In a letter published in Idukki diocese bulletin in Kerala, a bishop named Mar Mathew Anikuzhikattil has urged girls to not wear outfits which end above the knee when they are inside the church. He also wished the women churchgoers to wear ‘special’ clothes during prayers and rituals.
Apart from this, he also gave other advice like asking parents to give Christian names to their kids, asking them to restrict their kids’ social media use, and also asked them (parents) not to blame the priest and nuns in front of their kids, which might affect the kids inclination towards divinity.
Even though the Bishop is well within his rights to put out his guidelines, it remains to be seen whether the usual suspects profess their outrage in this matter. As is the norm, even though our country conditionally allows free speech, its usage is usually exclusively reserved when it comes to criticizing Hindu institutions.
In December 2015, Justice S. Vaidyanathan of the Madras HC had prescribed a dress code for entry into temples, supposedly to to enhance the spiritual ambiance among devotees. This had drawn the ire of various groups and appeals were filed which had ensured a temporary stay on the order. According to one of the petitions, such an order was against the fundamental rights, particularly of women and children.
The petitions by two women’s association and the State government ensured that the order was ultimately set aside. It remains to be seen if similar groups now file cases against this Kerala pastor for making a statement, which going by the earlier logic, infringes women’s fundamental rights.
This isn’t the only time the Church fraternity in Kerala has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Just recently we had reported how a Kerala pastor had wanted women wearing Jeans and T-shirts to drown into the sea. He also claimed how such dresses aroused men and boys who then slipped into sin.
There also has been a serious child abuse scandal associated with the Kerala catholic church when a minor was reportedly raped by the vicar of a church and various people associated with the church then tried to shield him.