New administrator appointed for Kerala’s troubled archdiocese

Bishop Jacob Manathodath will be installed as the administrator on June 23


By Jose Kavi

New Delhi: Pope Francis on June 22 appointed an apostolic administrator to tackle the prevailing “grave and worrying ecclesiastical situation of divisions” existing in Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese in Kerala.

The Pope has replaced current administrator of the archdiocese, Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath, with Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat.

A terse note from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) says the information about the appointment came from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and that it was announced at noon in Rome and its corresponding time in India.

Another press release from the Syro-Malabar Church headquarters says Bishop Manathodath will continue to head the Palghat diocese.

The press release says Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, will remain the metropolitan archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese.

Bishops Adayanthrath and Jose Puthenveettil will continue in their current post as the auxiliary of the archdiocese, says the press release issued by Father Jimmy Poochakkatt, the Syro-Malabar public relations officer.

The press note says the appointment was made in consideration of the “special circumstances” prevailing in the archdiocese.

Bishop Manathodath is taking over a diocese beset with internal problems. A section of priests had accused Cardinal Alencherry of incurring huge losses for the archdiocese through some questionable land deals. The controversy led to the formation of camps within the Syro-Malabar Church supporting and opposing the cardinal.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, notes a “grave and worrying ecclesiastical situation” in the archdiocese because of division between the clergy, auxiliary bishops and the major archbishop.

“It will be Your Excellency’s task to seek healing for these fractures and eventually to propose solutions that require the intervention of the Synod of Bishop,” says a letter from the prefect addressed to Bishop Manathodath.

Cardinal Sandri wants the new administrator to find those responsible for these divisions and proceed against them for wounding Church unity “with unfounded allegations” that lacked “the spirit of obedience and ecclesial sense” and led to public scandal damaging the Syro-Malabar Church, the larger of the two Oriental Catholic rites in India.

The Vatican official says the new administrator should consult and inform the major archbishop about his decisions, but should not involve him in the decisions regarding Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. The Vatican congregation allows the administrator to form a synodal committee to assist him in these tasks. However, the committee will have only consultative role and its suggestions will not be decisive or binding on the administrator, Cardinal Sandri clarifies.

The administrator has to send a monthly report on the measures taken to the pontifical congregation. He could also seek counsel and assistance from the Apostolic Nuncio based in New Delhi, says the letter signed by Cardinal Sandri and Father Lorenzo Lorusso, undersecretary of the congregation.

With the appointment of the administrator, archdiocesan consultation group, finance committee, priests’ council, laity council and other group will remain suspended. The administrator could change them or revamp them, Father Poochakkatt’s press note says.

Bishop Manathodath, originally from Ernakulam, was appointed the Palghat bishop on November 11, 1996. The 71-year-old prelate is a member of the CBCI Office for Healthcare.

He was ordained a priest on November 4, 1972 after philosophical and theological studies in Papal Seminary, Pune. He has a doctorate in theology from Gregorian University, Rome. He was appointed the auxiliary bishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese in 1992.

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6 thoughts on “New administrator appointed for Kerala’s troubled archdiocese

  1. There is no mention of taking names in the holy mass to be used canonically…in ernakulam diocese… Too many Rt.Revs are there… Any way the intercession of the people in everyday mas is a must for the new administrator.. Better to avoid two and use the one new for easiness.the new one is saintly person backbone behind many real renewal movement by diocesan priests in Kerala and through them to abroad and laymovements.. He is big promise for lay movements… He can use some people like Santhosh T of Christine, bennypunnathara of shalom etc.. (Though they are not ernakulam based accepted by all) In taking decision and decrement who are champions of new evangelization through Keralalites… It will help shut down the pride of the clerics…

  2. The true power of the Church is Voluntary poverty or the self imposed poverty of the Priests and Religious in every sphere. Gandhi once said

    “​You cannot serve God and Mammon both…I have always felt that when a
    religious organization has more money than it requires, it is in peril of
    losing its faith in God, and pinning its faith on money…The fact is, the
    moment financial stability is assured, spiritual bankruptcy is also
    assured”. – M.K.Gandhi

  3. “Complex problems have no easy solutions,” said one of the earliest church fathers, St.Benedict in the sixth century. He was a Church Father who wrote the rules for Religious, ‘Regula Benedicti’ which became the foundations of Religious life of all colors.
    St. Benedict felt that easy patch works would solve the complex problems of his times.

    So is the case of the Oriental Church beset with complex problems. What we need is patience and charity to one another till things are amicably settled. There should not be any winners or losers, rather the We Spirit must prevail. Bishop Manathodath is known as a compassionate and understanding man, scholar and a man who can bring the warring factions into a settlement.
    Did we have any choice any way?

  4. Evangelizing those in positions of humble service to the flock is an ongoing need worldwide. We need to pray for the conversion of those in uniforms and displaying other decorations.

  5. This decision should be much earlier.We can pray to GOD almighty the Administrator can take good decisions to satisfy different groups with out LOOSING FAITH and MORE MONEY.This chance is for giving suggestions There will not happen such type of Financial corruptions NO MORE IN XERO MALABAR Church in any Bishops Regim.Now it is the Best chance to give suggestions and the wealth will be with the LAYMEN also.
    We Can PRAY for the GOOD
    We Wont Judge any body or Find will bring guilty any body. We can HOPE the Decision will bring PEACE in our Community

  6. No smoke without a fire. It is good that the vatiVat has acted before things went completely out of control

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