Immaculate Conception Cathedral: This Puducherry church replaces the Vedapuri Ishwaran Temple destroyed by the Jesuits and the French Governor’s wife Madame Dupleix (as attested by Ananda Ranga Pillai) . The Puducherry bishopric is one of the wealthiest in India and even operates an unofficial money lending business.
This report by D.P. Satish was made in August 2009. We are reprinting it here with reference to the RBI’s interest in obtaining gold from Hindu temples to shore up the rupee. The Catholic Church is the largest landowner in India and a conservative estimate of its holdings is Rs 7000 crores plus (2009). Much of its land and wealth was appropriated from Hindu temples during colonial times. Yet there is no government over-site of Church administration, and no interference from the government in the appointment of bishops who are the wealth administrators. This must change. The Indian Church acts like a state within a state in the Indian Union yet gives its feudal allegiance to the Pope in Rome. In a secular democratic republic, there is no reason why Hindu deities must give up their wealth to the state when Christian bishops and their vast, tax-free properties go scot-free. — Editor
A debate in whether church properties in India should be governed by the government. Some leading figures from the community demanded a law at the recently held All India Catholic Union Conclave [in Goa]. But, the bishops are not ready.
The Catholic Church in India owns the largest chunk of non-agricultural land, and is known as the second largest employer after the Government of India. It’s annual budget equals that of the Indian Navy but the Catholic community has been asking where is the money and where is the transparency?
Their conclave in Goa discussed the tangle. “All over the world churches are subjected to the law of the state. There cannot be a state within a state. Religious organisations cannot form a state within a state,” says Catholic leader and former Union minister Eduardo Faleiro.
“If you have a Waqf Board you are giving too much control to the government. That will add to large-scale corruption as we have seen where ever government has been in control of religious properties and institutions either in Islam or even in Hindu temples,” claims Catholic community leader Dr John Dayal.
The Catholic Church in India is over 500 years old and has total control over its assets across the country. Some Catholics feel the bishops are not the right people to handle properties worth several lakh crores. But so far, the government has kept quite on the row. — IBN Live, 9 August 2009
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