SENT TO THE ARCHBISHOP ON THIS MINISTRY’S PRINTED LETTER-HEAD
Most Rev. Malayappan Chinnappa, SDB.,
Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore
BY REGISTERED POST, ACKNOWLEDGEMENT DUE. DATED MAY 8, 2007
SUB: Your inaccessibility as pastor and Bishop; and the attitude of you and your office towards the laity, to issues raised by the laity, and to letters sent to you by the laity IN THE YEAR OF THE LAITY
I trust that you will recall that I met with you for about three minutes on the morning of April 12, 2007.
To get to meet you, I had to meet your secretary, Fr. Paul Raj. As always, he wanted to know the reason for my wanting to meet with you. I told him that I wanted to personally hand over copies of my letters on two issues, one concerning the governments’ proposals to make Surya Namaskar and Yoga compulsory in all educational institutions. He examined the letters, as well as the replies of two Bishops to this ministry on the same issue. He advised me to leave them with him, saying that he would reach them to you. I repeatedly insisted that I must meet you personally, and he repeatedly insisted that I couldn’t, as I did not have an appointment. He also said that since I had met you on January 1, he did not see why I should meet you again. As I persisted and simply refused to leave, your secretary gave me permission to go to your office.
When I entered and stood just inside the entrance, by the door of your large office, you asked me who I was. I replied that I was a Catholic in lay ministry and just wanted two minutes with you. Taking out your appointments diary and leafing through it, you asked me if I had an appointment with you. I said that I didn’t, and you replied that then I had to get an appointment and return. Still standing at the door, I requested permission to enter, but instead you asked me first if I am a Hindu, and next if I am a ‘parishioner’. I told you that I could not explain the reason for my visit if I was standing so far away from your table. Once again, I begged you to give me just two minutes of your time.
Then you gave me permission to enter your chambers and come up to your table.
I first gave you the letters of the two Bishops who had written me. After reading the Bishops’ letters, you told me that Surya Namaskar is not permissible but that there is nothing wrong with yoga. I replied that you were not properly informed, and suggested that you study the issue thoroughly. Then you asked me, “So, now what do you want?”
I explained that I wanted you to read my letters against which the Bishops had written to me.
You asked that since I had already written to other Bishops, why must I give you my letters so late. I explained that in the previous two weeks I had tried twice to meet you unsuccessfully, and this was my third visit in 15 days. I also informed you that I had sent the same letters to you by email, and that your secretary Fr. Paul Raj had admitted to having received them.
I reminded you that when I had met with you on January 1st, to wish you on New Year’s Day, you had told me that you had never received any mail or letters from me, whereas I have been writing to you regularly ever since your installation as Archbishop over two years earlier, and I have never received a response.
Apart from wishing you for your birthday, and the anniversaries of your sacerdotal and episcopal ordination and at Christmas every year, I have personally hand-delivered several reports on diverse issues of concern to the Church, to Fr. Paul Raj. It means that either your secretary is deleting my emails and concealing my correspondence from you, or you have chosen not to respond whenever you see my letter head on your table.
Before dismissing me, you asked me if I had any other plan of action. I told you that Mr. John Dayal of the All India Catholic Union had suggested that we file a petition in the Court, to which you said, “If you join with John Dayal, I will not implicate (sic) myself in this.”
As assured to you, I have not ‘joined with John Dayal’, but I am still to receive a response from you.
Let me recall my previous meeting with you. It was on January 1, 2007 when you were meeting the public in your chambers. I came along with 15 members of The Federation of Catholic Faithful, of which I am a member. After we were introduced, you continued to recount to us many stories, nothing related to the Catholic Faith. You did not even once enquire about our activities or mission. You sang a Tamil film song and told us how you did the same when you were in Germany to raise funds for your return air ticket. You gave us a part rendition of a Catholic hymn in Tamil, and explained to us how singing such devotional songs would not have helped you. We were shocked and scandalized, and continue to be so, and whenever you are discussed, someone brings up this issue. When we related the incident to others, they inform us that it is the way that you often behave with visitors. We also handed you a letter from the Federation, asking for an appointment with you. Hardly glancing at it, you said that your appointments diary is always filled three months in advance.
You did not ask us what the issues for discussion would possibly be. Pointing out that there were others waiting to have your darshan, after offering us sweets, you blessed us and dismissed us.
The Federation has yet to receive a response from you, giving them an appointment. Last week, the Federation has sent you a reminder by Registered Post. I trust that your office has received it, that it was kept on your table by Fr. Paul Raj, and that you will respond to it, granting the Federation an appointment.
Immediately after the Federation met with you on January 1, I met you personally, in my individual capacity, and handed you a copy of my report on “The Army of Jesus,” a group of ex-nuns-turned-Pentecostals masquerading here as Catholics.
On seeing my letter-head, you at once said that it was familiar to you. It means that you have seen at least some of my letters and reports, and you have chosen to ignore them. However, you informed me that you had not seen that particular report which I addressed to you and had handed over to Fr. Paul Raj on December 9th, 2006, three weeks earlier.
Just before our meeting with you, Fr. Paul Raj assured me that he had given you the referred report, and also two other copies- one to the Chancellor, and the other to the Auxiliary Bishop. After my meeting with you, I met the Auxiliary, and he told me that he too had never seen the report. I wonder if Fr. Chancellor got his copy either, because when I rushed over to Fr. Paul Raj’s office and told him what you and the Auxiliary had said, he admitted that he had NOT reached any of the three copies because of the Christmas season rush!!
The Auxiliary Bishop asked me why he had not heard from me in a long time. I told him that in fact I had been regularly sending him letters and copies of my reports. He then advised me not to hand over anything to the reception or to the Father Secretary. He suggested that I either meet him personally as he is an accessible person, or to drop them in his box.
To me it seems that Fr. Paul Raj has been acting as a censor, and I would like to know if he has your approval on that.
Next, I would like to recall the letter written to me under copy to you, dated November 29, 2005, by Most Rev. Percival Fernandez, then Secretary General of the CBCI.
In connection with that letter, on February 20 I received a letter dated February 6, 2006 from you asking me to meet with you after fixing an appointment with your secretary. I had already replied to Bishop Percival vide my eight-page letter dated January 30, 2006, copy already personally delivered to your office on January 31, 2006 along with a photocopy of Bishop Percival Fernandez’s letter dated November 29, 2005 to me.
When I visited your secretary on February 21, 2006 in response to your letter of February 6 [received 20th], I handed him a letter of the same date [February 21] as my response to your letter. Along with that letter, I gave Fr. Paul Raj copies of other earlier reports and some testimonials. He examined them for about ten minutes and then said that I could meet you.
I asked him whether you would dedicate some time to examining my testimonials etc. and discussing my ministry, and he said no, you wouldn’t. That being the case, I asked him to please hand over the letters etc. to you and to explain to you what he had understood from me and my papers about my ministry. However, I did not hear from your office after that.
If you had examined your copy of my letter to Bishop Percival, you might have seen the details of the large number of letters that I have written to you, not one of which has elicited any response.
My dear Archbishop, till today, in my correspondence with dozens of Bishops, I have always chosen my words carefully.
However, I believe that it is time for some plain speak, and for me to express some of my feelings, this being the Year of the Laity as declared by the Bishops. Frankly, it has not made ANY difference to the laity in the Indian Church, with half of the year almost gone by. And I doubt it ever will. As the laity mutter under their collective breath- we are here to pray, pay, and obey. The only laity who benefit are the Parish Priests’ and Bishops’ go-fers, their sycophants, their hangers-on, their yes-men… Any laity with a thinking, independent mind is considered dangerous to the system, and excluded.
So the policies and attitudes of the Church remain unchanged. I can write a complete essay only on this issue, but will attempt to restrict myself to a few more remarks.
I wonder if Bishops like you give any credit to the laity in respect of their intelligence, and their concern for the Catholic Church. If you do your job as a Bishop well, good for you. You have been appointed Bishop for that purpose. However, laity like me have rejected and continue to reject other more comfortable, remunerative and appreciated alternatives for thankless ministries in support of and defense of the Church that we love. I wonder if Bishops realise that the laity can see the injustices, favouritism, partiality, dereliction of duty, even corruption, being carried on in the name of God. I would not be surprised if a TV channel does a sting operation soon on the Catholic Church too, as they have done first on the Muslims [haj pilgrim scandal] and the Hindu godmen [money laundering]. It would eventually benefit the Church as a whole.
The Bishops, especially those in Tamil Nadu are mostly arrogant, pompous, inaccessible. Secretaries see to it that the laity are thoroughly screened. I have tried to meet other Tamil Nadu Bishops and failed. I have written them dozens of letters on serious issues, but have not received replies. The Bishops who are meant to SERVE the people have become lords over them. I did not for a moment feel welcome in your office, as a son coming to meet his spiritual father. I can say a lot more, but for now, this is sufficient for you to mull over. I hope that it will have some impact on you, and you will reply.
You expressed to me your unhappiness that I had already written to other Bishops, and received responses from them, only after which I approached you. So, may I remind you that you have never, ever responded to any of my letters to you or acknowledged any of the reports that I send you, either by email or in hard copy.
Regrettably, the same must be said of the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Lawrence Pius, whom I have been meeting with and writing to, since December 1999. If either of you had taken this lay ministry seriously, there would have been no necessity for me to write to all the Bishops of this nation. If the Bishops of the Indian Church had taken this ministry seriously, there would have been no necessity for me establish a website and make all these matters public- for the world to read.
People have approached me with documentation regarding financial and other scams in your archdiocese, but that is an ocean with no horizon. This ministry limits itself to taking up issues concerning the Faith, especially New Age. And, till our Bishops, starting with you in my home archdiocese, take the laity seriously and act, we will continue to use the internet to reach Catholics with information about the dangers that they may face within the Church.