I have no bones in openly stating that the Catholic Church is one global institution that can be crowned the biggest hypocrite in the world.
Their hypocritical stand on sexual abuse cases and the institutional cover-ups of pastors, priests and bishops has been exposed around the world.
In 2015 in his new encyclical on environmental degradation, Laudato Si,Pope Francis not just addressing the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics but the whole world stated, “The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion.”
Pope Francis declared that the science of climate change is clear and that the Catholic Church views climate change as a moral issue that must be addressed in order to protect the Earth and everyone on it.
I suppose it in this fervour of the Pope Francis’s commitment to Climate Change that the Catholic Church in India has been fighting for the ‘Save Aarey’ campaign in Mumbai.
Such was the fervour to ‘Save the Environment’ of the Catholic Church in the Aarey Metro Depot issue that some parishes in Mumbai even went to the extent of using little children as fodder to push their agenda of ‘Save Aarey’.
Now it is known fact that the Catholic Church has been fighting for a land allotted for a cemetery (5000 sqmts) for decades. United Christian Community – a representative organisation of the Church won the case in 2017.
On August 6, 2019 an MMRDA notification proposed that reservation off the plot as cemetery be cancelled and be used for the Metro Bhavan. MMRDA
This apparently triggered off a disappointment in some powerful sections of the Church lobby in Mumbai.
This coupled with the on-going court case on ‘Tree Felling case’ and ‘Aarey as a Forest case’ at the Bombay High Court led to some Churches, Christian NGOs and its members actively coming out to fuel the #SaveAarey protest and turn it movement against Mumbai Metro Line 3 project under the guise of saving the environment and saving the lives of children.
Even the St Michael’s Church in Mahim, Mumbai got into the act of ‘Save Envrionment’ by putting up a hoarding stating “Arrey, Arrey Don’t Fell Me, We Give You Life, Said The Tree’
I do agree we should fight to save the environment but I am left a little perplexed by the stand of the Catholic Church in India; because on one hand they are fight over saving the environment at Aarey and on the other hand they have vehemently and violently opposed the Madhav Gadgil report on the Western Ghats.
The Western Ghats is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Western Ghats mountain chain has an estimated 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 325 globally endangered species.
It is currently estimated that only less than ten percent of the Ghats’ primary vegetation survives and that it has 51 critically endangered species.
Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute at Thiruvananthapuram have published a comprehensive work which has marked 7402 species of flowering plants in the region, out of which 5,588 species are indigenous, 376 are exotics naturalised and 1438 species are cultivated or planted as ornamentals.
The study has revealed that 2,253 out of the indigenous species are endemic to India, with 1,273 species exclusively confined to Western Ghats.
A report in 2012 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said that encroachment and illegal mining are threatening the Western Ghats.
The Catholic Church propagated that Gadgil Report was against farmers and that they would be evacuated if it was implemented. The propaganda was aimed at communal inflammation since the farmers who encroached the Ghats belonged to the Catholic Church.
But interestingly the Gadgil report does not recommend any exodus of farmers or deprivation off their agricultural land. On the other hand, it prohibits further encroachment of forest land by economic interest groups and lobbies who have been exploiting small scale farmers.
In Kerala the opposition was so strong and violent that due to the pressure from the Catholic Church and Christian lobby, another 10-member high-level working group headed by Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan was appointed to study the Gadgil report, review and suggest measures for implementation.
The Kasturirangan Committee submitted its report to the Ministry on April 15, 2013. It made several pro-farmer recommendations but demanded a complete ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining in Ecologically Sensitive Areas (henceforth ESA) of the Ghats. T
The key findings of the Indian Network of Climate Change Assessment (INCCA 2012) were incorporated in the report. The Catholic church again made huge protests against the Kasturirangan Committee report.
The opposition was so violent that we had Church leaders such as Bishops making statements ‘Kerala will be another Kashmir’ and ‘Jallianwala Bagh will repeated here’.
The question that I am pondering over with regards to Catholic Church is why would Gadgil report be so vehemently and violently opposed that it could not to be implemented, when all it contained were facts of the destructions of the environment and measures to correct the destruction of environment.
Second if Pope Francis has been fight for climate change, it a huge discredit and disconnect too and from the Global Catholic Church commitment to fight for saving the environment.
Thirdly, the most important question that comes to my mind is, could not the agitation for Save Aarey be bigger than the cemetery issue of the Church in the area. Could it be about more about control of people’s faith and land.
The duplicity and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church is clear to see.