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10-POINT PROGRAMME OF THE TNBC AND TNCRI-31st JANUARY 1990, VELLORE


In places of worship and burial grounds Christians of Scheduled Caste origin (CSCO) should be treated on a footing of equality and there should be no discrimination.

Opportunities should be created in the dioceses to enable CSCO to join seminaries, convents and religious congregations in numbers.

In order to create leadership in their ranks, CSCO should be encouraged to become members of Parish Councils, Parish Finance Committees, Diocesan Pastoral Councils, Multi-Purpose Social Service Societies and other Church related organizations, and entrusted with responsible positions.

In matters of admission to Catholic Teacher Training and Industrial Schools, preference should be given to the students belonging to the CSCO.

Special coaching classes should be conducted to improve the educational standards of the students who are weak in their studies to enable them to improve their performance.

Preference should be given to CSCO in matters of appointment in the educational institutions, Social Service Societies and other Church sponsored organizations and projects.

In the Diocesan Social Service Societies, development projects should be exclusively designed to promote the economic development of the CSCO and members of these should be chosen to involve actively in the execution of such projects and in the training programmes connected therewith.

To encourage higher education, particularly technical and professional education among CSCO, the diocesan and Religious Congregation should jointly create a Scholarship Fund as a source of encouragement to deserving students.

An SC/ST/BC Commission should be created in each diocese immediately to monitor the programmes meant for these people.

In the CSCO struggle to obtain their rights and privileges from the Central and State governments the TNBC Commission should actively support their programmes in this regard.


ACTION PLAN FOR THE INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC DALITS IN TAMIL NADU


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

The Catholic Church of Tamilnadu has faced a lot of challenges in its long history. The sacrifices of the martyrs and missionaries laid the base on which Christianity was founded in Tamilnadu. When Christianity began to get rooted in India, people primarily decided to embrace it as mark of protest against casteism seeking their right to live with equality and human dignity.

It is a historical fact that the missionaries declared emphatically that there was no place for caste discrimination in Christianity and opposed casteism. However, when people from different castes became Christians, they carried along with them the hierarchical caste system with all its evil. In the long run casteism got entrenched with all its evil forms and designs in the Catholic Church. As a result the Dalits were discriminated against within the Church. Though there is no place for caste discrimination and untouchability in Christ’s teaching, it is painful to see that the forms of untouchability and discriminatory practices are still prevalent in the Church.

The Dalit Christian Movements placed their demands before the Church leaders seeking equality and social justice within the Church. In this context, the Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and the Tamilnadu-Pondicherry Catholic Religious of India (TNPCRI) declared the Ten-point programme for the development of Dalit Catholics at Vellore on 30th January, 1990. The period of ten years from 1990-2000 was declared as the Decade of the Development of Dalit Catholics. Though the Ten-point programme was declared in 1990, no worthwhile initiative was taken to implement the programme even after ten years.

The Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council requested the Madras Institute of Developmental Studies (MIDS) to undertake a scientific evaluation of the implementation of the Ten-point programme for the period between 1990-2000. The evaluation report was submitted to the TNBC at Vailankanni in July 2003. The TNBC constituted a review committee to study the evaluation report and make recommendations. Based on the recommendations of the review committee, the TNBC and the TNPCRI involved in a series of consultations at various levels and evolved the “Action Plan for the Integrated Development of Catholic Dalits of Tamilnadu”. The clarition call of the Holy Father John Paul II given to the Bishops of Tamilnadu in Vatican on 17th November 2003 also stressed the need for proactive measures of the Church towards the development of Dalit Catholics.

Therefore we, the TNBC and the TNPCRI, call upon all the priests, religious and the faithful of the Catholic Church of Tamilnadu to effectively implement this action plan.



  • (Sr. Leema Rose)
    President
    Religious Conference
    Tamilnadu-Pondicherry
  • (Bishop Peter Fernando)
    President
    Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council
  • Bishop Chinnappa
    President
    TNBC Commission
    for SC/ST/BC

ACTION PLAN FOR THE INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC DALIT CHRISIANS IN TAMILNADU



I.  Abolition of Caste Discriminations
A. To identify the prevailing caste discriminations in places of Worship, Cemeteries and Festivals within a year.

TNBC – SC/ST Commission, Diocesan SC/ST Commissions and Parish Councils

B. To promote common Cemeteries in places where there are private Cemeteries. Abolition of all the discriminatory practices in places of Worship.

Diocesan Bishop and Diocesan Laity Commission

C. To take appropriate steps to include abolition of untouchability and promotion of equality in Liturgy, Catechism and Human Rights Education.

Commissions for Bible, Catechism and Liturgy and Commissions for Justice and Peace.

D. To denounce and dissociate from all Festivals, Rituals and other Cultural events that uphold caste domination and discrimination.

Diocesan Bishops, Diocesan Commissions for Family and Youth, Parish Priests.

E. To promote caste-renouncing marriages between Dalits and non-Dalits. To give preference in education and employment to the couples and their children, besides offering financial assistance to such marriages.’

Diocesan Bishop, Diocesan Commissions for Family and Youth, Parish Priests.

F. To initiate intensive and continuous campaign for caste – renouncing marriages. To take up continuous efforts such as training programmes to create caste renouncing consciousness among the priests and the religious.

Educational Institutions, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and Heads of Religious Congregations.

II. Education
A. To admit all Catholic Dalit students in Catholic educational institutions.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils and Parish Priests.

B. To motivate all the Catholic Dalit students to pursue higher studies and ensure their admission into Catholic educational institutions and hostels.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils and Parish Priests.

C. To give preference to all Catholic Dalit students in Higher Secondary Schools and Colleges in subjects like science and mathematics that offer greater job opportunities. Special cut-off marks to be fixed for admission of Catholic Dalit students.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils.

D. To offer special concessions in educational and hostel fees to eligible Catholic Dalit Students (family’s annual income not exceeding Rs. 25,000/- first generation learner / parentless)
To give special concessions to the concessions to the Catholic Dalit students in higher education on the basis of their family income.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils and Hostel Directors.

E. To conduct free and compulsory Special Coaching Classes in subjects like English, mathematics and Science for the Dalit students weak in studies.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions.

F. To identify Catholic Dalit students with an aptitude for professional education and employment in the beginning of every academic year and conduct necessary follow up training during vacations.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Diocesan SC/ST Commission and Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society.

G. To establish evening study centres in Dalit villages and in place where Catholic Dalits are in a considerable number and appoint at least one Dalit teacher with a minimum monthly remuneration.

Diocesan Bishops, Secretary of the Diocesan SC/ST Commission, Director of the Diocesan Social Service Society and Local Religious Congregations.

H. To constitute a Scholarship Fund in all the dioceses and religious congregations to assist the Catholic Dalit students to pursue their college education and professional studies

Diocesan Bishops, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations.

I. To evolve a reservation policy within a year in every diocese and religious congregation in proportion to the Dalit population of the diocese or a minimum of 40% and admit Catholic Dalit students in Teacher Training Institutions, ITIs and Polytechnics.      

TNBC and TNPCRI

J. Every Catholic educational institution in a diocese should submit a report to the secretary of the Diocesan SC/ST Commission at the beginning of every academic year with all the necessary details of admission of Dalit students, priority given to them and educational assistance and special privileges offered to them.

Diocesan SC/ST Commission and Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions.

III. Employment
A.  To fix a reservation policy, in proportion to the Dalit population in a diocese, which would cover appointments in all Catholic educational institutions, offices and service organizations. 

Diocesan Bishop, Heads of Institutions, Diocesan Educational Council, Diocesan SC/ST Commission and Superiors of Religious Congregation.

B. To set up Career Guidance and Training Centres in all the dioceses for Dalit Catholics and work in collaboration with such centres run by religious congregations.

Diocesan Social Service Society, SC/ST Commission and Religious Congregations.

IV. Integrated Socio-Economic Development
A. To implement special projects for the socio-economic development of Catholic Dalits.     

Diocesan and Religious Social Service Societies, Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

B. To appoint Dalits or persons with a Dalit option as the directors of Social Service Societies.

Diocesan Bishops, Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society, Provincials and Superiors of Religious Congregations, Directors, of Religious Social Service organizations, SC/ST Commission.

C. To establish and promote People’s Bank (with Dalits as shareholders) to help Dalits attain economic self – sufficiency.

Diocesan Bishop and Social Service Centres.

D. To encourage and guide Catholic Dalit entrepreneurs to avail bank loans with subsidies.

Social Service Societies, SC/ST Commission.

E. To give preference to Catholic Dalit engineers and construction workers in all the construction activities in Christian institutions.

Diocesan Procurators, Procurators of Religious Institutions, Heads of Institutions, Parish Priests, Superiors of Religious Houses.

F. To give opportunities to Catholic Dalit Entrepreneurs to supply provisions and other materials to all Catholic institutions.

Diocesan Procurators, Procurators of Religious Institutions, Heads of Institutions, Parish Priests, Superiors of Religious Houses.

G. To distribute land owned by the Church to deserving Catholic Dalits for community cultivation and construction of houses.

Diocesan Bishop, Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society, Diocesan SC/ST Commission, Provincials and Superiors of Religious Congregations and Directors of Religious Service Organizations.

V.  Participation in Administration
A. To ensure due representation of Catholic Dalits, particularly Dalit women in Parish Councils, Finance Committees, Diocesan Pastoral Councils, Diocesan Finance Committees, Social Service Societies and Governing Boards of Educational Institutions. 

Diocesan Bishops, Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society, Diocesan SC/ST Commission, Diocesan Educational Council, Provincials and Superiors of Religious Congregations, Directors of Religious Service Organizations and Parish Priests.

B. To ensure due representation of Dalit priests and religious in decisions making bodies

Diocesan Bishop, SC/ST Commission and Heads of Religious congregations.

VI. Vocation Promotion
A. To conduct vocation camps in parishes and schools and make Dalit students participate in such camps in good numbers.  

Diocesan Bishops, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Rectors of Seminaries, Heads of formation Houses, Vocation Promoters, Secretary of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

B. To appoint Dalit priests and religious as Vocation Promoters and Rectors and Heads of Formation Houses to promote vocation among catholic Dalits.

Diocesan Bishops’, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Rectors of Seminaries, Heads of Formation Houses, Vocation Promoters, Secretary of Diocesan SC/ST Commission

VII. Constituting an Effective SC/ST Commission
A. To constitute SC/ST Commission in every diocese with the basic infrastructure, sufficient staff and financial resources and with the authority to co-ordinate all the activities for the development of Catholic Dalits.

Diocesan Bishop and Secretary and Members of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

B. To endow the Diocesan SC/ST Commission with the power and authority to monitor and promote all the activities for the betterment of Catholic Dalits.

Diocesan Bishops and Secretary and Members of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

C. To encourage people’s movements working for Dalits by offering them financial assistance and guidance.

Diocesan Bishop and Secretary and Members of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

D. To empower the SC/ST Commission to collect necessary information regarding activities for the development of Catholic Dalits

TNBC - TNPCRI

VIII. Obtaining the Rights of Dalits.
A. To demand from the Central and State Governments equal rights for the Catholic Dalits on par with other Dalits on India and take up strenuous efforts to obtain them.  

President, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council, President and Secretary of TNBC – SC/ST Commission, President and Secretary of CBCI – SC/ST Commission and Representatives of Dalit movements.

B. To approve and support with involvement all movement activities of Catholic Dalits to obtain their rights.

President, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council, President and Secretary of TNBC – SC/STCommission, President and Secretary of CBCI – SC/ST Commission and Representatives of Dalit movements.




Monitoring Committee

1 Diocesan Bishop 1
2 Secretary, SC,ST Commission 1
3 Director, Social Service Society 1
4 Vocation Promoter 1
5 Representative from Educational Institutions 1
6 Representatives from Religious Congregations 2
7 Representatives from Catholics (3men + 2 women) 5
8 Coordinator of Diocesan Commissions 1
9 Secretary, Diocesan Pastoral Council 1
10 Members nominated by the Bishop (2 men + 2 women) 4
Total 18



Regional General Monitoring Committee:

Ex-Officio Members:

1 President and Secretary, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council 2
2 2. President, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 1
3 President and Secretary, TNPCRI 2
4 Secretary, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 1
5 Vice-President, Dalit Christian Development Forum 1
6 Representatives of Dalit Christian Development Forum(M1+F1) 2
7 Secretaries, Diocesan SC/ST Commission 17



Elected Members

Diocesan Representatives from the Laity 18



Regional Central Monitoring Committee

1 President, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 18
2 Secretary, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 1
3 President and Secretary, TNPCRI 2
4 Dalits Representatives from the Laity (zonal) 5
5 Secretaries, Diocesan SC/ST Commission (zonal) 5
Total 14



Statements of CBCI on Dalit issue


The Church’s response to the urgent needs of the country Mangalore, January 9-17, 1978 No: 14. Page 58.

“The dignity of man confers certain inalienable rights upon him, whatever be the accident of his birth. Any curtailment or, what is worse, denial of these rights is an act of injustice. Hence, discrimination of any type must be part of our Christian concern. When unfortunately, it is practiced within the Church itself, it becomes a countersign to the Gospel values we profess”.

The Statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (Kottayam 1988, No 11 page 133) says,.

“We are sadly aware that Christians too retain many negative aspects of the larger society of which they are part. The Scheduled Castes who have joined the Church should have found in it a community of equality and of freedom from caste oppression. But many of them feel twice discriminated against. The Secular State deprives them of economic benefits on a purely religious basis. The discrimination based on caste that is rampant in the rest of society continues also among Christians. Most Christians of Scheduled Caste origin are still deprived of economic opportunities, access to adequate educational facilities, leadership roles and participation in decision-making.”

Statement of the General meeting of CBCI Shillong, November 9-16, 1989 IV. page 146

“The Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin have a double discrimination, as due to the Presidential Order of 1950, they are excluded from the benefits which the Constitution of India guarantees to their counterparts in the Hindu and Sikh religion, while like their Hindu brethren they suffer the brunt of caste discrimination. Converts to Catholicism from among them had hoped for a status of equality, but the structured inequalities practiced in Hinduism continue to be reflected and imposed in the new faith. Despite their break from Hinduism and the caste system, despite the continual assurance of equality, the oppressive and discriminatory past of the Dalits continues is alien to the spirit of Christianity”.

The Statement of the CBCI (Varanasi, March 21-28, 1998) says:

“The prevalence of the caste-based practices, not only in society but also in some parts of the Church in India even at the close of the 20the century, is a matter of shame and disgrace to all of us. It is a cause of sorrow and expression of our inability to live our Christian faith adequately. It is not only a denial of human dignity and equality, but also against the fundamental teachings of Christ…”

Pastoral letter of te Catholic Bishops of India on the occasion of Yesu Krist Jayanti 2000 Chennai, January 17-24, 2000. 1.iii. page 193

“Our efforts to build up communities of love and sharing meet with serious difficulties coming from sociological and cultural factors. In some parts of our country, our communities are not free from caste discriminations. This prevents them from respecting the sacred dignity of the human person, which Christ came to communicate to human kind. We need to eradicate this sinful reality from our Christian Communities.”

CATHOLIC EDUCATION AND THE CHURCH’S CONCERN TO THE MARGINALIZED Bangalore, February 8-15, 2006 Page 220 No 6

“Marginalization has been a phenomenon in our country from very early days, especially as a result of the caste system. Caste discrimination still continues in our country, and sadly has its repercussions on the Church. As Bishops, we reiterate our strong condemnation of this as sinful”.

THE CHURCH’S ROLE FOR A BETTER INDIA, Bangalore, February 1-8, 2012 No 8.7 page 244.

“Recognizing that untouchability and caste discrimination are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus, we will root out this evil, wherever it exists, from within the Church and make concerted efforts to empower Dalits”.

Address of Pope John Paul II, to the Bishops of India, On their “AD LIMINA” Visit, Date, Monday, 17 November 2003.

Since the Pope is aware of the practice of untouchability even among the Christians he gave the following advice.

“All the times, you must continue to make certain that special attention is given to those belonging to the lower castes, especially the Dalits. They should never be segregated from other members of the society. Any semblance of a caste-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to authentic human solidarity, a threat to genuine spirituality and a serious hindrance to the Church’s mission of evangelisation. Therefore, customs or traditions that perpetuate or reinforce caste division should be sensitively reformed so that they may become an expression of the solidarity of the whole Christian community”.