Syro Malabar Church In Kerala Issues ‘Guidelines’ For Inter-Faith Marriages After Christian Girl’s Wedding With Muslim Man Triggers A Row

Syro Malabar Church In Kerala Issues ‘Guidelines’ For Inter-Faith Marriages After Christian Girl’s Wedding With Muslim Man Triggers A Row  A church
Snapshot
  • The directive comes on the heels of complaints of Christian women being targeted by Muslim men in such inter-faith marriages.

    In fact, it was due to the rising inter-faith marriages of Christian women that the word “love jihad” was coined by the community in 2009.

Under fire for solemnizing the marriage of a Christian woman with a Muslim man, the Syro Malabar Catholic Church has come up with 'guidelines' for such inter-faith marriages in its community.

The Syro Malabar Church, which is one of the 22 Eastern (Oriental) Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, has directed its bishops to hold interfaith marriages in adherence to strict canon laws.

The church asked the bishops to treat inter-faith marriages as “disparity of cult marriages” but conduct them in the proper Catholic way.

According to the guidelines, the church will not mix wedding ceremonies with practices of other communities and religion for such inter-faith marriages.

Non-Christians will have to express willingness to be part of the Christian ceremonies for such marriages, as per canon laws.

Traditions such as tying the mangalsutra, exchanging rings, garlanding, gifting clothes and lighting lamps would be allowed in line with familiar practices of other faiths.

A Christian marrying a person from another faith is not considered as a sacrament and is treated as “an unusual event”. This would mean that there will not be any communion or mass but only “wedding service”.

Also with regard to Catholics, they will have to swear that they will continue to believe in the faith despite being married to a non-Christian.

The Syro Malabar Church came up with this directive following a controversy over the conducting of the Christian woman’s marriage with a Muslim man on 9 November at St Joseph Church in Kadavanthara in Kerala’s Ernakulam district.

The controversy was triggered after photos of the wedding, taken by Bishop Mathew Vaniyakizhakkel from Satna in Madhya Pradesh, were published by the media.

This resulted in the church being criticised for promoting such marriages.

The church priest, Benny Maramparambil, wrote to his Vicar, Mar Antony Kariyil, that the marriage was solemnised adhering to the norms of the “disparity of cult” marriages.

Maramparambil told the Vicar that the bride’s priest had found no impediment to her marriage. But senior priests belonging to Kerala Catholic Bishops Council have accused the priests of flouting canon laws.

Vaniyakizhakkel, as a bishop, is not supposed to attend such marriages but he said he was there as a photographer.

He has subsequently apologised for attending it and “creating confusion among the faithfuls”, saying he was present as he knew the bride’s family well.

Syro Malabar Church cardinal Mar Alencherry has ordered an investigation into the incident, while the Catholic Bishops Council will also probe it. The church said bishops will be asked to strictly follow the guidelines in conducting such inter-faith marriages.

The Syro Malabar’s directive comes on the heels of complaints of Christian women being targeted by Muslim men in such inter-faith marriages. In fact, it was due to the rising inter-faith marriages of Christian women that the word “love jihad” was coined by the community in 2009.

Besides Christian women, those from the Hindu community, especially from Kerala’s Ezhava community, are targets of such marriages.

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