Intro: A Catholic Bishop in Kerala ended up in swallowing his own words against a prominent Hindu organisation.
In Kerala when the Hindu reaction snowballed beyond the imagination against a Catholic Bishop Mathew Anikkuzhikkattil’s statement, he ended up in swallowing his own words against a prominent Hindu organisation Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP).
Idikki Bishop Mathew Anikkuzhikkattil alleged that SNDP practises ‘love jihad’ with Catholic girls, marry them and convert them into their faith. He said that after undergoing religious education the Catholic girls elope with Muslim auto drivers or SNDP men leaving their own families behind. Though inter-caste and inter-religious marriages get the blessings from the government, believers should oppose to this practice, he said.
SNDP and its youth wing came out with strong protest marches and even burnt the effigy of Bishop. They declared that they would file a suit against him for raking communal tension. Bishop is reported to have said this while addressing the meeting of a diocese body on June 14: “Christian girls are being ‘abducted by love jihad’ carried out by Hindu outfit SNDP Yogam. Inter-caste and inter-religious marriages will destroy Christian essence and style. We should be vigilant against the secret aims of the SNDP Yogam”.
Vellappalli Nateshan, General Secretary of SNDP, blasted the Bishop. He called Bishop ‘a religious fanatic who spits venom’. Vellappally added, the Bishop should be booked under charges of spreading communal enmity. He said: “A case should be registered against the Bishop under Section 153 (A) of the Constitution. The Church should have a rethink on retaining such people in the clergy.” Kummanam Rajasekharan, State General Secretary of Hindu Aikya Vedi, told Organiser that Bishop’s statement would create communal tension: “Bishop is attacking Hindu bodies with the sole aim of camouflaging the Church’s long time practice of converting Hindus into Christianity by temptation and pressure tactics; the deplorable endevour to hide their own lapses. The very statement that Hindus convert Christians into Hinduism is totally misguiding. On the other hand, conversion is the practice of Christians. If at all they are sincere in their rhetoric, what they should have done was to argue for the ‘anti-conversion law’. But, they never do it. That means they want to hide their own activities. That is why Bishop rakes the non issues like inter-cast and inter-religious marriages.”
RSS Kerala prant karyavah P Gopalankutty informed Organiser that Bishop Mathew Anikkuzhikkaattil’s attempt to equate SNDP activities and love jihad is absolutely wrong: “SNDP has never been charged for such steps. No Keralite will take it. SNDP leader Vellappalli Nateshan has been exposing the wrong methods and approaches of the Church hence it attacks his organisation. His own colleagues disagree to his view. That is why Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) itself declared that Anikkuzhikkaattil was wrong.”
When the Bishop realised that Hindu bodes were not going to lie down and weep, Bishop had no other alternative than going to Vellappalli Nateshan and apologise for his non sense outbursts. On the other hand Vellappali showed the magnanimity of forgiving the Bishop. He asked his men to stop protests against the Bishop.
But, Mar Joseph Powathil, the Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Changanasserry, has published an article in Deepika a morning daily on June 17 supporting the communal stand expressed by Bishop. He says in the article that it is desirable to avoid inter-caste and inter-religious marriages in view of safeguarding the Church’s faith. Church opposes such marriages for the protection of the faith. Recently Mar Joseph Powathil had stirred a controversy by stating in the editorial of Deepika that the RSS and the ISIS were technically the same. —T Satisan, Kerala