Nothing political in the Pastoral Letters; they express the concerns of the common man: Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas
IC: What is your opinion on Archbishop Filipe's Pastoral letter?
Archbishop Filipe Neri is a gentle peace loving man. At the same time, he is a great intellectual and a very pragmatic person. The Pastoral Letter reflects his command not only over Biblical teaching but also his profound love for the poor. I think this Pastoral Letter in a certain sense embodies the age old teachings of the Church. Perhaps the key to understand the whole letter lies in Chapter II; # 2 where the gentle Bishop says “Jesus taught us to safeguard justice, to put an end to discrimination and to use authority and power for the good of the poor and thus to usher the Kingdom of God.” Therefore, for me, the Pastoral Letter is a wonderfully rich document, which will, I am sure, inspire the Catholic community of Goa for a more committed response to structural and material poverty as well as a further impulse to charity.
IC: Do you think that the 'reactions' are justified?
In my opinion, the reactions were too quick and exaggerated. It appeared as if some channels had been waiting to blow up some issue of the Church and debate about it. They found fodder in the rather innocuous and innocent Pastoral Letters of Archbishops Anil Couto and Filipe Neri Ferrão. It is very sad that some people have reacted accusing the Church of interfering in politics. The Church is not only a religious organisation; but it is also a socio-cultural organisation. Hence, it has every right and freedom to express itself through its individual Bishops or the Body as a whole, on matters that affect the citizens.
There is nothing political in the Pastoral Letters. They express the concerns of the common man. The best thing that has happened is that a debate has opened up regarding the concerns expressed by the two Archbishops.
If expressing concerns and fears is considered interfering in politics by Religious Leaders, then the vision of democracy and social justice is very limited and incomplete.
In connection with the way controversies were created or fuelled, I am a little disturbed with the turn our electronic media has taken with anchors shouting out decent speakers, and panellists drowning each other with noise. Some of these journalists have indeed succeeded in bringing television back to its original definition of the “idiot box”. Many debates on selected parts from the letters of the two Archbishops were conducted by anchors who seemed to have a set agenda and shouted out those who did not comply with it. A sane debate would have clarified many issues.(Published on 11th June 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 24)