Church Conflict in India

The Vatican and many of the Latin-rite bishops of India are not treating the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church with justice, Auxiliary Bishop Bosco Puthur of Ernakulam-Angamaly in Kerala, India, told Pope Benedict XVI on April 7 during an ad limina visit to Rome. While other Christians and other religions enjoy the freedom to build churches and conduct services anywhere in India, the Eastern Catholic churches “are denied it, paradoxically not by the state, but by our own ecclesiastical authorities,” the bishop said. Generally the leaders of Eastern Catholic churches, like the Syro-Malabar Church, enjoy full freedom to elect bishops and erect dioceses only in their church’s traditional territory; otherwise, the responsibility is left to the pope, often in consultation with the Latin-rite bishops of the region concerned. Bishop Puthur told Pope Benedict that the Syro-Malabar church’s traditional territory was all of India until Latin-rite missionaries arrived in the 15th century. Now any of its faithful who live outside Kerala State are subject to the authority of the local Latin-rite bishop.

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