The priest of the church where the marriage was celebrated says that everything was by the book. But the “love jihad” remains an issue.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The controversy surrounding the marriage between a Muslim man and a Catholic woman has prompted the Syro-Malabar Church to issue a series of guidelines for bishops to ensure that priests who celebrate interfaith marriages strictly follow canon laws.
The issue developed following an interfaith wedding celebrated in Ernakulam, solemnised by a bishop, The Times of India reported.
The marriage between a Catholic woman and a Muslim in Kochi (Kerala) took place on 9 November at the Kadavanthra St Joseph Church. Mar Mathew Vaniyakizhakkel, a former bishop of Satna, was present
A photograph of the couple with the bishop, published in a newspaper, drew criticism from certain quarters. As a result, Card Mar George Alencherry ordered an investigation into the event and requested a report from Archbishop Mar Antony Kariyil of Ernakulam-Angamali.
In a letter to Archbishop Kariyil, Fr Benny Maramparambil, vicar of the church where the wedding was celebrated, said that the ceremony was celebrated according to the rules for marriages in Disparitas Cultus, disparity of worship, as the Church calls interfaith marriages.
Fr Maramparambil said he received a letter from the bride’s parish, in which the priest of the church in Kuzhikkattussery, stated that there were no "impediments" for the marriage.
However, senior priests from Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) have alleged that both priests violated canon law. “The Catholic Church has written rules to be followed in such situations. The bishop of the diocese concerned must give his approval,” a priest said.
This move by the Church of Kerala is significant, especially since states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh announced plans to introduce legal provisions against "love jihad".
In Madhya Pradesh, a bill is before the local state assembly. If approved, it would impose five years of rigorous imprisonment for "offenders".
"Love jihad" is not a term recognised in India’s legal system. It was allegedly coined by Sangh Parivar (nationalist) groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) about an imaginary Muslim conspiracy to convert unsuspecting Hindu women to Islam.