After receiving complaints from various Catholic parishes about malpractices in the sale of church-owned properties, the Archbishop of Mumbai has published a notice in the community newsletter, The Examiner, clarify ing the guidelines to be followed by a parish while selling property.
Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias published the notice in the newsletter’s July 16 issue to assure the community that sale of church property involves the consent of several authoritative bodies and is not the sole decision of the parish priest.
“People have been making allegations that it is the parish priests who sell land or misuse money obtained through it,” said Father Savio Fernandes, chancellor of the Archdiocese. “Through the notice, the Archbishop wants to make people aware that priests are bound by the guidelines that have been in place for decades.”
The notice says a parish priest wishing to sell church property must obtain consent from church finance committees at the local and archdiocesan level, and from a body of senior priests, the Archbishop and the charity commissioner.
“If there is any well-substantiated allegation of corruption in any parish, the church will look into it,” said Fernandes, adding that at times, the guidelines are not followed out of ignorance.
Since last year, several parishes have been complaining about corruption in property sale through the NGO, Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC). On June 30 and July 12, the AOCC sent letters to the Cardinal listing problems in at least 14 parishes.
“Church land is meant for the community’s benefit, and we would like more transparency in each parish,” said Greg Pereira, president of the AOCC, which appreciated the Archbishop’s decision to publish the guidelines.