Nepalese Church seeks freedom

The Church in Nepal has urged that the preamble to the country’s new constitution should include the word ‘secular’ in order to ensure religious freedom.

Responding to Hindu nationalist calls that the constitution should establish a ‘Hindu Nation’, the Apostolic Vicariate has also asked Nepal’s major parties that Christianity be listed, along with Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, as one of the country’s recognised religions.

This would allow churches to register as legal bodies and buy property.

Work on Nepal’s new constitution has taken place since the country’s Hindu monarchy was deposed by a Maoist-led uprising in 2006.

The current draft constitution has an article on freedom of religion, but Fr Silas Bogati, vicar general, says that “reiterating the secular character in the constitution is crucial to upholding complete religious freedom”.