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Accountability needed to curb Church land scams

Indian lay leaders demand law to manage Church properties

Accountability needed to curb Church land scams
Former Supreme Court Judge K.T. Thomas addressing the Joint Christian Action Council
Leo Fernando, Chennai
India

January 19, 2011

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Some lay leaders have urged the Indian government to enact special laws to prevent “corruption and mismanagement” in the management of Church properties. “There is a need for special laws as there is no accountability in terms of Church properties,” said Gnanapragasam Devasahayam, 70, a retired civil servant. According to him, lack of a proper law has led to the mismanagement of properties worth billions of rupees. Devasahayam holds the Vatican responsible for this crisis since it has lost control of the bishops. The Church has no grievance mechanism, he added. Earlier in November 2010, lay leaders from various denominations met under the Joint Christian Action Council (JCAC) to press the government for special laws to manage Church properties. The council recently received a communication from the President of India promising to look into its petition. Louis Manuel Menezes, 73, another former civil servant, noted the country has separate laws to manage Muslim and Sikh properties without government intervention. “We demand the same for the Church properties of all denominations,” said Menezes, a JCAC member. Father Vincent Chinnadurai, chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Minority Commission, says it is not proper to surrender the Church’s rights and privileges to the government despite some “aberrations.” “The Church leaders should take note of the laity resentment and establish transparency and accountability with the help of laity participation and set up grievance mechanism to address such issues,” the priest told ucanews.com today. Related reports Bombay looks to settle Church land disputes Court seeks explanation of Church property law IB12922.1637
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