Thursday, 26 April 2012

Gali Arulraj - a priest with no shame

Gali Arulraj's scamming website back online today - he has no shame
Gali Arulraj's scamming website for the bogus New Life Society for the Poor and Handicapped went online again today, having been taken down one month ago.

The website has been carefully constructed so that everything is in image form, preventing words from being traced by google or other search engines.  Most of the pages are entitled "Untitled Document" so they won't be picked up on search engines.  Does even one legitimate website go to such lengths to ensure that it won't be traced?!

Obviously, during the past month Arulraj must have been missing out on the funds he had been able to scam while it was up, and he decided it was worth taking the chance of putting it up again.

Yet again, he offensively uses photographs of disabled children who have never even heard of a so-called "New Life Society," let alone benefited from it - in order to enrich himself.

Yet again, he uses religious imagery: pictures of Jesus Christ and Blessed Theresa of Calcutta are prominently displayed - in order to deceive and steal from charitable Christians, especially those who are Catholics.

And this is done by a priest who flaunts his priestly credientials and insists on being called "Fr Gali Arulraj" when it suits his purposes, but at other times (as with his website) uses the subterfuge of calling himself  "Mr G A Raj."

All this is made worse by the fact that his bishop, Bishop Moses Prakasam of the Diocese of Nellore, has been fully informed of the situation and continues to do nothing about it.

Gali Arulraj remains a priest of the Diocese of Nellore who has not even been suspended from the priesthood, inspite of embezzling more than a million pounds, and having a 'wife' and (at least) two children.

Arulraj has the confidence to do whatever he likes because he knows his bishop will do nothing about it.

Bishop Prakasam, we know that Arulraj has no shame.  As the Bishop responsible for your errant priest: have you no shame too? 

Monday, 16 April 2012

A reply to Bishop Prakasam's general email

Bishop Moses Prakasam of the Diocese of Nellore
I have written today to Bishop Moses Prakasam, in response to the general email  he wrote on 2 April. My text is reproduced in full, below. 

In summary, my reply takes issue with the offensive focus of Bishop Prakasam's email, which instead of addressing the situation of his priests Gali Arulraj and Vatakili Paulinraj, makes unjustified judgments about, and criticisms of, the motives and attitudes of the correspondents and supporters of Enable he is addressing.

Questioning whether Bishop Prakasam's words are empty rhetoric or actually have substance, I raise a series of questions, challenging whether it is truly loving and merciful of the bishop not to suspend Arulraj but to let him continue to function as a priest.

In particular, I remind Bishop Prakasam that in May 2007 he had said that he was going to initiate a canonical process to bring a conclusion to the status of Gali Arulraj.  I ask him whether he was being untruthful then, or whether something happened after that date to make him change his mind to the extent that he is unwilling now even to suspend Arulraj from priestly ministry.

I look forward to receiving Bishop Prakasam's answers to the pertinent questions I have asked him.

Reply to Bishop Prakasam's general email

Dear Bishop Prakasam,
Recognising how busy you would be during Holy Week and Easter I thought it would be better to wait until now before replying to the general email you sent on 2 April.
As you know, since our first meeting in January 2007, days after your installation as Bishop of Nellore, I have written to you countless times not only about the scandal caused by your two priests, Gali Arulraj and Vatakili Paulinraj, but also about the additional concern arising from your refusal to discipline them.
It was therefore with considerable disappointment and dismay that I read your general email.  I can hardly believe that, after more than five years of discussions with you – in person and in print – you can fail to grasp how much concern is caused by your inaction.  You begin your email saying that it is never your intention to offend anyone. And yet, the central part of your reply is extremely offensive.
The main part of your email is paragraph no. 3, which you break down into six parts. Here you treat shabbily those who have raised a legitimate concern with you.  Instead of addressing their complaint you level all manner of criticisms against your correspondents: you present them as being vengeful; you suggest they want to cast out Arulraj as a fugitive and wanderer; that like the elder brother of the prodigal son they are lacking generosity of spirit; moreover, that they are unwilling to pray for Arulraj’s repentance and that they don’t want him to receive forgiveness and mercy; that they are in effect throwing stones at him.
By contrast, you suggest that, unlike all of your correspondents, you are walking the path of love and mercy, forgiveness and hope.
With respect, Bishop Prakasam, what you have written is both offensive and ignorant. I know personally many of the hundreds of supporters of Enable who feel very badly betrayed by your priests as well as by your inaction.  I do not know a single person among them who thinks Arulraj is fit to remain a priest. Among the supporters of Enable are some of the most generous, loving, merciful and compassionate people you could hope to meet. To effectively slander them in the way you have done is nothing short of disgraceful, and I invite you to withdraw your ill-considered criticisms.
Of course, I cannot speak for the attitude of mind or spirit of each of your correspondents.  But, in fact, I do not need to. What you have been asked to address is not your correspondents’ (or my own) failings or sins but the scandalous actions of the two priests of your diocese, Arulraj and Paulinraj.  Not once do you even acknowledge that your correspondents have a legitimate grievance with respect to the actions of your two priests – as well as a legitimate grievance with respect to your allowing Arulraj (in particular) to continue to function as a priest.
It is easy to quote scriptural passages about searching out the lost sheep, and seeking to overcome evil with good, and to speak of love, mercy and forgiveness. And as it is easy to be deceived by empty words (which, as you will know, St Paul warns against – Eph 5:6),  I trust that you will be willing to demonstrate whether there is any substance in what you say by addressing the following points:
  1. You speak of forgiveness and mercy.  Have Arulraj and Paulinraj acknowledged their gross wrongdoing with respect to embezzling in excess of one million pounds, and abusing their positions as priests in order to enrich themselves.  You suggest that your correspondents are unwilling to forgive. But have Arulraj and Paulinraj acknowledged their crimes and their sins and sought forgiveness and mercy?
  2. As far as I am aware there has been no indication whatsoever that either priest has acknowledged their wrongdoing and sought forgiveness.  Moreover, given the gravity and the public nature of their offences there would be a need for them to make a public demonstration of their contrition, and a willingness to make amends to those they have wronged.  This includes donors from Enable and other agencies whose donations were embezzled, as well as the many hundreds of disabled children who suffered serious deprivation as a result of their thieving. Can you please tell me what sign either Arulraj or Paulinraj has given you to indicate contrition and a willingness to make amends? And can you please tell me what sort of action you believe is necessary for them to demonstrate that they sincerely wish to make amends for what they have done?
  3. In the absence of contrition and willingness to make amends, do you really believe that it is fitting for Arulraj and Paulinraj to exercise either a public ministry as parish priest (as is currently the case with Paulinraj) or an ‘unofficial’ ministry (as has been the case with Arulraj since 1997/1998)?
  4. You criticise your correspondents for lacking love and mercy.  Given the reality of what is involved in the priestly offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice, and the reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, how loving and merciful is it to ignore the sacrilegious priestly actions of Gali Arulraj, when he has been living a way of life for many years that the Church identifies as being ‘mortal sin’? Is it not, in fact, loving and merciful and fatherly to suspend Arulraj from any priestly ministry for the good of his own soul?
  5. Do you truly believe it is acceptable not only for Gali Arulraj to exercise his priestly faculties ‘unofficially’ now, but that he might even eventually resume an official ministry? If you do not, why have you not even suspended him from ministry now and initiated (if not concluded) the process leading to his dismissal from the priesthood?
  6. If you do believe it is possible for Arulraj to one day resume an official priestly ministry, where is your concern and compassion for the woman regarded as his ‘wife’ and also for the children he has fathered?  Has not Arulraj chosen a new way of life which brings responsibilities to provide for his ‘wife’ and children?  Given the choices he has freely made, should you not be encouraging and assisting him to live a good and honest 'lay man's' life as a husband and father, rather than perpetuating the scandal of his being a priest with a ‘wife’ and children, who is ‘earning a living’ by embezzling funds intended for charitable purposes?
  7. You say “I shall continue my efforts of going out in search of the lost sheep.”  According to your correspondence with me, you have not met Arulraj even once since you became the Bishop of Nellore in January 2007.  You told me that he has refused to meet you.  Your words about seeking the lost sheep sound to me like empty rhetoric, designed to suggest that, unlike your correspondents, you are concerned about Arulraj’s wellbeing.  Perhaps you can give some idea of the efforts you have made in searching out the lost sheep, Arulraj? Perhaps you could also explain why it is not possible to suspend Arulraj from all priestly ministry while also seeking him out as a lost sheep?
  8. I find your last remark about overcoming evil with goodness particularly offensive.  In May 2006, when Arulraj realised that Enable was on the verge of discovering his embezzling, he closed down the centres for disabled children.  A few months later he gathered together some of the children to give the semblance of caring for them after he received adverse media publicity in India. Your predecessor, Bishop Balaswamy, told me that he sought to overcome evil with goodness, by showing the diocese’s commitment towards helping some of the children adversely affected. Enable entered a commitment with the diocese in November 2006 to fund a small project for which the diocese had responsibility.  It was understood that the number of children being supported would be quite small, but Enable undertook to fund it for an initial two year period and then to review the situation.  By May 2007, less than four months after your installation as bishop you had unilaterally closed down the project without even discussing it with Enable.  Where was your compassion for the children who, having been so badly let down by Arulraj were subsequently ‘dumped’ by the diocese?  Why were you so keen to abandon the attempt by Bishop Balaswamy to overcome the evil of Arulraj’s action by the Diocese (with Enable) doing good for at least some of the affected children? Perhaps you could tell me what you did to ensure the wellbeing of those children adversely affected by your decision (though I doubt if you will given that I understand your answer to this question would be ‘nothing’)?
Bishop Prakasam, I have read your email several times, and I have reflected on it carefully. It clarifies that Gali Arulraj has not been excommunicated and that the matter under discussion is not one that affects only your local church but is of international concern.  Other than that, it is bitterly disappointing.  How easy it is to use the language of love, forgiveness and mercy – but how bitter it is to hear those words when they are devoid of real substance.  It is particularly disappointing to see a Bishop attempt to defend his inaction by suggesting that those criticizing him are really the ones to be censured for their (supposed) lack of mercy, forgiveness and charity. That is a shabby defence and I hope you will withdraw it.
Most of all, I am puzzled as to why you should have said in May 2007 that you were initiating a canonical process to bring about a conclusion to the status of Gali Arulraj – and yet since then you have done absolutely nothing to even suspend him from priestly ministry.  Were you being untruthful in what you said in May 2007? Or what happened that you should have changed your mind?
We expect our bishops to be men of honour, who are true to their word, who do not take lightly the gross misconduct of their priests, who are concerned about the dignity of the priesthood and the worthy celebration of the sacraments.  It has been a very unfortunate experience for myself and others in Enable to have been so badly deceived and betrayed by two priests of the Diocese of Nellore.  That you, as their bishop, should now give them your support, and be so indifferent to making amends, upholding justice, and restoring confidence in the priests of your diocese, would be considered by most reasonable people as beyond belief.
In your email you attempted to explain why, contrary to the requirements of canon law, you insist on letting Gali Arulraj function as a priest.  As you have decided to place yourself outside the framework of canon law then your judgments inevitably invite the scrutiny of others, and you have to be willing to answer the legitimate questions that have emerged from your defence of your (in)action.  I trust that you will be willing to address the specific questions asked of you in this letter.
I look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely,
Colin Harte

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Pope Benedict XVI answers Bishop Prakasam

Will Bishop Prakasam listen to Pope Benedict XVI?

Bishop Prakasam's general email will receive the considered reply that it merits,  but until then it is worth noting briefly the difference between the thinking of Bishop Prakasam and Pope Benedict XVI with respect to the implementation of canon law and how a bishop should respond to a priest's shameful behaviour.

Refusing to respect Canon 1395.1 which requires the bishop to suspend Gali Arulraj from all priestly ministry,  Bishop Prakasam says, "I have full respect to the law of the Church. I only wish to go by the spirit of the law rather than by the letter of it."

Contrary to Bishop Prakasam's suggestion, it is false to suggest that the spirit of the law could be the precise opposite of its letter. It is also disingenuous for him to claim to have "full respect" for the law when he is blatantly disregarding it.

Whereas Bishop Prakasam shows his disdain for canon law, Pope Benedict regards canon law as something to be both understood and appreciated  (indeed, loved) because it is necessary for respecting rights - in this instance, the rights of the faithful, not to be ministered to by a priest living a shameful life. Like others in Enable, I find it offensive to have been 'ministered to' by Arulraj - attending Holy Mass that he celebrated during the eight years up until 2006 during which time he should already have been suspended. It is offensive that Bishop Prakasam is not preventing Arulraj from continuing to minister to others when he is still living a life that is totally incompatible with the priestly ministry. Where is Bishop Prakasam's concern and love for those who are the unfortunate recipients of Arulraj's 'ministry'? Where is Bishop Prakasam's concern that the Holy Eucharist should not be celebrated in an unworthy manner by an unworthy minister?  Where is Bishop Prakasam's love and concern for Arulraj that he should prohibit him - for his own good too! - from celebrating the most holy of sacraments while his life is so disordered?

Pope Benedict makes it clear that one cannot violate law  by appealing to 'love' because law is a condition of love.  Addressing seminarians he said:

"You should also learn to understand and - dare I say it - to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love."  [Letter to seminarians, 18 October 2010]

Whereas Bishop Prakasam suggests he is showing 'love and mercy' towards Gali Arulraj, indulging him by refusing to take any action,  Pope Benedict makes it clear that when bishops tolerate conduct unworthy of the priestly life it has nothing to do with love:

"The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated." [Homily to end the Year for Priests, 11 June 2010]

Bishop Prakasam has totally disregarded the many representations I have made to him on behalf of Enable.  Will he continue to disregard Pope Benedict's view too?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Has Arulraj been convicted and jailed?

An Indian jail - what the future has in store for Gali Arulraj?
I have received a few emails today from people who said they didn't realise that Gali Arulraj was in jail. Yesterday's email from Bishop Prakasam of Nellore had mentioned beatings and "very inhuman and most heinous treatment" experienced by Arulraj in jail.  I received emails asking when Arulraj was convicted, how long his sentence was, and whether he is still in jail.

To clarify the situation: Arulraj's case has still not come before the criminal court. He has not (yet) been convicted.  He is not (yet) in jail.

Arulraj spent some time in jail in 2006 or 2007. As I recall it was 2006.  The reason that he spent time in jail had nothing whatsoever to do with Enable.  Indeed nobody in Enable knew anything about it until some time afterwards.  He was jailed because he broke the conditions of his bail.  In other words, he brought it upon himself.  Why he received such bad treatment in jail I do not know, but it could be that others took a dim view of him as he was well known in the town of Ongole after embezzling large sums of money that were intended to benefit disabled children. And is it surprising if they took such a dim view?

I  have no idea why Bishop Prakasam mentioned this in his email.  Whether or not Arulraj spent time in jail in the past, whether or not he was well treated, whether or not anyone should be concerned about how he was treated, whether or not he will spend time in jail in the future - the answers to each of these points are entirely  incidental to the question of why, contrary to the law of the Church and the specific responsibility of the Bishop of Nellore, Arulraj is allowed to continue functioning as a Catholic priest.

Monday, 2 April 2012

A general email from Bishop Prakasam

Bishop Moses Prakasam of Nellore

A few people have sent me a copy of a general email sent today by Bishop Moses Prakasam of the Diocese of Nellore.

Bishop Prakasam's email was a follow up to previous emails sent to a particular correspondent "and all" who share the concern expressed in this blog about the shameful actions of Gali Arulraj and the unwillingness of the Bishop of Nellore to even suspend him from the exercise of the priestly ministry.

The correspondent informs me that in his previous email he had expressed his dissatisfaction that Bishop Prakasam had been unwilling to clarify some points, e.g., he had understood from what the Bishop had written to him initially that Gali Arulraj had been excommunicated, and he could not see why the Bishop would not clarify whether this was so when he queried it. The correspondent had also indicated his dissatisfaction that the Bishop had said it was a 'local Church' matter and that he should be left to deal with it himself.  Of course, by embezzling as a priest at least one million pounds from overseas donations to fund a rich lifestyle for himself, his 'wife' and children,  Arulraj's actions are not simply a matter of concern for the 'local Church' but a legitimate concern for many people way beyond the Diocese of Nellore.

Bishop Prakasam's willingness to respond to those who are concerned (and from the feedback I have received, I can say with no exaggeration, outraged) about the matter aired on this blog is appreciated.  In posting Bishop Prakasam's email on this blog, I am happy for readers to consider thoughtfully what he says.  Reading the email I readily agree with what Bishop Prakasam says about God being merciful, loving and  forgiving, and that we are called to be merciful, loving and forgiving. However, with respect to Bishop Prakasam, most of what he says is not applicable to the concern of this blog which is precisely:  how someone like Gali Arulraj can have acted as he has acted and can continue to act as he is acting - and still remain a Catholic priest.   I hope that Bishop Prakasam will be willing to consider a reply to his email that I shall post in due course.

[Bishop Prakasam's email is reproduced without editing, except that the name of his principal correspondent has been removed]

My Dear [...] and all other Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings to you in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is never my intention to offend you or any one. I only wanted you to understand and allow us to act as a local church. My dear Brothers I wish to share with you my inner spirit and request you to understand and stand with me.
1.   Of course I agree that someone raising funds internationally is a matter for concern for all. Usually when someone is appealing for funds as a Priest any individual Donor or Donor Agencies refer the matter to the Bishop of the Diocese and the Bishop will give either his approval or disapproval. That way I am always ready to respond to when such clarifications sought.
2.    When I say “Not in communion with the Bishop” I do not mean ‘excommunication’. It means that a priest is not carrying on any active ministry that is officially assigned  by the Bishop. He does not take part in any meetings, common celebrations and activities of the Diocese.
3.     My Dear Brothers and Sisters without in any way minimising your concerns I wish to share with you the following. In this case we have many options before us.
a.     Shall we be like Abel in the OT whose blood cried for vengeance for his on slaughter (Genesis 4:10) or shall we be like Jesus who in peak moment of His agony on the cross prayed for those who have crucified Him saying “Father Forgive them”. (Luke 23:34).
b.    Should we expect erring brother be a wanderer and fugitive like Cain? (Genesis 4:13-16). Or shall we pray and hope that like David will repent for his sins one day and experience the forgiveness and merciful love of God? (2. Samuel 12:13 & psalm 51).
c.     Shall we pray and hope that like the Father for the return of the prodigal son or shall we react like the eldest son? The prodigal son, in the sight of his father never ceased to be the son. Therefore great celebrations at his return. (Luke Ch.15).
d.   Shall we pray and hope our erring brother like Peter to repent and receive the forgiveness of the Lord whom he betrayed or shall we want him like Judas Iscariot not to have recourse to the mercy and forgiveness of God and end up his life as Judas did? (Mk. Ch. 14:66-72 & Mt. Ch. 27:3-10).
e.   Should we take up the stones and through at our erring brother or shall we like Jesus forgive him and pray for his conversion. (John 8:1-11).
f.     Should we not remind ourselves of the abundant love and mercy Christ has shown us and show the same love and mercy towards each other? We repeatedly say in the prayer Jesus taught us “Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”.
I have humbly paced before you in a fraternal way the spirit with which I operate. It is not my intention to justify any one or to undermine the feelings and concerns of any one. What you experience is quite natural but my prayer and humble appeal to you is to rise to the supernatural levels to which Christ has taken us through His suffering, death on the cross and by His Resurrection To celebrate Easter means to experience the immeasurable mercy and love of Christ individually and together as a Church. I have full respect to the law of the Church. I only wish to go by the spirit of the law rather than by the letter of it.
Recently it was brought to my notice how Arulraj Gali was meted with a very inhuman and most heinous treatment in the jail. He was beaten up the whole night and was made to accomplish some unspeakable acts. However guilty one might have been it pains me very much when any one of our Brother or Sister is treated that way.  I do also understand and have empathy for you too what you have been going through.
It is not my intention to preach but this is what defines our entity as Christians called to have the mind attitude like that of Christ. (Please see the attachment). I shall continue my efforts of going out in search of the lost sheep. (Luke 15:1-10). On my part I continue my efforts. I plead you to join me with your prayers and Christian charity. As St. Paul says our call is to “overcome the evil with goodness”. (Romans 9:21).
                Wish you and all a very meaningful and joyful Easter Festival.
                With much love and prayers.
                Yours fraternally in Christ,

+ Moses D. Prakasam.

[The attachment referred to in the final paragraph is reproduced below]