Thiruvananthapuram: The Catholic Church in Kerala has decided to be “guarded” in its official communications and religious sermons in future, to ensure their words do not cause pain to other communities and their faith or create uneasiness in the society, a top church official said on Thursday.
The significant decision, seeking to put an end to the controversy over “Love and Narcotic Jihad” remarks made by a Bishop recently, was taken at the meeting of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) held in Kochi on Wednesday.
In an interaction with PTI, a Church official also said the Church will continue to do its “prophetic responsibility” of fighting against all sorts of social evils.
However, statements, speeches and reactions of the church and its officials on such matters will be presented before the public only after proper studies and discussions at its appropriate forum.
“In future, our statements, speeches and responses will be guarded. We will be very cautious as we do not want to hurt the sentiments of other communities. The Church always stands for openness and strengthening the secular fabric of the society by enriching the communal harmony,” the official said in his first of such interaction after the Bishop’s remarks rocked the state.
The KCBC has observed that the recent controversy over the “love and narcotic jihad” remarks made by the Bishop of Pala diocese of Syro-Malabar Church was an “eye opener” for the Church as it was “misinterpreted” by a section of media and politicians for serving their “narrow political and business interests” causing “pain and anguish” among members of another community, he said.
After their meeting on Wednesday, the KCBC, which includes bishops of Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, Knanaya Catholic and Latin Catholic churches, had issued a statement saying social evils pointed out by the church require a deeper study and serious enquiry instead of giving it a “different hue” and diverting it to other directions.
Choosing not to use controversial terminologies like narcotic jihad or love jihad in its statement, the council said that it rejects in unison all forms of interpretations which undermine religious harmony and weaken healthy co-existence in society by mischievously twisting the warnings of the pastors of this church.
“The KCBC disapproves of any covert attempts to show that there exists disunity among the Churches. The fundamental values of truth, love and justice, which the Catholic Church upholds, constitute the basis of all inter-religious dialogue and harmony among religions,” it had said in the release.
Addressing the laity in Kuravilangad near Kottayam recently, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala diocese had said that Christian girls were falling prey to what he claimed was “love and narcotic jihad” in Kerala and that wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy the youth.
The comment had resulted in a verbal duel and blame game amongst the major political parties — CPI(M), BJP and Congress — in the state.
The Congress, which criticised the Bishop for his remarks and the BJP, which supported the Bishop’s remarks, had attacked the Left government and the Chief Minister for their silence on the issue.
Thereafter, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on September 21 rejected outright the comments made by the Bishop, saying the southern state is a firm terrain of secularism and society would take strong stand against those who try to upset it.
The KCBC said that the Catholic Church in Kerala has been working towards peaceful co-existence and harmony of religions and for the cultural development of society in the state, through its varied services in the field of education and healthcare, as well as social and charitable actions.
The KCBC said it wants secularism and religious harmony always and vows to work for the same.