13 Book Review

posted Jan 4, 2019, 8:45 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 4, 2019, 8:45 AM ]

“Don’t mess with politics, Father!”

Fadderbaba - a novel by Myron Pereira (Mumbai: Amaya Publishers, 2018. Pages 366. Price Rs 399) Available at Title Waves bookstore, St Pauls, Bandra and Amaya Publishers, Mahim; Call 982 024 9257

The Jesuits have been known for their work with the rural poor, the oppressed and the marginalised, and this has often brought them into conflict with the establishment, both the Church and the government. Out of this familiar pattern of Jesuit mission, often so tragic for those involved, the author – a Jesuit himself – has woven the very credible story of young “Father Dick”, his bold initiatives with the Warli tribals in north Maharashtra, and the hostility it provokes.

Predictably, Fr Dick ends up being shot at from both sides.

This, in brief, is the plot of the novel Fadderbaba (the title describes the common way in which Catholic priests are addressed in rural Maharashtra).

Today, the reputation of the Catholic clergy has taken a beating. This is largely due to the paedophile scandals of the last decades. There is a sense of shame and disgust, and few are motivated to become priests. We tend to forget that earlier, the tensions arose from priests’ involvement in politics, something which threw many of them into jail, and had others murdered. Think of Oscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the Jesuits of El Salvador.