By Shalet Jimmy – KOCHI
Published: 02nd March 2014 08:20 AM
If you are a parishioner of the Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Kochi, and wants to get married in the church, you have to prove you are not impotent. The vicar of the church has already issued a circular stating that this is a canonical requirement and has published it on the notice board.
However, the Church leadership rejected the claim that producing the potency certificate was a canonical requirement for marriage.
“For the smooth functioning of marriages, there was a suggestion to collect such details before one enters into wedlock. But the Church has not cleared it,” he said.
And medical experts have said potency tests aren’t always reliable. Said noted psychiatrist Dr C J John: “Since such clinical tests are being conducted under artificially stimulated circumstances, chances are high that one clearing the potency test is likely to be impotent in an actual situation and vice versa. Some can’t stimulate themselves under artificial circumstances. Hence it would be wrong to label them as impotent. That could destroy their lives. Besides, psychological factors also play a pivotal role in defining one’s sexuality.”
A parishioner, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused the local vicar of “creating a mess” by coming up with such strange rules under the pretext of implementing canonical law. “My plea to renew my ancestor’s grave was rejected several times. The church has become a company. Only those priests who can garner more funds are able to climb up the hierarchy,” he said.
Another parishioner complained that the church had laid down a rule that only married women who had given birth could be a godmother at baptism.
Vicar Fr Francis Fernandez wasn’t available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him.
Asked to comment on the issue, Cochin Bishop Joseph Kariyil said he wasn’t aware of the new rule. “I will soon look into it,” he said.
Francis Kallarakal, Archbishop of the Verapoly diocese, said the church had taken certain decisions based on consensus during emergencies. “But such a clause — to produce a potency certificate — hasn’t figured in any of our talks,” he added.