UPDATE: The Twelfth Open Letter on the Issues Regarding Fr. Pallath’s Case


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-32-2001

Dear Friends,

We would like to send you a copy of the 12th open letter sent by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to the Jesuit superior general in Rome regarding Fr. Pallath’s case.

For further information, including this letter, please visit http://jjpallath.ahrchk.net.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk

Asian Human Rights Commission


Twelfth Open Letter to Jesuit Superior

(This is the twelfth of a series of letters on the issues regarding the treatment of Fr. Pallath J. Joseph of the Kerala Province of Jesuits in India.)

August 20, 2001


An Open Letter to:

Rev. Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach

Superior General

Curia Generalize

Compagnia di Gesu

C.P. 6139

00195 Roma Prati ITALY

FAX: 39-06-686-8214


TWELFTH OPEN LETTER RE: Physical Assault, Slander through the Gutter Press, Filing of Fabricated Criminal Cases, Denial of Right to Livelihood and Other Matters Relating to Fr. Pallath J. Joseph – Request for an Inquiry


The Theme of the Twelfth Letter: Brahmin Cunning and Jesuit Spirituality: Can These Coexist?


Dear Rev. Fr. General,


In the first and second open letters to you, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) raised some concerns from a moral and human rights point of view regarding all of the episodes relating to the case of Fr. Pallath J. Joseph of which you are aware. Our third letter to you outlined in detail why we as a human rights organisation are concerned about Fr. Pallath’s case; and in the fourth letter, we questioned the manner in which the leaders of the Jesuit order have dealt with this issue. In our fifth letter to you, we raised the issue of racism in regards to the treatment of Fr. Pallath by the Jesuit order in this case. Our sixth letter to you dealt with the use of common sense to resolve Fr. Pallath’s case. In our seventh letter, we compared the cases of Belgian Jesuit Jacques Dupuis and Fr. Pallath. Our eighth letter noted the lack of justice that has transpired in dealing with Fr. Pallath’s case and questioned whether this conformed with the central place of love in Jesuit teaching and Christian theology. The danger of overemphasising obedience that is reflected in the German saying Bevel ist bevel – an Order is an order – that laid the foundation for Nazi fascism during World War II and that appears to be playing a role in Fr. Pallath’s case was highlighted in our ninth letter. In our 10th letter, we referred to your continuing silence in responding to Fr. Pallath’s case, a lack of action that we noted fosters impunity in this serious matter. Our 11th letter contained Fr. Pallath’s call for an inquiry into his dismissal and his reply to a version of the facts below by a person called “Tamara Joseph,?a version that is believed, in fact, to be authored by the Jesuits in Kerala. While it is not our intention to interfere with the affairs of your order, there are matters of public interest about which many people, including our commission, are quite concerned. They are as follows:


(1) The physical assault of Fr. Pallath J. Joseph by two members of your order, together with several other hired thugs;


(2) The throwing of the body of Fr. Pallath over the wall of the Jesuit’s premises and onto the road while he was in an unconscious or semiconscious state;


(3) Slandering Fr. Pallath by some members of your order using a gutter magazine called Crime Star;


(4) The filing of fabricated criminal complaints against Fr. Pallath with the view to have him arrested as a way to prevent him from entering a Jesuit house;


(5) The failure of the Jesuit superiors to respect an agreement entered into between Fr. Pallath and the Jesuits in Kerala through the mediation of the bishop of Calicut; and


(6) The failure to provide for the livelihood of Fr. Pallath after 33 years of service.


Brahminism is nothing except cunning. It is this priestly tradition that has used all sorts of tricks to attain every social benefit for itself and to deny everyone else their rights. It does not acknowledge truth as a virtue, and a lie is no evil either. If your trick can help you get what you want, that is all that matters. This situation is all too well known by any Indian, or South Asian for that matter. For those in the West, however, who may think that this is an exaggeration, there are good books which explain this phenomenon. We especially suggest the book by B. R. Ambedkar entitled Annihilation of Caste (see www.ahrchk.org) and the beautiful novel which exposes this ugly affair – The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.


A few leading Jesuits in Kerala involved in the episodes relating to Fr. Pallath’s case have demonstrated a common phenomena among some priests who have assimilated the dominant mode of priesthood in India, which is Brahminism. Fr. Pallath’s case is just one among many cases of priests who have had to face similar situations. They were punished and silenced. In fact, there is a common saying in Kerala that almost all priests who took a great interest in the developments of the Second Vatican Council are no more. At the time AHRC decided to support Fr. Pallath’s case, AHRC was aware of many earlier cases and some pending ones. These other cases involved not just the Jesuit order.


The problem in finding justice in these cases is very much linked to the fact that many people think that it is futile to fight a cultural tradition based on cunning. They take it for granted. Caste and caste-based habits are so deeply ingrained. The attitudes of people are formed on the basis of such strong prejudices.


While these internal attitudes are not difficult to understand, what is difficult to understand is how Jesuit superiors residing outside of Kerala refuse to inquire into matters like these when they are brought to their attention. It can be said that they have refused to carry out any inquiry since at no stage was Fr. Pallath called to be present for an inquiry into his accusations of being physically attacked by some Jesuits, the use of the gutter press and other means to slander him and a refusal to grant him the basis for his livelihood after 33 years of service. While all that is foul goes well with Brahminism, one wonders how the same goes on well with the Jesuits. There is a contradiction here. Or is there no contradiction? We believe that the Jesuit tradition arose from a tradition of humanism and that it is capable of correcting itself once it recognises its mistakes. It is a pity that Brahminism and the Jesuit tradition are publicly perceived as the same. We once again urge you to open an inquiry into these matters.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-32-2001
Countries : Pakistan,