The All-India Catholic Union (AICU), the apex body of lay Catholics in India, has called for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) to nurture a greater role for the laity in church institutions, commissions and temporal affairs.
The concerns and demands of the laity were raised during a dialogue with the CBCI Laity Commission representatives, which concluded here on Tuesday.
AICU president Eugene Gonsalves said that the participation of laity in financial management and administration of educational and other institutions of the church would go a long way in removing current infirmities and lead to greater transparency. “The AICU will hold laity synods (conferences to discuss on doctrines and administration) in various parts of the country ,primarily to gain feedback from laity participating in church affairs and clergy-laity relationships,” Eugene told Express. “The synod is proposed to be held in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, North-East and West Bengal from December this year. The national-level synod will be held in 2013. Though laity conferences had been held in India earlier, it is for the first time that a synod is being held. It aims at framing rules in consultation with the faithful regarding participation in church affairs,” he said.
The AICU had urged church leaders to ensure that Catholic students were not denied admissions in Catholic institutions.
“Many institutions with catholic minority status deny admissions to students from the community against the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India and the CBCI education policy. Dioceses should warn all Catholic minority institutions against breaking the law,” he said. Demand had also been raised to select qualified laity to head the educational institutions of the church.
The AICU had proposed to set up an arbitration committee for each diocese, to internally resolve the issues between the laity and diocesan Bishop regarding temporal affairs and to avoid legal battles, which will be negative publicity for the community.
Other major demands of the AICU include formation of a laity body in dioceses, which will have the same power in governance at par with those in sacred orders.
Replying to questions, Eugene Gonsalves said that demands and suggestions to the CBCI were raised not in confrontation with the clergy.