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CBCI backs Catholic varsity in Chhattisgarh

THRISSUR, JAN. 9. The 26th biennial general body meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), in progress near here, has extended moral support to the Dharmadeepti University that is proposed to be started next year at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh by the Carmelite of Mary Immaculate (CMI) Congregation, and has cleared the suggestion to initiate the process of beatification of the Martyr, Devasahayam Pillai.

Briefing reporters here today on the proceedings of the CBCI meeting, the Archbishop of Nagpur, Abraham Viruthukulangara, and the CBCI spokesman, Fr. Babu Joseph, said the bishops would like to discuss the ramifications of starting the University before granting their final approval.

Replying to questions, they said the University is expected to involve an investment of Rs. 250 crores to Rs. 500 crores.

They said the CBCI would insist that the university should uphold Catholic values such as moral principles, equality and justice.

There must be a special effort to ensure that the less-privileged sections of the society are given adequate opportunities in the matter of admission.

However, those who can afford will be asked to pay more and the university will be run along the principles of self-financing educational institutions.

Following the passing of the Chhattisgarh Private Universities Act, 2001, that allows private entrepreneurship in opening universities, the CMI Congregation in the Jagdalpur diocese formed a Christian Educational Foundation of India and it applied for permission to start a university. The Chhattisgarh Government cleared the application and the university was gazetted in September 2003.

They said a BJP Government coming to power in Chhattisgarh was unlikely to affect the prospects of the university.

The new Government may change some of the decisions of the earlier Government, but it is unlikely that there will be a radical restructuring.

Martyr Devesahayam, killed for upholding the Christian faith and buried in front of the main altar at the St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral, Kottar, Tamil Nadu, was born in 1712 in a Nair family and was known as Neelakanda Pillai.

He served Marthanda Varma, the king of Travancore, as the army chief. In his youth, he was influenced by Christ, which led him to accept the Christian faith in 1745. Devesahayam was martyred on January 14, 1752 at Kattadimali in Kanyakumari district. It is rare for a layperson to be cleared for beatification. Devasahayam was married and was leading a family life even when he was preaching.

Situation in Uttar Pradesh

The CBCI office-bearers said that with the elevation of Mulayam Singh Yadav as Chief Minister, the minorities have started developing a feeling of security and peace in Uttar Pradesh.

However, much more needs to be done to build confidence among the minorities and Dalits, who are the frequent targets of attack there.

The CBCI meeting, which has `Church and Social Communication' as its theme, will come out with concrete proposals to strengthen the Church's presence in the media, they said. The new office-bearers of the CBCI will be elected on Monday and Tuesday.

A public reception will be held on Sunday for the Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals attending the meeting.

The Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, will inaugurate the reception, which is expected to be attended by about one lakh people and numerous priests and nuns.

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