By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi, Oct 26, 2018: The apostolic administrator of Jalandhar diocese on October 26 refuted “tendentious” press statements by “some individuals” on the recent death of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, one of its priests.
“In order to preclude any suspicions with regard to the cause his death, we requested that an autopsy be conducted not at a Church hospital but at a Government Hospital,” says a press release from Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias, who was appointed the diocesan administrator by Rome in September in wake of a court case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar.
Father Kattuthara was reportedly a critic of Bishop Mulakkal, the first Catholic prelate in India to go to jail for alleged sexual abuse of a nun. The 62-year-old priest was found dead on October 22 in his room at St. Mary’s Church, Dasuya, some 25 km northeast of Jalandhar.
His friends and associates have alleged that the priest was under great mental strain after Bishop Mulakkal was release on bail on October 16. There were also reports that the diocese had cut his monthly allowances.
Fr. Kattuthara “enjoyed all the benefits and allowances of the priests of Jalandhar diocese until his last days and the injustice alleged by certain persons has no basis whatsoever,” asserts the press release.
Bishop Gracias’ press note points out that the police authorities had allowed the priest’s body to be taken to his native state of Kerala in southern India for burial. It “indicates that they do not suspect anything untoward,” the administrator explains.
Bishop Gracias says the diocese now awaits the final results of the autopsy. “We ask the public too to await the results and not succumb to conjectures about the cause of death that are currently floating around. We have done our best to ensure transparency in arriving at the cause of death,” he adds.
The administrator also credited Father Kattuthara with the translation of liturgical books into Punjabi language. “He was the first one to prepare the Diocesan Directory in 2004. He literally slept on the computer as his room was invariably filled with computers brought to him for repair or for upgrading,” the press release points out.
The priest had served the diocese in various capacities starting as the secretary of the late Bishop Symphorian Keeprath, Bishop Mulakkal’s predecessor. He served as the vocation promoter and vice rector of both the minor and major seminaries. He was also the director of schools, diocesan pastoral center, and catechetics.
However, he suffered from high blood pressure, diabetics and heart ailments. “He had to return from Rome in 2009, without completing the doctoral thesis,” the press statement recalls.
Despite ill health, he continued to serve the diocese, winning the hearts of many by his generous and friendly nature.
“The Diocese of Jalandhar wishes to place on record its gratitude to this priest who served the diocese faithfully for 35 years ever since his ordination on March 29, 1983. We share the deep sorrow of his family members and friends,” Bishop Gracias says.
The diocese offered a requiem Mass on October 23 in Jalandhar presided over by Bishop Gracias and assisted by Bishop Ignatius Mascarenhas of Simla-Chandigarh, and several priests.
The body, accompanied by family members and priests of Jalandhar Diocese, was taken to Kerala. The last rites, presided over by Bishop Jacob Manathodath, Bishop of Palaghat and Administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, were held in Fr. Kattuthara’s home parish at Pallipuram, Cherthala, on October 25.