Thursday, January 04, 2007

Don't Sell Goa to highest bidder: Archbishop Voices People's Concern

Goa Archbishop Lambastes Politicians, Wins Their Applause

January 2, 2007

PANAJI, India (UCAN) -- Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman has castigated political leaders, but many politicians have welcomed the prelate's criticism.

Expressing concern over what he sees as the erosion of moral and ethical values in Goa, Archbishop Ferrao alleged that elected representatives are out to sell the western Indian state to "the highest bidder."

The prelate was addressing a Christmas reception attended by the state's governor, ministers, parliamentarians, members of the judiciary and top government officials.

The year 2006 "witnessed increasing revolts from ordinary people expressing disillusionment with those in power," the archbishop told his guests on Dec. 28 at the archbishop's house in the state capital of Panaji, some 1,910 kilometers southwest of New Delhi.

His hard-hitting speech attracted headlines in all local dailies the following day, with one newspaper hailing it as the "mother of all sermons."

Even political leaders agreed the archbishop made sense.

Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Surendra Furtado, whose party is a coalition partner in the government, described the prelate's speech as an "audit" on government performance.

Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred de Souza told reporters on Dec. 29 that in a democracy, the archbishop has the right to criticize the government. "He showed great courage," added the Catholic politician, who said he congratulated the prelate for speaking out what was in his heart.

Archbishop Ferrao lamented that genuine human development has been neglected in Goa, where he sees traditional values as under threat. A grave concern to the Church in Goa, he said, is the trampling of ethical and moral principles by those voted to power.

Recent people's movements in Goa indicate "an increasing disconnection" between people's aspirations and "the private plans and the pet projects of those in power," according to the Church leader. He spoke of movements linked to exploitation of people, degeneration of values and fear of exploitation of natural resources.

The archbishop urged political leaders to realize that "selfish politics" aimed only at short-lived popularity will lead to Goa's ruin in the long run.

Archbishop Ferrao questioned the need to undertake mega-projects while ignoring basic issues such as drinking water, sanitation and road safety. He termed as pitiable the conditions of most government-managed hospitals and health institutions.

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, the Goa archbishop reminded politicians to view political office "as a service" and "not as a way of guaranteeing privileges and power." He urged all those present to heed the cry of the people.

Archbishop Ferrao justified the Church's monitoring of the political sphere as part of its mission to contribute to social development.

Churchill Alemao, a member of parliament from Goa, said the archbishop's advice will serve as "an eye-opener" for those in the government.

Two days later, Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane told a convention of party workers that his government was willing to listen to the people and make necessary changes.
Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN (

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