Laity group seeks registration of case against Church heads

By Matters India Reporter Kochi: The land deal row in the Syro-Malabar Church took a new turn when a section of the people sought to register a case against Church heads, including Cardinal George Alencherry. The Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court has accepted the petition from Paulachan Puthupaara, president of the Catholic Association for Justice and vice president of Joint Christian Council organizations to fight corruption within the church. Meanwhile the Presbyterian Council of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly has formed a new five-member committee to study and probe into the land deal and the economic loss for the Church. The petition wants the court to direct the central police circle inspector to register cases against Cardinal Alencherry, Father Joshy Puthuva and Vicar General Monsignor Sebastian Vadakkumpadan under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. Earlier, Puthupaara had complained to the same police inspector and subsequently moved the court, the New Indian Express reported. “I had filed a complaint before the CI, which was not accepted. Later, I filed a complaint with the Kochi range IG and a copy of the receipt of receiving the complaint has been attached with the petition in the court.” He said the approached the court as the police have not filed a case or probe the incidents that “are serious” and violate several sections of the penal code. “Hence the case should not be ignored citing it to be of civil nature,” said the petition. The CJM court has posted the case to January 29. Auxiliary Bishop Mar Sebastian Edayanthrath of Ernakulam-Angamaly had issued a circular, admitting lack of transparency in the deals resulting in a huge financial burden to the Syro-Malabar archdiocese. The land scam kicked up such a storm that a section of priests demanded the resignation of Cardinal Mar George Alencherry as head of the Church. Meanwhile, The Indian Express newspaper reported that some priests have sent a complaint to the Pope seeking his intervention in the alleged irregularities in the land deal. However, Father Kuriakose Mundadan, secretary of Presbyteral Council, a body of elected representatives of priests in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, said the committee had not sent any such complaint. “There are 458 priests in the archdiocese and any of these priests or even an individual can send a complaint to the Pope. However, therefore it is not sure whether any of the priests has initiated such a step,” he said. According to The Hindu newspaper the report of a six-member expert committee that studied the land sales was sent to Pope Francis along with a letter from the council of priests of the archdiocese. The newspaper quoted unidentified Church sources to say that the Presbyteral Council had insisted on communications with Rome since the scandal became public. The letter and the report were to be sent to Rome earlier. But the cancellation of a Presbyteral Council meeting in the first week of January led to the delay. Drafting a covering letter to be sent to Rome along with the report on the land sales was on the agenda of the Presbyteral Council meeting that was called off, sources said. It was then expected that the meeting would be reconvened within a week. The Consultative Committee (College of Consultants) of the Archdiocese (three bishops and priests nominated by the Cardinal) met in Kochi on January 19 and set up a five-member committee to device a way to recover the money that was lost in the land sales. The archdiocese reportedly has received only 90 million rupees of more than 270 million rupees it was to receive in the land deal. The new committee, sources said, comprised three laymen and two priests. The committee comes in addition to the two committees already in existence — the first being the six-member committee of experts constituted immediately after the scandal broke out and the second committee with five bishops as its members was appointed by the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church. The Synod, which ended on January 13, recommended the revival and periodic meetings of Canonical bodies such as the report of a six-member expert committee on a series of loss-making land sales by the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly has been sent to Pope Francis along with a letter from the council of priests (Presbyteral Council) of the archdiocese. Puthupaara alleges that 200 million rupee malpractice has taken place in the land deal.

Source: TopStory- Matters India

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