The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Church call

New Delhi, Oct. 13: Nearly 400 prominent Catholic leaders belonging to the Delhi Archdiocese met to deliberate on crucial issues, including the plight of “marginalised” Catholics and Dalits and the role of Catholics in building up civil society, reports our special correspondent.

The focus of the first-ever diocesan synod was on improving the services, particularly for Dalits, women and children, who are “depressed and marginalised”.

The Catholic leaders also discussed the plight of the marginalised who have migrated to Delhi from various parts of the country.

The need to improve service institutions such as schools, colleges, hospitals, social service centres and old-age homes was also stressed as was the importance of family life in the changing world and the role of the laity in the administration of the church.

The meeting, however, did not discuss the Tamil Nadu Ordinance banning forcible religious conversions. That issue has been left to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), which is likely to seek legal opinion, according to Dominic Emmanuel, the Delhi Archdiocese spokesperson.

CBCI sources said the Ordinance issue will be taken up by the churches in Tamil Nadu. There was a plan to close down all minority-run educational institutions in the state on October 24 to protest against the government’s move and create awareness against the Ordinance among the parents of students of other communities studying in these institutions, said church leaders.

Emmanuel said the emphasis of today’s synod was the need for “church to look at itself, the character of the city, its problems such as trafficking in women, children, violence, injustice and the need to strengthen civil society”.

The meeting decided to organise 13 workshops on various issues concerning the church and civil society. Delhi Archbishop Vincent Concessao stressed that there should be no discrimination between dalits and non-dalits. “The service should be for everyone, irrespective of whether he is a dalit or not,” added Concessao.

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