KOCHI: Spreading apprehension within the Catholic Church, India has denied visa to two Vatican delegates who were to attend the 27th plenary assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India(CCBI) which began on February 3 in Bengaluru. Archbishop Arthur Roche and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, who were denied visa, are high-ranked officials of Vatican who enjoy Cabinet rank.
Archbishop Roche, a UK national, is secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, while Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, a Tanzanian, is the president of the Pontifical Mission Societies and adjunct secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. They were denied visa citing ‘technical reasons.’
CCBI office-bearers said ‘’shortcomings in the application, if any, could have been rectified as the application was submitted around one-and-a-half months back.’’ But they were not informed of any errors in the application. Instead they received a message saying their application was rejected,’’ said CCBI deputy secretary general Fr Stephen Alathara.
‘’These prelates were denied visa citing ‘technical reasons.’ But no reason has been pointed out in the communication conveying rejection of application. Since both archbishops are of high ranks, their application was processed by the Vatican Secretariat of State and the application was submitted in the third week of December 2014,’’ Fr Alathara said. He said the Church had apprehensions over the decision of the government.
CCBI secretary-general Bishop Varghese Chakkalakkal told ‘Express’ that the decision to deny visa to the Vatican delegates could be a policy matter of the Union Government.’’ The only information we received is the application was denied owing to technical reasons. We are yet to receive more information,’’ Bishop Chakkalakkal said.
Meanwhile, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council deputy secretary Varghese Vallikkat said it was not fair to raise allegations against the government without receiving information on what led to the decision to reject the application.