“Married” Catholic bishop faces court case for embezzlement

Aggrieved Catholics have filed a criminal complaint in a trial court in Andhra Pradesh state


By Jose Kavi

New Delhi: Catholics in a south Indian diocese want their bishop removed for allegedly misappropriating diocesan funds to lead a luxurious life with his wife and son.

Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah, however, has denied the charges as baseless and aimed at tarnishing his image.

Aggrieved Catholics have filed a criminal complaint in a trial court in Andhra Pradesh state seeking action against the 56-year-old prelate after their efforts to get justice from the Vatican failed.

“We approached the court after our efforts to settle the issue within the Church failed,” Mesa Ravi Kumar, one of the two complaints in the case, told Matters India on August 3, a day after appearing before the court. He had filed the complaint in the court in June this year.

The case came up for hearing before the court of Second Additional District Judge, Kadapa (new name of Cuddapah) at Proddatur on August 2. The prelate’s lawyer has sought more time to file a detailed reply to the charges leveled against him.

The other complainant is Byreddy Chinnappa Reddy, a 65-year-old farmer.

Kumar, a 40-year-old college lecturer and the Kadapa district president of Christian Dalit Forum, said several people, including him, had sent registered letters to the Vatican narrating Bishop Gallela’s alleged illegal activities, including “his immoral life with his wife and son.”

“A female lawyer Chandravati had written to the Vatican in November 2016 demanding the ouster of Bishop Gallela for the charges but to no avail,” Kumar bemoaned.

He also said that he and one T P Radhika had sent similar letters in May this year to the Vatican urging Pope Francis to act against the prelate to save the diocese from disintegration as many Catholics have stopped attending Mass and going for confession.

Kumar says the bishop, whose son is now 20 years old, stays only less than a week in a month in the diocese. “The rest of the time is believed to be spending with his family, as no one knows about his whereabouts during this period,” he alleged.

When contacted, a few priests in the diocese have also confirmed the bishop has a family. However, none of them was willing to come on record. They too said the bishop stays only less than a week a month at the bishop’s house and that nobody knows how he spends the rest of the time.

Bishop Gallela disowned a letter purportedly written by him to priests in his diocese. The July 16 letter bearing the bishop’s signature not only acknowledges the family but makes allegations against some other bishops in Andhra Pradesh.

“This is not true. I have not written any such letter and I informed the 4 bishops about it. Someone has purposefully done it. It is all false. It is a cybercrime. Someone has done it. It is forged signature. Please understand that and punish the culprit,” Bishop Gallela said on July 28 in an email response.

The prelate later said he had filed a police complaint in Kadapa and informed the superintendent of Police about it. He has not responded to Matters India’s request to share content of the complaint.

Bishop Gallela has also remained silent about other allegations despite asking about them repeatedly.

He was ordained a priest in 1989 and a bishop nine years later.

Kumar has also alleged that the bishop had bought properties worth several millions of rupees for his wife in big towns such as Bangalore and Visakhapatnam, believed to be with funds from overseas donations and other sources meant for public welfare.

Kumar also attached 24 documents such as Aadhar card number (12-digit unique identification number), election voter identity card, thumb impression and signature of the prelate identifying him as the husband of the woman who he claim as his wife, photographs, documents of his son among others.

Kumar asserts that he has “reliable government documents” that identify the bishop as the husband of the woman and the father of the boy, who is now in a college.

Abp Thumma Bala with the delegation
Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad is also one of the accused in the complaint. The 74-year-old archbishop was made party, as he failed to act upon their earlier complaints against Bishop Gallela, Kumar said.

Archbishop Bala said he has appointed a lawyer to deal with the case. “I am not even aware why I am made party to it,” he told Matters India on August 3.

Meanwhile, a delegation of 15 Catholic lay leaders called on the archbishop on July 30 at his residence and handed over a complaint again urging him to remove Bishop Gallela.

“Yes I got their complaint,” he said. The prelate pleaded inability to act based on it as he does not have any power to deal with such issues. “I will forward it to nunciature for appropriate action,” he added.

K Papi Reddy, a member of the delegation, said they approached the archbishop as they cannot accept a married man with a kid as their bishop.

“Our forefathers and great missionaries built up the diocese from scratch and we cannot remain idle and see it is brought to shambles,” the retired headmaster of an aided school, told Matters India.

Reddy too said they have sufficient evidences “that proved unequivocally our bishop is a married man and cheating the believers since a decade and ruining our diocese.”

He said they want the bishop removed to help “protect the sanctity of the institution of Catholic Church and its holy sacraments.”

“We are ready to die for Christ but cannot tolerate such a bishop,” he added.

Reddy also alleged that Bishop Gallela put around 14 lay people under police custody for three hours on July 27 when they went to him to ask clarification about his married identity and diverting diocesan fund.

He also accused the top Church officials in India colluding with the accused bishop and protecting him.

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16 thoughts on ““Married” Catholic bishop faces court case for embezzlement

  1. Catholic Church leadership, as usual, is still in denial mode. It does not trust the laity, therefore, they (top Catholic Church leaders) stand with the accused bishop. This seems to be more convenient to them, as many like the accused one may be in their herd and disowning one of them might opens a Pandora’s box.

  2. It loudly proclaim the licentiousness of the bishops conference of India. Don’t they have any mechanism to find out the genuinity of its members? If this is the case of bishops what would be the case of religious priests and nuns about whom laity has no informations, shifting from state to state in serious issues occurs in members of the congregation.

  3. The Catholic Church in South India has been under severe attack for many reasons these days. It is quiterrible surprising to know why all these allegations against the a clergy all on a sudden! Was the Church really trying to hide the culprits caught in different immoral activities ? Or is an act of the media to tarnish the Catholic Church in India? Only time will tell!

  4. India is in need of bishop martyers not bishops having concubines… In the history we can see when bishops enjoy the church facilities church is in danger zone… While bishops in jail suffer for Christ and its church or when they are ready for martyrdom, church burns with fire and grows with miracles

  5. Looks like this reply was not included after the previous one that is visible… re-sending:

    Again, it is NOT wrong for the laity / faithful / anyone, to seek justice and The Truth! NEVER IS! However, one must also understand that that is also “a time of play” for evil forces that is always in-waiting for such moments and many innocent folks can be (mis)used by those stronger satanic forces, as is being seen in some other realms, be it entertainment, political, social etc. as well.

    Those who seek The Truth WILL find it especially when they do so holding the powerful Hand of Truth – that of God Himself! They are NOT satanic! It is the satanic that uses such innocent seekers through mind-control and other means of lies+deception that I am against! Our Good Fight Of Faith is against those satanic forces that are using innocent folks for their evil works causing confusion, fear and doubt among the innocent…

    As always, much prayers continue for everyone… Indeed, this is a time of intense sacrifices and ardent prayer – which can surely continue to nourish and console our Holy Mother The Church, although Christ Jesus is doing much more with HIS inexplicably powerful Body+Blood every moment every day…

    With LOVE in Christ Jesus everyone 🙂
    Pari

  6. Again, it is NOT wrong for the laity / faithful / anyone, to seek justice and The Truth! NEVER IS! However, one must also understand that that is also “a time of play” for evil forces that is always in-waiting for such moments and many innocent folks can be (mis)used by those stronger satanic forces, as is being seen in some other realms, be it entertainment, political, social etc. as well.

    Those who seek The Truth WILL find it especially when they do so holding the powerful Hand of Truth – that of God Himself! They are NOT satanic! It is the satanic that uses such innocent seekers through mind-control and other means of lies+deception that I am against! Our Good Fight Of Faith is against those satanic forces that are using innocent folks for their evil works causing confusion, fear and doubt among the innocent…

    As always, much prayers continue for everyone… Indeed, this is a time of intense sacrifices and ardent prayer – which can surely continue to nourish and console our Holy Mother The Church, although Christ Jesus is doing much more with HIS inexplicably powerful Body+Blood every moment every day…

    With LOVE in Christ Jesus everyone 🙂
    Pari

  7. “Being watchful” is key Bhai-Saabs 🙂 For someone who is being snooped day in and day out, there is nothing that is one’s own – Aadhar, PAN, Bank Accounts, Passport numbers… even email IDs, telephone numbers – NOTHING is one’s own! Conversations are snooped upon, people associated in conversations are snooped over etc and this is real! Indeed, some of these methodologies are deemed internationally ‘safe’ 🙂 However, such ‘safe keeping’ instruments in the wrong hands can lead to severe crucifixion of The Truth that is unnecessary…

    Having said that, IF after everything, a priest / prelate has been found ‘sinful’ then there WILL BE a way for transformation and justice, especially from God and government or both… Yet, The Truth has to be made known, NOT persecuted upon, not ambushed upon, BUT free+FAIR, as in WITHOUT fabrication of evidences… I understand also, that there can be any number of ‘allegations’ against those working for The Church, not necessarily from those outside, but from satanic forces working from her foundation…

    By God’s loving graces again, I have been blessed to hear of situations where-in priests have had to go through jail sentences sometimes, only to be released and proved innocent later because of The Truth. At the same time, I am also aware of situations during counselling where young women have “fallen in love” n “so deeply” with priests and are so unable to contain themselves from the “love of their life”… Before God, it is The Truth that always wins – salvation as was for Mary Magdalene and NOT as was for Judas Iscariot who sadly refused the same… I have witnessed also, how evil’s terrifying mind-control where lust was used as a weapon of allurement against the consecrated was counter-crushed by Mama Mary’s powerful intervention to save her ordained sons…

    This is NOT the time for vengeance from evil forces, but a time of The Truth to reign, WHICH WILL anyways, without the support from evil crying wolf… God is as always MOST CONCERNED for The Bride of HIS Son Lord Jesus – The Church and will always ensure that She is safeguarded and protected through HIS Eternal Salvation Plan.

    With much prayers for everyone,
    and LOVE in Christ Jesus,
    Pari

  8. About 40 years ago Bp William Gomes of Poona was removed for having a mistress and love child. Five years ago Bp Isidore Fernandes of Allahabad was removed for ordaining a Protestant bishop, an act that actually attracts a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication. The Vatican talks of Zero Tolerance for erring bishops. Swift and exemplary action must be taken against such persons.Other than embezzlement this bishop should also be sued for alleged criminal breach of trust.
    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

  9. It is really shocking, the Catholic Church leaders protected the accused bishop for so long indicates that many bishops in India must be leading such kind of double standard lifeo. In stead making Archbishop party to the case, the nuciature should be made party also officials of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) for their deafening silence. Church norms seem to be only for the poor laity. CBCI and nuncitature should inform public what action it had taken with complaints against the bishop.

    Really shocking. Even somebody from Andhra Pradesh said this is a common practice that many priest lead family life. The bishop too started leading family life 10 years before he was appointed bishop. Now it also raise question mark about the process of choosing bishops as well.

  10. Head swirling story. This alleged ‘married’ Bishop was abducted on 25.04.2016 by his own priests. Many lay people stood up for the Bishop. Now he has let them down. The matter should be thoroughly investigated.

  11. When this same dalit bishop was kidnapped two years ago by alleged high caste priests, several of us supported him. In the light of these latest developments that case also needs reinvestigation .

  12. The trigger happy CBCI and AICU spokespersons are quick to blame the Government for any conspiracy theory. How have their guns now fallen silent?

  13. The bishops of Andhra, the CBCI and Nuncio all knew of the allegations but took no action and didn’t respond to any communiqués. SHAME on them. The laity is rapidly losing confidence in them.

  14. One must congratulate these dalit Christian leaders for their courage and tenacity in pursuing this case. Dr James Kottoor, editor, Church Citizens Voice, waited 24 days for a reply from the CBCI before breaking this

  15. It is good that matters India has filed this story after due diligence. On receipt of the information from responsible sources and after speaking to the complainant I had informed matters India about this case

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