“Rebel” nuns’ priest supporter to face disciplinary action

Bishop Jacob Manathodath


By Jose Kavi

New Delhi, Nov 22, 2018: A Syro-Malabar archdiocese has threatened to act against a priest who it alleges incites sedition and hatred against Church authorities and associates with extremist and atheistic groups.

“Some of them are said to be groups which plot against the Church, harm good morals and injure religion/Church,” says a letter Bishop Jacob Manathodath, apostolic administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly, wrote to Father Augustine Vattoly, convener of the “Save Our Sisters” Action Council.

The council is an umbrella organization for various groups supporting Catholic nuns against abuses.

After listing a number of offences of Father Vattoly, the letter says, “You are hereby warned about the consequences of the above mentioned and similar actions.”

Bishop Manathodath has asked Father Vattoly to give in writing his explanations for the various allegations against him by November 25. “Unless I get a satisfactory explanation, I will have to proceed with disciplinary action against you on this matter as per the norms of the Catholic Church,” the prelate warns.

The bishop wants the priest to take the letter in the “right spirit” and “reform yourself after the Heart of Jesus, the High Priest.”

The letter came to light only on November 21 although it was dated November 11, just three days before Father Vattoly organized a sit-in in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala.

The Nov. 14 protest outside the Kerala government’s secretariat building demanded the cancellation of bail granted to a bishop accused of raping a nun. Former Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan opened the protest.

Stating that such actions from a priest will “seriously injure the good of the Church” and cause scandal among the faithful, the letter asked Father Vattoly not to organize or attend the sit-in or similar protests. “Disobedience will incur ecclesiastical actions per norms of Church laws,” it warns.

Father Vattoly declined to comment on the apostolic administrator’s letter, but had gone ahead with the secretariat sit-in where he shared his apprehensions about the probe being conducted against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, the rape accused.

The priest came to limelight in September when his movement organized a sit-in in front of the Kerala High Court in Kochi to demand Bishop Mulakkal’s arrest. Thousands of people, including five nuns from the alleged rape victim’s congregation, had joined the sit-in that began on September 8.

They called it off on September 22, a day after the bishop was arrested and sent to jail.

However, the Kerala High Court granted bail to Bishop Mulakkal on October 15.

The archdiocese’s letter “shows how the Catholic Church is not ready for dissent,” the ndtv.com quoted unnamed Church observer.

“Even the nuns are part of the Church and have been crying for justice. The higher authorities in the Church don’t realize that ordinary people in the Church can see things through. Father Vattoly will be responding to the notice but won’t react publicly at this point,” he added.

The letter also says Father Vattoly does not offer Mass daily as required of a priest or “commemorate” the name of the Church’s major archbishop in Mass or Divine Office as stipulated by the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches.

It also accused him of taking the lead to make the “scandalous presentation of the statue of Pieta” showing a nun instead of Jesus in the lap of Mother Mary.

“This is profanation of a sacred object that calls for punishment” in accordance with the Oriental Code, the letter warns.

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3 thoughts on ““Rebel” nuns’ priest supporter to face disciplinary action

  1. The prime sentence in the article is highly misleading,
    ” A Syro-Malabar archdiocese has threatened to act against a priest”. It is a direct attack of media to an individual church… The second, not respecting the authority of the magisterium of the church…

    Bishop Jacob Manathodath is having a very high moral stand amidst Keralites. He is the founder and perpetual protector of the major retreat centres of Kerala (Attapadi sehion, Chittoor ernakulam and Divine retreat center) when all bishops considered carismatic people as third class group in Kerala church… He was the only one in bishops synod lead by Holy Spirit. Actually the bishop is a saintly man.. Even Fr.vattoly will obliged to him, if he has even little divine spark in him.

    I saw the copy of the letter in face book. It is highly gentle expression to to avoid the activities not canonically permitted for a catholic priest…. If you read you will understand why well educated and powerful priests are remaining gentle in church. If the public wish the church to loosen its control over the priests and nuns… This article is worth…

  2. If priests are not supposed to speak up against injustice then they should also be warned not to participate in fishermen’s struggles, mining conglomerates etc. Such selective acts reek of prejudice and fear.

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