An Interfaith Couple Tied the Knot in Kerala Last Year. The Church Has Now Invalidated Their Marriage
Image for representation (Church wedding)
The probing body found that the bride's side had neglected to follow canon law which states that a marriage as such between people of two different religions has to be permitted beforehand by the Bishop, something the bride's family did not get.
- Last Updated: January 05, 2021, 10:56 IST
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An interfaith marriage held between a Muslim man and a Catholic woman was declared invalid by a three-member inquiry commission of the Syro-Malabar church body in Kerala's Kochi and recommended action against the priests who solemnized the marriage.
The wedding, which was conducted last year on November 9, was held at the St Joseph’s Church in Kadavanthara between a Muslim man from Kochi and a Catholic woman from Irinjalakuda. The wedding had first attracted controversy after it was attended by Emeritus Bishop Mathew Vaniakizhakkel of Satna in Madhya Pradesh as traditionally, Bishops do not attend interfaith wedding ceremonies.
A photograph of the couple standing with the Bishop that came out in the newspaper also sparked off criticisms from all quarters, following which the latter also issued an apology saying he regretted attending the wedding and had only done so due to his closeness with the bride's family.
The church was heavily slammed for ‘promoting’ inter-religious marriages while it was also speaking up against 'Love jihad’. The controversy then resulted in the Syro Malabar Church Archbishop, Mar George Alencherry to order a probe into the wedding by the three-member church panel.
It is also to be noted that in a related chain of events, the recent controversial 'Love-Jihad' anti-conversion ordinance in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have drawn several reactions from all quarters. Both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have given nod to the ordinance, claiming to curb religious conversions using misrepresentation, allurement, force, threat, undue influence, coercion, marriage or any other "fraudulent means".
The probing body found that the bride's side had neglected to follow canon law which is the primary prerequisite for an interfaith marriage. According to the law, marriage as such between people of two different religions, which is termed as 'Disparity of Cult' weddings, has to be permitted beforehand by the Bishop, something the bride's family did not get. The report also said that the marriage was also not notified to Ernakulam-Angamali and Irinjalakuda parish bishops. The bride's family instead just got a letter from the priest of the Kuzhikkattussery church, the bride’s parish and submitted it to the St Joseph’s Church as permissions to conduct the ceremony.
The report also cited lapses on the part of vicar of Fr Benny Maramparambil, vicar of St Joseph Church, Kadavanthara and Fr James Anthiyunthan, the priest of the Kuzhikkattussery church.
Speaking about what steps the bride and groom can take to validate the wedding now, a senior priest from the Syro Malabar Church told The News Minute that the bride's family now should submit a plea and also the woman must join the Kadavanthara Church as a member and an application must be submitted to the parish priest that can be blessed by the Ernakulam-Angamali archdiocese bishop.
Alternatively, the priest said that the bride can also submit an application in her own parish and that can be approved by the Irinjalakuda bishop, in turn validating her marriage to her partner.
According to church's canon Law, a Disparity of Cult wedding can only be approved by a diocese Bishop.
The Catholic Church in Kerala has also in several earlier instances alleged of 'Love jihad' being propagated against the Christian community where Muslim men have been marrying women from other religions and converting them. There have been also allegations of the women being made to join the Islamic State.