Cover image: Catholic priest Rodney Borneo (n white kurta) being felicitated as he formally joins BJP.
10 March 2021
Fr Francis Sunil Rosario
Since Sunday 7th March morning, the news that shook the faithful of the Archdiocese of Calcutta from their slumber was the Times of India Kolkata report that the young and very vibrant and media-savvy Principal of Loyola High School (Kidderpore, Kolkata) had resigned from his post as Principal and decided to join BJP.
This news though it rocked the boat came true last night and today's Times of India Kolkata and mattersindia.com carried it it print that Fr Rodney Borne has indeed joined BJP.
Now that Rodney has left priesthood and joined politics (as per the mattersindia.com report below and today's Times of India report), he must come out with the full truth (if he believes in the Truth) for the sake of the Laity who had a lot of faith in him. He cannot keep quiet now, as otherwise he will lose all the support for having taken such a drastic step as jumping into BJP bandwagon which specializes in polarization of the country based on religion, caste, colour, creed and also gender discrimination. In the name of Nationalism, the party just thrives on splitting the country instead of accepting the country's unity in diversity in the background of its rich cultural heritage which certainly is not MAJORITARIANISM (only Hinduism). What was the threat which made him to take this extreme step? Fr Sunil has rightly mentioned that there is no mechanism in the church to address “smouldering volcano” which the Archbishop (so-called-shepherd) totally ignored just as a headmaster does to snub his students into submission like mute and meek sheep! In Fr Rodney's case, the volcano has erupted.
There could have been several reasons which led (Fr?) Rodney take the decision he has. As I mentioned above, now that Fr Rodney has left priesthood to join politics, he should come out and make a frank confession to the Laity, as many are sad not as his resignation as Principal (5 years) but his leaving priesthood and jumping from frying pan to fire which is joining the BJP to "serve people outside the umbrella of the church,”
as Times of India reported today.
From very reliable sources I have come to know (it’s an open secret though) that the Archbishop as the head of Diocesan schools of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, had in August 2020, instituted an enquiry commission comprising Fr Moloy D’Costa, Fr Basil Mandi (who is a lawyer) and Fr Joy Cyprian D’Souza (inspector of Diocesan Schools). Based on a complaint from the father of a student of Loyola School Kidderpore where Fr Rodney was the then Principal, the Committee had indicted Fr Rodney of physical relationship with his student. A member of St Ignatius Parish, Kidderpore, was also implicated and called to depose before the committee (letters of this Committee can be provided on request). At the end of the hearing it was proved that both the father (the so-called complainant) and his son were fictitious, as no such student existed on the school rolls! So, it is crystal-clear that the Internal Enquiry Committee had put the cart before the horse, because before constituting the Committee, both the Archbishop and his three wise men should have found out first, whether the boy existed on the school rolls. Sherlock Holmes would have exclaimed “Elementary Watson!” Both the parishioner and Fr Rodney were reportedly found to be in the clear. When they wanted a certified copy of the findings on their clean-chit, the Committee of the 3-Member judges, declined to give it. Fr Rodney approached the Archbishop for his clean-chit. He too very rudely declined and said that the report had been sent to Gerry Arathoon, Chief Executive and Secretary, Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi and members of the ASISC, where the original complaint of the IMPLANTED father and his son, was sent! The Parishioner of St Ignatius who was called by the Enquiry Commission, on not getting an official report of the findings in spite of repeated requests, sent a lawyer’s letter to the Committee and the Archbishop. To date, they are sitting on the letter. This is the AUTOCRATIC manner, the Archdiocese of Calcutta functions, under the impression that being a Minority Institute, it is above law and cannot be touched.
Incidentally, the said parishioner when he appeared for a hearing, the first question Fr Basil Mandi (who calls himself a Lawyer!) asked him was: "What is your sex?" The parishioner took strong objection to this atrocious question and threatened to sue the priest.
There are several others instances of the Archbishop sitting on pressing matters, including sexual harassment of women at workplaces. One such priest known for his predatory adventures wherever he goes, is on the Education Commission of the Archdiocese, including Fr Moloy D’Costa who had made a hash an earlier One-man Committee enquiry into a sexual harassment case in a school. So our Education is in safe hands! With such crafty and crooked priests (including the immediate past Salesian Provincial of Kolkata who has done a doctorate in Pedagogy – read telling lies) having taken control of the Archdiocese, the Archbishop is either confused or perennially suffers from ostrich-syndrome. Neither the clergy nor the Laity can expect any justice from him. So Fr Rodney must have jumped to greener pastures under tremendous compulsion (he was hospitalised with a heart-attack when the three-wise-men were grilling him for hours). However, I do not support his joining the BJP. He could have earned a lot of respect, had he just resigned from Principalship and decided to earn his living by the sweat of his brow without any political misadventure.
By the way the Secretary of Loyola School against whom Fr Rodney has pointed fingers for stalling the school work, is also the Parish Priest of St Ignatius Church, Kidderpore. He has an ongoing case (sexual) against him at Barrackpore where he was posted earlier. Every month he has to go Barrackpore Court for physical appearance as per the court summons sent to the Archbishop House. The million dollar question is how could the Archbishop make him a Parish Priest knowing fully well that he has an ongoing case? If the Archbishop has a clear conscience, he would have resigned by now as Pope Benedict did. Isaac Gomes, Associate Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.
Kolkata: Father Rodney Borneo, a popular priest of Calcutta archdiocese, on March 9 joined the Bharatiya Janata Party that heads the federal coalition government, according to a video clip circulating in social media platforms.
The video shows Father Borneo coming to a stage where he is given the BJP flag and asked to chant, “Bharat Mata ki jai” (victory to mother India).
The news of a Catholic priest joining the BJP, the political arm of the Hindu nationalists, has sent shock waves among Catholics in West Bengal. The eastern Indian state is all set to elect its legislative assembly through an eight-phased poll starting March 27.
Given below is the reflection of Father Francis Sunil Rosario, a senior priest of the archdiocese of Calcutta, on Father Borneo’s decision.
A competent priest is lost to Calcutta archdiocese. Who should be blamed for the loss of a very competent and promising priest, for whom thirty pieces of silver was more preferable, than to stick to priesthood?
Rodney trained in psychology and counseling, who was a gold medalist in 2016 from Guwahati University, was unable to cope with the pressures and some of the inconveniences created for him to function as the principal of Loyola School, Kidderpore. This is certainly not an isolated case in the ministerial priesthood. There could be others who try hard to survive despite many hardships, inaction and such administrative ‘silence’ and pressures. It could be taken as a case study to understand the issue at a deeper level and thus helping the younger clergy through supervision, counseling and guidance.
When the video clipping of his joining the BJP went viral a day after the shocking news came of his plan to join the BJP, some instant reactions were: “He was such a lovely priest. He mixed with all people and groups who attended his mass. On Women’s Day (March 8), he celebrated Mass and he spoke highly of the commitment of women in society. It’s unbelievable that he joined BJP.”
Another person from his family reacted to this decision of Rodney, “The Archdiocese has lost a good priest they are responsible for it.” Supporting the view another said, “She is right why the archbishop didn’t see to his needs or cry?”
Seeing the video clipping, a parishioner said, “The Judas of the Catholic community.” The rumors of his joining BJP spread like a wild fire in Kolkata after he gave his letter of resignation from the principal’s post. His resignation letter to the archbishop highlighted some unpleasant facts, figures and data exposing inaction on the part of administration.
They were the deep matters of concern in pastoral care. Unfortunately, the archdiocese has no forum where such controversial matters can be dealt with diligently, by all diocesan clergy. Whatever forums exist they are ‘Top-down’ model that is under control. Rodney, being a local vocation, became a victim of a structure that lacked timely response to his growing depression and indifference.
There is no machinery that can protect the interest of the local clergy. Why a local vocation should resign from the post of principal? There could be others who are in similar situation of administrative inaction. Those who are working hard not only in giving quality education but improving its revenue, should also be protected, promoted and supported at all cost.
The places of ministry are becoming the battlegrounds due to some communal forces acting heavy on those who have no support of such forces. The South and North divide in administration is exposing its ugly face all in the name of building Christ’s Kingdom. In what way is the Church different from those political parties fighting outright to capture seats of power?
On my part my message to Rodney was, “I am very sad today for you. Your resignation from School principal is understandable in the given pressure and circumstances. However to join BJP I have my own reservations. God chose you to be a priest and it’s a gift given to you. Try to understand this gift. You have a lot to give to the Church. Don’t betray Jesus who loves you so much. In any way I stand by you and promise to help. Let me know. I have been very much disturbed with your decision the past couple of days. Please withdraw your decision to join BJP. That is my humble request. With blessings and assuring you my prayers.”
To this, he replied “Dear Father, trusting and depending on your prayers.”