Laity must become watchdogs through PPC & PFC in every Diocese
Isaac from Kolkata on Bishop Prasad Gallela's Kidnap
Isaac Harold Gomes, Kolkata
(Note: Isaac Harold Gomes, is a prominent lay leader in Kolkata and a prolific writer. As a collaborator of CCV and contributor he has been appearing in these columns often. I must say he has risen to the occasion in the nick of time because, is there any other more serious issue facing the Catholic Church in India than the Kidnap and torture of Cuddappa Bishop? Yes I ask again: Has any such atrocious incident happened anywhere in the Catholic world? Of course ISIS terrorists have done it. In spite of it, I am wonderstruck that it is the least discussed topic in the Church in India, although the editorial and detailed report was sent to all Indian Bishops on May 9th. No one reacted except the Faridabad Delhi bishop, (today it is May 17th) also none of the readers of CCV also have come forward to discuss it seriously except our friend Isaac from Kolkata. Kindly accept our congrats Isaac. I wish your example becomes literally contagious and inspires many to breaking or shouting point in the CCV to wake up the Indian church still in deep slumber, to get the Indian hierarchy moving, imitating Mary Magdalene who ran to wake up Peter telling “Jesus has risen”, to start the serious task of cleansing the Augean stables of the caste-ridden priestly class in India. It is pathetic no church media has taken up a discussion on this issue. They all will sweep it under the carpet to make it appear, all is hunky-dory in the Catholic church. The Herald Kolkata just carried a news in its 06-12th May 2016 issue but did not publish the letter written by Isaac written in response to the article. The Herald has proved it does not believe in "interactive i.e. two-way Communication" which is what today's communication is. So CCV readers, wake up, discuss this issue threadbare and suggest concrete steps to cleanse the Church establishment. Isaac has suggested some steps to be taken. Let others come up with theirs. Pope Francis has said, this is the hour of the laity and the clergy should now look up to the laity who are in the think tank of the battle ahead, and not vice versa. So stop looking up to the clergy. Start being leaders and trailblazers for the clergy and hierarchy. james kottoor, editor)
Dear James Ji and CCV Editors,
Regarding your editorial on the kidnap of Cuddapha Bishop Prasad Gallela, I fully agree with you that none of the three rites believes in any dialogue with the Laity. They are under the illusion that by being ordained they have got the divine right to rule over their flock, conveniently forgetting the repeated urges of our Pope to "smell and serve the sheep 24×7!"
To them the Laity's only job is to "Pay, Pray and Obey". The irony is that many in the Laity even now believe that that is their job – blind obedience to the powers that be in the church hierarchy. There is a famous saying "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". The clergy knows the laity is happy-go-lucky and will like to remain sleeping giants even without being given the daily dose of opium which the British used to give the Chinese.
Also what the laity fails to realise is that the members of the clergy are human beings only, and they are prone to falter and slip. For this they require constant monitoring though institution of proper checks and balances in day to day affairs of the church. Even after fifty years after Vatican II, the basic structures for these checks and balances, i.e. Parish Pastoral Councils (PPCs) and more importantly Parish Finance Committees (PFCs) have not been instituted in most parishes.
If CCV makes a diocese-wise survey on this aspect, it will see this basic flaw in the Indian Church. Like the three parish priests who meticulously plotted and planned the kidnap of the Bishop, this absence of PPCs and particularly PFCs is deliberately perpetrated by parish priests, aided and abetted by their respective Provincials and Bishops. The Bishop just does his cursory duty of sending circulars on various matters, whether it be PPC and PFC or launch of Archdiocesan / Diocesan Pastoral Plans. He does not follow up on the parish priests under his jurisdiction, even though he is empowered to do so, as in all matters they are accountable to their respective Provincials (to them the Provincial is the Bishop!). This is plain and simple truth and there are ample case studies in the Calcutta Archdiocese to prove this point.
As Indian Current editor wrote the enemy is within the church itself and is eating it up from inside. In the case of kidnapping the Cuddapah Bishop, the enemy within were the three daring parish priests who engineered the kidnap of Bishop Gallela. There ought to be many more such elements in every diocese. They must be hunted out on a war footing, defrocked and cast out, if the Catholic Church in India is to regain its lost credibility.