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Clergy abuse: Bishop consoles demoralized parishioners 

By Matters India Reporter

Kottiyoor: A Catholic bishop in Kerala on March 12 offered words of consolation to a parish demoralized by a clergy sex abuse scandal.

Bishop Jose Porunnedom of Mananthavady began his address at the St Sebastian’s Church in Kottiyoor by acknowledging that the parish and the Catholic Church have gone through passion and crucifixion in the past few days.

The 61-year-old prelate was referring to the February 28 arrest of Kottiyoor vicar Father Robin Vadakkumcherry for allegedly impregnating a minor girl. The 16-year-old girl, an eleventh grader, delivered a baby boy three weeks earlier. The police have also booked three nuns for their failure to inform government authorities about the minor’s delivery and removing the child to an orphanage.

The arrest and subsequent developments have put the Kerala Church under scanner.

“The death on the cross has not yet taken place. The way of the cross is still on. However, Christian faithful should cling to the hope that there is resurrection at the end of the journey to Calvary,” the prelate told the faithful.

It was Bishop Porunnedom’s first visit to the Kottiyoor parish after the 48-year-old priest’s arrest.

Father Jose Kacharackal, the diocese’s new public relations officer, said the parish visit on March 12 was scheduled much before the scandal broke, but it took place at an appropriate time. The parishioners showed great emotion and devotion during the Mass and other services the prelate conducted, he added.

The diocese had on March 1 removed its public relations officer Father Thomas Therakam amid allegations that he had aided the arrested priest to cover up the case.

Bishop Porunnedom recalled that he was the assistant pastor of Kottiyoor three decades ago, when the place had only limited facilities. “Although the parish has developed greatly, I cannot experience the joy I had decades ago,” he added.

However, the bishop commended the parishioners for their deep faith and maturity in handling various problems. “The number of people visiting the church has neither decreased, nor increased. This has proved that the Kottiyoor parish could uphold their faith and offer a great example of Christian living,” he added.

During the homily, the prelate reiterated his apology to the girl and her family. He had apologized to them earlier immediately after the scandal broke.

The bishop met all parishioners together after the Mass where new parish priest Father Thomas Manakkunnel welcomed the gathering.

Father Kocharackal said the parish elders explained to the prelate their anguish and pain with great maturity.

Bishop Porunnedom consoled them by quoting Jesus’s assurance that the Church was founded on the rock and no deluge could destroy it.

The prelate later met parishioners in smaller groups and interacted with the representatives of various pious organizations.

The parishioners assured the bishop that they would participate in parish activities with renewed enthusiasm. The visit ended only by 4 pm.

The Kottiyoor parish, established in 1962, has 980 Catholic families with a population of 5,000. It is a settlement of Catholics who migrated from central Kerala. It lies some 65 km east of Kannur, the district headquarters.

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5 Responses to Clergy abuse: Bishop consoles demoralized parishioners

  1. COL JOHN PETERS

    When the going gets tough.The Tough and brave gets going.
    Time heals.
    My best wishes to the affected family

     
  2. Simon Kuruk (Dr)

    As a human being and more so as a member of the Church we cannot morally abandon Fr Robin.

    Legally the Church cannot support him perhaps; but the Church MUST support him with prayers.

    His mistake ( sin) is now known to the whole world and he is paying the price for it. Let no

    one feel self justified but humbly beat the breast and say ” Lord .Have mercy on me , a

    sinner”. As a good Christian family we can be sure the girl’s family has already forgiven

    Fr Robin.

     
  3. Mathews

    The really pastoral approach of the Bishop Jose could be emulated by other prelates also in similar cases. The alleged offence committed by their parish priest and his indictment for it is indeed too shocking for the parishners of Kottiyoor. While the Bishop spending time with them and consoling the demoralised faithful provides a temporary relief to parishners ,the Church in Kerala should initiate solid plans and programmes to avoid the recurrence of such episodes.
    While it is unwarranted to have a blanket criticism of the clergy community, at this juncture, it is important to have orientation and awareness programmes for them on a regular basis to strengthen their vocation ,pastoral commitment and spiritual empowerment. It is also time to acknowledge and appreciate the yeoman services rendered by them for the society and in nation building.
    It is also important for the faithful to be cautious about the destabilising influences on their faith.

     
  4. Chhotebhai

    Consolation! Nonsense. We need justice for the victim, penal action against the accused and his abettors in crime and a solid course correction to pre-empt similar criminal activities.
    Chhotebhai

     
  5. K C Thomas

    Thanks and congratulations for your visit to that parish, dear and respected Bishop Jose . Let us give more importance for holiness in life than constructions and administration. May Hod Bless.

     
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