Catholics demand resignation of Mumbai’s profiteering prelates – Jyoti Shelar

Parishioners of the Our Lady of Mercy Church, Thane

Cardinal Oswald Gracias is the de facto head of the Catholic Church in India.The Church is one of the largest land-holders in Mumbai after the Mumbai Port Trust and the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, and the Catholics are demanding a Parsi Punchayet-like structure wherein residential colonies are developed for the community. – Jyoti Shelar

Twenty-six Catholics, including a priest, have said that they will sit on fast unto death from May 29 at the archdiocese in Colaba, demanding the resignation of the cardinal. The protesters allege that Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, has been “blatantly consenting church land deals to benefit private developers”.

The Church is one of the largest land-holders in Mumbai after the Mumbai Port Trust and the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, and the Catholics are demanding a Parsi Punchayet-like structure wherein residential colonies are developed for the community.

“Huge plots of land are being sold to the private builders. The cardinal’s consent is needed in all land deals and he is allowing these deals for personal gains. We have managed to get a stay on two such deals, but the legal recourse requires a lot of money,” Church real estate in Mumbaisaid Melwyn Fernandes, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, who is one of the 26 people to sit on the fast.

According to Fernandes, in 2013, the group managed to get a stay on development rights of a 21,000 sq mt of Our Lady of Mercy Church land in Thane, which was sold to a builder. Another stay was obtained after the Church sold development rights of the Marinagar plot to a developer.

In 2013, a first information report was registered against a priest at Santacruz Police Station for allegedly forging documents of a chawl belonging to the Our Lady of Egypt Church, and selling it to private parties.

“The cardinal and the bishop are allowing mismanagement of the Church properties worth crores of rupees,” said Joseph Sodder, a Mahim resident and a St Michael’s Church parishioner, adding that till date the archdiocese has constructed only one Catholics-only colony consisting of eight buildings in Mahim.

Bombay BishopsWhile the cardinal was not available for comment, Fr Nigel Barrett, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bombay, said that they were aware that a fast is planned by “a few individuals”.

He said, “This sudden demand for the cardinal’s resignation by a miniscule number of people is indeed a surprise. The Archdiocese of Bombay comprises over five lakh Catholics, out of which nearly all hold the cardinal in high regard. All our schools, colleges and other educational/technical institutions are built on the Church land. We have a number of housing colonies in various parts of the Archdiocese that are built on the Church land. In fact, some of the protesters are staying in housing societies built on such land.” – Mumbai Mirror, 21 May 2015

Corruption in the Indian Church is evident in her clerics.

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One Response

  1. The land which belongs to the church now has been usurped years back by the British and given to these Christian organization for peanuts for them to establish Christian education at the cost of Indian education.So the land actually belongs to us and so these must be transferred to the government of India and converted into parks or government hospitals.

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