Controversial Letter of Archbishop Thomas Macwan in the context of Gujarat Elections 2017

Cover image:  Courtesy Republic (ARG Outlier Media – Asianet News Service) 


Isaac GomesThe letter dated 21 November 2017, reportedly issued by the Archbishop Thomas Macwan, Archbishop of Gandhinagar, is self explanatory for readers of Church Citizens' Voice do decide for themselves what is what.  A big debate has ensued that this letter goes against Nationalism.  It appears a certain section of the majority force, in spite of being in the majority, feels increasingly insecure and intolerant. Are we living in glass houses?  Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.




Dissection of the letter done by Arnab Goswami of Republic TV:


According to Team Republic (23-11-2017), in a letter dated 21/11/2017, the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar has turned the election into a battle between the Church and the forces of Nationalism.  

Last night Arnab Goswami, anchor Republic TV, declared in his dictatorial manner that this letter by the Archbishop tatamount to open war against Nationalilst forces (read against the ruling dispensation at the Cenre).  Arnab tore into the Church representative Father Yadav and repeatedly drummed up the argument that the Church was against Nationalist forces and it was campaigning against Nationalism. On his part, Fr Yadav put up a very sorry and unprofessional performance on the channel. He kept on blabbering and painted a very poor picture of the Indian Church which, in this digital age of two-way communication and in spite of Social Communications being one of the 12 Concerns of Diocesan Pastoral Plan recommended by the Vatican, still does not believe in trained PRO to face the Media. 

The point is whoever criticises or writes anything against the  ruling dispensation is labelled Anti-national.  There is only black and white – either one has to be for the  present ruling dispensation or be against it.  If viewed being against it, then immediately the person or organisation is blacklisted and lambasted as Anti-national.  It's a great pity and at the same time contradiction, why the ruling dispensation, in spite of getting absolute majority in parliamentary election, is so touchy and getting increasingly intolerant of any dissent. After all India is Democracy and dissent is the lifeblood of democracy.  Dissent is what keeps it alive and kicking.

The letter produced above by Republic TV does not have the official stamp and seal of Archbishop Macwan (does the Archbishop issue letters without his seal? Then he is calling for trouble).  However, one fails to understand why there is so much furore over the Archbishop's letter as it was not addressed to the public but an internal note sent to the church hierarchy (Your Eminences, Graces and Lordships).  It was not addressed to any political party. So what is political about his letter?  The moot question is who among his inner circle leaked this private and internal letter, purportedly  written by him.

Also what is so objectionable against reciting the Rosary invoking the protection of Mother Mary?  However, the Archbishop should have been extra careful in using the phrase "Nationalilst Forces" in his reported written communication. He might have used the phrase Communal Forces or Anti-social Elements.  His assertion "Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, church personnel, faithful or institutions" is grossly incorrect and will not do any good to the Christian Community in Gujarat and in other parts of India, except fomenting hatred. 

Twitter video is loading

But who are the so-called Nationalists?  Are these Romeo Squads? Cow Vigilantes? Or Karni Sena and their allies who take law into their hands and announce Rs 10 Crore award for beheading filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and lead actress Deepika Padukone?  Are these whom Arnab Goswami (who claims he is a product of missionary institutes) calls Nationalists? Do Indian citizens have to wear badges like "I love India" or "We salute our leaders" to prove their Nationalism?  Does shouting hoarse on national media prove one's sense of Nationalism? Conversely, will one label Navin Kumar Singh, BJP Spokesperson, Anti-national when he was challenged to sing Vande Mataram but failed miserably, during a TV news debate on Zee Salaam? (Source: Quint 31 October 2017)

Created by former Times Now Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, it was launched on 6 May 2017. It is owned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an entrepreneur (founding chairman of  Asianet News Online Private Limited – one of Kerala's largest media groups) and a politician from BJP, and others including Goswami, along with his wife Samyabrata Ray.  Businessman TV Mohandas Pai has also invested in the company.

So it is everybody's guess which political force is calling the shots in Republic TV telecasts on live debates.

In this context, reference may be made to the famous speech of Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ, at ICPA Convention (22-25 Oct 2014) at Kanyakumari, where he said that the Indian Media had become a victim of the Five Cs. They are Corporatisation, Commercialisation, Co-option, Compromise and Communilisation. He also said there is an increasing trend towards Majoritarianism – which is the new face of Cow Vigilantism and Karni Sena Nationalism we are witnessing today. 


You may also like...

5 Responses

  1. Isaac Gomes says:

    Dear Kiritji,

    As a practising senior advocate, you have advised Archbishop Thomas Macwan correctly. He has already hogged enough limelight (though for the wrong reasons) and in the process has  stirred up the hornets nest. I sincerely hope sanity will prevail and he will be go by your sane advice.


    Isaac Gomes

  2. Dear Kirit sir,

    Ur fear is imaginative. Nothing will happen. Pls.stay cool. 

    I know very well what is going on in news room. Pls. Stop this e-mailbaazi as it is useless.

    Manish Macwan

    Assistant Editor,

    Navgujarat Samay


  3. Elvis says:

    I too agree totally with Chhotebhai's point of the choice of terms used in the letter. Wonder why incompetent people are used in drafting letters.

    I also agree with Kiritbhai's point on the appointment of the Bishop of Ahmedabad. Yes, its been two and a half years and yet a competent priest has not been identified to be elavated to become the Bishop or is there more politics than we see in political parties, within the clergy that's holding up things?

    Is the leadership in the clergy responsible to its faithfuls or is it "who cares" ?


  4. chhotebhai says:

    Dear Friends,

    Perhaps you are aware of the unnecessary controversy generated by an open letter issued by Abp Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar, Gujarat. In case you have not seen the original text it is attached herewith, kindly provided to me by Sri Jose Kavi of Matters India. Also given below is my letter to the Archbishop, for your kind perusal.


    From: Allan de Noronha <>
    Date: Fri, Nov 24, 2017 at 1:05 PM
    To: Bishop Thomas <>

    Respected Archbishop,

    I have just seen the full text of your letter dt 21/11/2017 addressed to the bishops of India. It has become the subject matter of heated TV debates, in one of which I saw Dr John Dayal losing his temper, and in the process also losing the plot, playing in to the hands of the anchor who was baiting him. There are a few points arising out of your letter under reference, to which I seek to draw your kind attention.

    Though the letter as a whole is well intentioned, some of the phrases used by you, especially when taken out of context, become contentious and controversial, and only strengthen the hands of those whom you seek to counter.

    1. You have twice used the words "nationalist forces". This is in exceedingly poor taste and very indiscreet. It conveys the impression that you are anti-national, which I am sure you are not. Had you used terms like "communal forces", "fringe elements" or even "pseudo-nationalists" they would not have come across as offensive. You need to now undertake a damage control exercise.

    2. You state that "Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, church personnel, faithful or institutions". This is a gross exaggeration. Yes there are sporadic incidents,as there always have been, but by and large the Christian community is both safe and highly respected in the country. If we compare ourselves to Christian persecution/ attacks in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Ethiopia etc, then what we experience is nothing in comparison.

    3. While advocating the recital of the rosary to counter such attacks you quote the efficacy of the rosary in bringing about the downfall of Communist Govts and a reduction of abortions in Poland. These are debatable points. The comparisons are also odious.

    This letter is in no way a defence of the BJP and how it is running the country. I have been severely critical of several actions of this Central Govt. But your letter has done more harm than good. As a former National President of the All India Catholic Union, and a person who has studied Canon Law and the Documents of the Second Vatican Council, I wish to strongly aver that political affairs is the specific sphere of the laity and lay organisations; and bishops and clergy should steer clear of such areas which are not of their core competence.


  5. Nothing better can be expected from Arnava Goswami. However, as the editor says the archbishop should have been extra cautious with his words. He is definitely a great pastor, and resultantly the Catholic community may rightly storm the heavens with its recitation of rosaries.

    With intent and venom Arnava misleads the audience that the church is at war with the nationlists. His arrogance has no limit; to counter him only a crafty and foxy political leader must take part in his talk shows; never a Catholic priest. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *