Local Goa News

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A priest backing a political party is not surprising

PANAJI: Priests and religious must move out of the walls of their institutions and share the suffering and joy of the people and be relevant to the times, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) coordinator for Dabolim Fr Michael Fernandes , believes.
He joined the AAP last year after he was attracted to its 'swaraj' ideology. "People's participation in governance is very important. Inspite of the party's limited means, and obstacles from the Centre, it was able to implement its ideology in Delhi, and I was convinced. AAP is a huge relief to the state and the country," says the diocesan priest, who will complete 40 years of priesthood next year.
Serving as the parish priest of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church , Batim , for a little more than a decade, Fernandes is also a practising lawyer and has an office in Vasco. He takes up civil issues and a stray criminal matter when an accident case arises. Ever since he began practising, in 1990, he has chosen to represent the landless, with tenancy and mundkar cases being his forte.
When one party doesn't perform, people vote for the other in the next assembly election and get frustrated when it doesn't live up to its promises. This, he says, is the vicious cycle he fell into.
A priest supporting a political party is nothing to be surprised about, he says. "After Vatican II, the Church stated that the religious shouldn't be confined to the walls of the Church but must reach out to people. This gave a strong boost to movements in South America and in South India, too, where many priests joined people and started pursuing the issues affecting them."
As AAP coordinator for Dabolim, he says it is his job to mobilize the constituency and pinpoint a suitable candidate. When asked whether he will contest, he says it's too early to tell. "Whoever its Dabolim candidate is, AAP will give Mauvin Godinho a good fight," he asserts.
Fernandes served as assistant parish priest in Vasco for 15 years and at St Jacinto Island for 13.
"As Christians, we believe in justice. The party, too, is against corruption and believes in equitable distribution. The root cause of the malfunctioning of major political parties is corruption. AAP strikes at this root. The party is working towards making the socialistic pattern of this Constitution a reality," he says.
Fernandes has been actively supporting local issues since 1982, when riots broke out in Zuarinagar between locals and slum dwellers. He took the side of the slum dwellers, putting pressure on contractors to care for them. He has also supported the fight of the traditional fishermen against mechanized fishing in Vasco.
A priest doesn't require permission to contest an election, he says. Only once elected, permission is necessary to participate in governance.
Fernandes says the late Bismarque Dias was a friend who highlighted the dangers of hill cutting at Batim and whose protests of the Regional Plan opened his eyes.

TOI Goa News

1 comment:

  1. Hart full welcome to you sir,wish your dream of serving people of Goa will be in reality soon.