All India Catholic Union

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All India Catholic Union
Regions with significant populations
India16 million[1]
Catholic Church

The All India Catholic Union (AICU) represents almost 16 million Catholics in India: followers of the Latin Rite, the Syro Malabar Catholics and the Syro Malankara Catholics. It has 120 diocese and district units.[1] The AICU was established in 1930.


Plans for an organised union of Catholic laity were discussed at the All India Catholic Conference in 1919. [2] The All India Catholic League was formed in 1930 (with C. J. Varkey, Chunkath as Secretary[3]) and sponsored the All India Catholic Congress at Pune in 1934. The body was named the Catholic Union of India in 1940, with Professor M. Ratnaswamy of Anna Malai University as the first National President. The Catholic Union of India was registered at Chennai in 1966, and later changed its name to the All India Catholic Union.[4]

Presidents of the Union have included Prof. M. Ratnaswamy, Madras, Chev. A. Soares, Bombay, Chev. J. C. Rayon, Bangalore, Chev. D. V. D. Monte, Madras, Chev. G. S. Reddy, Hyderabad, Mr. George Menezes, Bombay (1986–90), Mr. Chhotebhai, Kanpur (1990–94), Mr. Peter Marbaniang, Shillong (1994–96), Mr. Norbert D'Souza, Pune (1996–2000), Dr. Maria Emilia Menezes (2000–2004)[5]

Dayal presidency[edit]

John Dayal was elected president of the Union on 20 September 2004, succeeding Dr Maria Emilia Menezes.[1] In 2005 Dayal expressed concern that Ekal Vidyalaya ("single teacher") schools run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hindu nationalist organisation were spreading hatred towards members of the Christian minority.[6] In May 2006 the union called on State and Central governments to take urgent action to protect the Christian community following escalating violence in states controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allied parties, including armed demonstrations by the RSS.[7]

In December 2007 the AICU petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's to intervene and stop the attacks that were being made against Christians in the Phulbani area of Orissa. According to their memo: "The official apathy, the police indifference and the freedom allowed to marauding bands of Hindutva fanatics and armed thugs in Gujarat has been repeated in Orissa in what is a planned conspiracy against the church and our faith". The AICU said that recent attacks could not have occurred "without the complicity of the official machinery and the backing of powerful political groups".[8]

Denis presidency[edit]

Dr. Remy Denis became president in 2008.[5] Denis has taken a somewhat radical position in saying that the clergy should confine itself to ministering to the spiritual needs of the people. Administration of the material goods of the church should be left entirely to the laity.[9] At a seminar in Goa in August 2009, former Union minister Eduardo Faleiro said that church property should be brought under the ambit of state laws, as was the case with other religions. This was endorsed by Remy Denis and other liberals. However John Dayal, representing the conservatives in the AICU, opposed any change. He said that the "Christian situation" was radically and materially different from that of the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions, and existing laws were sufficient.[10]

In February 2012 the AICU announced that it had started planning for a Laity Synod, to be held later in the year. This would be the first time such an event had been arranged in India. It would give the lay members an opportunity to think about their role in the church and the future of the church.[11] According to Remy Denis "The Second Vatican Council called for the empowerment of the laity. But after 50 years, there is not much to show". It was hoped that the synod would help find ways for the laity to become more involved in management of the financial and temporal affairs of the church.[12]


  1. ^ a b c "John Dayal elected All India Catholic Union National president". The Milli Gazette. 1–15 Oct 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  2. ^ "ALL INDIA CATHOLIC UNION". Citizens for Justice and Peace. Retrieved 5 March 2012.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ C. J. Varkey, Chunkath Archived 6 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "History". All India Catholic Union. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Office Bearers". All India Catholic Union. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  6. ^ Jacob Chaterjee (19 July 2005). "AICU president suspects Hindu charitable trust of forming anti–Christian schools for Indian tribals". Christian Today. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  7. ^ "Hyderabad Meeting of Catholic Union Working committee demands security, economic development for Christians in India". All India Christian Council. 8 May 2006. Archived from the original on 9 May 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Catholic forum's plea to Manmohan". The Hindu. 27 December 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  9. ^ Averthanus L. D'Souza (3 November 2009). "Modern Pastoral Challenges". Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  10. ^ Devika Sequeira (5 August 2009). "Conservatives oppose call for Church assets reforms". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  11. ^ "Catholic Union to announce dates of first Laity Synod soon". Times of India. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  12. ^ ANTO AKKARA (24 May 2011). "India's Catholics plan first synod for lay people". Anglican Journal. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2012.