Monday, 19 March 2012

Why is Gali Arulraj still a priest?!

LinkedIn profile of "Fr Gali Arulraj" - screenshot of 17 March 2012

If Gali Arulraj were an 'ordinary  Joe' his actions, while contemptible, would not cause the same degree of consternation.  It is precisely because he is a priest that his behaviour has been truly shocking. Apart from the recent subterfuge of calling himself  "Mr G.A. Raj," Arulraj has insisted on using the title of "Fr Gali Arulraj" and introducing himself as a Catholic priest. It is as a Catholic priest that he has sent malicious letters (about me and others in Enable) to just about anyone he can think of including Archbishop Vincent Nichols (of Westminster) and my own bishop, Bishop Christopher Budd (of Plymouth Diocese). It is still how he presents himself on the LinkedIn profile set up in February 2012.  And when his case comes to trial, he and Paulinraj will be tried (and, if justice is served, convicted) as Catholic priests. 

Archbishop Vincent Nichols noted Arulraj's "act of considerable
deceit which surely has grave consequences."
The scandal of Arulraj - and also of Paulinraj - is compounded by the fact that neither of them has incurred so much as a suspension of their priestly faculties or, in fact, any disciplinary penalty from their bishop.

After discussions with informed people who were able to enlighten him about the situation with Arulraj, Archbishop Nichols wrote a letter, dated 18 October 2007, to Arulraj's bishop, Bishop Moses Doraboina Prakasam.  He asked for a clarification of the status of Arulraj, and said:
"I undestand from very reliable sources in this country that the accusations [against officials in Enable] that Fr Arulraj makes in his letter are not only unfounded but they are also part of an aggressive defence that he is mounting to defend himself against charges of fraud and theft.
I am of the impression that he has written to many of the Bishops of England and Wales. To have done so is an act of considerable deceit which surely has grave consequences."
Archbishop Nichols rightly pointed out to Arulraj's bishop that even for Arulraj to write a letter to bishops in England and Wales containing unfounded allegations was "an act of considerable deceit which surely has grave consequences."  Yet, for this act Arulraj suffered no consequences from his bishop.  And there have been no consequences, grave or otherwise, for Arulraj and Paulinraj, in spite of much more serious acts committed while presenting themselve as Catholic priests.

Since January 2007 I have met Bishop Prakasam in Nellore, India and in London. I have written to him countless times, asking time and time again for him to deal with the two priests.  After the first meeting in January 2007 he assured me that he would be taking appropriate action.   By email, he informed me on 21 May 2007: "I am initiating the process of giving a canonical conclusion to the status of Arulraj, as per the Cannon [sic] Law."  When I discovered a few months later that nothing in fact had been initiated I wrote to him on 26 November 2007, with a "formal request" for disciplinary action to be taken against Gali Arulraj and Vatakili Paulinraj. The letter said:

 In January, I informed you that Enable's Trustees do not believe that Enable, as an organisation, has a responsibility to ask you to discipline your priests.  However, individuals within Enable, including myself and other trustees, are entitled to express their opinions informally and even to raise matters formally with you.   
On several occasions since January, I have mentioned that I was expressing informally to you the sense of outrage caused by the behaviour of both Arulraj and Paulinraj,  and I have expressed an expectation that their bishop should take proper disciplinary action against them.  I am saddened that I have had to express my opinion so frequently, and that you have not taken any action.  A bishop who is conscious of his responsibilities when faced with the sorts of outrages committed by Arulraj and Paulinraj should take action without being asked formally to do so,  and I have not wanted to ask you formally to take action because this in itself suggests that you have been negligent in taking the action expected of you.
It is therefore with much regret that I am now writing to you, more ten months after I first raised these matters with you,  to ask you formally to take proper disciplinary action against your two priests.  Arulraj merits immediate suspension from all priestly ministry, with a further canonical process to consider whether he should be dismissed from the priesthood.  Paulinraj merits at least an immediate suspension from all public priestly ministry, including suspension from his position as parish priest.  There may well be grounds for further disciplinary action to be taken against Paulinraj, given his close association with Arulraj's activities.
You have already received details about the activities of Arulraj and Paulinraj from me, Bishop Balaswamy and [a diocesan official].  You have also received a copy of the charge sheets drawn up for their trial at the criminal court at Ongole [...]
Each of Enable's trustees has asked to be included in this formal request for discplinary action to be taken against Arulraj and Paulinraj.  The names of these trustees are  Ms Alison Davis, Mr Colin Harte, Mrs Eileen Brydon, Mrs Janet Thomas, Dr Hugh Heggary, and Mr Robin Haig.  The trustees are all Catholics and are fully informed of the actions of Arulraj and Paulinraj which they find entirely incompatible with that of the priestly ministry.  Like me, the trustees regret that you chose not to discipline your priests before now, and regret the need to ask you formally to take action.  Our formal request reflects the opinion expressed by many hundreds of supporters of Enable from both the laity and clergy.
Five years on from my first meeting with Bishop Nellore, no progress has been made.