AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PAPAL NUNCIO – FROM CHHOTEBHAI
The Papal Nuncio
6th August 2018
AN OPEN LETTER
Sub: Allegations against Bp Gallela Prasad of Kadapa (Cuddapah) Diocese
Peace of Christ! Several persons have reportedly written to you about the serious allegations against Bp Gallela Prasad of Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh. Among them are Sri Ravi Kumar Mesa, President, Dalit Christian Forum Kadapa, and Dr James Kottoor, Chief Editor, Church Citizens’ Voice, Kochi, Kerala.
ALLEGATIONS: The allegations against the bishop in question include, inter alia, the following:
1. That the bishop has been married to one Sujata Gallela for approximately 20 years.
2. That he has a 19 year old son by this union, known as Gallela Junior Prasad/ Gallela Prasad Rao/ Francis.
3. That the bishop has purchased valuable properties in Vishakapatnam and Bangalore in his own name or that of his alleged wife and son.
4. That the monies for the same were siphoned off/ embezzled from the diocesan funds and/ or its various frontal organizations.
5. That the bishop is absent from the diocese over long periods of time, allegedly to be with his family.
6. That the bishop is now using force and threats to subjugate those who have complained against him.
THE EVIDENCE: Sri Ravi Kumar Mesa, the complainant, has compiled a dossier of evidence that includes the Aadhar cards of the alleged wife and son, educational certificates of the son, showing the bishop as his father, and registered documents of gifts or purchase of valuable properties. Such a volume of evidence cannot be wished away.
THE SCENARIO: As per latest reports the matter has already reached the civil courts in Kadapa. Further, the scandal has been widely reported in the local papers, important Christian websites, and even the National Catholic Reporter in America. Hence this is very much in the public domain. There is increasing unrest that, despite the matter being reported to you, the CBCI and the regional bishops of Andhra, there has been no response. Hence there is no way of ascertaining if any action has been taken in the matter. This is resulting in a major credibility crisis for the Christian community in India that is already reeling under the impact of the rape allegations against four priests of the Orthodox Church in Kerala, and Bp Franco Mulackal of Jalandhar. It has therefore become imperative for the church to act swiftly and decisively in the matter.
THE WAY FORWARD: It is not out of place to quote what the Lord himself said in such circumstances “If your right eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body thrown in to hell. And if your right hand should be your downfall cut it off and throw it away, for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body go to hell” (Mat 5:29-30). There are times when it also becomes expedient to make a sacrifice for the greater good, “It is better for one man to die for the people” (Jn 18:14).
The alleged transgressions of the bishop are causing grave harm to the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church (cf 1 Cor 12:12-30). Based on this the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church unequivocally states that “If one member suffers anything, all the other members suffer it too” (LG 7). It goes on to say “In our bishops our Lord Jesus Christ, the supreme High Priest, is present in the midst of those who believe” (LG 21); and “Priests do not possess the highest degree of the priesthood … they are dependent on the bishops on the exercise of their power” (LG 28). The Decree of the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church (Christus Dominus) further states that bishops “should be characterised by due prudence, allied, however, with that truthfulness which fosters friendship and this is naturally disposed to bring about a union of minds” (CD 13).
Canon Law states that a bishop “is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life” (Can 387). “He is bound to foster the discipline that is common to the whole church” (Can 392:1). “He is bound by the law of personal residence in his diocese” (Can 395:1). “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence” (Can 277:1). “Clerics are to behave with due prudence in relation to persons whose company can be a danger to their obligation of preserving continence, or can lead to scandal of the faithful” (Can 277:2).
In the light of the above one is constrained to conclude that the alleged actions of the bishop are contrary to the teachings of our lord Jesus and of his Church. They have brought the entire church into disrepute; hence merit decisive and exemplary action to redeem the fair image of the church in a country where we constitute a mere 2% of the population. Justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done.
ACTION REQUIRED: In the circumstances it is respectfully prayed that the following steps be undertaken:
1. That the accused Bp Gallela Prasad be immediately divested of all administrative, financial and episcopal duties, and he be transferred to a location outside Andhra Pradesh, pending a free and fair enquiry.
2. That a full-fledged enquiry be initiated into the serious allegations that have been levelled against the bishop.
3. That a DNA test be conducted on the alleged son of the bishop to determine his paternity.
4. That any pecuniary loss to the diocese or its poor dalit Christians be recompensed from the moveable and immoveable assets that the accused has accumulated, either in his name or in that of his family members, representatives or benami holdings.
MY LOCUS STANDII: I am a follower of St Francis of Assisi whom the Lord had commissioned with these words “Go and repair my Church”, at a time when it was battered by scandals similar to the one now being brought to your attention. I have worked extensively with the bishops of U.P. as the founder Secretary of the U.P. Regional Youth & Vocations Bureau. The CCBI Latin Rite had subsequently appointed me as a resource person for its Family Life commission. I was the National President of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) from 1990-94, and a Director of the International Council of Catholic Men (Unum Omnes) from 1994-96. I have authored four books, including one on the Most Holy Trinity and another on Christology, besides contributing hundreds of articles to both the Catholic and secular media. I have the rare privilege of being the son of parents both of whom were papal awardees; my father with the Knighthood of St Gregory, and my mother with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal by Pope Paul VI in 1965. I am taking the liberty to state this to assure you that I have no ulterior motive in writing this letter, other than the good of the church.
WHY AN OPEN LETTER? Because of the gravity of the matter I am marking copies to the CBCI, the AICU and the Catholic media. I hope and pray that this issue will be resolved and addressed without further delay.
1. Bp Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General, CBCI
2. Sri Lancy D’Cunha, National President, AICU
3. Sri A. Chinnappa, Secretary General AICU
4. Dr John Dayal, National Spokesperson AICU
5. The Catholic media