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?