The Catholic Bishops' Council has appealed to political leaders in the State to refrain from making public statements that might disturb communal harmony. "Minority communities in the State have looked upon the larger Hindu community with respect and gratitude. However, some statements from political leaders can have the effect of shattering this peace," said Joshua Mar Ignathios, President of Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) here on Thursday.

He was addressing a press conference at the end of the three-day monsoon meeting of the Bishops' Council, which discussed issues facing the Catholic Church in Kerala including those related to self-financing courses in higher education.

He said that Catholic educational institutions had not or will not impose a ban on use of head scarves provided they were worn with the uniform of a particular institution. A statement handed out during the press meet said that educational institutions must resist communalism. Religious traditions and practices should be respected and there should be no discrimination, it said.

Fight against fever

Bishop Ignathios said that all Catholic health institutions would be part of the efforts taken by the State government to fight the current outbreak of fever. KCBC's Health Commission will strive to build awareness on fever among people.

The Bishops' Council slammed a recent all-party consensus to reduce the width of National Highway to 30 metres in the State. "The decision will not do justice to the future generations," said the KCBC statement. The bishop said that Christians would be encouraged to give up land for the proposed road-widening. However, government should ensure that those who gave up land or homes were adequately compensated and rehabilitated.

No to pollution

The Bishops' Council directed Catholics to refrain from causing sound pollution, traffic obstructions and nuisance to the public when feasts are celebrated in churches.

The bishops warned of concerted action if the problems faced by self-financing institutions of higher education run by Catholics were not solved. The statement from KCBC particularly mentioned "discriminatory action by the University of Calicut".

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