The High Court of Kerala in India turned down an appeal lodged by the archbishop Kottayam to stay a lower court order that ended the centuries-old practice of endogamy in the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church.
The Kottayam archdiocese in the southern Indian state of Kerala prohibits marriage of its members from outside the community supposedly to maintain the purity of blood.
Those who violate the practice are denied membership in the Church.
On April 30, 2021, the Kottayam district court declared the practice as against India’s laws and directed the diocesan authorities not to discriminate its members who have married outside the community.
The lower court ordered the archdiocese to ensure that the Knanaya Catholics marrying from other diocese do not lose their diocesan membership. It further restrained the archdiocese from terminating the membership of such people.
The court made it mandatory for the archdiocese to “provide equal rights and facilities through parish priests for the sacrament of marriage to those members of the Archeparchy of Kottayam who wish to marry Catholics from any other diocese.”
Archbishop Mathew Moolakkatt of Kottayam, however, challenged the order in the Kerala High Court and sought direction to quash it. He also wanted an interim stay over the implementation of the lower court order.
A single bench of Justice M R Anitha on March 10 declined to stay the lower court order but agreed to hear the Kottayam archbishop’s concerns.
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