Syro-Malabar Church - Priests rebel against Cardinal over forgery case

Daijiworld Media Network - Kochi

Kochi, May 27: Kerala's influential Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is in crisis after the priests of an Archdiocese read out a circular during Sunday mass in churches under its jurisdiction, blaming the Church head Cardinal George Alencherry over a criminal case filed against a section of priests.

The move by the priests comes days after they came out openly against the arrest of a 24-year-old man, for allegedly forging bank documents against Cardinal Alencherry, who is also the major Archbishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

The clarification circular issued by Vicar General of the Ernakulam - Angamaly Archdiocese, Fr Varghese Pottackal, said the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese, Bishop Jacob Manathodath and senior priest Fr Paul Thelakkat were made accused in the forgery case filed on behalf of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.

The circular was read out in many churches in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, a Church source said.

Many said that this is an unprecedented situation and such a move against the Church head is unheard in Syro-Malabar Church so far.

The circular said although the Cardinal had assured that everything possible would be made to get these two priests off the list of the accused as there was no intention to make them as accused in the case, no steps in this direction have been taken so far.

The circular termed as "wrong" the propaganda that efforts were made to defame the Cardinal using the forged documents. Alleging that the youth Adithya Valavi arrested was subjected to torture in custody, the Archdiocese urged the government to order either a CBI or a judicial probe into the forgery case.

The youth was kept in the police custody illegally and was subjected to torture to make him state the names of priests in the case, it said.

The police said there were altogether four accused in the case — Paul Thelakkat (first accused), Bishop Jacob Manathodath (second accused), Adithya Valavi (third accused), and Fr Antony Kallokka ran alias Tony (fourth accused).

Earlier, three bishops of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese had come out openly against the arrest of Adithya Valavi, who is a post-graduate from an IIT, claiming that he is not a criminal and he had no role in forging documents. The priests had claimed that the man, a faithful, while working as an intern with a reputed business group in Kochi, had taken a screenshot of documents allegedly having Alencherry's name from the computer server of the firm and brought it to the notice of a church priest he knew.


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