Before discussing the need for regulating Catholic Church in Bharat, we need to understand the background. Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination under Christianity. It has approximately 1.3 billion members and is one of the richest and most powerful institutions in the world. It has members almost in every country of the world. The Church was founded after the Council of Nicaea 325 CE with the help of Roman Emperor Constantine. The first bishop of Rome to be contemporaneously referred to as Pope is Damasus I (366–84).
Since then the religion has grown aided by state patronage, persecution of non-believers and naked aggression. In the first millennium, it converted most of Europe and then in second millennium, Christianity including Catholic religion spread to Africa, Australia and Americas. However, large parts of Asia remain outside control of Christianity. Pope visited Bharat in 1999 and launched a crusade to convert Asia, with special focus on Bharat! This he said on the day of Diwali. So much for tolerance!
How the Catholic Church functions in Bharat
It is important to learn how the Catholic church functions in Bharat. The face of the church in Bharat is Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, formed in 1944. All the Catholic Bishops in Bharat are its members.
The appointment of the Bishops in Bharat is done by the Pope. His agent/ambassador in Bharat is called “Apostolic Nuncio”. This person prepares a list of 3 persons and through an opaque process, the Bishop is appointed by Vatican. The government of Bharat has no role in such appointments.
Reasons for regulating Catholic Church in Bharat
Ordinarily, appointment of a religious figure in Bharat should not have government’s interference. Hindu Shankaracharyas/ Mahants, Muslim Imams or members of Personal Law Board or even Protestant Priests etc. are rightly appointed without any reference to government.
The case of Catholic Bishops is different as not only is Roman Catholicism a religion, it also has a figurehead who is sovereign of a country! A sovereign nation, or its agents should not interfere in the affairs of the country. This is specially in light of the fact that Vatican has a declared policy of conversion of Hindus.
Secondly, the affairs of Catholic Church are too big and too important to be left unregulated. It is one of the biggest landowners in Bharat. It runs hundreds of schools, hospitals and other services. It has also faced allegations of corruption, sexual misconduct, child trafficking, coercive conversions and land grabbing. It is likely that on the pretext of services, many of its members are engaged in such activities.
No organisation, controlled by a foreign government, can be allowed to wield so much power without accountability.
Its is not as if such control is not exercised by other governments. In China, since 2018 Bishops are appointed only after taking clearance from Chinese government. In France, a similar practice started after the Concordat between Napolean and Vatican in 19th century. Indeed, France nationalized all Church properties and closed all Church schools. This action was taken in a country which even today is Catholic majority.
The Catholic Church in Bharat is a powerful institution. It has a declared goal, which is inimical to the interests of the majority religion of Bharat. It is run by the sovereign of a different country.
In many such cases, countries have concluded Concordats, an agreement which defines the relations between the Vatican and other Sovereign nations. Bharat has no such agreement, resulting in complete autonomy to the Church activities in Bharat.
Is such an approach in the interest of Hindus and Bharat? Should we also define our relations with Vatican according to a favorable agreement? To what extent should the activities of Catholic Church be regulated? These are some questions that common Hindus and our politicians need to think about.
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