100 Christian priests including a bishop from around 480 that attended a summer retreat are now covid positive. The ‘annual retreat’ happened from the 13th till the 17th of April. 2 have died and at least 5 are in serious condition, to date. The attendees belong to the Church of South India (CSI) and the annual event took place at the picturesque Munnar in the Idukki district of Kerala.
Even as the retreat was taking place, some members felt physical discomfort and started showing covid symptoms. The church brushed them aside blaming it on the high altitude! Even after returning, symptoms persisted for some and they got themselves tested confirming the virus.
Gravely enough photos of the event have now surfaced where the padres, all dressed in white were seen attending the events with no masks and no social distancing, a clear violation of basic pandemic protocols. Though it defies logic, government orders allowed congregations of up to 50 that could attend such programs at a time. Incidentally only 20 could attend a death unless it was a covid related fatality, where none could. Many are now questioning the CSI as to why the program was conducted covertly and what was the urgency involved.
Another holy gathering that usually attracts crores of Hindu devotees from all over the world, was also taking place albeit without pomp and involving just a handful of attendees at Kumbh. Even this was being criticized by the anti-Hindus and their allied publications. That it ended after a single message from PM Narendra Modi was conveniently ignored by that same media. Having seen the second wave of the virus approach fast, Hindus had gone back without taking the holy dip in the Ganga and the revelry canceled.
Meanwhile, the CSI was partaking in summer camps under the very eyes of the communist leaders in their very own backyard. The same atheists who cried hoarsely about the Kumbh tried to hide this Christian congregation and are now busy either whitewashing the incident or blaming the bureaucracy for the same. Had the attendees not been infected with the coronavirus this ‘annual retreat’ would have been comfortably brushed under the carpet.
It is alleged that in spite of several requests to postpone the event from both the believers and the priests, the church demanded attendance and threatened the priests with disciplinary action including transfers to other churches. This forced the padre to attend and they gathered at Thiruvananthapuram and were transported to Munnar in buses. This was happening when similar dioceses including the Central Kerala one and the Kochi one had either canceled or postponed their annual meetings.
Having attended the event from April 13th to 17th, it is alleged that they went back to their respective churches and continued closely interacting with their congregation without any covid precautions. It was after the priests returned and started mingling with church attendees that people started complaining. Those gatherings are now living in fear and it is not yet known as to how many of them are infected.
The magnitude of the disaster becomes clear when one considers that as per their own records there are more than 40 lakh followers for the CSI spread all over south Bharat. The acts of a few covidiots mean that super spreaders have been actively transferring the virus all over south Kerala since mid-April.
Many of the affected priests are now admitted to various hospitals in Thiruvanthapuram and some are in home isolation. The secretary of the south Kerala diocese of the CSI said that they had received permission from the government to conduct the event and that proper guidelines were followed at the event. He blamed an anti-CSI lobby who was working to defame their church and that it was just a negative campaign. He overlooked the point that those who complained were in fact his own fellow church-goers.
It was a Thiruvanthapuram CSI churchgoer named Mohanan who had complained to both the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary of Kerala, V P Joy about the violations. Interestingly though it was intimated on the 27th of April, no action has been initiated to date. A group of social workers from the Christian organization called the Joint Christian Council alleged that corona protocols issued by the government were openly flouted. They also added that the council’s objections too were ignored by both the administration and the church.
When the issue was raised with the Thiruvanthapuram district medical officer K S Shinu the reply was that he could not take action. Asked why he said that it took place in the Idukki district (not in his jurisdiction) and that it happened last month! Why care if the CM himself is not interested.
The Idukki local administration said that they did not issue any authorization to conduct the meeting and added that neither were they consulted. All public gatherings had been banned from the 12th of April in Idukki.
Now with the issue being played out all over social media, Pinarayi Vijayan said that he will ‘look’ into the matter.
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