"Padre Meu"

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
14 January 2012 10:55 IST

When you study in a school  like Don Bosco, you can’t help but be influenced by priests who guide, counsel, chide and teach you and then gently set you free into the  big bad world, with the hope that all those moral lessons will hold you in good stead as you trudge along on life’s uncertain highways.

The twinkling and witty Fr. Peter Ghatti, the disciplinarian Fr. Bonny; the dear  friend Bro. Avil; the near saintly Fr. Benedict Furtado; and many others influenced us in unobtrusive, subtle and non-confrontational ways always leading by example and never hesitating to teach us to always face up to the truth, however inconvenient.

And oh yes, none of the priests I knew ever spoke or dealt with “forced conversions” or any conversions whatsoever, as the mighty Hindutva brigade have us constantly and maliciously believe.

They were simple guys leading simple lives, doing simple things to help out simple people solve their complex problems. I’ll concede that God’s way is always so simple. It is the life of an agnostic that is so exasperatingly complicated. Darn! Darn! Darn!

My only enduring grudge against the “padres” of our time was when they used to push me in to myriad sporting activities. I’m such a lazy lout. A tortoise would be ashamed to be in my company. Running, jumping cart w-heeling was something I abhorred and still do. But then who said staying fit was a simple option of life?

I do question many of the teachings of the church however specially its dogma of treating a condom as the world’s biggest sin object. In this era of AIDS and a population explosion, this remains a completely counter reproductive logic. But that the Don Bosco School has moulded me in to everything I am today is indisputable. I'm proud of it. Very proud !

So, when you have a genuine, fond affection for padres (as much as for many decent, sensible mullahs and Hindu priests who happen to be my patients). How do you react to the  news of Fr. Bismarque Dias having catapulted himself in to the hurly burly of Goan politics??

I fleetingly know Fr. Dias during my accidental activism days. And whatever little I know of him, there can be no doubt about his passion, integrity and almost insane love for this land. By any account he is a true blue, green activist prepared to confront the truth and importantly walk the talk.

And I think he believes that activism can take you only thus far. How many times can you storm the TCP office? How many more agitations? How many more editorials and columns? How many more frustrations and heart breaks?.

So he’s going for broke. Seize power to wield the stick on a system that sucks. Is that romantically idealistic? I don’t know but then you can’t sit forever under the tree for that apple to fall on your head. Can you?

Having said that, Fr. Bismarque and many other green activists who have declared their candidacy need to answer the following questions as plainly as possible, to another wise gullible electorate.

(i) If elected, by some divine fluke, who will they ally with? The much reviled Congress or the dangerous Saffron agenda? Remember they have to seize power to wield the stick.

(ii) What is their economic agenda for Goa? The reason the Vishwajeets, the Babushes  and the Churchills are near unbeatable is because they create jobs,  jobs and more jobs by hook or by crook – mostly by crook !!!

(iii) Is their political ideology aligned exclusively for the Goan? What is their position on the much maligned, migrant non Goan specially those who reside in slums who many constitutional ideologues claim are the ones tarnishing Goa’s legendary “ beauty ?”

(iv) What is their position on the smoldering medium of instruction issue?

 And specifically to Fr. Bismarque, an important question that needs to be asked. Is he in this as an independent or as a “church” candidate? Because to the  best of my knowledge, the church as an institution does not allow priests to contest an election and that diktat must be followed by every priest. Alternatively he can choose to go it alone disassociating himself from the church.

He can’t have his cake and eat it too!!

Conversely it must also be said that there are a handful of priests who do not hesitate to surreptitiously canvas for, sanctify, bless and beatify certified criminals in Goa’s electoral arena. And this is also against the church diktat.

That green activists have taken a political plunge is a welcome sign. It broadens the scope of debate in the corridors of power and any forceful articulation on the sustainable growth agenda is a desperate necessity for Goa. It must be persuasively argued at the highest  levels of governance – Constantly, Consistently, Convincingly !

To all the cynics and nay Sayers who’ll have no qualms in running down these green activist. Let’s acknowledge this one fact. “At least they had the GUTS”!!!

Now if they get sucked in to the black hole of the Congress or get suffocated by the saffron pseudo love of the BJP or they remain truly green – only time and History will tell.

Blogger's Profile

Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

Hi Oscar,

Your piece is wonderful, keep it up. Great as always!

since you have been such an inspiration for Goans, you must come forward and support the candidature of Bismarque on ground. There is tons of energy surrounding him, and there are people all over the world who are working hard to try and ensure that he wins.

And even if he doesn't, his forthright style will hold him in good stead as he goes about with his message of awakening goans across the state. This is where the real success of Bismarque will be.

Very importantly, people like you and Remo are important. All of us are important, and let us not lose this opportunity of pitchforking a truly good Goan right up there.

Looking forward to hearing from you. I am involved with the campaign too, and there are some very interesting professionals from all fields who are actively working with this ideal.

do keep in touch,

God bless you,


- Armando Gonsalves, Panjim | 26 th January 2012 22:18


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