KARACHI, Aug 30: The controversy over the denationalization of two city colleges has brought to light a wide diversity of opinion within the Christian community on the Sindh government decision , with one side hailing the move and the other questioning the authority of the Catholic Board of Education.
The president of the Catholic Association, Herbert Fernandes, told Dawn on Monday that it would be incorrect to call the Catholic Board of Education the original owners of St Joseph's College for Women and St Patrick's College.
"The Catholic Board of Education is not representative of Catholic Christians in Karachi. These bishops, priests and nuns are looked after by the laity who give them food, accommodation, medical facilities and salaries. The board run by them cannot be called the owner of the colleges," he said.
Mr Fernandes said the Catholic Association was established by His Holiness Pope Pius XI in 1937. He added that the association was registered with the government under the Societies Registration Act 1860 on May 9, 1970.
In response to a questionnaire sent by Dawn, a spokesman for the Catholic Board of Education said that the board was established in 1961 to "maintain and manage all present and future educational institutions belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi."
"The board is registered with the government under Societies Registration Act 1860 (registration number 1235). Before 1970, the board maintained and managed about 35 primary, secondary and high schools (Urdu and English medium) and three colleges. They all operated within the parishes of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi."
The spokesman said that currently the Catholic Board of Education maintained and managed 56 primary, secondary and high schools (18 English medium and 38 Urdu medium), for boys and girls belonging to all segments of society.
Claiming that the Catholic Association has thousands of members in Karachi who are elected as office-bearers on a regular basis, Mr Fernandes said that the Catholic Board of Education did not have elected office-bearers. He alleged that the clergy selected yes-men as members of the board.
The spokesman for the Catholic Board of Education said: "The Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi appoints the board. He is also the ex officio chairman of the board."
Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi Evarist Pinto was born in Goa on Dec 31, 1933. He was ordained priest in Karachi on Jan 6, 1968. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Karachi on Feb 17, 2000.
He was appointed titular bishop of Castra Severiana on Feb 17, 2000. He was appointed apostolic administrator of Karachi on Nov 20, 2002. Finally, he was appointed Archbishop of Karachi on Jan 5, 2004.
Sources told Dawn that Archbishop Evarist Pinto presided over a meeting of the Catholic Board of Education's ad hoc body for the denationalization of St Joseph's College and St Patrick's College, on July 16, 2004.
They recalled that an adviser to the archbishop on the denationalization of colleges had presented a report on the Sindh government's decision to return the two colleges to the Catholic Board of Pakistan.