Indian Bishop Resigns After Joining ‘Consecration’ of Megachurch Leader

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of an Indian bishop who participated in the “consecration” of the first bishop of a homegrown charismatic community that is independent of any church.

Announcing the resignation on 31 January, the Vatican said only that 66-year-old Bishop Isidore Fernandes of Allahabad, India, was leaving his office under the terms of Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which covers “ill health or some other grave cause.”

Father Isidore D’Souza, spokesman of the Allahabad diocese, said in an email response to questions: “Obviously, the reason is the so-called ‘consecration’” of Rajendra B. Lal. In early November, Lal became “the first bishop of Yeshu Darbar,” a megachurch that began as a prayer group in Lal’s home in 1994 and now attracts some 50,000 people each Sunday to services in an Allahabad stadium.

The Yeshu Darbar website says the community “is open to all people and it discriminates [against] no people on the basis of caste, creed and religion, and believes that God is not imprisoned in a specific religion but available to all people when they travel beyond their religious boundaries.”

Bishop Fernandes was only one of a dozen bishops and participating in the Yeshu Darbar ceremony, including clergy from Lutheran, Methodist and independent churches. According to a report from Yeshu Darbar, a member of the community read the actual prayer of consecration.

However, a video of the ceremony posted on YouTube shows Bishop Fernandes leading the recitation of the Litany of Saints, anointing Lal’s head with oil, placing a miter on his head and handing him a pastoral staff. Bishop Fernandes also is heard saying, “We induct and install you into possession of the bishopric of Yeshu Darbar with its rights and dignities and all its opportunities for service.”

The 1993 “Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism” published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity encourages Catholic bishops and faithful to pray with other Christians, especially on important occasions in their communities. However, it reiterates very strict guidelines for participating in the sacramental life of communities that are not fully united with Rome.

In addition, the directory expresses concern about “a certain tendency to doctrinal confusion” among Catholics and other Christians today, which makes it “very important in the ecumenical sphere, as in other spheres, to avoid abuses which could either contribute to or entail doctrinal indifferentism.”

At their plenary meeting in November, council members discussed a project to update the 1993 directory, expressing particular concern about ecumenical activity, involvement or actions that could create confusion about how much work still must be done to overcome the divisions between Christians.

Recent Posts

Get to know us and stay informed about the impact your support makes.

Nous constatons que votre préférence linguistique est le français.
Voudriez-vous être redirigé sur notre site de langue française?

Oui! Je veux y accéder.

Hemos notado que su idioma preferido es español. ¿Le gustaría ver la página de Asociación Católica para el Bienestar del Cercano Oriente en español?

Vee página en español