A church in Kerala has formed a unit of retired military and paramilitary men and has named it ‘Gabriel Sena’. As per a report in The Indian Express, the Catholic Church in Thalassaery, under the Archidiocese of Thalassery in Kannur has launched the ‘Gabriel Sena’ last month and is going to hold its first-ever meeting in Kannur districts Taliparamba on November 15.
Gabriel is the name of a Biblical angel who is considered God’s messenger and one of the seven guardian angels. The group ‘Gabriel Sena’ has reportedly been set up to help the Church in ‘crowd control’.
Matthew Ashariparambil, the director of Gabriel Sena, has stated that the retired military and paramilitary men should become “guardians of faith and warriors of ideals”. He added further that their services would be used mostly for crowd control.
“More than a group, the Sena will be a fellowship of ex-uniformed personnel. We are expecting around 150 people to turn up for our first meeting on November 15. The Sena’s members will be deployed for the first time during a farmers rally to be organised by the church in Kannur in December”, added Ashariparambil.
He also insisted that the group has no communal agenda and any Catholic is free to join it. As per the report, the Catholic Church in Kerala has been forming groups based on professional background. It already has groups of Catholic teachers, doctors, and non-resident Keralites.
George Joseph, the secretary of Joint Christian Council, however, called it an alarming trend. He mentioned the current fights between different factions of Christian Churches over property possessions and expressed his fears that such ‘Sena’ might be used to intimidate the faithful who oppose the clergy.
It is notable here that Churches in Kerala have been facing massive public criticism over infights, sex scandals and land scams. Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Malankara Orthodox Church was accused of rape by a nun in the Kuravilangad convent the last year, exposing the dirty underbelly of political power-play, victim shaming, abuse, and oppression prevalent inside the institutions.
The Orthodox and the Jacobite factions of the Syrian Malankara Church have also been involved in a long and nasty fight over property ownership and Churches. The fight has even resulted in many believers being denied burial space for days on end, leading to public and media criticism.
Recently, a group of Catholics belonging to the Archidiocese of Ernakulam had marched to the Cardinal House in Kochi demanding the resignation of Cardinal George Alencherry, who has been accused of land scam.