Children of the Church

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
23 April 2010 13:04 IST

The other day I was accosted by a colleague of mine. " So, Oscar, " he said, "which kids are ALL your perverted padris molesting today?"

My ears turned crimson red and my blood pressure jumped precipitously. A malicious, ugly provocation that left me dumbstruck. Hence, I decided to rethink the dreadful sex abuse scandal ripping through the catholic church in the U.S. and Europe.
There are three angles through which this prism can be viewed.

First :  Let's assess the  accused, confirmed predatory, perverted pedophile priests. Every crime can be condoned. But betraying the trust of a child under your care, to me, is the most horrific of crimes. It is right up there in the pantheon of capital crimes - Rape, Murder, Pediophila, Treason. By no stretch of imagination should these cockroaches ever be forgiven or forgotten and must be hunted down to the ends of the earth to be brought to justice in regular, criminal courts. No arguments.

Second :   What was the role of the church authorities ?  What is upsetting everyone and providing sufficient fodder to detractors of the Catholic church is the massive cover up of these crimes by bishops and deacons perhaps going right up to Pope Benedict himself. Many even want to prosecute them to be abettors to the crime and others believe that it is this cover up that goes on to be a dagger thrust into the very heart of the church.

I think this can be viewed more rationally.

On the part of the church authorities, the cover-up scandal is a gigantic error of judgement. Any number of statistics can be bandied about sex abuse cases in other religious orders or silly arguments equating homosexuality with paedophila. The  point of the matter remains that this small band of pedophile priests were allowed to go scot free and worse remain potential explosive devices that would blow up in the church's face at a later date which they eventually did.

But Consider  this:  If, as a head of family, I was to see my younger sibling molest the maid would I have as easily reported the matter to the cops or would I have tried to downplay the incident to save my family honour ? I have no easy answers to that question.

So, human mistakes do get made and they are not always done with malicious intent. Therefore the apology and penance appears sincere.

Third : The thousands and thousands of catholic priests and nuns who remain faceless and unacknowledged, but who carry aloft  the blazing flame of Christ's teachings in all its spectacular glory.

The reason why this ancient religion continues to inspire generations is because of the timeless wisdom and wonderful living example of its biggest superstar Jesus Christ.

So every time you encounter or a Fr. Valmiki working  tirelessly for differently abled kids you meet Christ. When you encounter Sr. Johanna tender lovingly to invalid elderly folk abandoned by their successful kids you realize the church is alive and kicking.

When you bump into Fr. Maverick building a bulwark against the Ecocide of Goa, when you see the sizzle and passion of Fr. Eremito leading his men and women to the next agitation; when Fr. Avil educates his people on mining hazards; when Fr. Felipe Neri shepherds his flock and genuinely tries to bridge the divide between religions in Goa; when you see those humble disciples of Mother Thereza cleaning out maggots from a wound with a song in their hearts and smile on their lips. You are awestruck by the throbbing energy, the enormous force of good and genuine sense of worship and service that the Catholic Church symbolizes and truly eptiomises.

Of course, even in Goa, we have a handful of our priests hobnobbing  with certified criminal politicians and many who sell off land kept under their guardianship. But I'm confident that the laity and the church hierarchy will rectify those ills in due course of line.
I admit I have my constant run ins and arguments with my priest friends on many teachings of the church, I strongly disagree with, but that they are doing a phenomenal service to the people of Goa selflessly, courageously and uncomplainingly is beyond the pale of doubt.

Guilt by association may be a criminal jurisprudence term and may be the entire Catholic Church is prepared to carry the cross of their fallen comrades who indulged in criminal acts. But to nail the entire church to the cross because of the sins of a few is to my mind excessive and thoroughly reprehensible.

The mood of the moment was best captured in my conversation with my parents the other day, both devout Catholics as opposed to their wayward son.

I asked my dad: " Papa, how does this whole Sex abuse scandal affect the credibility of the   Church"??

Every once in a decade, my sweet tempered father glares at me admonishingly. So, he glared at me and replied "The sex abuse scandal is for pseudo intellectuals like you to dissect, bisect, analyse, paralyse; criticize and downsize.

For us; our Love, dependance and trust in our God, our faith and our church remains unshakeable. Whatever the odds !!

When he's in a mood like that, I can never win an argument with my old man.


In the fortnight that went by, the dirty tricks department of the congress revived the flogging- IFFI 2004 case and keyed up the CBI once again to put Mr. Manohar Parrikar in the dock.

It does, concern us, whether our politicians are guilty or not of crimes committed ; but to use these cases as Damocles swords over opposition politicians heads, for aeons on end, only to muzzle their voices, is not the healthiest trend in a democracy.

Mr. Parrikars party ideology may be repugnant. He truly ruled Goa in an anti-democratic manner: but to most people's perceptions it is undeniable that his personal integrity is beyond reproach and he is the one Man many Congress legislations are still mortally frightened of.

I was amused however when Mr. Parrikar complained of the "mental harassment and torture" he was being subjected to by this foolish witch hunt. I still recall the similar mental harassment and torture that my friends Datta Naik, Dr. Francisco Colaco and Shridhar Kamat were subjected to, only because they dared to oppose Mr. Parrikar purely on ideological grounds.


The most extreme and frightening word for me in English is the word  ALL. Think about this; When a few misguided Muslim men set off bombs how often don't we say ALL Muslims are terrorists ?

When a few Devnagri protagonists disparage Romi Konkani, how often don't we say ALL Devnagri lovers are bigots and hate Romi Konkani ??

When a few Hindu godmen get involved in sleaze and fraud, how often don't we conclude that ALL Hindu saints are charlatans.
In life, as they say, it doesn't matter WHO  is right or wrong, We'd be better off identifying WHAT is right or wrong.

And oh yes: by the way; Are ALL politicians abominable?

The jury is out on that one.

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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Thank you Dr. Rebello. May be my comments must have reached you late since I came across this article today only. It is beautifully and fervently portrait by you of the present situation. I especially liked the last para of the article i.e the response of your Dad. You have a very good God fearing family. It made an impressing reading that I had to forward it to a very prominent priest and num, whom I know very well and hope they too will like it. I heard you are doing a commendable job. It really requires precision, courage and dedication to handle the present situation in Goa. May God be with you to guide our Goan people from the clutches of these corrupt politicians and hopefully by our prayers and dedication to our motherland Goa, our cry will definitely be heard by everyone far and wide. We will strive to bring our beloved Goa back to us successfully, which we are dreaming. VIVA GOA.

- franco, Goa | 05 th September 2010 14:04


My dear Faithful Doctor in Christ, Everything came into being through Jesus , Gods love is wholly contained in Jesus , the invisible image of the living God , the first born of all creation for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created things visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers all things have been created through him and for him.

he himself is before all things and in him all things hold together HE IS THE HEAD OF THE BODY THE CHURCH ..........and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven by making

peace through the blood of his cross. The gift of priesthood is the highest call bestowed by the Holy Trinity As , you being a doctor is Gods gift to humanity. The Holy Trinity three persons in one , Abba Fathers presence as Love, Jesus 's presence as the salvation , the reedemer continuity of the eternal sacrifice of Calavary , the Holy Spirit the third person of the Holy trinity the bearer of all these gifts to glorify priesthood and teach us the truths about everything of the kingdom of God .

It is nobodys right to condemn accuse The sad part is so many emotions are involved .In the victims and in the tempted, it is Christ who suffers . Time magazine published an indepth article on the darkness afflicting our church . What would be the opinion of a lay catholic?

Just pray , all flesh is weak to be tempted , but the gift is pure it is the one priesthood in all priest , it the holy eternal priesthood of Christ the one true giver of this beautiful mystery . Everyday if we we say Lord Jesus

we thank you and praise you for Your Holy eternal gift of priesthood in any particular priest on the rosary beads and say a rosary for any particular priest or the way of the cross , Jesus would be delighted , he loves when we

adore him silently for priest , he rejoices , I tell you he rejoices in all glory as it is his gift bestowed in all . Please strenghten our church only prayers only prayers only prayers in this moments , they have set their lifes to completely serve the lords mission, may they reap a hundredfold .

Once I met a group of Nuns in Rome , it was late night and I desperately wanted lodging for the night they offered me a room for the night and one of the nuns was appearing strained and quiet . The next day I was sitting before

the tabernacle adoring Jesus , when I remembered this Nun and sensed I am being asked to adore Lord Jesus for this Nun , I did, forgetting my intention as I was on an onward Journey and didn't know how to go about and I missed breakfast . . As I was leaving the convent , this Nun came out to me and pushed a wrapped packet of food in my hands and asked to wait for her , she helped me with her baggage and led me to the station guided me to the bus for my onward journey and asked me to pray for her as she was on the way to Romania to visit the Orphanage . So the Master worked through her, and the Holy Spirit taught me that they are for the Lords Mission , we have to pray for them . Let us all go back to our child like Faith , and pray so

that nothing can break our courage , as I have read somewhere , we are made to endure sufferings persecutions but we shall not be overcome. Another time I was adoring Jesus with all my problems and feeling helpless a nun was

cleaning the Guest room so meticulously I could see as the chapel across to the Guest room but her face was so stern , again I believe Jesus asking for adoration for this Nun I was adoring Jesus for this Nun and after 45 minutes

I turned to look at her she was so radiant and heavenly with love in her household chores , I was looking at the tabernacle with awe and then at her, many a times , that moment I understood , but I cannot explain I just

silently understood , So let us pray only pray , Mother Mary intercedes for all priest everywhere every time her prayers the most powerful rosary , So silent meek humble yet so powerful Then there was a priest I couldn't like him I felt he was weak somewhere modern practical tempted i , his weaknesses made me more closer to him out of curiosity to know how he is serving Christ , he had a vice as he was

hurt I couldn't adore Jesus for this priest , i was irritated , it was like Jesus your priesthood irritates me in this man , as I was focused on his weaknesses as a person and keeping the gift of priesthood which belongs to

Christ out . I got angry Jesus was hurt , then after many months I started the way of the cross prayer small drop compared to the great holy laity who pray so fervently for the church . One month passed the priest has given

up the vice which tormented him for years I couldn't believe it I was shocked , its the living Lord who is smiling , I repented for looking down upon the priest and made a confession. The Holy Spirit is saying Pray , Jesus is repairing the church through you and me . Do what is important for the Holy Spirit at this moment , pray Jesus is reapiring the church through you and me Christ is suffering because of the darkness afflicitng the chur. What would be the opinion = of a lay catholic ?.

Just pray and Doctor may I see Christ working in you


- Carol, Calangute | 16 th July 2010 15:10


Bevinda it is not exactly what you say to be so. I agree with Lily Gracias too. Let us put it like this. It is not necessary that if there is one black ship in the family the whole family should be black listed. The priests are after all human beings too. Quite a few must have fallen down from grace due to human nature. It is not that you are not right. But the way the whole clergy is labeled due to a few is completely wrong. In reality the priests sacrifice their lives for the flock of Christ. They give up everything and serve us selflessly. I have spent my childhood with the priests till I was 20 years old, but never did encounter such incident. I was among many priests from Don Boso (Salesians) to Diocesans to Fransalians (MSFS) etc. I have gone through hundreds of priests during my childhood. No priest ever molested me. If I am not mistaken I think when the Jews brought a prostitute to Jesus and they wanted to stone her to death, it was Lord who asked the first person without sin throw the stone at her and thereafter he forgave the woman. I would also like to ask where were all these people who claim to be molested by the priests all this while. Were they afraid till they got old to blurt out? Now suddenly boldness has come into them? Were they in the hiding? In Europe the freedom is so much, even a smallest mistake is made an issue of. And only this was kept hidden for years to come by. I don’t really see very much sense in delaying to come out with all this. There are paedophiles everywhere in Europe, Asia, America and Goa irrespective of their nationality operating more openly and causing more grevious harm than these isolated priestly incidents. What about them? No one seems to be talking about them. Thanks.

- Menino G. P. T. Fernandes (Valpoi/UK), United Kingdom of Great Britain | 27 th April 2010 22:57


Where were all these complainants till now? I am sure that kids report any matter to the parents immediately. Some of them have waited until they are old to report such cases. Very odd.........


- Lily Gracias, Panjim | 25 th April 2010 20:16


Hey Goans! Common I bet if any "one" Christian has the tongue to speak out in public if they are the victims of sex scandals out of Padris or Priest. The next day you will be excommunicated by your own community and forget the Bishop House. The Goan community is divided on partisan lines and the truth has less space in Goa and that is the reason why the same priests have sold their own flock, by selling the lands. The Goan Padris take the people for a ride in their sermons, back to the 1st century or Peter and Paul according to the Gospel of Romans. The Shepherd has sold his own flock and their ancestral lands are beyond the articles of Dr. Oscar Rebello is an another ride to the Vatican.

- Emediavoices, Goa | 25 th April 2010 17:01


That paedophiles exist is a fact. That a number of Catholic priests were paedophiles is a fact.If the Church had punished them or let the law take its course at the beginning, when the cases first came to light, instead of paying out unbelievable sums of money to buy the victims' silence over the last few years... that is truly despicable. It is a relief to hear that Pope Benedict has decreed that police complaints should be made if any priest was accused of sexual molestation. But this is too little too late. The Catholic Church will never recover from this body blow.

Human nature being what it is, people will always look askance at priests working with children.

- Bevinda Collaco, Panjim | 24 th April 2010 02:10


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