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India    BISHOP SAYS CASTE SYSTEM REPLICATED IN RELIGIOUS CONGREGATIONS
Archbishop Arokiasamy or Madurai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has stirred controversy by suggesting social discrimination based on the caste system has a decisive influence in the election of congregational leaders.
    Pointing his finger at women's congregations, he said chapters were carried out in such a way as to elect officials who are 'only from one particular community'. He described the caste division in Indian society as 'social sin' that 'will only finish in the Church if it stops among religious and priests'.
    At a recent assembly, Sr Venantia, president of the Conference of Women Religious of Tamil Nadu, hit back at the Archbishop's claims, insisting there is a quota system in force to guard against the tendency. But another religious from the Congregation of Santa Ana said that in her congregation there is 'a large number of women religious who come from the same group' who are able to influence the election of the superior general often in a decisive way.
    The Jesuit Provincial acknowledged the problem, suggesting the solution lies in an increase of faith and prayer.
    The debate received prominent reporting in the local press.
   
Vidimus Dominum
13 July 00



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