CEUTA priest Juan Jose Mateo has been made to step down after allowing a large statue of the Hindu god Ganesh to be carried into the Santuario de Santa Maria de Africa parish church and placed at the foot of a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Bishop Rafael Zornoza has expressed his “deep pain for this deplorable episode, which has caused confusion, damage and scandal within the Christian community”.
Meanwhile the Hindu community in the Spanish enclave comprising approximately 800 followers has said it cannot understand the reproof for an “act of co-existence” between religions.
Last Sunday, the community marked the birth of Ganesh with a procession through the city to the sea.
“For the last eight years we have made a stop at the Santuario de Santa María de Africa as an act of reverence because we also consider her to be the city’s patron saint. We do not understand the condemnation of the priest,” the president of the Hindu community in Ceuta, Ramesh Chandiramani, told the Spanish press.