Prominent church lay leaders have asked the Kerala state government not to honor the Archbishop of Canterbury with the status of a guest of state when he visits South India later this month.
This week’s open letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayanto signed by Valson Thampu, former principal of India’s most prestigious university, St Stephen’s College of the University of Delhi, and other Church of South India civil society leaders, said honoring Archbishop Welby would send the message that the corruption among the episcopate in India would continue to be tolerated by the government and the wider church.
Dr. Thampu told the Indian press the Church of South India was seeking to clean up its image through the pageantry surrounding Archbishop Welby’s visit. Half a dozen CSI bishops and the former moderator of the CSI are under criminal investigation for corruption, the open letter said. By giving Archbishop Welby state honors when he visits Kottayam from 31 August to 2 September, the state would be supporting the corrupt leadership of the church, the signatories averred. They also said it would be inappropriate to accord state honors to the leader of the Church of England, as the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the administrative or spiritual head of the Indian church.
Archbishop Welby is scheduled to visit India between 31 Augst and 10 September as a guest of the Churches of North India and South India.