Body to govern Church property divides Christians

An increasing tendency among Christians to sell Church properties is noticed.

Posted on August 14, 2012, 8:58 AM


By reporter

A proposal to govern Church properties through a statutory body has divided Christian groups in a central Indian state.

“The properties of Christians are being grossly misused and illegally sold out,” alleged Anand Bernard, a member of the Minority Commission of Madhya Pradesh state who proposed the idea.

He told today that he took the step after noticing an increasing tendency among Christians to sell Church properties.

“Unless an effective mechanism is put in place to check such misuse, the day is not far off when Christians in the state will have no property,” he warned.

Bernard wants the government to constitute body patterned on the Wakf Board that manages properties of Muslims.

However, his proposal has not many takers, especially among Catholics.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who heads the Catholic Church in the state, insisted Catholics do not require such body to govern their properties.

“Our properties are well managed and documented under the laws in the state,” the prelate told

However, he said he shared Bernard’s concern for protecting the Church properties and asked the lay leader to come up with concrete proposals. “Without such a document we cannot reach any conclusion,” the prelate told

Earlier, the Catholic bishops in the state had gone to the Supreme Court to oppose such a body. They withdrew the case later after state government told the court that it has no plan of a body to control the Christian properties.

Bernard’s fresh proposal has confused Christians, said Jerry Paul, general secretary of the Isai Mahasang (grand assembly of Christians), a body of lay people from all Christian denominations in the state.

According to him, Bernard’s proposal is “a real threat to Catholics who would lose their control over their properties” if the new body is set up.

Fr. Anand Muttungal, former spokesperson of the Catholic Church in the state who fought the court case, rejected the proposal as “unacceptable to Catholics.”

Implementing the proposal would ruin the community since the statutory body would indirectly get administrative powers over Christian institutions and charitable organizations.

Bernard said clashes over properties among members of Protestant groups have adversely affected children and brought disrespect to Christians.

He said he was consulting legal expert and others to draft a bill.

Asked about Catholic opposition, Bernard said he has got positive signals from the community leadership.

Church Properties , Illegal Sale , Madhya Pradesh
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Map of India showing location of Madhya Pradesh

Map showing location of Madhya Pradesh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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