We, the 'Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement (KCRM) had sent a memorandum by registered post in the June 2016, to Bishop Michael Mulhall of the diocese of Penbrke, Canada, who is the one-man commission appointed by the Holy See to investigate and report on the issue of endogamy practice in Kottayam Arch diocese. In that we also had requested to grant an appointment when he comes to Kerala next time to meet him in person. But there was no response.
When he visited Kerala next time he came to Pala Bishop's House also. When we heard of this, we went there for an appointment but it was denied by Pala diocesan authorities.
Now, when he came Kerala recently in this month (Dec. 16) and after failing to get an appointment till the last day, we decided to go to Mount St Thomas to meet him in person. Accordingly, on 17th Dec., the previous day of his departure, K George Joseph (President, KCRM), Prof George Varghese (Vice President),and George Moolechal (Jt. Secretary) reached the venue. Though reluctant first, finally he agreed to have a short interview with us and we could exchange briefly our views on the issue which he listened patiently. He also said that he had received the memorandum in the month of July. Then we handed over a copy in person, he received it pleasantly.
We, the KCRM, publish the memorandum here for the benefit of all those who are concerned about the issue.
For KCRM, George Moolechalil (Editor, Sathyajwala)
KERALA CATHOLIC CHURCH REFORMATION MOVEMENT (KCRM)
Reg. No. K-152/10
Tharakunnel Building, Pala P.O., Kottayam, Kerala, India – 686 575
K. George Joseph, Kattekara K.K. Jose, Kandathil Mathew M. Tharakunnel
Ramapuram P.O., Kottayam Mandaram, Jojo Gardens Pala P.O., Kottayam
Kerala, India-686576 Muttambalam P.O., Kottayam Kerala, India – 686575
Ph: 9496313963 Kerala, India – 686004 Ph: 9495188610
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 8547573730 email: email@example.com
To, Date: 15th Jun. 2016
His Excellency Bishop Michael Mulhall
Diocese of Pembroke, Canada
Memorandum to Bishop Michael Mulhall, the one-man commission appointed by the Holy See to investigate the practice of Endogamy in the Arch Diocese of Kottayam.
Permit us to introduce ourselves as office bearers of a responsible organization named ‘Kerala Catholic church Reformation Movement’ (KCRM) that exists since 1990 in the Catholic Community of Kerala. Our motto is to function as a corrective force in the Church.
We understand that your Excellency is the one-man commission appointed by the Holy See to investigate on the issue of endogamy which is practiced in the diocese of Kottayam. On this matter, we wish to share several points with you.
We strongly feel that the imposition of endogamy on the faithful of Kottayam diocese is not only against biblical exhortations and church teachings but also against natural justice and basic human rights. This is indeed a malpractice!
There are thousands of faithful who are victims of this malpractice. We list below some very practical problems which they have to confront:
- The expulsion from the parish and diocese amounts to social boycott and it affects their family relationships as well. Their status and acceptance in the families are downgraded, creating strains in the family, especially among brothers and sisters.
- A Knanaya widower can have children from his Knanaya and Non-Knanaya wives. Here, the children and the family as a whole face an uneasy situation in that the children are divided into two different parishes. The unity of family is broken here by the unchristian policy of Kottayam diocese.
- When Knanaya couples who have no children adopt orphans as their children, the adopted children are not given membership in the parishes of the adopting parents. Here also, the families are getting broken by the cruel policy of the Kottayam diocese.
- In Kerala majority of Christian families have family tombs for the burial of the members belonging to the particular family. This right to be buried in the family tomb also is denied to persons who could not follow the endogamy policy of Kottayam diocese. This also amounts to breaking the bond between the family members.
- There are thousands of men of above 40 to 45 years of age in Kottayam diocese who could not find suitable spouse from Knanaya community and therefore preferred to stay unmarried. Fear of expulsion bars them from getting married from other dioceses. It is common sense to guess that such a situation would definitely give rise to all kinds of unhealthy activities among them.
- Irrespective of the strict endogamy policy of the diocese, thousands of marriages take place every year by its members from other Catholic dioceses of Kerala. And, due to the expulsion policy, the population of the Knanaya Community get diminished very fast. It seems that the diocesan authorities of Kottayam are blind to this endangering situation leading to gradual extinction of their own community.
- Another problem this community faces is also worth mentioning. The endogamous marriages in this confined community means marriages with no much distant relatives or cousins. Scientific studies reveal that children from such marriages would have higher probabilities to genetic disorders.
- As the endogamy and all other related policies of Kottayam diocese are designed to promote and establish the Knanaya racial supremacy, it would have repercussions among the traditional Catholics of Kerala as well, as they are also proud of their high caste origin. And, according to them, the Knanaites came here fleeing from religious persecutions that happened in their home-land and that they had accepted them graciously. Hence, belittling the traditional Kerala Catholics by blowing up the Knanaya racial supremacy will be rejected vehemently by them and that is going to create a lot of social tensions among various Catholic sections in the society.
We believe that divisions, tensions and rivalries happen as we go away from Jesus’ teachings. In the case of Kottayam diocese even the teachings of the Church are violated.
Now we give the following reasons to explain why the Holy See ought to give strict instructions to the Kottayam diocese to do away with the policy of endogamy and accept all the expelled persons along with their wives and children into the fold of Kottayam diocese and to their mother parishes:
- Church teaches that every faithful, by way of baptism becomes part of mystical body of Christ. Hence, no authority on earth has the power to remove anyone from that status without any grave ecclesiastical misbehaviour. And marrying from other diocese is not an ecclesiastical offence. So, it is one’s right to function as part of Christ’s mystical body, by being member of his/her diocese and parish.
- St. Paul says: “So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slave and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). This being the Christian teaching, how can the Holy Catholic Church agree with policies and practices designed to promote and perpetuate Knanaya racialism? How can the Church allow its divine sacraments, such as marriage to be used as instruments to promote racialism in the Church?
- As per Canon Law, the married women are members of husbands’ parishes. This law of Catholic Church must be made applicable to Kottayam diocese too.
- There is a claim by the diocesan authorities of Kottayam that the Southists (Knanaites) are maintaining their Knanaya blood purity by not marrying from other communities. In fact, this is historically incorrect. According to history, even their Chief leader, Knai Thommen, did marry a Malayali Nair woman. There are evidences in history of their massive marriages with Portugese people in 16th century. And, before the inception of the Kottayam diocese, the Southists had marriages with catholics from other dioceses, as it happens today. Even after the inception of Kottayam diocese until the time of Bishop Alexander Choolaparambil, who implemented the policy of endogamy, many such marriages had taken place and all of them are part of Kottayam diocese now. More over, many parishes attached to the Kottayam diocese after the partition process were consisting of non-Knanaits. Now all these people and their children are known to be pure-blooded Knanaits! The similarity of physical features between the so called Knanaits and that of any other Keralites is another evidence to prove that their ‘pure-blood’ claim is patently false. Their intention might be to establish a social status superior to that of other Christians in Kerala.
In fact, the Holy See had already recognised the problem. As a result of continued representations by the Knanaya immigrants in the USA, the Holy See had issued a Rescript in 1986 strictly disallowing the endogamous practice in the Knanaya Catholic parishes and missions in North America. But this had been openly violated by the bishops of Kottayam and Chicago (USA) dioceses with the help of the present Major ArchBishop of Syro-Malabar Church. In our opinion, the rescript has to be revoked and re-implemented not only in diocese of Chicago but also in Kottayam Diocese.
We conclude this with a request: When you come in Kerala next time for further investigations on the subject, please permit us also to meet you in person to present our views.
In the Union of Jesus’ Love
K George Joseph K.K. Jose Kandathil Mathew M Tharakunnel
(President) (Gen. Secretary) (Treasurer)