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Home > News > Report

Syro Malabar Church head issues guidelines

George Iype in Kochi | August 20, 2003 17:55 IST

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, head of India's Syro Malabar Church, has issued guidelines that he says will immensely help improve the image of the church in the country and usher in religious harmony and communal peace.

In a recent pastoral letter, which the Kerala-based cardinal of the oriental church circulated to various dioceses, he asks Catholics to desist from building churches along roads.

He says the wayside chapels create public inconveniences, including noise pollution and traffic congestions.

The letter, which church officials call revolutionary, contains a number of dos and don'ts concerning civic rights, prayer meetings and festivities, which the cardinal says all Catholics should abide by.

Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Father Paul Thelakat says the cardinal's guidelines to the laity are based on the deliberations of the church assembly in March.

"The cardinal wants the Catholics in India to lead the other religious communities by the finest examples of civic sense and communal harmony," Father Thelakat told

He says the letter emanated after a number of clergy expressed serious concerns about some of the practices in the Catholic church.

The cardinal states in the letter that weekly prayer meetings at various wayside churches cause innumerable traffic hold-ups.

"This should be avoided by holding prayer meetings on the spacious premises of parish churches instead of cramped compound of chapels on arteries," the letter says.

Urging the laity to scale down the opulence at annual festivals of wayside chapels, he says forceful collection of money should not be encouraged. "Such tendencies will only leave a negative impact on the laity than fostering love and unity, the fundamental principles behind annual festivals," he says.

The cardinal also suggests a re-look at the menu of cultural programmes organised as part of church festivals.

"In the name of cultural programmes we spread a feast of most undesired forms of art, which threatens to spoil the mind. As such, many a medium carries such forms of art to the masses. Whether the Church also should add to the damage by showcasing them at festivals should be seriously discussed," he says.

Also, the increasing use of alcohol and other substances during festivals threatens to deprive the occasions of their sublime objectives, he appeals.

He says if Catholics adhere to these measures, it would immensely improve the image of the church and minimise public inconvenience.

In June this year, the cardinal, who also heads the apex Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, had issued a 45-page leaflet on 'morality and faith'. He had asked Catholics not to deviate from the church's teachings and interpretations of the Bible.

He had also urged the people 'to respect the religious faiths of Hindus, Muslims and others'.

"As Catholics, we are called to mingle with all people of all religious permanently, without destroying their faith and cultures," the cardinal then argued.

More reports from Kerala

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: syro malabar cardianals message

An excellent message .It will contribute a lot to improve the civic sense if all other religions also follow the foot steps .Also it will ...

Posted by B.Thomas

Sub: SyroMalabarChurch guidelines1

1-roadside shrine;may be interpreted against the tuesday devotions of st Anthony in solve that in the KCBC.Problem is definitely real. 2-the language of the ...

Posted by Father Theophane CST



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