Vatican gets tough with Indian archdiocese, in Land Scandal….

Vatican gets tough with Ernakulam archdiocese
Three prelates removed from administration of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese as apostolic administrator is appointed.

Kochi: In an unprecedented move, the Vatican has bypassed the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church’s decision-making synod and taken away the administrative jobs of three prelates of an archdiocese beset with financial controversy and infighting.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat as the apostolic administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese on June 22 with a mandate to stem financial controversies aggravated by disputed land deals.

“There remains the grave and worrying” situation of division between priests, auxiliary bishops and Cardinal George Alencherry, said a letter from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Oriental Congregation.

It said the administrator’s primary job is to seek “healing of these fractures and eventually propose solutions that require the intervention of the Synod of Bishops,” the supreme decision-making body of the Syro-Malabar Church based in Kerala.

The archdiocese was embroiled in a controversy in November 2017 when the presbyteral council, the canonical body of priests, publicly accused Cardinal Alencherry, the major archbishop, of being part of dubious land deals.

The priest-representatives told media that the cardinal, two senior priests and a real estate agent had sold several plots of land at undervalued prices, incurring a loss of more than US$10 million. They also accused the cardinal of bypassing the canonical body.

The letter from Cardinal Sandri said the administrative powers of auxiliary bishops Sebastian Adayantrath and Jose Puthernveetil have been suspended. The letter also suspended all archdiocesan offices and its council, giving the new administrator the freedom to reshape them or constitute new ones.

The letter asked the new administrator to conduct an audit of the archdiocese by an independent agency and send the result to only the Apostolic See in a confidential manner.

It said Cardinal Alencherry “should absolutely not be involved” in any decisions. However, the administrator may appoint a synodal committee to help him, but it should have only a consultative role.

The new administrator is also mandated to ascertain the responsibility of people “who have wounded church unity with unfounded allegations, lacking the spirit of obedience and ecclesial sense,” which resulted in a “public scandal damaging the Syro-Malabar Church.”

It is first time in the history of this Asian Church that the Vatican has suspended the administrative powers of all the bishops in a diocese, said a senior priest who asked to remain anonymous.

“It shows a grave situation of ethical violations and the inability of the synod to effectively settle the issue,” he said.

The situation forced the Vatican to bypass the synod that became self-governing in 1992, he noted.

Call for reconciliation

The apostolic administrator has appointed a new vicar-general, financial officer, chancellor and pro-vice-chancellor in the archdiocese. He also issued a circular sending a message of reconciliation to Catholics, which was read out in all parishes on June 24.

The allegations of financial irregularities have sullied the reputation of the archdiocese. “We will be able to rebuild this if everybody cooperates,” it said.

Cardinal Alencherry refused to comment on the developments. However, his supporters do not see the Vatican intervention as a setback for him.

Santhimon Jacob, a vocal supporter of the cardinal, claimed the Vatican move does not mean anything as the cardinal had already delegated his administrative powers to the two auxiliary bishops in the wake of the land controversy.

He also noted the assertion in Cardinal Sandri’s letter that the Vatican move comes at the recommendation of the cardinal and the synod.

The cardinal’s critics, however, feel that an impartial investigation into the land deals could even lead to his exit from his current positions.

Father Kuriakose Mundadan, former secretary of the presbyteral council and a member of the six-member committee that probed the land deals, said the Vatican has given clear instructions to get to the bottom of the issue.

“The instruction to have an independent audit and to send its report only to the Vatican shows that they want to know the truth. We are confident that Pope Francis will side only with the truth,” Father Mundadan told ucanews.com.

He said he and other priests are not worried about disciplinary action. “We have been raising the issue in the internal forums of the church since September 2017. None, including the members of the synod, gave us any convincing explanation or moved to act.”

Father Mundadan said they were forced to speak in public because of inaction. He said the Vatican intervention comes after the priests’ body made two representations to the Vatican.

Bishop Manathodath, 71, who was ordained a priest in Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in 1972, will continue as bishop of Palghat while having the additional responsibilities of administrator.

Source: UCAN

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Constitution in danger, human rights trampled: Goa Archbishop

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao urged lay Catholics to play an active part in politics.

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao Panaji:

The Indian Constitution is in danger, Goa’s Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao has said, adding that a “new trend” of mono-culturalism, which demands uniformity in what and how one eats, dresses, lives and even worships, is putting human rights at risk.

In the latest annual pastoral letter to Catholics in Goa, Ferrao also exhorted agencies of the Church in Goa to actively participate in social movements and urged lay Catholics to play an active part in politics.

“At the time of elections, the candidates confuse the minds of many people by making false promises. And the people, on their part, often sell their precious vote for selfish, petty gain.

“Today, our Constitution is in danger, (it is a) reason why most of the people live in insecurity,” Ferrao said in his pastoral letter for 2018-19 which was formally released on Sunday but circulated only on Monday.

“In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it.”

In the letter, which comes two weeks after Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto warned about an emerging threat to India’s “democratic and secular fabric”, Ferrao also alleged that human rights were being trampled in the name of development and mono-culturalism.

“In recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we ear, dress, live and even worship: a kind of mono-culturalism. Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril.

“The various minorities fear for their safety. In short, respect for law is frankly on the decline in this country,” said Ferrao, who is the spiritual and religious leader of Catholics in Goa who account for 26 per cent of the state’s population of 1.5 million.

“People are being uprooted from their land and homes in the name of development. Pope Francis says that ‘the first victim of development is the poor person’. It is easier to trample upon the rights of the poor, because those who will raise their voice for them are very few.”

Calling for the participation of Catholics and Church communities in politics and social movements, Ferrao said such involvement was “vital” to the creation of a just community.

“Our parishes and small Christian communities ought to be immersed in this mission of the Church. They should be open to the problems of the world… this social concern should not only remain within the confines of the parish community but should reach out to the whole state and country at large,” Ferrao said in the letter.

“It is advisable that the lay faithful play an active role in the political field; they should, however, follow the dictates of their conscience while doing so and shun ‘sycophantic’ politics. They should thus strengthen democracy and, on the other hand, help to improve the functioning of the state administration.”

IANS

Courtesy: UCANews

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