The Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media Monday regretted the objectionable statements made by parish priest of Raia in a sermon against the Bharatiya Janata Party and party leaders.
In a statement issued, the Church body has said the parish priest has been cautioned to refrain from making such statements.
“It is a matter of regret that, nonetheless, there are a few instances when this particular advice is not followed. The concerned priest in this case has been cautioned to refrain from making such statements. We sincerely regret any pain or hurt that these statements may have caused,” the statement reads.
The statement further says that before elections to the Assembly or Parliament, the Church in Goa issues guidelines to its priests to encourage their parishioners to fulfil their duty to vote for the candidate or party that will better safeguard the interests of our state and nation and are also advised not to mention in public any names of candidates or of political parties.
Meanwhile, in a reaction to the controversial sermon delivered by Catholic priest in Raia, Fr Theodore Mascarenhas, an auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi and secretary general of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), said the voice of any individual priest is not a voice or action of the Church and that such instances needed to be dealt sternly.
He said the parish priest of Raia violated the set guidelines issued to the priests to encourage their parishioners on voting and gave enemies, who are waiting to polarise and divide votes by using such videos, an exclusive opportunity.
Expressing his displeasure over the statement of Fr Conceicao D’Silva urging his parishioners not to vote for BJP and that former chief minister Manohar Parrikar died due to cancer as a wrath of God for encouraging pollution and trying to cancel government holidays of the Catholics, Fr Theodore Mascarenhas said such a statement is unacceptable which is against the set guidelines of the Church. He said if such an incident had happened in his jurisdiction, he would have dealt with it sternly.
He said the statement of Fr D’Silva has violated the guidelines issued to the priests to encourage their parishioners to fulfil their duty to vote for candidate or party without mentioning their names.
“We have a long past of staying together and a long future and we have worked with every government and dealt with everybody but using a place of worship for electoral propaganda is unacceptable and is improper,” he said.
“Each one is free to have his personal opinion but we have to be careful when we communicate with each other because our social activity and love for the people and for the state is likely to turn into sentiments, sometimes into emotions and at times into perception.
But the statement of one priest can’t turn as the voice or action of the Church and similarly if a priest of Hindus or Sikhs does something in the same manner, I can’t put the whole community into question for his action,” the Bishop said.
“We can’t use Church or Gurudwara to propagate messages against any political party or against any candidate. The Church both, at the national level and in Goa 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,” he said. “I wouldn’t go into the content of the video, which has gone viral and if some of the content is true then it is unchallengeable,” he added.
According to Fr Theodore, the problem is social media because every small and big incident goes into the social media, be it fake or true, and it is not like in the past when if it happened then it would remain in a corner. He also requested the people, who spread news on social media, to give a balanced opinion without disturbing peace in the society or dividing or polarising votes.