THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Syro Malankara Catholic Church Chief Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholics has expressed serious concern over the ‘’decline in secular values’’ in the country. Presiding over the inaugural of the birth centenary celebrations of Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios here on Tuesday, he said our Constitution gives much significance to secularism and communal amity. Baselios Mar Benedict had always been representing the country’s secular values. Because of his contributions to the national unity, Archbishop Mar Benedict was made a member of the National Integration Council, he said.
‘’In the name of religion, efforts are going on to bring a large majority of people together in the country. It is against the Constitution. At the same time, in other parts of the world, people are being killed by slitting their neck in the name of religion. In Libya, 21 christians were killed the other day. This kind of activities had nothing to do with any religion or god,’’ he pointed out. Inaugurating the celebrations, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Benedict Mar Gregorios had always been considered as a symbol of Christian values and humanism. His contributions in the social and spiritual fields would always be remembered, he said. Chandy said he had known Benedict Mar Gregorios since his KSU days in 1972. The Chief Minister inaugurated the Cancer Care Home project being set up under the Malankara Catholic Church.
Finance Minister K M Mani, who also spoke at the function, said there was a threat to secularism in the country. He recollected that at the peak of the Nilakkal agitation, Benedict Mar Gregorios personally intervened in the issue and went along with M P Manmadhan to set up an ecumenical centre there. Mani also launched the Haritham scheme on the occasion of the centenary celebrations. Mayor K Chandrika, who attended the function, also expressed apprehension about the rising incidents of ‘Ghar Wapsi’. She pointed out that our Constitution was the conscience of the people and efforts were on to attack secularism. ‘’The attack on secularism will have the potential to even destroy the federal set up of the country. Incidents like Ghar Wapsi have the potential to destabilise the unity and federal structure of the nation,’’ she said. She wanted the Church and the faithful to strongly oppose such moves. The Mayor also launched the ‘Peter’s Hand’ scheme for providing assistance to the ailing people. Former DGP and CEO of National Games Jacob Punnoose was honoured at the function.