The wedding between a Muslim man and a Catholic woman held in Kochi in November triggered a row as it was attended by a former Bishop of Satna.

Bride and groom kneeling before the priest in a churchImage for representation only
news Controversy Monday, January 04, 2021 - 18:25

After a wedding between a Muslim man and a Catholic woman in a Kochi Syro Malabar church triggered a row, a three-member inquiry commission by the church body declared the marriage invalid. The commission’s report also recommends action against the two priests who led the marriage.

On November 9, 2020, a wedding between a Muslim man from Kochi and a Catholic woman from Irinjalakuda was held at St Joseph’s Church in Kadavanthara. The wedding triggered a controversy as it was attended by a former Bishop of Satna, Madhya Pradesh. Traditionally, Bishops do not attend mixed or interfaith marriage ceremonies.

The row started after a photograph of the couple posing with the Bishop was published in a newspaper. This drew criticism from the laity who alleged that the church was ‘promoting’ interfaith marriages while speaking out against ‘Love jihad’ on the other hand. Following this, the Syro Malabar Church Archbishop, Mar George Alencherry, ordered a probe by the major archiepiscopal tribunal.

The tribunal found that the bride’s party had failed to follow the canon law while carrying out an interfaith marriage. According to Canonical law, a marriage between people of two faiths (termed ‘Disparity of Cult’ weddings in the church) requires the permission of the Bishop. The commission found that the bride’s party had not received permission from the Bishop. The tribunal’s report also stated that the Ernakulam-Angamali and Irinjalakuda parish bishops were unaware about the marriage. Instead, the bride’s party got a letter from the priest of the Kuzhikkattussery church, which is the bride’s parish, and submitted it to the vicar of Kadavanthara St Joseph’s Church, where the wedding was held.

The probe report also added that there were serious lapses on the part of the vicar of Fr Benny Maramparambil, vicar of St Joseph Church, Kadavanthara and Fr James Anthiyunthan, the priest of the Kuzhikkattussery church.

A senior priest from the Syro Malabar Church explained, “To validate the marriage now, the bride’s family members should submit an application. The bride should join the Kadavanthara Church as a member and file an application before the parish priest, which will be approved by the Ernakulam-Angamali archdiocese bishop. Otherwise, the bride should submit an application in her native parish and the Irinjalakuda bishop will validate the marriage. Presently the marriage is deemed invalid.” 

The church has also issued detailed guidelines to all priests on how to conduct Disparity of Cult weddings.

Read: After wedding stirs row, Syro-Malabar church to issue set of rules on interfaith marriages

The Catholic Church in Kerala has earlier alleged that Catholic women were becoming victims to ‘Love jihad’ – an idea that claims that members of the Muslim community were marrying women from other religious faiths and forcing them to convert to Islam. It has also alleged that Christian women were being lured into joining the Islamic State. This narrative along with a former Bishop posing with a Muslim man and a Catholic bride further stoked a row within the church.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.