Kolkatta’s Retired Prelate Great Archbishop, Friend of New Leader Promoter gone to Heaven dr. james kottoor

Retired Archbishop Henry D’Souza of Kolkatta

Thanks to Matters India, Delhi, I came to know that Archbishop Henry D’Souza, a friend of Mother Teresa for more than 35 years and a founding member of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), died of age-related illness on June 27 in Kolkata.

He was equally a friend and promoter of the over hundred and twenty five years old New Leader(NL) of Chennai, in the 1970ies when dr. james kottoor was its editor and publisher. Aarchbishop Henry was 90 years old and his funeral will be held on June 30th according to report in Matters. Precious and manifold were his contributions to the Church in India as the secretary general of the CBCI and president of the CCBI (Conference of Catholic Bishops of India—Latin rite)

He headed the Archdiocese of Calcutta during 1986-2002, played a crucial role in fast-tracking Blessed Mother Teresa’s canonization process. Archbishop D’Souza often hailed Mother Teresa as “the face of Christ

in the world” for spending her life time helping people understand the nature of the divine.

He was first appointed the bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in 1974. In 1985, he was transferred to the Calcutta as the coadjutor Archbishop. He succeeded Cardinal Lawrence Picachy as the archbishop of Calcutta on April 5, 1986 according to Matters India. It was when Henry was the Vicar General to Cardinal Picachy that he had a lot of close contacts and interaction with the Editor of NL. He started Life Assenting, a newsletter for senior citizen, and edited it until the end. This shows his interest in editing and spreading the Good Word through press.

Here I describe just one incident, among many, to show the interest he took in promoting Catholic publications, especially NL from Chennai.

It was during the time of Cardinal Picachi who took a special interest in NL of Chennai, even when he had his own Archdiocesan weekly The Herald. NL was at its peak of popularity then since it was the most outspoken frankly speaking paper publishing controversial issues like Birth Conrol, in the wake Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI. NL was the daily recipient of bouquets and brickbats from readers __ Right, Left and central.

Just think of even Bishops joining in this fray. Cardinal Picachy sent 25 gift subscriptions as a token of his appreciation for the “High standard of Catholic Journalism” of the then New Leader. He wrote several letters in support, so did also Cardinal Gracias of Bombay. Once he even gave an unsolicited advise to other publications, may be he had also Examiner in mind, asking them to “take a que from the short and crisp editorial notes attached to most piercing letters to make them blunt,” or break their sharp edge. Sharp letters for and against Pope’s encyclical on birth control used to come fast at that time.

At that time the CBCI meeting was to be held in Kolkatta and New Leader was in the forefront giving publicity to the main theme of the meeting. Unlike what is happening today at that time the theme of such meetings used to be announced months in advance and discussed in public in the Catholic press specially.

As editor I did just that and before going to Kolkatta to report the CBCI deliberations, I prepared a special issue on the theme of the meet containing so many letters from all over India responding to our request to readers: “Speak to your pastors through your paper” It brought more than two full pages of Tabloid size of NL at that time.

The cartoon on the front page of NL was a Kite Baloon with the inscription “Oh Kolkatta” (name of a sexy movie I think), up in the Sky with all bishops dancing around and string from the floating balloon held by urchin(lay people) on ground shouting “Please Come Down). It was a message to bishops not to make their CBCI discussions something too airy and up in the clouds but make them all down to earth.

The editor of the NL used to be a regular invitee to all CBCI meets then. Only now it has become all closed door secret meets only for bishops. In Kolkatta Cardinal Picachy, in the midst of a crowd of participants, was speaking to me thanking for the publicity NL gave and he said: “New Leader is the best Family Paper which should be promoted. This is not just my personal view but of my Vicar General Henry D’Souza who is a very perceptive person.”

That was a personal boost, bordering on flattery. But I did’t know what more shocking things were to come. Before official start of the Meet there was the Mass and a sermon focussed on the meet. Msgr. Henry happened to be the celebrant and speaker. When he came to the podium for the sermon he didn’t have a bible in hand. Instead he opened one of the copies of the New Leader and read aloud the two-page sprawling banner head line: SPEAK TO YOUR PASTORS THROUGH YOUR PAPER, and showed the letters to the congregation.

I had brought some hundred copies of that Issue so that all bishops could get a copy and read all the letters from the laity. If there is a better way to get laity participation in CBCI meets, please write to our portal CCV(www.almayasbdam.com). Later I had to resign from the editorship, left priesthood, got dispensation, got married etc but none of these things made any change in our relationship and communication. Even last year I got a personal letter from the Retired Archbishop Henry. This was also the case with Archbishop Eugene Desouza of Bopal, who invited me to stay with him when I announced my decision to leave priesthood. And I did stay with him for few days.

A lot of changes in the Church is happening due to exemplary leaderships given by great Visionaries like Henry, cardinals, Picachy, Gracias and Parfekattil. May their race increase and multiply. May the Lord give eternal rest to the Soul of Archbishop Henry and we pray that he guide us from his heavenly abode. Contact at: jameskottoor@gmail.com



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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1 Response to Kolkatta’s Retired Prelate Great Archbishop, Friend of New Leader Promoter gone to Heaven dr. james kottoor

  1. Isaac Gomes says:

    Dr James Kottoor may have had a very pleasant experience of Archbishop Henry D’Souza (that time Vicar General) being of a liberal mind towards journalists. But in effect, when he became Archbishop, he clamped down on the freedom of speech in the Herald, which is the mouthpiece of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, in effect that of the Archbishop of Calcutta.

    Archbishop Henry was instrumental in removing Fr Horace Rozario who had served The Herald for 32 long years for having allowed freedom of speech and for having printed even so-called controversial issues.

    He did similar injustice to the next editor Salesian Fr C.M. Paul who had done M.A. in Journalism from the USA and who used to look upon Fr Horace Rozariio as his guru. Again for the same reason or crime of allowing publication of burning issues which concerned the Laity.

    Archbishop Henry D’Souza is reported to have said he wanted only GOOD NEWS in the Herald, which meant only rosy pictures and all is hunky-dory news. Even today The Herald maintains this style and does not publish even one line of dissenting opinion by the Laity. It is absolutely bland and most of its article are copy-paste from Ucan, Matters India, Vatican, etc. There is hardly any original article from the lay writer who thinks and writes differently and provokes the reader.

    Given below are opinions of Fr C.M. Paul and others on Fr Horace Rozario. This proves the very life and heart of The Herald was plucked out by Archbishop Henry D’Souza who prides himself as an educationist:

    “An extremely well read and dexterous editor, Fr. Rozario championed freedom of expression, even on church news, striving to uphold truth and objectivity,” said Salesian Father C. M. Paul who succeeded him at The Herald. “Fr. Rozario’s exit from The Herald in 1988 was neither timely
    nor pleasant,” Fr. Paul recalls.

    Fr. Rozario showed extreme courage to take on wrong government policies like the obnoxious anti-Christian ‘Freedom of Religion Bill’ introduced in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Arunachal Pradesh. He fought for the rights of the Church and persecuted Christians, for missionaries who were hounded out of the country, for freedom of worship and for the right to practise and propagate the faith. He was fearless in taking on issues such as moral values in politics and education, freedom of expression and the rights of the oppressed and marginalised and the place of laity in the Church and against abortion and consumerism.

    “Fr. Horace was an editor,” says Mr. Allen Johannes, a journalist disciple from Patna, “who always gave us a pat on the back and urged us on, telling us how great and useful was our service to the Church. no other editor has done such a thing in all my years as a Catholic journalist.”

    Writing in The Herald of Dec 23, 1988, Mr. Johannes further described Fr. Rozario as “the Lord’s Humble (read humiliated) Scribe, a true journalist, editor, friend and guide to fumbling journalists like himself who came into contact with him.”

    As one of the founder members of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) Fr. Rozario will be remembered as a lone trainer and guide of several Catholic journalists working for Catholic press in India. He was the president of ICPA from 1966 to ’69 and again 1978 to ’83. Fr. Rozario
    is well known among the Catholic journalists for his deep commitment to the written media.

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