02/03/2022, 19.11
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Dalits meet nuncio to discuss episcopal appointments in Tamil Nadu

by Nirmala Carvalho

Dalit group renews call that a Dalit be chosen as the new archbishop of Pondicherry-Cuddalore; local Dalits represent the vast majority of the faithful. Out of 18 dioceses in Tamil Nadu, only one has a Dalit bishop.


Chennai (AsiaNews) – A delegation representing the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement met yesterday with Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Apostolic Nuncio to India, in Vellore, to discuss episcopal appointments in Tamil Nadu.

The choice of bishops has been a source of tensions among the faithful in the State over alleged caste-based discrimination against Dalit Catholics. In particular, the recent appointment of the new bishop of Salem has raised an outcry.

Led by President Mary John, the Dalit delegation handed the nuncio a memorandum in which the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement reiterates its requests, starting with the appointment of a Dalit as the new archbishop of Pondicherry-Cuddalore, a post that is currently vacant.

Hitherto no "untouchable” or “outcast" has ever become an archbishop despite the fact that they represent the majority of Catholics in this archdiocese.

For the Dalit advocacy group, Dalits should also be appointed to other dioceses in Tamil Nadu without a bishop since they represent 70 per cent of the State’s Catholic community. At present, only one episcopal see out of 18 is occupied by a Dalit.

“We get the same baptism, say the same prayers and rosary, say the same Mass, same creed, partake and unite in the same Eucharist, receive same Sacraments,” reads the appeal to the apostolic nuncio. Yet, “when it comes to appointing to bishoprics, we are looked upon differently and excluded carefully. We do not understand how the Holy Spirit or the Grace of God can work like this.”

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