The government did not freeze bank accounts operated by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, the Home Ministry said Monday evening, claiming that the Kolkata-based organisation had itself written to the State Bank of India asking for its accounts to be suspended.
The ministry said that on December 25 it refused to renew the organisation’s FCRA, or Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, licence after being made aware of “adverse inputs”.
“In consideration of these inputs on record, the renewal application of Missionaries of Charity was not approved. The FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity was valid up to December 31, 2021,” a statement from the ministry said.
“MHA did not freeze any accounts of Missionaries of Charity. State Bank of India has informed that Missionaries of Charity itself sent a request to SBI to freeze its accounts,” the statement clarified.
Officials at the Missionaries of Charity have refused to comment.
Earlier today there was controversy (and confusion) after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed shock at reports that the government had frozen Missionaries of Charity’s bank accounts.
“Shocked to hear that on Christmas, Union Ministry FROZE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity! 22,000 patients and employees have been left without food and medicines. While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised,” she tweeted.
Shocked to hear that on Christmas, Union Ministry FROZE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India!
Their 22,000 patients & employees have been left without food & medicines.
While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised.
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 27, 2021
Father Dominic Gomes, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, also hit out at what he said was a “dastardly attack on the Christian community”.
“In freezing the bank accounts of Missionaries of Charity… government agencies have given a cruel Christmas gift to the poorest of the poor… Missionaries of Charity Sisters and Brothers are often the only friends of lepers and social outcasts no one will even venture near… this latest attack on the Christian community and their social outreach is even more a dastardly attack on the poorest of India’s poor. We condemn the government action,” the Father’s statement said.
Earlier this month news agency AFP said police in Gujarat were investigating if the Missionaries of Charity had forced girls in a shelter home there to wear a cross and read the Bible.
District social officer Mayank Trivedi told AFP his complaint was based on a report by child welfare authorities. According to him, there were 13 Bibles and girls were forced to read the religious text.
The Missionaries of Charity, founded in 1950 by the late Mother Teresa – a Roman Catholic nun who lived and worked in Kolkata for most of her life and won the Nobel Peace Prize – denied all charges.
On the charges of ‘conversion’, Father Gomes said it “boggles the mind” and pointed out that if Christian organisations were intent on conversion “there would be many more Christians in the 2000 years Christianity has been on Indian soil than the 2.3% minority today”.
Mother Teresa died in September 1997. She was accorded a state funeral for her service to the poor, irrespective of caste and creed. In September 2016 she was elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis.
With input from AFP