Bishops see ‘misuse’ of cross by land-grabbers

Philipose Mar Chrysostum says a cross installed on encroached property has no sanctity

Updated - April 22, 2017 08:01 am IST

Published - April 21, 2017 07:40 pm IST - PATHANAMTHITTA/THRISSUR/KOCHI

The cross that was installed on encroached land before it was removed on Friday.

The cross that was installed on encroached land before it was removed on Friday.

A cross installed on an encroached property has no sanctity at all and hence the controversy over the removal of the cross at Pappathichola is baseless, Metropolitan Emeritus of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar Philipose Mar Chrysostum has said.

Mar Chrysostum was talking to The Hindu on the ongoing eviction of encroachments in Munnar by the Revenue Department. The high priest said he could not justify encroachment of government land. However, he said the case of those landless poor occupying a few cents of government land was a different thing.

CSI terms it misuse

Moderator of the Church of South India Bishop Thomas K. Oommen said no true believer could accept the reported misuse of the cross by ‘land-grabbers’ in Munnar. According to him the cross is a spiritual symbol of the triumph of good over evil.

He said the cross erected by land-grabbers on the ‘encroached’ land could never be treated as holy. He said believers should extend full support to the authorities concerned who took earnest efforts to contain such anti-Christian activities in the name of spiritual tourism.

Eviction hailed

Kerala Council of Churches president Geevarghese Mar Coorilos (Niranom diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church) said there were instances in the past of misuse of the cross by vested interests for colonisation or encroachment. ‘‘Jesus Christ might have been the happiest one to see the cross removed by the revenue authorities from the encroached land,’’ the Metropolitan said in his Facebook post.

‘Encroachment against belief’

Encroachment in the name of faith is against Christian belief, Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath has said.

The Archbishop said he did not support encroachers. However, the way the cross was removed with an earth mover caused mental hurt. It could have been done secretly, he said.

“The Church does not approve of the Spirit of Jesus. The teachings of the group do not match with those of the Church. The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) had asked them to mend its ways and released a circular in this regard,” the Archbishop said.

‘No links with the group’

The Syro-Malabar Church is against encroaching government land and installing religious symbols there, Auxilliary Bishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Diocese Mar Sebastian Edayanthrath said.

The cross is a symbol of sacrifice and must be respected. It should not be used as a cover for encroachment, he said and added that the Church has no links with the denomination charged with encroaching government land at Munnar.

(With inputs from Radhakrishnan Kuttoor in Pathanamthitta, Mini Muringatheri in Thrissur and John L. Paul in Kochi)

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