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Scandal-hit diocese issues stringent guidelines 

By Matters India Reporter

Mananthavady: A southern Indian diocese reeling under a clergy sex abuse scandal has decided to install surveillance cameras in all churches and presbyteries, set up grievance cells in parishes and impose five-year moratorium on construction works.

These are among 12 guidelines Mananthavady diocese issued on March 6 to avoid future scandals and bring transparency and propriety in the diocese.

The guidelines were drafted at a meeting of the priests and pastoral council members at the bishop’s house in Mananthavady.

The Syro-Malabar diocese has under come severe criticism after police arrested one of its priests for impregnating a 16-year-old girl, who delivered a baby boy on February 7.

The meeting has asserted that the diocese would do nothing to protect the accused priest, Father Robin Vadakkumcherry, and his alleged associates. The diocese denied the allegation that it has helped the associates to go into hiding.

The police have for the past four days searched in vain for two nuns, who worked in a hospital where the girl delivered, and three other nuns of an orphanage where the child was later admitted. They are also on the lookout for a male doctor and a lay woman who had allegedly helped Father Vadakkumcherry to hide the scandal.

“The diocese has done nothing to hide the accused. They have sought and followed legal advice for their own safety,” said a March 7 note from the diocese.

The diocese said it plans to impose the guidelines in the light of current scandal.

It said the parish grievance cells comprising priests, religious and lay people will address and solve all complaints locally. No new construction works would be undertaken in the diocese for the next five years. Only those already underway would be allowed to complete.

No punitive action would be taken against those defaulting donations or contributions to parishes and the diocese.

The diocese says there is no need for altar girls. If they are engaged, proper and separate arrangements should be made for them, the guidelines say.

Under no circumstances would women or girls be allowed into priest’s residence. Only the parish priest and assistant priests are allowed to spend the night at the presbytery.

Besides, installing CCTV cameras, the priests are asked to conduct counseling only in the open.

The diocese has banned parishes or priests arranging foreign trips for individuals or groups. Father Vadakkumcherry was accused of sending scores of young girls to work in Canada.

The diocese will accept any written complaint against any church worker provided it carries a valid address.

It has strictly barred priests from using pulpit to defame parishioners and others.

Earlier, Bishop Jose Porunnedom of Mananthavady had apologized to the girl and her family. The diocese also sacked its publish relations officer who had alleged helped the accused priest.

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5 Responses to Scandal-hit diocese issues stringent guidelines

  1. LJ FRANCIS

    Sex abuse happens everywhere with married clergies too, within families too -by married elders as well as curious seekers with and without mutual consent.Responsible elders and parents should not allow space for secrets to safeguard the youngsters from getting cheated.Believe in GOD ,and NOT IN FLESHY MAN AND WOMEN even if they are priest,nun or relatives.

     
  2. Fr. Dr. John Thekkedam

    Dr. Simon Kuruk’s response is very relevant, and I would like all to read it. I will add one more thing to it.The Catholic Church needs to seriously reflect on married priests, optional celibacy, and perpetual vows.Priests can choose to get married or stay celibate through periodic discernment and renewal of the vow of celibacy. Those who renew the vow of celibacy can stay committed to celibacy; others can get married and stay in the official priesthood as in the early Church. The last finding of US Catholics quite some years ago found out that over 70% of US Catholics were for married priests. Still many Catholics in Kerala do not know that the first Pope was married, that the married priesthood started in the 12th century, and that we had a pope whose son became a pope. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians stated that all other disciples of Christ, including Peter, except him and Barnabas were accompanied by their wives (I Corinthians, 9: 1-9) I am after this posting writing an article on Married Priests. Those of you who are interested can read it today or this week in indianthoughts.in under Blooming Stars>Swami Snehananda Jyoti. (Snehananda Jyoti is my current unofficial name.) Fr. John Thekkedam/Swami Snehananda Jyoti

     
  3. Johny

    Human and intellectual steps to avoid such incidents are good.How ever, how would the clergy derive strength to say no to such temptation? We need a plan to help us to depend more on God. The parishioners should be made aware how important is to pray for their priests and religious. Why not a rosary before each Holy Mass? The main obligation of a clergy must be nothing other than the salvation of the soul. If he derail from this mission, some system should be there at parish level to remind him and help him. Spiritual revival in the parish is inevitable. He should have an open hearts to various spiritual services and should lead it. He must keep himself busy with the business of the Lord
    The secondary things like income of the parish, committee, church activities including cultural etc.. should be designated to other groups…

    Let us earnestly pray for them without prejudice, for if I were in their place, how vulnerable, i would have been…

     
  4. Georg

    The diocese has banned parishes or priests arranging foreign trips for individuals or groups. Ja, good. The bishop, not just the bishop of Mananthavady , all the bishops and the religious authorities should have the courage to call back the priests and nuns who are elsewhere deployed or employed in the pursuit of monetary reward.Money , mammon can influence……recently Pope Francis has been exhorting the priests during his homily about the possible dangers of the mammon.

     
  5. Simon Kuruk (Dr)

    The measures taken by Manandavadi diocese is most welcome. ONE MORE such measure should be added to the list – COMPULSORY SEX EDUCATION IN CHURCH RUN SCHOOLS & SEMINARIES.
    What one fails to understand is – How could a girl aged 16 did not know anything about being pregnant ? How could the parents especially the mother of the girl fail to notice the changes that certainly would have occurred in the girl physically and emotionally during pregnancy? It is just incomprehensible and does not make sense !
    Sex Education should be imparted from Cl 6 or Cl 7..and in Seminaries too.. It seems the 48 yr old priest too was ignorant of what he was doing and more so of the possibility of the the girl getting pregnant..or else he could not have gone about his normal priestly functions without checking the developments in the girl 10 months into pregnancy.
    It is also time the Church checked out and researched on THE THIRD WAY life style some are advocating for priests and nuns ! This means while being a priest or nun one is permitted to relate to the member of the opposite sex quite freely which would certainly involve emotional attachment and may or may not involve physical contact..
    Where does one draw the line? This the question – complete cut off from relating to women or a relationship that is peripheral? How many priests and religious can survive happily in such a situation?

     
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