A group of concerned church leaders and activists in southern India has launched a campaign to combat "the deep-rooted cancer of corruption" within churches.

The campaign has been established following the murder of a bishop, the imprisonment of another, and a rise in concern among church members that corruption is rife in church hierarchies, particularly in denominations which receive funding from abroad.

A seven-member task group of officials from church-related organizations "to fight corruption and violence within the church" has been set up following a meeting by more than 20 church leaders on December 9 at the Inter-Church Service Association (ICSA) in Chennai, capital of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

"We are now planning to convene a larger meeting with as many church leaders as possible to make the movement against corruption [in churches] effective," Moses P. Manohar, ICSA executive director and co-ordinator of the anti-corruption campaign, told ENI.

The meeting on was chaired by K. Rajaratnam, a prominent Lutheran leader and former president of the National Council of Churches in India, who is also director of the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College in Chennai.

He told ENI: "Corruption is rampant among church leaders. The mission of the church is not on the agenda of many church leaders. Their real agenda is power and money." Rajaratnam is also the executive secretary of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of India (UELCI), a forum of 11 Indian Lutheran churches.

Shortly after the meeting, the church leaders issued a statement saying the campaign had been prompted by the recent "killing of a head of a church on property-related issues and the award of two months' imprisonment by the judiciary to another ...

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