Open letter in response to the letter of FR.Cedric Prakash and others on his idea of CIVIC & POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT OF THE LAITY which is attached

To: president bcs, and others

Picture of arcanjo sodder
Dear All,In the last many years of the existence of these organisations how many seats have these organisations been able to get / bargain for catholic candidates?

If at all some catholic has been able to get a seat it is due to his / her own merit.

Can these organisations which operate from church owned premises be critical about their own masters?If they are courageous enough to be critical they will be thrown out.

I know of a case in Kalina where the pulpit was used for defaming a person who said that religious photographs should not be put with politicians and that too on illegal banners.Till today the Cardinal has had no time to attend to the said persons complaint.

The Church in Mumbai is still to give conveyance of land to societies which has to be given in 4 months of society registration as per the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act which is the  law of the land.There seems to little difference between  certain businessman and these church authorities.

Incidentally as per the handbook of the Parish Council no PPC member can interfere in politics they can be involved only in the liturgical aspects for which many of them know nothing.Their only criteria for being selected is that they are yes men.In the recently held parish council elections in my zone only those persons who were core members could be candidates.Have you heard of free and fair elections where the majority of electors cannot be candidates.

We have a parish in Mumbai where the wording used  in the  Parish Council handbook is  ” Retirees may not stand for re-election”.When a dispute arose regarding its interpretation ,Cardinal Oswald Gracias who is supposed to be an expert in Canon Law interpreted  that the word ” May ” as ” Shall”.Incidentally in previous elections of the same parish retirees were allowed to stand as candidates.

How many Parish Council members have the guts to tell their masters that it is a liturgical abuse to hold parish council elections during a mass?

As regards being trained for the IAS and IPS how many persons who have the guts to take on their masters are able to survive in the system?As you are aware the Confidential Reports of these persons are decided by politicians who force them to toe the line or get out.We all know of how upright officers are treated by their masters.

I think before looking out , Sole Trusteeship of all church owned trusts should be abolished .Some lay persons should be inducted who are above board and then only things mayget better.

There should be transparency in all deals.All properties being developed owned by the church should be sold/leased/occupied/rented to practising Roman Catholics only.

We have instances of persons standing with Anna Hazare and talking about abolishing corruption but they themselves have been instrumental in reselling gardens which had already been sold to catholicRs. societies.

We have cases of FSI being sold at Rs.2000 a sq. foot  when the market rates of flats was Rs.20,000/-

We have a case of land owned by a Kalina Church in Mumbai  and situated in Vakola sold for Rs.3,51,000/- having an area of over 700 meters when the market rate as approved by the stamp authorities was over 35,00,000/-.

The list can go on and on.

None of these organisations have the capability to take on their masters .If they do they will lose the premises from where they operate.

None of these people will remain in the posts if they have the guts to take on their masters.

Charity begins at home.

First clean the internal pipelines and then move out.

Advocate High Court.

Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2013 23:15:20 +0530
Subject: Civic & Political Empowerment of the Laity by Fr. Cedric Prakash

Dear friends,

Fr. Cedric Prakash’s talk was one of the highlights at the Western Region Laity Consultation. Given below is the script of his talk which he has so kindly sent us. You may send your comments as requested by him.

With warm regards,

Gordon D’Souza

 Dear Friends,

Here is the “hard copy” of my talk to the Laity Consultation!
Would appreciate a line in acknowledgement of receipt…and particularly your comments on it
You are welcome to forward it to others/ to publish it.
warm wishes and prayers
Fr Cedric Prakash sjPRASHANT  
–  A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad – 380052, Gujarat, India

Phone : +91  79   27455913,  66522333
Fax : +91  79  27489018


-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

 Dear Sisters, Brothers,
 It is good to be here today at this Western Region Laity Consultation.  At the outset, I would like to express a word of appreciation and gratitude to the All India Catholic Union (particularly the President Mr. Eugene Gonsalves and the Convener Mr. Lancy D’Cunha), the Bombay Catholic Sabha (particularly the President Mr. Gordon D’souza) and all the other collaborators who in any way have contributed to the organizing of this significant Consultation.


The theme of this Consultation, ‘Together We Soar’, is itself a challenging one, focused on improving relations between the laity and the clergy. We need the laity to be truly empowered for more effective and meaningful performance.  By its very nature, the theme is multi-dimensional. I have been asked to share my views on the ‘Civic & Political Empowerment of the Laity’.

 In this, the Golden Jubilee Year of the Second Vatican Council, I think it is fitting for me to situate this talk in some key directions given by the Council.  “The laity accomplish the Church’s mission in the world principally by that blending of conduct and faith which makes them the light of the world; by that uprightness in all their dealings which is for every man such an incentive to love the true and the good and which is capable of inducing him at last to go to Christ and the church; by that fraternal charity that makes them share the living conditions and labours, the sufferings and yearnings of their brothers, and thereby prepare all hearts, gently, imperceptibly, for the action of saving grace; by that full awareness of their personal responsibility in the development of society, which drives them on to perform their family, social and professional duties with Christian generosity.  In this way their conduct makes itself gradually felt in the surroundings where they live and work.” (Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People #13)

 And further, “the Council, then, makes to all the laity an earnest appeal in the Lord to give a willing, noble and enthusiastic response to the voice of Christ, who at this hour is summoning them more pressingly, and to the urging of the Holy Spirit……It is the Lord who is again sending them into every place where he himself is to come (cf. Lk.10:1). He sends them on the Church’s apostolate, an apostolate that is one yet has different forms and methods, an apostolate that must all the time be adapting itself to the needs of the moment; he sends them on an apostolate where they are to show themselves his cooperators, doing their full share continually in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord their labour cannot be lost.” (cf. Cor. 15:58) (# 33)


I have structured my presentation today into two distinct yet complementary dimensions. The first deals with certain prerequisites which I personally think are necessary for effective civic and political empowerment.  The second dimension suggests how this could / should be operationalised. 

 Prerequisites for effective civic and political empowerment

There is no doubt that the civic and political empowerment of our laity is critical in ensuring a more humane, just and peaceful society based on the person and message of Jesus Christ. The laity is called to be Courageous, Critical, Conscientious, Constructive and Committed.  Let’s look at each of these inter-related aspects:

  • you are called to be Courageous

In our highly digitalized and cyber world, we are always talking about PWs (and in common parlance its longer version is known as ‘Passwords’!) Christians too have a PW and this is from the time Jesus established his Church, and this hyphenated password is being Prophetic and being a Witness.


Christianity was never about mediocrity but about men and women, who filled with the Lord’s Spirit, had the courage to proclaim and live the good news in every possible way.  Their prophetic actions and their lives of great witness caused them much suffering and hardship.  Getting out of their comfort-zones, they had the courage to take on the status quo, powerful establishments and other vested interests. 


Being focused on justice and truth was all that mattered to them. Their prophetic role entailed that they had to denounce what was wrong and evil in society in order to proclaim the good news!


  • you are called to be Critical

If one has to be Courageous, one necessarily has to be Critical. It is important for all of us to look at the big picture and appreciate the tremendous good that is taking place all over. But if one wants to be more effective and do good, better, one necessarily needs to have a discerning eye and heart and look at the weaknesses, vulnerabilities, pit-falls that plague our society today. There is the old saying that, ‘one rotten apple can very easily destroy a whole box of good apples’. It is not without reason that Jesus told us the Parable of the good plants and the weeds and the necessity of pulling out the weeds before they choke the plants that are growing well.


Being critical is not just about “criticizing” – some of us have a favourite past-time called “clergy bashing”. No, I do not have any defence for erring priests and religious. Unfortunately, we sometimes get caught only in this.


Paulo Freire (the Brazilian Social Scientist) emphasises this ‘critical consciousness’: the need and importance of education to be able to develop within the student, the necessary tools to see the evil from the good, the darkness from the light, the untruth from the truth. Being critical is not just about criticising others  but about being able to discern the right from the wrong and to be able to see the weeds, the potholes and the ills of society and do something about it.


  • you are called to be Conscientious

One cannot be courageous or critical if one is not conscientious, that is why Freire himself in his celebrated work, ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’, categorically talks aboutconscientisation. The need and importance to touch the conscience of all concerned – especially the powerful, the vested interests and all those who control the lives and destinies of others. 


It is not without reason that Pope Francis has been consistently insisting that we become a Church of the poor and for the poor.  As a country, we are passing through extremely critical times riddled with corruption and scams of the highest order.  We rarely find politicians today who are clean, incorruptible and who genuinely want to serve others according to the oath they take when they assume office.


Our Catholic laity is therefore called to be conscientious: to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the leaven in the dough.


  • you are called to be Constructive

As said earlier, we have to be critical, and in our prophetic role we have to denounce all that is wrong and evil in our society.  Unfortunately, too many of us prefer to remain sitting on the back benches just criticising what is happening without daring or risking doing something constructive about it.


Every Christian is called to play a constructive role in the building of a society which is more just, more equitable, more peaceful and humane.  Being constructive means putting our hand to the plough, and being where it matters the most. It means shedding off our benefactor or patronising approach; our attitude of ‘I-know-it-all’; our arrogance; and actually accompanying the poor, the marginalised, and the vulnerable in their quest for a more dignified life.


  • you are called to be Committed

The core competency of a disciple of Jesus is an unwavering commitment to one’s faith: which is truth and light of Jesus. These are non-negotiables.  We have seen this in the lives of so many people across the ages.


On October 7th, 2001 Pope John Paul II beatified a German, Nicholas Gross, who was a journalist, who had the courage to denounce Hitler and the Nazis and was executed in 1945.  Mr. Gross refused to publish any photo of Hitler or any leading Nazis in his newspaper.  In the beatification ceremony on St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II told the huge crowds that, “Gross recognised that the Nazi ideology did not fit in with his Christian faith”.  Commitment for a Christian is therefore, the ability to seek the truth, live the truth and on every occasion stand up for the truth. Jesus did not care for diplomatic niceties nor looked the other way when evil pervaded the entire system.


Some suggestions to make the above a reality

A Consultation of this significance needs to look at the big picture and to see how one can actually arrive there in a collaborative manner ensuring greater unity, better understanding, encouragement and rapport, between the clergy and the laity at every step of this journey. I would therefore like to propose a practical way of proceeding which could include the following:


Ø      the clergy must create the space for greater empowerment of the laity

At the first step in this journey, in all honesty I must say that there is a need for the clergy (and I know I am an integral part of it) to create the necessary space by which our laity is truly empowered.  It is true that we run schools and other institutions and a fairly large percentage of the laity in India has been educated by the Church. However, in today’s Consultation, we need to talk of a Church which is essentially the vision of Vatican II.  A Church where the clergy and laity work together hand in hand, one complementing the other to ensure the kingdom of God is established in the here and now. We need to think out-of-the-box together with our lay professionals as to how we can truly create “schools” for empowering them in civic and political responsibility.

In Gujarat, for example, we have at least two institutions – Ashadeep and the Rajpipla Social Service Society – who are involved in training young men and women for a career in the IAS and other civil services. It is a tough task but we have met with some instances where our young men and women are in positions of responsibility today.


Our Parish Councils need to be another place for “schooling”, wherein our parishioners are given the responsibility of administering the parishes which for greater accountability, transparency and participation at all levels particularly in decision-making processes and financial matters.  We are all aware of the danger of the “yes minister” syndrome where we as priests and religious are comfortable with those who toe the line and dare not question one’s authority.

There are also several Commissions in the Church. In most Dioceses, we have highly competent and talented men and women who can easily make these Commissions more effective, provided we give them the space to do so.

As a Jesuit, I am also mandated by my 34th General Congregation which says, “Cooperation with the laity is both a constitutive element of our way of proceeding and a grace calling for individual, communal, and institutional renewal.  It invites us to service of the ministry of lay people, partnership with them in mission, and openness to creative ways of future cooperation.  The Spirit is calling us as “men for and with others” to share with lay men and women what we believe, who we are, and what we have, in creative companionship, for “the help of souls and the greater glory of God.” (GC 33 Decree 13 # 26)


Ø      some laity could take up initiatives to empower others

If we wait for the ideal to happen, then we will surely be living in a fool’s paradise! So it is important for the laity to empower themselves and others whenever they can, through creative initiatives.

As an example, I would like to highlight a very significant initiative that has begun by some enterprising laity in these very premises of St. Pius X Seminary about eight years ago.  With some of the Seminary staff, they conceptualized a programme entitled ‘Power to Lead’ which basically promotes Christian leadership in society. I have had the privilege of being associated with this tremendous initiative for a few years now and I am simply amazed at the way, potential is tapped and people from across the board are initiated for deeper Christian involvement.

One needs to look at the Parish associations we have and see if they can transcend the narrow parochial confines to truly make our parishes and communities more at the service of our fellow men and women by taking up civic and political responsibilities.

 Ø      get involved

There is a crisis of leadership not only in India but all across the world and this crisis plagues even highly respected or well-known institutions. We have two choices at this stage – either to complain and keep on bickering or just get out of our comfort zones and get involved! Any involvement in civic and political life necessitates great risks.  The ordinary person is able to see through those who genuinely want to serve them or those who do so for their own self-glorification.


 Authenticity in involvement is in fact the hallmark of a true Christian. For us, the classic example of being involved in civic and political life is Jesus getting down on his knees and washing the feet of his disciples.  When Pope Francis washed the feet of the inmates (which included women and Muslims) at the juvenile centre just outside Rome on Maundy Thursday this year, he sent out to each a loud and clear message, “get involved today”“go out to the margins” and “wash the feet of those who need it the most”.


As a conclusion to this talk, I invite you to join me in praying for each one of us in those meaningful words so strongly put down by the Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.


“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,

Where knowledge is free,

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,

Where words come out from the depth of truth,

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sands of dead habit,

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action,

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake!”


And this prayer for our laity which I found on the net:


Heavenly Father, you have called us all to holiness which means sharing in your divine life.  Fill us with a sense of our true dignity as those called to be your daughters and sons in the world and your ambassadors of justice, love and peace.  Give us the desire to be worthy of this great calling and the courage to live up to it.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.


Thank you very much!!!


 * (This presentation was made by Fr. Cedric Prakash sj at the Western Region Laity Consultation held at Pius X College, Goregaon on 1stJune, 2013.  He is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace))

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad – 380052

Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333 Fax:  79 27489018

–Forwarded Message Attachment–


About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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4 Responses to Open letter in response to the letter of FR.Cedric Prakash and others on his idea of CIVIC & POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT OF THE LAITY which is attached

  1. Hello, Hello, Hello; I may be wrong and open to correction; but isn’t it written somewhere (Canon Law ???), that the parish priest is the “SUPREME, ABSOLUTE” head and deciding authority of a parish council; ??? So why all this sham and pretense of the laity participation ????? Some knowledgeable person please answer for all to see. Can the members of a parish council over rule/over ride the decision of a crooked parish priest ????? I am told NO

    • Fergy, Its best for Our Dear cardinal Oswald Gracias to answer, he may get the Archdiocese official spokesperson and/or the The editor of the Examiner to answer. I do firmly believe that the Western Region Laity Consultation programme held at Mumbai was one big eye wash. Some of the delegates who cam from out station, voiced the similar views, they said it was a waste of time.Nevertheless,we have arranged for The Holy Father Pope Francis to be kept informed, so he is aware. Yes there will always be some who nod their heads to please and show agreement, Of course they have their own personal reasons to do so.
      The administration of the catholic church has gone our of hand here at The Archdiocese of Bombay and we the people must stand up to correct the same.

  2. As I have said before Gracias is blind. deaf and dumb; so no hope for any redressal/reply. I have also posted on Pope Francis’ face book page that he has erred grievously in appointing Gracias as adviser. The post was promptly removed; therefore someone who monitors the page has seen it; whether the mafia surrounding the Pope have shown the post to him I do not, and will never know.

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