Greater transparency demanded in Church assets management

June 23, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Greater transparency demanded in Church assets managementPanaji, June 23, 2012: Christians want State laws to govern Church properties.

A growing number of Catholics are demanding a law to govern Church properties and greater transparency in their management.

Christians are just 2.5 per cent of India’s population, but the Church “suffers from a case of plenty”, says Remy Denis, All India Catholic Union President.

“Church authorities control funds equivalent to the Indian Navy’s annual budget. The Church is also the second largest employer after the government,” he said.

“The Church is not a symbol of power but service, and democratic laws must apply to it equally…,” Eduardo Faleiro, Goa Non Resident Indian Commissioner, told a press conference.

The conference was called to debate the matter of bringing Church properties under state laws.

Faleiro said Church properties in Goa are governed by laws enacted during Portuguese regime but the same laws have long since been repealed in Portugal.

Almost all other religions in India have laws enacted to administer their properties, K T Thomas, former Supreme Court judge, said.

Hindu temples are governed by laws specifically enacted for each trust and their accounts are subject to judicial review. The Sikhs, one of the smallest religious groups in the country, have the Sikh Gurudwara Act. Muslim trust properties comes under the Wakf Act.

He alleged that the head of the Believers Church had recently acquired a huge plantation in Kerala for 1.2 billion rupees.

Clearing apprehensions, Thomas said all religious denominations have the right to own and acquire properties, establish and maintain religious institutions.
“But, in matters of administration of your properties you have to abide by the law,” he said.

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