By Father Nithiya Sagayam
The problem is not just having a local bishop in Punjab but to ensure empowerment of Punjabi Catholics in social, economic and structural levels.
The empowerment could come through education, vocation promotion, higher studies, and employment. Let us speak of the Punjabi Catholics and their empowerment as their diocese that completes 47 years.
Who are the local people of this diocese?
How many of them are principals/correspondents of Catholic schools? How many boys and girls were recruited to seminaries and religious congregations?
How many have become minor seminary rectors or social work directors? Or vicar general or city-parish priests all these years?
How many local priests have been sent for higher studies abroad?
Such questions should be asked to every diocese in the country. I am not against outsiders stepping inside a diocese. He or she should, if needed. But when an outsider steps into leadership, he or she should decide to quit the place by giving the lead to the local ones at the earliest through a systematic focus on their empowerment.
Or else they just enjoy the power and authority on the locals and carry it forward to similar outsiders.
And in today’s context, the power and authority also go with money with accompanying scandals. There are certainly wonderful priests, nuns and bishops from the South in northern India. But they should always remember that they are just missionaries and pilgrims who are detached from world ambitions and material possessions.
They have not come to establish their socioeconomic kingdom! When the people of the North India are capable of managing their own governments with ministries and parliamentarians, why can’t they become capable leaders in the Church?
It is time that the missionary leaders from the South trusted in God and systematically worked out for the holistic empowerment and leadership of local people and quit their positions handing them over to the locals.
This begins by focusing on the welfare of their children and youth. They are often kept away from the mainstream.
(Father Nithiya Sagayam is a Capuchin priest and a retreat preacher.)