Kerala church land row: As Vatican reviews issue, leaflets circulated to expose deals

Members of the Archdiocean Movement for Transparency distributed pamphlets among devotees to expose the land deals, which caused huge losses to the church.
Kerala church land row: As Vatican reviews issue, leaflets circulated to expose deals
Kerala church land row: As Vatican reviews issue, leaflets circulated to expose deals
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In a twist to the land deal allegations against the top heads of the Syro Malabar Church, including Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, a Vatican official has begun analysing the situation, sources close to the church said.

Several devotees had written to the Vatican in their individual capacity about the land deals of the Ernakulam-Angamaly diocese, which allegedly caused huge losses to the church.

“The letters to the Vatican had cited news reports about the land deals that had appeared both in the national and local media. Currently an official of the Vatican who has powers similar to that of an ambassador is analysing the situation,” the source said.

In yet another unusual development, members of the Archdiocean Movement for Transparency on Sunday distributed pamphlets among almayar (ordinary devotees) to make them aware of the issue. According to the pamphlets, the land deals caused a loss of Rs 37 crore to the diocese.

“Though we had solid evidence about the deals since September 2017, our priests tried to resolve the issues within the church itself. But that resulted in increased propagation of lies about the issue. The church decided to sell off the land to get rid of the situation, in which it had to pay Rs 70 lakh as monthly interest towards bank loans. It was decided to sell the lands at Kakkanad, Marad and Thrikkakara to get at least Rs 9 lakh for one cent of land. But in the land deals done by Mar Alencherry through Saju Varghese Kunnel, who was introduced by the Cardinal himself, the sale was only for Rs 4 lakh per cent,” the notice said.

It also reads, “Not only this, even after a year of selling the land and doing the registration procedures, the church hasn’t received even the amount shown in the tittle deed. The total amount that the church should have got through the land deal if 301 cents of land was sold for Rs 9 lakh per cent is Rs 27.24 crore. The amount of sale as per the title deed is Rs 13.51 crore; the amount received so far is Rs 9.13 crore, the amount as per market value is Rs 46 crore, so the total loss incurred by the diocese is Rs 37 crore.”

“The whole issue of the land deals is complicated. The only name known outside is that of Saju Varghese, the real estate dealer. As per the information we have, there are real estate giants who are involved in the deal,” the source added.

“We have distributed the pamphlets in some of the churches under the diocese. It will be distributed in all the churches in the coming days,” said Shine Varghese of the Movement.

 The allegations were first raised by the Save Archdiocese Forum, to which devotees have shown mixed response. Many priests under the diocese are members of the Forum.

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