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Prelate welcomes property decision

State should use existing laws to check illegal acts, says Madhya Pradesh archbishop

Prelate welcomes property decision
Christian leaders including Archbishop Leo Cornelio in a meeting in Bhopal reporter, Bhopal

March 16, 2011

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Archbishop Leo Cornelio, who heads the Madhya Pradesh Catholic Church, has welcomed the state government’s decision not to meddle in Church affairs. “We purchase properties with our money following all the rules. We do not seek government grants and, therefore, it does not need to monitor our use of properties,” he said yesterday reacting to the state government’s assurance that it has no plans to control Church properties. He said the government should instead enforce existing laws to check the illegal sale of Church properties. On March 8, Minister for Minority Welfare Ajay Vishoni, assured the legislative assembly that the government has no plans to set up a special board to control Christian properties. Christians opposed a proposal for the state government to set up a board to bring their properties, including cemeteries, under government control in line with the Muslim Waqf Board. The Waqf Board, established in 1995, manages properties used for religious and charitable purposes by the Muslim community. The proposal for a Christian board followed a recommendation by the State Minority Commission in January 2009, which had claimed that the illegal sale of Christian properties was rampant. Mounting public pressure coupled with legal solutions helped save the situation,” said Father Anand Muttungal, a petitioner in the case and spokesperson of the state’s Catholic Church. “We filed a petition in the top court after the Madhya Pradesh High Court rejected our plea,” he said. The petition was withdrawn on March 14. Lay leader Sheela Santiago said the affair has proved that despite being a minority we can win legitimate demands through peaceful means. Related report State decides not to control Church properties IC13659
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