KOCHI: The Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese on Thursday suspended Fr Prince Thykootathil, former assistant vicar of St George Forane Church, Edappally, for a serious breach of discipline, including misappropriation of funds.
The action was initiated by the Archdiocese for misappropriation of church funds by the vicar after rampant inconsistencies were observed in the accounting of money offerings received at the church, said Fr Paul Karedan, spokesperson of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.
According to sources, the vicar allegedly used to receive money from other clergy and the church's parishioners, in the guise of contributions for treatment of a destitute. "In one instance, the priest borrowed money saying that it was for treatment of his relative. However, when we checked with the relative we found that no money was given. Thus it became evident that he was lying," said the source.
"After Fr Prince was transferred to Karukutty (near Aluva in Ernakulam) last month, complaints were received at the Archdiocese from several priests and parishioners that he had borrowed money from them. Though we are yet to calculate the whole amount, around Rs 10 lakh is likely to have been misappropriated," said Fr Karedan.
Fr Thykootathil served as the assistant vicar of the church for two years and he was in charge of the offerings money received by the church. "He cannot engage in any priestly affairs and his dispensation orders will arrive from the Vatican in the coming days," said Karedan.
However, Major Archepiscopal Vicar Archbishop Mar Antony Karayil assured the faithful that the Archdiocese takes full responsibility for proper and correct utilisation of the money offerings made by the faithful at the Edapally Church.
Meanwhile, there are also rumours that the 28-year-old priest was engaged in an affair and was collecting money to set up a new life. "We have evidence which the priest cannot deny proving that he was involved in actions unbecoming of a member of the clergy. He also signed the relieving letter as well," said an official of the archdiocese, who wished not to be named.