Ten serious accusations against Mother Teresa – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa

Adrian AsisIt’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa is commonly depicted in such a saintly manner that it’s difficult for most people to imagine she has even one bad bone in her body. After all, the religious sister is responsible for founding the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation that provides free care for the sick, the hungry, the orphaned, and the dying. Moreover, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was beatified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” by the Catholic Church in 2003. And yet, to this day, eighteen years after her death, numerous critics still insist that Mother Teresa is not the saint many people believe her to be.

Of course it’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” Here are ten of the most serious accusations that have been brought up against Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

10. Forced Catholicism on others

Because Calcutta (now “Kolkata”) is composed predominantly of Hindus, they are responsible for many of the criticisms against Mother Teresa, most especially with regard to her conversion of Calcuttans into Catholics. An example of such a critic is head of an Indian Hindu nationalist group Mohan Bhagwat who, in a public speech, said, “It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity.” In support of Bhagwat’s claim, researchers revealed that nuns at Mother Teresa’s institution secretly baptized the dying regardless of the patients’ religious affiliation. More specifically, Mother Teresa was said to have taught nuns how to ask the dying if they wanted a “ticket to heaven,” after which a positive reply would be followed by cooling the dying’s head with a damp cloth while the nun softly uttered the words for Catholic baptism.

9. Substandard quality of medical care

Mother Teresa established the Kalighat Home for the Dying in 1952 by converting an abandoned Hindu temple into a free hospital. As the name of the facility suggests, its main purpose is to provide its patients with an opportunity to die with dignity. However, in 1991, the editor of the medical journal The Lancet paid a visit to the hospice and observed that conditions there were far from ideal. More specifically, Robin Fox described the quality of the care provided to dying patients as “haphazard,” including unacceptable practices like the reuse of needles and the mixing of tuberculosis-infected patients with the uninfected. Worse, no distinction was made between the dying and the curable, thus leaving even curable patients to waste away. Furthermore, other critics pointed to the hospital’s disregard for modern medical practices, including the most basic of diagnosis procedures. However, Mother Teresa’s defenders countered the accusations by pointing out that the facility was only meant to serve as a refuge for the dying.

8. Support for the suspension of civil liberties

“The Emergency,” which took place from June 25, 1975 until March 21, 1977, is one of the most controversial intervals in India’s history. During the period, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a dictatorship whereby civil liberties were suspended and most of her political enemies were imprisoned. Furthermore, the press was heavily censored, and a shocking mass-sterilization campaign was said to have been carried out by the Prime Minister’s son. Mother Teresa, however, seemed to have failed to recognize the oppression present at that time. Of the period, she commented, “People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.” Well, the Indians of the time certainly seemed to disagree with Mother Teresa as during elections in 1977, Gandhi and her son lost their seats in parliament, and the opposition was overwhelmingly swept into power.

7. Warped understanding of suffering

The Catholic Church is often criticized for allegedly teaching its followers to revel in suffering, and Mother Teresa is said to have been among the teaching’s most prominent purveyors. During a Washington, D.C. press conference in 1981, for example, Mother Teresa was asked, “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?” and she replied,

I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.

This response is said to exemplify the crooked mentality behind Mother Teresa’s insistence on keeping her facilities substandard despite the availability of funding to improve their services.

6. Inconsistency in teachings and actions

Perhaps even worse than allegations of her warped understanding of suffering are accusations of Mother Teresa’s hypocrisy. These are rooted in the advanced treatments she received for her illnesses despite her supposed appreciation for the value of suffering. More specifically, in 1985, Mother Teresa underwent cataract surgery, including the implantation of an artificial lens, at the St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. Then later, in 1989, the “Saint of the Gutters” received a pacemaker at the Woodlands Nursing Home in Calcutta. Furthermore, Mother Teresa has been accused of being selective in her values, such as when she openly opposed the legalization of divorce but supported Princess Diana when she divorced Prince Charles.

5. Questionable associations and silence on abuse

Mother Teresa has been documented to have associated with several individuals whose records of uprightness are questionable at best. In 1981, for example, she visited Michèle Duvalier, then the wife of Haiti president Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was later overthrown by popular uprising because of the terrible abuses of his regime. However, Mother Teresa instead ended up singing praises for the people’s familiarity with the First Lady and even accepted a national award from the government — all the while remaining silent on the numerous human rights violations of the regime. Another similar encounter took place in 1989, when Mother Teresa visited communist Albania. At that time, the government there was widely perceived to be openly oppressive to anyone who opposed it, and yet, Mother Teresa met with the nation’s leaders without commenting on their abuses.

4. Accepted donations from criminals

Connected to Mother Teresa’s questionable associations is her practice of keeping donations from criminals. One example involved Robert Maxwell, a British Member of Parliament who donated to Mother Teresa’s charities but was later found to have misappropriated the pension funds of his media company. Even more infamous was the case involving Charles Keating, a moral crusader who donated millions of dollars to Mother Teresa’s charities and even had her use his private jet. Later though, despite Mother Teresa sending the court a letter to attest to Keating’s kindness and generosity, he was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud that deprived thousands of people of their life savings. Then, after Keating had been convicted, the Deputy District Attorney wrote Mother Teresa a letter asking that the money she had received from Keating be returned. She did not reply.

3. Lack of transparency with funding and expenses

With all of the positive attention that Mother Teresa commanded and still commands, it is uncontested that her charities have received millions in donations from various sources. And this has led her critics to ask, “Where is all the money?” In fact, even Susan Shields, a former nun at the Missionaries of Charity, has asked the question. Shields claims she was assigned to record donations at the institution, and despite the fact that she regularly wrote receipts for donations of up to $50,000, the nuns continued to beg for supplies and reuse syringes. Furthermore, Stern, a German magazine, exposed that despite Indian laws requiring charitable organizations to publish their finances, the Missionaries of Charity never did. Stern also reported that only 7% of the 5.3 million Deutsche Marks donated in England in 1991 had been used for charitable purposes. The rest? Head of the Missionaries chapter in England, Sister Teresina, insisted, “Sorry, we can’t tell you that.”

2. Doubtful miracle attributed to her

This item is not an accusation directed at Mother Teresa but rather at those responsible for her beatification. However, the issue does raise doubts on the integrity of those defending her legacy. The matter in question has to do with Mother Teresa’s beatification, which like all those before her, required the documentation of a miracle performed with the candidate’s intercession. In the case of Mother Teresa’s beatification, the “miracle” certified by the Vatican as genuine involves the healing of Monica Besra, a woman from Calcutta.

On September 5, 1998, exactly one year after Mother Teresa’s death, Besra applied a medallion bearing Mother Teresa’s image over what she believed was a tumor in her stomach, and this act purportedly caused the growth and the pain it caused to disappear instantly. However, the doctors who handled Monica’s case over several months claim that the growth in Monica’s stomach was not a full-grown tumor and that treatments they had administered could have been responsible for the cure. In fact, even Monica’s husband, Seiku, believes that his “wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle.” Adding to the mystery, the medical records of Besru’s case were taken away by a certain Sister Betta of the Missionaries of Charity, and a call to her by Time magazine simply had her responding, “No comment.”

1. False claims about the impact of her work

Even the harshest critics of Mother Teresa concede that she had a positive impact on some people’s lives, but how many lives, really? Aroup Chatterjee, an atheist who performed extensive research on Mother Teresa, claimed that “the living saint” deliberately misled the public several times about how many people the Missionaries of Charity were helping. For example, Chatterjee noted that Mother Teresa repeatedly changed the figures—from as low as 1,000 to as many as 9,000—relating to how many people her charities in Calcutta had fed, sometimes in speeches delivered within just days of each other. Then there’s Mother Teresa’s claim of a “modern school [in Motijheel]. . . with over 5,000 children in it” even if no such school established by her with such a large number of students actually exists. – The Richest, 7 May 2015

» Adrian Asis is a freelance writer from the Philippines.

Academics condemn Mother Teresa

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

Petitions

There are two petitions at Change.org requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to send official government representation to the controversial canonization ceremony for Mother Teresa on September 4th at the Vatican. Official Indian government representation for this sectarian Catholic religious function is deemed to be highly inappropriate as India describes herself to be a modern, science-oriented secular republic that does not favour one religious group over another. See the petitions HERE and HERE.

See also

  1. Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa – Aroup Chatterjee
  2. How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens
  3. Mother Teresa’s troubled legacy – S. Bedford
  4. Mother Teresa ‘a friend of poverty, not of the poor’ – Carol Hunt
  5. Living and working with the Missionaries of Charity – Amy Gigi Alexander
  6. Mother Teresa: More dirt on the saint of the gutters – Jayant Chowdhury
  7. Aroup Chatterjee: Revealing the whole truth about Mother Teresa – Kai Schultz
  8. St Teresa: The hypocrisy of it all – Jayant Chowdhury
  9. The scandal of Mother Teresa’s sainthood – Canterbury Atheist
  10. Mother Teresa defended notorious paedophile priest – Nelson Jones
  11. Mommie Dearest – Christopher Hitchens
  12. Nobel Prize acceptance speech – Mother Teresa
  13. To many critics, Mother Teresa is still no saint –  Adam Taylor
  14. Mother Teresa and her millions – Susan Shields & Walter Wuellenweber
  15. The ‘miracle’ that makes a saint out of Mother Teresa – Jaideep Mazumdar
  16. Mother Teresa was “anything but a saint” say research scholars – Kounteya Sinha
  17. Indian Rationalists question mother Teresa’s ovarian miracle – Sanal Edamaruku
  18. Mother Teresa brainwashed Hindus and fuelled an insurgency, claim BJP leaders – Andrew Marszal
  19. Is canonising Mother Teresa the Vatican’s strategy to gain ground in India? – Sandeep B.
  20. VIDEOS: Mother Teresa and her cult of suffering – Christopher Hitchens, Aroup Chatterjee & Others

 

62 people in the world have the same wealth as 3.5 billion – Chaitanya Mallapur

Mayawati's one crore rupee garland

Chaitanya Mallapur“India has only 42,800 people with declared income exceeding Rs 1 crore; that is 0.1 per cent of 35 million Indian tax payers, as former finance minister P. Chidambaram mentioned in his 2013-14 budget speech. India has 172 million people below the poverty line, IndiaSpend reported earlier; we also reported how wealth is increasing in India but so is inequality.” – Chaitanya Mallapur

MoneyWealth of the richest 62 people rose 44% in the five years since 2010, while that of the bottom half fell by 41%

Just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.5 billion people—the bottom half of humanity—in 2015, according to a new report, An Economy For The One Per Cent, by Oxfam, a global advocacy.

This figure is down from 388 individuals as recently as 2010. The wealth of the richest 62 people has risen 44 per cent in the five years since 2010, an increase of $542 billion (Rs 24,66,100 crore) to $1.76 trillion (Rs 1,07,36,000 crore), which is 86 per cent ($2.05 trillion) of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014.

The wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars in the same period, a drop of 41 per cent.

This scenario is a reminder of aphorism, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”, a commonly used socialist criticism of capitalism. The findings provide some context to the forthcoming January 20 World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland with the theme: Mastering The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Had inequality within countries not grown during 1990 and 2010, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty. That could have risen to 700 million had poor people benefited more than the rich from economic growth,” the Oxfam report said.

Wealth Of The Richest And Poorest

“There is no getting away from the fact that the big winners in our global economy are those at the top,” the Oxfam report said. The poorest half of the world’s population received 1 per cent of the total increase in global wealth, while half of that increase went to the top 1 per cent, since the onset of the 21st century.

In China, the rich 1 per cent own a third of its wealth, while the poorest 25 per cent own 1 per cent, according to a recent study conducted by Peking University’s Institute of Social Sciences.

“Our economic system is heavily skewed in their favour (the rich), and arguably increasingly so,” said the Oxfam report. “Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate. Once there, an ever more elaborate system of tax havens and an industry of wealth managers ensure that it stays there, far from the reach of ordinary citizens and their government.”

How wealth is spirited away to tax havens

Nine of ten companies, of 200 analysed, are based in at least one tax haven. Corporate investment in tax havens in 2014 was nearly four times larger than that in 2001, according to Oxfam’s analysis.

One recent estimate is that $7.6 trillion of individual wealth—more than the combined gross GDP of the UK and Germany—is currently held offshore, the Oxfam report said.

Similarly, around 30 per cent wealth of Africa’s rich (around $500 billion) is held offshore, leading to a tax-revenue loss of nearly $14 billion to African countries.

The gender pay gap is also quite evident—53 of 62 world’s richest people are men. Women make up the majority of the world’s low-paid workers, concentrated in the most precarious jobs, the report said.

In India, the pay of CEOs skyrockets

The chief executive officer (CEO) of India’s top information technology firm makes 416 times the salary of a typical employee in the company, the Oxfam report said.

Indian law makers passed a disclosure mandate in 2013, requiring CEO pay ratios to be made public, according to this report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consultancy. India’s stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), is now releasing the first set of such data, the Oxfam report said.

The top executive at ITC, the country’s largest cigarette manufacturer, for example, is paid 439 times the median salary for employees at his company, said the Oxfam analysis, quoting this report from Quartz, a portal.

India has only 42,800 people with declared income exceeding Rs 1 crore; that is 0.1 per cent of 35 million Indian tax payers, as former finance minister P. Chidambaram mentioned in his 2013-14 budget speech. India has 172 million people below the poverty line, IndiaSpendreported earlier; we also reported how wealth is increasing in India but so is inequality.

What the pharma industry—one of the world’s most profitable industries—has wrought

The pharmaceutical sector, one of the most profitable industries on the earth, strongly protects intellectual property rights (IPR), which has paved the way for 90 billionaires.

The report explains how pharmaceutical companies in the US pressure their own government and through it, the Indian government and Indian pharma companies to honour IPR. For instance, pharmaceutical companies spent over $228 million lobbying in Washington in 2014.

In India, patient groups, civil society organisations and government have challenged pharma giants for access to cheap medicines.

For instance, patient pressure groups claim that India has imported only small quantities of Onbrez (Indacaterol), a drug whose rights are owned by the Swiss multinational Novartis, whose drug could help as many as 30 million Indians suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

To meet the demand, an Indian multinational company Cipla, based in Mumbai, began manufacturing its own version of Onbrez and selling it for a fraction of the original price. – Rediff.com, 18 January 2016

» Chaitanya Mallapur is a policy analyst with IndiaSpend.

Mukesh Ambani's Complaint

Ten Richest Indians

The Gandhis need to come clean on their wealth – Saisuresh Sivaswamy

Rahul, Sonia, Robert & Priyanka.

Saisuresh Sivaswamy“In the world’s largest democracy, the voters have no clue about the wealth of their netas, not just the Gandhis. But the latter stand out, one, because they occupy the centre-stage of Indian politics, and, two, by deed and inference they seem to suggest that their brand of politics is different from the discredited version that we see play out on our television screens day after day, night after night.” – Saisuresh Sivaswamy

Sonia Gandhi as DurgaThrough the weekend the social media was abuzz with talk of Sonia Gandhi’s net worth being higher than that of Queen Elizabeth II. The reason for the online chatter: A feature by the credible and creditable Huffington Post on the wealth of world leaders, which rated Gandhi higher than the British monarch in the pecking order.

HuffPost was not the first to make such a claim, but like with previous such listings by other news publications that either met with a stodgy silence from the ruling family of India or a redaction, HuffPost has since clarified:

Editor’s Note: Sonia Gandhi and the former emir of Qatar Hamid bin Khalifa al-Thani have been removed from this list. Gandhi was originally included based on a listing on a third-party site which was subsequently called into question. Our editors have been unable to verify the amount, removed the link, and regret any confusion….

But in this note lies a story. Which is that in the world’s largest democracy, the voters have no clue about the wealth of their netas, not just the Gandhis. But the latter stand out, one, because they occupy the centre-stage of Indian politics, and, two, by deed and inference they seem to suggest that their brand of politics is different from the discredited version that we see play out on our television screens day after day, night after night.

But for a matriarch who, it was claimed, was the piloting force behind the revolutionary Right to Information Act which removed the veils of secrecy surrounding the government, she and her offspring, not to mention extended family, like the rest of their political ilk, have been chary of disclosing their wealth to the nation.

As none of the Gandhis are members of the Union Council of Ministers, they are not required to submit updated details of their wealth to the Prime Minister’s Office. Thus, the only details of their wealth is from candidate affidavits for the 2009 election, going by which Mrs Gandhi can never rank higher than the British queen, unless the latter has fallen on really really bad times.

For these are her details: Cash of Rs 75,000; Rs 28,61,660.89 in a bank account with UCO Bank; Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million) in mutual funds; RBI bonds for Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million); 10 shares of Maruti Technical Services Pvt Ltd (unquoted); 500 shares of Western India Tanneries Ltd; NSS  Rs 199,380; PPF with interesting amounting to Rs 24,88,887.39; jewellery (presumably gold) of 2518.450 gms worth Rs 11,08,100 in 2008; silverware of a whopping 88 kg valued five years ago at Rs 18,37,440.

Rahul & Priyanka campaigning in Sultanpur, UPMore interesting are the details of immovable properties owned by her. The 2009 affidavit says she owns three bighas of land in village Dera Mandi and 12 bighas in village Sultanpur, valued at Rs 219,300. Then there is an ancestral property in Italy, valued at Rs 18.05 lakhs (Rs 1.80 million).

But, but, but … the important point here is that either the valuation is at face value, like with mutual funds, RBI bonds etc, or market value as on March 31, 2008. If she was a Union minister, we would have known the current market value of every bit of investment and property she owns.

Even this, it seems, is not a very popular move among our ministers, for as of the morning of December 3, 13 ministers are yet to submit their asset details, three months after the deadline expired.

And here is the clincher: The Indian Express points out that a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate in the 2008 Delhi assembly election had declared his landholding similar to what Sonia Gandhi holds in village Dera to be worth Rs 18.37 crore (Rs 183.7 million)!

According to a Supreme Court ruling, candidates contesting elections are required to announce the value of their assets, but this seems to be something observed more in breach, most of them preferring to either not mention current details or take shelter behind outdated valuations.

Robert Vadra: Not a mango person!When you think about it, rather than hiding behind legalities, verbal obfuscation and such, the HuffPost report could have been an opportunity for the Gandhi family, including the son-in-law about whose real estate dealings so much has been said and written, to tell the nation just how much they are worth.

The Gandhis, for all their claims, you realise, never ever address the media or the nation. What we hear from them is second-hand information, attributed to ‘sources close to the family’, and even this information is presented to show the family in a good light (like how Sonia wanted the Food Security Bill passed despite being admitted to hospital during the vote) etc, never what the nation wants to know (and one is not talking of a television show here).

Even their reluctance to accept an office of power, you realise, could be tied to their reluctance to come clean about themselves, their wealth.

Could this reluctance be tied to the family’s projection of themselves as the last bastion of the aam-aadmi‘s [mango people’s] interests?

Do they fear that a full disclosure of their not-inconsiderable assets would go against their carefully-cultivated pro-poor image?

In the absence of any word from any of them, all one can do is speculate. And add to the not-too-flattering buzz on the social media about them. Even on this medium, you realise, the family has been loath to engage, leaving their frontline defence to party loyalists.

Which is a real tragedy. For the India that reposed its faith in the Gandhi mystique in 2004, and followed it up again in 2009, is not the same nation that will go to the polls next year.

It is a changed India, impatient India, questioning India — and the UPA headed by Mrs Gandhi being the primary agent of this change.

RTI LogoIt is this India that seeks, needs and wants a clarification from the first family about itself. Debunking it would be disowning the very change they have wrought.

And in the absence of disclosures from them, there will always be a miasma of doubt over their sincerity towards a new and clean brand of politics. – Rediff.com, 3 December 2013

Rajiv Gandhi Swiss Bank Account

Sonia-G richer than Queen of England and Sultan of Oman according to new report – Maleeva Rebello

Gandhi, chief of India's ruling Congress party, hiding from the Opposition in parliament.

Maleeva Rebello“Sonia Gandhi is the President of the Indian National Congress and has a net worth of US $2 billion. Sonia Gandhi has made her net worth from her many years in politics and [is] the longest serving [INC] president in the past 125 years. She was born in Lusiana, Veneto, Italy and has been involved in politics for over 13 years.” – Celebrity Networth

On their website, Huffington Post World has a report that claims Congress President Sonia Gandhi is placed No12 on the list of rich world leaders.

The report places Sonia Gandhi as richer than Elizabeth II, the Queen of England and Bashar Al-Assad, President of Syria.

In 2009 while filing her nomination for the Lok Sabha election, Gandhi, stated that she owns neither a car nor a house in India but she has an ancestral home in Italy valued at Rs 18.02 lakhs.

Sonia Gandhi’s assets, according to the affidavit, totalled Rs 1.38 crore, nearly Rs 1 crore less than what her son Rahul Gandhi reportedly has.

Gandhi’s affidavit said that she had Rs 75,000 in cash and Rs 28.61 lakh in bank deposits.

In addition she had mutual funds worth about Rs 20 lakh and Rs 12 lakh in Reserve Bank of India bonds.

A sum of Rs 199,000 was deposited in post offices and Rs 24.88 lakh with the Public Provident Fund.

Sonia Gandhi’s jewellery, weighing about 2.5 kg, was valued at Rs11 lakh while 88 kg of silver possessed by her was stated to be worth about Rs 18 lakh.

She owns two plots of agricultural land totalling up to about 15 bighas and valued at Rs 219,000. Their location is not mentioned in the affidavit.

Sonia Gandhi paid Rs 558,000 in income tax for the assessment year 2008-09 and Rs 32,512 in wealth tax.

But this report in one of the top websites in the world claims, the INC president has $2 billion wealth which is roughly Rs 90,000 crores.

However, the report does not clearly state how it has arrived at the comparisons and monetary values of the leaders.

The Middle East according to the report is the richest region as 7 in the list of 20 come from there. – DNA, 2 December 2013

DNA adds a disclaimer today Dec. 3, 2013:

The Congress had rejected the report and the Huffington Post report now carries a footnote at the bottom of the article stating, “Sonia Gandhi and the former emir of Qatar Hamid bin Khalifa al-Thani have been removed from this list. Gandhi was originally included based on a listing on a third party site which was subsequently called into question. Our editors have been unable to verify the amount, removed the link, and regret any confusion.”

Indian Catholic Church properties valued at rupees several lakh crores — D. P. Satish

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, PuducherryImmaculate 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.

D.P. SatishThis 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

Cardinal Oswald Gracias is the de facto head of the Catholic Church in India.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.

Eduardo FaleiroBut, the shocked clergy are not in a mood to change their system. They claim that the demand is absurd and allows government interference.

“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

See also