Govt cannot delay dalit Christian demand: CBCI official

June 18, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Fr Cosmon Arokiaraj (left), Member Parliament Ali Anwar (centre) and Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi (right) at the farewell ceremony.

Fr Cosmon Arokiaraj (left), Member Parliament Ali Anwar (centre) and Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi (right) at the farewell ceremony.

New Delhi, June 8, 2012: The priest said that dalit Christians should not be discriminated against on the basis of religion.

The federal government cannot keep delaying the dalit Christians’ demand for reservation, says a priest who is completing his tenure as the secretary of the Indian bishops’ office for Scheduled Caste groups today.

“The government cannot endlessly postpone the issue. It has to reply one day and I am hopeful that dalit Christians would get their due,” Fr. Cosmon Arokiaraj asserted yesterday at a farewell function in New Delhi.

The National Council of Churches in India and the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) and Young Women’s Christian Association in New Delhi organized the program.

The priest said that the dalit Christians are only asking for their rights as a citizen of India. “Don’t discriminate us on the basis of religion.”

The priest said he would keep on working for the dalit Christian rights in collaboration with the the Indian bishops’ office as it “is my lifelong commitment.”

“I will support the movement through research and promote dalit theology,” he said.

Recalling his years as the secretary of the office, he said that during his tenure they were able to put forward several recommendations before the Ranganath Commission and the report was “in our favour.”

He said that he got support from all Churches during his time.

“We started working with the laity on the issue and also with Muslim leaders. We were able to increase the network and spread awareness about the issue,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Mary John, NCDC chairperson, lamented lack of collaboration between the laity and clergy on the issue.

Alwyn Masih, general secretary of the Church of North India, said “as dalit Christians we should ask for our rights from the Church.”

Archbishop Vincent Concessao, who was also present on the occasion, described Fr. Arokiaraj as a symbol of commitment, determination and hope.

Fr. Devasagayaraj of Pondicherry diocese would take over as the new secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s office for the Scheduled Castes.

– ucan

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