Parading with a coffin marked "Tiruchy diocese", priests from the Indian city of Tiruchirapalli have gone on a hunger strike against their local bishop.
Newindpress reports that 16 Catholic priests staged a hunger strike on Tuesday, keeping a coffin inscribed "Tiruchy diocese" in front of them, to condemn the alleged authoritarian acts of the diocesan bishop.
According to the priests, the bishop took arbitrary decisions and acted on them. They charged that the bishop was also acting on his own in the matter of the transfer of parish priests.
They accused the bishop of giving an interview to a bi-weekly which marred the reputation of the diocesan priests. Meanwhile, they have sent petitions to the Pope and his Indian Counsel, Cardinal Lopaz Quintana in Delhi.
Speaking to this website's newspaper, Father P. Thomas Paulsamy, the Vicar-General of Tiruchy Catholic Diocese, while admitting that it was "the right of any individual to send petition to the higher authority when the individual finds fault with the system", said that it was not fair to stage a hunger strike in the Bishop's House.
"They should have waited for the reply from the authority concerned," he said "The executive committee of Priests Council, which includes the Vicar-General, four other Vicars Ferona and nearly 34 priests, are scheduled to meet on August 16 and the priests could submit their appeals in that forum.
"Moreover, priests should be willing to work in urban as well as rural parishes because we are obliged to serve the common man. Such demonstrations would mar the reputation of the priests among the people," Father Paulsamy added.
When contacted, S Eronimus, layman president of Basic Christian Community of the diocese, said, "the dioceses entitles every priest to use a limited portion of the parish fund."
"When the amount exceeds the limit, it is the duty of every priest to get the consent of the Finance Committee of the Parish Council which is controlled by the laymen of the parish. When the bishop restricts luxurious expenditure priests find it difficult to accept it and hence resort to such agitations," Eronimus added.
Priests protest bishop’s oneupmanship (Newindpress, 6/8/08)