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]