Friday, July 22, 2016

Catholic church in India slammed by critics over silence on kidnapped Dalit bishop

Lorraine Cabbalero
Christian Daily
July 22, 2016

A group of Catholics from southern India has slammed the Church's "silence" on the kidnapping and assault of a Dalit bishop by three priests from an upper-caste group.

On July 16, the South Indian Dalit Catholic Association (SIDCA) released a statement condemning the Catholic church's silence on Bishop Prasad Gallela's abduction. The minister was kidnapped and assaulted by three priests from the Cudappa Diocese on Apr. 25, UCA News reports.

When the suspects took Bishop Gallela and his driver at a village called Nagasanepalle, they reportedly beat him before blindfolding and tying him up. The kidnappers then took them to an undisclosed place and demanded around US$75,000 in ransom.

In addition, the kidnappers stole Gallela's bag, which contained some cash, three ATM cards, a silver chain with a cross, and an iPhone.

SIDCA's statement comes a month after Dalit activist Jesuit Father A.X.J. Bosco sent an open letter to the Catholic bishops' conference's president Cardinal Baselios Cleemis of Trivandrum. In the letter, the Jesuit priest highlighted the Catholic church's "significant silence" on the crimes committed by the three priests.

Meanwhile, police arrested 14 individuals in connection with Bishop Gallela's kidnapping and assault. The detained includes three of his own priests, with Fr. Raja Reddy as the main culprit because of his alleged beef with the bishop regarding a requested position that was not granted to him, Crux Now details.

According to Crux's sources, Reddy requested to be appointed as "procurator" in the diocese, a position which would have given him authority to do things in the bishop's name. However, his request was denied. Gallela also indicated to Crux that the kidnapping had something to do with an "administrative issue," but declined to elaborate.

The Hindu newspaper noted that the suspects had attempted to kidnap the Dalit bishop four times from Apr. 6 to 15, but failed to do so before the Apr. 25 incident.

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