‘Remove Cardinal Alencherry’: Kerala church priests start indefinite hunger strike

The priests have demanded the immediate appointment of an Administrative Archbishop, who will have independent powers.
‘Remove Cardinal Alencherry’: Kerala church priests start indefinite hunger strike
‘Remove Cardinal Alencherry’: Kerala church priests start indefinite hunger strike
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On Thursday, about 20 priests of the Syro Malabar Church met Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, head of the Church, with various demands concerning the alleged fake cases against some of its priests and believers pertaining to a land deal case. After the talks failed, the priests have now started an indefinite strike until their demands are met, the primary demand being the removal of Cardinal Alencherry.

“Since a solution is far-fetched, we are embarking on an indefinite hunger strike and will remain in prayers until our demands are met,” Father Jose Vailikodath told the media on Thursday. The priests, who are on an indefinite hunger strike at the headquarters of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese in Kochi, said that while believers and priests were being implicated in false cases, two auxiliary bishops were suspended without any reasons.

The issue dates to the 2016 land deal case when the Ernakulam Archdiocese sold a three-acre piece of land in Kochi to repay its bank loan worth Rs 60 crore. The land, which was reportedly worth at least Rs 80 crore, was sold at Rs 27.30 crore. Some priests and believers accused Alencherry of foul play in the land transaction. A police case was registered and the Cardinal is an accused in the case.

After the controversy put the diocese and Alencherry on the defensive, Jacob Manathodath was appointed as the apostolic administrator in June 2018. However, as his term ended in June this year, Cardinal Alencherry’s powers were restored. Two auxiliary bishops - Bishop Mar Sebastian Adayanthrath and Bishop Mar Jose Puthenveetil, were also suspended by the Vatican.

In May this year, Adithya, a techie and member of the Church, was arrested for allegedly faking documents related to financial transactions of Mar Alencherry. The arrest came after Cardinal Alencherry filed a complaint against Adithya. Two priests - Father Paul Thalekkat and fourth accused Father Tony Kalukkaran, too were named as accused for their alleged involvement. 

“Priests and believers of the church are accused in a false case and are tortured. The auxiliary bishops were suspended without any explanation. This is prefabricated and should be immediately stopped. Alencherry, who is accused in criminal cases, should be removed from all the administrative positions of the church. The suspended auxiliary bishops should be given their posts back,” Father Jose Vailikodath said.

He also demanded that Alancherry cannot head the next synod that will be held in August. “Instead, synod should be held in the presence of the representatives of the Pope. Immediate actions should be taken to appoint an administrative Archbishop, who will have independent powers,” he said.

Father Jose added that more priests and believers will join the protest on Friday. 

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