A Catholic vicar in North Africa resigned in disgrace Monday, following church officials’ outrage at his decision to welcome a Hindu procession into the cathedral.
The Hindu communities from the Spanish regions of Ceuta and Melilla, which border Morocco, intended to leave a floral offering outside Our Lady of Africa cathedral Sunday as a gesture of respect to Christians during the end of their worship of the god Ganesh, according to Crux Now. Vicar General Father Juan José Mateos Castro met the procession outside of the cathedral and welcomed them inside, allowing them to carry their statue of Ganesh into the sanctuary.
Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy apologized for the incident in a Monday statement from the diocese. Boy expressed “deep sorrow for this unfortunate fact that has caused damage, confusion or scandal in the Christian community.”
The diocese said the acceptance of the image of Ganesh in a Catholic church was “wrong and is a reprehensible fact, which should not have been allowed,” and stated that the diocese “reprimanded” Castro for the event and accepted Castro’s resignation.
Catholic worshippers at Our Lady of Africa reportedly sang a Marian hymn while facing the statue of Ganesh, which the Hindus placed at the altar. A member of the Hindu procession praised the show of apparent pluralism, and declared Ceuta as “the only place in the world where two different cultures, two different religions come together to pray to the god Ganesh and of course to our Patroness.”
A Catholic family then sang a hail Mary while facing Ganesh.
The statement from the diocese said Castro “recognizes that it has been a mistake to allow the entrance of these images and that it has never intended to venerate anything [but] our true and only God, since [his] intention was only to accept the show of respect that the Hindu community wanted to do to the Christian community and the Patroness of Ceuta, making a floral offering outside the temple, and not to celebrate any kind of religious act together.”
The statement also thanked the local Hindu communities for their intended show of respect, and assured them that the rebuke against Castro was not a rebuke against the Hindus’ beliefs.
“We thank them for their respect and reiterate our satisfaction with the cordial relationship with them and the other religious confessions of Ceuta, which forces us to be More and more faithful to our Christian tradition,” the statement said.
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