A group of Catholics charged the official Catholic Church in India for harboring caste discrimination as it remained silent over the kidnapping of its low-caste bishop.
According to UCA News, the South India Dalit Catholic Association released a statement last Saturday attacking the official Catholic Church in the country for keeping silent over the case of a Dalit or low-caste Bishop of Cudappa Prasad Gallela.
Officials arrested 14 individuals, including three of the diocese' upper caste priests for the kidnapping and assault of the 54-year-old bishop and his driver Vijay Kumar in April after the bishop denied them personal appointments. The attackers demanded a £50,000 ransom and took away the bishop's ATM cards, silver chain and iPhone. They released the two captives the next day after Bishop Gallela agreed to pay them £20,000.
An estimated 1,500 Catholics, including 10 priests and eight religious sisters, staged a rally in Kadapa on May 16 to protest against the Indian Catholic Church's deafening silence on the case that only reflected an existing caste prejudice even within the Church itself.
The Jesuit Father A.X.J. Bosco, also the adviser to the rally organizers "Citizens Forum for Justice," wrote an open letter addressed to Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of India's Catholic Bishops' Conference, to criticize and question the Church's hushed response.
"The sad and criminal event has been published in the media," wrote Fr. Bosco, as reported by Crux "[but] no significant response [from Church leadership] condemning the culprit priests or supporting Gallela has been in the national media."
Fr. Bosco then questioned the Church for their credibility.
"Is the Church leadership afraid of their caste communities; or do they not care about the Dalits even if they happen to be bishops?" he asked.
He also warned that the Church leadership's chosen response would not be left unnoticed by the Dalit Catholics.
"We know that there is caste discrimination in the Church, and it is a great challenge to the Christian Community in India," he said. "The question to ask is — If Jesus were here, what would he have done?"