Are Church leaders listening to the wake-up calls?

Judge yourself with the latest situation in India particularly in Mumbai. Leadership is doomed, lay leadership is neither encouraged nor supported. We are sailing in a boat without any boatman…….Alex D’mello on FB

Promoting docile ‘yes men’ has brought us a feeble leadership

Are Church leaders listening to the wake-up calls?

Cardinal Bertone. File picture: Dmitry Morgan/

June 24, 2014

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican Secretary of State and right hand of Pope Benedict XVI, has been implicated in a multi-million dollar fraud and embezzlement case. He is also in hot water for his new apartment, infinitely more luxurious than the pope’s own lodgings. This somehow typifies and also casts a depressing shadow on the way the Church government has been run over the past few decades.

The degree of ‘moral turpitude’ at the highest levels astounds the imagination. Are cardinals and bishops no better than crude politicians after all?

For a long time, for centuries in fact, the Catholic Church was one of the few institutions where a young man, with no family connections and little money, could rise to eminence on the basis of intelligence, shrewdness and ambition alone.

If in addition, he was servile enough to authority and avoided scandals, especially sexual ones, he could go far.

As a tried and tested formula, it worked for centuries, and still does.

As proof, just look at the popes, the bishops and the senior clergy who have “made it”. All of them belong to an institution called the Church to which they have given their lives, from which they draw certain benefits, and whose stability and public image they are sworn to uphold.

But the world has changed, and changed drastically. In an earlier religious culture, priests and bishops were respected and their words carried weight.

Not any more, in the secularized culture in which we live. This is a culture sworn to freedom, especially freedom of information.

The whole purpose of Vatican II was to bring the Church up to date (aggiornamento), as Pope John XXIII wished. But this reform was bitterly resisted by members of the ruling Roman Curia, who did their best to sabotage what the Council decreed.

For example, an important change the Council wanted was collegiality, whereby structures of governance would be put in place so that bishops could take their rightful place along with the pope in matters of doctrine and pastoral care.

This sadly has not taken place at all, and today most bishops are little more than “branch managers”, taking their cues from “head office” in Rome.

Looking at India, there was a time when the leaders of the Catholic hierarchy were seen and respected as community leaders.

That time seems to be over. The only Christian leader invited for the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was an Orthodox bishop from Kerala, a friend of his.

Has the Catholic Church hierarchy lost its clout?

Disturbing as this is, it is not surprising. Under John Paul II, any senior priest who showed any independence of thought and action was summarily passed over for promotion in favor of those who were compliant and docile.

As a result, we have a timid hierarchy, shy of taking a public stand and eager to show its obsequiousness to the government.

Nor have outspoken laymen or women been encouraged either in India. So it may be worth our while to introspect a little and see where most of India’s clergy and hierarchy come from.

By and large they come from ‘village and small town India,’ where opting for the priesthood is still a safe passage for upward mobility. Usually, bishops are chosen not for their pastoral abilities, but because they are trained in canon law or theology (most have been seminary professors, not parish priests).

No surprise then that the two key qualities of a public leader – and a bishop is this, if he is anything at all – communication skills and management abilities, are often glaringly absent.

With regard to communication skills: like all authoritarian and non-democratic institutions, the Catholic Church loves secrecy. It hates the media, accusing it of meddlesome curiosity.

To justify secrecy, it argues that the Church ‘should not wash its dirty linen in public’. A fallacious argument at best, because as a result the dirty clothes do not get washed at all.

Two examples make this clear: the pedophile scandals in the West and the financial scams of the Vatican. Notice that what made the sexual crimes of the offending priests worse was the elaborate cover-ups from their bishops, which involved lies, evasion and subterfuge.

When it comes to management, in most cases, traditional organizations rest on authority through command. Information-based organizations rest on responsibility.

In today’s world, information is a resource built into every operation, which can only function if each unit is accountable. And this applies to the Church too.

Ask yourself, when was the last time your parish priest or your bishop showed himself accountable for the functioning of the unit (parish, diocese) committed to his charge? Not just financially accountable, but responsible for the planning and execution of projects undertaken?

Two serious issues that face the Christian minority in India today are how it treats its Dalit and tribal communities; and what its inter-faith relationships are.

Both issues are related to the question of ‘inclusivity’, or how to form a more egalitarian and integrated society. It is our sad experience that the more indigenous the Christian community is, the more rooted in the local culture, the more caste exclusive it tends to become. Leadership is serious wanting here.

Inter-faith relations are growing increasingly important in India today, where we still see ourselves as a threatened minority.

These relations mean more than just celebrating religious feasts together. They also relate to the way in which we see inter-faith marriages; engage in inter-community projects for common welfare; and are able to discuss our respective religious traditions in public and without apprehension, in order to expand our ‘democratic space’.

Today the rapid changes in Indian society are reflected in the Catholic community. The recent election was a decisive rejection of a corrupt and feudal government.

May this serve as a wake-up call for Church leaders as well.

Jesuit Fr Myron J. Pereira is a media consultant based in Mumbai
Courtesy: UCANews…

WAKE UP CALL FOR THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY: Effect of flawed DP – 2034, on Christian community and their institutions;

Mumbai: Poisar church parishioners take protest to BMC ward office


Aggrieved with the BMC proposal to remove the heritage cross and portion of the graveyard for expansion of SV Road at Poisar in Kandivali, the members of Catholic community protested outside the local BMC office on Saturday.

Around 500 people marched from Our Lady of Remedy Church in Kandivali to the R-South BMC office as the community members were against the idea of dislodging the cross and parting away with the graveyard area. Protestors were holding placards with message to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

‘We are the BMC – Boulder Mighty Catholics’ read one of the placards, while another one said ‘Standing hand in hand to protect every inch of our land’.

Dolphy D’souza from Save our Land (SOUL), one of the supporting groups, said, “The protest is against the unjust demand of the BMC to demolish the heritage cross, a portion of the graveyard of Our Lady of Remedy which has a history of over 450 years and some of the other church property. We, Christians, are soft targets and so the politicians and BMC officials are exploiting us.”

Though the rally was peaceful as the protestors reached the R-South BMC ward office they started shouting slogans like, ‘BMC ki dadagiri nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi’ and ‘Ajoy Mehta hai, hai’.

A delegation of the protestors were allowed inside the ward office to meet the civic officials, but the members were upset as senior civic officials — the deputy municipal commissioner (DMC) and assistant municipal commissioner (AMC) — were not there for the meeting. It was the Executive Engineer, R-South, Sunil Pabikar who attended the delegation members and heard their say on the issue.

“DMC and AMC have gone for a top level meeting,” Pabikar told the protestors. He further informed the delegation that since the subject is very sensitive it would be appropriate to meet higher civic authorities and possibly municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta to get the subject addressed.

With civic elections scheduled early next year, the community is likely to take up the issue during the polls and their anger could well be reflected in votes. Alfi Quinny from Poisar village said, “We may be a minority, but collectively, we make up 20 per cent of the electorate and a difference of 500 votes can make or break a candidate. The tide is rising against those in power who are crushing us in the name of development. The Poisar church makes everyone passing this road say a prayer, on the curses of the dead nothing good can come about.”

Meanwhile Godfrey Pimenta from Watchdog Foundation said, “We did a study of various points on SV Road from Mulji Nagar Junction in Kandivali to Kamal Kunj in Goregaon, the road width is not more than 60 feet anywhere. Why is there a need for a 90 feet road near Poisar Church? By taking a part of the graveyard, the dead will be desecrated. There is no burial ground nearby and many have to go as far as Oshiwara, this existing one is also being denied.”

“We need to thank the BMC and politicians for teaching our community to come on the streets. We have learnt to agitate with protests like this only because of them. Today’s morcha was only a trailer, if the BMC does not back off, we will have an even bigger agitation, We will have an agitation at Azad Maidan soon and also try to get an appointment with Ajoy Mehta to discuss this issue as well as the new Development Plan (DP) which has again targeted us by showing our properties as something else,” said D’souza.





The analysis of revised draft Development Plan 2034, by us reveals that in all out of 90 Churches in city of Mumbai, only 10 Churches have been officially marked in DP.

1) 30 Churches are marked as Primary and Secondary Schools.

2) 2 Churches are marked as Rehabilitation and Resettlement for slums.

3) 1 Church is marked as Multipurpose Community Centre.

4) 1 Church is marked in No Development Zone.

5) 2 Churches are marked in Industrial Zone.

6) 1 Church is marked as Municipal Staff Quarters.

7) 2 Churches are marked as Graveyards.

8) 2 Churches are marked as Garden/Park.

9) 1 Church is marked as Municipal Housing.

10) 5 Graveyards are marked as Schools.




Watchdog Foundation,
Bombay East Indian Association,
Save Our Land,
Sahar Citizens Forum,
Civic and Political Cell Chuim Church,
Guardians United,

Christians in Chhattisgarh live in appalling situation;

Fact finding report says local laws meant for their welfare and protection are used to harass.

Indian Christians hold placards and banners during a protest in New Delhi in this file photo to draw attention to continued anti-Christian violence. (Photo by AFP)

Bhopal: A team of politicians and human rights activists who toured Chhattisgarh has reported several cases of violence against Christians in the eastern Indian state.

“Christians live in an appalling situation in rural areas where local laws meant for their welfare and protection are used to harass and divide the people on the basis of religion,” said Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, who was part of the team that included former lawmakers.

After touring Chhattisgarh June 8-11, the team released a report saying how the state government failed to help Christians in villages oppressed by Hindu nationalists.

Several villages in Baster district for example have against the spirit of the Indian Constitution restricted non-Hindus from residing or building places of worship in those villages, the report said.

Christians are even being prevented from using burial grounds in several villages, it said.

In Sirisguda village, Christians were not allowed to buy grocery from the government’not s public distribution system and were beaten up, the report said. After the attack, the ambulance was not allowed in the village and injured Christians allowed to get treatment in the district hospital.

Christians are also not allowed to use common water sources in villages and district officials insisting that Christians must convert to Hinduism or leave the village. “We have come across innumerable examples of Christians under pressure to change their religion, in gross violation of constitutional provisions,” Krishnan told June 13.

“The violence is politically motivated,” Bishop Joseph Kollamparampi of Jagadalpur told without naming any group but expressed shock over the series of human rights violations in Bastar region that comes under his diocese.

However, Father Sebastian Poomattam, vicar general of Raipur Archdiocese based in the state capital has blamed the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party that runs the state and federal governments for the increasing violence against Christians and tribal people.

“We are living in an alarming situation here,” as Hindu groups push forward their agenda of creating a Hindu-only India, Father Poomattam told

The state, ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu-nationalist party, has become a hotbed of anti-Christian violence with right-wing Hindu groups attacking Christians with impunity.

Christian leaders said police are indifferent to attacks on Christians and that the government tacitly supports violence on religious minorities.

Christians number less than 1 percent of the population in the Hindu-dominated state.

Source: UCAN


Cemetery is Shelter for homeless: Cruel Humour by BMC Planners;

“It is obvious they never visited the site,” said Pimenta. “When we found the mistake in the old draft, our parish had collected signatures of members and filed a memorandum with the municipal corporation. The surveyors have clearly not looked at the objections and suggestions before creating the new draft.”

Manoj Nair, Hindustan Times, Mumbai

Updated: May 30, 2016 01:01 IST


 OL of REMEDY Poinsur

Last week, when members of a Poinsur church found that the city’s revised Development Plan (DP) had marked their parish graveyard as a ‘shelter for homeless people’, they wondered whether it was a dreadful attempt at dark humour by bored surveyors.

Residents of Poinsur village, whose church dates back to the 16th century, said the cemetery has graves that are nearly a century old. “It is quite awkward and embarrassing [to find the entry in the DP]; what kind of homework did the surveyors do?” asked Alfie Quinny, a member of the church who said his great-great grandfather was buried in the cemetery in 1929.

It is obvious that the team commissioned to do the survey did not do their legwork. The plans in 1967 and 1991 – the current DP will be the city’s planning guide for 2014-34 – had marked the graveyard correctly. Quinny and his neighbours, who find the entry insulting and blasphemous, will file their objections to the entries.

In March 2015, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had released the first draft of the current DP, but had to withdraw the document as it was riddled with mistakes. Citizens filed around 50,000 objections and suggestions to be incorporated in the new draft. The revised plan, released this month, was supposed to incorporate these corrections. If the idea of the revised DP was to eliminate the glaring errors in the earlier draft, the objective has not been served; the new version is also filled with errors.

According to Godfrey Pimenta, a lawyer, the Maharashtra Town Planning Act, says the surveyors have to, apart from looking at property titles, visit the sites before drawing up the plan. In Pimenta’s locality – Marol in Andheri – the surveyors have drawn a non-existent road cutting across the church ground and parish school. The mistake has been repeated from the old draft. “It is obvious they never visited the site,” said Pimenta. “When we found the mistake in the old draft, our parish had collected signatures of members and filed a memorandum with the municipal corporation. The surveyors have clearly not looked at the objections and suggestions before creating the new draft.”

About 500 municipal engineers, town planners and support staff were involved in the fresh survey, which started a year ago, soon after the older draft was withdrawn. Mumbai is divided into 24 municipal wards, so an average of 20 municipal officials surveyed each ward. “In addition, the ward offices were asked to assist the team from the development plan department as ward-level workers will have better knowledge of the layout of localities. Despite this, they have repeated the blunders made in the earlier draft,” said Pimenta.

Mahim dargah has been marked as an orphanage in both the drafts. St Michael’s Church, a popular pilgrimage centre, and its cemetery have been marked as a school. Nariman Point, Mumbai’s first high-rise business district, where only one of the 25-odd buildings is residential, has been marked as a housing area. Hutatma Chowk, or Flora Fountain, which is made of two triangular traffic islands, was shown as a parking lot and a garden/monument in the last draft; the latest DP has not even marked the traffic islands in colours that indicate the land use.

Mumbai’s revenue maps and Ready Reckoner – the guide that gives property values in the city – are riddled with mistakes, with the names of places spelt wrongly. For instance, Amboli, a locality in Andheri (West) is marked as Ambavali in the Ready Reckoner and Ambivli in the DP. Marouli, a village in Chembur, is marked as Marvali in the Reckoner and Maravali in the plan. It is surprising that the surveyors, unlike their predecessors who did not have access to modern tools like satellite imaging, could make mistakes. One reason why the surveyors came up with the shoddy draft could have been the rush to meet the May 31 deadline they had set for themselves.

Pope issues plan for removing bishops who fail to act on sex abuse

“As a loving mother the Church loves all her children, but treats and protects with a very particular affection the smallest and helpless”

ROME—Never one to slow down on the weekend, Pope Francis on Saturday signed two documents designed to reflect progress on two battle fronts: The Catholic Church’s response to clerical sexual abuse, particularly bishops’ accountability, and reform of the Roman Curia, the global Church’s governing body.The first document is a motu proprio, meaning a legal text, titled “As a loving mother,” which talks specifically about the causes that could merit removing a bishop or an eparch from his post.

In the document, Francis acknowledged that the church’s canon law already contemplates removing a bishop for “grave reasons,” but said he wanted to be more specific on the fact that negligence can cost a bishop his job.

One of the specifications added by the document is the fact that negligence of the bishop “in particular in relation to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults” is now one of the “grave reasons” that would legitimize the removal of a bishop from his position.

For decades, survivors of clerical sexual abuse and their advocates have been demanding that the Church hold bishops accountable for failing to act in cases of child sexual abuse, either by ignoring accusations or for moving sexually abusive priests from one parish to another instead of reporting them.

The law also says that a bishop can be removed if his actions or omissions cause “grave harm,” either physical, moral, spiritual or financial, to individuals or communities.

“As a loving mother the Church loves all her children, but treats and protects with a very particular affection the smallest and helpless” says the text released on Saturday by the Vatican, available only in Italian.

“Aware of this, the Church is particularly vigilant in protecting children and vulnerable adults. Such role of protection and care involves the whole Church, but particularly its shepherds,” the text continues, naming the bishops and eparchs.

A motu proprio is an edict by the pope that can either be addressed to a part of the Church, for instance the bishops, or to the institution as a whole. “As a loving mother” has no addressee, so it’s assumed that it’s meant for the global Church.

As any law, the document then goes to list the procedure for removing a bishop from his post, saying that he can only be removed if he has “objectively failed in a very serious manner to the diligence that is required by his pastoral office, even if not by a serious moral fault of his own.”

In the cases of child abuse or vulnerable adults, “the lack of action” has to be “serious” to merit removal.

According to the document, the new set of rules applies also for leaders of religious orders, not only bishops.

The second article of the motu proprio says that the corresponding Vatican office can start the investigation when there’s sufficient proof of negligence or wrong doing, giving the suspected bishop the possibility to defend himself.

Since these are cases of negligence but not crimes, the corresponding offices are the Congregations for Bishops (for most Latin rite prelates), Evangelization of Peoples (for bishops in mission territories), Oriental Churches (for the Eastern churches in communion with Rome) and Consecrated Life (for religious orders).

If found guilty, the bishop will have 15 days to voluntarily hand in his resignation, before being forcefully removed, and it’d be possible to temporarily replace a him while the investigation is ongoing.

Lastly, the document also says that each decision to remove a bishop from his post will have to be personally approved by the pope, who will be assisted by a group of legal advisers.

According to “As a loving mother,” the new regulations will become effective on Sept. 5, 2016. A Vatican spokesman on Saturday said there’s no question of a “retroactive” norm, since older cases were covered by the previous law, whereas from now on the process will follow what Francis has set out.

The motu proprio follows a 2015 institution of a tribunal within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith specifically to judge bishops “with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors.”

However, that tribunal is currently at a standstill, with no personnel having been appointed to it yet.

The second document signed by Francis on Saturday and also released only in Italian, are the statutes for a new “mega-dicastery” in the Vatican, a direct result of the work being done by the pope’s group of 9 cardinal advisors who guide the pontiff in the reform of the Roman Curia.

In a nutshell, two current Vatican offices, the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family will become one: a Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

The new body should begin its work on Sept. 1, and it´s still unknown who will head it. Currently, the Council for the Laity is headed by Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, while family is under Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

Although early in the reform Francis had voiced the possibility of a married couple heading this new dicastery, the document released on Saturday says it´ll be headed by a prefect, always a cardinal or an archbishop “unless specified” by “some special law.” It will also have a secretary, “who could be a lay person,” and three sub-secretaries, one for laity, one for family and one for life, that “will have to be laity.”

Francis’ reform of the curia will conclude with a revised, or completely new, version of Pastor Bonus, currently the curia´s internal constitution, issued by Pope John Paul II and which the Argentine pontiff decided to revise.

Inés San Martín is the Vatican correspondent for Crux, stationed in Rome. 

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