Dalit Christians protest before parish churches in Pondicherry

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By Matters India Reporter

Chennai: Dalit Christians have protested before about 45 parish churches under the Catholic archdiocese of Pondicherry-Cuddalore to press for their demands for justice and equal rights for their community in the Church.

The participants of the December 20 protest submitted a memorandum to their pastors to forward to the apostolic nuncio. The memorandum, prepared by the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement (DCLM), sought the nuncio’s intervention to secure their demands.

The movement has for years made the demands to the Catholic hierarchy in India and the Vatican.

The protests were held after some 40 Dalit priests long sit-in at the archbishop’s residence in Puducherry November 29-December 4 to demand dialogue with the archbishop and the administrators.

They alleged that the archdiocese continues to deny them administrative and institutional posts and leadership of ministries.

On December 3, the DCLM leaders protested in front of the Archbishops House after the authorities locked the gate from inside and denied permission to meet the Dalit priests on sit-in.

The Dalit Christians’ memorandum demanded among others appointment of a prelate from their community to fill the vacancy in the archdiocese of Pondicherry-Cuddalore. They point out that only non-Dalit archbishops have been appointed so far even though Dalits form around 75 percent of Catholics in the archdiocese.

Only Dalit bishops should be appointed In six vacant dioceses in Tamil Nadu state. Only one among 18 Catholic dioceses has a Dalit prelate. The memorandum also pointed out that only non-Dalit were in all nine bishop appointments in the past 15 years.

The demand of the Dalit priests to appoint them in the top administrative posts and in the College of Consulters of the archdiocese should be met forthwith as these have been denied for long.

“Dalit priests should be given due representation in leadership positions of the Catholic Church as only this can put an end to the decades and centuries long caste discrimination in the Church and enable the socio-economic and educational development of Dalit Christians and their empowerment in the Church,” says a press release from the movement.

Education and employment for Dalits are serious problems in all dioceses in Tamil Nadu. Therefore, implementation of the Dalit Policies of the Tamil Nadu Bishops Council (TNBC) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India(CBCI) will solve these problem, it adds.

The protesters urged their pastors to send the copies of their memorandum also to the Propaganda Fide, Rome; President of CBCI, Delhi; president of CCBI; President of TNBC and all archbishops /bishops of Tamil Nadu.

Credit: Matters India

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