COIMBATORE: Alleging caste discrimination and untouchability by the bishop, dioceses, churches and Christian institutions, a group of people belonging to the Scheduled Caste Christian community staged a protest at St Michael’s Cathedral in Coimbatore, where 21 Bishops from 18 Dioceses were participating in the council meeting on Sunday.
They also alleged that Bishop Jebamalai Susaimanickam deliberately blocked Michael Raj from being appointed as deacon, thus blocking his chances of becoming a priest. The deacon is the position below the priest. The protesters demanded that Michael Raj be appointed as priest of the Sivagangai constituency.
They also alleged that, even though the scheduled caste Christian community constitutes 75 per cent of the total Christian population, they have been discriminated against and have not been allowed to participate in the decision making process in the church and dioceses.
“Michael Raj underwent training at a seminary for 12 years and was on the verge of being appointed deacon, which will make him eligible to become a priest soon. It would have been a proud moment for us, but he was sacked from the seminary without any reason,” said PJ Xavier, one of the protestors.
Explaining the developments that led to his ouster, Michael Raj told Express, “There was a function at the seminary in Tiruchy to welcome the novices. The very next day, six mikes that were used for the function went missing. Later, the mikes were found in a well inside the seminary. I and five others were blamed for it and all six persons were sacked from the seminary. A few days later the culprits confessed and the authorities were forced to take back all the six.” However, Michael Raj was asked to go abroad to practice as a priest and the other five were appointed as priests elsewhere, said Michael Raj.
He raised the question that if he could be a priest abroad, why shouldn’t he get the opportunity here. “The dioceses and Bishop always discriminate us and it is the reason why 13 people who finished their training in various seminaries have not become priests,” he added.
Staff from the Bishop’s office told Express that there was no logic behind the allegations. They said the Bishop would convene a press conference on Wednesday to clear all concerns.