Kerala denies aim to control Church property: Pure speculation
by Nirmala Carvalho

The bishops deplore the Kerala Church (Properties and Institution) Bill 2019. Secretary of Government: "People with partisan interests spread speculation". Former president of the Supreme Court: "Everything with an eye to the elections".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Kerala government, led by the Communist-Marxist party of India (Cpi-M), denies it wants to control the local properties of the Catholic Church. According to party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan,  it is “mere speculation. Already there are laws to look into it and hence a new law is not required. Some people with vested interests are spreading rumours about this".

Last week the Indian media released the news that the administration had approved a bill entitled Kerala Church (Properties and Institution) Bill 2019. The diatribe was born with the publication of the bill on the site of the State Commission for Reforms laws, led by former supreme court president KT Thomas (now retired), with the request to the population to present opinions.

The legislation has aroused deep disdain among local hierarchies, who denounced the move as "unfortunate and deplorable". A circular circulated on the website of the Episcopal Council of Kerala (Kerala Catholic Bishop's Council) states that the "proposal may seem harmless, but instead constitutes a serious danger". In fact, the bishops point out, it starts from the preconception that there are no mechanisms for controlling the Church's property, nor any way to complain about the bad management of houses, churches and land. The Council, on the other hand, points out that complaints can be filed in civil courts.

After criticism, the government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan denies wanting to change legislation. For his part, the former supreme president Thomas declares that "everything that has been affirmed is pure speculation, which comes to light with an eye to the next general elections of Lok Sabha [Lower House of Parliament, ed.]".