Catholic Church criticises Kerala government


Thiruvananthapuram : The Latin Catholic church Sunday criticised the Kerala government over its "interference" in the running of minority-run self-financing educational institutions after the state university cancelled the affiliation of three engineering colleges run by Catholic churches.

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In a pastoral letter, the church said: "At no cost will we allow anyone to interfere in the rights granted to us by the constitution. In case this is done it would be resisted by us. Even the courts in the country have upheld our rights and ruled in our favour."

On Friday, the head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, criticised the Left government on the issue.

The Catholic churches are angry over Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan's statements on the running of minority-run educational institutions.

Sensing the angry mood, Vijayan last week said that his words were misinterpreted and he had not meant to rein in the church.

On Saturday, he issued another statement saying the Left government did not have an agenda to bring about a split among the churches.

"Certain forces are working with a political motive to drive a wedge between the Church and the Left Democratic Front," read the statement.

A reason for the sudden face-off between the Catholic church and the Left government is the demand by the Left that sharing of seats in minority-run self financing professional colleges should be in the 50:50 ratio, with half under the government purview. The Supreme Court has ruled that such colleges can manage 100 percent seats.

Catholics account for more than half of the 22 percent Christian population in Kerala, which has 32 million people.

Education Minister M.A. Baby, whose statements on the issue have also upset the church, has said that the government is prepared to discuss the matter with the concerned parties.

The Inter Church Council (group of all heads of Christian churches in Kerala) has decided to seek legal redress on the cancellation of affiliations of the three colleges.