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India

Laicized Protestant bishop reinstated in Indian diocese

The reconciliation follows a revolt among pastors after he declared his diocese autonomous

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Laicized Protestant bishop reinstated in Indian diocese

Bishop Basil Baskey of Chotanagpur has been reinstated by the Church of North India. (Photo: Anglican Ink)

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The Protestant Church of North India (CNI) has reinstated a bishop three months after it laicized him for breaking away and declaring his diocese autonomous.

The CNI synod, the church's top decision-making body, on Nov. 19 decided to revoke its decision to laicize Bishop Basil B. Baskey of Chotanagpur Diocese in eastern India's Jharkhand state.

The synod on Aug. 11 removed Bishop Baskey from office and withdrew his ordination as a priest and a bishop after an internal probe found the bishop guilty of acts of revolt and indiscipline.

"The synod has revoked its Aug. 11 decision and agreed to reinstate Bishop Baskey as the bishop of Chotanagpur Diocese," said Suresh Jacob, a senior member of the synod executive committee.

"Bishop Baskey will continue to be the bishop of Chotanapur Diocese as the synod has withdrawn all the actions taken against him" at a meeting in New Delhi, Jacob told UCA News.

Jacob said the bishop's laicization had divided pastors in the diocese, with some revolting against the bishop, who refused to leave the official residence, but some supporting him.

After some time, the bishop and some pastors appealed to the CNI moderator for reconciliation.

"The moderator accepted the appeal and constituted a three-member reconciliation team. The team met the pastors and the bishop in Ranchi and agreed that both sides would not take any vindictive stand against each other," said Jacob, a member of the reconciliation team.

It followed a special synod meeting at the CNI headquarters in New Delhi on Nov. 19 that decided to revoke action against the bishop.

"Bishop Baskey was reinstated with retrospective effect in a small prayer session" at the CNI headquarters after the synod, Jacob said.

Simmering issues were exacerbated in July when Bishop Baskey informed the synod that he had moved away and declared his diocese autonomous following differences with the church's administrative body.

The prelate was accused of laying claim to properties under the Diocese of Chotanagpur, Diocesan Trust Association and Chotanagpur Education Society, according to reports.

Bishop Baskey, while talking to UCA News earlier, claimed to have the support of all the pastors serving in the diocese's 52 parishes.

He claimed that his diocese was an independent diocese and he would continue to live in the same bishop's house. He also claimed to have registered his diocese separately.

The CNI, formed in 1970, inherited extensive landed properties across India from the Anglican Church of the British era. The individual churches have come under the CNI since its formation. The CNI has 27 dioceses across the country.

Protestant churches working in northern India come under the CNI, while the Church of South India (CSI) covers India's southern area. Both are now part of the worldwide Anglican Communion and members of the World Methodist Council.

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