'Freeze on bank a/c following Vizhinjam port stir hurting': Kerala Church body

Following amendments to the FCRA Act, funds can only be received through bank accounts opened in Delhi, said Sherry J Thomas, president of the KLCA.
Image used for representational purposes.
Image used for representational purposes. (File Photo)

KOCHI: The Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) has questioned the delay in lifting the freeze on the bank account of the Thiruvananthapuram archdiocese of the Latin Catholic Church. The association said the central government’s move had forced the archdiocese to seek donations from the laity to meet expenses incurred for the care of retired clergy and the educational needs of seminarians.

Following amendments to the FCRA Act, funds can only be received through bank accounts opened in Delhi, said Sherry J Thomas, president of the KLCA. “When such a restriction is mandated in a country where religious observances and rituals constitute fundamental rights, it impacts mission activities. Even though this was a point of discussion in some forums, it did not lead to any changes. Section 12(4) of the FCRA Act points out the stages in which restrictions can be imposed on such accounts,” Sherry said.

“Such action also poses hurdles for individuals or institutions who are joint holders of the accounts. Hundreds of cases were registered after the Vizhinjam agitation. Specifically, cases where the archbishop was named an accused led to the freezing of the account. But the cases were later proved to have been fabricated,” he added.

“Vizhinjam was an ideological struggle: a reaction to failures in addressing the concerns of a group of people. The protests were led by people living in substandard conditions. Cases against bishops and others cannot be justified. It is ridiculous that even those who led the Vizhinjam solidarity rally were booked. The cases against those who took part in the strike or helped or participated in it were part of tactics employed to suppress the protests,” he said.

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