Church backs St. Joseph’s hospice
Plans stir along with T.N. Bishop’s Council to bring out truth
Standing by Fr. R.V. Thomas and St. Joseph’s Hospice, from where inmates were moved out recently, the Catholic Church and the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council are planning to protest in the city on Monday.
In his message to priests, Rev. Fr. S.J. Anthonysamy, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Madras Mylapore, requested them to inform their parishes during the mass on Sunday about the protest being organised jointly with the Diocese of Chingleput near the State Guest House at Chepauk on Monday.
He requested them to encourage participation from their parishioners. The Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council is aware of the protest.
“What Fr. Thomas was doing in Paleswaram was humanitarian and there is a need for the whole truth to come out,” Rev. Fr. L. Sahayaraj, deputy secretary general of Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council said.
However, some within the Catholic community are not happy with the Church protesting in support of the priest who, according to authorities, did not hold a valid licence to run the institution.
“The Church should not take up the issue politically. There can be no misuse of authority of the Church,” contended retired IAS officer M.G. Devasahayam, convenor of the Forum for Catholic Unity. St. Joseph’s Hospice at Paleswaram is run neither by the archdiocese or a congregation, but an individual who is a priest, he pointed out.
Concurring with Mr. Devasahayam, C.X. Dominic Savio, president of the Association of Mother Theresa Social Justice Movement argued any Church or other religion could not function in violation of the law of the land. When his attention was drawn to such criticism, Fr. Anthonysamy said: “The Church has the right to protest, especially when it believes in the service of Fr. Thomas in serving the dying destitute.” Transporting a corpse with two old people and vegetables, he acknowledged, was a “big mistake.”
Retired IAS officer Louis Menezes, who has long been associated with St. Joseph’s Hospice, said though there was a mistake in transporting dead bodies, the spirit of the priest in serving the dying destitutes could not be criticised.
Fr. Thomas has been maintaining that he had applied for renewals of licence on time.