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Govt, church on collision course in Kerala

The powerful Catholic Church is on a collision course with the CPM-led government in Kerala, reports Ramesh Babu.
Hindustan Times | By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON JUL 09, 2007 02:20 AM IST

The powerful Catholic Church is on a collision course with the CPM-led government in Kerala. Pastoral letters were read out on Sunday congregation throughout the state urging the faithful to register a firm protest against the state government’s move to “take away the rights of minority educational institutions.”

“The government is trying to deny the rights guaranteed in the Constitution for minority institutions. Besides taking away the right of appointment of students and staff it is even trying to inject its ideology in students,” complained the pastoral letter of the Syro-Malabar church. Criticising the government, the letter has called upon the congregation to rise to defend the faith and protect their rights.

Reacting to the church’s position, Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan said in Palakkad that his government would not succumb to any pressure. “Before warning us they should examine the privileges they have been enjoying all these years,” he said.

Recently, an Archbishop of central Kerala had threatened to launch a “second liberation struggle” to free the church-run schools from the hands of the “authoritarian political leadership”. Hitting it out at the government, especially State Education Minister MA Baby,

Thrissur Archbishop Andrews Thazhathu said the community would go to any extent to protect its rights.

MA Baby responded by saying that the government would not pursue a confrontationist line. “We are not against any group or section. But we will not allow anyone to turn education into a business,” he said.

What has angered the church is the continued uncertainty in church-run professional colleges over seats under the management quota. Pro-Left student outfits have threatened to disrupt college admissions in colleges that violate seat consensus.

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