Kerala parish’s LGBTQIA+-themed Xmas star draws ire of fundamentalists

Anand Prince

LGBTQIA+ themed Christmas star at St Mary’s Forane Church, Tripunithura / Photo: Special Arrangement

An LGBTQIA+-themed Christmas star is shining bright at St Mary’s Forane Church, Tripunithura in Kerala’s Ernakulam district. The youth organisation Christian Life Community (CLC) ‘s unit at the parish is behind this white star with rainbow stripes at its five points and the members wish to spread the message of humanism, inclusivity, and fraternity. Interestingly, the centre part of the star has intermingling faces of people of various colours and a text which reads: 'Christmas is love, Be a Christmas & Spread humanity'.

The star was hung in the first week of December and within two weeks it became a target of fundamentalists who are irked over the message it put forth. The parish received threat calls from people including those abroad. Both the star and the parish faced a smear campaign on social with a spin that the move is aimed at promoting same-sex marriage. Even priests were targeted. Some reportedly raised a threat that the star will be poured with black oil and set ablaze.

The comment section of CLC’s Instagram post of the star suggests fundamentalists also resorted to abusive language and personal attacks against netizens who praised the star for the progressive outlook it presents. Popular Christian extremist groups on social media like CASA took up the matter and the situation escalated.

With that, the parish was under pressure from entities including official forums of the Catholic hierarchy to remove the star. However, parish vicar Fr Thomas Perumayan, assistant vicar Fr James Panavelil and CLC members were very particular that the parish will not dance to the tune of “fanatics who pretend as saviours of Christian faith”.

“It is clear that some forces hatched a conspiracy to put the LGBTQIA+-themed star in a bad light. The star was widely appreciated by parishioners and youth in nearby colleges. Many of them clicked photos of it and shared them on social media appreciating CLC for the Christmas message it sends. Only an orchestrated effort could bring a negative spin to that. It was also shocking that messaging of fanatic groups bothered official forums of hierarchy even as Pope Francis reiterates the Catholic Church to welcome and love all people regardless of sexual orientation,” said Fr James Panavelil.

He said that though “fanatics who pretend as saviours of Christian faith” were successful in creating confusion in the parish, the parishioners here were ready to perceive things with clarity when they were provided with facts and contexts.

“The youth here is very proactive and it is their support which helped the parish to steer through this issue. The youth here are giving us insights on how to make the church a more democratic and secular place. We are with them,” he added.

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