Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress party in Kerala has joined the chorus in demanding complete withdrawal of the Kerala Church (Properties and Institutions)Bill, 2019. The Chief Minister had earlier said that his government will not implement the bill.
The Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that instead of postponing the legislation, the government should revoke the Bill altogether.
The Congress leader, in an attempt to score with the Christian community, said, “This is an encroachment into the constitutional rights of Christians as minorities.”
Ramesh Chennithala’s statement is not surprising since his party had always stood with the Christian churches.
The Kerala Church Bill proposes to bring transparency and accountability into the assets held by different Church denominations in Kerala. The bill also contains provisions to set up a Tribunal by the Government to look into disputes regarding financial mismanagement.
All the Christian denominations led by the Catholic Church took a strong stand against the Bill fearing that the government might use the bill to takeover church property.
Another reason for their displeasure is because the bill proposes to introduce auditing of the financial assets of the Church. The church leaders fear that their economic clout might erode with this.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan of Niranam Diocese of Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Geevarghese Mar Coorilos came out strongly in support of the Bill. It is widely believed that the Bishop’s support to the bill will help boost the small faction of laity who wants accountability and transparency in the Churches.