KOCHI:The Catholic priest who allegedly raped a minor girl is likely to face stringent action. The Church authorities in Kerala are awaiting a direction from Vatican in this regard.
A report regarding the issue had been sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Vatican which looks into the cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests. They may appoint another Commission to further probe the matter. We are awaiting further directions from the headquarters, said Fr Rocky Roby Kalathil, spokesperson of the Latin Diocese of Kottappuram.
Fr Figarez was serving at the Lourdes Matha Church, Puthenvelikkara, under Diocese of Kottappuram when the alleged incident took place. The priest has been absconding since May 5 after the Kerala High Court rejected his anticipatory bail.
“Fr Figarez has been suspended pending inquiry for the ‘time being’ from performing parish services after a commission appointed by the Bishop looked into the allegation and prepared a preliminary report about the alleged incident of sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl. The bishop does not have the authority to take further action. The Congregation of Faith may constitute another inquiry panel to look into the issue in detail and if necessary the Congregation will send the Commission from Vatican itself. Based on its findings, the accused priest may be defrocked or his suspension revoked,” Fr Roby explained.
The incident of sexual assault took place at the Church complex between January and March, mostly when she came for confession. The girl’s parents lodged a complaint on April 1.