Plea to prevent discrimination in appointment of Bishops

Alleging discrimination faced by Dalit Christians and lack of representation for them in the Roman Catholic church, a petition was filed before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Centre and the State to prevent the discrimination.

A Division Bench of Justices M. Duraiswamy and K. Murali Shankar ordered notice to the Centre and the State. The court also ordered notice to the Apostolic Nuncio to India and the Tamil Nadu Bishops Council. The case was adjourned by six weeks.

The court was hearing a petition filed by M. Anbarasan of Srivilliputtur in Virudhunagar district. The petitioner said that more than 60% of the Catholic population in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry consists of Dalits. But the Dalit Christians faced discrimination. In India, out of the 170 Bishoprics, there were only 11 Dalit Bishops and out of the 18 Archdiocese in Tamil Nadu, only one Dalit Bishop was consecrated. Though there is a demand for equal representation, the voices were not heeded by the Catholic hierarchy.

The names of Dalit candidates were rejected. If equality was followed in the appointment of Bishops all other forms of discrimination like a divided church, segregated seats, segregated cemetary and discrimination in employment opportunities in institutions could be eradicated, the petitioner said.

He said that he had sent several representations in this regard to the authorities concerned. But they were not looked into. Therefore, he sought a direction to the Centre and the State to prevent discrimination in appointment of Bishops in the Roman Catholic church.

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