However, several churches under Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Ernakulam district did not read out the circular due to difference of opinion in the matter.

Amidst criticisms Kerala Catholic churches read out love jihad circular at Sunday massFB / Syro Malabar Church
news Controversy Sunday, January 19, 2020 - 16:34

Despite drawing severe criticisms, the Syro Malabar Church continues to repeat its stand on ‘love jihad’. According to the church, Christian women are being targeted, recruited to terrorist outfit Islamic State and even killed. Detailing this, a circular, issued by Church chief Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, was read out in many parishes at the Sunday mass.

It was at the recently held synod (a high profile meeting of Bishops) of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church that it stated that love jihad is real and that Christian women are under the threat of being forced to undergo religious conversion after being allegedly trapped in a fake relationship. The church, however, made the statement without offering any statistics or based on any specific reports.

In the circular, dated January 15, that was read out in churches on Sunday, it is stated that Christian women are being targeted under a conspiracy through inter-religious relationships, which often grow as a threat to religious harmony. “Christian women from Kerala are even being recruited to Islamic State through this,” the circular read.

“Rather than understanding it religiously, the issue should be looked at as a social menace, like terrorism or law and order issue. The synod has demanded that the authorities take action. It has also been decided to start awareness programmes among parents and children,” it stated.

The Syro Malabar Catholic Church is one of the three churches of the Kerala Catholic Church. It drew criticism from other church leaders. According to sources, the circular was not read in many of the churches under Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Ernakulam district due to difference of opinion in the matter.

The church drew flak from its leaders and members for its statement. Reformist groups criticised the church for generalising and terming inter-religious marriages and relationships as ‘love jihad’. Slamming the church, reformist groups like Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, Joint Christian Council and the Council Against Religious Exploitation said that such statements were being made in order to shift the focus of believers from the accusations of corruption faced by the Church leaders.

Read: Kerala Catholic Church taking right-wing stand on ‘Love Jihad’ and CAA: Reformists

In its weekly magazine named ‘Sathyadeepam’, the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, under the Syro Malabar Church, slammed the synod for targeting Islam in the name of ‘love jihad’. “At a time when the country is burning in the name of religious politics, it is common sense to not pour oil in the fire by belittling any religion,” read a column titled Varikalkidayil.

Syro Malabar Catholic Church and the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council, both headed by Cardinal Alencherry, had expressed their support to the BJP over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Though in the circular (read out on Sunday), the Church asked the Centre to relook at the CAA by including illegal migrants of all religions, it criticised the protests against it across the country. “It is equally condemnable to use violent means to protest against laws of the country as it is bad to oppress people by not allowing them to protest,” the circular stated.