No plans to bring in Church Act: Kerala Chief Minister

Vastavam web: The CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala Wednesday asserted it had no plans to bring in a law to manage temporal properties of the church in the state, as it distanced itself from a draft bill published by the Law Reforms Commission. Chief Minister Pianrayi Vijayan told a group of Catholic church representatives, who called on him here, that the commission had published the draft of the Kerala Church (Properties and Institutions) Bill, popularly known as the Kerala Church Act, without consulting the government.

During the tenure of the previous LDF government in 2006-11 also, the then Law Reforms Commission had submitted such a proposal but it was also rejected, Vijayan said. Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis, the Major Archbishop of Syro Malankara Catholic Church, Archbishop Soosa Pakiam, the head of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) and Thamarassery bishop, Mar Remegiose Inchananiyil were among those who visited the Chief Minister and appraised their concern regarding the issue, an official statement said here.

The church groups, including Syro-Malabar Church and Orthodox Church, had protested after the Law Reforms Commission recently published the draft of the bill on its website seeking views of the people. The new legislation was mooted to ensure fair and transparent administration of all properties and funds of churches and to provide remedies for maladministration,if any. The initiative to bring the legislation was taken after Catholic reformists in the state launched a campaign for a new law to govern church properties following a controversy over alleged land deals involving top priests of Syro-Malabar church.