PRESS RESPONSE TO FR. CONRAD ARTICLE IN THE MUMBAI MIRROR
We are disappointed in the way that Mumbai Mirror has reported the case of Fr. Conrad. Inspite of providing the newspaper with a detailed reply, they have chosen to pick a few random statements to explain the situation regarding Fr. Conrad.
It is necessary here to first understand that Fr. Conrad has been uncooperative and uncommunicative with all who have tried to reach out to him from the very beginning, and one gets the impression that he is not interested in remedying the situation.
Since Fr. Conrad has gone public, we need to make a few points clear by way of background.
The Archdiocese received allegations of serious misconduct by Fr Conrad Saldanha. An inquiry was conducted and, based on the findings of the inquiry committee, appropriate remedial measures were imposed. These remedial measures included a guided retreat and therapeutic counselling in Bangalore. Both these remedial steps were to help Fr. Conrad reintegrate himself with the Church and the community he serves. Fr. Conrad, till date, has refused to accept and undertake these remedial measures. Instead, he has appealed to Rome against the decision. Rome (i.e. the Vatican) rejected the appeal. Fr Conrad has made a second appeal to a higher competent authority. This appeal is under due process and it would not be appropriate to comment on it.
With regard to some of the points raised by Fr. Conrad in the newspaper, we wish to state that if Fr. Conrad is really serious about resolving the issues he has raised, then he could have engaged in a dialogue with the competent authorities: the past or present Rector or Administrator of the Seminary. Since Fr Conrad did not approach the competent authorities of the Seminary, it was decided at a staff meeting to delegate a staff member to approach Fr Conrad on behalf of the Seminary and ask him if he had any requirements. When the staff member spoke to Fr Conrad about this, Fr Conrad replied, "I'll see about it." Till date, Fr Conrad has not communicated his response to the staff member.
With regards to the cleaning of his room, we wish to put on record that, on numerous occasions, a person has been sent to clean Fr. Conrad’s room. Fr. Conrad refuses to open the door for the cleaning person and at times has made the person wait outside for over forty minutes. We wish to clarify that as priests we are called to serve and cleaning one’s own room is not demeaning or degrading in any way – every priest knows and is happy to take care of his personal surroundings, sometimes even over and above the basic requirements.
Fr Conrad has definitely not been confined or restricted in his movements (the fact that he has engaged a personal lawyer and has been in contact with a newspaper bears this out!). He goes out as he pleases and does not inform the telephone operator when he will return. Hence, the operators are sometimes unable to tell a caller or guest whether he is in or out.
Fr Conrad does not inform the kitchen about when he will return and hence they are unable to gauge as to when he will take his meals.
As children, we are always taught not to waste food and so eating what is left over is something that comes quite naturally to all of us. The question of Fr. Conrad only being served leftover food is untrue as all the staff members and residents gladly finish the leftovers too. Fr. Conrad, on the other hand, eats before everyone one else and so enjoys first servings, not leftovers. He is invited on all festive occasions to join the Seminary staff for meals but has, so far, chosen not to join in.
Cardinal Gracias had made more than one attempt to reach out to Fr. Saldanha. For this, he met Fr. Saldanha in person in order to engage in an amicable dialogue and to ascertain if there was another place at which Fr. Saldanha would like to reside. The latter indicated that he would think about it. It seems evident that Fr.Conrad does not wish to resolve his situation as all attempts to reach out to him have been met with silence and at every meeting he has been uncommunicative and unresponsive.
It takes two to dialogue and resolve a situation. The Catholic Church and the authorities have reached out to Fr. Conrad. He needs to reciprocate in like manner.
: August 2, 2014