The Catholic Church in India has decided to declare January 26 as the Constitution Protection Day, said the largest church of India. Amid the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) stir across the country, marking the 71st Republic Day, the church with the archbishops across the nation has urged the people to read the preamble from the Constitution of India to remind every citizen of the roots of secularism on which the whole India stands as one nation.
Earlier, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and former head of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, said in an interview to The Indian Express, that, “Religion cannot be a criterion for deciding one’s citizenship,”.
A letter has been released to all the parish priests under his diocese and in this letter, Paul Antony Mullassery, Bishop of Kollam in Kerala, has asked all parishes as well as Catholic organisations to read the preamble and take a pledge to protect the Constitution on Sunday. He said the observation of the Constitution Protection Day is to make the citizens conscious of the citizenship and the duties, stated The Indian Express.
The Indian Express quoted Bishop D’Souza saying, “The country is going through an unprecedented social situation. The Prime Minister who took over charge by kissing the Constitution is leading attempts to violate the values provided by the Constitution for this country. Most important among this violation is the division of society on the basis of religion. We should react strongly to exclude one particular community from the CAA.”
He has further expressed his apprehensions that the government may exclude Christians also which was evident in the government’s move to end the constitutional provisions that “guarantee the reservation for the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha and excluding Dalit Christians from the reservation policy.”
Many prominent Christian bodies in India have raised their voice against the injustice against Muslim community by excluding them from giving citizenship under the newly introduced Citizenship Law.
Archbishop Thomas D’Souza from Kolkata urged the community to be part of the human chain in the city which was organised by the United Interfaith Foundation to express the “desire of all citizens of India to have and uphold the values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”
Archbishop D’Souza also wrote a letter to the parishes in Kolkata, said, “Since the Republic Day is closely associated with the Constitution of India completing 70 years, I request you to carry out the following in all our parish/quasi-parish churches,”and gave the preamble of the Constitution.
In Kerala, Joseph Powathil, the senior-most Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church also extended their support to the anti-CAA protest by opposing the controversial Act by cautioning it is like spurning the continuation of democracy in India.