New Delhi: Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore has ordered indefinite closure of a parish that erected the statue of a controversial priest flouting the prelate’s warning.
Archbishop Moras issued the canonical decree April 21 after St Paul the Hermit Church at Vishwanatha Nagenahalli in R T Nagar, a suburb in the southern Indian city, installed the statue of Fr Chowrappa Selvaraj, popularly known as Fr Chasara.
The priest, who was the leader of the Kannadiga faction in the archdiocese, died on March 16 after battling several illnesses. He was 60. His funeral was held at St Joseph’s Church at Briand Square in Chamarajpet following day.
The archbishop’s canonical decree to the parish priest and parishioners indicated that they should not install a statue or a bust of Fr Chasara. The warning was in compliance with Canon 1187 of the Code of Canon Law.
On April 19, the archbishop had asked the parish not to go ahead with its plan to erect Fr Chasara’s statue.
The decree says the parish priest’s April 20 letter and photographs the parishioners furnished through Fr Santosh the following day are “clear evidence of the violation of the Canon 1187 and non-compliance of the Canonical Warning.”
The archbishop ordered immediate closure of the parish and asked its pastor Fr Vincent Santhosh to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the church, lock it and report to the archdiocesan headquarters.
“No sacrament may be celebrated in the church till this sanction is lifted,” the canonical decree said. Archbishop Moras further declares that the church “will remain closed until the bust of Fr Selvaraj has been removed from the church compound and the parishioners promise in writing to abide by my orders and the laws of the Church.”
Fr Chasara, a popular Kannada preacher and writer, led the Akhila Karnataka Catholic Kristhara Kannada Sangha (All Karnataka Catholic Christian Union).
He was among six priests charge-sheeted in the murder of Fr K J Thomas, rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, on April 1, 2013.
The magistrate had also issued a Non-Bailable Warrant for the arrest of Fr Chasara and the others. The warrant is yet to be executed.
Handbills circulated in Vishwanatha Nagenahalli said the function to install Fr Chasara’s statue in church compound was scheduled for 11 am on April 24.
Noted Kannada writer Siddalingaiah was to install the statue at a function chaired by Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (forum to save Karnataka) chief T A Narayana Gowda.
According to the handbill, the statue unveiling program was to be preceded by Mass at the church led by Fr A Anthappa, who is also accused and charge-sheeted in the rector murder case.