India blocks foreign funding for Mother Teresa’s charity
The Indian government has refused to renew the authorization for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MoC) to receive funds from abroad, cutting off a key source of support for her work in favor of the poor.
Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun who died in 1997, founded the MoC in 1950. The charity has more than 3,000 nuns around the world who run hospices, community kitchens, schools, lepers and homes for abandoned children.
The Home Office on Saturday rejected a request to renew its license from the charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
“During the examination of the MoC renewal application, some negative contributions were noted,” the ministry said, without providing details.
The ministry denied an allegation that it froze the charity’s bank accounts, and said it was done by the charity itself.
Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the state of West Bengal where the MoC is based, wrote on Twitter that she was shocked to learn that the ministry had frozen all MoC bank accounts in India.
“Their 22,000 patients and staff were left without food or medicine. While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised, ”wrote Ms. Banerjee, Leader of the Opposition and vocal critic of the government.
Vicar General Dominic Gomes of the Archdiocese of Calcutta said the freezing of accounts was “a cruel Christmas present for the poorest of the poor.”
The MoC then issued a statement confirming that its license renewal application had been denied and that it had instructed its centers not to maintain foreign contribution accounts until the matter was resolved.
Government move comes as die-hard Hindu groups affiliated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party accuse the Culture Ministry of running religious conversion programs under the guise of charity by providing food to poor Hindus and tribal communities , medicine, money, free education and shelter. Earlier this month, the culture ministry was investigated in Mr. Modi’s home state of Gujarat over complaints that girls in his shelters were being forced read the Bible and say Christian prayers. The charity has denied the allegations.
Critics say religious tensions have increased under Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, with more frequent attacks on minorities.
Hindu vigilantes have disrupted Christmas religious services in parts of India, including some states led by Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where local elections will be held in the coming months .
The hindu The newspaper reported on Monday a disruption to Christmas celebrations over the weekend and last week, including the vandalism of a life-size statue of Jesus Christ in Ambala in Haryana, a northern state ruled by the BJP.
He said activists burned a model of Santa Claus and chanted anti-Christmas slogans outside a church in Varanasi, Mr. Modi’s parliamentary constituency and Hinduism’s holiest city.
Elias Vaz, national vice president of the Catholic Union of India, condemned the latest incidents.
“India’s strength lies in its diversity and the people who made it on Christmas are the true anti-nationals,” Vaz said.
Several Indian states have passed – or are considering – anti-conversion laws that challenge the constitutionally protected right to freedom of belief in the country.
Christians make up just 2.3% of India’s nearly 1.4 billion people, while Hindus make up the overwhelming majority. The Catholic population of 18 million is the second in Asia after the Philippines.
Updated: December 27, 2021, 7:01 PM