The Latin Catholic Church will maintain a policy of issue and value-based equidistance from all political parties, and analyse each situation that comes up separately, M. Susaipakiam, Archbishop, Thiruvananthapuram Archdiocese, has said.

Inaugurating a mass gathering of the Latin Catholic community organised by the Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council, the Archbishop, also the president of the council, said political parties had always tried to ‘divide and rule’ the Latin Catholic community, with the demarcation of Parliament and Assembly constituencies being done in such a way that the community would not have a majority anywhere.

Response of leaders

Stating that several Latin Catholic leaders maintained a certain distance from the community after reaching top social or political positions with the community’s help, the Archbishop said these leaders were ‘afraid’ of the political parties to which they were affiliated and also feared that they would lose the support of other communities if they showed any commitment to their own community.

The community, on the other hand, never wanted anything it did not deserve, he said.

The Latin Catholic community, represented at the meeting by people from 12 dioceses at the Putharikandam Grounds here, was facing several problems, he said.

Community’s problems

Some of them were ‘shortcomings’ of the Coastal Regulation Zone rules, confusion over caste certificates, negligence towards severe water shortage in areas like Sulthanpet in Palakkad, lack of safety at sea for fishermen, keeping the community away from political and administrative posts, and delays in issuing of educational benefits.

Both the right wing and left wing political parties “knew very well” that they would not lose anything by ignoring the Latin Catholics, the Archbishop said, adding he was not blaming the political leaders at the top in each party.

Panchayat-level leaders

It was on the basis of the bitter experiences the community had to face from representatives from the panchayat level onwards that he, even as an Archbishop, was forced to make these statements, Mr. Susaipakiam said. The sea and the coast belonged to the ‘children of the sea’, and they would not give up their rights at any cost, he added.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president V.M. Sudheeran, former Fisheries Minister and legislator S. Sarma, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, Varapuzha Metropolitan Francis Kallarackal were present among others.

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