Sainthood for Oommen Chandy? Top priests address question at commemorative meet

Floral tributes laid out on Oommen Chandy's tomb at the St George Orthodox church in Puthuppally, Kottayam. Photo: Facebook/@oommenchandy.official

Kochi: Will Oommen Chandy be made a saint? The curious question has been heard from multiple corners, some seriously and some sarcastically, ever since the death of the former chief minister of Kerala whose popularity seems to have gone up posthumously.

The discussion over elevating Chandy as a religious figure just got to another level on Sunday as two prominent clergymen addressed the question in public.

H G Yuhanon Mar Policarpos Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, to which Chandy belonged, left the question on sainthood for the political stalwart open with his statement that “one can be a saint if that’s what god wishes”. He said the Orthodox church has a history of declaring members of the laity as saints though there is no precedence for it in Kerala.

The bishop was responding to a doubt expressed by Cardinal Mar George Alencherry,

Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, over the procedures of canonisation in the Orthodox denomination.

People on wheelchairs offer tributes at the tomb of Oommen Chandy at St George Orthodox Church at Puthuppally in Kottayam.

Cardinal Alencherry said Chandy led a sacramental life for serving the people. “He was a great messenger of mercy which is the highest form of love,” the top Catholic priest said.

The two top clergymen were speaking at a commemoration of Chandy organised by the District Congress Committee here. The religious question came up during the event as Leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly, V D Satheesan, said many people have been asking him if there was any possibility of declaring Chandy as a saint.

Satheesan remembered Chandy as a philanthropist who did not allow his sense of empathy dry up until his last moments. “Compassion was the theme of Oommen Chandy’s life. We should conduct deeper studies on that human being who touched the lives of all Keralites. The realisation from such inquiries will illuminate our path to future,” he said.

Satheesan said Chandy who carried out his public service standing firm on uncompromising faith in god has already been made a saint in the minds of the people.

Veteran academic and social commentator Prof M K Sanu remembered that Chandy always had a charm that attracted people around him in all phases of his political career.

Various religious and community leaders, politicians, MPs and MLAs were among those who attended the meet.

Chandy, who represented Puthuppally Assembly constituency in Kottayam district for 53 years, died in Bengaluru last month. Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life took part in his funeral procession from Thiruvananthapuram to Kottayam and his burial at St George Orthodox church, Puthuppally. He was buried on July 20 in a special tomb alongside departed priests. Hundreds of people have been visiting his tomb everyday since then.

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