Bishop of Mananthavady Archdiocese, Jose Porunnedom has apologised to the family of the survivor, who was allegedly raped and impregnated by Kottoyoor Parish vicar Fr. Robin Vadakkancheril.
In a letter written by the Bishop, appointing a new Vicar to the parish, he says that the incident has caused shame and spiritual loss to the diocese. He also said that he can understand the pain of other church representatives at Kottiyoor parish, who are struggling to come to terms with this situation and are not knowing how to react. He also urged the parish representatives like nuns, committee members and other priests to stay strong in their faith.
Addressing the victim and the family, the Bishop said what happened is unacceptable.
“Here the person who had to guard his followers himself has assaulted them. How will I console the daughter who was victimised and her parents? Dear ones I remember you in my prayers, I join my tears with yours and I understand your pain. I can only say this to you - Sorry,” the Bishop’s letter says.
He also concludes the letter by offering blessings of mother Mary to the victim’s family.
However, the reaction of other Catholic institutions like its mouthpiece Sunday Shalom and Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council’s (KCBC), to the issue has been apathetic.
In an article, Sunday Shalom even went to the extent of criticising the victim. The article quoted a social media comment and said that it was very true in the case.
"Here the partner in the sin is more than 15 years old. Considering her in my daughter's position am telling, daughter you too went wrong. You will be the first one answerable before god. Why did you forget who a priest was? Why didn't you know that the sanctity of a priest is equal to the holiness of Jesus's heart. He has a human body he can get temptations. If he might have forgotten that for a few seconds, my child who has taken the holy communion, why didn't you stop or correct him," says the comment.
But following a huge controversy, the comment was later removed. The KCBC’s reply was also quiet bizarre. Instead of taking steps to ensure that priests don’t get away with crime, the Council conveniently said that this case is an ‘exception’ among the 9033 Catholic priests in Kerala. The council also put the blame on ‘consumerism’ and media.
“Consumerism is indeed a situation affecting everyone in the world and priests are also in the world. It is in celibacy and in virginity the crisis become apparent first, then it will become a crisis of fidelity in marriage with extra-marital and premarital sex. Women are presented as commodity both in media and in advertisements and all commodities are marketed with girls and women where human body is dehumanized,” Father Paul Thelekat of the Bishops' Council wrote in a statement given to The News Minute.