Catholic Union denounces efforts by religious extremists to foment violence in India
The All India Catholic Union National (AICU) also called upon the national government and the government of Assam to urgently create conditions so that the 4 lakh internally displaced Bodos and Bengali speaking people could return to their homes in their villages.
The All India Catholic Union was founded in 1919, and reflects the aspirations of India’s 1.6 crore Catholic Laity active in more than 160 dioceses spread across the country. Catholics constitute about 60 per cent of the total Christian population, which is about 2.3 per cent of the national population.
In a press statement released at the end of the two day Annual General Meeting at Seva Kendra, Kolkata, Mr. Gonsalves said the AICU congratulated the national and state governments, including those of West Bengal, Andhra and Karnataka, political parties and civil society for moving quickly to stop the mischief. The AICU appealed to students and working people of the North East living in various metropolitan cities not to be misled by rumous. The nation assures them of their safety and security and calls upon them to return to their homes and institutions in Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
The AICU also called upon the national government and the government of Assam to urgently create conditions so that the 4 lakh internally displaced Bodos and Bengali speaking people could return to their homes in their villages. The government must address the root causes that led to the conflagration. The state must also ensure compensation to the kin of the dead and people who have lost their homes and their livelihood. Lessons must be learnt from this great human tragedy so that it is not repeated in Assam or elsewhere. This calls for great wisdom and good governance, as also deep understanding and toleration among the people.
The Catholic Union demanded justice to the tribal and Dalit Christians of Kandhamal in Orissa. Four years after the violence against Christians in August 2008, there were many without homes and jobs. Justice had been denied to many victims of violence. In the case of Christians murdered in the 2008 violence, the state had failed to punish most of the guilty.
The AICU also urged the Government of India to expedite the setting upon a committee on the pattern of the "Justice Sachar Prime Minister’s committee for Muslims” so as to correctly assess the needs of the community across the nation, and specifically among the Dalits, Tribals, Fisherfolk and landless peasantry. The government must also ensure justice to the Dalit Christians who have been struggling to regain their scheduled caste rights which were robbed from them in 1950 by an unconstitutional Presidential Order.
The AICU annual general meeting earlier unanimously elected Mr. Eugene Gonsalves, a management expert and well known Kolkata entrepreneur, as its National President for a two-year term. Mr. Lancy D Cunha a young businessman of Mangalore, Karnataka, was elected the National Vice President. Mr. Gonsalves succeeds well known mathematician Prof Remy Denis of Gorakhpur University who served a four year term. The AGM was attended by delegates from all states and union territories, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Past National Presidents Dr. Maria Emilia Menezes and Dr John Dayal also attended the AGM and felicitated Mr. Gonsalves and Mr. D Cunha on their unanimous elections.
Spelling out his vision for the 91 year old organization, one of the world’s largest Laity unions, Mr. Gonsalves said he would work for a “participatory church” in which the people, Priests, Nuns and the Bishops, worked together harmoniously to strengthen the spiritual and secular well being of the community, and through it of the nation. The Catholic Union would also use modern methods of communication; social media and management to reinvigorate the church and the community in the pursuit of nation building.
A major task was the nurture and training of new leaders from among the youth in the parishes and dioceses, the constituent blocks of the church in India. The AICU runs training programmes to empower the Laity. Special programmes are now being formulated for young men and women. A special focus will be on economic and political empowerment of the community, Mr. Gonsalves said.