Thursday, 25 April 2013

Pope Francis addresses the scandal of Gali Arulraj

Pope Francis:  "he has to leave the ministry."
Well, yes, the heading is perhaps a little misleading as I have no reason to think that Pope Francis has even heard of Gali Arulraj - though I suppose it might just be possible that he has been one of the readers of this blog from Argentina or Italy...

However, in a book published in 2012, Pope Francis makes it clear that someone like Arulraj cannot remain in the priesthood.  Speaking as Cardinal Bergoglio (as he was at that time), he addressed the general situation of a priest who has fathered just one child, not two (as is the more appalling case with Arulraj). He said:

If [a priest] comes and tells me that he got a woman pregnant, I listen. I try to help him have peace and little by little I try to help him realize that the natural law takes priority over his priesthood. So, he has to leave the ministry and should take care of that child, even if he chooses not to marry that woman. For just as that child has the right to have a mother, he has a right to the face of a father. I commit myself to arranging all the paperwork for him in Rome, but he has to leave everything.

For Pope Francis, leaving the priesthood is required as an obvious consequence of fathering a child, even if the priest were otherwise in good standing.  How much more so must it be required for a rogue priest like Arulraj who has fathered two children, separated himself from his bishop and diocese for 16 years (the years are constantly increasing), and who has been engaged in the long-term racket of scamming donations and embezzling more than one million pounds that were intended for disabled children (and for which he awaits trial, conviction and imprisonment).

It is now more than seven months since Bishop Prakasam of Nellore issued the long overdue decree of suspension.  I understand that he has still not even been in touch with the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome, which is the relevant Congregation for arranging for priests to leave the clerical state.

Bishop Prakasam dragged his heels for nearly six years before eventually issuing the decree of suspension that should have been automatically issued.  The indications are that those heels are now being firmly dug in once again.

With Pope Francis's guidance, may we hope that the Congregation for the Clergy will act swiftly to resolve the scandal of Gali Arulraj - a scandal that his own bishop has, for unfathomable reasons, been unwilling to address.