Anglo-Indians seek Vatican intervention in Kerala church row

Anglo-Indians seek Vatican intervention in Kerala church row

The Anglo-Indian community, formerly known as Eurasians, is a sub-caste of the Latin Catholics in the state.

Dias, who met with the Vatican envoy to India Rev. Pedro Lopez Quintana on Dec 1, said: "Anglo-Indians are discriminated by the Latin Catholic hierarchy in Kerala. I want an urgent intervention as we face challenges and threats from the hierarchy who strangely advocate for the protection of minorities."

The Anglo-Indian Lok Sabha MP's move comes after the Latin Church based in Verapoly, Kochi, made an alleged move to take over control of the ancient Infant Jesus Church of Ernakulam, known as Parankipally, by not appointing a parish priest from the Anglo-Indian community. The church, the community says, belongs exclusively to the Anglo-Indians.

In a notification in April 2007, the Archdiocese of Verapoly, however, said: "Infant Jesus Parish cannot in any way be considered an exclusively Anglo-Indian parish. The rights and duties of the non Anglo-Indian community, which has an equally long history with the Anglo-Indians in the Infant Jesus Parish, deserve all respect."

However, the Anglo-Indians say the Infant Jesus Church was constructed separately and exclusively for the Anglo-Indians in 1826.

"The Anglo-Indian community is proud of the Infant Jesus Church and the good old customs and venerable traditions that are carried on whether it be ecclesiastical or social," said Dias in the complaint submitted on behalf of the Infant Jesus Anglo-Indian Parish Protection Council.

Dias, who is a descendant of the Portuguese like majority of Anglo-Indians in Kerala, observed in the complaint that "the churches established exclusively for Anglo-Indians are interfered (with) and the bishops are enforcing unilateral decisions disadvantageous to Anglo-Indians."

"The language of Anglo-Indians is English and so also in the churches established by them for the protection of the language, customs, conventions and the heritage of the community... but Anglo-Indian priests are not posted and the diocesan authorities force the Anglo-Indian parishioners to accept non-Anglo-Indian trustees to look after the temporal affairs of the parish," the complaint said. 

However, Chancellor of Verapoly, Rev. Fr. Varghese Valiyaparambil said: "Our aim is only to make our parish more and more in tune with the gospel values of fraternity and equality, and with the laws and teachings of the Catholic Church."

"All the religious, spiritual and pastoral needs of the Anglo-Indian community will be taken care of with due respect for their traditions. So too of the non Anglo-Indians," Valiyaparambil said from Verapoly.

Dias, while emphasising the community's legacy of deep faith and selfless service and allegiance to the Church, said: "The convention to post an Anglo-Indian priest to the post of either vicar general, chancellor or procurator at the Latin Archdiocese of Verapoly is recently discontinued without mentioning reasons."
"Also, the convention of reserving one post of vice president to Anglo-Indians to the Archdiocesan Catholic Association is now discontinued. In the recently formed KRLCC (Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council), the representatives of the sub-castes of Latin Catholic community are nominated except from Anglo-Indians."   

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