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My Response to Fr. Gregory Naik S.J. the Secretary to the South Asia Assistancy.

Fr. Gregory Naik S.J. 7th May 2001
Secretary, South Asia Assistancy

With reference to the communication of Fr. Gregory Naik I would like to raise the following questions:

1. How legitimately, that is to say, by which norms of Human Right, fairness or decency or by which provisions of the Canon Law or even of the Jesuit Constitution, was I kept by the Society for 35 years in probation and dismissed at the age of 53 as incapable of definitive incorporation in to the Society of Jesus?

2. Presumably the superiors will quote the Society’s privilege by which "Approved Scholastics and Brothers who are judged not to be suited to the Society can at any moment during the probation be excluded from final vows and dismissed from the Society" ( MJPSJ 387-24, B)

2a. Does the privilege legitimately empower the Society to keep a man in probation indefinitely, especially after having ordained him a priest and used him as a priest for nineteen years as in my case?

2b. Is it not rather clear that this privilege can not be resorted to in the case of a Jesuit priest considering that (i) Jesuit law has laid it down that "no scholastic is to be promoted to the priesthood unless it is clear that he can be definitively incorporated into the Society" (MJPSJ 100/2); (ii) the same Jesuit law contains that in the case of the dismissal of those "who have received sacred orders, ordinarily the method prescribed in no.45, 1&2 (the procedure to be followed in the case of the dismissal of a solemnly professed priest) is to be observed" (MJPSJ 43/2); (iii) Fr. General Kolvenbach himself had in his letter addressed to Fr. Provincial dated 20th November1999 had explicitly instructed Fr. Provincial to follow this procedure in case my dismissal was to be considered.

3. Fr. Naik states, "The reasons for his dismissal has been communicated to him in writing". As a matter of fact my dismissal notification has this one sentence, "a clear and demonstrated lack of aptitude for consecrated life in the Society of Jesus", even though Jesuit law itself requires that "in the dismissal of one who does not request it, if the causes are culpable, they must be more over be juridically proven and always be manifested to the one who is being dismissed." (MJPSJ 43/1)

4. By which norm of Human Rights or which provision of Canon Law and Jesuit laws was I physically thrown out of Christ Hall using goondas and police outside the gate providing the cover for the operation, especially (a) seeing that it stands written in Jesuit laws that, "superiors should see that equity and charity are fulfilled by giving them (the dismissed) a subsidy in so far as it needed" (MJPSJ no.50); (b) considering that I was 53 years old and 19 years a priest in the Society and dismissed; (c) Considering that back in 1982 I was required to gladly give up a Government paid legally secure teaching post in the Jesuit High School in order to accommodate the then house superior in that post.

5. Fr. Gregory Naik further writes, "You surely do not expect Jesuit superiors to discuss with the press the personal conduct of Fr. Joseph, because he has the right to have his privacy respected."

How to understand this statement in the light of (1) that Fr. Provincial John Manipadam in a circular letter addressed to "Friends" on 1st August 2000, accused me of having violated all vows; (2) that a notorious Malayalam gutter magazine, Crime Star, which specializes in anti-clerical scandal mongering, published an "investigative" report which was passionately pro-Jesuit and virulently defamatory of me and using such details as could have been supplied only by the Jesuit Provincial Curia.

I may add that months previously the Editor of Crime Star approached me and demanded fifty thousand rupees not to publish defamatory material which incidentally an agent of the lawyer of the Provincial Curia had been going around with in order to defame me and pressurize those who stood by me. The Editor of Crime Star claims that he has with him copies of eighteen letters addressed to me which were among the stolen materials from my room by Fr. Provincial both before and after my dismissal.

6. The national Jesuit magazine JIVAN in a report about my dismissal in its issue of November, 2000 gave the reasons for my dismissal as disobedience and embezzlement. As a matter of fact, I never disobeyed any formal order of the superiors, and prior to my dismissal there never was even a suggestion of embezzlement.

But it is a fact that I did challenge my ‘transfer’ (dismissal) from Samskriti ( Institute of Culture) when I was asked to hand over charge of Samskriti, which I had founded and directed for seven years and was at a critical stage of development, to a person who was a total stranger to that work, by means of raising an Objection in Conscience, a procedure explicitly provided for by the Jesuit Constitution Complementary Norms No.154. A former Provincial of Madurai Fr. Michael Jayaraj and the then Rector of Christ Hall and former Tertian director and a nationally recognized expert in Jesuit Spirituality, Fr. Joe Thayil who were requested by Fr. Provincial to examine the reasons for my conscientious objection found my reasons, "real, serious and genuine" though they refused to uphold my objection. On the basis of this finding, Fr. Provincial insisted on my handing of charge and I did so. In fact, Fr. Provincial wrote me a letter dated 20th February 2000, "I appreciate your having handed over charge as director of Samskriti to Fr. E.J.Thomas and your having come to Christ Hall". This rather well illustrates my disobedience, I suppose.

As regards the media morality of JIVAN, I may add. that the editor of JIVAN refused even to acknowledge a Letter to the Editor sent to him by a senior Jesuit and my own letter urging the publication of that letter.

7. According to Fr. Gregory Naik I was dismissed "for actions and patterns of behaviour incompatible with Jesuit Constitutions."

Perhaps, Fr. Naik is not aware that during the 19 years of my Jesuit priestly ministry, I was missioned by the superiors to (i) found and direct two completely new works namely, Samskriti (1993) and Arnos Padiri Academy (1995); (ii) be a member in the Province Formation Commission (1992-94); (iii) be a Coordinator of Social Action Ministry (suppose to be the most typical front-line Ministry of the Post General Congregation 72 (G.C.72) which formally proclaimed Social Justice work as an absolute requirement of the Society’s Mission Today) for five years (1993-98) and South Zone (Jesuit Province of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra) for three years (1994-97); (iv) to participate as the Province representative in the International Congress of the Jesuit Social Activists in Naples (1997); (v) to organize the International Seminar of the Jesuit Ecumenists in August 1999. If Fr. Naik is inclined to contest these facts, is welcome to do so.

8. Those who can and want decide why I was dismissed precisely during the Easter Season of the Year of the Great Jubilee considering that (a) Jubilee for the Bible means basically reconciliation and justice to the poor. (b) The Society of Jesus committed itself most solemnly and most loudly to the promotion of Justice (c) Social Action Ministry is recognized universally in the Society as the ministry most characteristically promoting Justice (d) I was committed during my entire Jesuit priestly ministry to the Social Action Ministry and the Society fully recognized my commitment to the Promotion of Justice.

9. As a point of information, I may add, that I have appealed against my dismissal not only before the Civil Court but also the Apostolic Signatura by my appeal letter dated 6th December 2000.

Fr. Joseph J.Pallath S.J.


In reply to:

Your E-Mail Message regarding
dismissal of Fr Joseph Pallathu
from the Society of Jesus

The Superior General of the Society of Jesus in response to a similar query from a news agency in September 2000, stated the following:

"Let me assure you that Fr Pallathu Joseph has been legitimately dismissed from the Society of Jesus, for actions and patterns of behaviour incompatible with the Jesuit Constitutions. The reasons for his dismissal have been communicated to him in writing. You surely do not expect Jesuit superiors to discuss with the press the personal conduct of Fr Joseph, because he has the right to have his privacy respected, even if he chooses to go public."

Gregory Naik, S.J.
Secretary, South Asia Assistancy
Curia Generalizia S.J.
Borgo S. Spirito 4, C.P. 6139
00193 Roma-Prati

Posted on 2001-05-01
Asian Human Rights Commission
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