Kerala Catholic Bishops demand ban on fundamentalist groups

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Kochi, Sep 18 (UNI) The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) today demanded a ban on the fundamentalist organisations behind the recent attacks on the minority community institutions in Karnataka, Orissa and other states of the country.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the Catholic bishops here this evening, KCBC President Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil said representatives of the council would soon meet the President, Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to formally lodge this demand.

Among those who attended the meeting were Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop and Indian Catholic Council President, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil, Malankara Catholic Major Archbishop Baselios Mar Clemis, KCBC Secretary and Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazath and KCBC Deputy Secretary Dr Stephen Alathura.

A statement issued by the KCBC after the meeting alleged that the fundamentalist groups, supported by certain political parties, were deliberately attacking the minority community institutions in the country to spread panic among them.

Declaring that Christians were not resorting to forced coversions in the country, the council accused the fundamentalist groups of using this as an excuse to attack the minority community.

Any instances of forced conversion should be dealt with as per the law and not through lawless methods, it added.

Those disrupting communal harmony should be arrested and punished, it added.

Stating that secularism and freedom of religion and belief were enshrined in the Indian Constitution, the council said the attacks on minority communities were a direct attack on the spirit of India.

It claimed that the majority and minority community people had been living peacefully in the areas which saw the violent attacks recently and blamed the fundamentalist groups for deliberately spoiling this peace.

Observing that even 2,000 years after its advent in India, the total strength of the Christian population in the country was only 2.3 per cent, the council said the community was running 45,000 educational institutions and thousands of hospitals all over the country.

Most of the people benefitting from these services were non-Christians, it observed.

It also condemned the efforts of the fundamentalist groups to vitiate the communal peace and harmony in Kerala.

UNI ARC AD JT KN2331

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