Latin Catholics express their frustration
'Disillusioned' gathering demands greater representation ahead of regional poll
Federal minister Kapil Sibal addressing the Latin Catholics meet in Kerala
March 1, 2011
More than 100,000 people have attended a gathering of the Latin Catholic Church in Kerala in what commentators say was a show of force ahead of legislative assembly elections in April.
The gathering on February 27 was organized by the Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC) and held in the state’s commercial hub in Kochi.
“We have come here to express our frustration at the [federal and state] governments,” council president Archbishop Maria Calist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum told the gathering.
The prelate lamented that both governments had failed to listen to a number of demands the Latin community made last year.
Only four demands directly benefited the community and others were for the poor irrespective of their religion or caste, the prelate said.
He called for more Latin Catholics to be recruited into government jobs and a campaign to ensure their “due representation” in the legislative assembly.
Archbishop Francis Kallarakkal of Verapoly stressed the need for unity to force the governments to accept their demands.
The community loses its bargaining power whenever it is divided, he said. “So it’s time to express our solidarity and get our due share,” he added.
Federal human resources development minister, Kapil Sibal, who opened the gathering, said the government would consider their demands.
Commentators say the need to display unity is vital for Latin Catholics.
“Latin Catholics in Kerala are a disillusioned lot. The community can’t progress or wield political influence as others can,” said A. Jayashankar, a journalist in the southern Indian state.
Sebastian Paul, another journalist, said the gathering was the Church’s attempt at a show of force. Earlier, the Latin Catholics announced they would steer clear of the state’s two major political alliances.
The Church has less control over the laity in political affairs. “If they can speak with one voice and demand justice, the community will benefit,” Paul, a Latin Catholic, said.