NATIONAL COORDINATION COMMITTEE FOR DALIT CHRISTIANS
DISCRIMINATION IN THE CHURCH NEAR MADRAS EQUALITY DEMANDED
July 17, 1997
It is disheartening to know that the caste discrimination is being practiced in the Church and among Christian community, inspite of repeated instructions, given by Heads of the Churches for its eradication. Thatchoor is an old village near Chinglepet 60 K.M. from Madras has population of 500 families, both caste Christians and Dalit Catholics. The Caste Christian community, holding all the power in the Church administration, denied equal rights and equal participation to Dalits for past 200 years.
Dalit Catholics who suffered discrimination, appealed for joint celebration of the feast of Our Lady but regardless of the claim, the feast was celebrated by caste Christian in May 1995 with police protection. The new Parish Priest K.M. Joseph appointed by Bishop had to enter the Parish at the intercession of the peace committee. On the flag hoisting day of the Patron feast l8th of May 1997 Sunday, the Parish Priest was assaulted by caste (Reddiars) Christians, because of his support to the equal participation of Dalits in the Church activities. Following this incident, the Church was closed. A case was filed in the Chinglepet court against Archbishop Aruldoss James of Madras Mylapore diocese, claiming that the Church is their own property and demanding Telugu Priest in the Parish. The Church remains closed. Archbishop made very clear in his speach and in his circular that justice has to be meted out to Dalits and equality should prevail. Struggle persists till today.
National Coordination Committee for Dalit Christians, while condemning the discrimination practised in natchoor village and elswhere, demand justice and equality to Dalit Christians and also appreciate the right jeasture of Archbishop Aruldoss James for upholding justice and equality. The offenders and oppressors need to realise that their actions are unchristian and should amend their way of life by witnessing to Christic values of equality and brotherhood.
We also appeal to all the heads of the Churches, congregations and institutions to take stem action on the persons, parishes, communities still practicing untouchability and discrimination in any form in the Church and in the society.
Yours in Christ
(BISHOP VINCENT M. CONESSAO) Chairperson