A Christian college in Kerala has reportedly refused permission to publish its student magazine because it includes a four-line poem with a less than subtle reference to the sex abuse cases plaguing the church recently. The college management has reportedly told that the poem is derogatory and it would hurt the sentiments of ‘believers’. According to a report in The Times of India, the incident has occurred in the Pazhassiraja College in Wayanad district.
According to the report, the student magazine of the Pazhassiraja College, which is managed by the Syro Malankara Catholic Church under the Eparchy of Sultan Bathery. Times of India has quoted the college principal A O Roy saying that the poem is highly objectionable and cannot be included in the magazine of an educational institution run by Christian management.
The magazine, called ‘Vyattatti’ reportedly features a poem which begins with the line, “When the father of a church becomes a child’s father”. It is reportedly a reference to Father Robin Vadakkancheril, the former vicar at the Saint Sebastian Church in Kannur who was arrested last year for raping a minor girl who got pregnant. The 16-year-old girl had later delivered a child at the Christu Raj Hospital in Thokkilangadi.
The Supreme Court of India had yesterday heard the matter where 3 medical professionals, who were also accused of involvement, were discharged and two persons, a priest and a nun were ordered to face trials along with father Robin. The Supreme Court bench led by Justice AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had termed the issue as ‘very serious’ and had observed,” It is disturbing that the recent cases of rapes are coming from churches in Kerala. It is shocking.”
The college principal, AO Roy has also stated that as the poem is expected to hurt the religious sentiments of a section of the society, the college cannot be responsible for the magazine. Shahul Hameed, the editor of the student magazine had reportedly said that the magazine focuses on every contemporary social issue and the stand taken by the college authorities is against the freedom of expression of students. According to the college rules, the magazine can be printed only when the publishing funds are released and the contents are approved by the principal.
It is notable here that Malankara Orthodox Church has recently been under scanner after allegations of rape and sexual exploitations was brought on several of its priests. A churchgoer had alleged that she was raped and blackmailed by five priests of the church and the exploitation had continued for years.