Cardinal George Alencherry, an accused in a church land scam, had filed a complaint against priests and a techie for forging documents to defame him.

In unprecedented move Kerala church reads circular criticising its Cardinal in all churchesCardinal Mar George Alencherry
news Church Sunday, May 26, 2019 - 17:29

In an unprecedented move, the Ernakulam-Angamaly Syro Malabar Church, on Sunday, read out a circular at all churches under its fold, criticising its head Cardinal George Alencherry and the Kerala police. The circular demanded a fair probe into the document forgery case that Cardinal Alencherry filed against the priests under the Church.

The circular was issued by Father Varghese Pottaykkal, Protosyncellus (Vicar General) of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese. Alencherry is the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and head of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

In April, the Ernakulam city police had registered a case against Alencherry and three others in connection with a series of land deals that allegedly ended up causing financial loss to the archdiocese.

However, the church saw a split after Alencherry filed a case alleging that a techie called Adithya and two other priests, have connived to create fake documents against him. Alencherry alleged that his enemies in the church had conspired against him. The Cardinal's move to absolve himself while pinning the blame on priests created furore and a faction supported by Bishop Jacob Manathodath, the administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, and Father Varghese Pottaykkal, have now called the charges baseless.  

“The argument that fake document against Cardinal George Alencherry was created by the priests attached to the church is baseless,” reads the circular.

Referring to Adithya, a techie from Kochi who was recently arrested for allegedly forging certain documents against the Cardinal, the circular stated, "A youth, a member of the Archdiocese, found some documents related to the financial dealings of the senior priests during his work, and handed over the same to Father Paul Thelakkat, who was the spokesperson of the church.”

It further said that Father Thelakkat handed over the documents to apostolic administrator Mar Jacob Manathodath, who, in turn, handed it over privately to Cardinal Mar Alencherry, in an attempt to find out the truth.

Cardinal Alencherry presented the issue before the synod (a council of the church), which filed a criminal case alleging that the documents had been deliberately fabricated and there was a conspiracy behind this.

Father Manathodath and Paul Thelakkat were named accused in the case. “Though Cardinal Alencherry had given assurance that their names will be deleted as the accused, it has not been kept,” the circular said.

The circular said that not a single priest attached to the Church has neither prompted nor conspired to make or propagate such documents to defame Mar Alencherry and that, it does not hold true.

In the circular, Father Varghese Pottaykkal also alleged police brutality against Adithya, the fourth accused in the document forgery case.

“The youth who brought out the documents had been kept in custody for 48 hours and was brutally beaten up and was forced to give a statement that those documents were made by him as promoted by the priests. This is a clear violation of human rights and a challenge to the judiciary. It is suspected that the investigation is not going in the right direction. The Judicial Magistrate Court, Kakkanad, has registered a suo motu case against the police officials who tortured the youth in custody. The truth of this should be brought out either through a judicial probe or through a CBI investigation,” it urged.  

"The circulars were read in all 380 churches, including chapels, under the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese during the Sunday mass", said Riju Kanjookaran, who is part of Save Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (SAMT), which has been functioning as a corrective force within the church.

“It should have been issued as a pastoral note. However, since Manathodathu, who had the authority to issue a pastoral note, is an accused in the case, it was decided to issue as a circular,” Riju Kanjookaran told TNM.

“It is the first time in the history of the Church that a circular was read out against its head priest and the devotee’s response was quite positive. Cardinal Alencherry has been directed by the Vatican not to intervene in the affairs of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese after the land scam was exposed,” Riju added.



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