Sun, 07 Jun, 2020

Priest’s political sermon goes viral

Propaganda evokes outrage across communities in the State, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India slams his act

15th April 2019, 03:18 Hrs



A viral video reportedly of a sermon delivered at Our Lady of Snows Church, Raia by the parish priest Fr Conceicao D’Silva evoked outrage across communities and also earned the controversial priest disapproval from the powerful body of the Church, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI).   

The Bharatiya Janata Party also filed a complaint over the video and asked the Election Commission to probe the controversial sermon in which Fr D’Silva is heard alleging that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar died due to cancer as punishment from God. He is also heard advising the congregation not to vote for the BJP for harassing the minorities.   

Theodore Mascarenhas, a bishop of Goan origin and the secretary general of CBCI, voiced strong disapproval of Fr D’Silva’s act. 

“This video going viral, if true, has unnecessarily given a handle to the enemies of the Church to attack the Church,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.   

Using a place of worship for electoral propaganda is unacceptable and is improper, he added.   

The BJP, meanwhile, said the sermon in the video, delivered by the priest inside a religious building could destabilize religious harmony in Goa.   

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, BJP general secretary Damu Naik said, the party has officially complained to the Election Commission and expects it to act.   

The complaint filed by Vishnu Naik, the general secretary of the BJP’s Panjim Mandal, also demands that the priest be booked for spreading hate and de-stabilising religious harmony.   

Naik who was present at the press conference said it is wrong on the part of the priest to have commented on the ailment of the late CM Manohar Parrikar to which he ultimately succumbed last month.   

“Sickness can hit any human being. Parrikar was also a human being. He fell ill and is now no more. It is wrong to comment on that,” Naik said.   

In the video, Fr D’Silva is heard speaking to the congregation about Vasco’s coal dust pollution controversy and accusing Parrikar of doing nothing despite protests by citizens.   

“Coal dust pollution is everywhere, in food, inside homes, in water. People held morchas but Parrikar did nothing. Therefore god gave him cancer,” Fr D’Silva is heard saying in the video which is undated.   

He (Parrikar) suffered and pancreatic cancer is the worst cancer, Fr D’Silva goes on to say further in the video, 

adding that those who cross God’s path are punished.Meanwhile, it wasn’t just the BJP that took objection to the content of the video. Prominent members of the Catholic community too expressed outrage over the video of Fr D’Silva’s sermon.   

“The Church has always taken up social issues in Goa. But the misuse of the pulpit is unacceptable,” said social activist and South Goa based lawyer Cleofato Coutinho.   

Several other prominent lay members of the Catholic church also were severely critical of the priest. While accepting that he (Fr D’Silva) was within his rights to express his personal views, even if political, doing so from the precincts of a place of worship is despicable.   

Bishop Mascarenhas, meanwhile stated: “Using a place of worship for electoral propaganda is unacceptable and is improper. While everyone retains his personal right to choose for what party he votes or speaks for, temples, Churches, Mosques or Gurudwaras cannot be used for electoral purposes.”   

Bishop Mascarenhas said, the Church both at the national level and in Goa has has made it clear that the Catholic church does not identify itself or side with any political party and only gives general guidance to people for the good of the country.   

“I repeat what we have always said, that religion should not be used in anyway to polarise or divide people and definitely votes cannot be sought in the name of religion,” he added.   

The CBCI, of which Bishop Mascarenhas is the secretary general, is the permanent association of the Catholic bishops of India and is at service of 174 dioceses in India. Goa’s Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao is the current president of the CCBI.