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Indian state drafts priests into welfare work

Andhra Pradesh gives plaudits to Church's ministry to children

Indian state drafts priests into welfare work
Father Thomas Koshy with some of the children he works for
C. J. Varghese, Kurnool

February 7, 2011

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The Andhra Pradesh government has appointed Catholic priests as heads of child welfare committees in two districts. Child welfare activists in the southern Indian state view the appointments as the government’s recognition of the Church’s work among destitute children. While Father Thomas Koshy of Navajeevan Bala Bhavan (new life children’s home) will head the committee in Krishna district, Father Thomas Joseph Pallithanam of People’s Action for Rural Awakening will look after the one in East Godavari district. Their term is for three years. The director of the state’s Juvenile Welfare, Correctional Services and Welfare of Street Children wrote to the priests on Feb. 5 to protect the rights of the children. Father Koshy, who has worked among street children in Vijayawada for the past 26 years, has won an award from the Indian president. He said he would make Krishna district committee “a model” for the regular hearing of cases regarding children. Father Pallithanam, who has been working for the rights of dalit people for the past 24 years, said he would make his district child friendly. He said the child welfare committee in his district was “dead and dysfunctional” and that he had to complain to the court against the committee’s sluggishness. B. Chinaiah, a member of the Juvenile Justice Board of Kurnool district said the appointments indicate the southern Indian state’s “special recognition” of the Church’s work among destitute children. Catholics form less than 1 percent of the state’s 76 million people. Related reports Indian state honors Catholic relief efforts ‘Diocesan priests should stress prophetic role’ IA13171.1640
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