Kusum Arora Jalandhar
In the wake of the ‘Misappropriation’ of Rs 6.65 crore by Khanna police out of the total Rs 16.65 crore as claimed by Father Anthony Madassery who is running Sahodaya under diocese of Jalandhar came to light, apostolic administrator of diocese of Jalandhar Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias issued a clarification on Tuesday. Among some key facts, the statement read- ‘all are aware of the existence of the group of companies, under the name of ‘Sahodaya’.
These companies are not run by the diocese. they are ‘Partnership’ companies with some priests, who belong to our diocese, as partners with due permission.’ While an investigation by the Income Tax Officials and the Punjab Police was underway in this case, Daily Post had sent a questionnaire to apostolic administrator of diocese of Jalandhar Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias to know his viewpoint about the case.
Q. What action is being taken by Bishop House against Father Anthony now? A. Any action against anyone is taken after an inquiry shows that the person is guilty. A person is presumed innocent until proved guilty. Sahodaya which sells books to our Schools functions within the ambit of the law. The accounts are audited and income tax is paid in advance. The money was being counted in the presence of the bank officials who had come to take it for depositing in the bank. Part of the money collected from the sale had already been deposited. The rest of the money would have been taken to the bank by the bank officials had not the police come and forcibly taken it to the Police Station. There does not seem as yet anything wrong for action to be taken against Fr. Madassery.
Q. Have you marked an inquiry against Father Anthony in alleged hawala case? A. No, I have not marked any inquiry against Fr. Antony Madassery. This is hardly the time for us to do any internal inquiry. The police are in the process of making the inquiry and we should not give the impression of making any parallel inquiry. But, once the inquiry will be over, the Bishop House would conduct its own inquiry in this case and check the records of Sahodaya. Rather, we would like to cooperate entirely with the official enquiry. We want the truth to come out.
Q. As per Canon Law, Father Anthony and other three priests took special permission from Father Franco Mulakkal to do business through Sahodaya. Will you withdraw this permission in the wake of this case? A. Unless there is something illegal being carried out in Sahodaya, I do not intend to withdraw the permission. The net profits of Sahodaya were not kept by the priests for themselves but used for social and charitable work such as widow pension, scholarships for deserving students, medical aid for the sick, giving employment to unemployed youth as security guards, and so on. This is laudable service. There is no reason to withdraw the permission given by Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
Q. Have you brought this matter to the notice of Pope Francis or any report sought by him? A. I am not directly in touch with Pope Francis. I regularly send a report to the Nuncio in Delhi who is the representative of the Pope in India. In my next report, which is due to be sent soon, among other things, I will surely write about this recent incident. The report is transmitted by the Nuncio to Rome.
Q. Apart from Rs 6.65 crore, another Rs 34 lakh was also missing in hawala case, which has not been mentioned by Father Anthony. Have you sought an explanation about this missing amount from him? A. This is not at all a ‘hawala’ case, as has been made out in some press reports. This is white money and there are bills and receipts for the amount. I am not aware of another Rs 34 lakh. I would only be able to comment on it, once I have studied the matter
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