Kochi, July 22, 2019: Mounting ire of Catholics in Australia has forced Father Dominic Valanmanal, an Indian charismatic retreat preacher, to cancel his program in September at Melbourne.
Australia is the third country after Ireland and Canada to deny the priest permission to conduct retreats after his controversial sermon on autism.
Sources say Father Valanmanal has cancelled all his international tours this year.
Father Valanmanal, a Syro Malabar priest and director of Marian Retreat Centre, Anakkara, in Kerala’s Idukki district, courted controversy after he said in a homily in Ireland that those indulging in adultery, homosexuality or porn viewing are at risk of having children with autism and hyperactivity. The video clip of his sermon went viral on social media, inviting criticism from all quarters.
Binoy Zacharia, who resides in Australia, is among those who had campaigned to stop Father Valanmanal’s tour. The father of an autistic 12-year-old boy was saddened by the priest’s comments.
“He claims to be an autism specialist. How long can he fool the faithful, who still have faith in his retreats? He is misleading all the faithful,” Binoy said.
Bishop Bosco Puthur of the Syro Malabar Eparchy for Australia and New Zealand had invited Father Valanmanal to conduct the retreat at Philip Island, Australia.
The prelate has now roped in Father Xavier Khan Vattayil, director of Sehion Ministries in Palakkad, to lead the retreat.
Around 1,250 people have signed the online petition as part of the campaign.
“This is not just about religious activities, it is a community issue. The Church is maintaining silence on the extreme views of its priests. What will be our children’s future if the priests pass such ‘outrageous’ comments?” said Linton Thomas, a Catholic social worker in Melbourne.
Earlier, the Catholic Diocese of Calgary in Canada and Catholic Archbishop of Dublin in Ireland had withdrawn their invitation to Father Valanmanal to conduct retreats following his controversial sermon.
“Marian Retreat Centre cancelled all its scheduled international trips for this year. But healing retreats by Father Valanmanal are to continue in Kerala,” said a source.
The authorities of Marian Retreat Centre had earlier refuted the comments saying the video uploaded was fabricated. However, after several attempts, Father Valanmanal could not be reached over phone.
(The New Indian Express)