New Delhi, Dec 10, 2018: Pope Francis on December 10 accepted the resignation of Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah from the pastoral care of the diocese.
Bishop Gallela was facing a criminal complaint for allegedly misappropriating diocesan funds to lead a luxurious life with his alleged wife and son.
The Pope has named Emeritus Bishop Gali Bali of Guntur as the temporary apostolic administrator of Cuddapah.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, in a statement said, “We thank Bishop Prasad Gallela for his dedicated services to the Church in Cuddapah and the Church in India, and we entrust him to the intercession of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles.”
Aggrieved Catholics in the diocese had 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.
Bishop Gallela, however, had denied the charges as baseless and aimed at tarnishing his image.
“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 had 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.”
Kumar says the bishop, whose alleged 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 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 acknowledged the existence of the family but made allegations against some other bishops in Andhra Pradesh.
“This is not true. I have not written any such letter and I informed the four bishops about it. Someone has purposefully done it. It is all false. It is a cyber crime. 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. However, he did not respond to Matters India’s request to share content of the complaint.
Bishop Gallela had 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 asserted that he had “reliable government documents” that identified the bishop as the husband of the woman and the father of the boy, who is now in a college.