In a most fascinating and intriguing development in the Court of Joint Charity Commissioner, Pune – Shri S.M.Bukke, Pune’s Ex Bishop – Thomas Dabre as Chairman and Fr Dominic Adams, Secretary of the Poona Diocesan Corporation Pvt Ltd ( PDC ) today gave a third time undertaking that the trust won’t transfer any funds to the Account of Pope Francis in Italy !
The Sprouts legal issues reporters witnessed a keen and pitched battle of words between Senior advocate Shivraj Kadam ( appearing for Dabre and PDC ) and one of the applicants – Dominic Lobo who was arguing his case in person.
Lobo and Walter Menezes are the applicants in a 41 E Application No 12 of 23 filed before the Jt Charity Commissioner, Pune seeking refund of amount gifted to Ex Bishop Thomas Dabre in October 21 at a public function in Pune to felicitate Dabre on the occasion of his completion of 50 years of priesthood. The function whose video is available in public domain shows Dabre receiving a cheque of undisclosed amount on behalf of the Diocesan Priests vide the Poona Diocesan Corporation Pvt Ltd that owns Churches and Schools in Pune . The gift was given in the presence of Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Nuncio Leopoldo Girelli.
Lobo and Menezes have earlier in a similar 41E Application No 51 of 23 filed in the same Court of Shri Bukke been successful in forcing Dabre to return a 17 lakhs Honda City car that was gifted to him by another trust – Poona Diocesan Educational Society ( PDES ).
The present application against PDC also seeks to refund the amounts transferred by Dabre headed PDES to PDC which runs into Crores as per Lobo and Menezes claiming that Dabre had not started a single new school in his 15 year tenure as Pune Bishop.
However during the course of the hearing, the applicants Lobo and Menezes coming across new evidence through audit reports of PDC filed a Stay Application seeking ban on transfer of funds to Pope Francis through Nuncio Leopoldo Girelli who is the Pope’s ambassador to India and is Delhi based.
Dabre and PDC filed a reply denying any such transfers but unwittingly filed a Nuncio letter dated 30th March 23 which thanked Dabre for sending two amounts which added to an excess of 10 lakhs for onward transfer to Rome ! The Nunicio acknowledgement was for funds received from Pune Diocese for the year 2022.
The undertaking ( thrice in the last three successive hearings ) by Fr Dominic Adams as Secretary of the PDC has applied a self brake to any further transfer of funds to Rome by the Pune Diocese and its Bishop.
It will be most interesting to see how the final order on this most sensitive and important issue is given by Shri Bukke in June when the hearing resumes on 7th.
Sprouts legal team has learnt that this is the first case of its kind in India challenging the power of a Bishop of a Diocese to transfer funds to Pope Francis and the implications of the final order which ever way by the Pune Jt Charity Commissioner will have a far reaching impact on the Catholic Community in the entire Country that will either assert the supremacy of a Bishop or curtail his powers in respect of funding the Pope.