Dalit Catholics petition Vatican against ‘discrimination’

Updated - December 15, 2014 07:35 pm IST

Published - December 15, 2014 07:34 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Several Tamil Catholic organisations staged a protest here on Monday against the alleged discrimination against Dalits in the Catholic Church.

The police escorted the protesters into the Vatican Embassy to hand over a memorandum to Ambassador Salvatore Pennachio, who is also the Apostolic Nuncio in India and Nepal.

Speaking to The Hindu , Kudanthai Arasan of the Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi, who led the protest, said they were forced to appeal to the Vatican as the grievances of the Dalit Christians had not been redressed by the church.

“They continue to face segregation in cemeteries and are grossly underrepresented in the clergy. We gave a 16-point memorandum to the Nuncio, demanding that the Catholics who practise untouchability be excommunicated; Dalits make up 80 per cent of the clergy; and the Catholics be compelled to drop caste names,” he said.

Lawyer Franklin Caesar Thomas, who organised the protest, said what provoked the protest was the expulsion of Dalit youth G. Michael Raja from a seminary in Tiruchi in 2011. Since then, several clashes had occurred in southern Tamil Nadu and services had been discontinued in a few churches in Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga districts. “The Vatican chooses to remain indifferent to caste discrimination, and this agitation will continue until the problem is resolved,” he said.

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