Kochi, June 28, 2019: Dramatic scenes prevailed at the Bishop’s House at Broadway on June 27 after Cardinal George Alencherry broke the news of his reappointment as the administrative head of the Church to his auxiliary bishops.
Sources said that the major archbishop who had moved to the headquarters of the Syro-Malabar Church at Kakkanad after the appointment of the apostolic administrator, returned to the Bishop’s House at Broadway in the middle of the previous night.
Sources privy to the incidents said that Bishop Sebastian Edayantharath packed his bags and left the Bishop’s House in the morning. A priest privy to the incident said that the cardinal ‘ensured’ that the bishop left the Bishop’s House on June 27 morning.
“Nuncio had intimated the auxiliary bishops about them being removed from their respective posts till the permanent synod happens in August. Bishop Jose Puthenveetil, who was at Angamaly Niveditha (a church institution) was told not to return. Bishop Edayantharath was asked to vacate on Thursday. The staff at the Bishop’s House were teary eyed as they said farewell to Bishop Edayantharath,” said a priest.
However, responding to the incident Bishop Edayantharath said he vacated the place on his own as per his wish. “We were auxiliary bishops and the Holy Father told us to step aside from holding our offices. Our supreme head is Pope Francis and we obeyed him,” said Bishop Edayantharath.
“In a letter from Rome, we were told to take a decision on our choice of residence. Cardinal Alencherry has also given us a choice, to move to Aishwaryagram, an organization where I am working. I also wanted to move there,” said the bishop.
He said that he left in the morning as in any case he would have to leave in the afternoon as the decision was to be formally implemented at 3pm.
A video of the cardinal, meanwhile went viral wherein he is seen receiving a reception at the Bishop’s House. “Not even a word without love should be made against anyone, written against anyone or be made before the media. In social media also no responses should be made even if provocatory statements are made. Even if you are responding, respond with love,” the cardinal can be seen as saying. He is also seen saying a prayer where he thanks God.
“All the happenings in our archdiocese has been brought to a conclusion by the Holy Father. Let us all work in peace,” the cardinal can be heard saying.
A lay person, who is close to the Bishop’s House however, gave a conflicting account of the events. “The auxiliary bishop walked out of the Bishop House stating that there was no point in staying in the Bishop’s House under Cardinal Alencherry. It was after this that they were formally removed by the Church,” said a layperson.
Meanwhile, another priest said that the Church could have executed the switching of power in a more decent way. “A cardinal coming to take charge of his Bishop’s House in the night is something that we have never heard of. Also, the haste in evicting the auxiliary bishops was also not fair,” said a priest.
Meanwhile, priests say that it is not right to project the developments as a conclusion to the Church land deal case.
“Auxiliary bishops getting removed from their posts is true as we had seen the communication given to them by the nuncio. Also, it is inevitable that the cardinal gets his powers back once the purpose of an administrator ends. But the other claims being made by the Church has no support of documents,” said a priest.
Along with the removal of the auxiliary bishops, a new vicar general was also appointed for the archdiocese.
Source: The Times of India