Saturday, March 10, 2012

Keralite Fishermen's Killings : Response to my earlier post

The Italian marines held in Kerala at a guest house.
A couple of my friends - who read my recent letter in Daily Tribune (Friday, 2 March) - a copy of the letter is posted here - on the controversy surrounding the killings of two fishermen on February 15, by the marines of an Italian ship, Enrica Lexie , off the coast of India’s southern state, Kerala – called me to say they are very upset with my views.

They said that I have hurt, in particular, the large Syro Malabar Catholic community here, in Bahrain, with my words; and that they would write against it. When I explained my position and clarified my views, they seem to have understood that I meant no harm.

But this letter is being written to clarify my stance further so that people do not misunderstand me, and also to preempt untoward exchanges from appearing in print.

Let me explain the background first. In my narration of the series of events that led to increased controversy – which includes the now latest opposition- walkout from Kerala Assembly on Monday, 5 March 2012 – I had listed the killings of the fishermen mistaken for pirates, the detaining of the Italian ship at the Cochin seaport, the arrest of the Italian marines, the clarifications given by the Italian ambassador, and the meeting of the Indian and Italian foreign ministers.

And I had also mentioned that Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry, the Indian bishop from Kerala who is just ordained as Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on February 18, said something in Rome to Agenzia Fides, the Vatican's official news agency, which has also become a controversy.

When answering a question, the cardinal said, "I will remain in close contact with the Catholic ministers of Kerala and I hope that they will help pacify the situation” I am sure he did not mean any ill, and he did not speak as if on behalf of Italy, against India. But certain sections of media, and especially an article in India’s leading news magazine, India Today, questioned his loyalty to India.

I did not say that the Cardinal said anything wrong in my letter. I only made the implication that his words were made into a controversy. But apparently some of the Daily Tribune readers have misunderstood my narration of what happened, as if it was my opinion. It was not my opinion.

Here, I must mention that the Cardinal was serving as the head of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church which is India's largest and richest Catholic Church with 3.7 million members - a huge number of which is in Bahrain - when he was chosen by the Vatican to join an elite group of 213 cardinals which elects the next successor to the 84 year-old Pope.

Let me clarify that I firmly believe that whatever the learned cardinal had said was said with all good intentions. And I fully understand that, and I respect that.

This was also published in Daily Tribune on 9 March 2012 

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