Church land deal: Archdiocese announces power shift
By: Matters India Reporter
Kochi: Cardinal George Alencherry has delegated more powers to his auxiliary bishops in the administration of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese in a bid to resolve a controversy over the sale of church lands.
Cardinal Alencherry made the announcement in a joint circular he signed with auxiliary bishops Sebastian Adayanthrath and Jose Puthenveettil. The circular was read at all churches under the archdiocese on February 11.
In the circular, the bishops acknowledge the distress caused to the members of the archdiocese as a result of the recent land deal scandal. They added that the hectic responsibilities of the cardinal have left the senior prelate with little time to address the issues in the archdiocese.
Cardinal Alencherry is the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, the largest of the two Oriental Catholic rites in India.
The circular says the cardinal has delegated the administration of the archdiocese to the current protosyncellus, a Oriental term for vicar general, and auxiliary Bishop Adayanthrath. He would be supported by present syncellus and auxiliary Bishop Puthenveettil.
They will also be responsible for convening and presiding over the canonical committees of the diocese. They are expected to submit regular reports to Cardinal Alencherry, but any major decisions will still need to be taken in discussion with him.
The circular entrusts Bishop Adayanthrath the responsibility to find a solution for the issues relating to the recent financial losses for the archdiocese. This will be taken in consultation with the archdiocesan bodies such as finance council, curia and the priests’ council.
Earlier, the archdiocesan Presbyterial Council had alleged that a commission appointed by the cardinal to enquire into the land business had found serious violations of canon and civil laws. According to the priests, the commission found that the revenue from sale of 3.06 acres of the land in Kochi city was expected to fetch 270 million rupees, but only 90 million rupees had been officially shown as sale proceeds.
In the circular, the bishops reiterate the need for creating a conducive atmosphere for resolving these issues. They request those involved to avoid any unofficial intervention through social and other media.
According to reports, the priests who were allegedly involved in the land deal have been removed from their posts. Archdiocese finance officer Fr Joshy Puthuva has been transferred as the vicar of a remote parish while vicar-general Fr Sebastian Vadakkumpadan has been relieved of all diocesan duties.