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Latin Catholics express concern

Dora, wife of Valentine.

Dora, wife of Valentine.  

The Latin Catholic community has expressed concern at reports that Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, has expressed interest in “mediating and seeking a peaceful settlement” to the row over the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines on board an Italian oil tanker .

Two marines from the ship had been arrested and remanded in connection with the killings.

Mar Alencherry reportedly made the statement from Rome on Tuesday in an interview to Fide s , the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

The Latin Catholic community is apprehensive that the Archbishop's statement will weaken the case against the marines arrested under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. Though there has been no open protest, news reports about the Cardinal's statement have become a talking point in the Kollam Latin Catholic diocese.

A member of the community who did not wish to be quoted told The Hindu that may be the Cardinal failed to realise that the fishing community at Moothakara was Catholic. Valentine, one of the dead fishermen, hailed from the fishing hamlet at Moothakara.

Dora, wife of Valentine, alleged that attempts were being made to whisk the ship away from Kochi. “We are more apprehensive when religious leaders make statements that facilitate such a move,” she said.

(In a petition submitted to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday, she alleged that facts and figures in the First Information Report prepared by the Neendakara Coastal Police Station in connection with the killing of her husband by the marines had been manipulated in favour of the accused. She requested that the prosecution team for the case should be those she could trust, alleging efforts to let the marines go scot-free.)

It seemed that the Cardinal was taking sides with the killers of his father, her son, Derrick, 17, said.

President of the Kerala Independent Fish Workers Federation T. Peter said the Cardinal called for “peaceful settlement” without even condemning the killing of the fishermen or condoling their deaths. He said the Cardinal not only insulted the fishing community but also Indians as a whole.

Mr. Peter said the Cardinal should withdraw the statement. He said the federation would organise protests if the Cardinal did not withdraw the statement.



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