Kerala’s ruling communists want Catholic help

November 15, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kottayam, November 15, 2016: At a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the communist leader of the southern Indian state of Kerala asked the church to help support his government’s welfare programs.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made the appeal while speaking at the Nov. 12 function in the largely Christian town of Kottyam. “I don’t have any problem in getting the church to support us in these areas,” he said.

Vijayan said his government, which came to power in May, wants to improve public hospitals and schools. Lauding Christian work in these two fields, Vijayan said he wanted to make the church a partner in the government’s program.

The church can also do a lot to help the government improve housing and sanitation, Vijyan said, adding that he plans to call a meeting with senior Catholic bishops.

Bishops’ council chairman, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis expressed readiness to work with the government. However, he wanted to make sure that the improvements would help all sections of society, not just people who support the communists.

Communists and Christians used to be at loggerheads in Kerala, ever since a church-led resistance developed into an anti-communist struggle that resulted in the fall of the first democratically-elected communist government in 1957.

Christians, who form 19 percent of the state’s 33 million people, voted en masse against the communists in successive elections. But the Marxists still managed to form governments and participate in the state’s political life.

The celebration also honored people who committed outstanding acts of mercy over the previous year, according to organizer, Father Michael Vettikkatt of Kottayam Archdiocese.

He said 14 institutions, eight families, five disabled and specially-talented people, eight nuns and priests and five lay people all received awards during the function.

Pope Francis declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy open on Dec. 8, 2015 and asked all Catholics to make an extra effort to be merciful. The Jubilee will officially end on Nov. 20 when the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is closed.

– ucan

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