Kotayam: The CPM on Tuesday warned the church against issuing any more pastoral letters criticising the government in Kerala.
Since the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government came to power in 2006, church leaders have denounced it in 10 pastoral letters. The edicts have prompted strong reactions from the Left parties.
“Issuing pastoral letters against the communist government with a political end is not right. I wish to tell the church leaders that the times have changed.
"Kerala is a state, which has a large Christian community and a large communist and Left movement,” CPM Secretary Prakash Karat said. “We have to learn to co-exist.”
The main bone of contention is the state government's educational policy. It wants to control admissions to self-financing colleges, many of which are run by Christian bodies. The Church says this violates the constitutional right of minorities to set up and run educational institutions. So far the talks of reconciliation haven’t had any breakthrough.
“It’s true that the Marxist party is strong in Kerala. But they must also realise that the church is strong in this community,” Spokesperson for Syro - Malabar Church Father Paul Thelakat said.
Church leaders insist the pastoral letters educate their flock about the government's policies, but some see this as a calculated attempt to get the church members to stop supporting the communist party.
“They began by saying that those associated with the communist party should not hold any office in the churches or parish level. Some of the pastoral letters exhorted the followers who had voted for the communist party not to support the party anymore,” Educationist Ninan Koshy said.
The Left Front perhaps sees the need to bridge this gap before next year's Parliamentary elections. Conducting the CPI-M's state conference in Christian dominated Kotayam, may have been their way of telling the church they're here to stay.
(With Neenaz Ichaporia in Delhi)