Catholic leaders ask for ‘easier’ missionary visas
Dhaka Archbishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze leads delegation. Under current rules, Catholic priests and nuns must provide personal bank details, but, unlike Protestant clergy, they often do not have them. Home Affairs and Religious Affairs ministers pledged full cooperation to solve the matter.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Catholic leaders have asked the Government of Bangladesh to make it easier to issue visas for missionaries.
On Tuesday, Archbishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze of Dhaka, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB), led a delegation that met with Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and State Minister of Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haq Khan.
Accompanied by several prelates and religious leaders, Archbishop D'Cruze delivered a letter to the Religious Affairs minister asking him to make it easier to get M Category Visa for foreign and local Catholic missionaries.
Under existing regulations, missionaries – men and women religious who come to Bangladesh or go abroad – need to show their personal bank information and their Tax Identification Number (TIN), but many don’t have either and are not expected to have one.
“Their accounts are in the name of the community and their association,” explained Archbishop Bejoy during the meeting. “All their expenses are incurred from that account. Therefore, we ask assistance from the State Minister of Religious Affairs on this regard.”
Protestant missionaries, who have personal bank accounts and their own TINs, have no problem obtaining visas.
At the meeting, both ministers reassured their interlocutors that the government would fully cooperate to resolve the issue, expressing their determination to work together to protect harmony in the country.
Minister Asaduzzaman Khan also noted the important role religious leaders played between 2013 and 2016 to counter Islamic extremism, citing the former archbishop of Dhaka, Card Patrick D'Rozario, and the president of the Bangladesh Christian Association Nirmol Rozario, both of whom were present at the meeting along with Fr Swapan Das.
The Private Secretary to the Minister of State, Md Sadiqur Rahman Khan, and the Secretary of Public Security Department of the Home Affairs Ministry, Md Mostafizur Rahman, were also present.