Church asks priest to withdraw from elections

The church of Jharkhand has asked a Roman Catholic priest to withdraw his candidature in the assembly elections on the ground that contesting a poll is against his oath.

Albinus Murmu has filed his nomination papers from Shikaripara assembly constituency on a ticket from the United Goan Democratic Party.

"He has violated canon law by filing his nomination. Catholic priests, nuns, fathers, brothers and other persons who have taken oath to serve god are barred from fighting any election," Julius Marandi, bishop of the Dumka Roman Catholic church, was quoted as saying.

He said the church had appealed to him to withdraw from the elections. If he did not do so, he would face action.

Added C.R. Prabhu, rector of the Roman Catholic church of Ranchi: "Canon law talks about serving people. If anyone fights elections, it means that he identifies with a particular political party. Identifying with a particular political party means dividing people and canon law does not permit it."

Church leaders cite the example of a Karnataka priest, Father Joseph, who fought the 1977 election in Karnataka as a Janata Party candidate. He won the elections, but was suspended.