In a first of its kind recommendation, a Church panel probing land transactions sought action against “Cardinal George Alencherry” under the Church and Civil law for causing loss to the diocese.
First black money case against Catholic Church in Kerala
This incidentally is the first such recommendation and the case on the other hand also involves accusations of black money. Alencherry is head of the Kochi-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. He is among the Indian cardinals eligible to elect the Pope. It is one of the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in the world under Rome and is also the archbishop of the Ernakulam archdiocese.
Ernakulam archdiocese spokesman, Father Paul Karedan admitted the probe report contained grave charges against Alencherry and said the report would have reached the Pope by now. “We have sent the report to Rome via the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican representative) in Delhi,” Karedan said. Two others were also blamed for the land deal.
The archdiocese had last month appointed a six-member panel to probe losses suffered by the archdiocese due to illegal land deals since the year 2015. It was alleged that losses were suffered after the sale of five plots owned by the diocese in several parts of Ernakulam district. It was also accused that the diocese ought to have received Rs 27 crore. There was a “breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of properties”, the report also stated.
The committee also found unaccounted money. The total amount receivable according to the 36 deeds is Rs 13.52 crore. However, there was a difference of Rs 13.62 crore between the amount documented and the amount in the curia resolution. This is a serious offence under the Income Tax Act.
Further, the report stated that “Alencherry was directly involved in alienating five plots which were sold after being divided into 36 pieces”. The first deed was registered even before it was discussed in the Consulters Forum. The decision of the financial council quoted in the sale deeds is incorrect. The receivable value that was set by the diocese was Rs 27.15 crore but the value according to the registered deeds was only Rs 13, 51, 44,260.
According to the report, there were “numerous instances” of violation of Church law and civil laws along with the lack of transparency and collegiality. “As the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, Alencherry should have taken utmost care in respecting the provisions of Church laws,” the report said.
The two others blamed in this fraud were namely -priest Sebastian Vadakumpadan and the finance officer Joshy Puthuva. The report also named Saju Varghese Kunnel as the kingpin in the deal and alleged that he enjoyed the confidence of the Cardinal and father Puthuva. Without naming the Cardinal, the committee recommended, “People who are responsible for the crisis should be tried according to the law of the Church and necessary action should be taken for the violation of the civil law.’’
Frauds by Church priests? Illegal scams by the followers of the Holy Church? What have the Catholics got to answer now? The descendants of Jesus are committing sins now? Would the same peace be maintained if this was done by Hindu priests? Will Christianity stop believing in their church priests now? Well, the amount of punishment declared to this fraud gang will decide the level of justice prevailing in our country.