Updated: January 25, 2020 6:22:37 pm
On the occasion of 71st Republic Day, the Catholic Church in India said it will join the agitations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act along with the archbishops across the nation, urging the faithful to read out the preamble of the Constitution after the Sunday mass. The largest Christian church of the country said it will make an announcement on Sunday declaring January 26 as the Constitution Protection Day.
In a letter to all the parish priests under his diocese, Paul Antony Mullassery, Bishop of Kollam in Kerala, has asked all the parishes as well as Catholic organisations to read the preamble and take a pledge to protect the Constitution on Sunday. He said the observation of the Constitution Protection Day is to make the citizens conscious of the citizenship and the duties.
“The country is going through an unprecedented social situation. The Prime Minister who took over charge by kissing the Constitution is leading the attempts to violate the values provided by the Constitution for this country. Most important among this violation is the division of society on the basis of religion. We should react strongly to exclude one particular community from the CAA,” Bishop Mullassery said.
He further warned that “they would exclude Christians also” which was evident in the government’s move to end the constitutional provisions that guarantee the reservation for the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha and excluding Dalit Christians from the reservation policy.
Meanwhile, Kolkata Archbishop Thomas D’Souza also asked the community to be part of the human chain in the city organised by the United Interfaith Foundation to express the “desire of all citizens of India to have and uphold the values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”
In a letter to the parishes in Kolkata, Archbishop D’Souza said, “Since the Republic Day is closely associated with the Constitution of India completing 70 years, I request you to carry out the following in all our parish/quasi-parish churches,”and gave the preamble of the Constitution.
Earlier, talking to The Indian Express in December, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and former head of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, had said: “Religion cannot be a criterion for deciding one’s citizenship,”.
In Kerala, where various groups have joined the agitations against the CAA, the Church too had opposed to the law vociferously. Joseph Powathil, the senior-most Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church had cautioned that the controversial Act could be a prelude to eschewing democracy and migrating to a theocratic State.
After the controversial citizenship law that seeks to grant citizenship to the religiously persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christian refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014, has triggered widespread protests across the country as the critics point out that it is discriminatory on the basis of religion thereby violating the basic tenets of Indian Constitution.
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