Food for Thought


 Alex  K Esthapan, better known as Alex Kavumpurath is the National Coordinator of KANA, now living in N York. He is an endogamous knanaya, but do not support the practice of exclusion from the community for racial/blood purity reasons. He is committed to end this practice. He writes to Mar Mathew Moolakattu, Bishop Pandarasseril Joseph, Major Arch Bishop George Alencherry, Bishop Angadiath, Bishop Alappat with  a copy to the Editor CCV for posting. He compares the Endogamy situation in Kottayam diocese to the situation in South Carolina with the confedrate flag of hate and exclusion and asks Indian Bishops to remove all symbols of hate and exclusion from the Church in India just as Indian American Governor Nikki Haley removed them from her state. james kottor, editor).

11107173_855409251199321_8013833097792033416_nNikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, an Indian-American, made history last week. Because of her leadership, South Carolina removed the confederate flag, a symbol of hate, from the state house.  She had the courage to stand up for equality and justice and confront the forces of hate in her state.  For this to happen though, a race-obsessed gunman had to kill nine people in a church. 

It has taken too long, but even an overdue miracle can be stunning to witness.  Politicians in South Carolina and across the South spent much of the 20th century and a decade and a half of the 21st wrapped in a lie — that the Confederate battle flag was some harmless cultural signifier and not a living tool of violence and oppression.  The debate over the fate of the flag, such as it is, pits people who know the truth against people who will not hear it.  It has taken a horrifying act to shred the lies, to shame those who took pride in their unwillingness to be shamed, and to turn the page.

History is repeating in Knanaya community today. The lie is continuing in the community.  Endogamy obsessed bishops, priests and association leaders still say that endogamy is some harmless cultural signifier and not a living tool of discrimination and exclusion.  Now it is time for the Knanaya community to heed the message.  It is time for this community to remove rules and symbols of hate from its midst, from its church and association.  We need leadership here. 

The Church through its 1986 Rescript directed the community not to import this practice to America. However, our bishops and priests tried all they can to undermine it for the last 30 years and finally practically nullified it on September 19, 2015, the day Mar Angadiath issued the circular letter of hate with the approval of Mar Moolakkatt and Mar Alencherry. The courts in India told Kottayam bishop to stop the practice, but he continues his defiance.  Scores of our children are simply ignoring the rule and marrying outside.  Still our bishops, priests and association leaders want to practice exclusion. I wonder, what to happen to change their attitude.  Are you waiting for a tragedy like the one happened in South Carolina to shame you to do the right thing? 

While politicians like Nikki Haley stand for justice and equality, it is tragic to see that our major arch bishop (His Beatitude), our Archbishop (His Grace) and our bishop (His Excellency) surrender to and facilitate the endogamy obsessed Knas to continue their hateful practice. Equal and non-discriminatory treatment is a fundamental right; it is sad that our bishops do not understand that.  Mar Angadiath, Mar Alenchery and Mar Moolakkat must have the decency to withdraw the circular letter of exclusion issued on September 19, 2014 and issue a new circular letter of inclusion giving non-endogamous and adopted children of Knanaya families the right to choose their own church, Knanaya or non-Knanaya, within the Syro-Malabar church.  Is it too much to ask?  We need your leadership here.  Before the tragedy, South Carolina politicians thought it was okay to fly confederate flag over the state house and did not feel guilt or shame doing that, but within days of the tragedy it was gone. 

Hey bishops, follow Nikki Haley, have some sense of shame and guilt, and remove rules and symbols of hate from Knanaya churches and community, here in America and Kerala. 

The members of the South Carolina Senate began their business on Monday morning (July 6, 2015) by bowing to pray. “O God, and the pressures on this body today are considerable,” the chaplain said. “Strengthen them and fill their hearts with a determination to, as the psalmist puts it, to maintain justice and to do what is right.”  Amen, this is my prayer, as well, for our bishops.   

Alex Kavumpurath