Probe against Catholic bishops in KeralaOctober 7th, 2008 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS
Kozhikode, Oct 7 (IANS) The Kerala government has asked the director general of police (DGP) to institute a high-level probe against 13 bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church following a complaint that the church was implementing religious laws that were against the constitution.The complaint was by a laity organisation called Catholic Laymen’s Association (CLA). They received a letter from the Kerala additional chief secretary informing them about the probe.
M.L. George, the CLA central executive committee secretary, told IANS that the organisation “had given a complaint to the state chief secretary to take action against the church for implementing the laws of Vatican which is against nationalism, constitution and civil rights.”
“The laws are being imposed on the laity in the name of faith,” George said.
The CLA had requested the government to institute an inquiry headed by an officer not below the rank of an Inspector General of police.
The letter from the additional chief secretary says that government has already given instruction to the state DGP for the probe.
In its complaint, the CLA said the diocesan curia in the Syro-Malabar Church were functioning as parallel courts. “We have complained against the functioning of tribunals in diocesan curia. It levies court fees and follows such procedures as in the case of ordinary courts.”
The organisation also complained that the church is evading taxes, he said, adding that it may be the first time in the country that a government was ordering a probe against bishops.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, an apex body of bishops, said the complaint has “no merit” and was in accordance with “a particular law” of the Indian constitution. “The complaint is without basis,” Stephen Alathara, KCBC spokesperson, told IANS.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the government had ordered a probe following a complaint from a Christian organisation. He, however, clarified that the probe does not mean that the government was “colluding” with the CLA to humiliate the bishops.