The Kerala High Court on Monday rapped the counsel of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Cardinal Mar George Alencherry for pointing out to the court that as far as the Cardinal is concerned, the appellate authority is the Pope.
Taking a strong view of the Cardinal's counsel's contention, the court told him that it is strange to hear that the law of the land is not applicable to the Cardinal and said the court is looking if there was a breach of trust in the land deal.
The court made this observation when a petitioner sought a probe into the land deal done by the Cardinal which came under severe attack from the laity and even from a section of priests attached to the dioceses headed by the Cardinal.
The Ernakulam archdiocese in 2016 sold a three-acre piece of land in Kochi to repay a Rs 60 crore bank loan it had earlier taken to construct a medical college. The agent appointed by the church to facilitate the deal had estimated the value of the land at Rs 27.30 crore, but priests and local people claimed that the property's real value was at least Rs 80 crore.
The Cardinal's counsel told the court that as per the Canon Law, the Pope is the appellate authority to take action against a Cardinal.
The counsel also told the court that despite a few petitions against this land deal and the demand for a detailed probe into it being raised with the Vatican, no action has been initiated by the Pope against the Cardinal.
The petitioner urged the court to order a probe to find out if there was any wrong-doing in the sale of land by the Cardinal, which has caused a loss to the Church.
In January, it was reported that a Vatican official had begun analysing the situation, according to sources close to the church.
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.
‚ÄúThe 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,‚ÄĚ the source said.