Catholic Church leadership under fire for overtures to BJP

May 02, 2023 11:26 pm | Updated 11:26 pm IST - KOCHI

The BJP and its cadres in Kerala are wooing Syrian Christians to the party to get the support of one of the major minority communities. It appears that some of the bishops support the move.

“Are the Christian leaders in Kerala unaware of the agenda of Hindutva ideology”, asked retired archbishop of Guwahati Thomas Menamparampil. He cited the “inimical” attitude to Christians and conversions of what he called RSS frontal organisations such as Janjati Dharm Sanskriti Suraksha Manch (forum for protection of tribal religion and culture).

Archbishop Menamparampil’s opinion finds an echo in the words of archbishop (retired) of Bhopal Leo Cornelio, who said Kerala bishops don’t understand the entire context of India. “They are thinking in terms of only one State as if Kerala is India”.

The criticism of Kerala church leadership has been aired in interviews of the retired archbishops in the ‘Light of Truth’, a fortnightly published from Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. The archbishops spoke in the wake of church leaders meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi in the last week of April. The meeting bolstered a widespread perception that the BJP is wooing the Christians, who are perceivably charmed by the party gestures.

Archbishop Cornelio did not take names but said some bishops made comments without understanding. He referred to the question of the factors in play in the price of rubber. In late March, Archbishop of Thalassery Joseph Pamplany stirred up a hornets’ nest when he openly linked Christian support to BJP to the price of natural rubber.

The church leadership should limit their intellectual endeavours to educating the people and working for the poor. “When invited by party leaders, they should only send their representatives. They should not go in person. I don’t think shunning them is an option”, archbishop Cornelio added.

Archbishop Menamparampil said “while Modiji has visited the Delhi Cathedral, he has not said a single word of sympathy about Fr. Stan Swamy at any stage”. He also said it was not for him to suggest the political strategies to be adopted by Christian community in various parts of the country with varying situations.

In the midst of these developments, the archbishop said: “We must still renew our trust in the balanced and mature element in Hindu society. We should explore ways of entering into dialogue with them at life-related levels where people look to each other for cooperation”.

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