the messages received, this clarification is being made available so as to give the Catholic Community the actual facts.

Case I:       Allegation regarding the missing jewels gifted for the Statue of Our Lady at Sacred Heart Church, Santacruz

The jewels were donated by a donor.  The jewels went missing.  This was discovered in the year 2003.  Later, since various allegations were being floated around regarding the missing jewels, a full enquiry was conducted by the Archdiocese and statements obtained from concerned persons to ascertain the facts of the case. All these facts were communicated to the original donor of the jewels who, in turn, has issued a statement confirming that ‘the issue of the jewels is a closed chapter and should not be brought up again’.

Case II:     Allegation that the Church was responsible for the eviction of one Mr. Valeriano Fernandes

  1. 1 The fact of the matter is as follows: Mr. Valeriano and others are tenants of Mr. Verissimo Pereira, lessee of the property from Kalina Church since 20th March 1950 when Fr. Alexis Gomes was the Parish Priest.      
  2. 2 The said Mr. Verissimo Pereira had constructed rooms and sublet them to the tenants (complainants) who paid rent to him.
  3. 3 The sons of Mr. Verissimo Pereira filed eviction suits against the tenants in 2007.  Apparently, they succeeded in the suits and an Eviction decree has been passed against the tenants.  The Church is in no way involved with or party to the suit.

Regarding the sale of land to Mr. Verissimo Pereira, the following points might be noted:

  •  There are stringent procedures, both civil and canonical, for alienation of any property and these are followed.    The decision to alienate any land or not, is that of the local church.
  • If a Parish Priest feels that there is a clear disadvantage to the Church in retaining a plot of land belonging to the Church Trust and wishes to alienate it, he must first get the consent of the Parish Finance Committee.
  • It is only after obtaining consent from the Parish Finance Committee does the Parish Priest apply to the Archbishop to seek his permission.
  • This is an issue which occurred between June 1990 and May 1996.
  •  Hence, Cardinal Oswald Gracias is in no way involved as he took canonical possession of the Archdiocese only on December 14, 2006.
  • On March 25, 1950, Fr. Alexis Gomes leased the property to Mr. Verissimo Pereira for 12 years.  As Mr. Pereira did not pay the rent, Fr. Marques Gonsalves filed a suit in 1971.
  •  In 1976, Mr. Verissimo Pereira applied for purchase of the property and an agreement was executed between the Church and Mrs. Ismailia, the widow of Mr. Verissimo Pereira.  However, since she failed to pay the consideration amount, the Church cancelled the agreement in 1985.
  • In February 1990, Mrs. Pereira made a fresh offer to purchase the land for a higher price.  An agreement was entered into with the Church in June 1991 following due process of law, which included obtaining permission from the Charity Commissioner.
  •  The consideration received from the sale has been deposited in the church account and receipts have been issued accordingly. (This was confirmed by the then incumbent Parish Priest)
  • Taking into account all the facts, it is clear that the complainants (Mr. Valeriano Fernandes and others) have no locus standi to raise any dispute with Kalina Church in respect of sale of the church land to Mr. Verissimo.  They are tenants of Mr. Verissimo Pereira and his heirs.  The eviction suit was filed by the heirs of Mr. Verissimo Pereira against Mr. Valeriano Fernandes and others. The Church does not come into the picture at all and has nothing to do with the eviction order.
  • The only remedy available to the said Mr. Valeriano Fernandes and others was to pursue their rights as tenants for protection against the landlords (E. A. Pereira and others), in the appropriate Court.  This was communicated to Mr. Valeriano Fernandes by the then Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Fr. Savio Fernandes on the 24th of May 2012 by way of a letter.
  • Mr. Valeriano Fernandes (as sub tenant) was advised to seek legal redress against Mr. Verissimo and his legal heirs as the matter is between him and Mr. Verissimo.  In fact, to the best of our knowledge, Mr. Valeriano acted against the advice to file a legal case in the Rent court. The matter rests there.

Case III:    Alleged irregularities regarding land at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Pokhran, Thane.

The Vartak Nagar Police Station, Pokhran informed the Archdiocese that a complaint was filed by some people from Thane against the Cardinal and an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Mumbai.  On receiving our reply and on making further investigations, the Police were satisfied that the complaints made against the Cardinal and the Bishop were false and hence did not proceed further with the matter.

The complaints raised were with regards to four points, which have been circulated through the electronic /digital media.  The issues raised are:

  1. 1 That the Church has sold land bearing survey numbers 188, 189/2A and 193/3A at Pokhran Road no 2, Revenue Village, Majiwada.
  2. 2 That the Church/ Archdiocese is seeking to demolish an ancient Church and use the stones for a new church.
  3. 3 That the Church/ Archdiocese is demolishing the School cum Church at Pokhran.
  4. 4 That false statements have been made to the Charity Commissioner to obtain permission for the sale of these plots.

The facts of the case are as follows, given in serial order:

  1. 1 The plots under reference are reserved by the TMC for a playground.  Being reserved for a playground, the land is not buildable and the only benefit which the landlord can get is TDR. Experience has shown that getting the TDR is a cumbersome process as the TDR certificate is given only after the reserved land is transferred by the owner in the name of the Municipal Corporation both legally and in the Revenue records, and takes years.  The Conveyance executed by St. John the Baptist Trust, Thane, which is the legal owner of the plots, is for FSI of these plots which the buyer, will transfer as TDR for buildings he is putting up elsewhere. The sale of the TDR went to the highest bidder.
  2. 2 The Church/Archdiocese is not seeking to demolish an ancient Church. The structure under reference is on plot no 184/4 and was under litigation. To the best of our knowledge this plot is with the Court Receiver.   Plot 189/4 is not reflected in the agreement at all. The ancient Church that currently stands on this plot 189/4 is in ruins and we foresee it will eventually come down or be demolished by the civic authorities as a result of decay. In the event of such a possibility, the Church would wish to preserve the stones of this ancient structure rather than let its memory be totally obliterated. This is also in keeping with tradition.
  3. 3 The Little Flower School, attached to the Church, is in a dilapidated state and poses a danger to the children. The hope of the Archdiocese is to build a new structure with continued facilities including worship. Plans for this new structure have been filed with the Thane Municipal Corporation.
  4. 4 A charge has been made before the Charity Commissioner that sale of FSI was obtained on the basis of false statements by the then Trustee of St. John the Baptist Trust, Thane. The Charity Commissioner’s office, by its order dated 27/1/2014, has issued an Interim Injunction Order till the charge can be investigated.  The matter is pending in court.

Case IV:    Regarding Marinagar

  1. 1 St. Michael’s Church, Mahim owns a plot of land near Mahim station, Marinagar.  On this plot there were 16 small ground floor structures and 5 buildings put up by St. Michael’s Church for Catholics from the low income category.  Through an Agreement entered into by St. Michael’s Church and a Developerin 1991, the Developer was given the right to develop this plot and use all the FSI available minus the FSI of 5 existing buildings.  The Developer was required to demolish 16 ground floor structures and re-house the existing tenants/occupants of the said structures by providing them with permanent alternate accommodation.  He was entitled to use the rest of the FSI for his own benefit. For this he was required to pay St. Michael’s Rs. 601/- per sq. foot for the FSI consumed up to 44000 sq. feet.  Above that, the payment was Rs. 841/-per sq. foot.
  2. 2 Around the year 2008, the Developer found a way of getting extra FSI.  Accordingly, he filed plans for utilising the extra FSI.  He wanted to carry out this development at the 1991 rate of Rs. 841/- on the grounds that the 1991 Agreement gave it the right to develop all the existing FSI. The Church refused to accept this and after much negotiation got the price raised to Rs. 2000/- per sq. foot.  A claim has been made that the Church has sold land at Rs. 2000/- per sq. foot which is not really the case.  Rather, after much negotiation, it succeeded in raising the 1991 rate from Rs. 841/- to Rs. 2000/- per sq. foot.
  3. 3 Also, people residing in the 5 existing structures were made to believe that their FSI had been swallowed by the Developer and hence when the time would come to re-develop their 5 buildings, there would be no FSI left for re-development.  On checking with some architects of repute we were informed that the FSI of the 5 structures remains intact.  And so, plans are afoot to redevelop the five Buildings.  However, there has been a slight delay in view of the proposed enhanced FSI by the Government

Case V:      Case of the lock-breaking priest

There is an ancestral house in Bandra belonging to four brothers; each of the brothers has a 2/3 bedroom flat in the ancestral house. The gate to the building was always open. A lock was put by someone, which blocked access to the Building. One of the brothers, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Army, who owns one of the flats got the lock broken. He was present on the occasion. This is surely a family matter which does not involve the Church. One of the brothers is a member of the hierarchy and asked a priest to help. Even if a priest is asked to help and he was present when the lock was broken, it remains a family matter and should be resolved by the family members.

Press Office

Archdiocese of Bombay

May 27th 2015

Vatican official probed for embezzlement: reports;


Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia under investigation in Italy on suspicion of embezzlement, price fixing.

Rome:Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, a Vatican official, is under investigation by Italian prosecutors on suspicion of embezzlement and price fixing during the sale of an historic castle, according to media reports Wednesday.

The sale of the San Girolamo castle in central Italy has already led to the arrest of two employees of the diocese of Terni where Paglia, who is president of the Holy See’s council for family matters, was bishop.

Now prosecutors are probing Paglia on allegations of criminal conspiracy and fraud in relation to the sale of the castle four years ago to real estate company IMI immobiliare, which was headed by one of the arrested diocese employees.

Diocese funds were allegedly used illegally and money was found to be missing from diocese funds.

According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which cited the prosecutor for the city of Terni in central Italy, Paglia is alleged to be one of the instigators of the fraud.

Those under investigation have 20 days to hand over files explaining their defense.

While the San Girolamo castle in the Narni area of central Italy is considered to be of great artistic and cultural value it is now believed to be left abandoned.

At the same time, the Terni diocese is one of the most indebted in Europe, with a deficit of some 25 million euros (about US$27 million).

Paglia, 70, was the diocese bishop from 2000-2012 before Pope Benedict named him to the Pontifical Council for the Family, which promotes and protects family interests in the church.

He is also one of the most prominent Vatican officials who is a member of the Sant’Egidio Community, influential in Italy for its commitment to working with the poor and immigrants.

Pope Francis has issued strong statements against corruption, including during a visit in March to mafia territory in Naples.

“Corruption stinks, corrupt society stinks,” he told residents, adding that “we all have the potential to be corrupt and to slip into criminality”.

Source: AFP/UCAN

Appointments 2015 – VIII: Archdiocese of Bombay;

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MAY 29, 2015


Fr Basil Lobo OFM : to be Parish Priest, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Sion
                                 (with effect from July 1, 2015)

Fr Alex Gonsalves : (on loan from Vasai diocese) to be Assistant at Our Lady of the Sea Church, Uttan and Principal at St Joseph High School and Junior College, Uttan (and not as previously announced)

 Fr Walter Pen  : (on loan from Vasai diocese) to be Assistant at St Sebastian Church, Marouli and Principal at St Sebastian High School, Marouli

Fr Simon Tuscano : (on loan from Archdiocese of Agra) to be Assistant at St Joseph Church, Juhu and Principal at St Joseph High School, Juhu

 Fr Pravin D’Souza : to be Assistant, Good Shepherd Church, Andheri (W)

Fr Donald Rodrigues : to be Assistant, St John the Evangelist Church, Marol

Fr Michael Pen : to be Assistant, St Michael Church, Mahim

 Fr Patrick D’Mello : Coordinator of Office for Laity Training with residence at St John the Evangelist Church, Marol

 Fr George Athaide : On the Staff, St John the Evangelist Church, Fort

Fr Blaise D’Mello : On the Staff, St Blaise Church, Andheri (W)

Fr Paul D’Souza : On the Staff, Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Mazagaon

Fr Savio de Sales : deputed for further studies in Liturgy, Kristu Jyoti, Bangalore

Fr Gavin Lopes : deputed for further studies in theology, Urban University, Rome

Fr Joshan Rodrigues : deputed for further studies in Communication, Holy Cross University, Rome

The above appointments take effect from June 1, 2015 unless stated otherwise

+ Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay

After one year of his Rule, Christians remain cautious about Modi;

 by Anto Akkara

‘We have nothing to celebrate’

Modi took office on May 26, 2014 after the Bharatiya Janata Party dominated national parliamentary elections. The BJP platform is built upon the concept of Hindutva, a vision of India as culturally and historically Hindu.

Attending a national assembly<br />
 in Bangalore in February, 140 Catholic bishops took to the streets in protest following the spurt in anti-Christian violence.<br />
Attending a national assembly in Bangalore in February, 140 Catholic bishops took to the streets in protest following the spurt in anti-Christian violence. Anto Akkara / World Watch Monitor

To mark the first anniversary of his government, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 declared the world is “optimistic about India and is enthusiastic about exploring the opportunities India has to offer.”

To which one leader of India’s churches replied:

“We have nothing to celebrate. Rather, we have reasons to be concerned,” said Rev. Roger Gaikwad, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India, a coalition of Orthodox and Protestant churches.

“One year of Prime Minister Modi rule does not augur well for the four years to come,” Gaikwad told World Watch Monitor. “The last one year has been a quite challenge to the (religious) minorities.”

Modi took office on May 26, 2014 after the Bharatiya Janata Party dominated national parliamentary elections. The BJP platform is built upon the concept of Hindutva, a vision of India as culturally and historically Hindu.

Modi made his optimistic claim in an open letter, against the backdrop of a Times of India poll that showed his government to have a 77 percent approval rating. A day earlier, he marked the first year of BJP rule by attending a rally in the northern India city of Mathura, the birthplace of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, a formative figure in the Hindu nationalist movement.

Christians and other religious minorities have reason to take a different view of the past year. In March, on day 300 of BJP rule, a coalition of minority religious leaders issued a report claiming to document more than 600 cases of violence —168 of targeting Christians and the rest against Muslims.

“The future cannot be said to be very inviting,” said John Dayal, a prominent Christian activist and spokesperson for the United Christian Forum, which was formed as reports of intimidation and violence mounted in the months following Modi’s election.

“Modi came to power on development agenda and claims to pursue it,” Dayal told World Watch Monitor. “But the message is quite different. He has made himself contemporary leader of a community and not of a nation. That explains why he launched the anniversary celebrations in Mathura.”

In a May 14 statement, Dayal wrote that BJP rule has prompted “a marked shift in public discourse.”

“There has been a relentless foregrounding of communal identities, a ceaseless attempt to create a divide between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Hate statements by Union and state ministers, threats by Members of Parliament, state politicians, and cadres in saffron caps or Khaki shorts resonate through the landscape,” he wrote, referencing the colors popularly associated with the BJP and Hindu nationalism.

Read Dayal’s complete statement here.

Ahead of the anniversary, an ecumenical delegation of 16 Christian leaders, including Catholic Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, met May 23 in the Indian capital and called on Modi’s finance minister, Arun Jaitely, to take their concerns to the government.

“The government is concerned about the bad name for the nation and negative impact of the reports on the attacks,” Rev. Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesperson Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, told World Watch Monitor.

When church leaders drew Jaitely’s attention to “irresponsible and provocative statements” of some of the BJP leaders and ministers, Shankar quoted the minister as saying some of them are “partly uncontrollable.”

“The minister assured us that the government will take prompt action in any attack,” Shankar said. “We hope that past experience will not be repeated.” In Delhi alone, half a dozen Catholic churches have been the target of arson attacks and break-ins.

Apart from the violence targeting religious minorities, government policies have hit the poor “hard,” said Gaikwad, of the National Council of Churches in India.

“Allocations for healthcare and welfare programmes have been reduced. This is also a matter of worry for the churches,” he said.

The opposition Congress Party too blamed the Modi government for “neglect of social sectors.”

“Agriculture, education, health and concerns of small traders who represent the backbone of the economy have all been sidelined,” said Kapil Sibal, senior Congress party leader. “Allocations on education and health have been drastically reduced.”

Courtesy: Worldwatch Monitor

Archdiocese of Bombay & the Community……

Sometimes, for purpose of amusement, the inner circle of the clergy and their chief asks, ‘What reforms do you want us to do anyway?’ Well, that is pretty clear. Archdiocese of Bombay.jpg 2   Let us Choose Reforms                                                     Don Aguiar. One of the most honest statements from a clergy official of the Archdiocese of Bombay in recent times came from the inner circle of the clergy team who said big reforms are not applicable to a community like ours. At a recent event, he said, “If you look around the world, big dramatic reforms happen around crisis.” He also added, “Big reforms are not easy to happen in a community like ours that follows the principle of democracy. In democracies, you have multiple veto centers, multiple decision-making centers and it is very difficult to push through decisive change and if you look at our community at this juncture, we are not in crisis.” There you go. All you big change seekers, the party is over even before it started. The inner circle of the clergy and their chief has, in effect, said they don’t want to rock the boat. Things won’t change much and things won’t change fast. For the community it will continue to be pray, pay and obey while for the clergy and their chief who belongs to the secular / diocesan order will still not have to take the “Vow of Poverty”. In such perfect settings why would the secular / diocesan clergy who control the Archdiocese of Bombay want change as suggested by the community? People in the community are turning impatient, their trust and confidence have started to slip, and while none in the community will publicly criticize the clergy leadership, the profuse praise has certainly stopped. The only thing going for the clergy leadership right now is the civic and political associations they have thrown their weight behind, who at least at present are struck more by power lust than the lust for responsibly and honestly helping the community.  Any reasonably organized association from another community would be able to take on this power lust civic and political association, and this just without much difficulty. Look how easily the ‘non interference’ and ‘I do not care’ attitude labeling has stuck. Or how our Churches and institutions are attacked and damaged. Or how there is little certainty about the future of our community being able to practice and profess our religion and customs as guaranteed by our constitution. Sometimes, for purpose of amusement, the inner circle of the clergy and their chief asks, ‘What reforms do you want us to do anyway?’ Well, that is pretty clear. They revolve around opening up and being transparent in the areas of church and parishes institutions finances and properties, building houses and infrastructure for the community on these properties, interact with the government in safeguarding the community interests, looking after the welfare of the community and making it easier for the community to do business and live a peaceful and prosperous existence, which in turn creates jobs, growth and raises revenues for welfare projects. I think the intention is there. Many in the inner circle of the clergy and their chief are extraordinarily capable people, fully aware of what it will take to restore the community’s confidence and the like. So why don’t they do it? The issue is what the chief of the clergy stated. ‘In a democracy, change isn’t easy. Though the community people feel things need to change, everyone has a different idea of what that change is. I might think a more cautious approach is better.’ And since our community is closet socialists, trusting a more cautious setup is proving difficult for our community. Abuse can occur both in socialist and cautious systems, but a cautious set up does tend to get people impatient. However, it appears that the inner circle of our clergy and their chief would prefer that the community would rather have lesser opportunities and be in a familiar, oppressive system than trust a new system. Until that mentality changes, which means until the entire clergy and their chief change, there cannot be reforms. The risk of shoving in change the clergy and their chief are not ready for is simply too high. The only time it happened was some years ago, when we had a crisis, and that is somehow the only time our community and clergy become one and listen to reason. This takes me to my trip to Chennai a few weeks ago, a lesson worth sharing, where I had the pleasure of eating what were without question the best idlis that I ever have had. This was at a small stall in Cuddalore going by the name of Shri Idlis. This place is a little shack on a small road in a desultory residential colony and is basic enough not to have any sign that displays its name. The idlis were divine, the upma even more so, but they had run out of dosas, which is what they are really famous for. Like many other stalls of this kind there were clear codes to be followed – they were open only for breakfast – once they run out of batter, they shut shop for the next day and idlis that become cold are not served to customers. They have been in operation for around 30 years, were used to receiving guests from all over the world, but they couldn’t be bothered to add a bench for people to sit down. All over India there are these wonderful places, most of these places have no branches, little by way of marketing and almost every single day they run out of food to serve. They serve absolutely brilliant food and they all have one thing in common – they know when to stop.. If we do want big reform, many tiny changes are required in the mindset of our community and the clergy and their chief. The rich vs poor, land owners vs tenants, outsiders vs desi conflicts that we have created in our heads deny us the belief that win-win situations are possible but the need is to know when to stop… and follow clear codes… just like the wonderful eating places do for maintaining their clientele, getting good reviews enabling them to increase their clientele and keeping their staff vibrant by ensuring democracy, goodwill and the welfare of their staff. A vibrant community is important for democratic traditions and those who are peacefully seeking change are not anti clergy. The community has an ‘inalienable right’ in a democratic community like ours to argue peacefully and asking questions to the clergy or challenging their actions does not mean that one is trying to weaken either the clergy and their chief or their secular / diocesan order on the whole All this doesn’t mean the inner circle of the clergy and their chief doesn’t have to do anything. They promised change, and they have to somehow deliver on it. Some risks for the community’s good will have to be borne – what else is a bold inner circle of the clergy and their chief anyway? Yes, our community and the inner circle of the clergy and their chief want change but are scared of it at the same time. The trick is to come up with creative solutions that lead to reform and minimize damage. Interacting with the government in safeguarding the community’s interest and making transparency in areas of Church and Parish institutions finances and properties for example, is a less of an issue than building houses and infrastructure for the community, and perhaps that could be taken up first. A few big items, along with proper communication to change mindsets, would do us all good. Giving up, being too cautious or going too slow won’t. Sometimes, in life, not taking a risk is the biggest risk. Perhaps the  mistake the chief of the clergy made was to project himself as a cautious leader the community always wanted. The truth is: Much as we may all like to believe in the myth of the cautious leader, in reality we are looking for benevolence, simplicity, a leader who can hold together so many disagreements. That is the challenge. We are only a community in idea. Actually we all pull in different directions   No, there is nothing wrong with that. We hold together because we are all so unlike each other. It’s our diversity, our plurality our multiple mysticisms that bind us together. Each of us in our community represents a unique identity, a different culture, a different background, a different caste, language and yet coming together to build our amazing community. For a great community the future will not be built on uniformity or on forcefully erasing differences but by celebrating them. If the chief of the clergy can lend shape to that, we will have the community we want, where we can all have our own share. A community that will help us all to be what we are. Irrespective of what we believe in, where we come from, what we eat, what we wear, the language we speak, the cast we belong to, the saints we worship, the gender we are, the calling we pursue. Nothing will matter but the fact that we all stand proudly under one flag/leader, unafraid of what we are.

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