News headlines

Manoj R Nair for Mumbai Mirror

  • City priests have questioned the directive that each church send 40 people from their parish to fill up the school ground where the function is to be held today

Mumbai, Jun 25: Archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Ivan Dias, will be given a warm send-off on Sunday evening at St Stanislaus School grounds in Bandra as he leaves the city to take up his new post in the Vatican.

Dias will leave on Monday evening to take up his new job as the head of Vatican's powerful missionary body, the Congregation of Evangelisation of Peoples.

However, some city priests are miffed by the request from his office to send a bus load of parishioners to the function.

"There are over a 100 parishes in Mumbai, and the capacity of the ground is 4,000 people. So we have asked for about 40 people from each parish," said father Tony Charanghat, spokesperson for the Archbishop.

One priest, who did not want to be named, said "This is like a political meeting where leaders ask party functionaries to bring truck loads of people to ensure that the rally is well attended."

But other priests said that they had no problems with the church's directives. "It's not compulsory. If people want, they can attend the function," said father Anthony D'Souza, priest of St Teresa's Church, Girgaum.

On Tuesday, the church will announce the name of the administrator who will manage the affairs of the Archdiocese before a new Archbishop is appointed by the Vatican. Dias, who by then will be one of the topmost officials in Rome, will play a significant role in the selection of his successor. 

Archbishop of Agra, Oswald Gracias, Bishop Anil Couto of Delhi and Bishop Valerian D'Souza of Pune are seen as strong contenders by the Catholic community.

Since Gracias is from Mumbai and has served as an auxiliary bishop in the city, the community sees him as the most fitting candidate. Their hunch is strengthened by the fact that the Church has lately preferred to appoint priests originating from the city for the job.

Both Dias and his predecessor, Simon Pimenta were from Mumbai.

The post of the archbishop of Bombay is one of the most important offices in the Catholic Church in India because it is the largest in the country with over five lakh members. "Mumbai sets the trend in several issues facing the church and the laity here is vociferous and takes an active role in issues," said Charanghat.


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