A few days ago, Archbishop of Bengaluru Peter Machado wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking the latter not to make religion the basis of citizenship in the context of the recently amended citizenship law. It was an open letter, as it was published in The Indian Express and other newspapers on 10 January. The letter or article is ridden with factual inaccuracies, suggesting either the archbishop did not study the amended law thoroughly, or he has been misled or he is misleading the people in general and Christians in particular deliberately.
In response, our columnist has written the following letter, an open one at that.
Most Rev Dr Peter Machado
Arch Bishop of Bengaluru.
I am surprised to see your press note/representation to government and also the press briefing, full of political bias, devoid of facts, contradictions and prejudices. You have addressed the issue of CAA but failed to explain how it hurts our community or anyone else in this country. Moreover, you have claimed in the said press note “the response of all the Christians of Karnataka to the citizenship amendment bill”. I am a Christian and also from Karnataka. You have not consulted or obtained my consent before making this representation on my behalf. Similarly, many Christians are unaware of this move of yours and have not consented to it. You have assumed for yourself such an authority without any due process or discussion or deliberation. Neither you are the elected representative of Christians of Karnataka. More so no Indian Christian has elected or selected you. neither any one of us has suggested your name for your appointment to the position/post you hold. It was purely by the authoritarianism of the foreign ruler you have assumed/got appointed to this position. Neither has it had anything to do with the Indian constitution or the laws framed by it. So at the outset, I express my objection to your using the term “the response of all the Christians of Karnataka ….”
I have nothing to do with BJP or any other political party for that matter. Neither am I a member of any political party. But being a social-political activist working for the overall well being of the society and the nation, I often express my opinion on political and social issues. But that is not the case with you. You are only a religious leader and not a political activist. Neither are you expected to air your opinion on political matters.
If at all you felt something bothers you or find not in the interest of community or justice for all or an act done by any government which is against the interest of our community, you could have suggested it to us, or send a word to us to look into it and we the political activists stand up against it for fighting the cause, after due discussion within community and deliberations by weighing all options after engaging all concerned in public debates, decide the future course of action. And not decide within four walls of a room in a very secretive manner as if some conspiracy is hatched. For us the community interests are of utmost concern and not narrow political gains. We have to be very very cautious before jumping the gun. Weigh and measure how its fallout affects our future. Breaking the society apart by fueling unwanted, ill-motivated dissent is an easy job but building relations and society is a laborious and time-consuming task.
In sharp contrast of today’s event, When there was real issue bothering the community thru the celebration of the tyrant Tippu sultan who is the biggest ever enemy of us the Kanara Christians, you had turned a completely blind eye. You ought to have spoken out then but you did not choose to do so in spite of you personally being descendent of Kanara Christians like many other Bishops in Karnataka and India. My obvious conclusion is your grave silence then was to shield your near and dear congress party and its government. May I conclude this as proof enough for your bias and prejudice?
We Christians have a choice to join any party or to support any party or to vote for it. We have the maturity to decide the same; do not require spoon-feeding ideas from you that to persons chosen/ appointed by foreign powers.
Archbishop, you are well trained in the art of saying something without actually saying it. And this skill of yours is fully exhibited in your so-called memorandum. I can read in between the lines and what it conveys. My reading is that you want to express solidarity with Pakistani Muslims! You may also mean to say solidarity with Indian Muslims. But it is not required or meaningless hence Indian Muslims are not at all been discriminated against in the said CCA act. So literally your heart is bleeding for the Muslims of Pakistan who has been persecuting my fellow Christians in their own country without any mercy or humanity. I can quote several such examples on the state of Christians in Pakistan and other Muslim majority countries. So you have forgotten the community interest in making this representation.
Here one thing is prominent and needs to be reiterated. Though I have said it several times earlier, it is necessary to remind it to you again here. You (here you means you, your predecessor, your colleague Bishops and their predecessors) are always found uncomfortable whenever there is non-congress governments at the centre in particular and in the states in general. My observation goes back to the date when Congress lost power for the first time after the most gruesome and horrific emergency. In the year 1977 the BJP whom you term today as the communal party was not even born, yet you found Christians in danger under Morarji Desai government! Like CAA now, then you had the excuse of one OP Tyagi’s private member bill, to incite a mass fear psychosis program, though the government of the day had clarified it is not in favour of the said bill! Moreover, till this day I could not understand what was anti-Christian in the proposed Tyagi bill. My efforts to get clarity on it were in vain despite querying with several padres over all these years. But this inciting fear psychosis program continued whenever there was non-congress government at the centre or at some states. Be it VP Singh government at the centre or Mulayam Singh government or Lalu government in states, we were made to parade, protest and take out rallies on the streets and gathering on the central maidan of Mangaluru, under some pretext of rape of nuns, beating of some padre at Dumka of then Bihar (now Jharkhand), and so on. But then it was never revealed to us by you that the biggest rapists of nuns are the padre and bishops themselves. So this anti CAA stand of yours has a background. And it is not without preparation or premeditated well conspired well thought out plan of action, to corner the popularly elected government of the day and the prime minister.
In the memorandum, dear Archbishop, you made mention of “maintaining peace and harmony” “not taking recourse violent methods” “justice equity and fairness” May I remind you how your colleague Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza incited violence on Monday the 15th September 2008. How the reluctant Christian faithful were drawn out of their houses by continuously ringing the church bells in an alarming way throughout the districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. Fear-mongering rumours spread, tyres burnt on the roads, stones pelted on public and police, thus living in the entire two districts were brought to a standstill, in the pretext of some attacks on the nuns’ monastery at Milagres of Mangaluru.
In the memorandum, dear Archbishop, you made mention of “justice equity and fairness” “betterment of all citizens without any discrimination” “express solidarity with those who have been discriminated”. All these words sound very noble but what exactly has been your practice? Have you practised what you preach? There are several bones in your own cupboard yet you dare to utter these words! The gross injustice by the clergy to the laity is glaringly evident. It includes swindling the resources of the community thru misappropriation, loot, plunder and manipulation. The list doesn’t end there. There are several cases of crimes of moral turpitude by the clergy including the bishops. Yet this audacity is shocking.
You said, “uphold the sacredness of the constitution”. The fundamental principle of our constitution is democracy equality and freedom of expression. None of these is found in the church premises. Being a member of the Christian community I had been in too many church bodies. Right from altar boy to member in the youth body CYM (catholic youth movement), member, secretary in parish pastoral council, Gurkar of the ward, member of Varado council consisting of 8 churches, member in the diocesan parish pastoral council consisting of whole diocese etc. But the most undemocratic institution I have ever seen in my life is the church and the organizations around it. Church not only refuse to practice democracy but proudly claims it is a hierarchy and not democratic. I heard during the meetings of the diocesan pastoral council at bishop’s house condemning democracy and equating it to horse-trading. Neither freedom of expression nor equality could be seen anywhere. The chosen ones like you are at a higher pedestal and we the laity are the only sheep and have to follow what has been commanded by the clergy.
Archbishop, you have added three prefixes before your own name peter Machado and also “his eminence” before naming your colleague in the memorandum letter but conveniently forgotten to add “Honorable” to the authorities you addressed to, though they are the highest constitutional authorities in India.
In the memorandum, dear Archbishop, you introduced yourself as the “President of all Karnataka united Christian forum for human rights” I am delighted to learn that you also head the “human rights” body. I have so many issues to share with you for justice and hoping to get your complete support. Few cases of loot and plunder of money and land, demolition of some houses by deceit to engulf their property, breach of trust, etc By our beloved former Bishop of Mangaluru Aloysius Paul D’Souza. Few cases of rapes by some other clergy. Loot, plunder, sexual assault, kidnapping by Bishop K A William of Mysuru. Broad daylight high handedness of Aloysius college padre on john Baptist Lewis and his family by demolishing his house after dragging him out of the house and tying down. Sexual assaults on nuns by a padre who are too scared to report it to the authorities etc.
I am also delighted by your revelation during your chat with NDTV that India is more than 5,000-year-old civilization. Only the so-called fringe elements were claiming it so far, but now you legitimized their claim.
I sincerely urge you to kindly confine yourself to religious activity and do not indulge in politics. And also to seek pardon from the people of the entire country for belittling the very parliament they elected thru the due constitutional process, which passed the said law after due debates, deliberations and discussion, taking a very long time.
The letter from Robert Rosario to Archbishop Peter Machado above has been copied to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai Vala and several media houses.