Court orders Archbishop to implement Konkani

Court orders Archbishop to implement Konkani in all Churches in Archdiocese of Bangalore

FKCA achieves order from Court on directions about Konkani language

Bengaluru: A couple of years back, a Civil Injunction suit was filed in 2014 in the Hon. Court against the step-motherly attitude of Archdiocese of Bangalore towards Konkani. Being a case of religion, the court accepted the case after all the required documents to put the Konkani cause and claim was put forward with documentary affirmation.

The trigger to the case dates back to early 2013. While a group of faithful were offering a Konkani mass, a bunch of self-styled hooligans claiming to be the custodians of the state language, barged into the place of worship and not only disrupted mass but also mercilessly beat up innocent children and women participating in the mass. This unfortunate incident had deeply hurt the peace loving Konkani community, who made several appeals and drafted several memorandums to the Archbishop of Bangalore Most Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras, to officially allow the faithful to celebrate the liturgy in Konkani. However, all these attempts proved futile since the Archbishop was hands-tied into abiding by a Three language policy framed by his predecessors, and the negative forces that were intimidating the Archbishop’s office from changing any language policies of the Archdiocese, existing at that point in time.

Under the provisions of the Canon Law 837, 838, 212, 213 & 214, the Catholic faithful have the RIGHTS and privileges to practice and propagate their faith and also celebrate liturgical services in their own vernacular languages (in this context – Konkani).

As per the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India, only 22 languages are recognized as official languages of the country (India), and Konkani proudly stands one among them.

The Government of Karnataka having understood the social, cultural and literary contributions rendered by the Konkani community to the state, has established a Konkani Academy and installed a Konkani Peeta for encouraging the language. It’s noteworthy that the Chief Minister of Karnataka, during the recent installation of the foundation stone of a Konkani Museum in Mangalore, lauded the Konkani community for their contributions to the state in various sectors and pledged all the support from his Government, to invigorate the language and the community.

In spite of being empowered by the backing of the Government and laws of Vatican, the country, and the state, the Konkani faithful were deprived of conducting liturgical services in their language, by the church authorities and vested interests. With no options left, the Konkani community took a legal stand, under the flagship of FKCA and filed a suit in October 2014, pleading the Hon. Court to direct the Archbishop of Bangalore to make provisions for the faithful to conduct liturgical practices in their language – Konkani.

Eventually, the cause of equal rights for the Konkani community was argued vigorously by substantiating it with a battery of evidence, journals and documents in the Hon Court, continuously for a little more than a year and a half. After verifying all the credentials and documents, the Hon. The court finally pronounced a spectacular judgement on 4th June 2016, directing the Archbishop of Bangalore and the priests heading the said Churches to permit the faithful to have Konkani Mass in all the churches in the Metropolitan Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bangalore, thereby protecting the Rights of the Konkani community.

On the heels of the dynamic initiative of the Federation of Konkani Catholic Associations [ FKCA ], in leading the campaign to solve the bickering issue of “language apartheid”, that prevailed in the Archdiocese of Bangalore for the last Four decades, a landmark circular quashing the existing Three language policy was ordered by the Vatican and released in the Archdiocese of Bangalore through Circular 131, during April 2015. The Vatican order clearly states that while the principal language of Karnataka state i.e. Kannada must be encouraged in liturgical service, and prime time to be given to Kannada in all churches, it also declared that the faithful belonging to other languages like Konkani, Malayalam etc must be given provisions to conduct liturgical services depending on the need of the congregation.

The FKCA led by its Chairman Victor Edward D’Souza welcomes this candid and impartial decision of the Hon. Court, and takes pride for achieving the same. The legal team from FKCA propelled by advocate Anand Edward D’Souza assisted by Shanthakumar and his team effectively argued the case to its summit. The services of liturgical committee of FKCA headed by Dolfy D’Cunha has to be highly acknowledged for his vigour and determination to get the ball rolling. Also a word of appreciation to Richard D’Souza and Edwin D’Souza along with members from Carmel Kutam who were instrumental in providing all the supporting documentary evidence demanded by the Court from time to time. Arun Fernandes – General Secretary of FKCA burnt the night oil effectively, drafting various documents and letters as required by the Court.

FKCA acknowledges the support and guidance from Roy Castelino – President Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy and Eric Ozzario – Secretary General of Jagothik Konkani Sangottan. FKCA thanks all its past Chairmen, the FKCA Council, all Member associations, the legal advisers, liturgical committee, media partners and the faithful of the Archdiocese for their perseverance and support to bring about this landmark order from the Court.

Justice has finally prevailed and there is significant hope that the language crisis tormenting the Archdiocese of Bangalore has finally been plugged and cemented for good by this Court order.

Compiled by Arun Fernandes

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