A bishop in Idukki, Kerala, has asked women to refrain from wearing short skirts while attending church, The Times of India reported on Monday. In a pastoral letter published in the diocese’s bulletin Sahyanadam, Mar Mathew Anikuzhikattil said women should not wear skirts that end above the knee while inside the place of worship.
Anikuzhikattil found support within the Syro-Malabar community after Father Jimmy Poochakkat, the church’s official spokesperson, said women in the Vatican were also expected to follow a dress code and that Anikuzhikattil’s instruction had been issued in “good faith”.
The bishop also wrote against birth control and asked parents to keep their children away from social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook. He said pregnant women should be encouraged to attend church and infants must be baptised within eight days of their birth. Anikuzhikattil also urged new parents to give Christian names to their children.
The bishop is not new to controversies. In June 2015, he had been widely criticised for speaking out against inter-faith marriages and was later forced to apologise. The Kerala Catholic Bishop Council, an apex body of Catholic priests, had also expressed regret over his remark.