Presence of CPI-M politburo member at church altar kicks up row

September 2nd, 2012 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 2 (IANS) A section of the laity at the St. George Orthodox Syrian Cathedral in the capital city are up in arms following what they term “a violation” which took place when Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan walked up to the altar to greet the bishop.

The incident took place at end of last month, when former home minister and CPI-M legislator Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was at the church to attend a wedding.

When Bishop Gabriel Mar Gregorios was at the altar, Balakrishnan came to the altar and had a brief chat with him before leaving the church.

On Sunday morning, after the service in the church, a memorandum expressing anguish over this incident was signed by parishioners for submission to the supreme head of the Orthodox Syrian Church at Kottayam.

“Today (Sunday) morning, after service, a member of the church came with a letter addressed to our supreme head citing this incident. I put my signature on the memorandum because what happened is a serious lapse as far as the tradition of the church is concerned. We wish that such incidents do not take place. I saw that numerous people had signed the memorandum,” said a member of the church who did not wish to be identified.

According to the Orthodox Syrian Church’s traditions, apart from priests, those who enter the altar of the church must first receive a special blessing.

A senior priest of the Orthodox Church told IANS that he too heard of this episode, but found it pointless to blow it up.

“Yes, the rule is that only those who receive special blessings can be at the altar. At the same time, there is also a rule that only those who are baptised can enter our church. But tell me, can that happen? We have so many people from other faiths coming to our churches, especially for weddings and funerals. This controversy is needless,” the priest, who requested anonymity, said.

Incidentally, this is also the church where Chief Minister Oommen Chandy attends Sunday service.

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