The statement of a senior bishop of Kerala that inter-faith marriages are against Christianity and some sections of the society have a hidden agenda to entice Christian girls has kicked off controversy.
Idukki Bishop Mar Mathew Annikkuzhikkattil had made this remark while inaugurating the pastoral council meeting of Kanjirappally diocese (Kottayam district) on Saturday. Many organizations have come out against the controversial remark and sought action against him.
“Inter-caste and faith marriages will spoil the purity and characteristics of Christianity. Though the government promotes such marriages we should discourage such tendencies,” the bishop said. He also alleged that unmarried Christian girls were enticed and forced to marriages by ‘love jihadist’ and people belonging to the SNDP.
Angry SNDP (a social outfit of Ezhava community) workers took out a procession before the state secretariat on Sunday demanding the bishop’s immediate arrest for his remarks which they claimed vitiated the communal harmony of the state.
The bishop, known for his off-the-cuff remarks, said six out of every 100 marriages were inter-faith and that was the main reason behind growing number of divorce cases.
“At least 5,000 divorces took place in the state last year. It seems our community is fast attracted to the western model,” he said. Though he made his statement at a religious congregation it was widely reported in the state inviting enough barbs.
SNDP (Sree Narayan Dharma Paripalana Yogam) general secretary Vellapally Natesan has sought the arrest of the bishop. “He’s spewing venom. The government should book him immediately on charges of vitiating communal fabric of the state,” the SNDP general secretary said.
Meanwhile, as the issue snowballed into a big controversy Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC), an apex body of Catholic priests, expressed regrets over the remarks of the Idukki Bishop. “We deeply regret if the bishop’s remarks hurt anyone,” KCBC said in a brief statement in Kochi.