Five months after Father Dominic Valanmanal stirred a controversy by comparing children on the autism spectrum to animals, the Catholic priest has scheduled 'counselling sessions' and a 'prayer meet' for autistic children and their parents in Kerala.
In June 2019, Father Dominic was uninvited by churches in Canada and Ireland after his offensive remarks on autistic children sparked outrage.
“Why does this generation have autism and hyperactivity? The children of this generation – young men, young women – should keep this in mind. Alcohol, cigarette, beedi, narcotics, paan, adultery, masturbation, homosexuality, porn – if you are addicted to any of these, I say to you in the name of God. Dear children, keep in mind, tomorrow when you get married and have children, there is a high possibility of bearing these type of children. It is because the anointing (sanctity) is lost. The young men and women are not filled with the Holy Spirit anymore. Afterwards, they lead an animal-like life. They copulate like animals. They bear children like animals. Therefore, those children will also be like animals. Animals do not speak, they do not have ears and can’t hear. It is not human,” he had said in a controversial video which has since been deleted.
Despite his invites being rescinded by a few churches abroad, in Kerala, the priest has scheduled a 'prayer meet' preceded by a two day 'counselling session' for parents. The meet will be held on November 19, at the Marian Convention Centre in Annakara, Idukki, of which Father Dominic is the director. A prayer meet for the children will be held at the Renewal Retreat Centre (RRC) in Bengaluru on November 8, 9 and 10, for those who are unable to make it to Idukki.
Interestingly, the event is missing from the webpage of the Annakara retreat centre, which lists other events termed 'grace experiencing residential retreats' between November 2019 - 2020. For November, the page mentions retreats on 3rd and 11th and then moves on to retreats in December.
TNM confirmed that a prayer meet is indeed being held specifically for autistic children on November 19.
"Parents can come with or without the child a few days in advance. Father Dominic will counsel the parents over two days and a prayer meet will be held on November 19. It is a must that the concerned child attends this prayer meet even if they do not attend the counselling sessions," a staff at the Retreat Centre confirmed to TNM.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary in Canada had invited Father Dominic to facilitate a 'deliverance and healing' retreat in July 2019. However, following his comments on autism, his invite was cancelled as “did not reflect the pastoral care and concern that the Church has towards children and adults living with autism and their families.” The pastor of the parish also cancelled the event that Fr Dominic was supposed to lead.
In the same month, The Irish Times also reported that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has asked the invitation to Fr Dominic to lead a retreat in Dublin be withdrawn.