Bengaluru: In a protest meeting attended by two priests Fr C Selvaraj and Fr A Thomas from the Archdiocese of Bangalore and two more from outside the diocese, and addressed by Sri Narayana Gowda, President of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and Dr Chidananda Murthy in the Freedom Park, on August 13, there was a publicly made demand to release the two priests now in jail in the on-going case relating to the murder in the year 2013 of Fr K J Thomas, Rector of St Peter’s Seminary in Bengaluru. The speakers have opined that the two priests in jail are framed by the Archbishop of Bangalore in nexus with the Home Minister. They have further declared that the two jailed priests are totally innocent. There were also abuses heaped on the person and office of the Archbishop in the addresses by both the speakers.
Their second denunciation at the meeting was on the newly issued guidelines on the liturgical (worship) languages for the Archdiocese of Bangalore that gives primacy to Kannada while respecting all other languages of the people for worship in churches and religious services. These guidelines were first discussed in the Archdiocese and approved by the Vatican. Except one Telugu priest who holds an important position in the Archdiocese (and may have personal designs), all the other priests of the Archdiocesan Council had signed the policy and expressed happiness about it.
We are lay persons with different languages as our mother tongue and yet part of the Church. We are shocked and dismayed by the behavior of the protesting priests and the hate language of the two anti-Christian speakers against the person of the Archbishop and his office. We want to state clearly that we are happy with the way the State has pursued the murder case of Fr K J Thomas, though at a slow pace. To say that the jailed priests have been framed in nexus with the Home Minister is an allegation, we think, of a guilty conscience. We believe that the State and the Judiciary will unearth the truth and do justice.
On the Church/worship language policy, we want to state that Church is a community of faith where people of all languages have a right to worship God in their own tongue. The Archbishop’s circular dated 12 April 2015 reflects the thinking of the Indian state. As the administrative language of the state of Karnataka, Kannada has been given the place of primacy in Church services. All city churches are however told to have an English service since there is a section of people who have migrated to the city for employment. Depending on the population of the place, services in other languages are seen as necessary so that all people can come before God in their own person and language. The above named two priests with some other silent supporters within the clerical fold with their fanatical stand “Kannada alone and no other language” have made use of language for power and resources demanding control over important Churches and Offices, a purely worldly design.
In acting negatively these protesters have gone against the provisions of the Constitution of India and the United Nations Charter of Human Rights in the matter of upholding the religious and linguistic rights of people, particularly of the minorities (both religious and linguistic). Articles 25(1), 26, 29, 30, 51A, 347, etc of the Indian Constitution and various Articles of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (of 1948) and the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religions and Linguistic Minorities (of 1992), have been thus violated by the organizers and speakers of the above protest meeting on 13 August 2015. Their negativism deserves to be condemned by all because it utterly negates the several noble principles and human values underlining the relevant Articles of the Indian Constitution and the UN Charter of Human Rights. Some of these principles require that every human being shall enjoy human dignity, justice and peaceful existence with freedom from fear and freedom of speech and expression, equality before law and rule of law, etc, in order to promote “social progress and better standard of life in larger freedom” in an all inclusive manner for every human being. To achieve all these lofty human goals, we all need to develop broad-mindedness and large-heartedness with purity of heart at all levels of society.
As faithful members of the Church we desire to warn these priests that if they do not function as priests in union with the Archbishop and follow his guidelines we will not only boycott them but also ask for their expulsion from the Church. We also would like anti-Christian persons like Sri Narayana Gowda and Dr Chidananda Murthy not to interfere in the affairs of the Catholic community and defame the Archbishop, and if they do we may have to have recourse to the court of law to get justice.