Australia refuses entry to Kerala Catholic priest for comparing kids with autism to animals
July 19, 2019
Father Dominic Valanmanal who has been rightly slammed for his insensitive comments about children with autism has cancelled a series of religious retreats planned in Australia. The Indian Catholic priest was forced to call off his previous foreign tours as well in the face of strong protests.
After Ireland and Canada, Father Dominic Valanmanal has now called off a series of religious retreats he had scheduled in Australia in Phillip Island and Canberra.
This is after the Indian Catholic community in Australia led a campaign calling for his visit to be called off. The Indian Catholic priest has been called out for a series of insensitive comments regarding people with autism.
In several public meetings, Father Valanmanal, who claims to have "cured" autism through prayer, has and compared children with autism to animals. Comments that have led to religious visits to Ireland and Canada being cancelled as well after Indian Catholics in those countries, backed by autism support groups, said he was not welcome.
A video clip of Father Valanmanal had appeared online where he was seen preaching that autism in children was caused by the vice of their parents. "Adultery, masturbation, homosexuality, porn. If you are addicted to these, I say to you in the name of God ... when you get married and have children, there is a high possibility of bearing these type of children," he said in the video. He added, "They lead an animal-like life. They copulate like animals. They bear children like animals. Therefore those children also, will be like animals."
Father Valanmanal had sold out a five-day retreat on Philip Island in September, where the charges were nearly $400 per person to attend. This was followed by an event in Canberra.
Speaking to ABC News, Binoy Zacharias, who led the campaign against the visit said, the priest should never have been invited. "A lot of people urge me to take my son along to his retreats so that he can be treated. It makes me very sad. When he says he has removed autism as an evil spirit from families, people take it seriously."
The Indian Catholic community is largely from Kerala, where Father Valanmanal is based. Many of them are educated professionals who buy into such views about autism, which makes this move welcome, says Seema Lal, Co-founder of the Kerala-based parent support group TogetherWeCan.
This is great that the visit has been cancelled. Given the strong role religion plays in people's lives, especially in a country like ours, it is not easy to put faith above scientific knowledge. This is important because people like this priest wield a lot of influence and should be bringing the community together in a positive way. Instead, he is perpetuating and promoting stigma. - Seema Lal, Co-founder, TogetherWeCan
Last month, the Bishop of Calgary in Canada cancelled Father Valanmanal's permission to lead a retreat in that country. This was after community members raised concerns.
The campaign in Australia also attracted attention from Amaze, the autism advocacy organisation, which called the priest's views stigmatising and highly offensive.
Watch in Sign Language
- Parenting Corner-Autism Myths
August 24, 2019
- Trending stories on Newz Hook Aug 17 – Aug 23
August 24, 2019
- Delhi Disabilities Commissioner welcomes order setting up of Special Courts to try offences under RPWD Act 2016
August 23, 2019
Read more on Newz Hook
- Parasports August 19, 2019 Indian para athletes hold the flag high at 2019 World Para Athletics Grand Prix
- Headlines August 17, 2019 Karnataka boy felicitated for bravery
- Headlines August 24, 2019 United Nation supports Priyanka Chopra
- Lifestyle August 22, 2019 Kurtas for men - Feast your eyes on some amazing designs
- Headlines August 18, 2019 Deepa Malik wins Khel Ratna
- Accessibility August 23, 2019 Disabled people push for need of accessible & disabled-friendly Indian Railways
- Get-Hooked August 24, 2019 Trending stories on Newz Hook Aug 17 – Aug 23
- Headlines August 18, 2019 Telephone services, Internet partially back in J&K
- Headlines August 23, 2019 Amazon forest burns at record rate
- Education August 21, 2019 Happy Hands School is enabling deaf children in rural Odisha to learn in sign language
Want to feature your inspiring story or share an event with the disabled community? Write to:
Newz Hook - Accessible News