Uncertainty over Latin Catholic archbishop’s participation sparks row

According to Bishop House sources, Netto would not attend the event even if invited formally as he has “prior engagements” on the day.
Latin Catholic archbishop Thomas J Netto
Latin Catholic archbishop Thomas J NettoPhoto | Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the Vizhinjam international port is all set to start its trial run with a container ship on Friday, the uncertainty over the participation of the representative of the Latin Catholic church in the landmark event has ignited a controversy.

The church was at the forefront of a series of agitations around the Vizhinjam port to protest the “failure” of the authorities in addressing the ecological impact and livelihood issues of fishermen, which they said was a result of the port construction.

As per the programme notice for Friday’s event, Thomas J Netto, Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram, has been listed among the names under the ‘distinguished presence’ category. However, the church was peeved as no representative from either the government or the port reportedly contacted the archbishop to ensure his presence at the event.

According to Bishop House sources, Netto would not attend the event even if invited formally as he has “prior engagements” on the day. The firm stance of the church came amid reports of last minute efforts by the port authorities to formally invite the archbishop.

Meanwhile, the Vizhinjam Thekkumbhagam Muslim Jama’ath that had threatened to stage an agitation in the sea during the event withdrew their plans reportedly after ‘assurances’ from the government. The Jama’at had planned the agitation to protest the alleged lack of development on the Thekkumbhagom side of the port where they reside.

“The government has assured us that our demands will be partially met over the next two months,” said Abu Salim, secretary of Vizhinjam Thekkumbhagam Jama’at.

Meanwhile, Ports Minister V N Vasavan and a team of officials visited the port to assess the last-minute preparations for the trial run.

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