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Will Diocese of Idukki be prosecuted for showing 'A' film on love jihad to children?

Counterview Desk 

A statement signed by concerned Catholics regarding the screening of the ‘Kerala Story’ by the Diocese of Idukki has said that showing the film to school students to make them aware of love jihad “defies logic”, as it is clearly a propaganda film “created to further the Hindutva narrative that is trying to destroy the secular nature of our country.”
The statement asks: “The film has been given an ‘A’ certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). How could this film be ever shown to children? Will the Diocese of Idukki now be prosecuted for screening the film to children?”

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On Thursday 4 April 2024, Pope Francis in a very incisive message to the participants in the First Colloquium between the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue and the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, held in the Vatican said, “We need to support each other in fostering harmony between religions, ethnic groups and cultures. In particular, I want to emphasize three aspects...: respect for diversity, commitment to our common home and the promotion of peace.”
Unfortunately, on that very day, in Kerala, the Idukki Diocese, of the Syro-Malabar Church screened a controversial film ‘The Kerala Story’. The film was shown to students of Stds. X to XII, as part of the Annual Summer Catechism programme. On 8 April, several English and vernacular media both in Kerala and elsewhere, detailed this event under the title, ‘Idukki Diocese screens The Kerala Story for Catechism Students’. A spokesperson of the Diocese has gone on record saying that the film was ‘shown to Christian students to raise awareness about the issue of 'Love Jihad'.'
That a Catholic Diocese has screened this film, defies logic! First of all, the movie is clearly a propaganda film created to further the Hindutva narrative that is trying to destroy the secular nature of our country. Secondly, it is replete with lies, factual inaccuracies and half-truths; so much so, that the director of the movie, publicly admitted falsehood and had to correct the figures given in the original curtain-raiser from “32,000 girls embracing Islam to just THREE!”; besides ten obnoxious scenes, had to be deleted before the Censor Board gave its certification! Thirdly, and far more importantly, this is a film which goes against the teachings of the Church and the person and message of Jesus.
The decision by the Church authorities to screen the film, is deeply concerning because it actively sows seeds of hatred, intolerance and prejudice, among children, instead of promoting peace, compassion, and acceptance, which are the core values of Christianity. 
A Diocese spokesperson said that the film was shown to Christian students to raise awareness about the issue of Love Jihad
By screening such a propaganda film that is filled with lies, the Idukki Church is instilling negative emotions and discriminatory attitudes towards people of other faiths and failing to teach children about love and respect for all religions and cultures. Such actions can have adverse effects on the future generation and society at large, particularly in the present politically charged context where hate is being weaponised to destroy the country.
Besides, the film has been given an ‘A’ certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). How could this film be ever shown to children? Will the Diocese of Idukki now be prosecuted for screening the film to children?
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has emphasized the importance of strengthening and building good relations between Christians and Muslims during this Holy month of Ramadan; the Diocese of Idukki, on the other hand, seems to have chosen to promote conflict and tension between the two communities. Like in the time of Hitler, there are always those in authority in the Churches who wish to kowtow towards those who have political power in order to keep their own ‘little empires’ safe.
A contextual adaptation of Mathew 23:15 could serve as a reminder to all of us, “woe to you bishops and religious authorities, pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land, to try to ensure that your flock does not desert you, but in the bargain, you make the members of your flock twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
We the undersigned, whilst strongly condemning this insensitive and unchristian act of the Diocese of Idukki, earnestly urge all Church authorities to do all they can to promote inter-religious, dialogue, reconciliation, fraternity, harmony and peace, remembering that our future as a country, is at stake!
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Click here for signatories 

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