In what is widely being seen as a message against the CPM-led Left Democratic Front government in Kerala on May Day, the powerful Catholic Church has decided to strengthen its intervention among the working class — the backbone of the communist movement in the state.
For the first time in recent years, a pastoral letter was read out in all churches after Sunday sermons expressing concern about the plight of workers and exhorting believers to help the Church empower labourers as they are the biggest victims of the global meltdown. This is widely being seen as a move to weaken the CPM’s stranglehold on the working class.
Issued by Bishop Mar Jose Perunnedam, the chairman of the Kerala Catholic Church Labour Commission (an offshoot of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference), the letter decries the growing work disruptions in the state.
The letter takes note of contemporary challenges of the global meltdown, poor distribution of the fruits of development, the government’s reneging on the welfare state concept, growth of the market culture, the influence of material values, the erosion of values among trade unions and the exploitation of labour.
The Church is planning to make a fresh foray into the State’s labour movement — still carrying the baggage of labour militancy — by tapping the existing parish-based labour self-help groups. Self-help groups and credit unions are already active in most of the parishes.