By UCA News
By Stephan Uttom
(UCA News) — As Bangladesh’s government inaugurated 50 model mosques across the country, Catholic officials called for state funding to build churches on the basis of equality of all religions.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the mosques on June 10. The government had planned to build 560 model mosques with Saudi Arabian funding but is now funding the mosques itself because the Saudi government did not provide funds.
Project director Najibur Rahman said the mosques would become centers of social activities as well as propagating pure Islam. Each mosque is built at an estimated cost of US$ 2 million.
Bishop Gervas Rozario, chairman of the Catholic bishops’ Peace and Justice Commission, wrote that “the government is also a government of minorities” and asked when minorities would receive places of worship.
Father Patrick Gomes, secretary of the Inter-Religious Dialogue Commission of the bishops’ conference, was also critical.
“If all religions are treated equally, the government should also allocate funds for the Church. Yes, the government allocates some for our festivals but it does not allocate for the church building. The government should allocate money to all religions on the basis of fairness,” he said.
“I think it is not just my demand. The demand of all Christians or Hindus is that the government will also allocate money for our religious institutions. I will discuss this issue in our commission meeting.”
Nirmol Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said it has already spoken to church authorities to come up with a project to develop pilgrimages.
“Through our Christian Welfare Trust, the government allocated around $470,588 for our Christmas [events] in the last three years,” he told UCA News.
“But we have to submit project proposals for building churches or infrastructure. If our bishops propose projects, we will definitely work for them through the Christian Welfare Trust and hopefully, the government will also agree.”
Apart from performing prayers for men and women, the new mosques include an Islamic book sales center, library, autism corner, imam training center, Islamic research and medicine activities, safe house, children’s and mass education activities, accommodation for tourists, and registration of hajj pilgrims.