GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI
An outspoken colleague within the clergy is holding the Church authorities indirectly responsible for the fate of Fr Bismarque Dias, who was found dead in the creek at his St Estevam village last week.
Fr Michael Fernandes, a fighter himself, has also asked why the Church has officially not come out with a single statement on Fr Bismarque’s death in suspicious circumstances.
“I am not saying that the Church authorities are involved in killing Fr Bismarque. But he was not protected by the Church when he was fighting the sell-out of Goa”, Fr Fernandes told goanews.com.
A practicing lawyer since 1990, Fr Fernandes has also been fighting people’s issues and taking up court cases of the exploited and helpless class of the society in the port town of Vasco.
It all started, according to him, when Fr Bismarque found out that the Church had sold out a gifted land at Vaxim Island to a Bangalore-based party to build a resort and a golf course etc.
As he recalls, Fr Bismarque was at that time living in a rented room and looking after the construction of a building of Blessed Sacrament Society at Alto St Cruz.
As he started mobilising the people against the sell-out of the Church land to the hotelier, the Church of Goa immediately transferred him to the USA in 2010.
As a result, says Fr Fernandes, his fighter colleague had preferred to stop preaching and fighting public issues by living in his St Estevam village rather than going to the USA, obeying the Church order.
After two years, two opposite opinions emerged within the Church when Fr Bismarque decided to contest Assembly election from Cumbarjua as an independent candidate.
Fr Mousinho Ataide, an expert on Canon Law and professor at Rachol Seminary, had ruled that there is no prohibition on a priest contesting Assembly election and Fr Bismarque need not take permission from the Church.
As he recalls, Fr Ataide had also stated that he would require to take permission of the Church only if he gets elected and not to fight election.
Fr Eremito Rebello, convenor of Goa for Dabolim Only, had expressed difference of opinion on Fr Ataide’s view, but could not provide a second opinion, quoting the Canon Law.
He also disclosed that Fr Bismarque was once again getting himself prepared to fight the forthcoming Assembly election in 2017 from the same constituency, with a larger public support.
In fact Fr Fernandes alleges that the priest candidate was defeated by his own senior colleagues within the clergy, who secretly pressurised the priests in Cumbarjua constituency (including Old Goa) to tell the people not to vote for him.
While Fr Bismarque was fighting the real estate barons and the government authorities in his village, Pernem taluka and all over Goa, Fr Fernandes feels the Church did not protect the fighting priest.
According to him, the priests are today supporting the public meetings and candle light vigils at personal level and the Church has not given any official directive to support the public protests, not even through the Council for Social Justice and Peace.
He also alleges that the police are not probing Fr Bismarque’s death case from all the angles when he had been receiving threats to his life.
Fr Fernandes has been transferred to Clergy Home of aged priests with only two inmates by creating a new post – Assistant to the Director.
He has challenged this transfer as well as the creation of this post since the Clergy Home of two inmates is being looked after by two senior priests.
Fr Fernandes presently lives at his own Vasco flat, as a practicing lawyer.