Assam bishops toughen stand against abusive clergy
By Matters India Reporter
Nagaon: Immediate suspension or dismissal awaits Catholic clergymen and religious found involved in immoral and antisocial activities in Assam. This was decided on May 18 by the Catholic bishops of the northeastern Indian state.
Bishops from the state’s five Catholic dioceses also stated that the Church would take no action protect any priest or religious d convicted of crimes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a press release said.
The press release was issued at the end of a one-day meeting held at St Clement College, Nagaon, some 15 km northeast of Guwahati, Assam’s commercial capital.
Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati chaired the meeting attended by Bishops Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh, Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon, Michael Akasius of Tezpur and Paul Mattekatt of Diphu.
The prelates said the perpetrators of such crimes must know that their superiors would never protect them from civil and ecclesiastical sanctions.
The prelates also said they would follow the country’s laws and report such offences to the civil authorities. They also resolved to dismiss or suspend the offenders, besides taking legal proceedings.
The bishops categorically stated that the perpetrators must meet the demands for compensation from victims and dioceses will not be responsible for the crimes.
The bishops also expressed concern over the abuse of women and others in church institutions.
They stressed the need of maintaining transparency and accountability in the use of Church resources. All Church resources, they insisted, must be properly used and no religious or priest should misuse of them, the meeting resolved.
The meeting further resolved to promote skill-based and job-oriented higher education, including coaching for various state and national-level competitive examinations among the youths.
The meeting adopted a resolution to encourage local young people to go for various civil services including administrative, managerial and banking jobs.
The Catholic Church manages about 200 schools in the state, but few institutes of higher education. The bishops recently started a coaching institute – Guwahati Insight Academy – to train youngsters for various competitive exams. The bishops asserted that value-based education among future bureaucrats, administrators, managers, and others is a must for good governance.
The bishops also discussed networking with other Christian denominations.
“A great move by our bishops. Definitely, it’s a step in the right direction,” Allen Brooks, a prominent lay leader in Assam, told Matters India on May 19.