CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 September 2017

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Goodwill gesture gone wrong

ROME (SE): A bishop in Spain issued a public apology after a parish priest allowed the local Hindu community to carry an image of the Hindu god with an elephant head, Ganesh, in a procession at the church.
 
The priest who allowed the procession to take place subsequently offered his resignation as the vicar general of the diocese. It was accepted.
 
On August 20, the Hindu community of Ceuta and Melilla, two autonomous Spanish communities located on the coast of North Africa, visited the church of Our Lady of Africa.
 
The original plan was to gather at the entrance of the church and pay their respects to Our Lady, but they entered the building and were received by Father Juan José Mateos Castro.
 
La Croix reported that the group chanted the Salve Rociera, the opening lines of which are, “Hail Mary, lady from el Rocío, Moon, Sun, North and Guide and celestial pastor.”
 
However, the sticking point came when they then venerated the god Ganesh on the steps of the church. The bishop said that it had caused pain and confusion among the Christian community, which he regretted as relationships between the two religions are good and the Hindu group had initially only come to pay their respects to Our Lady of Africa.
 
But the group was then allowed to carry the image towards the altar, where a group from the parish welcomed them with a Marian hymn, but one of the visitors grabbed the microphone and proclaimed that Ceuta is “the only place in the world where two different cultures, two different religions come together to pray to the god Ganesh and of course to our patroness.”
 
A family then faced Ganesh and prayed the Hail Mary.
 
While the result was painful, it appears to have been a gesture of goodwill gone horribly wrong.

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