The Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala has sparked condemnation from the Catholic Church for branding Jesus as a communist revolutionary in a history exhibition that opens next week.
The exhibition, titled Marx Alone Is Right, includes a section called “Martyrdom, Christ to Che,” will officially open during the party’s state conference in Thiruvananthapuram but has already generated widespread interest.
Archbishop Maria Calist Soosapakiam of Thiruvananthapuram has condemned the exhibit and issued a press statement.
The prelate, who serves as president of the Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council, said there was a “hidden political agenda” behind it.
“The communists have always shown disregard for the teachings of Jesus and tried to humiliate Church leaders…. We hope they will rectify their mistake and not hurt the religious sentiments of the true believers of Jesus Christ,” he said in the statement.
Fr Paul Thelakat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, said the exhibition only exposed the chinks in the party’s armor.
“They have lost all their icons and crowd pullers. Now they need something to clinch onto. But people can make out their sinister designs,” he said.
The CPI-M, a major political force in Kerala and leading the opposition, narrowly lost in the 2011 Assembly elections.
It was at loggerheads with the Church whenever it came to power. Christians in the state constitute 22 percent of the 32 million residents.
Protests in Wayanad district last year forced the local party office to remove a hoarding of Jesus’ picture hanging beside that of Marx.
MV Jayarajan, a CPI-M state committee member, also stirred up controversy recently after comparing Jesus to the party’s national secretary, Prakash Karat, a Hindu high caste.