Bishop denies withdrawal of support to anti-nuclear protests

November 14, 2011 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

anti nuclear protestTamil Nadu, November 11, 2011: A Catholic prelate has denied media reports that he had instructed his diocese officials to stay away from the ongoing protest against a nuclear plant.

“I am morally and spiritually with the protestors and support their cause,” Bishop Yvon Ambroise of Tuticorin told today.

He was reacting to reports in two major newspapers the previous day that said Tuticorin diocese had asked its priests and nuns to stay away from those protesting the newly built Koodankulam nuclear power plant.

The dailies also claimed that anti-nuclear activists have relented in their opposition after discussions with government-appointed nuclear scientists.

People in three southern districts of Tamil Nadu state started the protest on September 11.

The US$3 billion plant, built with Russian technology, was scheduled to start its operation in December. It was expected to produce 2000 MW of electricity.

The protestors, thousands of Catholic fishermen included, have organized hunger strikes to force government scrap the project, which they say would endanger their lives.

Bishop Ambroise said he had asked his priests and nuns to support the stir. “But I have also instructed my people to allow the lay people to take leadership.”

The prelate also dismissed the allegation that the Church leaders have hijacked the struggle.

He said an NGO, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), leads the stir.

“How can the Church leadership be quiet when the nuclear plant is only 500 metres away from a Catholic fishing village?” the bishop asked.

The prelate also issued a press statement to explain that the Church’s social teaching and the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council resolution guided his support to “my people, who are under great fear and anxiety.”

Meanwhile, Jones Thomas of Coastal Protection Front, one of protesting groups, said the stir will continue. A section of media is pandering to the government’s plan to create division among the protestors, he alleged.

– ucan

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