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Indian Catholic priest suspended for joining PM Modi’s party

Father Kuriakose Mattam in southern Kerala opted for the ruling pro-Hindu party, known for its anti-Christian stance
Father Kuriakose Mattam (second from right) after joining the pro-Hindu party.

Father Kuriakose Mattam (second from right) after joining the pro-Hindu party. (Photo: Facebook)

Published: October 03, 2023 11:44 AM GMT
Updated: October 03, 2023 11:54 AM GMT

A senior priest from a southern Indian diocese has been temporarily suspended from all pastoral ministries after he became a member of the ruling pro-Hindu party, which is accused of tacitly supporting anti-Christian activities.  

The Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church's Idukki diocese suspended 75-year-old Father Kuriakose Mattam on Oct. 2 after he joined the local unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  

The priest, who was serving as a parish priest, has been asked to move to the diocesan home for elderly priests, said Father Jins Karackatt, diocesan public relations officer.

Mattom has been suspended from parish ministry "as a temporary measure,” Karackatt told UCA News on Oct. 3.

The diocese acted after photographs of Mattam receiving party membership were shared on the party's social media feeds.

Media reported claims of local party leaders that Mattom does not think the "BJP is an anti-Christian party.”  The priest joined BJP "impressed with its development work," they claimed.

Karackatt dismissed allegations that Mattom was suspended because he joined BJP, which is widely seen as an anti-Christian party. 

Mattom has been suspended because priests joining a political party is "totally against the rules of the Church,” he explained.

The party has ruled India since 2014 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and looks for a third term in general elections next year.

Christian groups say Modi tacitly allows pro-Hindu groups, which support his party, to vandalize churches and disrupt prayer meetings across the country.

The United Christian Forum, a New Delhi-based ecumenical body that records anti-Christian persecution in India, said 525 cases of violence were reported so far this year against 505 cases in 2022.

This year’s figures exclude incidents of violence including rape in the strife-torn northeastern Manipur state, where tribal Christians are being targeted by the majority Hindu community. 

Nearly 200 people were killed, over 300 churches were destroyed and more than 50,000 people were uprooted since the violence started on May 3 in the hilly state, ruled by the BJP.

Eleven Indian states, most of them ruled by the BJP, have enacted a draconian anti-conversion law that criminalizes religious conversion.

More than 520 Christians have been arrested for allegedly violating the stringent law.

In 2020, Modi amended the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) to reduce foreign funding to Christian groups, including mission stations.

Since 2014, the pro-Hindu government also revoked permission for more than 16,000 non-governmental organizations to receive foreign funding using the FCRA.

In southern Kerala, his party has been trying to improve its electoral prospects as it does not have a lawmaker in the state assembly.

Mattam did not respond despite repeated attempts by UCA News to get his version.

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13 Comments on this Story
WILLIAM ABRAHAM
Politics is not enemy of any religion.Priests are human beings first and next social and political beings. Spirituality is the highest aspiration beyond seen object. Do not persecute priests join politics.Respect his God given rights.
JOHN MASCARENHAS
@ william abraham: yes priests are human beings too but a human being must have MORALS to exercise his rights. while the bjp govt and their supporters destroy/vandalise indian schools/churches and report false cases of conversion against christians and ATTACK THEM, how can any christian with morals support these CRIMINALS?
JOHN MASCARENHAS
@william abraham: god given rights come with MORALS! sprituality without morals is NO SPRITUALITY BUT A SHAM! SHAME !
OSWALD REBELLO
Absolutely shocking news of this brainwashed priest. So many atrocities happening in India against minorities especially Christians in entire country. RSS nd BJP r totally against Christians in India.
GEORGE
Why would it shock you. BJP is not enemy of Christianity but they oppose conversion merchants' activities. To my best knowledge and belief Catholics are out of this business of poaching Hindus. It is various evangelical groups controlled by foreign based handlers who are funding this operation. The Catholics should have no truck with such groups and absolutely should not be taking any blame for their activities. It is time to condemn such groups and stand behind the government.
JOHN MASCARENHAS
the criminal bjp govt and its criminal supports have destroyed/vandalised church properties, besides attacked christian religious leaders with lay false FIR cases of conversions. if any christian has any MORALS, he/she would not be a TRAITOR to your fellow christians who are persecuted because of their CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
KIZHAKKE K P VEETIL
Well said George. I wish more share your views. Drafted to post..below. If during mass, priests can openly preach not to vote for BJP, and to vote for a particular political party, as happened in Karnataka, then by all means, a priest can use his moral & ethical intellect to decide for himself his role in nation building, within the church framework. He has the guts not to fall for false fake exaggerated reports of attacks on minorities by the BJP. Banning inflow of foreign funds is for a wide scope of reasons, incl curtailing terrorist activities. Apply for permission and receive funds. Try to contribute to the growth of the country, instead of whining and complaining all the time and only funding faults, as if previous govts were fault free and full of saints. ....
CHHOTEBHAI
Canon Law is explicit that a priest cannot join party politics. He should choose between the two. In the instant case, a year before his retirement this seems to be rank opportunist, flying in the face of ground realities
MATHEW JACOB
Is it a big crim. Is it a canon law violation? If it is, the disident priests of Ernakulam diocis are violating the canon laws for the last one year. Why are the synod not taking any such actions against these curlprit priests. Why are you not giving so much importance to write about this Ernakulam events.
VARGHESE
Ernakulam Angamaly Diocese, the so-called violations are a fabric of Changanacherry Diocese who masterminded the protection of a thief Major Arch Bishop who stole away crores of rupees by selling the property of Ernakulam Diocese. Everybody in the hierarchy knows it and hence they cannot talk of such things. Everything originated out of the despondency and frustration of a deceaced Arch Bishop who had tailored Major Archbishop's robes and waited to be crowned to no avail. It was that crook who spoilt the unity of the church. Thank God he is no more.
JOHNY MATHEW
Dragging the issue of Ernakulam Angamaly dissident priests in defending this case is questionable. It was well said that there is a violation of canon law apart from supporting political party known for its violation of Minority rights and with a clear cut example of violence with the support of double engine government is enough to justify the suspension.
VARGHESE
Mr. Priest is throwing a yard before because he must have committed some shameful activities like erstwhile Fr. Robin and Franko Bishop did, the effect of which he may be expecting. Hence a shield is apparently felt required for him. If standing together with the ruling party he can set aside such consequences,may be!
JOHN MASCARENHAS
@kizhakke k p vettil: as a bjp supporter, you you think attacks on christians, vandalism and destruction of christian schools and churches are JUSTIFIED OR EXAGERRATED?? where is the PROOF of conversions? why do christians have to PROVE THEIR INNOCENCE? is it not universal law that states A PERSON IS INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY? WHY DOES THE BJP GOVT BEHAVE LIKE THE TALIBAN CREATING ITS OWN RULES? WHAT IS THE CRIME if priests request/guide the christian community to vote for a political party that would protect them from harm? citing karantaka, what did you or the bjp do when the criminal bajrang dal GANGS attacked christian worshippers at churches, including women? DO YOU HAVE ANY SHAME IN DEFENDING THE BJP CRIMINALS?
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