Syro-Malabar Catholics deserve to know the truth

As Bishop Manathodath takes a confidential report to the Vatican, murky dealings become clearer.

File photo (UCAN)

By Christopher Joseph

Kochi: A senior bishop of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church is visiting the Vatican with a “confidential report,” a month after its preparation entangled him in a criminal case.

The content of the report that Bishop Jacob Manathodath submitted to the Vatican early this month remains unknown to other bishops, including the Synod of Bishops, the Syro-Malabar Church’s supreme decision-making body.

That should be a worry for the 46 serving bishops of this self-governing church based in India’s southern state of Kerala, which entertains history with memoirs of factionalism.

The confidential report is not about factionalism, for a change. It explores allegations of controversial land deals and financial irregularities faced by the church’s head and major archbishop, Cardinal George Alencherry.

The report follows a Vatican mandate. When the allegations hit, Pope Francis removed Cardinal Alencherry from the administrative roles of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese and appointed Bishop Manathodath as apostolic administrator last June. Bishop Manathodath was also asked to submit a confidential report directly to the Vatican after engaging independent auditors to study the financial deals.

Soon after taking charge, Bishop Manathodath engaged two teams for audit. One was the internationally known auditing firm KPMG, while the other was comprised of Catholic experts and churchmen. The content of these two reports, just as the bishops’ report, remains a mystery to the larger public.

The preparation of his report for the Vatican, away from the stalwarts of the church, has been tough for Bishop Manathodath, as developments in the past few months have shown.

On Feb. 25, Bishop Manathodath was named the second accused in a criminal forgery case filed on behalf of the church’s synod. The first accused was Father Paul Thelakat, a senior priest of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

But news of the complaint did not emerge until mid-March when media began reporting it. The secrecy was important, as we will see later.

The complaint said the priest had forged some bank documents and that Bishop Manathodath presented them to the synod in January aiming to defame the cardinal. The complainant was a junior priest, Father Joby Maprakavil, working in the church’s headquarters who had no access to synod proceedings.

But no one could understand why the synod, always convened in camera, should go to police about something that happened inside it. Equally baffling was how certain documents presented in private could have tarnished the public image of the cardinal.

When media began to discuss it, the church’s media commission head Bishop Joseph Pamplany said in a March 18 statement that the synod did not intend to complain about the clergyman. The synod decision was to get police to investigate the source of the forged documents, and it entrusted Father Maprakavil with its responsibilities, the statement said.

But the chronology of events would show the complaint was not inadvertent, nor was the naming of the two accused accidental.

Police records would prove that Father Maprakavil first filed a written complaint on Jan. 18, naming Father Thelakat and Bishop Manathodath. But police did not accept it because, lawyers say, there were not sufficient grounds to file a criminal complaint based on the petition of a third party who was neither present at the scene of the crime nor directly affected by it.

Later, on Jan. 25, the priest complained before the Judicial Magistrate. The complaint again named the two accused. He also named Father Thelakat as the person who created a bank account in the name of the cardinal and forged bank statements. Police documents show his oral complaint was read out to him, he heard and he signed a statement confirming they were his own words. Claims of mistakes would not hold water as the names were repeated several times in an hours-long process.

Then the complaint was forwarded to the local police station of the synod headquarters on March 8, but the complaint did not include Bishop Manathodath’s name.

Media began reporting the story on March 17 based on the complaint forwarded to the local police station without realizing that the original complaint also named Bishop Manathodath. But later police explained it as a clerical mistake and added the bishop’s name on March 20.

Cardinal Alencherry on March 22 wrote to major superiors and provincials of the church saying he did not know how Father Thelakat and Bishop Manathodath were named in the petition, which sought to arrest those who forged the documents. He also promised to petition police to exclude their names and assured he would file a new complaint against “unknown” people who forged the document.

If including Bishop’s Manathodath name was inadvertent, the bishops who were behind the complaint could have removed it any time between January and March 20. We haven’t seen any such effort.

Police would not normally accept such a complaint from an unaffected third party unless someone at the “top level” of state administration had exercised power, say lawyers connected with the case.

So, why all these struggles? Planning and scheming appear to be behind this case, however puerile these actions might be.

Bishop Manathodath was not aware of the case against him unit March 20, when a copy of the original complaint was presented to him, according to a lawyer acting for the bishop.

It was news to him. “He was shellshocked to see that a criminal case exists against him,” the lawyer said. This happened despite his being a member of the Permanent Synod and visiting church headquarters and attending officials’ meetings several times from January to March. No one told him about the complaint including his name.

The January synod knew Bishop Manathodath was scheduled to visit Rome in April. A criminal case could have protracted effects on his travel plans and presentation of his report.

First, he could have traveled without being aware of the case. If that had happened, the chances of being detained at the airport by the investigating officer were high. His trip to Rome would not happen. Another bishop could then have taken over the task of reporting to the Vatican.

Lawyers want us to consider another scenario of Bishop Manathodath traveling to Rome without police intervention. When he is in the Vatican, news about his forgery case could be released, sending a clear message. The person presenting the report is untrustworthy. He is accused in a forgery case.

Moreover, the investigation could then accuse him of absconding. The Vatican would then be compelled to move him from his current position.

But that would not be the case. Accidentally or otherwise, the cat was out of the bag. Bishop Manathodath came to know about the case two weeks before his trip to Rome. However weak, the message has been given to the Vatican: the person presenting the report dabbled in forged documents and his report cannot be believed.

How did Bishop Manathodath travel without hassles?

His lawyers filed another petition on March 29 pleading the innocence of Bishop Manathodath and Father Thelakat. It said synod officials were complaining against those who forged the documents. Father Thelakat handed over the documents to Bishop Manathodath, who in turn gave them to the cardinal. It was the cardinal who presented them to the synod, the petition said.

Their petition also pleaded for the cancellation of legal proceedings against them.

A lawyer associated with the case said it would have been “risky” for Bishop Manathodath to travel unaware of the case against him and without filing a counter-petition.

The five million Catholics of the Syro-Malabar Church, who continue to contribute to its growth, have a right to know the truth about these developments. The bishops should stop being a liability to Catholics who live in a multireligious milieu.

Christopher Joseph is the bureau chief for in India.

Source: UCAN


Police charge bishop with raping nun

Nuns supporting alleged victim believe police move marks turning point in case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal .

Nuns demonstrate in Kochi, Kerala, on Sept. 11, 2018, pressing for action against Bishop Franco Mulakkal after he was accused of sexually abusing a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation in the southern Indian state. (Photo by IANS)


New Delhi: Police have charged Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar with raping a Catholic nun multiple times, nine months after she complained in southern India’s Kerala state.

The police team probing the allegations filed charges on April 9 before a magistrate in Kottayam district, where the nun’s convent is based.

A 2,000-page charge sheet listed charges of wrongful confinement, rape of a woman incapable of giving consent, causing grievous bodily harm during rape, unnatural offense and criminal intimidation.

If found guilty, the bishop faces imprisonment of not less than 10 years or up to life in jail.

The charge sheet also lists 83 witnesses, 40 of them Catholic leaders including Cardinal George Alencherry, the major archbishop and head of the Syro-Malabar Church.

Three bishops — Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala, Kurian Valiakandathil of Bhagalpur and Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain — and 25 Catholic nuns and 11 Catholic priests are also named as witnesses.

The nuns, who have been campaigning for justice for the alleged victim, have termed the development a turning point in a case that has attracted international attention.

“We have only crossed one major step in the fight to ensure justice for our sister,” said Sister Anupama Kelamangalathuveli, one of the nun’s supporters.

The alleged victim is a former superior general of Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation that functions under Bishop Mulakkal’s patronage.

She complained to police on June 27 last year that Bishop Mulakkal had sexually abused her 13 times from 2014 to 2016 when he visited her convent in Kuravilangad village in Kottayam district.

Sister Anupama and four other nuns have been supporting their former superior. They also joined a public protest organized by the Save Our Sisters (SOS) forum, formed by a group of social activists.

Following the public protest, police arrested Bishop Mulakkal on Sept. 21 and placed him in judicial custody. He was later released on bail by Kerala High Court. He has always maintained his innocence.

The Vatican removed him from his administrative responsibilities and appointed an administrator. The prelate, however, continues to stay in the bishop’s house in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab.

“We know the bishop is powerful and influential and can do anything to subvert the case,” Sister Anupama told

“We bank on the justice of God that sustained us throughout this fight for justice,” she said, adding that the powerful Catholic hierarchy “will do everything to influence the witnesses.”

The way in which the hierarchy responds to the case will decide the future of the Catholic Church in India, according to Shaiju Antony, joint convener of SOS.

“The people in India, irrespective of religion, believe Catholic priests and nuns. If a priest or nun is a witness in a case, they believe they will tell the truth and the victim will get justice. But in this case the situation is entirely different,” he told

Antony said police have video-recorded statements of witnesses in case they retract them under pressure from the church leadership.

Father Augustine Vattoli, who was forced to quit the post of SOS convener after his superiors castigated him for his involvement in the case, sees the latest development as “very positive.”

“This will pave way for the renewal of the Catholic Church in the country as it gives a message that, however mighty one might be, the law will take its own course,” he said.

Source: UCAN

Indian police protect convent, school following mob attacks

Nuns injured and property damaged after student commits suicide over exam stress.

A destroyed statue of St. Theresa in the compound of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent in Tamil Nadu after it was attacked by a mob on March 26. (Photo supplied)


Hyderabad:  Police are protecting a Catholic convent and a school two weeks after mobs attacked and injured several people, including four nuns, in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state.

Indian bishops on April 6 appealed to political leaders in New Delhi and Tamil Nadu “to deal sternly” with criminals who attacked the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and its Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem town on March 25-26.

“All the injured nuns are back from hospital now but police continue to guard the school and convent,” the congregation’s provincial superior, Sister Devaseer Mary, told on April 7.

Mobs attacked the school and convent after a grade 10 student committed suicide in the school hostel on the afternoon of March 25, hours after she had taken her mathematics exam after expressing fears of failing it.

Local police officer N. Ramanathan told that the violence began after the school management refused to entertain a demand for 1 million rupees (US$14,250) in compensation.

Sister Mary said the school management refused to pay any compensation because the school had not committed any mistake. But those who demanded compensation on behalf of parents of the deceased student “left angrily saying they knew how they could get this amount.”

A bigger attack followed on March 26. About 200 people armed with sharp weapons, iron rods and wooden batons entered the compound. They attacked the convent, its chapel, school offices and staff in what appeared to be an organized criminal plan. They beat up nuns and school staff, destroyed furniture, windows, computers and shelves in the school office, and desecrated the chapel.

School management suspect the involvement of some pro-Hindu groups in organizing the attack, but refused to name any.

However, Ramanathan denied links with any Hindu groups and said the attackers were family and friends of the deceased girl. Police have identified those who organized the attack and six have been arrested and remanded. An investigation is underway and there could be more arrests, the officer said.

The nuns estimate a loss of about 10 million rupees (US$1.4 million) from the attacks. “We are documenting the loss in a systematic way. We want the authorities to recover our loss from the criminals,” Sister Mary said.

The nun said the school has paid 50,000 rupees for the funeral expenses of the student on “humanitarian grounds.”

Ramanathan said police estimated the loss to be worth 200,000 to 400,000 rupees only.

A preliminary inquiry has revealed the girl hanged herself because of exam-related stress, he said.

In an April 6 statement, Catholic bishops said they were “appalled and worried by the violence unleashed against the school staff and the sisters and we condemn it unequivocally.”

“What saddens us is that the school was attacked twice within 24 hours as this reflects the terrible face of mobocracy that we have been condemning time and again,” said the statement.

Church groups have been complaining about increased attacks on Christians and their institutions since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in New Delhi five years ago. The BJP supports the idea of establishing a Hindu-only nation.

“The special targeting of the sisters, of the religious places in the campus and the sacrilegious attack on the crucifixes of the sisters, with attempts to strangulate the sisters with the chain holding the cross, reveals the darkest side of human beings,” the bishops said.

Sister Mary said nuns plan to hold a meeting with parents next week.

“There was involvement of a political party, and we are still living in fear. Police have provided some security for now, but we need it to continue until the situation becomes normal,” she said.

Source: UCAN


Though the letter is addressed to a particular segment, actually, it is meant to parishioners of all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Bombay and world over, where ever SILENT VOICE is read.

While I have been receiving support from you, through calls and personal messages, your overall silence over such happenings, is considered as your consent to financial manipulation by Church Authorities, particularly the so called SOLE TRUSTEES.

None of the members, mentioned in the letter, have responded yet.



A7 Rodrigues Compound, Malwani Village,
Marve Rd. Malad (W),
Mumbai – 400095;
Contact: Cell: 9870719628;
E Mail:

25th, March, 2019

The Members
Property and Finance Committee
St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani

Hello Friends,

I am sure; you are in pink of health and serving MOTHER CHURCH, with all sincerity. All along, I have been addressing Fr. Agnelo Fernandes, the Parish Priest and SOLE TRUSTEE, because, ultimately he is responsible for Church affairs; in the matter related to renovation of Church premises, Ground, its peripheral area and Grotto area etc. You are aware of the matter because you have been kept in the loop through E mails and link to the SILENT VOICE, the blog where the matter is being published for parishioner’s knowledge.

The purpose of addressing this letter to you is, the statement by Fr. Agnelo in a letter addressed to me, in response to my letter, related to formation of new Property Committee, which was shared with you through E Mail as well as SILENT VOICE. The statement reads thus: “Even before I could propose it, the members in one voice recommended legal action against you for defamation. We are now in the process of sending a legal Notice to you.”

I found the statement so amusing that I could not stop laughing. I have been part of the Property Committee as well as Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), some time ago. Therefore, am aware of their working pattern. No one dares to open mouth to oppose any suggestion put up by the PARISH PRIEST/SOLE TRUSTEE. If it was so, your ONE VOICE would have not permitted all these jobs of renovation of ground and other civil works to go through, in violation of norms set up through directives from the hierarchy. In the absence of opposition, even your silence is construed as affirmation to the suggestion. That is the reason I find the statement laughable. Obviously, the trigger has been pulled to shoot from your shoulder, certainly under some advice,

Besides the above, the letter also states:

“However, as I strongly believe in Divine Mercy, I want to give you an opportunity to make amends and avoid legal action. Withdraw all the allegations you have been leveling against me in your E-mail and in your posts on social media groups and apologize, if not be prepared to face the consequences of your penchant for indulging in character assassination.”
The letter also states: “In the said E-mail you have made very serious but false and baseless allegations against me and others.” I am sure, others means you, the members of Property and Finance Committee.
There was no reason for me to apologise because the TRUTH is with me. Therefore, I am prepared for the LEGAL CONSEQUENCES, not fearing the threat.
Surprisingly, the LEGAL NOTICE does not contain any reference to FALSE AND BASELESS ALLEGATIONS. On the contrary, it says that Fr. Agnelo has incurred a loss of Rupees 50,00,000 (Rs. FIFTY LAKHS) because of me and it is recoverable from me. Though the notice has been replied to and am anxiously waiting for the court summons, still wondering; what business Fr. Agnelo has been indulging in, where he has incurred such a huge loss in short span of time. ( REPLY: To Legal Notice for Rupees Fifty Lakhs Defemation, Served by Parish Priest to a Parishioner;)

May be you are aware, since this matter certainly must have been discussed at the meeting when you recommended legal action against ME in ONE VOICE. Did you approve the amount of Rs. 50,00,000/- (Rs. FIFTY LAKHS) as a cost of DEFAMATION?
Anyways, I would like to remind some of you, of your reactions, when I first questioned Fr. Agnelo about giving ground renovation contract to Marius, based on the feedback from Parishioners. Your reactions are clearly indicative of your opposition to the whole tendering process. This matter has been delved in various posts on SILENT VOICE. In case you have not read it yet, please go through and refresh your memory.
MATHEW THATTIL: I am not sure, if you were present at the meeting, where in ONE VOICE it was recommended to send me a LEGAL NOTICE FOR DEFAMATION. However, you were the first person to raise a THUMBS UP sign immediately, but clandestinely. I am sure, you will remember this. Thereafter we discussed this matter a couple of time in the Church compound during day, when you came to reach your Daughter to Balwadi.
YUCCA GOMES: Though there is not much communication between us, while we were walking towards the gate after the above meeting, you said; “IT IS VERY GOOD THAT YOU BROUGHT THIS ISSUE UP”. I am sure, you remember this.
RICHARD LASRADO: Do you remember our discussion after the meeting, where we examined the area around the Grotto and agreed that there is no need for elevating the ground level. In short, you were opposed to the idea of elevating the level of the ground. On this point I questioned you about your silence during the debate on the matter at the meeting.
PATRIC D’SOUZA: Though you were not much vocal at the meeting, you were opposed to the way things were being decided. We would discuss this matter after the meeting, standing right near your building. I am sure, you remember this. Besides, you encouraged me for taking up the matter with Cardinal.
GODFREY PATEL AND FREDRICK GRACIAS: Excuse me for a combined address to you. Both of you are seen as one person in two bodies, by the Parishioners, when it comes to Church activities; which is appreciable. We are not in communication with each other. However, while the matter was being discussed at the meetings and tender after tender was being passed, only to certain contractor, you seem to have felt your monopoly threatened and decided to put a stop to it somehow. I received feelers to help in the matter, but I refused to involve myself with you. In short, you too were opposed to the way the contracts were being given on the platter. Unfortunately, like others, you never mustered the courage to voice your opposition at the meetings.
This surmises only one thing. The entire committee was opposed to the way things were moving but could not muster courage to express your genuine concern towards MOTHER CHURCH. There could be various reasons for your silence, I assume.
I am not questioning your wisdom but seeking spiritual support to help you ponder and decide if your silence was in the interest of MOTHER CHURCH. In my opinion, Your silence, in spite of knowing that the crime is being committed, makes you COLLABORATORS IN CRIME.

MARK 9:41-50

41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble,cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] [a] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] [b] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’[c]
49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
You are all wise and HOLY people, so it should not be difficult for you to understand GOSPEL OF THE LORD.

It is reliably learnt that Fr. Agnelo allegedly has made certain statements about me in some forum, whether it was a property committee meeting or PPC meeting, I am not very sure but he certainly has..
1. “Greg is frustrated because he has lost an opportunity to earn commission”. OR something similar to it.
2. “Greg has no Job/Jobless, that is why he is indulging in this kind of activities”. Or something similar to it.
I don’t think these statements merit any response. But I must say I am nearing seventy years of age. If he thinks I should be doing a job at this age, he certainly must be out of his mind.
However, inadvertently he has spilled the beans. COMMISSION IS THE KEY FACTOR in all this activity, besides, a JOBLESS FACTOR also (Can be attributed to retirement too), which still continues. Every work that has been carried out, is done by keeping commission in the mind.
I conclude this letter with a question. Do you remember the three quotations of approximately Rs. FIVE LAKHS each, to put up shades on both the stages and the other one, which I fail to remember, from a single contractor, submitted for approval at a meeting but quietly withdrawn when a lone voice opposed it? This is the clear indication of the intentions of the persons at helm. Please be alert; it may be brought back for approval. There is no need for permanent shades over any of the stage.
Response from you would be highly appreciated. Your views will be incorporated in the post on SILENT VOICE, when it is published, after ten days.

St. Anthony;s Church

Copy to: H. E. Oswald Cardinal Gracias; Archbishop of Mumbai: For Information.

Former street children mourn their father

Compassionate Salesian priest gave shelter and hope to thousands of homeless youngsters.


New Delhi:  Bimal Das is no more a street child, nor is he Christian. But the 30-year-old stood inside a New Delhi church and wept as he joined funeral prayers for Salesian Father Antony Thaiparambil.

Das flew in from Kolkata to attend the funeral of Father Thaiparambil, who rescued him from a street in the eastern Indian city when he was barely six years old.

“I have not seen God, nor have I seen my parents. But if God is there, I am sure he looks like this man,” he said after the ceremony.

The priest helped at least 80,000 children like Das to leave the streets and secure a decent life, Salesian officials said.

Father Thaiparambil began his work with street children in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, three decades ago in 1985. Das was one of the initial beneficiaries of his mission.

The 84-year-old priest died in New Delhi of an age-related illness on March 19. About 500 people including former street children attended his funeral officiated by Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi and retired Archbishop Vincent Cocessao of Delhi.

Condolence messages recalled how Father Thaiparambil witnessed the misery of children wandering the streets of Kolkata, particularly near Howrah railway station, and decided to work for them.

He opened his first night shelter for 14 street children in a slum area near Howrah and began to live with them. St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata blessed his second shelter, which he named Ashalayam (house of hope), in 1991. She also blessed his third shelter in 1995.

About 500 street children now live in 23 Ashalayam shelter homes in Kolkata and Nadia district of West Bengal state.

After moving to New Delhi in 1995, Father Thaiparambil opened three shelter homes in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Das said the priest gave him “a life, an identity.” He had no name. Children around him called him by nicknames they liked, he said while trying to control his emotion.

“I hardly remember when I was rescued because I was too young, barely six years old, and was wandering with other children there,” he said. “My name and age were given by father [Thaiparambil]. But not just that … my entire life is his gift.”

Das now works with the government’s Child Help Line, a project to help street children. He continues to live in the shelter where he grew up in Howrah.

Father Thaiparambil, from the southern state of Kerala, joined the Salesian congregation in 1950. After he completed a master’s degree in social work, he was assigned to work for youth and children at risk in Kolkata.

Deepak Kumar Johnny, a street child rescued by the priest from New Delhi railway station, said he used to sell popcorn on the railway platform, where he also ate and slept along with other homeless children.

“On a cold winter day, I was sleeping on the platform covering myself with newspaper. I felt someone cover me with a blanket. That was my first interaction with father,” he recalled.

Johnny, who uses the name the priest gave him, is now 35 and married with two children. He said Father Thaiparambil started to visit the station regularly with food and clothes and slowly the children agreed to go to his ashram. “I am lucky and privileged that I was the first person to enter Ashalayam in 1991 in New Delhi,” he said.

The priest educated Johnny and trained him to be a social worker. He now works in the church-run Holy Family Hospital and volunteers to help Ashalayam rescue children from Delhi’s railway and bus stations and streets.

India had about 11 million street children in 1994, according to UNICEF, but activists say this number is a gross underestimate.

Das said he would have led a miserable life but for the intervention of Father Thaiparambil. He said he had wanted to become a Catholic. “But father told me this: Follow any faith, but first of all you have to respect yourselves and fellow brethren because service to humanity is the biggest religion in this world.”

With teary eyes, he added: “Sad that father is not with us but I will never starve in life because God has blessed me.”

Salesian Father Nirmol Gomes, the provincial of Kolkata, in his condolence message said the “inspiring vision and decisive initiatives” of Father Thaiparambil “was able to rescue and rehabilitate thousands of children from the street and set them on the path to a purpose-driven life, giving them hope and a home.”

Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, the apostolic administrator of Jowai Diocese, said the priest was “always a source of encouragement to me, never even once exchanging hard words. He had a positive way of looking at things. I never found him upset or angry.”

Source: UCAN

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: