The Catholic Church has asserted its ‘right and responsibility' to intervene in politics and vowed to continue the intervention in order to ‘uphold certain values and principles.'
“The Church certainly has its political standpoints and it does intervene in political affairs,” Fr. Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary-general of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council, told The Hindu. “The Church has a political vision and a mission.”
Fr. Alathara, who is also a spokesperson for the Catholic Church, was reacting to the Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s criticism that the Church is ‘openly interfering' with Kerala's politics and carrying on a campaign against communists. A resolution at the meeting of the CPI(M)'s extended Central Committee at Vijayawada on Monday noted: “Sections of the Church are openly interfering in political affairs by conducting an anti-Communist campaign.”
Fr. Alathara, however, claimed that the Church's politics was not oriented to party politics but to certain fundamental political values and principles. It was committed to democracy, secularism and patriotism. He said the Church could not afford to overlook political realities. Globally, and historically, the Catholic Church had intervened in political issues. Referring to the ‘Vimochana Samaram' against the first Communist government in Kerala, he said the Church had taken a strong political standpoint ‘ever since 1957.'
Asked about the anti-Communist stand, Fr. Alathara noted that the communists believed in atheism and dialectical materialism which were anathema to Christianity. “The fundamental mission of the Church is to deepen the faith. It cannot allow its faithful to be atheists or dialectical materialists. The Church opposes and will oppose these.” He said that whenever the Left government in Kerala tried to transgress democratic norms, the Church had got them defeated through recourse to people's agitations and legal system.
Asked about the recent controversial pastoral letter that allegedly urged Christians not to vote for Left candidates in the coming local body elections, Fr. Alathara said the letter was not a campaign against the CPI(M). However, the principles and values were unambiguous, he said.