Forgery case revives cardinal controversy

Police charge priest with presenting a forged document to a bishops’ synod in Kerala to defame Cardinal Alencherry.

Cardinal George Alencherry (Image Credit: Kochi:

A financial controversy involving an Indian cardinal has turned murkier after police filed criminal charges against a 70-year-old priest accusing him of presenting a forged document before a bishops’ synod to tarnish the cardinal as corrupt.

Police in the southern state of Kerala have charged Father Paul Thelakat with forgery, using a forged document for cheating, and being part of a criminal gang for furtherance of a common interest.

“No police official has contacted me so far,” Father Thelakat told on March 19, maintaining that he knows “as much as you know” about the case from local media reports.

The Syro-Malabar Church, based in Kerala, has been embroiled in a financial controversy since November 2017 after a group of priests accused Cardinal George Alencherry and two priests of selling off land and incurring a loss of some US$10 million.

The Vatican last June removed the cardinal from administrative responsibilities of his Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, but he continues to be the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and heads its synod, based at the church’s headquarters in Ernakulam.

The latest police complaint filed on March 8 said Father Thelakat presented a forged bank document to the synod with an intention of presenting the cardinal as corrupt and to defame him.

The complainant, Father Joby Joseph Maprakavil, is a priest belonging to the Missionaries of St. Thomas congregation who heads the church’s internet mission at its headquarters.

As media began to discuss the issue, the church’s media commission chairman, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Pamplany, issued an explanatory note on March 18 saying it was “misleading” to say the church’s headquarters had complained to police about Father Thelakat.

The note said the basis of the complaint was “a forged document” Father Thelakat gave to Bishop Jacob Manathodath, the new administrator of the archdiocese.

Shrouded in secrecy

The document claimed that the cardinal transferred money from his personal bank account to two prominent establishments. Bishop Manathodath presented the document in the synod. It was found to be forged as the cardinal had no account at the bank mentioned in the document, the note said.

The synod then decided to move legally against those who created a forged document with the intention of defaming the cardinal, the note continued.

However, synod secretary Bishop Antony Kariyil told that he could not remember such a decision being taken in January. As secretary, he records synod decisions. “But I’m not sure if this issue was discussed there,” he said.

He also said he “does not know the legalities” of why the priest complained on behalf of the synod and bypassed him, the synod secretary.

Father Kuriakose Mundadan, secretary of the Presbyteral Council, a canonical body of archdiocesan priests, said it will discuss the synod moving against “a senior priest of our fraternity.”

He said that since the controversy began to emerge “several such documents” were within the priestly circle but secrecy was maintained because “we are not sure about their veracity.”

Not one but a set of documents

Father Mundadan said Father Thelakat, the former spokesman of the Syro-Malabar Church, gave “not one but a set of these papers in confidentiality” to Bishop Manathodath “requesting him to find out the truth about them.”

He said the Presbyteral Council was not aware of Father Thelakat’s move but “he acted for the good of the church in strict confidentiality. We know it’s not one document but a set of documents.”

When appointing Bishop Manathodath as administrator, the Vatican also mandated him to conduct an independent inquiry into all aspects of the allegations involving the cardinal.

“We have limitations in probing these documents but we wanted the truth to come out,” Father Mundadan said. It could be possible some forged documents were deliberately passed on to torpedo the efforts to get to the truth, he said.

“So, let the police investigate. We also would like to see who created the forged documents,” he said.

Father Thelakat confirmed that he did not attend the synod but “gave a set of documents to my superior in confidence … requesting him to find the truth about them. I wonder how it could be a crime.”

He refused to divulge the content or nature of the documents he handed over last December. “Will say nothing about it. If the intention was to go to media, I could have done it earlier,” he said. “The danger is this: if the police ask, I will have to give it all to them.”

Source: UCAN

The ‘Joseph’ in Francis: By Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ –

This is the old post, one year ago, by Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ, in the INDIAN CATHOLIC MATTERS, re-posted by him on Faceboook, again.


Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, works with the Jesuit Refugee Service on Advocacy and Communications, in the Middle East. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon. Contact:

Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ –

Exactly five years ago, on 19 March 2013, Pope Francis began his Pontificate. It was the Feast of St. Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church. For Pope Francis, the Feast was not a mere coincidence; it was a clear message to the Church and the world, that he wanted his Pontificate to be modelled on the person and message of St Joseph (together with St Francis of Assisi).

His homily at the Inaugural Eucharist focused on St Joseph. “In the Gospels, St Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak, but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love.” He continued saying, “We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness” Pope Francis further said “that exercising the role of protector as St Joseph did, means doing so discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. The Gospels present St Joseph as a husband to Mary, at her side in good times and bad, and as a father who watched over Jesus, worried about Him and taught Him a trade. St Joseph responded to his called to be a protector by being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply his own.”

In focusing on the qualities of St Joseph, in his first homily, Pope Francis left no doubt that, he would be doing his best to imbibe some of these qualities personally. As one looks back at these five years, the ‘Joseph’ in Francis has certainly defined his Papacy, in many different ways.

St. Joseph epitomizes ‘caring and protecting’; he cares for and protects Mary and Jesus throughout. It was not easy to do so but he undertook the responsibility, which was entrusted to him with complete diligence. That is exactly what Pope Francis is doing today: caring and protecting one and all. He reaches out to the lonely, the sick, the aged, the excluded, the prisoner in ways most extraordinary. His caring and protecting reaches out to the whole of creation. He inspires and encourages others to do likewise.

“Who am I to judge?” that rhetorical question by Pope Francis is still music to the ears of many people. In the act of asking this question, Pope Francis threw open, the doors of mercy, acceptance and belonging wide open. Joseph, the good man that he was, also had doubts – that veered on being judgmental on Mary. However, he allowed God’s spirit to act and direct him.

On a similar note, in a homily at Casa Santa Marta before Christmas 2017, Pope Francis said, “St. Joseph gives us three key lessons as we walk with him to Bethlehem. Jesus’ father on earth knew ‘how to walk in darkness’, ‘how to listen to the voice of God’, and ‘how to go forward in silence’.” Then speaking of Joseph’s struggle upon learning of Mary’s pregnancy, he continued, “Joseph fought within himself; in that struggle, the voice of God [is heard]: ‘But get up’ — that ‘Get up’ [which is heard] so many times in the Bible at the beginning of a mission — ‘Take Mary, bring her to your home. Take charge of the situation; take this situation in hand, and go forward.’ Joseph did not go to his friends to be comforted; he did not go to a psychiatrist so that he could interpret the dream. No… He believed. And he went forward. He took the situation in hand. What was the situation? What was it that Joseph had to take up? Two things: fatherhood, and mystery.” So reflective of the mission of Pope Francis today.

Joseph took with him Mary and Jesus and sought refuge in Egypt; Joseph experienced and understood the plight of refugees. Pope Francis often refers to the fact that he belongs to a family of migrants. A hallmark of Pope Francis has been his consistent concern for refugees and migrants. He has often reminded Christians that the Holy Family was also a refugee family. He has been urging all to welcome, protect, promote and integrate refugees and migrants.

Pope Francis often refers to Joseph as a ‘dreamer’ capable of accepting the task entrusted to him by God. In one of his earlier homilies he said, “Christians, especially young people, should follow the example of St Joseph who was not afraid to listen to his dreams, like when he was told in a dream not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife and again when he was told to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. When we dream great things, beautiful things, we draw close to God’s dream, the things that God dreams for us. May he give young people – because he, too, was young – the ability to dream, to risk and to take on difficult tasks that they have seen in their dreams,” Pope Francis is not afraid to ‘dream’ of a more compassionate, merciful, peaceful, inclusive, just and sensitive world.

“Pray for me!” said Pope Francis from the Papal balcony on the night of 13 March 2013, a short while after his election. With that personal request, he not only touched a chord with the thousands who had gathered at St Peter’s Square, but with millions all over the world. He has not ceased to ask people to pray for him, he has acknowledged his human frailties and given up several of the material trappings that in the past have been synonymous with the Papacy. He has sent strong messages to the hierarchy and to the clergy that he is first a servant and so are they. Like St Joseph, Pope Francis is humility personified.

St Joseph is not only the Patron Saint of the Universal Church, but also the Patron Saint of the Society of Jesus. Of course, for Pope Francis who is steeped into Ignatian spirituality the double-impact of 19 March will always remain.

Above all, Pope Francis has been regularly sharing a very personal secret. “I would like to share with you something very personal. I like St Joseph very much. He is a man of strength and of silence. On my desk in my room, I have a statue of St Joseph sleeping. While sleeping he looks after the Church. Yes, he can do it! We know that. When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statue so he can dream about it. He now sleeps on a mattress of my notes. This means please pray to St Joseph for this problem. That is why I sleep well: it is the grace of God!”

There is no doubt at all, that there is so much of JOSEPH in Francis!

Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, works with the Jesuit Refugee Service on Advocacy and Communications, in the Middle East. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon. Contact:



Nun Who Protested Against Franco Mulakkal Told To Leave Congregation

Not surprised with this action of the congregation.


In its notice, the Franciscan Clarist Congregation accused Sister Lucy of leading a life which was against the “principles of religious life” and the rules of the congregation.

Nun Who Protested Against Franco Mulakkal Told To Leave CongregationBishop Mulakkal is accused of raping a nun on 14 occasions from 2014 to 2016.


WAYANAD: A nun from Kerala’s Wayanad, who was part of a protest against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, was issued a final notice by church authorities and asked to leave the congregation. She had earlier been issued two warning letters.
In its notice, the Franciscan Clarist Congregation accused Sister Lucy of leading a life which was against the “principles of religious life” and the rules of the congregation. She has been asked to give an explanation to the Superior General Sister at Generalate of the Congregation before April 16, news agency PTI reported.

Sister Lucy said she is saddened by the church’s accusations. “I joined the church when I was 17. I have lived a life following all the principles of religious life. I don’t have any other life. My reply to the second warning letter earlier was very clear. I have explained my stand,” she was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The nun had received two warning letters from her superiors in the Catholic Church in January. In the first warning letter, she had been asked to explain why she had acquired material possessions and belittled Catholic faith.

The congregation has termed as “grave violations”, Sister Lucy’s obtaining a driving license, buying a car and publishing a book without permission and knowledge of her superiors. It also objected to her participation in TV discussions and writing of articles for non-Christian newspapers.

Bishop Mulakkal is accused of raping a nun on 14 occasions from 2014 to 2016. Four nuns have rallied behind the complainant.

(With inputs from PTI)

BJP moves to woo minorities with manifesto

I am certain, the minorities are wise enough to understand, from the experience of last five years.


Despite a religiously partisan reputation, BJP seeks tips on inclusiveness.

Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi addressing a medical conference in New Delhi Feb. 11. (Photo supplied from IANS) New Delhi:

India’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has invited suggestions from minorities on how to adapt its election manifesto to making the nation more inclusive.

Representatives of religious minorities, including Catholics, presented their suggestions at a March 7 meeting in the capital, New Delhi.

The gathering was convened by federal Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot ahead of national elections in May.

“We told the ministers that the minorities feel insecure in the country and need to be protected and that constitutional values need to be upheld,” said Father Joseph Manipadam, who led the Catholic representation at the meeting.

Father Manipadam, secretary of the Indian Bishops’ Office for Education and Culture, told that various requests had been made.

“We were open to giving the suggestions, whether they take them up or not is up to them,” Father Manipadam said.

The Indian bishops’ suggestions included extending social welfare benefits to people of Dalit origin who have adopted Christianity. Dalits more generally were formally referred to as ‘untouchables’ in the Hindu caste system. They comprise about 200 million, or 16 percent of the nation’s total population

Benefits provided for in the Indian Constitution designed to uplift Dalits have since 1950 been denied to people of Dalit origin practicing non-Hindu faiths, including Christians and Muslims, on the ground that their religions do not practice the caste system.

The Church also sought government protection of tribal peoples’ land rights and involvement of Christians in drafting educational policies.

Christians of tribal and Dalit origin form more than 60 percent of the nation’s 27 million Christians, many of whom are located in northern India.

But Christian leaders say the BJP, which came to power nationally in 2014 and dominates many state administrations, has neglected disadvantaged groups.

Representatives of Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and Parsi communities raised their concerns at the March 7 meeting over discriminatory BJP policies.

Mohammad Sajid Rashidi, president of the All India Imams’ Association, said Muslims felt alienated under BJP rule.

In incidents related to Hinduism’s reverence for cows, Muslims have been attacked, and in some cases killed, by vigilante groups in states where BJP-led governments have promoted cow protection. The eating of beef is legal in some states and illegal in others.

Rashidi said some innocent Muslim youths were unfairly jailed after being accused of involvement in terrorist activities.

“This should stop as it destroys both the lives of these youths and their families,” he said, adding there was a need to clearly prove guilt beyond doubt in such cases.

Minority Affairs Minister Naqvi told the meeting that the BJP government aims at inclusive growth as well as standing for honesty and justice.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Gehlot informed those present that the BJP had launched a month-long exercise to seek suggestions from 100 million Indians to help the party prepare its election manifesto.

Source: UCAN

Man arrested 21 years after Jhabua nuns were raped

Police catch one of the 26 men initially sought over the rape of four nuns from the Foreign Missionary Sisters.

File photo


Bhopal: A man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the mass rape of four Catholic nuns that occurred more than two decades ago in central India.

Police Superintendent Vineet Jain told that they arrested Kalu Limji on March 5 over his alleged involvement in the 1998 mass rape of nuns from the Foreign Missionary Sisters.

The nuns were aged between 20-30.

Jain said Limji is one of the 26 men who police sought over the rapes in what was described as a pre-dawn attack on a convent in the Jhabua area of Madhya Pradesh state.

Limji is one of two of the 26 who police still seek.

“One more of the 26 accused is still missing. We will get him very soon,” Jain said.

Limji has been produced before the court and was then taken to jail, Jain said.

The initial police investigation accused 26 people over the rapes within days of it occurring. A local court acquitted 13, while nine were handed life sentences.

Police said they heard Limji, 45, was visiting his former village. In response, police personnel, posing as government welfare officers, visited the village.

Limji’s friends were asked to see if he wanted to be part of a welfare scheme. He was asked to meet the officials which he did, and police arrested him on arrival.

Church officials of Jhabua Diocese said they appreciate the police’s vigilance despite decades passing since the crime.

“We are very happy that one of the two people absconding has been brought before the law, even if it is late,” said Father Rocky Shah, diocesan spokesperson.

Father Shah said it is imperative for social stability that people accused of such heinous crimes are effectively dealt with through the law.

Reports at the time said the attack on the convent in the tribal-dominated area was organized and that some 50 men participated. It purportedly started after some of them approached the convent demanding medicine, but the nuns were suspicious and refused to open the doors.

The attackers then forced their way into the convent and then took the nuns out into an open field where they gang-raped them. The men also ransacked a dispensary attached to convent and stole 25,000 rupees (US$588 then).

The nuns were from southern Tamil Nadu state and were unfamiliar with the area. They had recently moved to Jhabua from nearby Jhansi district.

Source: UCAN

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