“Married” Catholic bishop faces court case for embezzlement

Kadapa-church_4266

 

Published on:

by: By Jose Kavi

mattersindia.com

 

 

Isaac GomesKadapa Bishop Gallela Prasad is in the news once again.  This time it is not for being kidnapped once again by some other  priests of his diocese. He is prominently in the news for having been married for a long time, for having a 19-year old son and for looting the laity to feather his nests. He is emulating some of the Popes (of the early Christianity) who had huge estates, along with concubines and their offsprings many of whom were made Bishops and even Popes! The case in this instance is Mattersindia.com has published a comprehensive  report on him including his court case heard on 2nd August 2018.

The news was first broken by Dr James Kottoor, Editor-in-Chief of Church Citizens' Voice.  He patiently waited after receiving such astonishing news along with a lot of documentary evidence from Ravi Kumar Mesa who is President of the Dalit Christian Forum, Kadapa.  After waiting for some time, he  wrote to the Bishops of India, headed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India for their feedback whether the news is true or just a rumour. They maintained a stiff upper lip which we call ostrich-like silence.  Dr Kottoor then wrote to the Nuncio, Papal Representative or Ambassador based in Delhi.  Still no response was received.  After showing exemplary patience and long wait, Dr Kottoor published it in Church Citizens' Voice with newspaper clipping of Hans India dated 26th July 2018 which had the headlines "Bishop prevented from performing Mass." Readers may access  http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-07-26/Bishop-G-Prasad-prevented-from-performing-mass/401064 for the full report on the करतूत (Kaartut) of the Bishop. One of the main  reasons for Dr Kottoor publishing the करतूत Kaartut of the Bishop was Ravi Kumar Mesa wrote to Dr Kottoor and others that he was getting life threats from Bishop Gallela as he had taken him to court after not getting any response to his complaint from the Vatican. Two years ago it was Dr Kottoor who had stormed with his barrage of mails all the Bishops of India on their stoic silence on the kidnap (was it stage managed as we do not hear anything on the fate of three of his parish priests who had kidnapped him?). What an irony! 

Besides mattersindia.com report at http://mattersindia.com/2018/08/married-catholic-bishop-faces-court-case-for-embezzlement/ there is also a report on the exploits of Bishop (?) Gallela Prasad in a USA-based journal named NCR-NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER.  It was published today in America. So though the Nuncio and our 180+ Indian bishops have been maintaining ostrich-like posture, in today's age of instant digitial communication, they have failed  to keep the matter a secret.  It has appeared in the USA and as a result  all over the Christian world, over and above Indian journals. The USA report can be read at https://www.ncronline.org/news/world/married-catholic-bishop-faces-court-case-embezzlement

 

At an assembly organized by the Indian Catholic bishops’ conference on July 31, 2018 Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary-General of the Bishops’ Conference, where West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee and several other leaders were present, told ucanews.com that it organized the assembly because “a negative atmosphere of hate and violence exists in the country … we wanted to stress a positive approach.” But he did not, as the spokesperson of CBCI, show the same "positive approach" to reply to the letters of Dr Kottoor on the Kaartut of Bishop (?) Gallela Prasad! Can he touch his heart and vouch he and his fellow brother Thomas D'Souza – Archbishop of Calcutta are practising what they are preaching!!

A very comprehensive and well-researched report by Jose Kavi, Editor, Mattersindia.com. Now we have to wait for the court proceedings. Well begun, half done, thanks to Mesa Ravi Kumar, who doggedly pursued the case. Let us all hope the reports in Church Citizens' Voice and in mattersindia.com help matters reach a logical conclusion. Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.

 

New Delhi: Catholics in a south Indian diocese want their bishop removed for allegedly misappropriating diocesan funds to lead a luxurious life with his wife and son.

Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah, however, has denied the charges as baseless and aimed at tarnishing his image.

Aggrieved Catholics have filed a criminal complaint in a trial court in Andhra Pradesh state seeking action against the 56-year-old prelate after their efforts to get justice from the Vatican failed.

Ravi Kumar Mesa, B. Tech (Mechanical) President of Christian Dalit Forum, Kadapa.

“We approached the court after our efforts to settle the issue within the Church failed,” Mesa Ravi Kumar, one of the two complaints in the case, told Matters India on August 3, a day after appearing before the court. He had filed the complaint in the court in June this year.

The case came up for hearing before the court of Second Additional District Judge, Kadapa (new name of Cuddapah) at Proddatur on August 2. The prelate’s lawyer has sought more time to file a detailed reply to the charges leveled against him.

The other complainant is Byreddy Chinnappa Reddy, a 65-year-old farmer.

Kumar, a 40-year-old college lecturer and the Kadapa district president of Christian Dalit Forum, said several people, including him, had sent registered letters to the Vatican narrating Bishop Gallela’s alleged illegal activities, including “his immoral life with his wife and son.”

“A female lawyer Chandravati had written to the Vatican in November 2016 demanding the ouster of Bishop Gallela for the charges but to no avail,” Kumar bemoaned.

He also said that he and one T P Radhika had sent similar letters in May this year to the Vatican urging Pope Francis to act against the prelate to save the diocese from disintegration as many Catholics have stopped attending Mass and going for confession.

Kumar says the bishop, whose son is now 20 years old, stays only less than a week in a month in the diocese. “The rest of the time is believed to be spending with his family, as no one knows about his whereabouts during this period,” he alleged.

When contacted, a few priests in the diocese have also confirmed the bishop has a family. However, none of them was willing to come on record. They too said the bishop stays only less than a week a month at the bishop’s house and that nobody knows how he spends the rest of the time.

Bishop (?) Gallela Prasad in front wearing a chain with cross

Bishop Gallela disowned a letter purportedly written by him to priests in his diocese. The July 16 letter bearing the bishop’s signature not only acknowledges the family but makes allegations against some other bishops in Andhra Pradesh.

“This is not true. I have not written any such letter and I informed the 4 bishops about it. Someone has purposefully done it. It is all false. It is a cybercrime. Someone has done it. It is forged signature. Please understand that and punish the culprit,” Bishop Gallela said on July 28 in an email response.

The prelate later said he had filed a police complaint in Kadapa and informed the superintendent of Police about it. He has not responded to Matters India’s request to share content of the complaint.

Bishop Gallela has also remained silent about other allegations despite asking about them repeatedly.

He was ordained a priest in 1989 and a bishop nine years later.

Kumar has also alleged that the bishop had bought properties worth several millions of rupees for his wife in big towns such as Bangalore and Visakhapatnam, believed to be with funds from overseas donations and other sources meant for public welfare.

Kumar also attached 24 documents such as Aadhar card number (12-digit unique identification number), election voter identity card, thumb impression and signature of the prelate identifying him as the husband of the woman who he claim as his wife, photographs, documents of his son among others.

Kumar asserts that he has “reliable government documents” that identify the bishop as the husband of the woman and the father of the boy, who is now in a college.

Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad is also one of the accused in the complaint. The 74-year-old archbishop was made party, as he failed to act upon their earlier complaints against Bishop Gallela, Kumar said.

 

Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad with the delegation of 15 Catholic lay leaders who called him on July 30 urging him to remove Bishop Gallela (Photo courtesy: Mattersindia.com)

 

Archbishop Bala said he has appointed a lawyer to deal with the case. “I am not even aware why I am made party to it,” he told Matters India on August 3.

Meanwhile, a delegation of 15 Catholic lay leaders called on the archbishop on July 30 at his residence and handed over a complaint again urging him to remove Bishop Gallela.

“Yes I got their complaint,” he said. The prelate pleaded inability to act based on it as he does not have any power to deal with such issues. “I will forward it to nunciature for appropriate action,” he added.

K Papi Reddy, a member of the delegation, said they approached the archbishop as they cannot accept a married man with a kid as their bishop.

“Our forefathers and great missionaries built up the diocese from scratch and we cannot remain idle and see it is brought to shambles,” the retired headmaster of an aided school, told Matters India.

Reddy too said they have sufficient evidences “that proved unequivocally our bishop is a married man and cheating the believers since a decade and ruining our diocese.”

He said they want the bishop removed to help “protect the sanctity of the institution of Catholic Church and its holy sacraments.”

“We are ready to die for Christ but cannot tolerate such a bishop,” he added.

Reddy also alleged that Bishop Gallela put around 14 lay people under police custody for three hours on July 27 when they went to him to ask clarification about his married identity and diverting diocesan fund.

He also accused the top Church officials in India colluding with the accused bishop and protecting him.

 

Comments on CCV article dated 29th July on the Kaartut of Bishop Gallela

 

Chhotebhai

31 July 2018

CCV must be congratulated for breaking this story. I also appreciate James Kottoor for waiting 24 days and contacting all the affected persons before doing so. The media has to play a prophetic role in exposing injustice just like the prophet Nathan confronted King David the murderer and rapist. The grave charges against this bishop are, being married with a 19 year old son and transferring valuable property to his alleged family. A lot of documentary evidence has been collated by the complainant, and the matter is now apparently in court, and therefore public knowledge. The silence of the ecclesiastical leadership is deafening. Are they being like ostriches burying their heads in the sand? Day by day we are losing confidence in our so-called pastors.

 

Comments on today's report on Bishop Gallela in mattersindia.com

Vincent

Head swirling story. This alleged ‘married’ Bishop was abducted on 25.04.2016 by his own priests. Many lay people stood up for the Bishop. Now he has let them down. The matter should be thoroughly investigated.

Chhotebhai,

When this same dalit bishop was kidnapped two years ago by alleged high caste priests, several of us supported him. In the light of these latest developments that case also needs reinvestigation. It is good that matters India has filed this story after due diligence. On receipt of the information from responsible sources and after speaking to the complainant I had informed matters India about this case.

The bishops of Andhra, the CBCI and Nuncio all knew of the allegations but took no action and didn’t respond to any communiqués. SHAME on them. The laity is rapidly losing confidence in them.

One must congratulate these dalit Christian leaders for their courage and tenacity in pursuing this case. Dr James Kottoor, editor, Church Citizens Voice, waited 24 days for a reply from the CBCI before breaking this.

The trigger happy CBCI and AICU spokespersons are quick to blame the Government for any conspiracy theory. How have their guns now fallen silent?

 

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2 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    It's high time that active lay group take action and demand changes. Church upper hierarchy will never make changes or corrective actions because they are bound and protected by Canon Laws. These Canon Laws are intended to protect the FEUDALISTIC, PATRIARCHAL, SUPREME STRUCTURE of the hierarchy who rule, control, dominate, exploite and emotionally supress the "faithful or community of believers". The Canon Laws are intended to defend and protect the status and power of the upper hierarchy. This has been historically true. It is a FEUDALISTIC culture in the disguise of prayer, spirituality, theology etc. They talk and print a lot of theology, but  actually, the upper hierarchy always preserves its "power to rule" and tax common man. Majority of the good priests and religious are fully under their control or they have little voice! 

  2. Job Xavier says:

    First, the Bishop of Jallandhar, now of Cuddappah and any number of priests under the scanner for adultery and  even rape. The Church in India needs a heavy overhaul, with a rethinking not only on celibacy of priests but also on whether the huge riches of the Church should be handled by more competent civilians including professionals from any other religion. Serious corrective steps needed.

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