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'Communist' jibe sparks church brawl

Clashes among congregation after priest's 'insult' injures ten

  • ucanews.com reporter, Thiruvananthapuram
  • India
  • August 22, 2011
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Ten people were hospitalized yesterday in Kerala, southern India, when angry parishioners fought one another in church after their priest “insulted” several members of the congregation during his Sunday sermon.

According to P. Vijayan, Commissioner of Police in Thrissur, tension had been building among churchgoers at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Kottekkad, after several parishioners accused their vicar, Fr. Francis Muthedath, of authoritarianism and demanded his transfer.

Tempers reached boiling point recently forcing police to urge parishioners opposed to the priest to remain calm until Fr. Francis Muthedath is transferred later this month.

Trichur archdiocesan officials had promised the priest would be transferred on August 28.

However during his homily yesterday Fr. Muthedath called the parishioners opposing him “communists.”

Several parishioners immediately took offence at the remark during the Mass, but the priest’s supporters turned on them, attacking them inside the church.

Ten people were injured during the clash, with six people being admitted to Thrissur medical college and four to a Catholic hospital.

“We have received two complaints and deployed officers near the church premises,” a police official said.

One of the injured, Thomas Emmatty, said some parishioners had launched a campaign three months ago for the priest’s removal.

“We met the archbishop several times to get him to remove the parish priest,” he said.

The priest was not available for comment.

Related links:

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Communists bar Kerala Christians from voting
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