Church in Ireland cancels invite to priest for comparing kids with autism to animals
Kerala Catholic priest Father Dominic Valanmanal, who sparked off outrage with his comments comparing children with autism with animals, has been punished by senior church authorities in Ireland. A senior church official in Dublin has cancelled an invite issued to the priest to hold a retreat in that country.
A prominent figure in the Catholic community in Kerala, Father Dominic Valanmanal has come in for severe criticism for his shockingly insensitive remarks towards children with autism and their families.
The remarks were made on two occasions at public gatherings and later shared on video show Father Dominiccomparing children with autism to animals and holds parents responsible for their condition.
"Why does this generation have autism and hyperactivity? The children of this generation - young men, young women - should keep this in mind. Alcohol, cigarette, beedi, narcotics, paan, adultery, masturbation, homosexuality, porn - if you are addicted to any of these, I say to you in the name of God. Dear children, keep in mind, tomorrow when you get married and have children, there is a high possibility of bearing these type of children. It is because the anointing (sanctity) is lost. The young men and women are not filled with the Holy Spirit anymore. Afterwards, they lead an animal-like life. They copulate like animals. They bear children like animals. Therefore, those children will also be like animals. Animals do not speak, they do not have ears and can't hear. It is not human.
Father Dominic is a priest under the diocese of Kanjirappally and a director of the Marian Retreat Centre at Idukki. He was to visit Ireland in October to speak at a community event but following the massive outrage and a petition on Change.org, church authorities in that country withdrew the invite.
A spokeswoman for Archbishop Diarmuid MartinM who has jurisdiction over the church in the Dublin archdiocese, told The Irish times that he had informed the Syro-Malabar community "that Fr Dominic Valanmahal should not be invited.
Father Dominic's remarks have been strongly criticised on social media. One parent Ruchika Sethi said the priest should be invited home and given lessons in the qualities of being human and humane.
I wish to invite him to our house and stay with us so he may understand the quintessentialness of being human and humane.. being forgiving and adaptable,.. courageous and accepting of all..We will then pardon him , for he would have understood the relevance of spirituality and religion, challenges , abilities, the nonverbal world. - Ruchika Sethi, Parent to child with disability.
Almost 1,500 people signed the petition, many of them Indian immigrants in Ireland.