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Kerala bishop issues dress code for women 

Idukki: A Catholic bishop in Kerala, southern India, has urged girls to avoid wearing outfits shorter than knee-length while inside the church.

In a pastoral letter, Bishop Mathew Anikuzhikattil of Idukki has asked women to keep special clothes to wear for prayers and rituals.

The pastoral letter was published in the latest edition of the diocesan bulletin.

The bishop, who will turn 75 on September 23, also wants parents to teach their children to respect and obey Church authorities and expecting mothers to take part in prayers.

“Baptism of newborns should be conducted within eight days of their birth. The ceremony should not be delayed for weeks and months in the name of grand celebrations,” said the letter.

The bishop also asked parents to give Christian names to their children, including their pet names. Parents, he added, should not blame priests and nuns in front of their kids, which would in turn affect children’s inclination toward divinity.

The Syro-Malabar prelate also urged parents not to encourage their kids to go after material gains. “Many young Christians choose married life without purity and this is reason for lack of faith,” he said. He also urged parents to restrict the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

Father Jimmy Poochakkat, official spokesperson of Syro Malabar Church, supports the bishop’s letter. “There is proper dress code to be followed by women even in Vatican. The bishop’s instructions are in good faith and it will help girls to feel safe and secure when they are out in public or face the audience while reading out the Holy Bible inside the church,” the priest explained.

Bishop Anikuzhikattil was embroiled in a controversy last December when he issued a pastoral letter asking Christian couples to produce children till the end of their reproductive capacity.

The pastoral letter issued on the occasion of Christmas termed creation a divine process and predicted miseries for those who upset it.

Social and political circles in Kerala viewed the letter as a reflection of the growing concern in the Church about the dwindling numbers of Christians in the state. Several other bishops had made similar calls earlier.

According to a study by KC Zachariah, former senior demographer with the World Bank and honorary fellow at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram, the proportion of Christian couples who had undergone sterilization by 1991 was nearly 50 percent as against 34 percent among Muslims and upper caste Hindus.

As a result of this, the population of Christians continued to decline. The 2011 census data shows that the share of Christians in the total population of the state had come down from 21 percent in 1971 to 18.4 percent in 2011.

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9 Responses to Kerala bishop issues dress code for women

  1. Francina

    Good move by his grace 😇

  2. Nithiya, Capuchin

    I welcome the Kerala Bishops’ open statements on public decency. But unfortunately the priests and nuns who are expected to teach the pre-teenage boys and girls about the public decency, honesty, commitment to work, sincerity, cordiality etc. are not available due to their busy-life with their schools, colleges and other institutions.

    The Catholic Priests and nuns have nothing to do with family visits, guidance to the families in need, character formation in the children, teen agers, parents etc.

    There is no monitoring mechanism of a Priest’s personal and pastoral duties. The amount of time and energy given to money making is not given to character formation, spiritual growth of people and involvement into the daily struggles of the poor and the needy.

    Unfortunately the formation of priests and nuns are all based on their performance in exams, intellectual growth rather than their spiritual search for God. On the other hand, most os the boys and girls come to the seminary or convent with full vigour to be with God and to serve God. But the dioceses and congregations value them on the basis of how far these will help for the maintenance and development of the institutions. It is very sickening all over
    the conntry. But for the simple faith of our people, the real Catholic Church would be eliminated easily.

    The people are facing lot of challenges from the Pentacostal groups, the fundamentalists and other secular forces. There is no bold voice from the Church leadership to open her mouth through lobbying, campaigning etc to stop the imminent danger. We do not hear of any top level leadership addressing the crying situation of our people in various parts of India which is loosing its secular fabrics.

    As long as the Church remains silent with her establishments based and far from her prophetic obligation, their voice for social and public decency will be mocked at by the people.

    In a way, the Church leaders failed to speak of decent dressing, at the timme, when these children are open to listen and get convinced. It is time for her to reflect where she fails, when and how.

    Nithiya, OFM.Cap

  3. Dr. George Jacob

    with all due respects, the behavior of priests and nuns including piety, abstinence from alcohol, determined effort to keep off sexual temptations will earn them respect of the younger generations much effectively than their parents’ directives regarding their behavior towards priests and nuns.

  4. K C. Thomas

    O varsity, by using words like patriarchal mentality , the seriousness of a problem cannot be set aside. You are very right about the need to lead a simple lifestyle and the greed of the parents to amass wealth. But how can simple lifestyle be preached when no restriction on lavish celebrations of festivals or building of very big and expensive churches is imposed and implemented? Even in kudumbakkoottayma, families compete for more lavish than the earlier ? Why bishops and priests are not teaching that demanding dowry is sin against the tenth Commandment ? Christians have to think of Christ more than any thing in their words and deeds. Are our institutions to spread this message or just to compete in the market ——- for more first classes in schools and colleges and for more profit ? Though perfection is not easy,we are called to be perfect. Yes we are labouring hard to be perfect in all mundane concerns.

  5. K C Thomas

    All the ills are due to the dwindling faith in Jesus Christ. The immodesty in dress is only one of the results. The main reason for fashionable dress is the desire of the young to look good and attractive. We cannot find fault in that. But everything has its own limits. It is the duty of parents to advise youngsters why modesty in dress is required and what are the consequences of immodesty. The children who are taught “values” will think when they talk or act. Bishops and priests can help by their teaching. An occasional pastoral directive may not have the desired effect

  6. Fr. Jose

    Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus – “turned in an opposite direction,” from contra – “against” – and vertere – to turn, or versus (see verse), hence, “to turn against.”

    When a Bishop states what is a long standing practise in the Church, to remind, educate and exhort the faithful to follow, how does it become a controversy. IS the media is trying to create one because many times the opinion opposite tot he stated one is from non practising people! And media supports that not the normal and traditional one. Media like yours require or need to create controversy to survive! Shameful

  7. varsity

    Wonderful….classic patriarchal mentality, adopted by church. To save face from the recent accusations the church has faced, a nice try by His Holiness, Bishop Mathew Anikuzhikattil, by turning around and blaming girls dresses for all the evils in the world.
    How wonderful would life be if we can solve all problems in the world by just making the girls skirts a bit longer and lifting it up only to create more babies.

    I like the point Bishop makes, to not go after material gains. A small reflection from my short time on this little planet called Kerala, its not kids who go after material gains or money, its the parents who see their offsprings as a mutual fund bonds, whose returns are never subject to any market fluctuations. The kids have no choice but to live the failed dreams of their parents; Boys are raised to bring in huge dowry and girls are raised to earn in foreign currency.

  8. Sebastian Vattamattam

    ബിഷപ്പിന്റെ ഉദ്ദേശശുദ്ധിയെ മാനിക്കണം.

    അച്ചന്മാരുടെ അടുത്തു പോകരുതെന്ന് പെണ്‍കുട്ടികളെ വിലക്കാം. പക്ഷേ, പള്ളിയകത്തേക്കു പോകരുതെന്ന് അച്ചന്മാരെ വിലക്കാനാവില്ലല്ലോ.

  9. Georg

    So what.. it might sound the reporter ridiculous. But then it may serve all who love and respect to lead a life God-conscious.

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