The Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) has called for radical reforms to democratise the Catholic Church and check the amassment of wealth by a section of the clergy.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, KLCA president Anto Marcelene and leader of the women’s wing Cordial Stephen rejected the pastoral letter issued by the Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop on Sunday.
“It is only when the leadership of the Church senses a crisis in the education sector that it issues a pastoral letter. They remain inert when it comes to offering assistance to fishermen families reeling under the impact of coastal erosion and contagious diseases or to ensure reservation for the Latin community,” they said.
Mr. Marcelene said the clergy had appropriated minority rights for their own benefit. “They are only interested in amassing wealth and maintaining power and authority. The laity does not benefit by the stand adopted by the Church.
Believers have no say in the management and administration of institutions under the Church. Yet, they are expected to participate in agitations for minority rights.”
Mr. Marcelene accused the Archbishop of shedding crocodile tears for the deprived sections of the laity. “Poor fishermen families have to shell out hefty donations to get their children admitted to educational institutions under the Church. It is this craze for money that has driven the Church to set up shopping complexes. Foreign funds and revenue from commercial activities are not properly accounted.”
The association accused the Church leadership of commercialising both education and faith. Decrying the pastoral letter, Mr. Marcelene said it revealed the blind pursuit of material benefits by the clergy.
“The Church is today used more for political and material gains than for spiritual pursuit.” He said the pastoral letter was read out at Puthenthope Church under heavy police protection.
“The incident shows how much the Church leadership is alienated from the masses. A referendum will reveal the erosion of popular support for the leadership,” he said.
Mr. Marcelene alleged that the call for a second liberation struggle was triggered by the fear of being implicated in the Abhaya case, the drive against encroachments and the threat to secure jobs of a section of the clergy.
“Today, the Church needs a perestroika and glasnost for democratic reforms,” he said.
The association welcomed the proposal to constitute a Christian Board on the lines of the Devaswom Board or Wakf Board to administer institutions under the Church.
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