Saturday 5 March 2016

Vatican Embassy in India petitioned on Canon Law fraud in Vanxim

March 04, 2016
His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio,
Apostolic Nuncio,
50-C, Niti Marg,
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 
Fax: 011 – 26874286
Subject: Goa Archbishop’s Canon law frauds in Vanxim Island sale
Your Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio,

Greetings of Peace from Goa!

We write to draw your attention to a very serious issue of scandal committed by the Archbishop of Goa Felipe Neri Ferrao. He sold this beautiful island of Vanxim near Old Goa with serious violations of Canon Law and Civil Law. Archbishop and his team instead of apology and rectification of the moral and legal wrongs committed have gone about propaganda overdrive justifying the wrong doings.

We take this step of writing to you after complete deaf ear given to the people of Vanxim even during the personal meeting with the Archbishop in late 2010. This issue has been in public discourse from February 11, 2010 drawing flacks from various quarters in the State of Goa.

This island of Vanxim is located in Mandovi River near Old Goa where you have made many visits for the feasts and exposition of St.Francis Xavier on December the third during past few years. The island has an area of total 7,30,503 square meters. Church owns over 85% of this land through Santa Monica convent of Old Goa.

The island has rich tradition of Christianity as well as paddy fields of rice crops. In the decade of 1990s Goa’s then Archbishop Raul Nicolau Gonsalves secretly entered into Agreement to sale with Mahendra Gaunekar on 09/04/1999. After his retirement new Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao sold this island on February 11, 2006. On both the occasions local people in Vanxim were kept in dark.  The sold land is of Paddy fields and horticultural lands. The land was sold very cheaply at the rate of Rs.06/- per square meters for paddy fields admeasuring 3,00,275 square meters and Rs.20/- per square meters for horticultural lands close to water bodies admeasuring 1,85,275 square meters.

Mahendra Gaunkear then transferred rights over this land to a corporate body named Ozone dealing with real estate in South India for rupees thirty crores. Ozone plans to set up private villas and sell at the rate of Rs.22 crore each, 5 star hotel, helipad, marina and golf course. Archbishop’s house has promised to facilitate handing over every house of Vanxim Island in survey number 1/1 admeasuring 98,200 square meters  (where currently people are residing) to corporate body – Ozone. This is recorded in Joint development agreement of August 11, 2009 between Mahendra Gaunekar and Ozone.

This sale has caused tremendous harm to the village in terms of loss of land, corporate intimidation and disunity amongst the people. The people of Vanxim had never gone to court. It is because of Archbishop people are dragged to court and blackmailed into surrendering the rights over their land.

The sale deed has violated many provisions of canon law. Archbishop openly admits in public that this sale deed that took place in utmost secrecy is morally wrong but legally right. He is morally wrong as well as legally wrong, no notice was served to people of Vanxim neither people were informed nor taken into confidence.  This is both violation of canon law and civil law. Please visit online links for deeper understanding of this fraud here :

We came to know about the sale of our island only after 4 years after time bar for challenge of sale deed expired. Our questions to the Archbishop still remain unanswered.  They are:
“We call upon the Archbishop to make transparent documents of Vanxim sale as follows:
1.    All the letters from Tenants Association of Vanxim written in the decade of 1990s that Archbishop and his team claims to have a hand in sale of Vanxim by granting NOC to sell Vanxim. Who are the signatories of these letters?
2.    All the letters sent to Vatican from the Goa Archbishop and his team seeking permissions to sell Vanxim as per requirements of Canon 1291. And all the letters granting permissions to sell Vanxim received from Vatican.
3.    All the reports as per Canon 1292 must be made public. They are the consent reports and minutes from the financial council of the Goa Diocese and the College of Consultors and the experts that gave their advice to sell Vanxim.
4.    Names of those constituted financial council of the Goa Diocese that took decision on Vanxim, Names of those constituted College of Consultors and the names of Experts who recommended sale of Vanxim in entirety. All this needed as per Canon 1292.
5.    What is the actual total amount and where the money has gone from Vanxim sale?
6.    Documents of gift of Vanxim to Santa Monica and the obligations attached to be fulfilled. Which year Vanxim was handed over to Santa Monica Convent? Who did this? For what reason?
The Goa Archbishop Ferrao and his team have committed even more serious canonical violations.
1.    Canon 638 (3) needs permission to alienate land from the Santa Monica convent’s competent superior. Archbishop has kept this information secret.
2.    Canon 1254 (2) requires use to land for the purposes principally: “to order divine worship, to care for the decent support of the clergy and other ministers, and to exercise the works of sacred apostolate and of charity, especially towards the needy.” We understand from this that land cannot be diverted for Golf courses, 5 star hotels, gambling and other luxury commercial housing.
3.    Canon 1377 needs to be actioned against the Archbishop and those priests involved in Vanxim sale – Fr.Arlino de mello. This canon states that “a person who alienates goods without the prescribed permission is to be punished with just penalty.
4.    Canon 1389 must be activated against all those who abused ecclesiastical power to sell Vanxim island and cause harm to Vanxim. Along with Archbishop Ferrao, Archbishop emeritus Gonsalves, Fr.Arlino De mello, ex- procurator, and Fr.Victor Rodrigues, also ex-procurator and current Parish Priest of Nuvem must be punished as per this Canon law.
5.    Canon 1392 prohibits clerics from engaging in business and trade. Yet the Goa Bishop’s house has transformed into centre of business tycoons. Though Vanxim is sold at the rate of Rs.6/- and Rs.20/- per square meter transactions in black money are suspected to be astronomical figures running into crores.
St. Paul in 1 Cor 6:1-6 exhorts that Christians should not summon other members of the faith community into civil court. Goa Archbishop through then Procurator Fr.Victor Rodrigues made sure that every faithful that has paddy fields in Vanxim are dragged in the Deputy Collector’s court that is civil in nature.

Archbishop and priests at Bishop’s house has cause enormous harm to Vanxim Island due to their poor administration of temporal affairs with grave damage to the Church. Vanxim was never given to the Santa Monica to sell for luxury hotels and golf courses. People across Goa are in discussion on the demonic deeds of the Goa Archbishop selling Vanxim Island. No remedy to this harm caused can be found and hence like under canon 1741 just the way pastor can be removed, Goa Archbishop must also be removed from the office.

As the Archbishop Ferrao cannot hold to his position for the Sheppard must be leading the faithful without corruption, sound morality and without illegality. Entire Goa and beyond are aware of this menace. As per above mentioned provisos of canon law Archbishop Ferrao must step down.
We trust your office to initiate action on this matter on priority basis. Kindly convey this detailed message of deep rooted scandal that has hit the Archdiocese of Goa and cancer of corruption has taken deep roots inside the decision making bodies of Goa Archdiocese to Pontiff. Pope Francis is very vocal and we read in newspapers that he has even taken action against the members of hierarchy of the Church responsible for corruption and child abuse. Goa Archbishop Ferrao and his team also come under the category of the members of the Church hierarchy that has to be penalized and transparency installed in all the dealings.

We are worried that if immediate action against Goa Archbishop is delayed then more scandals would surface that would further bring Church into public disrepute. Already print and electronic media are full of news on the scam of Vanxim land deal.

We are aware that few other scandals of Church lands being sold to private parties are simmering in various parts of Goa. There seems to be secret, hidden, clandestine group of people forming cartel are operating in Goa to sell Church lands. Few Priests have openly criticized these practices of the Archbishop of Goa and one Priest, a fierce critic Fr.Bismarque Dias belonging to Blessed Sacrament Fathers has been found murdered four months ago (November 05, 2015) on St.Estevam Island that is located closer to Vanxim Island.

We call upon your kind intervention of the Holy See in Rome. You as an Ambassador of the Vatican in India we place our hope and trust in you to initiate appropriate action against Goa Archbishop in consultation with Pope Francis and Roman Curia and to initiate steps towards safety of the people of Vanxim so that people live without fear of loosing their land and dwelling place.

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,
Maggie Silveira
(President – Goa Unit)
Copy to: - (1) The President and Members of Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI).

                  (2) The Priests, (3) Religious (4) Laity

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