Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Vicar General Father Juan José Mateos Castro issued an apology and resigned from the post after he was criticised for welcoming a Ganesh Chaturthi procession into the local church in the Spanish city of Ceuta in North Africa. The local bishop in Spain also issued a public apology after the incident.
The Hindu community of Ceuta and Melilla, two autonomous Spanish cities located on the coast of North Africa, were celebrating the festival on August 27.
Bishop Apologies, Vicar resigns
Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy in a statement from the diocese expressed “deep sorrow for this unfortunate fact that has caused damage, confusion or scandal in the Christian community,” reported Crux Now.
The diocese said the welcoming of the Hindu god Ganesh in a Catholic church was “wrong and is a reprehensible fact, which should not have been allowed,” and stated that they accepted Castro’s resignation.
The vicar’s gesture of welcoming the procession was praised by the Hindus participating in it.
One of the members appreciated the apparent pluralism, and declared Ceuta as “the only place in the world where two different cultures, two different religions come together to pray to the god Ganesh and of course to our Patroness.”
Root of the Problem
Bishop Rafael Zorzona Boy, however, said that the event was a “regrettable one” and it shouldn’t have been allowed, and that it might have caused “pain, confusion or scandal in the Christian community”.
In a statement, the diocese also said that the Hindu community wanted to leave a floral offering outside the Catholic church, and that they had no plans of making it an interreligious event.
Some in Spain observed that the root of the matter is not that the Hindu group wanted to stop at the church and pay its respects to Mary, but that the vicar opened the doors and welcomed the procession of the deity and allowed it to be carried towards the altar while Catholics were singing hymns.