UPDATE : The case of Fr. P.J. Joseph S.J.


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-03-2001

Dear Friends, 

We have received a letter from Fr. Gregory Naik S. J., the Secretary of South Asia Assistancy regarding Fr. P.J. Joseph’s case. 

We are sending you this reply with a reply from us and a response from Fr. P.J. Joseph. 

For updates, other documents and the urgent appeal at http://jjpallath.ahrchk.net 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeal Desk 
Asian Human Rights Commission 


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 


P.J. Joseph’s Response to Fr. Gregory Naik S.J., the Secretary to the South Asia Assistancy. 

1. The Society of Jesus is divided into different Assitancies. South Asia Assistancy is one such and is the most numerous and dynamic. Each Assistancy is being looked after by a two or three member team: an Assistant and his secretary and in some cases an assistant to the secretary. According to the Jesuit Constitution the secretary has neither juridical power nor administrative standing. Still, he has undertaken the responsibility of responding for Fr. General, I value it and following is my response. 

2. It is not enough for Fr. General to just say that “P.J.Joseph has been legitimately dismissed from the Society of Jesus, for actions and patterns of behaviour incompatible with the Jesuit Constitutions.” He has to juridically prove it according to the Jesuit Constitution. It must be noted that in Religious Congregations the accuser and the judge are one and the same superior. Though juridical process are prescribed in their respective Religious Constitutions often, as in my case, they skip the constitutional provisions for their convenience. I challenge, therefore, Fr. General’s assertion on the basis of the same Jesuit Constitution which he swears by. 
2.1 According to the Jesuit laws the reason for dismissal must be “grave, external, imputable an juridically proven ” (MJPSJ, no.41). In my case the reason for dismissal are not juridically proven neither are they grave, external and imputable.” 
2.2 “…in the dismissal of one who does not request it, if the causes are culpable, they must moreover be juridically proven and always be manifested to the one being dismissed, giving him the full opportunity of self-defense” (MJPSJ, no.40,2) In my case the causes for dismissal were not communicated to me. The Provincial and the Consultors were going around saying that “all the reasons for the dismissal can not be told to the one who is being dismissed”. Fr.Provicnial in his letter to the “Friends” on 1st August 2000, enumerates a number of causes of dismissal which are not mentioned in his Ultimatum (show cause notice) on 27th March 2000, thereby clearly violating the Jesuit laws. 
2.3 Fr. General in his letter to me on 13th November 1999 writes, “open defiance and disobedience form a Jesuit and organizing a campaign against the decision of the Superior are unacceptable, whatever the ministry one is engaged in.” These reason were never pointed out to me by any one either before or after this letter. I have neither engaged in any campaign nor defied the order of any superior. 
2.4 In assigning the reasons for my dismissal from the Society, both Fr. General and Fr. Provincial contradict themselves on causes of dismissal which are not juridically proven. And both of them become my accuser and judge at the same time without giving any opportunity for self defense. 

3. The authorities in the Society did not follow the procedure prescribed in the Jesuit Cons titution. 
3.1 After ordaining me in 1981 and using my priestly services for nineteen years, without granting me definitive incorporation, even though it stands written in Jesuit law itself that “…no scholastic is to be promoted to the priesthood unless it is clear that he can be definitively incorporated into the Society.” (Manual for Juridical Practice of the Society of Jesus (MJPSJ) No.100/2). I was summarily dismissed for “a clear and demonstrated lack of aptitude for consecrated life in the Society of Jesus”. 
3.2 Presumably Fr. Provincial abused the Jesuit privilege by which, “Approved Scholastics and Brothers, who are judged not to be suited for the Society, can at any moment during their probation be excluded from final vows and dismissed from the Society.” (MJPSJ, No.387-24). I say abused because, even though technically I was an ‘Approved Scholastic” I was also a Jesuit priest for nineteen years, and regarding dismissal of priests Jesuit law itself requires (MJPSJ, No.43/2) that “ordinarily the procedure for the dismissal of the solemnly professed is to be observed.” 
3.3 In fact, in my dismissal Fr. Provincial not only violated the above cited requirement of Jesuit law, but also the clear directive of Fr. General himself, who wrote to Fr. Provincial in his letter dated 20th November 1999, to “be sure to follow carefully the guidelines which you will find in P.Q.no.154, treating this case (for reasons of prudence) in a manner similar to that of a Jesuit with Final Solemn Vows (P.Q.155ff)”. 
3.4 As though Fr. Provincial wanted to make a show of following the proper procedure he sent me a quasi ultimatum dated 29th March 2000, and asking for my defense “within 10 days”. Whereas the Law requires that prior to dismissal there must be two formal warnings and at least two weeks in each case for sending in the defense. 
3.5 When I presented my defense in 10 days consulting the house Rector, Fr. Provincial wrote, “I find your letter not at all satisfactory. In fact, I find it unbecoming of a religious to give such reply as you have given.” Fr. Provincial did not at all bother to explain why my reply was unsatisfactory or how it was unbecoming of a religious to give such a reply. It was as though Fr. Provincial had been ready with a reply and the order of dismissal, even when he wrote the ultimatum. For in three days time i.e. 28th of April he signed the dismissal order. 
3.6 As I have already mentioned under 3..2. & 3.3, my being a priest would have required the full procedure of the dismissal of one solemnly professed (MJPSJ, No.45), and Fr. General had explicitly instructed to follow this procedure. 
3.6.1 Further more, whereas MJPSJ No.45,3 requires that the dismissal should have been decided by secret ballot by Fr. General with his counsel “to establish whether the causes for dismissal are grave, external, imputable and juridically proven and to be careful weighing of the proofs, arguments and defenses?amp;quot; As already mentioned as regard my defense Fr. Provincial seemed to have been ready with summary judgment, “not at all satisfactory”, without any sort of “careful weighing of proofs, arguments and defenses.” 
3.6.2 Further more, whereas the Manual for Juridical Practice of the Society of Jesus requires that a decision for dismissal must be made by secret ballot by Fr. General and his Council and if a dismissal is thus decided, “Fr. General is to issue the decree of dismissal, with motives in law and in fact expressed at least in summary fashion for validity.” (MJPSJ No.45,3). In my case the order of dismissal was signed by Fr. Provincial contains the single sentence, “a clear and demonstrated lack of aptitude for consecrated life in the Society of Jesus”, in total violation of the above provision. 
3.6.3 Further more, According to MJPSJ No.45,4 “decree of dismissal does not take effect unless it has been confirmed by the Holy See to whom the decree and all the acts are to be transmitted. The decree, for validity, must indicate the right which the dismissed religious enjoys to have recourse to competent authority.” In my case the dismissal was not even communicated to the Holy See and I was told I had no recourse against the decree of dismissal. 
3.7 I may point out that all the above cited violations of the provisions of the Manual for Juridical Practices of the Society of Jesus (MJPSJ) also the violations of cc. 697-700 of the CIC. 

4. The Provincial did not follow the provisions in the Jesuit Constitution in the post dismissal process. Instead he took legal and police actions in dealing with me in blatant violation of the Jesuit laws 
4.1 The Jesuits went to the press announcing my dismissal form the Society of Jesus on 3rd May 2000. 
4.2 The Jesuit authorities filed two theft cases against me on 30th June 2000. 
4.3 I was forcefully thrown out of Christ Hall into the street without the Society having made any provision for my maintenance, thus, again violating the explicit requirement of Jesuit law itself. (MJPSJ, No.50/3). 

5. Cynically violating Fr. General’s own assertion quoted in the letter of Fr. Gregory Naik, “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?amp;quot; and against all norms of humanity and decency Fr. Provincial himself wrote a letter addressed to the “Friends”, accusing me having violated all vows, and effectively closing the door of benevolence on the part of Bishops who would consider my probational incardination or at least granting the permission to function as a priest. 
5.1 The Society’s diabolically vengeful hatred towards me came out further in a “report”, which appeared in National (Indian) Jesuit Journal JIVAN, November 2000, page 12, in which it was ‘reported?that I had been dismissed for disobedience and embezzlement, even though I had never even been served a formal order and even though prior to my dismissal there was no hint about embezzlement. 
5.2 The publisher of JIVAN did not even acknowledge my letter of protest or a Letter to the Editor by a senior Jesuit. 
5.3 Further, a notorious gutter magazine, ‘Crime?in its issue dated 1-15 January 2001, carried a passionately pro-Jesuit article violently attacking me and defaming me with data, which no source except the Provincial’s Curia could have supplied. As a matter of fact this article was only an explicitation and elaboration of Fr. Provincial’s letter on 1st August 2000 cited above. 

6. As there is a clear violation of the Jesuit Constitution by Fr. General, and there is clear case of disobedience of the Provincial in following the clear directive of Fr. General, the whole issue of my dismissal is to be re-examined by a competent authority. 

With love and prayers 

Fr.P.J.Joseph S.J. 
swamcri@satyam.net.in 1st May 2001 


AHRC’s e-mail to South Asia Assistancy on Fr. Pallath’s response to its earlier reply 

2 May 2001 
Gregory Naik, S.J. 
Secretary, South Asia Assistancy 

Dear Fr. Gregory Naik, 

The e-mail you sent to us on Fr. Pallath’s case was forwarded to Fr. Pallath and he has responded. He has sent us a copy of his response sent to you which has been made available on the web site jjpallath.ahrchk.net 

In essence, Fr. Pallath’s position is that your statement is inaccurate as Jesuit Superior in Kerala has distributed letters, provided misinformation to gutter magazine called Crime Kerala and published an article in Jesuit Magazine JIVAN smearing his good name; the whole process of his dismissal is against the spirit and rules of Society of Jesus; that after dismissal, slanders have been spread to justify the dismissal and these slanders contained matters about which he was never charged with. Besides, he was physically abused, criminal charges have been made against him and that he was inhumanely treated after 33 years of service as a Jesuit of which he has been a priest for 19 years. 

Your reply and Fr. Pallath’s response will be shared globally and already made available in the web site jjpallath.ahrchk.net 

Thank you. 

Basil Fernando 
Executive Director 
Asian Human Rights Commission 


Please contact the Urgent Appeals coordinator if you require more 
information or wish to report human rights violations. 
AHRC Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission 
Unit D, 7th Floor, Mongkok Commercial Centre, 
16 – 16B Argyle Street, Kowloon, HONGKONG 
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339 
Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367 
E-mail: ua@ahrchk.org 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-03-2001
Countries : Pakistan,