THOOTHUKUDI: A section of Roman Catholic Christians on Sunday protested outside the Bishop’s House here against the proposed move to divide Thoothukudi diocese to create
Valliyur diocese. The protesters led by Srivaikuntam parish priest Ravindran Fernando tried to meet Thoothukudi Bishop Ivan Ambrose, but since he was outstation they submitted a petition seeking him to revoke the decision.
The protesters claimed that Ivan Ambrose had spoken on August 15 at Valliyur church about splitting Thoothukudi diocese into two soon. But the creation of Valliyur diocese was based on caste and not geography, the protesters alleged.
After coming out of the Bishop’s House, the protesters took a decision to continue their protest if the Bishop does not concede their demands and fixed September 15 as the deadline for revoking the order.
Speaking to journalists here, Ravindran Fernando claimed that the protesters had learnt that Valliyur diocese was proposed to be created by adding many parishes in Thoothukudi district which they could not accept as the opinion of the people concerned was not obtained. They claimed that the Bishop had “disrespected” their feelings.
Alleging that Valliyur diocese was formed on caste basis to divide RC Christians, he said that the Bishop should be held responsible if there would be any caste conflict.
Sources in the parish claimed that Srivaikuntam, Seidhunganallur, Malainkulam, Eral, Nattarkulam, Kaliyavur and Taruvaikulam Parish, all in Thoothukudi district, were proposed to be part of Valliyur diocese and that the coastal villages in Tirunelveli district, including Idinthakarai, would come under Thoothukudi diocese.
While claiming that Valliyur had been demanding a separate diocese status for over 20 years which various bishops ruled out citing inconvenience, the source said the current partition was planned based on caste and not on geography.
Sources also alleged that Srivaikuntam parish was one of the wealthiest parishes with several acres of land and that if it was moved to Valliyur diocese, Thoothukudi diocese would lose its properties and regular income. However, a few senior members of the parish who were present outside the Bishop’s House claimed that the formation of Valliyur diocese was just an oral announcement and the Bishop needed to get Vatican’s nod.
Out of the total 108 parishes in Thoothukudi diocese, 49 would form Valliyur diocese and the rest would form Thoothukudi diocese, the sources said.
The Bishop could not be reached for comment.