Published Date: July 30, 2010
Tags: Church in Goa, financial dealings, public scrutiny, transparency debate
Church procession in Goa. A recent government move could allow public scrutiny of all Church activities, including financial ones.
The Church in Goa is refusing to comment over a recent government move that could allow public scrutiny of all Church activities, including its financial dealings.
“I have nothing to say,” said Father Francis Caldeira, spokesperson of Goa and Daman archdiocese on July 30, three days after the media reported on the state move.
The state Legislative Law Committee on July 26 asked the Law Department to make a comprehensive study of the possibility of bringing the Office of the Archbishop Patriarch of Goa within the purview of the Right to Information Act.
The committee’s request came after the Law Department recently expressed doubts whether the law could be applied to all the office’s activities.
The law, passed in 2005, says all public and private authorities are bound to disclose information about their activities if they receive at least 10 percent of their income from government subsidies.
The issue arose after Antonia Michelle Abel, a Catholic, wrote to the legislative committee suggesting all activities of the archbishop’s office be covered under the law as is the case with any government department.
However, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manohar Parrikar said on July 29 that his party was not interested in bringing the archbishop’s office under the act.
Averthanus D’Souza, of the diocesan Commission for Social Justice and Peace, said the archdiocese already has a Social Communication Media Commission where individuals can seek information about the archdiocese.
“All Catholic dioceses worldwide are required by canon law to conform to the laws of respective countries,” he said.
This would mean the act would be applicable to all Indian dioceses, not just Goa archdiocese.
One local Catholic saw a more sinister motive behind the move.
It’s an example of politicians using “people to target Catholics” in the state, said James Moraes.