Catholic bishop apologizes and priest resigns after Hindu deity Ganesh is welcomed in church
A Catholic bishop in Spain has apologized after a priest hosted the parading of an image of Hindu deity Ganesh in his cathedral in Ceuta, a Spanish city in North Africa. The service saw Hindus joining Catholics as Marian hymns were sung in the direction of the revered elephant-headed icon.
The priest of the diocese, Father Juan José Mateos Castro, has since resigned, according to Crux.
The Hindu community of Spain’s Ceuta and Melilla had been completing their worshipping celebrations of Ganesh, the famous deity with the head of an elephant and the body of a child.
On their journey, they were welcomed at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Africa, led by Father Castro. The Hindu party had been singing chants traditionally dedicated to Saint Mary, and then brought the image of Ganesh into the church and toward the Altar, where Catholics there sang Marian hymns with the deity’s image in view.
What was intended as a sign of respect on the part of the Hindu community was taken as scandalous to many in the Catholic community, who don’t share the pluralistic spirit that’s prevalent in Hinduism.
Bishop Rafael Zorzona Boy said the event was ‘regrettable’, and apologized for the cause of any ‘pain, confusion or scandal in the Christian community.’ Father Castro was ‘admonished’ for his role in the controversy, the bishop said.
A diocese statement said that in no situation was the ‘love of the members of the Hindu community or their beliefs [to be] rebuked,’ but that positive local Catholic-Hindu relations also ‘forces us to be increasingly more faithful to our Christian tradition.’