Syro Malabar Church land row: Standoff between priests intensifies in Kerala

A section of priests submitted a memorandum to the Synod seeking disciplinary action against priests who took part in the march demanding Cardinal's abstain from administrative responsibilities.

Published: 16th March 2018 03:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2018 03:31 AM   |  A+A-

Cardinal George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Church (File | Melton Antony)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: It appears there is no end in sight to the standoff in the Syro Malabar Church over the controversial land deal in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam- Angamaly in which Church head Mar George Cardinal Alencherry is facing allegations and legal proceedings. Indicating a clear division among priests in the archdiocese, a section of priests submitted a memorandum to the Synod seeking disciplinary action against priests who took part in the march to the Major Archbishops’ House on March 9 demanding Cardinal Alencherry abstain from administrative responsibilities till the police inquiry against him is over.  
It is alleged in the memorandum the administration of the archdiocese will not be smooth under Auxiliary Bishop Mar Sebastian Adayanthrath, who is incapable of controlling priests. The priests who submitted the memorandum also wanted the Synod to issue a statement condemning the march taken out by priests and seek an explanation from them. 

“The priests have no aim other than renunciation of Cardinal Alencherry as church head. Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (AMT) which campaigns against Cardinal Alencherry is an outfit formed with the support of these priests,’’ the memorandum said. ‘’Fr Joshy Puthuva, the former finance officer of the archdiocese, was entrusted with the task of selling the plot at a curia meeting in which Cardinal Alencherry was not present. We understand the Cardinal signed the documents under the impression that the payment was received,’’ it said. 

The Pala diocese committee of the  All Kerala Catholic Congress (AKCC) has  submitted a memorandum to the Synod raising the same demands. The AKCC has demanded action against priests, including Fr Vattoli, Fr Mundadan and Fr Parcattil and a probe into the alleged link the priests have with certain anti-Church groups. The AKCC leaders urged the synod to issue a circular to clear the clouds of misunderstanding and initiate steps to ensure the safety of Cardinal Alencherry. 

‘Police inaction contemptuous’

Kochi: The High Court on Thursday observed it was evident the delay on the police’s part in registering an FIR against Cardinal Mar George Alencherry and three others in the alleged illegal land deal is contemptuous. However, the court dropped the contempt proceedings since a criminal case was registered. It issued the order on the petitions filed by Martin Payyappilly, of Angamaly, and Shine Varghese, of Cherthala, seeking contempt of court action against Ernakulam Range IG Vijay Sakhare and Assistant Commissioner K Lalji for not complying with the High Court order.  

When the case came up for hearing, the state government submitted that the order was received on March 8 and the FIR was registered on March 12 by the Ernakulam Central police. The court asked why there was a delay of four days in registering the case. The police have committed contempt, the court said.  The court also noted that the FIR was registered after the petition seeking contempt of court was filed before it.

Prayer day  

Meanwhile, a meeting of the permanent Synod held at the Church headquarters on Wednesday urged the faithful to observe March 23 as prayer day. The Bishops’ Synod has urged to conduct at least an hour-long eucharistic adoration at all parishes, convents and religious houses. Prayer meetings are being organised at various parishes under the archdiocese as well as other dioceses.



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