Media Release By The All India Catholic Union (AICU)
Vasco, Jun 11: The All India Catholic Union (AICU), now in its centenary year, congratulated the people of India for the successful conduct of the general elections to choose a new government, the biggest such exercise in human history. The AICU also congratulated Narendra Modi, for becoming the prime minister for a second term after successfully leading the Bhartiya Janata Party to a massive victory.
The AICU regretted that the new council of Ministers, which gave representation to other religious minorities, did not yet have a minister from the Christian community. “We hope Modi will be soon able to nominate a Christian minister to his cabinet who has the confidence of the community and will be able to safeguard its interests in times to come.’
The working committee of the AICU met in Vasco, Goa to review the various events to mark the centenary year. Grand celebrations are scheduled to be held in Delhi this year, including a national seminar. National president Lancy D’Cunha thanked the Catholic Bishops Conference for appointing an Archbishop, Peter Machado, as the Ecclesiastical Advisor to the AICU. This, he said, showed the apex body’s confidence in the AICU as a representative of the interests of the Laity in the country. The WCM gave a warm welcome to Dr Maria Emelia Menezes, the first woman to have been national president of the AICU in its history. She held office from 2000 to 2004. Past president Dr John Dayal, who succeeded her, also attended the working committee meeting.
The AICU expressed its solidarity with the Christian community in Sri Lanka, Syria, Pakistan and other countries where it had been targeted by terrorist or fundamentalist groups, or by the governments. No community anywhere should be targeted by state and non-state actors for its religious beliefs. Freedom of Religion and Belief was a fundamentalist right under the United Nations Charted, AICU noted.
Lancy D’Cunha called upon the union government to ensure the interests and well-being of religious minorities, particularly the Christians, in all walks of life. The community lacked behind in employment, entrepreneurship and high education in science, technology, law. And was not adequately represented in government, legislatures and civil services any more Tribal and Dalit Christians were particularly lagging behind. He called for remedial measures, including special coaching centers in tribal and Dalit areas to ensure level playing fields in competitive examinations.
The Catholic Union also called upon the government to beware of foisting an education policy on the country without taking every community, religious or linguistic, with it. Education must be free for everyone up to the higher secondary education, and every child must be able to take up the courses she or he wanted depending on interest, aptitude and potential. It must not be seen that higher education was being kept only for a select few. Minority communities must be encouraged to open colleges to train teachers and specialists in other fields, with the government assistance in raising resources and creating infrastructure. As it is, existing scholarships were not reaching all deserving candidates. The criteria needed to be liberalized.
The AICU also urged the union government and the government of Orissa to compensate the community which had rebuilt at its expense hundreds of churches and institutions that had been burnt or demolished during the targeted violence of 2007-8.
Lancy D’Cunha also called upon the prime minister and home minister to ensure that the community, and its religious leadership including clergy, pastors and nuns were not harassed, assaulted or attacked under fictious charges of conversions. The community did not believe in forcible or fraudulent conversions which were not only against the law but were inadmissible under religious laws.
On social issues apart from free education up to the senior secondary level, the union called for proactive social security including universal medical insurance to cope with the skyrocketing cost of medicare, hospitalization and life-saving medicines.
In Goa and other states, the AICU expressed its solidarity with women who were waging a struggle for their dignity. And against exploitation, socially in areas where commercial scale gambling operators held sway.
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