Parishioners unite to oust priest

St. Michael's Church Mahim, Mumbai.

He is accused of corruption, not performing his pastoral duties
By Linah Baliga
MUMBAI, 23 April 2011 – The simmering cauldron at the seemingly peaceful St Michael’s Church, Mahim, could soon boil over with angry parishioners coming together to oust controversial parish priest Fr Hugh Fonseca. He has been accused of corruption, being autocratic, and of mismanaging the church.
On Sunday, hundreds of parishioners shouted slogans against Fr Hugh outside the church, in the presence of Archbishop of Bombay Oswald Cardinal Gracias.
The controversy erupted in September last year, when the archbishop, reacting to several complaints against Fr Hugh, sent him two letters dated September 8 and 19, demanding an explanation. A furious Fr Hugh responded by threatening to file a defamation suit.
Fr Hugh said, “After 42 years of priesthood, i am being sent letters by the cardinal to tarnish my image. I have consulted my lawyer. If there is a change of heart on their part, I will cancel it.”
Agnelo Braganza, parish council member, said, “when I took up some issues with him, he threatened to put me behind bars. He is using his 42 years of priesthood as a badge of honour and treating parishioners badly. He defies his superiors and doesn’t consult fellow priests.”
A priest from the church said, “He was incapacitated after an accident last year, and has not been performing his religious duties. He is an autocrat and doesn’t believe in teamwork.”
When Fr Hugh was asked about the discontent within his team, he said, “I keep people in line. The five priests in my team have brainwashed the parishioners to get me out. I am the sole trustee here who can take any decisions. I am the captain and boss here.”
Parishioners have alleged that he has mismanaged church property in Marydell and Marie Nagar, Mahim, where flats were sold for a song. “As the sole trustee of this church, all properties come under me. I can give it to anybody,” he said.
Rubbishing allegations of locking two sisters of Ashadeep Community Centre, Mahim, out of their homes, he said, “the locks were changed over a misunderstanding. The sisters continue to live there.”
Cardinal Gracias said, “after giving a peaceful hearing to all, i have to consult my team of bishops and bring peace back to the church.” Courtesy…



Filed under Fr Hugh Fonseca, St Michael's Church Mahim

2 responses to “Parishioners unite to oust priest

  1. Das Gupta

    This is but the tip of an ice-burg as for the corruption with in the CHURCH at all levels.A lot of tolerance by the laity as well as the clergy is exercised in various parts of the world.
    I wish the Church leaders at various levels ,at least try to implement the Spirit of Vatican II Document. I am afraid, if the Culprits are not brought to accountability,the smouldering fire beneath the Ashes…..will resurface sooner or later and lead to an open rebellion(Which will have a lot of consequences within the Church) not only by the laity..but even by the Clergy themselves.

  2. Immaculate Conception Church Borivali (W) is another hot spot where the outgoing Parish priest Fr. Franklyn Mathaias has left a lot of serious questions unanswered. Surely bishop house in expected to be looking into things. St. Blaise parishioners need to be vigilante as he has been installed as the new parish priest. All Parish Priests who become self appointed trustees at their respective parish feel they are not accountable to their parishioners and have the right to make their own decisions come what may. Our religious are most corrupt and it is justified to state that they are whitened sepulcher. I must say that since the earliest of times the Church has played a major part in World Politics . Parishioners have to come together to stop the rot.

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