05/04/2017, 16.19
BANGLADESH
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Card D'Rozario appeals for unity as a scandalous power struggle harms Christian credit union

by Sumon Corraya

The archbishop of Dhaka speaks out on the Christian Cooperative Credit Union affair. Since last year, Christian leaders have failed to pick a new management board for the financial institution. Meanwhile, the latter is not issuing any loans. A Protestant calls for dialogue first.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Card Patrick D'Rozario, the archbishop of Dhaka and Bangladesh's first cardinal, has launched a “devoted appeal to unity" to lay Christian leaders, and the country’s Christian communities, which are divided over economic issues.

Since last year, the managing board of the Christian Cooperative Credit Union Limited (CCCUL), which covers various denominations, has not been renewed because of disagreement among Christian leaders. The has led to the institution’s paralysis, preventing it from making loans.

In his appeal, the cardinal notes that "It is sad and at the same time scandalous to see the recent divisions and disunity within Christian communities in Bangladesh and abroad."

According to Card D'Rozario, the situation is due to "conflicts over ideologies, approaches and strategies, leadership and interests, power, and positions taken by Christian organisations and socio-economic institutions."

The net result of this is that “Ordinary people are the victims of such conflicts and divisions,” the prelate added. “For them, divisions threaten the Christian community. "

Therefore, "listening to the voice of simple people, I urge all interested parties to turn to God's mercy and forgiveness, and abandon the spirit of revenge, hatred and exaggerated judgments. Build your vision, values, mission and actions around Christ, who is a source of unity, healing, and reconciliation. Let the Risen Lord be present. May prayers accompany each one of you."

The bank was created in 1955 by Fr Charles J. Young. It offers low interest loans on favourable terms. Today it has 36,000 share-holding members, 47,000 savings account holding members with BDT 5 billion (US$ 66 million) in estimated assets, making it one of Asia's largest credit union.

The dispute pits the old guard and other candidates. The credit union’s outgoing group barred some candidates from running by cancelling their membership. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh postponed the election to the CCCUL management board scheduled for 6 January.

Daniel Gomes, a young Catholic, bemoans the situation. "Christians are a tiny community in the country,” he noted, “yet we are divided into two groups. We are one against the other, and all this for the credit union’s leadership. We are destroying each other. We have to stop this ugly fight."

For his part, William Proloy Samadder, a Protestant, thanks “the cardinal for his message, but he should have acted sooner.” In his view, the archbishop of Dhaka can "resolve the issue by arranging talks. Current leaders have come to power illegally. They need to re-establish justice. New elections are needed."

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