Conservatives oppose call for Church assets reforms
Conservatives in India’s Christian Churches are rallying together to oppose a call for reforms in laws that govern their assets.
The All India Catholic Union (AICU) said the demand that state laws be extended to Church properties was unacceptable because it would amount to government and political interference in the internal affairs of the Christian community. A seminar in Goa last week addressed by prominent liberal-minded Christians had said it was time India’s Churches accepted a more secular approach and brought their properties under the ambit of state laws.
All religions must be kept on the same footing in such matters, former Union minister Eduardo Faleiro told the seminar.
Faleiro’s views were endorsed by AICU president Remy Denis and former Supreme Court judge K T Thomas who pointed out that while almost all other religions had laws enacted to govern their holdings, Christian Churches continued with internal regulations. These are not sufficient to say they are governed by the law envisaged under Article 26 of the Constitution, Thomas had said.
AICU spokesperson John Dayal, who enjoys the support of a conservative faction within the hierarchy of Christian Churches, says the views of a handful of Christians in the Goa seminar have opened a Pandora’s box and triggered a wave of indignation among Christians of all denominations across India.
Dayal rejected outright any move to enact laws to govern assets of the Churches. He said there was no question of government control on the Church and community properties.
He insisted that the “Christian situation” differs radically and materially from that of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions. Church properties, whether places of worship, educational institutions or community land, were more than adequately covered under the law of the land to ensure transparency in property and financial dealings.