Kerala diocese removes priest arrested for sex offense
Kannur: Mananthavady diocese in Kerala, southern India, on February 28 acted severely against a priest arrested for sexually exploiting a minor girl.
Police arrested Father Mathew (Robin) Vadakkancheril three weeks after the 16-year-old school girl gave birth to a baby boy. The priest is accused of impregnating the girl who was a student of his school
“The suspension and prohibition will remain in force until the accused has undergone the prescribed legal procedures in this regard and declared innocent,” says a press release issued from the Bishop’s House said.
The bishop has suspended the priest from exercising his priestly ministry, including the celebration of the Sacraments and preaching in public, either inside or outside the diocese, the release said.
The diocese belongs to Syro-Malabar Church, largest of the two Oriental Catholic ritual Churches in India.
Reacting to the incident, the Syro Malabar Church spokesperson said, “It is an unfortunate incident. The Church has suspended him and removed him from all posts.”
The alleged offence came to light after the girl, a resident of Neendunokki in Kannur district, on February 7 delivered the child at a private hospital in Koothuparamba.
Based on information from ‘ChildLine’, an NGO, the police conducted an inquiry into the incident, the Press Trust of India agency reported.
Father Vadakkancheril was the manager of the school where the girl is an eleventh grader. She had reportedly attended classes on February 6, police sources said.
The girl was taken to a hospital after she complained of stomach pain and the doctors found out that she was pregnant. She was then taken to a hospital run by the Church where she gave birth to the baby boy.
The newborn was shifted to an orphanage without informing its mother, the sources said, adding that the girl was told that she had undergone an appendicitis operation.
To ensure that the culprit’s name was not revealed, her family was allegedly forced to name two others, including her father, for sexually exploiting her, the police said.
However, the police questioned the girl and her father and subsequently, they named the vicar of St Sebastian’s church, Kottiyoor as the accused.
Fr Robin had attended a public program on February 25 and left the place the next day, after the police lodged a case against him under sections dealing with rape and crimes against children.
The 48-year-old priest was picked up from Chalakkudy in Thrissur district Feb 27 night and brought to Kannur.
The newborn was shifted from an orphanage at Vythiri in Wayanad district to a government-run orphanage in Kannur.