Catholic priest Juan José Mateos Castro has been forced to resign after he allowed the Hindu god Ganesh to enter a Catholic Church in Spain’s Ceuta and Melilla, two autonomous Spanish communities located on the coast of North Africa.
The Vicar General of the diocese that contains Our Lady of Africa welcomed a Hindu religious procession into the church last weekend. Catholics sang a Marian hymn while gazing the elephant-headed god, according to this report.
The local bishop has apologised, saying the Church has to be “faithful to our Christian tradition,” and the priest has resigned.
Bishop Rafael Zorzona Boy, above, labeled the event as a “regrettable one” that shouldn’t have been allowed, and that it might have caused:
Pain, confusion or scandal in the Christian community.
The bishop also asked for forgiveness to all those who might have been scandalised by it.
A statement from the diocese said
We thank them [the Hindus] for their respect, and reiterate our satisfaction with the cordial relationship with them and the other religious confessions in Ceuta.
But the incident:
Forces us to be increasingly more faithful to our Christian tradition.
The statement also said that the vicar had been “admonished” for allowing these actions and that he’s presented his resignation, which was accepted.
Mateos, the statement said:
Acknowledges that it was a mistake to allow the entrance of these images and that he didn’t intend, at any moment, to venerate anything outside of our only and true God …
His intention was only to welcome the sign of respect that the Hindu community wanted to offer towards the Christian community and the Patroness of Ceuta.
The statement added that the Hindu community only intended to leave a floral offering outside the Catholic Church, and that they had no plans to conduct a joint inter-religious event.
However, Mateos made the grievious mistake of opening the the doors to the deity and its worshippers. A procession then carried Ganesh to the altar, where the priest welcomed it and it the Hindus.
One Hindu then then grabbed the microphone and said:
Ceuta is 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.