Catholics’ school concept turns controversial in Kerala

KLCA claims the school idea was first communicated in a pastoral letter issued by Archbishop Beccinelli and Fr Chavara as vicar-general cannot issue a pastoral letter as he was not a bishop.

Posted on August 13, 2014, 12:26 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi :

Some 150 years after Catholic Church in Kerala implemented the concept of having a school attached to every parish, a debate is heating up on which rite—Latin or Syrians–introduced the idea.

The Kerala Latin Catholic Association has come up with an argument that the idea ‘Pallikkoru Pallikkoodam’ (a school attached to a church) was conceived by Archbishop Bernard Beccinelli, the then head of the Vicariate of Verapoly, and not Blessed Chavara.

The controversy comes just two months ahead of canonization of Fr Chavara, who led the Syro Malabar Church as its vicar general introducing several social changes while working under the Latin Vicariate of Verapoly.

KLCA claims the school idea was first communicated in a pastoral letter issued by Archbishop Beccinelli and Fr Chavara as vicar-general cannot issue a pastoral letter as he was not a bishop.

The KLCA Verapoly Archdiocese committee has decided to organize a function to commemorate the 150th year of the pastoral letter in which instructions were issued to the faithful to establish a school attached to every church. ‘’

“Though a copy of the original pastoral letter is not available now, this fact is evident from the documents related to this,’’ says Kerala Latin Catholic Association president Shaji George.

KLCA also rejected the possibility that Archbishop Beccinelli, through the pastoral letter, had only communicated Fr Chavara’s idea.

“Fr Chavara was the vicar-general and he cannot issue a pastoral letter. In that sense, we should accept the fact that the idea of Pallikoru Pallikoodam was conceived by Fr Beccinelli,’’ Shaji George says.

But the authorities of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), the religious order established by Fr Chavara, counter the KLCA argument.

‘’It has not been confirmed whether the document in dispute was a pastoral letter or a circular. There is evidence to believe it was a circular. Fr Chavara was the vicar-general for the Syro Malabar faithful under the Verapoly Vicariate,” said Fr Thomas Panthaplamthottiyil, director of Research and Documentation of CMI congregation.

“There are documents proving that Fr Chavara had the power to address the Syro Malabar community as there was no separate diocese for them. Initially, Fr Chavara would have communicated this idea only to the Syro Malabar community,” the priest said.

Later, Archbishop Beccinelli, who found the idea attractive, would have communicated the same to the Latin community,” Father Panthaplamthottiyil said.

“It is unfortunate that a controversy is sparked off as the day of canonization is nearing. During the last 150 years, there has not been any dispute related to Fr Chavara and his contributions,’’ he said.

Fr Chavara will be canonized on November 23.

Source: New Indian Express

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