Marxists going back to Church

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on November 7, 2010

After describing the priests with terms like “disgusting creatures” and waging a long and relentless war against the clergy, Kerala’s Marxists are now going back to the Catholic Church, thanks to the humiliating defeat it suffered in the recent civic polls in the State.

The party has started efforts to regain the confidence of the mighty Catholic Church, whose ire was one of the major reasons for the CPI(M)-led ruling LDF’s debacle in the just-concluded local elections and the Lok Sabha polls last year.

The strategy the Marxists have adopted to meet the goal of winning the blessings of the Church is to use certain priests who were once the trusted friends of the party. This move of the CPI(M) follows the conclusion reached at by the State committee and secretariat that the Church’s ire had hit the ruling front hard in the civic election.

As part of the move, the party has already started wooing Mar Mathew Arackal, Bishop of the Kanjirappally Diocese of the Catholic Church, who has been a friend of the CPI(M) leadership for several years. CPI(M)’s central committee member and State Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac has already held a long discussion with him.

It is said that the next round of talks with the clergy would be initiated by party Politbureau member and State Home and Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. The occasion for these talks is likely to be a tourism conference to be held at Church-run Marian College at Kuttikkanam, Idukki district on November 22.

Isaac had met Bishop Arackal last week at the same college during a function and on its sidelines. The two had held a 150-minute closed-door meeting then, surprising many of the invitees including Congress MP PT Thomas, who instantaneously alleged that the CPI(M) had begun wooing the Church, but no party leader responded to it.

CPI(M) sources admit that Bishop Mar Arackal is a close friend of party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. According to them, it was this Bishop who had helped businessman Pharis Aboobacker, said to be another close friend of the secretary, take over Church organ Deepika newspaper years ago.

“That friendship with Mar Arackal is still intact. Pinarayi is confident about a patch-up with the Catholic Church through him,” said a senior CPI(M) leader. “Objectively speaking, this may not be difficult but it is unlikely to happen before the Assembly elections (to be held in April-May),” he added.

The standoff between the CPI(M) and the Catholic Church had started with Pinarayi’s description of Thamarassery Bishop Mar Paul Chittilappilly as a “disgusting creature” in 2007 after his claim that party MLA Mathai Chacko had received religious rites before his death.

The enmity then steadily aggravated with each step the LDF regime took to control the sectors of self-financing professional education, aided schools and higher secondary education where the Church had high stakes. The Church interpreted all these initiatives as part of an evil design against it.

As the civic polls neared, the Church issued a pastoral letter asking the believers not to vote for atheists and Independent candidates propped up by materialists, a step which was seen by entire Kerala as a direct call to defeat the Left. This sparked off a direct war between the Marxists and the Church.

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